Sunday, January 29, 2012


On the way to school, in the early morning light, we drive by a disaster.
Fire in the night has turned a once-house to blackened rubble.
A once-home.
Now piles of debris.
Now strewn about, mixed with mud and ash.
Smoke rises in isolated tendrils toward a colorless sky.
The mocking rain falls.
I wonder if the drops sizzle when they land.
A red shirtsleeve, bright against the black,
seemingly untouched, is tangled in charred rebar.
My heart hurts for the loss. For strangers who now have no home.
I take a picture so I won't forget how fragile things are.
I watch as a man paces the hot black floor.
His barefeet are black like the mounds around him.
He drops a plastic water bottle on top of a pile.
A pile of once-things.
Now ash.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The End

I don't think about "The End" very often. And when I do, it is fleeting, a passing thought. Sometimes my Leasie reminds me of endings with her heavenly homesickness. But this weekend, we watched all three Lord of the Ring movies. And I was struck by a conversation between Pippin and Gandalf:

Pippin: I didn't think it would end this way.

Gandalf: End? No the journey doesn't end here. Death is just another path, one that we all must take. The grey rain-curtain of this world rolls back, and all turns to silver glass. And then you see it.

Pippin: What? Gandalf? See what?

Gandalf: White shores. And beyond, a far green country under a swift sunrise.

Ah. It gets me every time. Even as I write the words, I feel the power of them, the beauty and the truth of them.

I have many friends who are going through difficult things right now. And I am so very sad for them.

In my heart I have hope for a better world. When all the struggles and battles are over. When all the sicknesses and pain are done. When I've learned everything I came here to learn, I look forward to the grey rain-curtain of this world rolling back.

And I will look to my left and my right. I will be with those I love.

And together we will take in the view.

Friday, January 20, 2012

My Shower

My shower is fickle at best.

First off, it doesn't even look like a normal shower. The shower head resembles a six inch pipe or a thick silver wand.

Sometimes my shower decides to be nice, sending me warm and toasty water.

But a lot of times, it is luke warm. Or just plain cold.

My favorite (not) is when I'm rinsing my hair in a toasty warm stream of water, only to suddenly be blasted with icy cold. Yelp!

Today. Today I was in the middle of shampooing my hair. Sudsy. My mouth closed so as not to get any water in my mouth. My eyes closed so as not to get soap in my eyes.

And that's exactly when the shower decided to shut off. Completely. No more water. Not even a drizzle or drip.


Me...climbing out of the shower, one-eye open in a Popeye grimace, reaching for my towel, soap dripping from my hair...

I still love Jakarta. But today, I'm missing my American shower. A lot.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Sunshine Buns

The house smelled like cinnamon rolls.
Warm, yeasty, sweet.
A recipe called "Sunshine Buns" from my friend, Karen.
And that's just what they were.
A bit of sunshine on an otherwise stormy day.

The kids lumbered off the bus.
Trudged through the rain.
Backpacks dropped from their shoulders.

I could see it in their faces.
A hard day.
And then they smelled the Sunshine Buns.
And the clouds in their countenances cleared away.

Food doesn't cure everything.
But today it helped.

So did an evening of fingernail painting.
(Especially with fun Shatter!)

So did snuggling on the couch with a read aloud.

And kisses from CJ worked wonders.

"How are you?" I asked my oldest as I tucked her in.
"Really?" I asked, because now I know.

There are plenty of clouds.
But there's lots of sunshine too.

Monday, January 16, 2012


I dream in full color. Action packed blockbuster movies. And all of my dreams conjure up real emotions. I have woken with tears on my cheeks and an uncontrollable sadness. I have woken from dreams so scary that my heart is racing and I have to sleep the rest of the night with the lights on. And I've had dreams so happy that I've tried to go back to sleep to dream them again (like when I was about six years old and dreamed I was on the TV show Happy Days, and I was Pinkie - the Fonz's girlfriend).

At one time I considered blogging just about my dreams, but then thought A) it might be too revealing or worse B) it would just get boring.

But two nights ago I had a dream worth sharing. In my dream I was back in high school. Not either of the two high schools I had actually attended, but it was clearly a high school with hallways, lockers, and classrooms. The halls were full of students. Some I recognized from my past, while most were strangers. What made the dream remarkable was the pervasive feeling of loneliness. In my dream, I had no friends. I wandered the hallways with no one to talk to. The loneliness was absolute and complete. It consumed me so that it was hard to walk. I dragged my feet along the linoleum and stooped with sagging shoulders. The loneliness was so heavy.

I woke from the dream, and it took me till the afternoon to shake the blues. But the dream helped me remember something I had forgotten. I used to be lonely. Junior High and High School was an undulation of highs and lows, but I certainly experienced moments of extreme loneliness.

Now here's the kicker. Since moving here, three of my five children have expressed feelings of sadness and loneliness. However, I chalked it up to par-for-the-course. Yes, moving is hard. And yes, until you make friends, moving can be lonely.

Even as recent as the holiday break, my children shared how they did not want to go back to school. It wasn't until this dream, this pseudo reality that seemed so real, that I became more aware of what my children are going through and feeling right now.

My eyes were open and I took time to not only ask each one what is really going on at school, but also listen to their answers.

Some of the answers weren't easy to hear.

Life is hard. Life is hard when a mom's kiss can't make everything better. Life is hard when a yummy breakfast isn't enough to get through the next 7 hours of bus rides and school. Life is hard when you are lonely.

I just pray that my children know they are loved. And that my love, my husband's love, and the love of their Heavenly Father, will be enough.

Roaming the halls...I hope they know they're never alone.

Monday, January 9, 2012


Two hours before my parents left for the airport, my mom and I took a walk.

We greeted the embassy security with a "Salamat Pagi" and walked out the green gate. At the edge of our housing complex, I spotted a scattering of my favorite flowers. They had fallen from a nearby tree in the morning breeze and were strewn across the road. White petals on black asphalt.

My mom and I picked them up and held them to our noses. I collected them until I had a handfull. Mom tucked a perfect blossom behind her ear.

When we got home, we put them in a bowl. And for the next few days, each time I saw the bowl with the flowers, I remembered my morning walk with my Mom.

This morning I went for a run, alone. I was on the verge of loneliness, but then I noticed that on almost every block, my favorite trees were blooming. White flowers scattered across the road right in my path. I had to jump and leap to keep from crushing them under my running shoes.
I bent down and picked up this perfect bloom.

These flowers are more than beautiful. They are part of a memory. And every time I see one, I will think of my Mom.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Joy Times Two

These twins of mine. How I love them!

I love that they've never been alone. They shared a crib. They shared bottles. They learned to crawl together. They learned to escape the playpen together. They rode in the double baby-jogger together. Together, they drove me crazy.
They rode the bus for the first time together and started Kindergarten together.

They've played together. They've laughed together. And they've cried (oh, how they cried!) together.

On Monday, the twins turned 8 years old. And that meant, that yesterday, they shared something else. They shared their baptism day.
They were baptized in a pool. At the Paul's home. Here in Indonesia. Grandma and Poppy, who traveled all the way to the other side of the world for that special moment, spoke at the baptism. They bore their testimonies not just with their words but also through their presence - such a tremendous effort to be here for the occasion.

It was late in the evening when we made our way outside to the pool. The sky was dark. Insects swarmed the porch lights leaving a scattering of wings on the steps.

Amelia entered the water first, wearing the white dress Grandma made. The evening call to prayer was loud and close. Not a quiet background noise. As their Dad offered the baptism prayer, calm yet strong into the night, I felt a power. The Muslim song mixed with our Christian prayer. A contrast, and yet so fitting for a baptism in this beautiful country we love.

Truman followed his sister. And Dad offered the second baptismal prayer of the night.

I had envisioned this moment in my mind before. Of course, not in my wildest dreams had I ever imagined any of my children would be baptized in Indonesia.

Nothing can compare to the magnitude of joy and love I felt at that moment. My heart was so full, it nearly burst.
I love that these babies of mine came together to this world. In the process, they rocked my little world...but also made me a better person.

Joy times two.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

New Year's Eve

The mountain road closed minutes (maybe even seconds) before we arrived. We are the fifth car in the line of cars that grows steadily.

"What do you mean the road will be closed for the next three hours?" I ask the Indonesian policeman.

He doesn't understand my question, or is just too polite to answer.

We turn around and consult a map.

Yes, there is another road. It winds down the other side of the Puncak pass toward Bandung, and curves around to head back to Jakarta. It will add at least 2 hours onto our drive. We've never driven that far. Heck, I've never driven in this country off the beaten path. We weigh our options, and choose to drive instead of waiting three hours.

The scenery is beautiful. But the roads are too harrowing for me to take much note of anything else. I drive the stick shift up and down the mountain roads. Near misses as I round curves and other trucks are driving in the middle of the road!

Bumps rattle the suspension, send the potted plants we'd purchased flying in the back seat. Tman sweeps up the dislodged dirt with his hands.

Five hours on the road. My Dad sits in the passenger seat and keeps us entertained with stories from his childhood.

Potty breaks at gas stations. I try not to think of my too-long pants dragging on the floor. Nearly scream outloud when my purse falls off the hanger onto the damp tiles. Hand sanitizer please.
We arrive home and my legs are shaking.

I'm in bed by 9pm - exhausted.

I wake to the sound of popcorn. No, not popcorn, fireworks. So many pops and booms it could be popcorn. The clock tells me it is 2012. I check on everyone. They are asleep. I decide to wake Madi.

We walk outside together to a sky lit up by fireworks. Everywhere we look, every direction, the sky is filled with light. I have never seen so many fireworks...not even on the 4th of July. Our neighbors wave and call out a "Happy New Year!" Madi and I are the only ones in our pajamas. I squeeze her shoulders, happy she is here with me.

We go inside before the fireworks have ended.

I find my husband asleep. He drove the other car today and is as tired as I am. If the fireworks haven't woken him, I decide not to wake him either.

I bend down and whisper in his ear, "Happy New Year."