August 29, 2009

Ravens and Water

God gives him a mission, something to say. He says it. Nobody wants to hear it. They'll most likely kill him if he sticks around.
God says, "You don't have to stick around" (whew, what a relief) "Hide yourself by this brook." (gurgling, burbling, could be relaxing)
God provides for his needs.... water in the brook and bread and meat delivered by ravens twice a day (ravens? the precursor to pizza delivery?).
Then, the brook dries up. (dries up! God's perfect provision DRIES UP?)
God enters again, "Go to city X, where I've told a widow to feed you".
He goes.
He meets a widow.
He asks for water. She says yes.
He asks for a morsel of bread. She says no. (wait, this isn't how I imagined it going)
A little flour and a little oil is all she has left and she thinks she and her son will die.
God intervenes, gives flour in her jar and oil in her jug whenever they run low.
All is well?
All is not well.
The widow's son becomes ill until there is "no breath left in him". She is bitter, angry, remembering old sin.
Elijah cries to God. God listens. The boy lives. The widow believes.

And this is just 1 Kings 17. Elijah's life takes more turns and goes through more upheaval. God does not always seem present, but He always is present.

I expect my life to follow certain paths and take certain courses. I trust my Father to provide. But maybe it will not be as I expect. Did Elijah anticipate ravens with bread, a disappearing brook, a contrary widow?

Oswald Chambers said it this bluntly,
"Let me say I believe God will supply all my need, and then let me run dry, with no outlook, and see whether I will go through the trial of faith, or whether I will sink back to something lower. Faith must be tested, because it can be turned into a personal possession only through conflict... Faith is unutterable trust in God, trust which never dreams that He will not stand by us."

August 19, 2009

A Delivery of Accidental Irony

He wore a look that only young men who have had to take their Father's place as man of the house can wear.
A scraggly goatee, tanned features, and eyes that gleamed with teases of maturity taking shape told me that he was several years older than his age of 18.
I sized his bloody face up. "What happened to you?"
Obviously he had the crap beaten out of him.
"Three guys jumped me."
My fingers pulled at his swollen cheek bones, spread the cut above his brow apart, and prodded around his eyes.
"Ow, shit."
I stopped for a second to acknowledge his glare.
"You are allowed to think whatever you want, make up any name for me you possibly can. You cannot curse in front of your sister. I know it hurts, I'm sorry."
He stared.
"She's heard it all already."
"I didn't ask that. Don't move your head, just follow my finger with your eyes."

Another few moments and I stepped out of the room.
Just under two minutes to gather up a basin, saline solution and nice expensive medical soap, scrub sponge, towel, gloves, and inform the doctor his patient was ready.
Knocking, then I pushed open the door.
"Okay, I'm just going to clean you up a little so when the doctor comes in to take a look he can see a little better what's going on. This is just expensive soap and water, and here; feel this sponge, see? It's not rough, it's soft. But it'll still sting some."

The ever present question.
"Will I need stitches?"
"Most likely. It looks like four, maybe five, but I doubt it. It'll need to be closed though for sure."
He grimaced, then a flurry of threats and harsh words came out of his mouth against the people who did it to him.
The room grew quiet as Mother and daughter watched his face slowly reappear, the crimson disappearing into the sponge and drips.
No warning whatsoever.
Just a question, his voice low and startling sincere.
"What would you do? I mean, how would you handle the situation if you knew who did it to you?"
The sponge froze on his forehead.
Every particle in the room stopped moving as Mother and daughter stared at me.

I've never been attacked by three people who used my own bicycle to beat me, who kicked me in the head while I was lying on the rough pavement being punched, who laughed and got into their car and drove off.

"Do you know who did this to you?"
"Where's your Dad?"
"He lives in Michigan."
"I think you need to ask him."
"I don't talk to him."
"Do you have an Uncle, Grandpa, some family here? You need to ask them."
"No, just my Mom and sister and two Aunts."

Caked blood from his ears made the water in basin officially too murky to see through.
"What would you do? Would you just let them get away with it?"
He looked at me fiercely, his query cutting and relentless.

The doctor came in and spent several minutes asking his own questions, voicing concerns and clarifying statements.
"We'll use 4.0 vicryl for him...I'll write up the orders and we'll send him to get a CT scan, I want to rule out any possible internal trauma, although it seems like he's fine."
Lidocaine and Marcaine took any discernment for detail from him and his cut was soon ready to be closed.
As the needle dove in, hemostats gripped and twirled in a choreographed dance that tightened and looped, flipped spun and tied, our words did the same as we talked man-to-man.

"Sit tight. I'm going to get a wheelchair and then I'll take you to get your head scanned."
It came out negative.
The damage would be bruises, cuts, abrasions, swelling, throbbing, anger, frustration, and the battle for making an incredibly tough decision few have encountered.
I shook his hand and had him sign at the bottom by the "X."
"You're free to go, hope you feel better man."
He smiled, a first for the evening.
He shook my hand firmly. Of course he had a good grip.
"And don't come back in here to get stitched up again without bringing me a pizza."
He looked at me and rolled his eyes, ice pack held to the back of his head.

"That's what I was going out to get when this happened."

August 2, 2009

Meeting Pandora

What first alerted me to their presence next door was an the heavy aroma of spices that spilled around and over the slightly cracked door, allowing the thick scent of curry to fill the entire hallway. As I walked past their door carrying an excess of luggage that belied my eight months of traveling I picked up the faint murmur of a foreign language.
Both were both scent and sound were legitimate and strong.
Exhausted, I slid my key-card into the door and
Trying again...still red.
Impatiently I threw down my luggage, wanting green. Green, not stupid red.

Her tiny voice startled me.
"You shouldn't throw things. That's how you break stuff."
I turned sharply around and saw a short olive-skinned girl with long black hair and beautiful eyes. She was smaller than most five year-olds but spoke with the authority of at least seven birthdays.

"Be careful. You're making a lot of noise."
I was completely put in my place.
"Sorry. I'm super tired and my key isn't working. Whoops, there it goes, see? I wanted green but it kept giving me red."
She stared up at me completely unimpressed.
"So. You don't have to throw things Army man."
Now it was my turn.
"Wrong. I'm in the Air Force."
"Same thing."
If I hadn't already, I was going to lose a huge battle with someone a third of my age and more than that smaller than me.
Completely unacceptable. So I changed topics.

"Your dinner smells good, were you the cook?"
She smiled at me, finding it humorous. Whew.
"No, its supper, and I didn't cook it. I get to eat it now though, and it's going to be so good. Bye!"
With that she turned on her heel and exited the conversation and hallway.

A week or two passed as each evening I returned to ever diverse meal fragrances.

I stood waiting for the insultingly slow elevator to arrive, my basket of laundry weighing more as my boredom grew.
"I bet you can't tell what we've been saying. It's in another language that you don't know."
This time I knew better than to give her the first hit of astonishment, regardless of whether she deserved it.
"You're right. I don't. You know an entire language that I don't know?"
"Yep." The smug look on her face was pronounced. What was it I did to deserve this relationship again?

"Wow. Guess what."
Instead of answering, she looked straight into my ignorant eyes and spoke several sentences of her native tongue, whatever it was.
"No, I'm serious, guess what."
The only way for me to avoid annihilation was to ignore her shots across my bow.

The elevator door opened and closed.
I set my laundry down.

It was on.

"I know another language too."
"No you don't."
"Yes, I do. I'll prove it. You ready?"
I smirked at her.

I crouched down and pointed to her stomach.
"What is this called?"
"Its my tummy."
Nope. Not even close.
"Nope, not even close ma'am."
She challenged me.
"Then what is it?"

I began pointing at her tummy, guessing roughly as to where things were located.
"Here's where your duodenum is, it's the beginning of your intestines. Here's your colon, and you have mucosa and submucosa all through there. Your pancreas should be about here, and this is your gallbladder. Hey look, it's your liver! Not. You can't see it, but it's there. And here is where your stomach is."
She looked at me.
"Yep, I knew all that."
"No you didn't. Just like I didn't know what you were saying."
Win or lose, she wasn't going to lose.
And with that she turned around and scootered off down the hallway.
As I leaned over to pick up my bags, her father followed in his daughter's footsteps and scared the living everythings out of me.
"You know, I am quite impressed. She's usually very shy but for some reason she gets along with you. That is very good!"

I smiled at him and backed into the elevator.
"Thank you, your daughter is very sweet."
The doors closed and I caught myself audibly snorting.
Shy? Sweet?
No...neither one of those.

She was...acute, calculating, clever. Aggressive, daunting, and fearless, intelligent, small and...
she won.