Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Jamie Hush

During my week in Colorado, I had the privilege of representing you, the readers of WOTH online publications, by saying a few words at the Women of the Harvest Celebration Brunch. It was great to meet with donors who help fund these publications and the Retreats. I trust I expressed appreciation on behalf of all who enjoy the WOTH onlineMagazine, the WOTH Writer’s blog, Coffeegirl, the Weekly Word, and even this IRL blog.

The theme of the celebration was “Value Her Voice.” Check out the video in the side bar with a gripping story that was shared at the brunch. (Feel free to share it with friends who might be interested in sponsoring someone to attend the Retreat in India next month.)

It was a bit daunting to have to stand up and speak after this heart-felt testimony from our sister in India. Secretly, though, as I was watching her interview and listening to another woman who was speaking via Skype, I was thankful to be there in person so my face wouldn't be plastered across a BIG ol’ projection screen. Then as I was introduced, my new friend and visionary for this blog, our dear editor, Cindy, began a series of Photoshopped images of me that she created to liven up my sometimes otherwise “blah” posts. So much for not having my big face up on the screen my face on the big screen!

Well, I recovered my questionable poise and started my talk with a story of my own journey to having my voice valued. The audience laughed when I shared the family joke that until the age of six I honestly believed my name was “Jamie Hush!”

Later on I admitted to Cindy the less funny reality behind that joke, how we have a true enemy who wants nothing more than to shut us up. He knows that he is defeated by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of our testimony. Somewhere along the way, we all get discouraged trying to share a story that no one seems to want to hear.

Granted, when I was younger I gabbed non-discriminately, and I needed to learn to listen. But then somehow I took people’s admonishment to be quiet as a personal wound to my heart. John Eldredge and other authors have noted that Satan can do nothing to stamp out the glory of God, so instead he attacks us in the unique ways that we reflect God’s glory.

For me it is the gift of story telling and communication, which even as I admit this, triggers an irrational dose of shame. That’s my lifelong battle.

Can you think of areas like that in your own life, where you especially shine with God’s glory, only to have it squelched? I’d love to hear your stories about that.
IRL* Thankful for my new friends at WOTH who really do value my voice (our collective voice!) and help me (us) to shine shamelessly.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Between Honky-tonk and Steinway

I’m not sure if you would consider me a has-been or a mighta-been, but piano playing used to be a central focus of my life. Nowadays I barely even listen to music. Come to think of it, there is no excuse with all the fabulous technology allowing me to make a play-list with symphonies and worship songs…if I had an iPod. Which I don’t. Gone are the days when we had to lug huge recording collections to the mission field.

For the first-however-many-years on the field, I grieved my loss of music, but counted it a worthy sacrifice for the sake of the Gospel. Then my parents bought me an electronic piano, which got hauled all over Guatemala and then up to Mexico. Later I graduated to a real piano. I enjoy playing piano sporadically, but I’ve had to endure imperfectly tuned pianos, which is the norm down here. (Sigh.)

Last week in Colorado was an interesting contrast in music standards.

My daughter and I entertained ourselves by playing old pianos along Denver’s 16th Street Mall. All were painted in fun designs, but they were badly out of tune. Not knowing any ragtime pieces by memory, I banged out “Malaguena” (my signature piece back in high school Spanish Club days). A random tourist even videotaped my “performance.” So you never know, someday maybe I’ll become a YouTube sensation.

On Sunday I had an opportunity to play the offertory for a church in Buena Vista, overlooking the Rockies. The view was amazing with aspen trees in full color, but the piano was even more beautiful (if that’s possible). After years of honky-tonk sounding instruments, it was a rare privilege to play a well-tuned Kawai baby grand. Anything I played would have sounded lovely. I wasn’t self-conscious in the least, even though I had every reason to be.

Instead I just played from the heart.

Just as the off-key pianos on the mission field or on 16th Street can’t compare to a Steinway grand, I figure the most awesome symphony on earth cannot compare to the glorious music awaiting us in heaven. Whether I’m a has-been or a coulda-been, one thing is for certain: I “will be” spending eternity making heavenly music for my Savior.

IRL* Somewhere between honky-tonk and Steinway Grand, I am finding the notes of contentment again.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

When It Rains...

Life comes in waves. A couple of weeks ago I was complaining about being bored. No sooner had I published that than life got interesting in a hurry. Unexpected guests showed up for meals several days straight, followed by two weeks of some out-of-towners needing breakfast, lunch and dinner. My dear husband, dh*/Methuselah*/Jim helped with breakfast each morning with a typical Mexican breakfast they would like, so I can’t complain, but it did make the pace pick up around here.

Then circumstances forced us to do the daily “Laundry Line Dance. “ Living in a desert, we come to expect sunshine almost daily, 365 days a year. Even during rainy season we can generally manage without clothes dryer, hanging clothes in the mornings and removing them in the afternoon before the rain. Not the last few weeks, though. Several hurricanes and tropical storms have sent torrential rains even to this high desert.

Oh, and then the water pump died. That made for an interesting day. And wouldn’t you know it that was the very day the sun came out? Finally I could have dried the clothes if only I could have washed. My dh* came to the rescue once again, and brought a new pump back from a trip to the city. The next sunny morning, he was off to the city for yet another ministry errand while I was gleefully washing clothes, and then I realized something was terribly wrong.

Water was pouring – and I mean pouring! –off the roof. My dear daughter [dd*] and I looked at each other dumb-founded. This had happened many times through the years, but always one of the boys took care of it, shimmying up the tree to the roof to jiggle the floater that is supposed to indicate the tanks are full. Neither dd* nor I knew how to get on the roof since the one essential branch had broken. The gardener next door saw our dilemma, and brought a ladder over to solve the problem for us. Thank you, Lord.

Finally we settled back into home schooling, taking a break to hang the laundry when the rinse cycle completed itself. Within an hour, it started to rain. No sooner had the laundry been brought inside, it stopped. The sun came out, and we had to hang it all again (this time with the help of a local girl who helps me a few hours several times a week). It was just one of those days. We’ve all had them.

Thursday was another of those days, with a near-impossible trip to the orthodontist amid another deluge, traffic, roadblocks, detours, and potholes. On our arrival home, the road was under water, and we sloshed through deep mud, slid around a bit, and well, you get the idea. Two of my friends’ houses were ankle-deep in water, so I really can’t complain.

IRL* This week I have an escape. I am in Colorado, meeting our WOTH editor. This excitement is more to my liking.

[*see sidebar, Jamie Jo Speak]

Wait for it...

good morning, IRL people...come back in a couple of hours, and I promise, Jamie will be showing up in a whole new way!!!!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Memoirs of a Bad Mother

On my favorite home school support forum (provided by Sonlight Curriculum – see the side bar for more information about SL), someone on the international forum recently asked us veteran moms how old our children were when we allowed them to leave the house by themselves.

It never occurred to me what a horribly negligent mother I was until I started typing my answer to this e-maginary friend.

The truth is that I let my oldest two boys walk to the corner to buy fresh tortillas when they were about three and four years old. Usually I went with them, but if little brother needed attention just then and I didn’t want to carry him, I would send the boys on their own. What was I thinking?

Oldest children are born half-grown-up, just because moms like me are so clueless and trusting. I am so thankful God protected them. Even with my seventh, I used to let her walk a beaten path through the desert to a friend’s house (the distance of about two city blocks) when she was only about eight years old.

Nowadays things are different. Life isn’t quite so safe in these parts any more. I had to laugh at myself when I fretted over the possibility of our single houseguest having to take a city bus by herself, when I had let my own daughter take a bus to the dentist in the city with only a little brother for a bodyguard back when she was 15. Now I am concerned about a 23-year-old?

Then there was the time I sent my 17-year-old daughter on a plane by herself to the Philippines to help out a family for seven months. What was I thinking? I never considered there could be a glitch in the scheduling, requiring her to spend one night alone in a hotel in Tokyo, that’s for sure.

I guess the bottom line is that I wouldn’t recommend to anyone my method of child-rearing. Maybe it helped the older four adjust to college in the U.S. and Canada, having been so independent for so long. But still, looking back at all the what-if’s gives me the shivers.

Our houseguest has moved into a more permanent housing situation with a roommate now, and I am trying not to smother her with my motherly counsel, but still I can’t help praying for her safety each day as she travels to the school where she teaches and back.

I hope my college kids have a mama nearby, worrying over their comings and goings. I’m thankful for ddils watching over my oldest two sons, who survived their childhoods with little help from their negligent mother. At the same time I am trying not to restrict my younger three kids beyond what is healthy, even in these uncertain times.

Last week’s brief funk sent me back to the Word. This week’s worries are sending me back to my knees. Both are good places to be.

IRL* Discovering my apparent developmental delay in the area of motherly instincts and child preservation.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

My Old Restless Companion

In the early years our visas only lasted six months at a stretch. We made the dreaded border runs twice a year to renew them. The absurd thing is I actually enjoyed those journeys, especially the trips to Texas, which allowed me a visit to Stuff-Mart* to restock on things we needed and frivolous items we simply preferred.

On our last official “border run,” we were bummed to only receive sixty days instead of the usual six months on our visas. No way could we pack up however-many-kids-we-had-at-the-time and run back to the Rio Grande every eight weeks, even if the children managed to outgrow their clothes that fast! We finally switched over to more permanent resident status.

That’s when I noticed that my coping mechanisms seemed to only last about five months; after that, I became antsy and ready to plan a trip of some sort.

In fact, I would hit a downright slump twice a year right on schedule. I would wake up in a funk with no logical explanation. Once I figured it out, I just laughed over it, and then went on with living cross-culturally with no escape in sight.

Today, things are different once again. The three remaining children at home are Mexican-born, and therefore need no visas. That’s nice. I’ve learned to cope with Mexican living, the good with the bad, year-round. More or less. Some days I still get overwhelmed with the noise and stench interesting smells.

I was doing fine, pondering our lovely summer in the States—a time of blissful invisibility while some wounds healed over. I was enjoying our first week of home schooling, hosting a young teacher while she looks for housing, and honestly feeling content. Then one morning I woke up with my old restless companion, and I felt a funk coming on. This is way too soon to start feeling that again.

All I can say is that life has become too routine, too predictable. My old norm (especially when there were seven children living at home) was high-stress, crazy, and anything BUT predictable. I had no time to even think about contentment or lack of it. Now I find myself on auto pilot. Life seems too easy somehow. I’m not sure I like it this way.

How ungrateful can I be? God has blessed me with every good and perfect gift, and I am momentarily discontented. After what I said (and thought) last week in my blog post about “those” kinds of missionaries, I can honestly see the potential to become a snarky, bored missionary if I’m not careful. Yikes. Pardon me while I run back to the true Source of all contentment.

IRL*Striving to restore my old sense of adventure, minus my old restless companion.


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