I was thinking the other day of where I was last year and everything that was racing through my heart and brain at the time. I had so many dreams, fears, and desires - seemingly all tangled up in a knot! God has been so gracious to me - and has definitely reminded me of how He holds me in the palm of His hand.
Last year I was in Istanbul, Turkey with a missions organization. Met some amazing workers over there, who work and live with their families in very difficult regions. One gal, just a couple months after the gathering, was killed by a well-known muslim-extemist terrorist group. They were passionate about living the Gospel. They loved life. I also met a group of people from a country where it is illegal to worship God freely. They were enjoying their "retreat" immensely (and not just because the women were temporarily freed from the restrictive clothing they were required to wear in their homeland), because they could preach, pray, and sing without persecution. Several were baptized there in the Black Sea, they had waited years for the chance! That night there were about 70 of us present, and after the baptism we sang hymns. We didn't speak each other's language, so we sang in our own. It was so beautiful to hear "Great is Thy Faithfulness" (in Chinese, Iranian, German, Swedish, Russian, Uzbek, Turkish, English, etc.), even in a country where mosques dot the landscape quite profusely, and you hear their call to worship throughout the day. I did get a bit nervous when the guards came to check up on us... I can't even imagine daily life for these dear people!
While there in Turkey I could rest, and think and pray. I'd been talking to Dwight for several months, one one hand valuing his friendship and on the other hand being scared to death of reopening my heart. The only emotion I could feel was fear, and even that was vague and distant. I felt emotionally numb, had for the past few years, and didn't know how to escape. Often I was so busy with work, etc. that I could ignore it. I'd been sick earlier in the year (sick as in down to under 112 lbs., skin sticking out after you pinched it, unable to be propped up by pillows because I was so exhausted sick) but my brain had been too achy to think at that time. So in Istanbul I could rest. Somewhere along the city streets, long bus rides, sleepy warm nights (no AC, my friends! Oh and the fun fireworks going off in the middle of the night right outside our window! Scared the daylights out of me the first time - I seriously thought there was a gunman coming down the hall. My imagination is pathetic.), splashing pools and quiet walks along the sea when I could get off by myself, I found His peace that had already been there waiting. I rediscovered deep joy, and after several years I felt like me. It was so amazing!
I loved "my kids" for that week (really... you'd be amazed at how incredibly fun it is to teach 12-15 three year olds (mainly boys) in an open hotel lobby full of breakable glass, 3 or so of them not speaking/ understanding ANY English, and only one of the few having English as his first language being without a STRONG British/ South African/ Austrailian accent, it was so creativity stretching and FUN! :-D I had a blast! I also had my humility reinforced as I could occasionally get one of my 3 year olds to translate for me. That sweet little brain spoke three languages fluently. I was jealous. Thankfully for that week I was able to take the curricula and then, make it my own - which allowed for plenty of skit time, color time, etc. Oh and even though I had one lady get upset (why?), I did have Pastor Jeff's okay (he heard about it later and laughed... he has 4 gals under age 7 I think) to divide the snack into two separate times. Rather than 4 cookies at one time, they got 2 cookies twice! Helped break up the 1 1/2 hour class time. I mean goodness! It would be hard enough for me to sit that long! The coconut ones were the best...
Yet I couldn't wait to get home. I had a certain friend waiting with Janny and Marty to pick me up. And I missed him. I had so wished that he could have been in Instanbul with me, to explain customs, etc., to help me understand the culture better. (He'd been in to the Middle East previously.) I'd come to where I couldn't get him out of my mind - soccer games on the beach, a worker who looked *just* like him, arabic culture, etc., didn't help any either. I saw in the heart of each worker, the same heart I'd found with Dwight. A steady, assured in Christ, love for life and people. It wasn't shouted out, life wasn't about looking good or saying the right things so that people *know* you are a believer, life wasn't about ease, it was a quietness that you discovered more of as time was spent together.
Soon I was back stateside, and he was off to Co. It was sad to have him leave just as I had began to have a peace about a relationship with him! But a dating/courtship began, and our cell phones could have smoked with the usage they received. (As in up to 7-8 hours most days... sometimes less, sometimes more.) Not easy when you are still working at HQ (yup, I was on my way out and Mr. G did know... just fyi... hehe). Staff meeting came WAY too early. But one month later, Dwight was placing imo the most beautiful ring in the world on my finger, and we had a busy 12 weeks before our wedding. So yeah, my heart didn't just thaw... it melted. I love being married to him, sharing our life together! I am so excited to be the mama of his baby and I would love to turn 100 with him, though older would be fine with me, too! :-P God's graciousness in my life leaves me overwhelmed.
So anyways... my musing turned into rambling. And got long. And the clock is ticking away - it is Chapel day today! I am determined to not be late this month. Yeah, haven't always been too great about that! I get distracted!!! So for now... "I'm late, I'm late, for a very important date! No time to say 'Hello, Goodbye!' I'm late, I'm late, I'm late!" :-P