31 03 2008

People often tell me that they don’t dream. While scientists believe that all people experience dreams during REM sleep, there seem to be some people who only rarely remember these dreams.

I often have very vivid, long & complex dreams that I remember for years afterward. Sometimes they are prophetic, and I can see the moment when they come to pass. Like last week, during the sewing class, as I was bent over Donal’s head in the confusion, there was a sudden moment when I recognized what we were doing from a dream I had a few months ago. Some prophetic people who work deeply with dreams have postulated that deja vu may actually be triggered by remembering a former dream rather than a random chemical event in the brain, as most scientists believe. I know this is true sometimes in my life.

I hope the dream I had last night is not prophetic in any literal sense, as it ends with me having my head cut off! I want to describe it to you because it has a story-like quality that is compelling. Often I have awoken and tried to make one of my dreams into a story, but I’ve never been able to. Somehow the dreams are always, uncompromisingly, themselves.

This one began in a mountain top settlement. I no longer remember how we came to be there, but I was with a lot of people. In the night, an army of muslims came up through the dark forest with torches and swords. I slipped out of my canvas tent when I heard the sounds and hid. Many people don’t know how to hide in the woods at night, but I do. You find a pool of shadow and you hold very, very still. It is moving that reveals you. I pressed my back up against a tree behind one of the wooden shacks, and several of the men passed me by. During a moment of stillness, I took my shoes off and crept forward, deeper into a bramble thicket. I heard the people I was with being captured. There was a lot of loud shouting and torchlight flickered through the trees behind me.
In the next part of the dream, I was captured. I was in a room with all the other women who had been in the camp with me. There were probably thirty or forty of us in one long room. We were kept there for a couple of days and very little happened. Somehow, I had a baby with me. A little one who was very still and quiet and pressed his head against my shoulder and never cried.

Then, one day, guards came into the room shouting and pushed us all into the hallway to line up. A lot of the women were crying and frightened, some were just puzzled. I was pressed into the line nearest the door. The men were yelling at us to space out- we were supposed to be an arms-length apart. The baby was still in my arms. The whole scene was very confused with a lot of shouting men and crying women.
Then a man entered the room at the other end. He was vividly dressed, with a scarlet sash, and he was attractive in a dark way. His eyes were black and flashing, and he didn’t look happy. He had a drawn sword in his hand that shone like silver, and I knew instantly that he had been sent to cut off our heads. He began spinning down the line like a dervish, and with every step, someone was decapitated.

As he started this, I was drawn to a flashback in the dream. I saw that in former days, I had slipped out of the building where we were held prisoner. I had the baby pressed to my shoulder and I had run faster than I had ever run before across the street and down a grassy hillside. I wanted to throw myself down in the grass and disappear, but one of the guards was following me too closely. Instead I ran into a small lake that was at the bottom of the hill. The guard followed me.

From the lake, it was impossible to see the town where we were being held prisoner. There were two twin lakes, nearly perfectly round and still. All around them the ground rose up in hills, so it was like the lakes were held in pockets in the land. Tawny waist-high grass covered the hills from the edge of the lakes up to the horizon. It was beautiful and peaceful there. When the guard followed me into the water, I stopped on a sand bar about chest deep, and I turned away from him to nurse the baby. He did nothing to hurt me- instead he stood and spoke with me. I got the impression that he admired me- he admired my freedom and my courage.

After that, whenever we could, we slipped away down to the lake. Every time we went down there my spirits lifted like a kite. The wind came down and blew the grasses and blew my hair around my face. The guard was very gentle. He talked with me. He was falling in love with me, against his principles, against his loyalty, against his religion.

Then the flashback was over and I was again in the room with the sword man. And somehow I knew that he had argued against this course of action, but had been ordered to do this thing. His killing was as precise and emotionless as a ritual dance. I turned, and while the guards were distracted by the violence, did what I had done many times before: I slipped out the door and ran.

But this time, my guard didn’t follow me. The killer did. He tracked me across the street, between the buildings, through the grass and down to the lake. I ran out to the very middle, to a place where I could barely stand. And he followed me. As he walked into the water, all the blood was washed off of him. He became clean.  As the blood washed away, it seemed like all that was dangerous about him washed away, also.  I knew he was not going to kill me now.  Instead, he came to stand on the sand beside me. And he asked me why I came here.

As I answered him, my spirit was flung up out of my body, or my body was flung up in the air- it is hard to say which- but I was flying up over the lakes. I could see the lakes and the hills and they were so beautiful! They were unbearably beautiful, and I was telling this man, this killer, all about the beauty of this place and telling him that when I came here I felt joy and freedom. I cannot capture in words how joyful I felt to be there, to be flying- the air bore me up and I slid over it with a rapture of freedom.

Then I was back in my body, and he told me to come. He led me by the hand, very peacefully, back to the killing room. It was nearly cleaned up. Men with mops were mopping up the last of the blood.  Regretfully, the man locked me in the room we had been in before and said he would go and try to intercede for me. But he knew, and I knew even then, that he would not succeed. That they would say I had to die because of who I was, and the baby with me. It was while I was waiting for my executioner to return that Michael woke me.

I don’t know what to make of this, or of the other dream I remember from last night, that came before this one.  Dreams are supposed to be a processing by our unconscious mind of everything that had happened the day before.  Obviously none of this had happened to me before!  Or they are supposed to be communications from God to our sleeping minds.  I have had dreams that were God communicating to me.  I have also had torturous, demonic dreams.  But I don’t know what to make of this one.  It was horrifying, but the thing I mainly felt in the midst of all these circumstances was a feeling of persistent freedom.  Like no matter what they did, they didn’t have the power to keep me.  Even death didn’t frighten me, though I was a little nervous about having my head cut of with that shiny sword!  It is hard to believe, but that dream was full of a curious peace.

So there you go- make what you will of that!


Happy Super Mom Day!

30 03 2008

    When I came home from my class last night, a picture on the door said, “Cum in fer yor supriz!”  There were balloons on the ceiling fan, a big poster taped over the couch, and a banner over the dining room archway that said, “Welcome Super MOM.”

They set out roses and snacks on the table in the living room.  Neal grilled hamburgers and Donal made caramel popcorn.  There was  a schedule posted on the fridge that went  like this: “5:30 h’orderves & sparkling grape juse, 6:00 dinner, 7:30 movie, 7:00 dancing.”  Someone had picked out a selection of dance music on my computer and we danced in the kitchen.  I wish you could have seen my husband dancing to “Magic Carpet Ride.”  We ended up smooching behind the refrigerator while the kids chased balloons.  Then everyone piled up on the beds in our room and watched Meet The Robinsons and ate caramel popcorn you had to chip out of the bowl with a knife.

The roses they gave me were really beautiful- yellow with dark pink edges.  I told them it was better than any birthday party and Mothers Day I had ever had in my life.  I can’t imagine how much time they put into putting it together.  Before bed Donal came and lay down with his head in my lap for a snuggle.  I kissed him until he confessed that it had been his idea (I knew it wasn’t Neal’s- definitely not his style).  He tried to deny it for a while, but his ears always turn bright red when he’s embarrassed.  Rather like Rudolph’s nose.  So I knew who the mastermind was, though Bren did a lot of the work, and so did Neal.  They cleaned, did a 2 hour shopping trip to Walmart, painted, drew signs, made food, and set up the house.  Even Michael helped blow up balloons to tape to the ceiling fan.

Wow- I have the best family in the world!

Closing papers, hand outs of Grace, and Scratch…

25 03 2008

Another hurdle jumped: we signed the closing papers today.  I am totally annoyed with Wells Fargo.  They’re charging us $500 for paying off our mortgage!  Is this right?  Is this fair?  Argh!   The buyers are waiting for their HUD approval paper or whatever and the deed will be done Wednesday morning.  We will be free!  Trying to think of a way to make Wells Fargo eat their words.   I would like to feed them my fist as well.  Not feeling very forgiving, taking deep breaths…. ah.  Ok.

I have cleaned three bathrooms in two days and am feeling virtuous.  And sad.  I saw Monika briefly today.  How long will it be before I have friends for playdates here?

I need y’all to pray for a couple of people.  Coni (of Conisong on my blogroll), a very funny and wonderfully loving person, has been diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis.  This is supposedly not treatable or reversible, but as those of you who have experienced God’s divine healing know, with God ALL THINGS are possible!  I will never, ever forget the way God healed my back the last time.  I was in so much pain I could barely stand to sit on the couch.  I couldn’t sit, stand, or lie.  Then my son asked God to heal a canker sore in his mouth, and I was kind of snickering to myself.  God said, “Don’t laugh,” and he healed my back.  It felt just like someone pressing a heating pad against the small of my back for about thirty seconds.  I have never had trouble with my slipped disk again.  God HEALS.  Please pray for her.

I also need people to be in prayer for Kay.  I am praying that God will move heaven and earth on her behalf, and I am NOT taking no for an answer!   There’s a verse in Proverbs that says that God will give favor to a righteous servant, but I am not a servant.  I am an adopted daughter, joint heir with Christ to all the wealth and power of heaven.  When the father of the prodigal son received his son, he didn’t receive him as a servant.  And when his older son complained, he put his arm around him and said, “You are always with me, and all that I have is yours…”   All that God has is mine.  I don’t have to wait for handouts of grace.  My name is on the checkbook!  I have power of attorney, and a key to the safe deposit box!  And Lord, I want to make a withdrawl for Kay- I am withdrawing healing, forgiveness, resurrection, and restitution on behalf of my sister.  I loose her to be healed, and I bless the prayer team to pray over her with Holy Spirit insight and power to cut the bonds of the enemy and give her peace.  Like, right now, Lord!

On a more mundane note… there is something seriously wrong with Neal’s cat’s brain.  This animal (her name is Nutmeg) goes into the litter box and does her stuff.  But then, she can’t figure out how to bury it.  Now a dog is very relaxed about this issue.  They take a couple swipes with their back paws in the general direction of the smell and they’re off!  They don’t look back.   The cat, however…  She sniffs, and yes, it stinks.  (Fancy that!)  So she reaches out her dainty paw and scratches the side of the litter box.   Not the litter, now.  The hard plastic side of the litter box on the opposite side from the poop.
Then she sniffs again.  It still stinks.  (This is a surprise only to the cat.  The rest of us are gritting our teeth and thinking, “WHY won’t the stupid cat scratch the LITTER instead of the plastic box?”)  Since it still smells bad, she scratches again.
I lie in bed some nights listening to this little production.  Sometimes she pauses to sniff, and I think, “Oh thank you Lord!  She has finally given up and gone to lie down!”  Then she starts again.
She’s on a roll- really going to get that smell this time…
Finally, I get so desperate to make her stop, I get out of bed, pull my robe on, and walk to the closet and BURY IT FOR HER!  Yes, at 2 a.m. I am burying Neal’s cat’s poop.  Neal is still sleeping.  I climb back in bed muttering to myself and swearing that the next house we own will have a cat door and I will never deal with a litter box again as long as I live.  Peace reigns.  The house is quiet.  The babies are sleeping.  Neal is snoring.  The cars are hissing by on the road, and I begin to slip back to sleep.
Somewhere in the darkness, Nutmeg is slipping out from under a piece of furniture.  Her delicate nose, keenly tuned to detect the odor of prey even when the scent is several days cold, smells something…  The box still stinks.

Fritos for breakfast

21 03 2008

I suppose eating Fritos for breakfast is not the smartest thing I’ve ever done.  But there you go.

I danced around the kitchen with Brenna this morning.  My hair was wet and flying everywhere, and her hair was static-y and flying everywhere.  We were dancing and jumping and singing a song from “Jonah,” God is a God of second chances…  Donal came into the kitchen for a drink of water and we surrounded him and grabbed him and jumped up and down.  Brenna said he had to dance, too, to get out of the kitchen.  He did, trying to look bored to death, but I saw a dimple peeking out of his cheek.

Neal may be making an offer on a house today.  It was really wierd.  We were praying, asking the Lord about whether or not to purchase this house, and he reminded me of a dream I had about a year ago.  I dreamed we were trying to buy the house on Sand Hill Road.  In the dream I was fussing at the Lord, saying, “No!  We just SOLD this stupid house!  It took us over a year to find someone to buy it.  We live somewhere new now!”  Can you believe- now we’re trying to buy a house on Sandhill Road.  Different city, same road….   Neal can even remember me telling him about that dream.

So anyhow, I’m thinking about paint & wallpaper colors, eating Fritos, and listening to Yo-Yo Ma on my Yahoo Music thingy.  D is grumpily doing his free-write (I don’t think he feels it is very free), and B is reading her bible chapter for the day.  Patrick just dumped a huge tin of beads on the floor, and Michael is gluing paper fish into a paper aquarium without adult supervision.  Perhaps I had better go check on them….

New Church Membership

16 03 2008

We officially joined the church today.  The pastor had us stand up front, then he paused and said, “Let’s do something different today,” and sent two people back to the nurseries to get our kids.  Everyone stared.  Neal and I held hands and tried not to meet anyone’s eyes.  They came back with our kids, and the Pastor exhorted everyone to treat us like family, especially as we didn’t have any blood kin here.

Then everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, in the church came up and hugged us.  It was like the receiving line of a wedding, only with hugs instead of handshakes.  I had seen them do this to another couple and thought it was weird.  But when they did it for us, I realized how incredibly powerful it was.  I felt so totally loved and welcomed in I didn’t know whether to laugh or sit down on the step and cry.  Each person had something kind to say.  They hugged the kids, praised us & the kids…  it was beyond words.

I had been feeling a little nervous about joining a new church.  Not any more!   Patrick got so used to greeting people he had to get down out of my arms and shake hands with the Pastor on the way out.

Incidentally, worship was fantastic today.  They got beyond the regular music set and the Pastor got up on stage and told the folks to act like Jesus was coming to the city today (being Palm Sunday) and what would we do if he were physically with us and the whole place went nuts.  I love watching the pastor & music team dance while they’re playing.  Even the bongo guy was jumping up & down.  It was wild.

Sometimes this man provokes me, sometimes he makes me laugh, sometimes he encourages me, and sometimes he makes me feel really stubborn.  But we haven’t had a day yet where I felt like nodding off.

Perfect Peace- a prayer

12 03 2008

My heart is broken tonight.  I am hurting.  Several people I know are going through mean, nasty, dirty ugly situations and I am hurting for them.  Unfortunately, my compassion has no cash value.  What good does my sympathy do?

God, the world is a hurting place.  Sometimes I see it like a thicket of thorns, and the more we try to work our way out of it, the more pierced we get.

I am trying to lay my heart down right now.  There is a woman in our church who reminds me very much of my grandmother.  She smells like smoke, wears lots of clunky jewelry, dyes her hair red, and she’s lonely.  She’s incredibly starved for company, for touch, for someone to talk to.  I have to love her.  I am pressing past my dislike for being touched to allow this woman to sit down beside me and rub my arm, lean her head against me, touch my hair and face, and elbow me when she laughs.  Physically, it is painful for me, but for once I can hear with my heart- I can hear the terrible longing inside her to be held.  No, she doesn’t really love me.  She just needs someone, and I’m someone.  A warm body.  A hand.  My God, give me patience and love enough to be a body near her!

A friend has been pouring out her terrible relationship problems to me.  What a dreadful snarl we get ourselves into sometimes!  Have been trying to give Godly advice, counseling patience, gentleness, self-control.  Have been trying to touch her heart to restraint, to not make the same mistakes we all make time after time.  When we are wounded, we lash out.  I have been trying to absorb some of her pain.  Is this stupid?  Is is stupid for me to provide an ear to hear her pain, acknowledge that it exists, and counsel her to bear it patiently until the situation can be unraveled?   She’s not like some of the ones I have tried to help in the past- she took her problem to counseling instead of continuing to wallow in crisis.  I have very little sympathy for the people who have become addicted to their own pitifulness, but this one doesn’t seem that way.  I MUST learn to discern who God has given me as a burden, who he has given me to touch, who he has given me to intercede for, and who I had better leave alone!

God are you hearing these people?  They are pouring their hearts out to me, but I can’t do anything for them!  You’re going to have to get moving and do something for them, for the woman who cried in my kitchen, for the woman who called me tonight, for the woman who sat beside me all evening, for the broken heart crying out on her cell phone.  God I pray your mercy over all of them.  I pray you would break their bondages and give them peace, the peace that passes all understanding.  I pray you would touch their lives with holy fire, undo what the enemy has done against them and lead them into the place of rest that you have prepared for your people.  Heal their wounded hearts, Lord, and give them an understanding of how wide, how long, how high, and how deep Your love really is.  I pray you would shake the heavens on behalf of these women I love, break their captivity, and lift their tired spirits in your untiring arms. Lift mine, too, while you’re at it.

I pray for my mother and my sister, that you would bless them indeed.  I pray you would touch their lives and give them peace, lead them beside the still waters and restore their souls.  I pray health and healing for my father and restitution for what he has lost.  Lord I pray that you would break the enemy’s hold over my son’s health and set him free from the affliction that troubles him.  Holy Spirit I loose you to work great and mighty things in my husband’s life and the life of my children- I pray that you would break free their destiny in Christ and equip them for every good work.

I lift up my sister Lisa, father, and pray sugar for her- the sweet of the land, the land flowing with milk and honey.  I pray you would lead her into the place where your presence is so sweet she can just barely stand it.  I pray rest and refreshment for her, that you would water her flagging purpose and cause it to bloom again.  Lord, refresh the words you have given her in her mind, whisper in her ears in the night time, visit her in her dreams.  I pray that her will would be made one with your will and that she would live in your life-giving presence effortlessly.  Hide her under your wing, father.  Keep her in perfect peace.  Comfort her, O God of all comfort.  Comfort her tonight.

And Karen, darling.  I pray you would comfort Karen tonight.  Remind her who she is.  Remind her that she is the daughter of a king.  Help her to see herself through your eyes and see how desirable she is.  Father, please restore her self-esteem and give her courage and faith to lift her head again, to lift her eyes again and begin to praise and believe.  Renew her, in your faithfulness.  Restore her joy.  Please, Father, I ask these things.  Please.  Press on her.  Touch her precious heart.  Don’t give up until she falls to her knees and confides in you.  Bend down your ear and listen as she prays.  Show her your faithful love in wonderful ways.

Father, I’m laying these people in your hands tonight.  I need to go and sleep, and I need you to take care of these things for me.  I’m too weak.  I can’t carry them.  You carry them, please.  You heal them, you help them, you save and restore them.  I commit them to your care.  And I pray that you would restore me as I sleep and give me, tomorrow, more to give to my husband, my family, my friends, and my children.  Let me become an out-pouring of your love, a reflection of your grace, a still pool of your mercy and love.  Let my prayers shake the heavens and slake the thirst of the perishing.  Touch their hearts for me, God, change their lives, heal their souls, break their bonds.  I’m trusting you, because you said that what I place in your trust you MUST attend to.

Thank you.  Thank you for bearing the burden that I can’t bear.  Oh, my God!   I love you so!  How could anyone know you and not know how you love!   Not know the depths of your comfort and peace!  You are the only one that enables me to bear it!  Only you- only you give me the strength to go on being me, making mistakes, failing…  Only you make my weaknesses endurable!  God I love you!  You are so patient with me, so forgiving.  I can’t praise you enough.  Watch over me as I sleep, I pray, keep me in perfect peace.

New church members! And other stuff…

10 03 2008

    Yesterday morning, we turned in our application to be members at Harvest Fellowship church under Pastor Pete Norris.  And I mostly feel good about that.  Would you believe- he actually had two “ten minute speakers” on Sunday!  Is he reading my blog, too?  (Along with Progress Energy apparently.)

I do feel kind of sorry for him, though.  Because I go through these cycles where I am in “church rebellion.”  He kept telling us to stand up yesterday.  At one point he jokingly said, “Don’t sit down- you’re closer to heaven when you stand.”  There is just something in me that rises up in rebellion.  When someone tells me to stand, I want to sit.  They tell me to sit, I want to walk around.  They tell me to pray, and I look around the room.  They tell me to worship and I pray.  I don’t like being part of the machine.  I don’t like blending in.  I want to wander off and do my own thing in my own time.  Practically speaking, when you have something as large as a church, you can’t allow people to do that, though.

Yesterday during worship I went back and danced with the toddlers.  It was cool.  Nobody tries to make a toddler do anything they don’t want to.  If they want to stand, they stand.  If they want to lie on the floor and roll around, they do.  If they want to wave a flag and jump in circles, they are released to do that.  I was too inhibited.   I’m really hoping that going to the Morningstar Women’s Conference next month is going to help me with that.  Why have I become so self-concious about worship in the last few months? I just want to shake that off.

I went to try and pay for my conference fees with some birthday money my wonderful, extravagant in-laws gave me, and discovered that someone had already paid my way!  Isn’t that cool?  I didn’t mean to extort help by sharing my testimony about Neal being out of work.  God really has provided EVERY single thing we needed when we needed it.  We have lacked for nothing and are rapidly getting out of debt even while we pay the mortgage and the rental.  God has been very very good to me.  I wish I could live my entire life right here in this little bubble of blessing and favor and never have to be tested again….    Right, like that’s going to happen!

We’re putting together some clothes and baby things and toys to sent to orphanages in Nairobi.  The church has a relationship with a minister there who runs a series of churches and five orphanages in small towns.  We’ve decided to send our generator.  Figure they can get more use out of it than we are.    The only times we run it are after hurricanes.  We use it to save a freezer full of food we can easily replace and be more comfortable for a few days.  They could use it to run medical equipment or run a refrigerator for milk and formula for abandoned babies and vaccinations and medical supplies.  Hmmm…. who would get the most benefit from it?  Duh.

As a suprise benefit to people who actually READ my blog, I’m going to tell you something about the prayer request I sent out.  Our realtor, their realtor, the inspector, and the people buying the house all showed up to flush our problem toilet today.   The first flush went fine.   Everyone breathed deeply.  The second flush backed up.  Waa!!  Then they ran the shower, which is right next to the toilet, for 45 minutes & the shower never backed up.  (Well, it never has.)  The inspector concluded that there was nothing WRONG with the septic system, but perhaps there was something wrong with the toilet.  Kay is going to replace the toilet at her own expense (she says if it works I can pay her back at closing) and see if there’s something about the toilet or the plumbing that is causing the problem because the septic tank is obviously not backing up.  I have been praying earnestly that the God who got Israel out of hock in Egypt, who caused the entire Assyrian army to turn on itself and commit suicide outside of the gates of Jerusalem, who showed Elijah chariots of fire on every hill top, can get my house sold.  Of course he can!  I don’t know how he’s going to do it, but, Hallelujah!, he’s smarter than I am.

My job is to believe that He is and believe that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him, to tithe, to pray, and to trust in Him.  His job is to sell the house, provide for my family, keep us safe, heal our bodies, minds and spirits, and guide us along the best pathway for our lives.   This would seem like an inequitable division of labor if He weren’t so very good at His job!   I’m rather like Jack the Giant Killer, just riding along in the tree-top pretending to carry my end.