Africa · Anxiety · Childhood · Cows · culture · Faith · Family · Farming · Fear · Goodbye · Grief · Memoires · Military · Parenting · Prayer · Relationships · Separation · Spiritual · travel

Together Forever – Thwarted

goodbyeI.

Today the Rancher separated the 3 calves from the mothers to wean them. They are across a fence from each other. The mothers moo forlornly for their young who are frolicking carefree in the next field. Even while they chew, the heart-sick mother’s moo. It’ll be a long week hearing their pathetic bellowing.

Curly

II.

Precious family friends bid farewell to their dear son today. He joined the US Army. They dropped him off at the recruitment center, were able to stay only a few minutes, and that was goodbye. He was instantly distracted with protocol and procedures, his eager heart racing as information and orders were flung at him in rapid fire. His life will never be the same. Thank you for serving our country Dustin.

usarmy

They must be reeling. Was it a silent ride home. Unspoken fears. Is anyone even able to  complete a sentence? What a long ride, everyone engrossed in their thoughts… Their world now plays in slow motion, pauses and rewinds erratically. They are transported to a new existence without him.

Parents, siblings, grandparents, cousins, aunts, and uncles are all breathing deeply and sensing an undefinable loneliness. Their faith and love hold them strong. They know he will be strong. They know he will be used to be a source of encouragement and strength to many. They know he will hurt, and grow, and serve, and grow. They pray they will see him again. The tears flow freely.

 

It will never be the same.

III.

lufthansa

It’s midnight and I sit in my airplane seat athwart the aisle from an excitable lady who speaks loudly to anyone who will listen. She sits and stands several times, each time taking down her massive luggage from the overhead bin, retrieving an item or other, then asking the next person walking up or down the aisle to return it for her. Each time she held her hands in Namaste at them and bobbles her head in gratitude. She would settle in and get comfortable but in no time, she was up again. This was going to be  a long trip!

It was my first time in an airplane and here I was flying clear across the world. I looked out of the narrow window at the twinkling lights way, way below. The engines whirred in the background and my ears hurt from the pressure. I saw my face in the reflection and I remembered my dear family at the airport, noses and hands plastered to the other side of the cold glass when they’d taken me as far as security allowed. I’d touched my nose and hands to each one, and we mouthed our farewells. So close, yet so far. My mind swirled with mixed emotions as I clutched my blue carry on-luggage with BOAC written on it in large bold letters. My dad had owned that bag for close to twenty years and took it on all his oversees travels.

I couldn’t believe I was leaving. Where was I going? Weren’t there colleges back home? How does one even navigate an airport. I would be navigating 4 international ones in twenty four hours. How would I know if I was flying the wrong way? What was I doing? Who’s great idea was this? I had turned back to see them for the last time. Some were crying, some where covering their mouths in shock, some staring in disbelief. I pulled down the white plastic window cover and tried, in vain, to get comfortable in the small seat. I fiddled with the the seat belt and watched the safety videos studiously.

Dustin leaving today make me think of what that drive home, twenty four years ago, must have been like for my family. A couple of quick decades and a child is ready to take off on their own into the big wide world? What on Earth!

Did they say much in the crowded car? Did dad try to break the silence with bad jokes that fell flat and they returned to the strained silence? I remembered my parents’ words: Find God’s people and you’ll be okay; you are strong; the Lord is with you. I knew they were praying and that was like their collective arms around me, blessing me, sending me out into what was unknowable to them but part of a beautiful plan of an all-knowing God for my life. And He could be trusted.

What was it like to pull into the gates at home? I know how it’s been when I pull into the property for the funeral of a family member. Even the air feels different. It’s just not right. A huge piece of the whole is missing. What was it like for them to walk into my mostly empty room? I’d given most of my stuff away and packed my essentials into a green and black plaid suitcase dad gave me. Did their hearts feel like my sparse room? It’s like an empty shell after a critter molts and leaves it.

In the words of Ritu Ghatourey, “Goodbyes make you think. They make you realize what you’ve had, what you’ve lost, and what you’ve taken for granted.”
And life is never the same…
African · Anxiety · Autobiography · Childhood · Corporal punishment · Daughters · Family · Fear · horror · Kenyan · Kids · Parenting · Short story · Spanking

Panacea for Bashful Pupils

Image result for 1973 GTV FREE IMAGE

I bolted towards dad as soon as I saw his car in the parents’ parking line at Muthaiga Primary School. There weren’t any cars left. I hopped in beside him and settled into the edge of the seat with my massive orange rucksack still on my back. My feet barely touched the floor and my fingers braced my little body from slamming into the dashboard.

I was full of information and it was a while before I noticed he wasn’t talking much as he wound around the scenic road on the way home. “What’s this for?” I asked, making conversation, pointing to a straight green twig sitting on the dash.

It all started innocently enough. School got out at 3.15 pm and the huge mass of kids spilled out of classrooms. Those that were being picked up from school gathered behind the yellow line several meters from the main gate. Beyond that, parents were to park and walk through the gate to pick up their students. It was a great time to catch up with friends and always a little sad to watch them leave one by one. It was always best to be picked up somewhere in the middle. That way you had time to play but weren’t last to be picked up. The line monitor was a strict teacher with a huge belly. His belt seemed to hang on to the straining hem of his shirt for dear life.  He marched back and forth along the yellow line, looking for errant feet to whack back with his yard stick.

This Friday afternoon, a spectacle unfolded. A bright shiny red sports car sped past the parents’ line, revved its engine and squealed past the gate. Its driver impressively spun a tight U-turn  in the compact space, kicking up rocks and dust before coming to a screeching halt. The line monitor had to duck for his life but he composed himself and walked up to the car, obviously to tell the driver this was not the place to wait for kids. I watched with bated breath, expecting him to whack the fancy car with his yard stick. I noticed him talking to the driver who stepped out holding a rag and began to proudly buff the car. Pretty soon they were chatting it up and a small crowd gathered around the beauty to admire it, all thoughts of rules and yellow lines now out the window.

I swallowed hard and my eyes threatened to pop when I caught sight of the driver and realized it was my uncle Steve. This was terrible. He was beaming and showing off his new 1973 GTV. I wanted to die and must have shrunk to half my size with embarrassment. My heart was pounding in my ears and I feared I would faint. I swallowed hard and ducked behind a small group of taller kids when I saw him panning the crowd. I knew he was looking for me.

I was transfixed, cemented to the ground, the pounding in my ears getting louder and louder. This was the worst day of my life. What a terrible thing to do to a ten year old. What was I going to do? One thing was for sure, I couldn’t walk out there and very well get into that car. I tried, I stared at my dirty shoes, that just this morning I’d polished till they shone. I willed my tiny two-ton feet to move, but they were cemented to the ground. I looked bashfully around me and noticed with horror that, with time, the crowd was getting smaller and smaller as kids were picked up. I studied and memorized every crevice in every nail on my trembling fingers.

After what felt like an eternity, I jerked my head up in surprise as I heard the infamous engine roar to life. I mechanically tilted my head 2 degrees to the right and about screamed for joy as he peeled out, leaving his admirers in a cloud of dust. I breathed a full breath and my feet came to life, breaking into a happy dance. ‘Thank you Jesus!’ I muttered, ever so grateful, oblivious to  a small gang of boys beside me driving their imaginary sports cars, screeching as they shifted their gears.

After another eternity, just a handful of kids stood behind the line. No cars lined the parent parking line. I’d never been there that late. This couldn’t be good. I was hungry and very tired. ‘I hope I don’t have to sleep here,’ I thought to myself, looking around for where I might nest if I needed to. All of a sudden, my heart leaped when I saw dad pulling up. I’d never been happier. I grabbed my dusty cardigan off the ground and flew past the yellow line before he could get out of the car.

I hopped in beside him and settled into the edge of the seat with my massive orange rucksack still on my back. My feet barely touched the floor and my fingers braced my little body from slamming into the dashboard.

I was full of information and it was a while before I noticed he wasn’t talking much as he maneuvered the scenic road on the way home. “What’s this for?” I asked, making conversation, pointing to a straight green stick sitting on the dash.

“Did you see your uncle Steve at the school?” He asked quietly.

“Ya.” I answered quickly.

“Did you know he was there to pick you up?” He persisted.

“Ya,” I said less quickly.

“How long was he there?”

“A long time.” I murmered, going back to studying my nails.

“Why did you not go to him?” He was getting quieter and slower in his speech.

This was not going to be good. Needless to say, the stick was a switch, fresh-picked just for me. I jumped and screamed to the rhythm of a sound whipping, punctuated by, “This,” Whap! “Will,” Whap! “Teach you to hide,” Whap! “When-I-send-someone-to-get-you,” Whap! “And-waste-my-time” Whap! “Having-to-stop-what-I’m-doing-so-I-can-come-get-you-myself.” Whap, whap, whap!”

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Anxiety · Authority · Christian · Cows · Daughters · Death · Faith · Farming · Fear · Health · horror · Humor · Maturity · Mishaps · mothers · Spiritual

If You Believe

black cow

If you know anything me, it’s my feelings about cows. You can find contributing factors here: https://thukumainen.wordpress.com/2016/10/11/wild-about-cows/. And to think I am married to a man who calls himself a rancher. Very sad. I posted that blog a year ago and my feelings haven’t changed much.

Shortly after that, Emma who’d grown up on a dairy farm shared how she was washing dishes in the sink one sunny day while her kids played outside. She was watching them dreamily in the sand pit through the open kitchen window. She’d just picked up the last glass from the warm sudsy water when she heard a sickening bellow. She looked up to behold her 3 year old daughter sitting on the bottom rung of a gate to the field while one of their massive bulls came bounding across the field. “Oh God,” she moaned gripping the side of the sink. There was no way she could even set that glass down before the bull got to her baby, let alone get out there to rescue her.

In slow motion, it seemed, little Layla hopped off the gate she was sitting on and authoritatively stuck a stubby little hand straight out in front of her and yelled, “You stop!”

The colossal brown bull skidded to a screeching halt not five feet from Layla. He lowered his immense head and pounded the dry ground. He seemed to be reconsidering his actions. His responding moo projected slime all over the place. “No! Bad cow!” commanded the little girl, leaning her stern face forward, hands akimbo, and stomping her miniature pink cowboy boot in defiance.

That bull lowered his gargantuan head repentantly, sniffed at the dirt, and slowly turned  away.

Emma hadn’t heard the glass shatter, muffled by the soapy water, as she tore through the door.  She ran pell-mell to her baby in the field, tripping over broken branches while her apron fluttered like a flag in the wind. She grabbed her like she would never let go, sobbing fitfully.

“Mama sad?” asked Layla quizzically placing dirty little hands on her mother’s tear-stained face.

“No, baby. Mama’s very happy.”

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This week I have encountered many people who are going through various degrees of apprehension for one reason or another. It has astounded me, I don’t remember it being this unbridled, almost epidemic. Many posts I’ve visited have entailed details from anxiety-ridden writers expressing hopelessness about the world’s plight and our leaders’ wanton disregard for us. Sitting in prayer groups, I’ve prayed for people dealing with fears of flying, fears they can’t put their fingers on, and fear of the future.

It seems we are being pummeled by angst and asphyxiated under its weight.

Are we paying too much attention to current events? More importantly are we basing all our trust and hope on the shifting sands of circumstances? Are we listening too closely to the primal internal voices that are gifts for our survival, but which we have amplified with the megaphone of attention?

The resulting degree of stress is ravaging our health, our wellness, and our souls. It exudes from our every pore so that we contaminate people around us. It’s affecting our children and grandchildren and shortchanging any chance for joy and a vibrant life. It grows like a cancer and stifles our very lives.

Can we, like little Layla stand up to these demons and gain control of ourselves and our reactions to our stressors. We can drop and allow them to trample us mercilessly and fling us up in the air. We can turn and run like lightning with the massive bulls in hot pursuit. Or we can stick our little hands out in their face and scream “STOP!”

This lion must find a heart.

See that day, Emma learned and then taught me about authority that is vested within us. It is the authority of a thirty-pounder against a thousand-pounder. Within me is mastery and dominion over my reactions to circumstances. But I must learn to wield it. It is a spiritual weapon that I can brandish to quell the enemies of my soul.

Jesus died that I might have life, and life abundantly. Peace and His presence are two things He has assured me He will never withdraw from me. Hope and joy are mine to enjoy despite the worst possible circumstances in life. Otherwise what is our faith for? I’ve tried many others and they are all sinking sands. He alone has seen me, and countless others over the ages, through thick and thin VALIANTLY. His are promises that we will not be shaken if we stand upon the Rock that He is.

If you don’t know Jesus, He is a simple invitation away. All you have to do is believe He is the son of God who died to save you and who came back to life so YOU might have life. His presence in your life is the authority to speak over your perspective on life’s circumstances and command your fears to be still.

Here’s a great truth: You can’t think two thoughts at the same time. And tough times call for soul talk.  In 1752, Katharina A. von Schlegel penned “Be still my soul, the Lord is on your side.” What a great mantra. It has amazing words. Enjoy Kari Jobe’s rendition of it.

Ages before, King David said, “Why so downcast oh my soul? Put your hope in God for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God,” Psalm 42:11. Sometimes I say, a thousand times, “I trust you Lord, I trust you Lord.” I’ll sing a song or meditate on and recount a piece of scripture. Scream it if you need to or just think it, though your knees are knocking.

And should the circumstances do you in, you have a blessed promised eternity awaiting you. One of complete rest and bliss in His presence. Death will be your final enemy and you WILL overcome it victoriously. You can’t lose!!

So put your hands on your little hips and stomp those sparkly cowgirl boots. Silence that bellowing bull and speak your truth!

Image retrieved on 10/9/17 from https://i.pinimg.com/564x/09/3f/5b/093f5b9a471196711493b2115f47cd8c.jpg

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