Tuesday, July 26, 2011

A 2 Z: Joy to be counted

A few years ago I was driving to college, stressed and late. I'd slept through my alarm and then dragged myself from bed feeling ill and aching all over. No, I didn't have the flu, just my normal health issues acting up. I left the house late and in a hurry, forgetting my homework, only to get stuck waiting for the bridge to come down after it stopped traffic to let a tall boat through.

I was mentally rehearsing the tale of all my unfortunate events when I was struck with a thought (or perhaps hit upside the head by the Holy Spirit?)... I had a choice: I could keep bemoaning my troubles, or I could choose to move on and be happy today.

It's a tough choice. Let's face it, sometimes we like wallowing in our misfortunes. Who's up for a pity party?! Certainly any given day we have plenty of things to find fault with. We've all heard the verse from James, "Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds," but how do we do that, and why?

Not to say it's wrong to tell a friend what's troubling you, or laugh about mishaps, but it is wrong to live with an attitude of "woe is me" or get so caught up with life that we forget to be thankful. Ultimately it comes down to a choice we have to make.

Are we willing to be Pollyannas and look for the glad things in life? Are we able to acknowledge that God is good even when life seems bad? Can we call out to God for help and ask Him for joy, even in difficult times?

Looking at the rest of the passage in James helps give reason for what seems like a backwards response. "Count it all joy, my [sisters], when you meet trials of various kinds, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing." Some versions say "...that you may be mature and complete...."

Here are some of the things I can count as joy:

+ I am a writer, with exciting stories always in my head to entertain me, and sometimes on paper to entertain others. (I got the 2nd draft of my novel Reaching Sky done this week! and my collaborative Peculiar People's orphan train book is almost done with the first section)
+ I have a job I love that helps others and that allows me to work with people, words, languages, and cultures—all my passions. I work in education, always learning, and in churches, helping spread the gospel.
+ That I am not completely confined to bed or home.
+ I have wonderful support and love from my family and great friends.
+ I have been able to use my experiences with my disabilities to encourage and help others.
+ I can see my endurance growing, always bringing me a little closer to the perfect maturity that will be completed when I get my new body in the New Jerusalem.

What about you? What are you joyful for?

Little Amy finding joy in a ball
Joy in a snow angel


Monday, July 18, 2011

A 2 Z: I Am From...

I am from trails weaving through the trees, from ponds of Koi, and blanket forts. I am from sailing hand-painted boats down the “Mississippi,” riding the Up-Down Cherry Tree, and catching frogs and snakes outside before tea parties and dress up inside.

I am a country girl.

I’m from sisters who are best friends, imaginary worlds and elaborate games that made chores more fun (if more slow). From homeschooling around the kitchen table, playing otter in the pool, and reading all night in the crack of light from the hall. I’m from flaky pie crusts, “cream-ice,” and eating whole bags of chocolate chips.

I am from Squires chutzpah and Wiley faith that God will provide. From searching out the Bible to find out what I believe and lively debates about what might be. I am from pioneers and missionaries, medical anomalies and miracle-believers, Bible studies and elder-run churches.

I am from “keeping to the left,” laughing until we cry and our faces turn purple, and Dutch Blitz late into the night. I am from “my husband sent me for this light,” nonsense poems, se cayo, and singing while we work. I am from reading aloud with all the voices, from word games, and spontaneous adventures.

I am from Squires irony, Wiley jokes, White stubbornness, and Rubesh music. From Ecuadorian llama rugs, wood-smoke hugs, crochet lessons, and twenty cousins.

I am from falling stars seen from sleeping bags spread in the grass, from inseparable best-friends, and litters of cuddly kittens. From a 100-acre farm, custom-made houses, and learning responsibility from rabbit hutches full of fluffy Angoras.

I am from dancing in the rain, hiking in the hills, fishing in the rivers, and gazing at the mountains. I am from keeping on when it’s tough, triumphing when it’s impossible, and refusing to quit.

I am Me.


This exercise is based on a poem by George Ella Lyon called "Where I'm From." I got it from my sister at Purple Puzzle Place. You can find a template to help you write your own here.

For more "I" posts in the "From A 2 Z 4 U & Me" meme, check out Patty Wysong's Mr. Linky at the bottom of her post.

Monday, July 11, 2011

A 2 Z: Hallelujah Hands

My second language is a manual one, American Sign Language, and my profession is interpreting. Obviously, my hands are very important to me. I use them to chat with Deaf friends, to pass on the good news from a sermon at church, and to earn money. I love to sing and sign at the same time, worshiping God with my whole body.

Last week Dot Amos, a photographer and one of my mom's best friends from college, came over to play with some ideas I had to try to capture some movement pictures of me signing. They turned out beautifully! With some of them, like the heart one, she got the movement on her camera with a slow shutter speed. Others, like hallelujah, we took a series of still shots and I put them together with a photo program (I used six different pictures to make that one one). Enjoy!





For more "H" blog posts from people doing the "From A 2 Z 4 U & Me" meme, check out http://www.pattywysong.com/. If you're a blogger, feel free to jump in and join us!

Monday, July 04, 2011

A 2 Z: Grandparents

I entered a room filled with dolls and crafts, my young eyes taking in each treasure as my Great-Grandmother pulled me close for a hug. She held out her traditional gifta sort of face made with yarn woven into plastic mesh. I pressed my fingers into the corner of its cheeks and the mouth opened wide, showing a Hershey Kiss nestled inside. She loved to make all kinds of things, especially putting together dolls and making fun outfits. One holiday my sisters and I each got a handmade clown doll, complete with a different bright outfit and curly hair.

Eventually Great-Grandma, my maternal grandma's mother, had to move into a care home. We visited each Thursday after piano lessons, hearing stories of my Great-Grandmother's life as a child and then as a mother of ten children during the Depression. Parts of her life were so different, like her memories of being sent to the butcher shop when she was five. But other things remained much the same as today, like men being men just the same then as they are now. She recounted a time when she set a pie to cool on the open oven door, only to have the door fall right off the hinges and smash to the floor with the now-ruined pie. Her husband, my great-grandfather I never had the chance to meet, entered the house about then and surveyed the mess. His response? "Now what did you do that for?" Great-Grandma nearly threw the pie at him.

Oven doors apparently caused a lot of trouble because Great-Grandma also tells a story about a time when she was quite young and she and her siblings came home from school for lunch. Her older sister stepped back into the hot metal oven door that was open. It caught her right behind the knees and she fainted. Their dad scooped her up and laid her on the bed and shooed the rest of the kids back to school. Great-Grandma couldn't figure out why he would send her to school when her sister was laying dead on the bed!

I've always been very close to my maternal grandparents. They live not too far away on a hundred-acre farm that my sisters and I loved to explore. In fact, though they no longer cut lumber or raise cattle, my grandparents are still farming--in their eighties! Every summer as we grew up, us three girls stayed a whole week at the farm. Sometimes each of us had a few days alone, all in turn, and other times all three of us stayed together for a week.

Each Saturday it was Grandpa's turn to cook, and we would wake to the smell of his pancakes on the stove. Grandma taught us how to make her famous flaky pie crust, which she'd learned from her mother. But most of our time was spent outdoors, playing in the woods or barn. Grandpa would let us sit in the bucket of his tractor as he rumbled slowly down the long gravel driveway, and Grandma would point out the edible Sheep's Sorrel and any other plants or birds she could name. One year the three of us girls made a fort out of evergreen branches, and ushered our parents and grandparents in to sit on the bough couch (sorry about that wet mossy spot). Grandpa was quite impressed when the main support logs of the fort withstood a winter storm that took down many a strong tree.

Now my grandparents enjoy my writing and are impatient for my novel to be ready to read. I print out all my blogs and stories to bring to them to read.

As a child I never had the chance to be quite as close to my paternal grandparents since they were missionaries in Mexico and Central America and then retired to California. They came to the States about every four years, whereupon we'd have a huge family reunion, usually at a retreat center on the Oregon Coast. My grandpa loved children (good thing since he had six of his own and twenty grandchildren). I remember him letting us littlest ones sit on his feet while he walked, dragging us along amid much laughter. He would let me sit in his lap and play with his fascinating hands that had touched so many places—and had such interesting stretchy skin!

They moved to my town when I was nearing my teenage years, but sadly my grandpa passed away within a year. I cherish the memory of his children and many of his grandchildren holding hands around his bed and singing his favorite hymns as he slipped into the arms of Jesus. As I grew into adulthood, I became closer to my Grandma Wiley and loved to hear her tell stories. She grew so animated as she recounted tails of her missionary years or of her recent travels around the world. In the last years of her life, she began letting us grandchildren choose gifts from her large collection of tea cups, as if she knew that soon she would go on the ultimate journey Home.

How blessed am I to have Godly and nourishing grandparents as these!

To read more "G" posts for the "From A 2 Z 4 U & Me" check out Mr. Linky at the bottom of Patty's post at http://www.pattywysong.com/.

Also, many of you have given a lot of prayer and encouragement as I deal with my health issues. One of the very few companies that is doing research on my disease is getting the opportunity for a grant if enough people vote for them. Would you take a few minutes to go vote for the chance to find more treatments and answers for me? http://www.vivint.com/givesbackproject/charity/769 Thanks!