Plucked up, spun around and set back down again

This was not what I had planned to write about. I've been working on a couple recipes, hopefully to post in time for the holiday weekend, have some food tips and photos of seasonal greens and well just other FIMBY miscellanea that I planned to post - starting yesterday.

baby Godswill and myself: I couldn't get enough of this sweety on Sunday
{baby Godswill and myself: I couldn't get enough of this sweety on Sunday}

But here I am... processing and recovering (not in a bad way) from the 24 hours our family spent in Massachusetts this weekend attending a home church "conference". Like all things associated with home church this was very informal - a huge family potluck really with time for sharing and encouraging each other, singing, prayer and swimming - you know all the good stuff.

I couldn't belief how many people showed up, last number I heard was 120. Thankfully the rain waited till the evening so we could spend the day outside. Although our gracious and generous hosts had a lovely huge home fitting us all inside would of been um... interesting.

But that's not really what I want to write about, that just explains how I got this book, Left to Tell: Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust, into my hands, since it's not normally the kind of book I pick up at the library. Actually it was the night before the gathering when we were staying with perfect strangers (but fellow followers of Jesus Christ) that this book wound up in my hands. Then in my head and in my heart.

I would love to go into the hospitality of these strangers, Bill & Ann, and how very different their lives are from our own and yet how much, at the core level we have in common with them. But this is not the time for that story.

Today's story is about Immaculee Ilibagizia's story and what it is teaching me.

Maybe you've heard of her? The Rwandan Hutu woman that during the holocaust in that country 15 years ago hid with 7 other women for 91 days in a teeny bathroom.

I'm sure I've heard of her before because I recognized the story and this time I was prepared to read it. I've talked before how I avoid bad news stories because they are simply too heart breaking. Maybe it's because this story didn't directly involve small children, or maybe the timing was right but I felt like I could handle reading it.

The book belongs to our weekend hosts and I started it there and then brought it home and finished it last night, it's a fairly easy read. And the lesson it is teaching me is why I titled this post plucked up, spun around and set back down again. You know when that happens? You're going along, all hunky dory and then BAM! A life lesson comes your way when you least expect it.

Well this is where I am these last 2 days and this is what I am learning or re-learning:

Terrible, really terrible things, happen to people. Good people. People who do the right thing and work hard. And in the end it's not their ability to make the right choices or hard work that will carry them through the most trying of times, it is the relationship they have with God.

I am building a wonderful home life, feeding my family healthy home-grown and local foods, growing a garden, taking beautiful photos, trying to encourage people with my words and actions, loving my children & husband. And I could lose it all. Do you think the victims of holocausts, wars, famines and disease plan for these disasters to befall them??

And if I do lose it all - what then? What do I have to stand on? The only thing I will have is God.

And so while I'm nurturing everything else important in my life I better not neglect the one relationship that will carry me through anything. I just don't know when I'm going to be in real need and I pray the atrocities that happened to Immaculee NEVER happen in my life. But when and if I am in a place of dire circumstances I want to be standing firm on a relationship and not wobbling, trying to find my way in the darkness.

So the time to work on that relationship is NOW, not later once the kids are raised and the house is quiet. As a disciple of Jesus I am taking these words to heart (paraphrased) "what good is it for a mama to gain the perfect home life yet lose her soul?" Now, I'm fairly certain I'm not at risk of losing my soul but I don't ever want to be.

I want to be so firmly rooted in the truth that I don't lose my faith if I ever, God forbid, encounter hardships seemingly impossible to bear. Millions of people experienced that holocaust and others like it. None of us are immune to life's pain and sometimes deep suffering. If I ever lose all I hold dear I want to still be holding onto the knowledge (deep in my bones) of God's unfailing love for me. Love that sustains, love that heals, love that forgives, love that literally saves.

I want to stand firm in the things I know to be true - God's love, forgiveness and redemption. The only way I know to be solid in those is to study, meditate, dwell & live those truths.

What does this all mean? At the very basic level it means a slight re-adjustment of my priorities and again, appreciation and heartfelt gratitude for my blessings.

I know these thoughts may not resonate with everyone reading this post, that's ok. It's my blog and my space and I'm not afraid (ok, maybe just a little) to share what's really going on in my heart. I encourage you nonetheless to read Immaculee's book. It's a New York Times Bestseller and it couldn't have gotten there for no good reason. It's obviously shaken me up quite a bit and I think we all need a good shaking up from time to time.


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  • Kathie

    Kathie on June 30, 2009, 9:27 p.m.

    Thank you for these inspired words. I needed the reminder and kick in the pants myself. I, so often, push my relationship with my Heavenly Father down on the list because life gets so busy even though I know it shouldn't be that way. I also know that I'm human and I'll forget again, but He'll remind me again too (thankfully He's patient and forgiving).


  • steadymom

    steadymom on July 1, 2009, 12:23 a.m.

    I've been thinking many of the same thoughts as I read To Destroy You is No Loss - about a Cambodian family's life under the Khmer Rouge. What people go through - wow.

    We have friends who just started the process to adopt from Rwanda (interested, Renee? =) - I'll be sure to pass this book title along to them, and file it for my own reading, of course.

    God is. And that is enough.


    steadymom's last blog post... What Do You Think? - Current Book Favorites


  • kristin

    kristin on July 1, 2009, 1:31 a.m.

    dear blog friend, you just plucked me up, spun me around and i am planted more firmly tonight.

    thank you, thank you.

    and amen.

    just out of curiosity, what church/denomination/etc do you participate in?


    • renee

      renee on July 1, 2009, 11:17 a.m.

      No denomination. We meet with other followers of Jesus, very casually, in our homes, to encourage, love and support each other.

      This "conference" was a gathering of others who do the same. We're very "under the radar" so to speak so it's sometimes hard to find each other and get organized : )


  • Mollykate Mosher

    Mollykate Mosher on July 1, 2009, 1:36 p.m.

    Thanks for sharing your heart Renee.
    I read this in a book, which helped me with the issue of guilt as I see so much suffering in the world.

    "1st: That a mans business is to do the will of God. 2nd: That God will care for the man. 3rd: That a man, therefore, must not be afraid but at peace; and so, 4th: be left free to love God with all his heart, and his neighbor as himself. "

    Life is fragile, but His grace holds us.


  • Sandy

    Sandy on July 1, 2009, 2:25 p.m.

    I've been following your blog for a while and really love to read about the life you and your family lead. I needed your words today. I, too, avoid bad news stories because I can too easily imagine the situations and the pain of the victims. Thank you for the reminder that if we focus on God and have him as our foundation He will see us through any and all hard times.


  • Rana

    Rana on July 2, 2009, 2:49 a.m.

    We have the example of Job and even though he lost everything he still was faithful to God and we see how he was blessed in the end. It is a daily reminder that these things could be taken in a flash but as long as we are faithful we can still have joy. Great post, I will look for that book.

    Rana's last blog post... Wordless Wednesday...


  • Andie

    Andie on July 2, 2009, 3:16 p.m.

    I feel like a pop can that has been shaken up and is now hissing, lol. As long as I don't pop the top, I think I will be ok. ;)

    Any way, beautiful post. Im not a religious person either but a spiritual one, yes. This was just what I needed to hear today. So happy to get a bit caught up on your life. I miss you and hearing about your day. xxoo, a.


  • kirwin

    kirwin on July 2, 2009, 4:14 p.m.

    Thank you for this post, renee. First, I am going to follow up on the book recommendation. I think I could read this book, because children are not involved. (Include children, and I just can't go there.)

    We are Christian (Presbytarian) but we rarely go to church. The reasons for this are two-fold. (1) We're always working on projects around the house and the thought of spending half of Sunday at church-related things is overwhelming! Maybe that's a horrible excuse, but it's an honest one.

    The second reason (and maybe the stronger one?) is that I might be a little wary of the church. God and Jesus -- love them. Church -- not so sure about...I grew up in this same town that I live in now; therefore, we "go" to the same church. My opinion of many of the church-goers are that they are "Sunday Morning Christians". Do you know what I mean? They wear their Sunday best and carry their Bibles, but through the week -- they're doing God Knows What. When I was in high school, it was the same group of popular teenagers (known as the God Squad) who were as active in the church group as they were in drinking, smoking, sleeping around, etc...

    I am going to stop now. I've already written enough--too much. This is YOUR blog, not mine! ; )

    Do you have any book recommendations that a mama like me could read to strengthen her relationship with God, and maybe skip the church-thing for now??


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