It’s a BROKEN World…

This post was written as part of “Five Minute Friday” where bloggers write for 5 minutes on a given topic, without editing or revising their work. You can see the link-up hosted by Lisa-Jo Baker HERE.

A few years ago we were working with at-risk young people in a remote area of Navajoland. Far too many children were raising themselves, or were taking responsibility for younger siblings, while the adults around them were constantly drunk, on drugs, or were out gambling and fighting. Some folks have accused me of being racist, or of being judgmental. I think the truth lies closer to being, at times, completely and totally overwhelmed by the broken world we found around us.

One day the world came crashing down around the teachers and administration at the local all-Navajo-student K-8 school. One of the younger boys, “S,” winced when his teacher put a hand on his shoulder to redirect his attention to his workbook. After proper procedures were followed to investigate what had happened, the student was taken into custody by the State Highway Patrol and a Social Worker, kicking and screaming the entire time; wailing that he loved his mother and his mother loved him.

When my husband and I got to the school a little later that afternoon for our tutoring/teaching responsibilities, we found the adults still in a state of shock. This precious fellow had wounds and deep bruising from his head to his lower legs and down his arms as far as his elbows. “S” had been beaten with a wire by his mother the night before. It must have taken hours for her to do that much damage to him…

A Mini-Art Project I recently made with longing for the day that Jesus brings healing to S.

A Mini-Art Project I recently made with longing for the day that Jesus brings healing to S.

Don’t talk to me of racism. Don’t talk to me of judgmentalism. Let me tell you about a broken, broken world. Especially when I tell you the end of the story: he was back with his mother within days and was moved to another school so none of us could be so “abusive” as to call authorities again.

I still get a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach when I think of “S.” And I was reminded of him just the other day during a women’s bible study I am attending. The focus was on Christ’s redeeming us from slavery. In Gal 3:13, it says that Christ became a curse for us. The teacher went on to describe the traditional beating by Jewish tradition: 39 lashes which left wounds and bruising from head to toe and half way down the arms. She made it clear that Christ took that beating for us; He took the curse intended for us; He paid the price in his own body for our wrong-doing.

All of a sudden it came crashing in on me. Young “S” was beaten. He was cursed with a twisted “love” from his mother. His life was, at least at times, a living hell. And yet…and yet…in the middle of that broken world, Jesus has already come to redeem that in “S’s” young life. I began weeping when I realized that someday “S” might learn that Jesus wants to replace those wounds and that curse with His own payment. Jesus wants to redeem and heal those wounds and make “S’s” life whole again.

Hurry, Lord Jesus. Rescue “S” (and other innocent young Navajo children) from this broken, broken world…

“They” say it’s HOME

You already know that I haven’t done much writing here on the blog for the past few months. I could give you lots of reasons excuses, but you don’t need to waste your time reading that. So I’m just jumping in and writing about HOME for another 5 Minute Friday. (For more information about this blog-link-up or to read other posts on the same topic, please click HERE.)

Ready, set, GO!

When I read this topic, my mind wandered to the many sayings about “home.” These sayings kept coming back to me over and over and over. I realized that, at least for now, most of those sayings just do NOT apply to our current situation. Let me give you a few examples:

The world is a great book; he who never stirs from home reads only a page.(St. Augustine) I’ve loved this quote from the first time I heard it years ago. As I’ve mentioned before, I would happily have become a “gypsy,” wandering the world, meeting new people, learning about new cultures. And I am a voracious reader (and book acquirer) so comparing travel to reading a book resonates with me. Hmmm…come to think of it, having just returned from 10 weeks of wandering in Europe probably means that this quote IS true for me! (Quick, let’s move on to the next one…)

Training the next generation of wanderers...

Training the next generation of wanderers…

Mid pleasures and palaces though we may roam, be it ever so humble, there’s no place like home. (John Howard Payne) It is true that whenever we go on vacation, there is something special about finally pulling in the driveway and walking in the door. (Well, except for that time when a pipe had sprung a leak and our living room ceiling was on the floor with a waterfall cascading through the rubble…but I guess that’s another story for another day!) Somehow home always seems so much bigger than what we left. (And it is almost always cleaner than usual, since I’ve succumbed over the years to my husband’s mania to clean thoroughly before we leave!) However, this time I had no “home” to return to after my roaming. We are still living with my parents until we can figure out “what’s next,” find paying work, and set up our next home. This place is familiar, and things are going quite well…but it is still not HOME!

Or else we took our "home" with us while we roamed...

Or else we took our “home” with us while we roamed…

You can never go home again. On the one hand, this is certainly true for us right now. Job/ministry ended and we’ve had to leave friends and a place we learned to love. On the other hand, this quote is certainly NOT true…since we moved back “home” with my long-suffering parents. (And we have done this dance once or twice before!)

It is unlikely we will EVER live in this home again...

It is unlikely we will EVER live in this home again…

Home is where the heart is. I’ve always had a bit of a problem with this saying. After all, little pieces of my heart are scattered across the country…and the world! (As of a few weeks ago I have children in 2 different states, plus central Asia, plus China. I have a sister in London, and another sister whose husband is in Afghanistan and whose daughter was in Central America.) The combination of our own roaming and the wandering of my kids and siblings means I either have lots and lots of homes…or that this quote is not true for a family like ours.

It isn't very often anymore that all of us are in one place at one time...

It isn’t very often anymore that all of us are in one place at one time…

Be grateful for the home you have, knowing that at this moment, all you have is all you need. (Sarah Ban Breathnach) Okay, I’ll get off my soap box now. Some of these quotes about “home” are not true for me right now. But THIS one certainly is! I need to quit being impatient and relax into the process of trying to determine where and what God has next for our family. I need to remember that we indeed have all that we need right now.

I AM grateful for the “home” that we have right now… Thanks, Mom and Dad, for this oasis in a stressful stormy time of life!

Dive In To The New…

I am linking up with 5 minute Friday. You can read more about it HERE. This week’s prompt is “dive.” I’m starting with a 5 minute write…then adding photos of 2 weeks of wandering in Europe with my oldest daughter and my youngest daughter.

Ready…Set…GO!

Dive in! That’s easy for me. I love to experience new things, meet new people, go new places, try new foods.

Yes, it can be stressful when I’m someplace new. What if I’m on the wrong train? Where do we get off? (I can’t read the signs. After all, they are in German, an unintelligible language to my ears and eyes.) What landmarks do I need to remember to get back to the hostel? Where will I find friendly people who are happy to help poor, confused me?

But…there is a thrill in just diving in. If the water is cold, it is also refreshing. It makes the adrenaline pump, adds excitement to my life.

And this trip? Aaahhhh…I get the fun of traveling with two of my kids. They can enjoy the “dive” with me. And if they get nervous or afraid, hopefully my pleasure can help them overcome their discomfort. Perhaps this is a gift I can give them… Come to think of it, with the ways most of my kids like to wander the world, I must have already given them this gift!

Are you ready? C’mon! Let’s DIVE!

Here are a few photos for each day of our wandering in Germany, Alsace France, and the Netherlands. Photo-evidence of our DIVE In To The New in Europe!

Day One: Travel Day (Tuesday, Dec 18th)

At the airport, ready to DIVE!

At the airport, ready to DIVE!

Just when we were getting bored in the Philly airport (delayed flight), SANTA appeared!

Just when we were getting bored in the Philly airport (delayed flight), SANTA appeared!

Day Two: Frankfurt Germany (Wed, Dec 19th)

We wandered the streets around the youth hostel, and finally met up with Celia late in the afternoon.

We wandered the streets around the youth hostel, and finally met up with Celia late in the afternoon.

An evening in Frankfurt: Jewish Museum, walking along the river walk, and finding yummy indian food for supper...

An evening in Frankfurt: exploring the Jewish Museum, wandering along the river walk, and finding yummy Indian food for supper…

Day Three: Travel to the Rheingau (Thurs, Dec 20)

We rented a car and drove to the Rhein River region. We walked around Frauenstein...and Anna discovered a FAIRY TREE!

We rented a car and drove to the Rhein River region. We walked around Frauenstein…and Anna discovered a FAIRY TREE!

We also laughed at what we later realized was the first Santa trying to break into a house...

We also laughed at what we later realized was the first Santa decoration of many that seemed to be breaking into a house…

We drove to neighboring Erbach (home of Emmelhainz ancestors) and found the family church.

We drove to neighboring Erbach (home of Emmelhainz ancestors) and found the family church.

And we walked the streets of Erbach...where Emmelhainz ancestors had walked for generations...something special about that!

And we walked the streets of Erbach…where Emmelhainz ancestors had walked for generations…something special about that!

Day Four: Christmas Markets in the Rheingau (Fri, Dec 21st)

Our German host took us to Rudesheim in the afternoon, to introduce us to a lovely Christmas Market.

Our German host took us to Rudesheim in the afternoon, to introduce us to a lovely Christmas Market.

Christmas Markets include yummy food, lots of people, wonderful booths of crafts and decorations, and...did I mention the food?!!

Christmas Markets include yummy food, lots of people, wonderful booths of crafts and decorations, and…did I mention the food?!!

In the evening, our host took us to the huge Christmas Market in Weisbaden. I didn't like the crowds...but the lights were beautiful...

In the evening, our host took us to the huge Christmas Market in Weisbaden. I didn’t like the crowds…but the lights were beautiful…

...and Anna loved her ride on the 2nd story of the Carousel!

…and Anna loved her ride on the 2nd story of the Carousel! (Did YOU know there was such a thing??)

Day Five: Emmelhainz Heritage (Sat, Dec 22nd)

We met German Emmelhainz relatives...still living in the family town. They shared stories and old photos.

We met German Emmelhainz relatives…still living in the family town. They shared stories and old photos.

And we were shown the Emmelhainz Haus, an old winepress originally used by the Emmelhainz, and other area landmarks related to family.

And we were shown the Emmelhainz Haus, an old winepress originally used by the Emmelhainz wine-makers, and other area landmarks related to family.

Day Six: Castles and Roman Ruins along the Rhein (Sun, Dec 23rd)

Castles line both sides of the Rhein River...

Castles line both sides of the Rhein River…

Castles line both sides of the Rhein River. We explored Rheinfels Burg, still majestic even as ruins.

We explored Rheinfels Burg in St. Goar, still majestic even as ruins.

For an extra adventure, the tunnels under the castle could be explored by candle light. (And some were pitch black and low-ceilinged...)

For an extra adventure, the tunnels under the castle could be explored by candle light. (And some were pitch black and low-ceilinged…)

I always enjoy taking photos at the same places as daughter Celia...and seeing just how different our "eye"s are for what makes good pictures!

I always enjoy taking photos at the same places as daughter Celia…and seeing just how different our “eye”s are for what makes good pictures!

One of the things I find most fascinating in Europe is the Roman Ruins scattered throughout the countries outside of Italy. (This is a mix of old and older in the riverside town of Boppard.)

One of the things I find most fascinating in Europe is the Roman Ruins scattered throughout the countries outside of Italy. (This is a mix of old and older in the riverside town of Boppard.)

Day Seven: the flooded Rhein and a drive to Alsace Region of France (Christmas Eve)

...and even one castle in the MIDDLE of the river! (usually the island is visible...)

Castles tower above riverbank towns and one castle is in the MIDDLE of the river! (usually the island is visible…)

A German friend tried to convince us that wild and crazy Germans like to picnic in the water! We thought he was joking...until we actually saw some guys climb out to some tables for the fun of it!! (ha-ha!)

A German friend tried to convince us that wild and crazy Germans like to picnic in the water. We thought he was joking…until we actually saw some guys climb out to some tables for the fun of it!! (ha-ha!)

Since the rain finally stopped, we took a break for Anna to play on the awesome playground back in Erbach.

Since the rain finally stopped, we took a break for Anna to play on the awesome playground back in Erbach.

When we finally got to the hotel in France, Anna got her traditional Christmas Eve PJs. (Fortunately she had mentioned the importance of this in the morning...when I had time to run around like a crazy thing in the small town where we stayed; looking to buy some PJs. Whew! Found some!)

When we finally got to the hotel in France, Anna got her traditional Christmas Eve PJs. (Fortunately she had mentioned the importance of this in the morning…when I had time to run around like a crazy thing in the small town where we stayed; looking to buy some PJs. Whew! Found some!)

And for a mix of old and new...I did the traditional sewing of doll clothes late on Christmas Eve, this time with HAND sewing!

And for a mix of old and new…I did the traditional sewing of doll clothes late on Christmas Eve, this time with HAND sewing!

Day Eight: Ecomusee (Living History Museum) in Alsace France (Christmas Day)

The day started with a pile of mixed Christmas gifts and stocking stuffers. How weird to not have stockings! How weird to not be with more family! How weird that I had no gifts to open! (This trip was already an amazing gift...)

The day started with a pile of mixed Christmas gifts and stocking stuffers. How weird to not have stockings! How weird to not be with more family! How weird that I had no gifts to open! (This trip was already an amazing gift…)

Then we explored the village: with live farm animals, peacocks, and real-true-living-STORKS on the roofs!

Then we explored the village: with live farm animals, peacocks, and real-true-living-STORKS on the roofs!

8_b_WEB_2012_1225_ecomusee_architecture_SAM_0822

It was fun to imagine how my maternal ancestors might have lived in this area of France, before emigrating to America. The buildings were fascinating. If only I could have understood the signs (in French and German).

We finished the evening walking around the museum (in the rain), following actors in a Christmas play, carrying candle lanterns to light our way. It finally FELT like Christmas when we had a community carol sing---the songs still felt right, even when sung in French.

We finished the evening walking around the museum (in the rain), following actors in a Christmas play, carrying candle lanterns to light our way. It finally FELT like Christmas when we had a community carol sing—the songs still felt right, even when sung in French.

Day Nine: Travel Day (Thurs, Dec 26th)

We spent this day driving back to Germany (easy to do with a GPS), returning the rental car, and taking a train to Celia's friend in the Netherlands.

We spent this day driving back to Germany (easy to do with a GPS), returning the rental car, and taking a train to Celia’s friend in the Netherlands.

Even with spending so much time together, we got along pretty well. (It was cool for Anna to get to know her big sister better...)

Even with spending so much time together, we got along pretty well. (It was cool for Anna to get to know her big sister better…)

Day Nine: Maastricht Netherlands (Thurs, Dec 27th)

Maastricht, another fascinating city with a mix of medieval and roman history still visible...

Maastricht, another fascinating city with a mix of medieval and roman history still visible…

According to the stories, this beautiful gate had a horrible use---to kick anyone who was sick completely OUT of the town to try to survive all alone. It was called "Hell's Gate."

According to the stories, this beautiful gate had a horrible use—to kick anyone who was sick completely OUT of the town to try to survive all alone. It was called “Hell’s Gate.”

Although we don't know much about Catholicism, we DO know about the beauty of candles and the wonders of prayer. Anna lit a candle and prayed for some friends while we visited the Basilica in Maastricht.

Although we don’t know much about Catholicism, we DO know about the beauty of candles and the wonders of prayer. Anna lit a candle and prayed for some friends while we visited the Basilica in Maastricht.

I delight in noticing little scenes and gardens and doorways along the streets. I always wonder who else notices these little bits of beauty...

I delight in noticing little scenes and gardens and doorways along the streets. I always wonder who else notices these little bits of beauty…

Day Eleven: Valkenburg Netherlands (Fri, Dec 28th)

We started with a tour of the caves under the castle ruins...

We started with a tour of the human-carved maze of caves under the castle ruins…

Over the generations, the caves were used for defense, for hiding, for storage, and eventually decorated for victorian tourists. The various drawings and carvings tell the history of the area.

Over the generations, the caves were used for defense, for hiding, for storage, and eventually decorated for victorian tourists. The various drawings and carvings tell the history of the area.

From the man-carved depths of the hill, we moved to the man-made fortress above the town.

From the man-carved depths of the hill, we moved to the man-made fortress above the town.

And since we brought umbrellas, it wasn't rainy on this day...it was COLD instead! (But we enjoyed time together and had fun with Celia's friend.)

And since we brought umbrellas, it wasn’t rainy on this day…it was COLD instead! (But we enjoyed time together and had fun with Celia’s friend.)

Day Twelve: Amsterdam (Sat, Dec 29th)

Ohhh...how I loved historic Amsterdam with its canals, houseboats, leaning rows of old houses, and bicycles everywhere...

Ohhh…how I loved historic Amsterdam with its canals, houseboats, leaning rows of old houses, and bicycles everywhere…

Even the modern buildings sprinkled through the historic area had charm!

Even the modern buildings sprinkled through the historic area had charm!

Did you know Van Gogh was from Amsterdam? Nope, neither did I. But the museum exhibit was AWESOME! (loved the mix of sketches and paintings)

Did you know Van Gogh was from Amsterdam? Nope, neither did I. But the museum exhibit was AWESOME! (loved the mix of sketches and paintings)

And the "Illuminade--Festival of Light"? Pure magic as we wandered along a trail of art from lights throughout the historic city...

And the “Illuminade–Festival of Light”? Pure magic as we wandered along a trail of art from lights throughout the historic city…

Day Thirteen: A Vineyard Church Service and a Castle (Sun, Dec 30th)

We enjoyed worshiping in Dutch and English with friends at the Vineyard Church in Amsterdam. The music was inspiring...and the end of the year celebration of what God has done in people's lives, set to a jam-session of joyful blues music, was enthralling...

We enjoyed worshiping in Dutch and English with friends at the Vineyard Church in Amsterdam. The music was inspiring…and the end of the year celebration of what God has done in people’s lives, set to a jam-session of joyful blues music, was enthralling…

We definitely DOVE into this lovely city...and took time to soak up a few last views of canals and leaning houses. (Do I have to get out of this "water"? Can't I stay and "swim" awhile longer?!)

We definitely DOVE into this lovely city…and took time on this day to soak up a few last views of canals and leaning houses. (Do I have to get out of this “water”? Can’t I stay and “swim” awhile longer?!)

For our last night of wandering, we stayed at this genuine castle with a real moat around it! (So sad the exhilaration of "Diving In" is coming to an end...Let's not talk about staying in the servants' quarters instead of the castle, dealing with a very flat tire on the friend's car, and saying goodbye to daughter Celia...okay?)

For our last night of wandering, we stayed at this genuine castle with a real moat around it! (So sad the exhilaration of “Diving In” is coming to an end…Let’s not talk about staying in the servants’ quarters instead of the castle, dealing with a very flat tire on the friend’s car, and saying goodbye to daughter Celia…okay?)

Day Fourteen: One Last Travel Day (Mon, Dec 31st)

We started our travel day at the fanciest starbucks I've ever seen (in the beautiful old train station in Amsterdam)...

We started our travel day at the fanciest Starbucks I’ve ever seen (in the beautiful old train station in Amsterdam)…

We spent the day riding trains and snacking in the train stations...

It was a day spent riding trains and snacking in the train stations…

We spent the day thinking about all we experienced and enjoyed from our DIVE IN TO THE NEW of Europe...

…and pondering all that we experienced and enjoyed from our DIVE IN TO THE NEW of Europe…

And what’s next now that our DIVE is over? Daughter Anna and I are spending the next 7 weeks living with friends as they add a newborn to their active family.  (Hmmm…maybe this is aother opportunity for DIVING, after all?!)

More things to do and places to explore? What FUN!

More things to do and places to explore? What FUN!

When Opportunity Comes Knocking

(This post is linked with 5 Minute Friday—where the host site offers a word, and many bloggers choose to write for 5 minutes on that subject. You can see more posts about “Opportunity” by participating writers HERE.)

I haven’t had much to say here for the past few months. Life has been chaotic in ways that I wasn’t supposed to talk about publicly. I wrote a few entries during that time which I will (probably) eventually post.

Quick summary: funding ran out, vision was not sustainable, job working with at-risk Navajo young people with a mission in a remote area of New Mexico has ended. (You can read a little more about it HERE.)

Needless to say, this has been a stressful time. We have applied for numerous jobs across the country, but so far all doors remain tightly CLOSED. We finally decided to move back to central Ohio in December to live with family until we can figure out what is next for our family.

As we were planning the move, I asked my husband if I should apply to a Starbucks near my parents’ house to help bring in a little income. After all, being a barista can be done early in the morning while my kids are still sleeping, it includes lots of people contact, and caffeine is involved. Seemed like a win-win to me.

My husband just looked at me, commented “do what you want,” and walked out of the room.

A few days later, I asked again. And again, he commented “do what you want,” and changed the subject.

Now, those who know me, know I do NOT have the patience of a saint. So when the same thing happened the next day, I gave a sharp answer: “what I WANT to do is travel the world, but we don’t have any money so that’s not possible. Stop saying I should just do what I want!” But again, my dear husband, just smiled and walked away.

Whew! I’m surprised you didn’t hear on the news about a murder in a remote area of New Mexico!

And then…

And then…a few days later I got a phone call from a friend. She was feeling overwhelmed with 3 young children and another baby on the way. She vented. I was feeling overwhelmed with no clue of our future. I vented. And at the end of the conversation I joked that if they would just pay my airfare to Germany, I would come help them for a month or two as a “mother’s helper.”

She said yes. I almost fell off the bed I was lounging on!

When I talked to my husband about it, he smiled again and said, “isn’t that what you wanted to do?”

And now? My youngest daughter and I are in Germany for a few months. The “doors” toward the future for our family all seem tightly closed right now. But opportunity still came knocking…

Leaving...on a Jet Plane...

Leaving…on a Jet Plane…

(Isn’t God AMAZING?!! I just love this story of His providing…for me and for my friend!)