Wednesday Changed my Life

Every dream begins with a dreamer.
Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion
to reach for the stars to change the world.
Harriet Tubman

April 1965; I was eleven and informed everyone that I was going to India to start an orphanage. Who’d believe an eleven-year-old child? Those skeptics didn’t stop me from dreaming; they only added coals to the fire.

By April, 1975, I’d been in India for six months. I reclined on my bamboo mat on the strangely comfortable cement roof and gazed at the millions of stars lighting the sky. I mused, “Lovely Moon, however did I get to this unbelievable place in my life?” Though only a sliver, the moon was brilliant, like a beating heart; nothing was around for miles to obscure any of the nightlights­­; a hundred million stars sparkling like tiles as a ceiling to the universe. Stars are riches in rural India —diamonds in the sky. Not every country has such an array. The giant Himalayas stood outlined and glowing against the northern horizon, creating a spectacular backdrop. Lying on my back on my thin, bumpy bamboo mat, left me with inexplicable peace.

Budwara was there beside me, day and night, always waiting for me to come. At night I arrived late; my mat would be rolled out for me and she’d be sitting on her mat spread next to mine. Budwara means Wednesday. Was she born on a Wednesday? So much mystery hid behind her shy giggling face… why was she left at a children’s home? What deep hurts lie buried inside, invisibly warring against her?  The children were so hungry for touch; deeply hungry for love.

There was no electricity for fans or lights. During the hot summers, the rooms were stifling hot and buzzed merrily with mosquitos —totally unbearable. Thus, I with all the girls marched to the roof, hoping to catch the draft of a cooler breeze and ride on it into sleep.  But I was mesmerized by the stars.

Daily chores became routine, as did the trip for baths. I’d herd the barefoot girls down the village road, thick with soft filmy dust. Each step brought up swirling brown clouds which slowly thickened on us as we made the two-kilometer walk.

Unfortunately, the same thing happened after our bath on the way back. Our bathtub was the village canal where buffaloes and oxen bathed; animals were washed slightly downstream while we bathed in our clothes, upstream. Even our drinking water came from downstream. The oxen were driven into the water with two large oil drums on the back of the rickety, ancient looking wooden cart with large wooden wheels. Those two drums were slowly filled by bucket and the water was used for drinking, cooking, and everything else; it served one hundred children and a dozen staff and was never enough.

Leaving the compound was a-looked-forward-to event by all. As we walked down the road, each of my fingers were grabbed (holding hands with only one child at a time just wasn’t considered fair). After reaching the canal the girls would excitedly jump in and splash. I’d sit on the edge and dangle my feet in the water. Then a water fight ensued; who would be the lucky girl to wash my toes? With a crowd of wet little girls at my feet, the scrubbing began. Roughly, thoroughly and lovingly my toes, the soles of my feet, the sides of my feet, my ankles were scoured as though I was a pot or pan. It was a heavenly massage and ridded my feet of dead, dried skin. The dirtiest part of my body was not begrudged by the girls in any way; they had no hesitation in showing kindness and love. They wanted to touch me and they wanted to be touched.

The children’s home stood on a dry riverbed; rocks and stones —and yes, “dry riverbed” aptly described me. My idyllic childhood dream of serving orphans was not quite what I’d anticipated. I understood dry riverbed for it described my spirit; it also described the children who were thirsty for love. I was no heroine. I needed the kids more than they needed me. Could I really make any difference at all? Something deep inside was persuading me to stay. I was not even close to being ready to leave. What I could achieve seemed insignificant, but I just couldn’t walk away.

In India, respect is traditionally shown by formally bowing down to touch someone’s feet. The girls touched my feet and washed them in the canal. Budwara touched my feet whenever she looked at me. I clearly saw the love and respect shining from her eyes. My childhood dream of going to India became reality; but not in the way I’d imagined it. The fluffy, dreamy visions of working with sweet orphans was now a hard, difficult reality. And not only that, the conditions, and the heat and humidity of the seasons took a heavy toll on me.

Every dream begins with a dreamer.
Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.

Harriet Tubman was right about reaching for those beautiful stars to change the world; except the world remains the same —it was I who was changed. Gazing at the stars showed me that God was in this, though I couldn’t understand where he was. God was somewhere near; I determined to find him. I’d found children —but God? Wednesday —Budwara, changed my life. Living alongside children drew me closer to truth. Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me….” The closer I got to the children, the closer I was drawn to God; my dream began to have meaning.

Tears drop like stars falling from the sky.
Night closes upon the darkness I feel in my soul
My spirit yearns and cries out for God.

Tears are meaningless in the largeness of earth
It’s magnitude and enormity and terrible, fearful nature
Humble me in the vastness of galaxies upon galaxies.

I am lost and alone and seeking an answer
From God, who meets me alone;
In a quiet and secret place where rivers run dry.


Answers to some Questions & Questions for some Answers

A lizard grows its tail again when severed in the door.

Axolotl grows xerox copies of missing brain parts.

Deer grows new antlers every year (to be in style?).

Babies grow into men and women.

God makes something from nothing.

Who has the answers of the universe?

Who has the questions?

If a wolf can cry, can a rock sing?

Why can’t we be born again?

What if there were no birds?

Click here for song

Come Away with Me

I echo a cry.
God is a romantic who yearns for our kiss
and thrives on relationship.
Take your eyes off the chaos.

Come Away with Me

Click here for song – Come Away with Me

He breaks down barriers, He crumples the walls

He makes the way open giving justice to all.

He’s the God of justice, the God who sheds tears

At crime and darkness which evil brings in.

He’s the crying Lord and with painful compassion

Keeps tears in His wineskin for healing the nations.

He repays with punishment the sins of the world,

But with hugs and embraces the sinner He kisses!

Father of love, from whom we are born,

God of creation, of wonder, of storm

Father of love, in whom I am found,

Extravagant forgiver, with love I am bound!

Kiss the Son, my love, kiss the Son, my king.

May the wine flow gently from His lips to those asleep.

I belong to my lover; His desire is for me

Come, my lover, come away with me.

Composer: Frieda McRae
With Dr. Sydney Thyle
Sonu Kumar
Dr. Michael Sethi


India Cry – May 2021

I love to write stories, but my heart is heavy and goes out to India; the lost and the suffering.
I grieve with you, India.

Our land is crying; smothered with heavy darkness.
Millions of tears create a cascading waterfall; the land becomes a swamp.
How long, you who made us, do we live in fear?
Father of love, do not turn from us as we turned from you and blamed you,
but look from heaven and see us stagger in our sorrow.

We treat our Maker disgracefully; our thoughts are darkened…
We argue and demand from you, who are God.
We admit you are God; you see our sadness,
Weeping with us as our emotions go out of control.
You allow us to be mad, but desire a sacrifice of praise.

You steadfastly remain the cohesive force we hang on to, lest we be torn apart.

You catch us if we stumble and will not fling us aside;

You separate us from our sins; as far as the east is from the west and patiently love and dearly prize the world.

You gave your own son; you know loss.  

The world rages and chaos triumphs —only briefly;

Your plan; eternal life.


Ironically Broken

He was wounded and crushed because of our sins…
What about my “bruises” …the scabs on my head from lice and my aching stomach?
It’s hard to compare one’s sufferings to Jesus… not much purpose, I guess.
by taking our punishment, he made us completely well.

(Is. 53:5 CE)

Was it a dream or was it actually happening? I’d been in India for five months, yet my stomach was still objecting. I loved working in the children’s home, but hygiene was lacking. Sickness was unavoidable. Too weak to think straight, I found relief in letting my mind wander. My ankle-length skirt was crumpled and dusty from sitting on the bathroom floor all night. The back of my shirt was smudged with creamy powder from the cheaply whitewashed wall I leaned against. My uncombed hair resembled a bird’s nest. My body had experienced a nightlong cleansing and there wasn’t an ounce of anything left in me. After hearing my pitiful cry early that morning, Bob arose and unlocked the gate of the girls’ dorm. Without waiting for his approval, I crawled into his bathroom to clean up. I was sure he could see all my little lice friends digging through my hair. An unpleasant smell seemed to be following me.

I’d achieved my life-long dream of going to India to work in a children’s home, but by the time I went, there was a selfish motive. I was running away from God and on a search for truth. (Do those two aims work together?) I arrived in India wanting to help, but now I was a new problem to go along with all the other problems we faced daily at the children’s home. New problems were really just part of the normal daily routine. So, Yip and Bob (two other volunteers) were exploring the options… would I get better or did I need a hospital? How could they look after me? How could they get me to a hospital without a vehicle? Hmmm… what would they come up with?

My body felt strangely heavy, as though it was welded to the bed (Bob’s bed) I now lay on. Unable to lift myself, my body had turned into a gigantic brick. Dazed, I caught Bob peering at me, asking me something…

“What?”, I asked.

His ever-polite proper English accent (usually attractive to me) was annoying because I felt so revolting. And I was the casual, sloppy, down-dressed American whose English was far from proper. Now, his disapproval of my completely dishevelled state bore down on me, but I knew Bob’s soft, caring heart was forefront.

“Frieda,” he said with finality, “I’m just going to give you a little injection to stop you up”.

My mind quickly began to work and I came to my senses with a bit of dread. “Bob,” I asked wearily, “have you ever given an injection before?”

Wedged in the middle of all my dreams and aspirations; I felt like a little boat in a big storm. There was silence. No answer. “Great!” I thought to myself, unable physically mentally to rise to the challenge or of stopping him. Closing my eyes, I surrendered. Stretched out like a corpse on the wooden rope-strung bed in a tiny Indian village, I waited for “it” to happen. My little boat was far from home across a vast ocean.
Helpless? Yes! Unhappy? Not at all! Life hung in limbo, perched precariously somewhere between dreams and truth. Life was picking up speed and taking me with it. Sickness was definitely not a setback along the way, merely one of the many events leading me from dream to reality.

“Ouch!” Suddenly I was back in the reality of Bob’s little bedroom; he was pulling a needle from my arm and pressing a wad of cotton on the targeted spot. “That should take effect shortly,” he announced with a professional nod of the head.

I was excited, not scared… no doubt all the setbacks were part of a larger plan. What an odd way to get there? Yet, I was 100% willing to be part of whatever roadblocks came. Fully committed in my search for truth, I was ready to wrestle whatever got in the way. God had put the desire in me to come to India when I was a child. What I didn’t realize was that I had not chosen God. And I couldn’t go to the biblical extreme of counting my sufferings as joy. I really couldn’t do that; but upon reflection, if a “night-long cleansing session” could have the same effect on our souls, I’d be in luck; my search for truth would be shorter. Why does God insist on examining our heart in such a round-about way? And why do I keep including God when I’m running away from him? It makes no sense.

It took the Israelites 430 years before they were ready to follow God out of Egypt. I suppose a “night-long cleansing session,” if it gets me nearer to the truth, is not too much to ask. Considering how disgusting I looked that night, it’s good the bible says God doesn’t look at our appearance, but at our heart…. something about making blind eyes see. The irony of brokenness!

The Ironic Truth:

We are experiencing all kinds of trouble, but we aren’t crushed.
We are confused, but we aren’t depressed.
We are harassed, but we aren’t abandoned.
We are knocked down, but we aren’t knocked out.

We always carry Jesus’ death around in our bodies
so that Jesus’ life can also be seen in our bodies.
(II Cor. 4:8-10)

*That’s worth pondering; perhaps it can get my little boat out of the storm.


The Depth of Humble

*This is a story of a girl I grew up with.
It is what happened.
Its humbling to realize that such people exist.

Anna was unpretentious, never dramatic, not a show-off, and not amazingly smart or pretty. She was simply Anna; always the sweet, nice, Anna. You could count on her to be your friend. Unfortunately, Anna made the headlines one day, and because of that, I had the opportunity to peek into who the girl inside Anna actually was.

Anna married at 34; athletic, fit and full of vitality, deeply happy to have found Mark; someone she loved, who loved her back. They bought a house in the country where they enjoyed a quiet life and dreamed of a family.

After three short months of marriage, Anna drove along the long, lonely country roads on her way to work. As she approached a four-way intersection, a heavy truck came hurtling down the road and ignored the stop-sign. It plowed straight into Anna, hitting directly where she sat. For Anna, the world stopped… but she lived.

She lay in a coma for months and was in four different hospitals over the year. Doctors discouraged hope for recovery; but Anna slowly began to emerge. Her family talked to her, read her books, played music —totally unaware that she couldn’t hear. They hoped she would wake up, but there was no response for months.

One day, the family noticed her eyes were beginning to track objects. She occasionally moved an arm or leg. Mark and her family were still unsure whether Anna recognized them, but they pursued to seek responses from her. Anna displayed a kind-of smile when Mark was there. Anna’s sister wrote:

“The day I think of as Anna’s “waking up” was on my birthday —exactly six months and one day after her accident. I brought some children’s alphabet blocks and began to arrange them. She astounded me by finishing them! Then I started spelling her name and she finished it! I began writing questions and she’d point to the answer! She didn’t remember her husband’s name, but when I wrote it, she wrote shakily in pencil, “I want to go home with Mark.” It felt like a miracle to me! I was astonished when Anna actually grabbed the pencil right out of my hand to write. She suddenly realized she didn’t have to wait for me to ask her the questions —she could communicate to me herself! It was a true Helen Keller moment! Anna realized she could communicate and she did it! It was momentous! A huge sign of hope!”

Anna was back, even though she could neither talk, walk, or hear —her left side was paralyzed and she had limited movement on her right side; but Anna was back. To keep fit, she’d pull herself in her wheelchair using one leg. Anna had no memory of the year before her accident —no memory of Mark or marriage. Mark had spent countless hours with her as she gained back some strength and was there for therapies and surgeries. A strong bond developed.

Mark stuck close to Anna when she didn’t remember him; he cared for her with faithful love.  He showered her with the attention she needed. Anna fell in love with him all over again. He ceremoniously returned her wedding ring, which had been kept by the paramedics. Eventually, Mark took Anna home and made it handicap accessible, meeting her every need.

Over time medical problems arose and Anna needed access to doctors. The option of using a nursing home would make them bankrupt. A lawyer advised Mark to divorce Anna to avoid complete bankruptcy. Medicaid could benefit Anna and her family would willingly become her guardian and provide the rest of her needs. Anna’s family kept close watch over her; they were always there to support her. If Mark divorced Anna, she would get the nursing home and medical attention needed. Her family encouraged him to do it, knowing divorce wouldn’t change his heart for Anna.

Mark cared for her twelve years in their home and remained her faithful companion when she entered the nursing home. He was the highlight of her day.  Communicating with someone who doesn’t hear and painstakingly types with one finger, takes much patience and time; but Mark let Anna know the situation and told her the truth. Anna’s dreams of family life were thrown out the window, that is, until she thought of a way to make their dreams come true.

My peephole into Anna made me understand humility. Anna WAS Humble! She realized there were many nice, young nurses and pretty aides at the nursing home where Mark visited every day. She was determined to make a match for him and took the job seriously. She soon introduced Mark to her favorite nurse and a relationship developed. Anna was a success; she achieved her goal. Mark married and had children.

He brought Anna photos of his kids and continued visiting. She took pride in his children as though they were her own. That was Anna —the depth of HUMBLE. She was selfless; she loved Mark so much that she was willing to see her dream carried on by another. By helping Mark and remarry, Anna lost Mark as her lifetime companion… Mark, the highlight of her long days disappeared; but her intense satisfaction was in knowing she had helped Mark get the family he and she had dreamed of; that was enough for her. It came at her own expense and without recognition from others. He made an incredible sacrifice for her and she wanted to give something back. Anna was a highly committed and determined person; she never gave into her everyday trials, or despair and purposelessness, but instead chose to make a positive impact on someone’s life. She never gave up.

She emerged like a jubilant bride from that crushed car and took on a new character to survive. Mark helped Anna through some of the hardest times of her life; she helped him to move on.

Anna was proud of Mark’s new family. She never walked again, nor talked, or even heard the voice of a child; but she loved Mark. Her greatest joy was seeing him with the family she couldn’t provide. Anna WAS HUMBLE. Like an unusual desert flower which no one sees, but blooms in the night, Anna blossomed through pain and suffering.

Anna died a few years ago. Whenever I think of her, I think of what God saw in Anna and how highly God valued her. She never sought for attention; but like Hagar said in Genesis 16:13 (NIV), “You are the God who sees me”, she wasn’t alone. It’s always the humble who humble us; the desert flowers.


The Sacrificial Love of the Yabadabadoo Man

Dad remains that special person who lived, laughed and loved greatly. I regret that I gave him so many problems in my rebellious teenage years. I never realized I was “that” bad, until I was unreservedly informed by my sisters. Even so, Dad never stopped loving or worrying about me; he just didn’t know how to handle me. As a renowned psychiatrist, he gave lectures on how to raise teenagers; but in truth, he was pulling his hair out… whispering under his breath; what am I supposed to say? His solution was to let me go and let me get on with my life —and my mistakes. It was the hardest and the best thing he did for me. I wrote the song, Thanks Dad, in honor of his sacrificial love for me. Kids take a long time to grow up… but finally, we “get it.”

All the parents along our road, county road 24, mostly relatives, pretty much “acted” the same as us kids. I would describe them as grown-up children. They had sleepovers (though it was always for some “good” reason), where they all stretched out together on the floor in sleeping bags. That happened when they were doing a gig with their band somewhere and needed a sleeping area. They played, camped together, cooked together, swam, boated, hiked together, and did it all with us kids.

The thing they loved most was singing and playing their instruments. They were known as the “Eleventh Hour.” Depending on the song, they would dress up in different costumes and sing with hilarious accents so that even they could barely understand each other and would end in uncontrollable fits of laughter. They had to practice those songs a lot if they were actually going to preform them, which they did. They were all very crafty, and even made their own instruments from wood, metal, or whatever they found or dug up. They had guitars, a homemade standing bass violin, mandolin, ukuleles, bongos, home-made auto-harp, kazoos, harmonicas, shakers, recorders, a banjo, even a washboard and a real harp! Some people think that sitting around in heaven on clouds playing harps sounds boring, but my family would have a great time doing it. My Aunt Katy made puppets that would sit on her knees and dance to the songs. Uncle Spike, was the initiator of the whole thing; a very dedicated guitar player. Dad’s specialty was the harmonica and singing tenor, which he bellowed out operatic style. He had a harmonica from Germany with eight different keys that looked like a corncob. Mom played the mandolin and recorder and all sang. There was so much crazy happiness!

The 2nd song attached is a must listen, a live performance; if you think you knew my dad, or want to know my dad… this is a mighty fine introduction to him. Dad begins in his strong tenor voice, and then Uncle Alden brings in the party spirit via his shocking soprano (quite the scandalous pair).

Thanks Dad

Thank you for being good to me, for all the things I couldn’t see
Know I didn’t do the same, but your sorrow became my gain.
I thought I was the one who knew best what was good for me
You said the choice was mine to make I’d have to face that I am free…
To make my choices, free to know and see.
Everything before me, good and bad alike
Every choice I make I make to state that truth of life
I cannot blame parents any people or circumstance
It’s God’s gift in all of us…. Freedom!
I never asked you for wealth, just wanted you to be proud of me
I never asked you to do so much
Just wanted all your love, and that you gave me,
Though hurt and pain dug deep, you always cared and waited patiently for me.
Sacrificial love, means so much to me
Sacrificial love, sets the captives free
Sacrificial love, a choice not just for me,
With all my heart I thank you, God. With all my heart I thank you, Dad
With every breath and every step I make I thank you, Lord. धन्यवाद

And so, after all the wonderful sacrificial love, and the tenderness and brokenness which I’ve described exhibited in my dad, this song reveals the truth; he was also, undoubtedly human.

Click here for Thanks Dad

Click here for Figaro

Dad’s Finale:

The Last Ya-ba-da-ba-doo!

(*Dad would spit out “yabadabadoo” before every sneeze!)

Growing up, many people commented on how much I resembled my Dad! I was a normal, image conscious teenage girl, horrified to be compared to Dad, who tended to be overweight and wore a goatee! But now, whenever I look in the mirror, I see Dad in my eyes —he is always looking back at me.

Parents are always on stage; they are the star in their children’s lives. All my parents are heroes. I had two mothers. After the death of my first mother, my second mother earned her way into my heart, because she was absolutely amazing —there was no way around it. I was privileged to call her Mom.

Dad was incredible, admired by all, everyone’s friend. He beautifully doodled notes and thoughts (without detection) during meetings and church. He saw humour everywhere and would sometimes just start giggling. Dad loved to belt-it-out with great theatrics in operatic song; but his love and compassion for everyone was his greatest virtue.

He battled with Parkinson’s. The last two or three times I visited him, he’d always say, “This good-bye could be the last!” Dad fully prepared us for his departure. 2008 was a difficult year for both Dad and Mom and led Dad to search for holiness with great tenderness and brokenness. His personal, and longstanding mission, was to understand the meaning of forgiveness. Dad knew God; his life showed it. He was confident and unshakable in facing death fearlessly and positively. There were times in 2008 when both Mom and Dad could have died.

January, 2009, Dad speedily went “down-hill.” Mom too, was seriously confronted with the possibility of death; a possibility that she rarely considered. That was always her strength —that she rarely considered death. The doctors hadn’t given her much hope to live past 50; in fact, they thought she was going to die at 20.  Mom’s directive was always life; aimed for life, daily driven to live every day to her utmost. Being a paraplegic, she confronted death many times, but not as much as in the year 2009. Her life-long resolve to live, was the only reason she survived into her mid-seventies; a strength for which she was highly respected. In the same way, the opposite was Dad’s unique strength; his ability to look at death calmly —the climax of life, the finish, where it suddenly “gets better.” Even so, his sudden departure took us by surprise.

Six days before Dad died, my elder sister Ruth phoned me in India to let me know that he was not well; he was disoriented, very weak and unable to respond. The news disturbed me and I felt very anxious about him. I was unsure what plans I should make. There was still hope that he would recover with the right treatment. That first night, I couldn’t sleep.

Then, I had a dream:
I was travelling on a bus with Mom and Dad. Dad leaned over and whispered, “I am in too much pain, and I can’t bear it anymore.” So, I took his hand and led him off the bus. After we had descended the steps of the bus, it went on. Suddenly, it dawned on me; Mom was still on the bus! I felt terrible! I had abandoned her! I was embarrassed even after I woke up. It was only a dream… but how could I have left Mom alone on the bus?

Ruth phoned again the next day to let me know that Dad was going down-hill very fast, and that he was in a lot of pain. He was in so much pain, that Ruth either wanted him healed immediately or released to death. I was surprised, as I hadn’t realized that he was in so much pain. She also mentioned that Mom was doing amazingly well. Ruth noted that she was growing stronger daily and had every hope of being able to leave the nursing home where she was being treated. Suddenly, my dream began to make sense. Dad had to get off the bus, but Mom was going on.

A few months earlier, Dad and I prayed together every night holding hands. I had taken Dad’s hands to lead him off the bus. Dad valued God as the final authority of life, but allowed me into his journey. In my dream I took his hands; but in reality, it happened when we prayed. Dad departed for a better place; he had his finale. At the last curtain call, God took his hands and led him off the bus; I released him.


Targeting Life

At seven I walked through a graveyard and came upon a small, decaying gravestone which read: ORPHAN; 1901-1908. No one had cared enough even to know the child’s name. Opposite that gravestone was a new grave, upon which lay myriads of fresh flowers, diverse in colour and variety. I walked towards it with annoyance and with one mighty swipe, pulled out a single red rose. Now the rose rested proudly, yet apologetically, on the unhappy mouldy gravestone. I hoped the child understood my untimely consolation, “you are loved.” LOVE was important. The gravestone indicated a lack of it.

As a child, have you played the game of trying not to step on a “crack” when walking down a sidewalk? If you step on a crack, you are out. Life sometimes feels that rough; like a journey of always trying to avoid the cracks. Perspective can be lost while aiming for happiness; we do not realize that life is really all about the cracks.

“Love” is what life is based on. There are lots of cracks; lots of the unexplainable and seemingly unfair portions that fall into our laps. We end up thinking or even saying, “why me?” or “why them?” Why does love get tampered with? We want to blame someone for the world going out of control. There is only one on whom to cast fault —God, our refuge when we have no answers in life. Aims and dreams never come to pass and our arrow falls short of the target; blame someone —God.

It is frustrating that God’s existence can’t be proven; all we have are unanswered questions. How was the world made? What is love? Why do bad things happen? How could a Big Bang have created life? Wouldn’t it be just as easy to take a wristwatch apart, drop the pieces in a bag, shake, and pull the watch out, whole and functioning again? It doesn’t really sound feasible that we’ll ever have the answers…

An old and feeble woman, whose time to go was coming soon, was respectfully asked, “Where do you want to be buried?” Her reply was thoughtful, but she answered with no hesitation —an inward smile illuminating her face:

It doesn’t really matter; I’m not going to stay there anyway.”

For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling,
so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.
(II Cor. 5:4 NIV)

Nevertheless, we mortals ponder… what is life?


Appostrogetic (Part Three)

“I have both the violent turbulence of the storm and the quiet promises of God in the storm. And what I must work to remember is that something is not necessarily stronger simply because it’s louder.”

― Craig D. Lounsbrough

After the house disappeared with everything in it, we found ourselves crawling out from under the garage door. We stood on the driveway gawking at the lack of houses down the road, wondering if what just happened could have really happened? The first thing Mom and Dad did was to find out if our neighbours and relatives were hurt; everything was “obliteration” personified. The only house on the other side of the road was so small and rickety that it could barely stand up on its own, with or without wind. But it had stubbornly remained standing, making fools of all the other houses. When the twister started dancing, its owners had rushed across the road to take shelter in my uncle’s strong brick house —a nearly fatal decision. The ceiling in the basement where they had taken shelter had caved in, stopping just short of crushing them all. They had to crawl out from beneath it. The word went up and down the road; everyone was miraculously safe. Betsy, Susie and Tom returned to the remains of their house to wait for their parents arrival.

               The next “think” we had to do was to figure out what to do —we couldn’t stand in the driveway forever! Lo and behold, a car appeared driving slowly and cautiously down the road. Dad quickly hailed the car and it came to a halt. The occupants were newlyweds. The wife was squeezed against her husband, shaking and bug-eyed. She was so scared by the tornado and its annihilation of everything that she didn’t really want to let us in —as though we were bringing with us a plague.  Without second thoughts, Dad asked them for a lift into town and we all climbed into their small car. Bessie and I brought our dolls to keep them safe (thankfully, they had been sleeping in their cradles in the basement).

The wife kept mumbling to herself, “What a honeymoon… what a honeymoon… what a honeymoon!” Electric poles and wires were littered across the main road and it soon became apparent that some roads were unsafe. We took a detour and snaked through long country roads and eventually reached the city. Mom stepped on a nail climbing out of the garage so we went to a friend for a tetanus injection. Then we were driven to the home of my dad’s colleague where we spent a few nights.

It took days of washing before all the dirt and gravel came out  of our hair. The Red Cross and the Mennonite Relief Committee stepped in immediately. Friends came from far away to help clear the land. Church and other organizations came full force. We went to the Red Cross Outlet and chose as many clothes as we needed or wanted for free. We sisters were overwhelmed by the rows and rows of clothes to try on. I wore that colourful, multi-pleated skirt endlessly. Fear vanished; it was all part of a big adventure. Our parents had always managed to look after our family, and we expected nothing less. We were too young to understand the huge financial burden it was to our parents. We never thought of the stress involved in losing everything valuable, like our photos and other irreplaceable memorabilia. Rebuilding our home and keeping our family together was enough to concentrate on. With all the support and aid that came in, our expectation of our parents heroically managing every situation was met.

For a while we rented an apartment. When the land had been cleared, we moved into a trailer on our property. We kids thought living in the trailer was great fun, like luxurious camping, although our parents didn’t feel the same way. It was very cramped living —only possible because we had nothing to put in it. Finally, the basement was repaired and liveable.  After moving into the basement, which seemed spacious and homey, the upstairs was slowly rebuilt.

A few kids in Bessie’s class died that day.

Death is naked before God; Destruction lies uncovered…
Job 26:6  NIV

We lived. Now I know that tornadoes are appostrogetic. If Dad had waited even a minute longer to drop Betsy back home, both he and Betsy would have been gone… but this was not God’s plan.

Weather Forecast Office

On Palm Sunday, April 11, 1965, Indiana was one of six Midwest states to be raked by deadly tornadoes. In all, 47 tornadoes killed 271 people and injured over 1,500. This was the fourth deadliest tornado outbreak in U.S. history and the deadliest of all Indiana outbreaks. In Indiana 137 people were killed and over 1,200 injured by ten tornadoes during the late afternoon and evening hours that day. Damages came to 5.5 billion dollars.

*The photo is the tornado that hit our house; afterwards it spilt into a double tornado and traveled down a well-used highway near us. It is about to devour, ravish and kill many in a mobile home park.

Have I imagined this tornado to be a training ground for the future? I never thought of it as being a training ground at all; not for life or love. “Life,” a word meaning so much more than a dictionary can express.  I have figured it out: “a wonderful and frightening thing, designed by God.”

“Death is naked before God; destruction lies uncovered…” Job was right.