A Memoir from India

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I’m never one to read romance. There’s nothing wrong with romance, but if I’m going to take the time to read, it’s going to be something that will stay with me. I love the movie “You’ve Got Mail.” When Meg Ryan said, “You are what you read.” It was an aha moment for me, for I believe there’s some truth to that. So, if you get a book recommendation from me, it will be something I couldn’t put down, but will most likely fall into historical fiction, non-fiction, and memoir. They are my go to’s. This is a memoir.

I think too often we grow complacent here in the United States with our faith. I love to read soul stirring missionary stories, that remind us we serve a living God who performs miracles. This book is one of those stories. It is a book you will find hard to put down and reveals how God used this young woman’s childhood to prepare her to serve in the darkest places of India, and the miracles she witnessed by being obedient to the call. Check it out!

Posted in Writing

The Mysterious Sign in the Rainforest

Pictures: My monkeys in the pool, and the Howler Monkeys who finally showed up for a visit outside our rental house, and stayed all day. They’ve earned their name Howler, because they howl very loud.

“So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.” Psalms 90:12 ESV

Yesterday, we passed a sign posted on a tree it read, “Get Ready to Meet God.”  It sent a chill down my spine, for Orlando (the same driver I mentioned in the previous post) was barreling down those rainforest roads, scraping by anyone walking or biking on the roadside. I, being a woman who takes notice of the details, took it as a sign to pray. Silently, I prayed for our safety. I can almost hear your giggles, and I know you are thinking it was just a sign, but trust me when I say, some signs are not just signs.

Twenty minutes later, a policeman stopped in front of our vehicle, refusing to let us pass. We’d just missed an accident involving a motorcycle, and they needed time to process the scene.

We stepped out of the van and waited alongside the road with a group of Guatemalan fruit pickers who walked up. I couldn’t help but to compare these teens to my boys. My boys were larger than them and wore ear buds and nice clothes, while they were leathered from the sun, wearing torn clothing, and muddy muck boots. I realized the largest advantage my boys had over them was birth place.

In my previous blog I pointed out, they believe we Americans work to buy things and are enslaved by our materials. Orlando also pointed out there is too much racism in our country. It is what our media spews to the world. I don’t know about you, but I live in a community alongside Indians, Blacks, Whites, Jewish, even Muslims and we get along just fine. It angers me that racists on both sides are allowed to brand the reputation of our country as a whole.

In Belize, many families send their children to work to help buy necessities. Parents can’t afford the luxury of educating their brood. I glanced at my sons, how many times have they complained about school? These fruit pickers would much rather sit in a classroom, than pick fruit in the hot sun all day.

As we waited, Orlando turned back to us. “The motorcycle driver is dead. This truck hit him,” he said. Immediately, I could see him, a poor unfortunate soul, with leathery skin and sliced up palms like these boys. They craned their necks to see if they knew him. I wanted to wrap the whole dirty lot of them in my arms, and apologize for my boys having it easy while their lives were so hard. No-one chooses where they are born, nor the lot they are born into.

Finally, we had permission to pass. The motorcycle was a twisted ball of metal, his helmet was crushed, his body lay lifeless on the side of the road covered by an old bed sheet.

 

This morning, we awoke to the sound of the water gently lapping the shoreline. We are no longer in the rainforest, but on the coast. The news from that stretch of road has reached us here. News spreads fast in a small country. The motorcyclist was not a local after all, but a nineteen-year old American. He was on a school trip, enjoying his last adventure with a teacher before returning to the US today. He turned off the Zip- Line road and swung too wide, sliding his bike under a truck hauling a Bulldozer. He didn’t have a chance to survive it.

His classmates will return to the US with an understanding they are blessed in more than just their birthright. They’re blessed with time. Their parents will wave outside of security, ready to gather them in their arms. Meanwhile, the deceased boy’s parents will sob as their son’s body is unloaded off the back of the plane. I wonder if they’ll regret sending him to Belize or if they’ll blame themselves for his untimely demise. The truth is it is no one’s fault, it was his time. His time.

             We all have a time set forth by our Creator. Are you going to go through your time complaining about how rough you have it? Or wasting it away on things? Wasting it on hating someone for being different than you are? Or will you spend your time influencing, inspiring, and pointing others to a better Way. So, they will be ready when their time comes to meet their Creator.

That small sign painted on wood hanging on the edge of the rainforest wasn’t just a sign after all. It was a message for you and me. How about it are you ready? If not, “Get ready to meet God.”

Note: As God may have it, we ended up on the same flight with the classmates of the deceased. Several of them sobbed as they boarded the plane. It broke my heart.

Posted in Writing

The Culture of Consumption

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I haven’t posted in a while, I suppose I’ve been working away my summer. Artistically, I’ve been painting, became a member of the Winter Garden Art League, and have submitted my first painting in a juried show. Don’t start with the fist pumps just yet, I am way out of my league in the art league. The competition petrifies me, especially since IF it gets approved for the show, I have to attend a Meet the Artist night, where I stand with those talented artists and greet the art lovers meandering through. It will be humbling.

On the writing front, I applied to write for She Leads Daily (www.sheleadsdaily.com), and was accepted. Please don’t look at the headshot, it was the only picture out of tons that I didn’t look pickled, but there was a deadline, so I had no choice but to submit it. I have discovered I’m the least photogenic person on the planet.

On the home front, I’ve been decluttering, I’ve decided to donate anything that I don’t want to wear, dust, or use. So far, I’ve donated six truck loads and thrown away tons more. I have repainted most walls and carpeting is next. It is no longer that showy Old World Mediterranean. I moved my art studio into my formal living room, for it has the best light. It was the room when someone entered your front door that said, “We are sophisticated.” But, I gotta tell ya… the room lied. Now, it says, “The Adams house is full of vitality and action!”  My new standard is every room needs a purpose and if you can’t find one, you have too many rooms.

With all of the working I’ve been doing, I truly needed a family vacation, a time to play with my family and my niece Peyton. I went on a hunt for the perfect family vacation. My criteria was a new culture and a new adventure. I found a house off -the-grid, on top of a mountain, on its own 50 acres, in a rainforest, in the country of Belize. Whew! Trying saying that three times fast.

When we arrived at the airport yesterday a driver loaded us in his van and we were off on a bumpy two hour drive to our destination. On the way, the driver stopped by one of the many Asian- owned convenience stores. While everyone jumped out, I stayed to continue talking to the driver.

I leaned forward. “So, what’s it like to live here?” I asked.

“Oh, it’s wonderful. We in Belize are not like you are in the US. We work five days a week and we enjoy our weekends. We work to survive you know, not to own things. People in the US work and work. You like owning your things, but really those things own you. You know?”

A part of me wanted to get defensive. Stand up for my country!

“Hey you driver man I hope you know I’ve been cleaning out closets all summer! You should have seen the stuff I donated.” Sorry America, I didn’t say it.

Instead, I slid back in my seat, and thought…Consumerism…Is it consuming us?

More next time…

 

 

 

 

Posted in Writing

Closing the Envelop

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She pressed the pain button on the pump wedged beside her and turned to me. “I think God’s timing is so different from ours,” my sister said. “When I go to heaven, it may seem like I haven’t seen you in a few minutes, but for you it will feel like a lifetime.”

God’s timing is a mystery to me. I believe His timing is not linear in the way we experience it, but falls in circular patterns, like the closing of an envelope, our past folds over and seals our present. We hum the Nocturne of our present, knowing His fingertips composed it somewhere in the past.

After posting my last painting, “Out of the Boat” to social media, I received a text from my sister-in-law, Tracey.

It read:

“The title of your new painting were Tricia’s last words to me. She said, ‘I have to get out of the boat! I have to get out of the boat!’ I pushed her down in her seat and told her to stay right where she was. That’s when she looked at me and said, ‘How are you going to stop me with your skinny self?’ I thought she was hallucinating, but she was still herself.”

I didn’t know this story when I painted the picture. I didn’t know it when the story of Peter stepping out onto the stormy seas kept reappearing in my devotionals. One thing is clear, I know God closed this envelop and is preparing me for something different, but I am humbled and saddened to admit, it is not for me to move to the farm.

I have a Cabinet of Curiosity in my Orlando home. Behind it’s metal grate doors, there’s a collection of treasures. On the shelves, to name a few, there’s a rock from Appian Way, the road that leads into the gates of Rome, another from the walls of a pirate’s handmade tomb I found on an undeveloped island, a rock from the catacombs (I hope it’s a rock), and a human skull I purchased from an old southern gentlemen’s garage sale in Windermere. (Yes, I did, much to my parent’s horror.) In my cabinet, are things from the natural world I treasure and love to bring out, hold in my hands, and ponder on.

Metaphorically, God’s timing is also there. When I think I’ve understood one tiny thing, and filed it away in my box of knowledge; after time, it springs out like a jack in the box revealing something more. Maybe that’s my mistake, trying to put anything about God in a neat square box. Around the cabinet, I’ve peered through the metal, curious why He’s telling me to step out on faith, to step out of the boat, if it’s not to walk across the cow patties? Moving to the farm would take tremendous faith! I’ve tried to convince Him of this.

The same husband who told me to get the boys registered for the new school admitted he was following my lead and had no peace about the move.  He listed his reasons: his ministry is in Orlando (he teaches business men in Abiding in Christ), his office is in Orlando, and we’d be apart from one another three to four days a week, Jay feels God wants us to use the farm house for Bible retreats, and if we lived there it wouldn’t be, I would be spending most of my day carpooling children in and out of the city. He didn’t like the idea of me riding those country roads alone after dark. On and on he went and when he reached the end…

“That’s just great! Well, thanks a lot for blindsiding me, after I’ve put myself out there on my blog!” I said. “In one fell swoop you’ve obliterated my credibility, squashed my ministry, and killed my dream of riding my horse and growing my own food!”

“You don’t even like to cook!” He said. “You will have to cook every night.” He’d already stated this. Mentioning it twice proved what I suspected, he hated my cooking.

But, I would not be defeated. “I’ve been preparing. I bought that cooking school book. I could become a chef if forced to,” I pointed my finger at him, “but now you’ll never know my full potential.”

He didn’t appear disappointed. “Walk me through what a day looks like living on the farm,” he said. “I don’t think you’ve grasped what it will be like.”

“I can ride horses. Bella can run and not get hit by a car. Do you realize we are losing our boys to other houses? The boys will make friends at their new school and our house can be the hangout place. You know boys would love hanging out on a farm.”

“What if they don’t make friends?”

I shrugged. “Then, we’ll come back.”

“You want to uproot the boys from a school and friends they love, so you can ride horses?”

It sounded selfish when he put it that way, but it wasn’t truly about the horses.

I stared at the floor. “It’s not just about the horses.”

“Explain to me what it is about.”

“I can hear there okay? Here, the landscapers never stop. I can’t think. It’s quiet on the farm.” I struggled trying to explain it. “I see things in nature. I grow creatively. I need to try a different life.”

He nodded. “You feel inspired there.”

How did he do that? I nodded.

            “You can go to the farm anytime. The boys are in a good school and have good friends. Why rock the boat? Until I know it’s what God wants, I’m not on board with it.”

“Fine!” I stomped out of the room.

Funny thing about time it brings clarification. I’ve stayed away from the blog and given myself time. Time to lick my wounds and wallow. Time to hear. Time for prayer and acceptance. Time to rewrite this essay over and over. Time to repaint the walls of our Orlando home white, breathing light back into this Mediterranea. I’ve made other changes. I’ve moved my art studio into the formal living room. I am surrendering my studio space, so the boys will have a place to hang out with their friends.

Easter at the farm, my boys celebrated two gifts of grace. I teared up as I explained to them, I am giving up my dream of country living and leaving them rooted where they are happiest in Orlando. That evening, Jay drove the Dually packed with my large easel and painting supplies to bring home. I followed behind in my SUV. He waved and blew kisses to me in the mirror at every stoplight. Charmer! He knows how to get on my good side. I’m no longer mad or sad, but humbled. How could I have gotten it so wrong? Did I run ahead of God? I have a tendency to do this. I like to lead… to step on toes…to be the boss.

Recently, I spoke with one of my spiritual mentors Linda Case about how I got it wrong and am now eating crow. “I suppose God wanted to humble me,” I said.

Linda’s smile can light up a room. “I wouldn’t look at it like that. Maybe you found a hallway. You realized God was telling you something and you opened a door to a hallway of more doors. Door by door, that’s how we walk in faith. We just have to keep ourselves willing to opening doors. You’ll find His will behind one of them, but it will happen in His timing.”

Did I mention, God’s timing is a curious thing?

This blog post was supposed to be about how to hear from God through scriptures, but I’ve asked Linda Case from “All for Jesus Living Waters Ministries” to write on the subject of hearing from God. I can’t wait to see what she has in store for us.

While my pet goat returns to the herd and my Tennessee Walker vanishes from its stall, all I can do is pray and wait. Besides, God’s timing is not like mine. He will close the envelop when He knows I’m prepared to receive the missive. Until then, my readers the content I’ve planned for the year is in the trash. I’ve lost my way a bit. Please be patient as my blog may swirl around through loops and circles. I apologize in advance. Until the direction is clear, sit back and enjoy the ride.

From the Book Barn:

DSC_0157As a young girl, my favorite place to read was in the horse stall. I’d curl up on a bundle of straw with a flashlight and devour the written word. Peggy, my horse loved the company, and I never worried about her backing up on me. I’d like to post some recommendations from time to time. Lately, the subject has been hearing from God and this book is a great example of a young woman who heard from God in her dreams. Her dream led her to a mission in Haiti, saving children from slavery. I couldn’t put this one down. If you are looking for a great inspirational story of how one person can make an enormous impact by stepping out in faith,  pick this one up and give it a try. I promise you won’t be disappointed.

Posted in Writing

Out of the Boat

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Out of the Boat

The day I posted my painting to social media and titled it “Out of the Boat.” I neglected to share what inspired me to paint it. Last year, I felt a yearning to move to the farm, but I didn’t know if this desire was from God or myself, so we began praying last fall for confirmation. Around January, I noticed within sermons, devotions, emails etc. the story of Peter stepping out of the boat onto the water kept popping up. I dreamt this painting. I saw myself looking across the deep at the light of Jesus. As I painted, I stepped back and saw the monsters in the water. Through all of this, I knew God was telling me, He wanted me out of my comfort zone, but my farmhouse is the epitome of comfort.

Jay and I scheduled a tour of the best and closest Christian school, a thirty- minute drive from the farm. We told each other if we felt comfortable with the school, it was meant to be. We would move. We stood in the stained carpet hallway with the moldy vents when the bell rang. Hoards of dark-skinned giants (football players) flooded the hall along with all the light-skinned students who looked a bit rumpled and wearing their stiff pants. It was a far cry from the campus at our private school in Orlando, the picture of perfection. Waves

We toured the football field. Hoping to find our comfort zone. Christian is our football player and this school has one of the best football teams. Our guide rambled on about the school’s championship wins and the college coaches that attend their games. The field looked more junior high stacked next to ours. Under the bleachers weeds grew up between the weight equipment. Waves

We returned to the car. “Well, that was disappointing,” Jay said. I felt the same. I didn’t have my peace that we were supposed to move.

We drove back to the farm and I stared out the window down those country roads. Confederate flags flapped in the wind, and we passed several pick up trucks with the good ole Dixie hanging off the back or in the window. What am I doing? Moving my bi-racial family to a town like this? A town filled with good ole boys. Waves

            Black versus white…in all honesty, I’m uncomfortable in the cultural extremes. I’ve found my comfort spot in the warm, buttery brown, where cultures blend and bleed into each other easily.

I pray and pray for what’s best for my children and Peter keeps stepping out of the boat onto the rough seas over and over again. What are you telling me Lord? My father-in- law (Ompa) recently said, “At least Peter had the courage to get out of the boat.” That stuck. It takes courage to step out into the uncomfortable… the imperfect…the inconvenient.

I see Orlando through a different lens now.I drive around passing luxury vehicles and perfectly manicured shopping centers.The boy’s school has a sparkling new gymnasium complete with large screen tv’s. Tourist flood here to savor perfection, a place to get away from their own bitter waters for a bit. Orlando is beautiful and takes constant polishing to keep it that way. It is not real, not true to life…It is a facade. I have to ask myself, is God’s plan for His followers to be so comfortable when it is in the moments we are uncomfortable we feel more alive and closer to Him? We reflect back on those times as spiritual growth, a time when God showed up or we felt Him lean in close.

I’ve had to examine my heart, and go to the Word for my answer to prayer, rather than find it through my biased viewpoint and in my feelings. The Bible is called the living, breathing Word of God. It has all the answers. It speaks to us as individuals and in whatever situation we are in. It convicts, answers, and helps us to get know God on a more personal level. Although, there are other ways God speaks to us, we need to trust the Word to have the last Word in our lives. Peter is stepping on the waves. I am stepping on the waves. My boys will step on the waves.

Do you wonder how to find the answers in the Word of God? Stayed Tune to part 2. Next, how to Abide and Hear from the Lord through the Bible.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Writing

Can You Hear Me Now?

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Philippians 4:6-7New International Version (NIV)

6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

 

In the March of 2014, we were at the farm staying with Ed and Becky for our farmhouse was still in the planning stages. Richard and Linda Case were hosting a marriage retreat called Abiding in Him. He’d asked us to write down a particular passage and after praying over it, pick the verse that speaks to you or stands out amongst the others. After choosing your verse, we were to write it out again, along with the corresponding scriptures to that verse, and after repeating these steps three or four times you will see a correlation in all the verses that stood out. I stared at my scriptures all talking about children being safe around serpents, lions sleeping with the lambs,  peace in the valley, etc.  I was clueless as to what it all had to do with me.

I stared at the fire crackling in Becky’s family room, suffering a mixture of foggy Mommy brain and waning interest. Then, it was my turn to recite the scriptures I’d written in my journal. I read them aloud. Richard leaned back in his chair and thought. For a moment, I felt like that school girl who always had the wrong answer when a teacher called on her, because she was mesmerized by the hair growing out of her chin or the plaid pattern in her skirt. Perhaps, I picked the wrong verses, or these verses made me peculiar in some way. Richard was taking too long with his answer! For the life of all things good and decent say something!

I had to fill the void. “I have no clue how this relates to me. Maybe you wise one can enlighten me.” I laughed.

He cleared his throat. “It seems to me, they all speak of fear. Maybe God wants you to know He’s aware of your fear and He will protect you.” I shuffled in my seat.

Fear!… Fear?…Ah, Fear. Did Richard know about the plastic dagger I wore around my neck, and slipped in my purse on airplanes?  Did he know I just passed the test for my concealed weapons permit? Did he know because of my little sister’s death, I was waiting for the death angel to pay me a visit? (This was a big one!)  Did Richard know I struggled carrying my newborn because my shoulder was screwed up? How can I defend an attack in a dark parking lot? Will I die before she grows up? Will ISIS attack Orlando? Did Richard know I’d never felt more vulnerable in all my life?

No, but God knew.

 

One of the comments I hear most from women is I pray, but I don’t know what God’s answers are. I don’t know how to hear Him. I keep waiting for something, but get nothing. This is a big one, the whooper-oo-ski of living a life of faith. How do I know His will if He doesn’t speak it in my ears?

In my previous blog, I gave an example of hearing from God regarding our move to the farm, but I want to make it clear if that was the only message I’d received, we wouldn’t go. There are usually no magical signs falling from the sky into your lap, or at least in my case falling from the internet. With that said, nothing is impossible with God and I don’t want to ever be accused of putting Him in a neat little box. If He wants to shout in your ear, or drop a billboard on your house He has the right and power to do it. He is God!

Throughout the month of March, I would like to unpack the ways God speaks to us, ways you can “hear” from God. It will take a little discipline, training your heart to hear His voice, an awareness outside of self, and a little quiet time, but it will be worth it.

 

Now, back to fear, I know you’re all curious about that dagger. Admit it! No, I don’t carry it on planes anymore, (crazy woman!). Today, I couldn’t tell you where it is. I’ve moved on.

I strap my revolver to my thigh now.

Ha! Gotcha!

Next week, meet me on the porch, we’ll start with the most important way, the Bible.img_0476