Friday, February 25, 2011

Friends from Watoto Village (Uganda, Africa)

A late-night Twister Game

Breakfast of Champions.......for CHRIST!

Our Family, which included Silver (14), Jesse (10), Davis (9) and Uncle Nicholas. (not pictured: Dad)

Schultz Family, which included Peter (11), David (11) and Uncle Mike. (not pictured: Steve, aka Dad)

The whole Watoto group (at least the ones that stayed with us)

Davis did this with our Fridge Phonics - I just found it.

Last night our church had a concert. It was the Watoto Children's Choir. The Watoto Village was started to give homes to children orphaned by HIV/AIDS. We were so blessed to have 3 boys and their "uncle" stay with us last night. The concert was amazing! The kids were so sweet! I hated to see them leave, but I am getting ahead of myself. When I had originally went to sign up to offer our house as a host house, there were no more availabilities. I was bummed. However, on the Tuesday before the concert I received a call that someone had come down with the flu and they needed a back-up. We were ready! I was talking with my friend, Julie (who lives very close to me), and since she was hosting also, I asked if I could borrow one of her kids to watch mine while I took our friends back to the church this morning. Through the course of that conversation, we decided that it would be WAY MORE FUN to all get together and have a huge breakfast. So that is what we did. But again, I am getting ahead of myself again. Last night, after the concert, we all came home, had a snack and started talking. I asked the boys (Silver - 14, Jesse - 10 and Davis - 9) if they wanted to tell me their stories. Silver eagerly told his story of how his parents died and he had to live with his grandparents until they were no longer able to pay his school fees, then a social worker from Watoto came and he went there and he is so happy now! Love it. Jesse could not remember his story. Uncle Nicholas said that was because Jesse had been institutionalized since he was a baby. Sweet boy. Davis' story was the least sad. His mom (his real mom) is a house mother in the Watoto Village. When a woman takes that position she can bring her own biological children (up to 2 of them) with her. So his mother is a house mother and he has many new brothers and sisters. Each house has a mother and 8 children. Such a neat way to take children who have no family and give them one. After the boys told their stories, Jacob asked if they wanted to play a game. I was nervous about what he may suggest, so I asked him on the side what he was thinking about. He told me Twister - I was so proud of him. When he mentioned Twister to the boys they cheered "yes" they wanted to play that. They had a great time playing. After the game they all played in the playroom together. It was neat to watch the boys explore all the new toys - toys they had never seen before. They were so curious. Then it was bedtime. We all gathered in my boys' room (where they were staying), stood in a circle, held hands and Jesse said a beautiful prayer. Afterward, I told them I had a song that I usually sing to my kids as I put them to bed. I asked if I could sing to them. They were so excited for it.....Jacob was totally embarrassed. Who cares? I loved loving on these precious boys. So I sang with all my heart "Aunt Michelle loves you...." Then we went to bed. This morning we had our big breakfast. The boys got up and a couple of them had to take a test first. By about 8:45am the Schultzs arrived and we all sat down to breakfast. Julie made a egg and ham casserole and cinnamon rolls. I made a sausage and egg casserole and a french toast bake (which I burned), fruit salad, juice, milk and coffee. Then all the kids (all 14 of them) played together. Well, they were sort of separated - boys and girls - but that was ok. While they played Julie and I packed lunches. Well, I packed mine the night before and got up this morning and made the sandwiches. Then Julie went and asked her guys what kind of sandwich they wanted.....I didn't do that, I just made them. Well, then I had to ask my guys. They all wanted something other than what I made. 3 peanut butter and honeys and one butter and jelly - yes, regular butter. Oh well, I will give them what they want. Then it came time to take them back. Sadness was ensuing. Our trip to the church was filled with all of us singing praises to the Lord. That was a great way to end it. At the church, Grant ran up to Uncle Nicholas and gave him a huge hug - like the kind where Uncle Nicholas picked him up and held him for quite some time. It was more than precious.

This was an incredible experience for my family. I have, honestly, not de-briefed with my kiddos yet. But I did here Jacob exclaim twice this morning "That was awesome! Can we do it again?" I think that about says it all.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Speak To Me

Here I am back on that treadmill again. The worry one. Today I learned more than I want to. So, I am sitting here (trying to work) crying, asking God why He made me this way if I cannot do anything about it. Why does this concern me so much? Why am I internalizing it? Here I am on the quest for knowledge, just like Eve in the garden. Look where her quest ended all of us......I keep feeling like God is saying "Be still, and know that I AM." I know YOU ARE. My heart hurts though. I also know that You are the Only One who can fix it. I want to lay this down and NOT pick it up ever again.

Know what else? All I want to do is talk to someone - anyone. Know what? NO ONE is answering their phones, or if they do they cannot talk. Another flashing sign that God wants me to talk to Him. I just want to hear His Voice. (Bawling now) As I typed the last sentence the song "Speak to Me" came on the radio.

Speak to me, please speak to me,
I'm in between but I can't hear you
Whisper, shout it, give me something
I need it now, need your voice, need a sound
Speak to me.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Worry IS a Sin

I've been battling again. With what, you ask? Worry. Plain, old, unadulterated, sinful worry. Honestly, as soon as one thing is put to rest, I start in on another thing. Now since Greg's job situation seems settled, I have moved onto worrying about my parents. When my mom goes out of town and leaves my dad home alone, I worry about him. I have no idea why and really need to be in counseling to figure out what my problem is, but it is there. So, I have been praying for this and praying for my dad (for a "red sea" miracle - or something similar). And PRAISE GOD, my prayers were answered yesterday. Know what it the bad part about that? As soon as I heard, then I was concerned (OK - worried) that the answer came in the wrong way. Oh my goodness. Who am I to think I know better than God? Seriously. I have to pray that away too, asking God to forgive my arrogance and help me to be happy with the answer, no matter how it came. Yesterday, my kids were with my dad for a good portion of the day - at least the little ones. Valentine's Day kept me very busy at the school. But only 1 hour after leaving my dad, I got a phone call. The caller ID said it came from Boss Engineering. I answered and this was the conversation:
Me: Hello?
Caller: (pause) Michelle? [my heart has now stopped beating because I am worried about my dad]
Me: Yes....
Caller: (pause) This is Mike. (pause, pause, pause)[now I am not even breathing]
Me: OK.....
Caller: (pause, pause)I have a dress from Becky...... [finally I can breathe]
You see, as always, I was worried from the instant I saw Boss Engineering on the caller ID, that there was a problem with my dad - who I had JUST left. When Mike came over to bring me the dress, I told him how this conversation freaked me out. He asked me if this was how I live my entire life. I quickly told him that I was really only this bad when my dad was alone. But what I see here, is a whole lot of sin. Worry is a sin. And in my case, a BIG ONE. Something I battle with daily. I have to rest in the fact that while I do not know the future, I know who does and that is enough. Worrying about it will only hurt me in the end. And, worse yet, it is telling God I do not trust His plan. And I have every reason in the world to trust His perfect plan. He has taken me through so much and shown me He is always there, I have no reason not to trust.

Another answer to prayer yesterday. Maybe not a prayer I have recently been praying, but certainly a prayer that I have prayed. I received a phone call from an old friend yesterday. Now, she is not old in age (although she IS older than me), but old in length of time known. What is interesting about our friendship is that when we first met, it was instant "sisterhood". In fact, there were 4 of us that instantly clicked. But after only 1 year, the group was disbanded. I left work because I had Jacob, she left and moved to Las Vegas, another left for another company and one is still there holding down the fort. Anyway, the fierceness of our friendship meant that we would always be friends - even is we rarely talk or see each other (which, sadly, is the case). In the course of our conversation, and through tears, she told me that my friendship and the type of friend I was, made a serious impact on who she is today. Wow! Those are some really amazing words. Sometimes I wonder if I ever have any impact on anyone. It was so encouraging to hear that maybe I do. In fact, I could ride on the high of that for months. Thank You Lord, for Heidi and her friendship! Thank You for blessing me with amazing friends.

As I was reading the ODB this morning, I came across this Scripture:
When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned. Isaiah 43:2
Then the commentary contained this quote:
"But we do know this: God's purpose for the flames is to purify us, not to destroy us."
This really resonated with me for a couple of reasons. First, I was thinking about the worry this from above. If everything was exactly as I preferred it to be, then my NEED for God would most likely not be a need. I, for one, do not want to live that way. I also do not want to live in the fire" either. But I am learning to, as Paul put it: Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. James 1:2-3 I am not saying that I want to live in a constant state of trial, but I do realize and appreciate that the trials keep me where I belong - on my knees in prayer to my Almighty Heavenly Father.
Second, in the midst of everyone around me having financial woes, I received a another phone call from a newer friend (my neighbor's mom - interesting) and she was telling me what was going on with her and her husband, and she was telling me that he was very angry at God for all the "punishment" He is inflicting on the husband's family. The comment above really made me think of this guy. God is not trying to destroy him or his family. He is trying to draw them to Himself - where they can find rest, peace and most importantly, salvation. Nothing this world has to offer can save them. If they continue to trust in the world with all their heart, they are on a fast-sinking ship with no life jacket. If your world is spinning out of control, reach out to the one who with His voice can calm the raging sea and fiercest winds. Only He can satisfy. Only He can save you. Cry out to Him.
Ok, there is a third, too. I was thinking about the "troubles" the people around me are having. And what came to my mind was.....maybe God is using this troubles (that I am trying to worry away) to draw these people to Him. What in the heck do I want to be in the way of that for? Just like I was saying yesterday....maybe I need to be struck mute (like Zechariah - for a time) to learn to mind my own business and keep my mouth shut. I know this makes no sense here, but I think I just needed to get it out. I think I talk way too much. Not like gossip or anything, just too much. Basically, to know me, is to KNOW me. I don't really think I have any secrets. Maybe I need to keep a few. Maybe.

On a lighter note....last night Greg was taking a bath and GRant came up to me and asked if he could take a bath too. He was going to but not at the exact minute that he wanted to - Greg was resting. So GRant kept asking me and I kept deferring him. Finally he came up to me and said, "I be your best friend let me take bath". How precious is he? Seriously, he has been using this "best friend" thing a lot lately. If he wants something and I tell him no, he always plays the best friend card. I almost want to give in, but I don't. Oh, don't worry, the kid got his bath.

As dinner was ending last night, a phone call came in (man, it sounds like the phone never stops, doesn't it?).
Me: Hello?
Caller: Mrs. Pawlak?
Me: Yes?
Caller: This is TRacey Sahouri.
Me: (thinking uh-oh, she is the kid's principal) Hello.
Caller: I need to talk to you about what happened with Grace today. (She just blew it)
Me: OK.
And on the call went. But if she had said she needed to talk to me about JAcob, she may have been able to carry it on further, but I knew she had nothing on Grace. How could she? She was actually calling to invite Grace to a suprise birthday party for her son. After talking to her about it, I went back out in the kitchen and said that the principal called about Grace and it was a secret. GRace was concerned and wanted to know what it was about. I told her we needed to go into the bedroom to talk in private. Greg promptly piped up, and said he needed to know first. So I whispered it to him and then started to head to the bedroom with GRace. Then Greg said, wait and help me clean the kitchen. Oh yeah, sure. He knew what it was, but Grace was dying to know (most likely worrying) and he wanted me to clean the kitchen. I graciously declined and Grace and I headed to the bedroom. I locked the door and started to ask her what happened at school. She kept saying she had no idea. Then she asked if she was in trouble. Like the mean mom I am, I told her yes. She started to tear up (she was trying to stay strong) when all of a sudden Jacob started moving around from the opposite side of the bed - where he was hiding. I mean, he wanted to hear too. I made him get out, then quickly told Grace the truth. Poor kid. I didn't want to make her cry, but with the principal making me squirm, well....I wanted to share. She was very happy to hear the truth. And I made sure she knew that I never once thought she would be in trouble and told her how proud I am of her. She is a sweet kid.

As I was checking on the kids before I went to bed last night, I noticed something weird in bed with the girls. Some kids sleep with teddy bears or stuffed animals. SOme kids sleep with blankets. Not my Jadyn - she sleeps with her rubbermaid container lid. Weird.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Sexual Sin

Sexual sin is WAY more than just sex. But you may already know that. We had an incident this weekend that drove this home with me. We were at a wedding and, without any drinking on our part, on the dance floor some girl came up and "freaked" on Greg. While he thought it was funny, I did not. Neither did my cousins who saw it or my aunt who immediately came up to me and said something. But that part, while important, does not matter here. What matters is that I was immediately hurt. Badly. I did not let on because if Greg would have received all I had, it would not have been pretty. Did he do anything wrong? Depends on who you ask? But the answer is yes. And it is not in what he did, but rather in what he did not do. Instead of "going with it", he should have immediately backed up, at the least. Anyway, here is what I am driving at. Never in all our married life have I worried about Greg being faithful to me. Never, until now. And even not it entirely. Do I think he is going to go out and cheat on me? No. But what I can't get out of my mind is the picture of what happened. And the fact that he did not get away or attempt to stop it. It made me feel as though I was not important enough, or special enough for him to realize that what was happening was inappropriate, not to mention damaging to me. Am I jealous? This is part of what I have been struggling with. Maybe. But when I think about it, shouldn't I be jealous for my husband? Jealous, like God is jealous for my love? Didn't He create us for each other - only? So then I read my DBV and it talked of Saul's jealousy of David, being driven by his own insecurity. Maybe this is what this incident triggered in me. Jealousy driven by my own insecurity. I was not insecure in my marriage until this......but then Greg reminded me that over the course of the last month or so, I have been having dreams about Greg and I divorcing. Maybe, just maybe, the devil is trying to trip me up here. Using me as a weapon against myself. This is entirely possible. So back to the main I think Greg was wrong? Absolutely. Can I hold it against him? Yes. Should I? Definitely not. If I do not forgive him, how can I expect my Heavenly Father to forgive me? But I will tell you this. I need to be made up to. I need to feel that I am the most special woman in the world. I need Greg to show me his love. Know what is weird? I told him this morning that words don't mean anything. Actions speak louder than words. What I forgot to add was.....unless you are "words of affirmation" person, like I am. I guess in this situation I need both. My heart is broken and the truth of the matter is that the ONLY one who can fix it is God alone. Greg is a fallen man. Did he sin? Technically, no. But he did sin against me. Oh, Lord, help me. I do not want to dwell on this. I do not want the picture in my head. Only You can fix what is broken here. Please come and fix it.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

He's Still Workin' on Me....

But.....I saw MAJOR progress yesterday. And I also saw the devil try and attack. Yesterday I took dinner to a friend, a friend I have had issues with being jealous of. A couple of weeks ago, I put that monster to rest by confessing it and asking for forgiveness. So, yesterday when I took the meal to her, I wasn't sure how things would go. She recently moved into a beautiful home in the woods, but not so far in to be deep in the woods. It is absolutely lovely. What I noticed after the fact, was that I was not jealous. PRAISE GOD! I think a couple of weeks ago I would have been. Given our current "home" situation, I think that I absolutely would have been jealous. I love God's awesome timing in this though. Get the junk cleared and removed, so that I can "love my neighbor as myself", without being ruled by jealousy. The attack came after I got home. I was checking my emails and there was one from a realtor we had been talking to. It had a bunch of listings. We had already put this to bed - we were going to wait on God's timing for our own home. But I looked at the listings anyway, and felt, only momentarily, like I wanted.....wanted my own. Then I looked around at the blessings I have and the feeling was gone. Quick as that. I love that God is still working on me. To make me what He wants me to be.