My kids love to hear stories from when we were kids.
My son, Jackson, is constantly complaining that we don’t tell him “enough stuff about you guys.”
So, more and more I find myself consciously dipping into my memory bank to unload some of the stories that made me and Peter who we are — and you can watch the littles knotting themselves into those places, the family strands tying them tighter and tighter into the stories so that they can become a living part of them too.
Today as we were making our morning drive down the back country roads on the way to soccer camp and preschool summer camp, talk turns to spiders. As it does.
And it reminded me of the tarantulas my parents used to tell us about from the summer they spent serving in Haiti. It was while my dad was a working at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and my mom had five-year-old me and my 18-month-old brother. They went to Haiti for a summer volunteer program — my dad as a doctor serving wherever he was sent.
So I peeled that memory out from behind my eyes and let the spool play for the kids.
It was back in the late seventies and my memories stick out like vivid, living things.
I tell them about the big yellow bucket that was 18-month-old Josh’s bath tub. I can still see him with his shock of blonde hair and chubby face grinning over the sides. All ten fingers gripping the edges. There were always a delight of tadpoles in the bucket bath with him because anytime you turned on the faucet tadpoles came swimming out. Tadpoles out the shower. Tadpoles out the taps. As a child I remember it as magical. I think as an adult I would probably experience that differently.
There was an old cracked swimming pool in the cement back yard — I remember it as never being filled up. Instead, it usually ran half-full of rain water. I think that sometimes the local church held baptisms there.
It was hot. And there were often crowds of people in the back yard. It’s where I first learned to chew sugar cane. You could buy sticks of it and we’d gnaw on those sweet sugar sheaves until all the sugar water had churned out the husk.
I remember the red dirt and the cracked walls of our house. And the tarantulas. They were as big as my dad’s hand. And they were not afraid of us. I remember vividly how far they could jump.
What I don’t remember is the story of our flight back to the States. But my own father has told it to me often enough that it’s become part of the DNA of my memory and I can pass it on to my kids as if it’s playing out before my eyes.
My naive parents hadn’t known what a fuss it would cause to try and re-enter the U.S. after three months in Haiti, without advance parole to travel outside the U.S. on their visas. They didn’t know how long they would be detained when they re-entered and they didn’t know if the people from the church who were meeting their young family at the airport would wait.
This was back before cell phones.
This was when my parents were traveling on the faith of strangers and a church who had promised them hospitality and they had no way to communicate with them how or why or for how long they’d been delayed.
My dad tells the story of how each hour that dragged by in the customs office while calls were made to his university, his place of employment, they grew less and less sure that anyone would be waiting for them once they finally exited. He didn’t have the contact info handy and couldn’t place any calls to alert anyone that their arrival time would be pushed back.
I remember through his eyes and now through my own bones as a mom, how tired they got and how wound up their kids were. How Joshua crawled laps on the airport carpet after having felt only cement under those chubby knees before. How hours crawled by alongside him and how their hope leaked out of their overstuffed luggage.
It was nearly six full hours later that my parents emerged from customs and into the arrivals hall of the airport.
They were going to try and find a pay phone or a taxi or a hotel. They didn’t have any plans beyond that.
Because who waits for strangers six hours beyond the time they should have arrived? Who waits beyond politeness, beyond hope, beyond expectancy?
Who waits when the excitement has worn off and the anticipation evaporated?
I feel the catch in my own throat when I tell the story that isn’t mine but that I’ve adopted into my memory bank.
When my mom and dad finally walked through customs every single one of the people who’d set out six hours before to meet them was still waiting.
A whole excited crew from the church with signs and balloons and smiles was still there. Waiting.
I see them hugging in my adopted memory — all their mustaches and bell bottoms and my dad doing that laugh-cry thing I’ve inherited from him. Jackson will do it too when I pass on the story.
There is power in waiting.
Never underestimate the faithful courage of being willing to wait.
I need to remember that story more.
I want to be a brave and delighted waiter.
In airports and then of course here, in the rest of my ordinary life.Leave a Comment
Michele Morin says
This story of a huge and faithful waiting — by strangers! — rebukes my impatience and requires that I linger over tea this morning for as long as anyone wants to sit at the breakfast table and talk. May we find grace to give the ministry of presence to family and to friends.
Patty Farmer says
Amen, thank you for this story!!
Bev @ Walking Well With God says
God continues to stretch and then stretch again my waiting muscles. We, as a society, have become less and less tolerant of waiting. What a wonderful story you can pull from the archives of your brain to play when the waiting gets tough. Waiting through my 4th surgery recovery, I’ve learned that God can birth some great plans when we are forced to be still and wait. After my first surgery years back, I was inspired by ya’ll to start my blog. Another period of waiting through surgery recovery birthed a non-profit ministry for orphaned children in the Middle East. Waiting to see what this recovery will morph into?? God orchestrates great things in the waiting and He reminds us of His faithfulness to be there waiting at the gate when we finally arrive.
What wonderful memories/testimonies you are giving your children. Answering inquisitive questions builds a faith legacy…you go girl!
ps. This Pittsburgh girl turned Southerner can’t help but give a shout out to her back to back Stanley Cup winning Pens!!
Diana F says
I just wanted to share with you of how my own journey has been one of waiting for healing. Mine comes in the form of chronic environmental illness and chronic fatigue syndrome. It’s been a long wait of over 20 years. Yet, I see the Lord teaching me much in the wait, much about trusting Him rather in myself or broken people to bring about the ultimate healing only He can orchestrate. I’m glad the Lord opened the door of ministry in your life as He has. It is such a testimony of God’s grace in our lives and His power to shine in the midst of weakness. May the Lord continue to work His will through the vessel of your life and mine!
Bev @ Walking Well With God says
Your waiting through suffering has built in you a beautiful heart filled with compassion!! I do believe, and have experienced this, through my own long waiting periods with chronic illness. I know God is going to have a crown of life with extra jewels on it for you. I speak to this very subject of ministry born of suffering in my blog post this week. I invite you to pop over if you’d like: http://walkingwellwithgod.blogspot.com
I know others with chronic fatigue syndrome, but chronic environmental illness – would like to know more. Maybe you could share with me?
Thank you for taking the time to encourage me today….you are a blessing!!
Diana F says
Bev, though I am slow in responding, please know your words have encouraged me since the day I first read them, the day you posted. “Ministry born of suffering” is still something I’m seeking to understand in my life. I have seen how the Lord will use the lessons I have learned in affliction to speak into another struggling sufferer’s life here and there. For these opportunities, I praise Him! Yet, there’s a longing in my heart to be more connected with others so that we can “serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace” (1 Peter 4:10). Being so isolated because of my particular illness can wear on my soul. In this I continue to plead to the Lord for help and deliverance. And, I thank others for their like prayers.
I appreciate your interest to know more about environmental illness. It’s also referred to as multiple chemical sensitivity, and some people are finding a connection with what’s called mast cell activation disorder. Just by the multiple names, you may be able to see that it’s not a well-defined ailment at this time. Therefore, in that limited understanding, treatments are all over the board with varying degrees of effectiveness.
My experience has been one of becoming gravely ill (i.e. flu-like symptoms, burning all over pain, deep fatigue, brain fog – cognitive/thinking difficulties, plus many more) when exposed to many environmental substances with don’t seem to affect others, at least that they notice. These things include: fragrances/scents (including essential oils), petrochemicals (e.g. car exhaust), new items which are made with various off-gassing chemicals (e.g. clothes, furniture, new construction, etc.), wifi and electronic devices, just to name the major ones. Though I’ve found ways over the years to reduce my exposure to many of these things, as you probably can tell, it’s nearly impossible to avoid it all. Even me typing out this message to you has a degree of affect. But, out of love for God and for you/others, I do it with hope He will make a way through the pain!
Again, thank you for your caring interest. I will look more at your blog site and as I’m enabled; hope to post there in time. Take care! Diana
Bev @ Walking Well With God says
Thank you for sharing with me what you deal with each and every day. Wow…it’s amazing the sensitivities that our bodies have to chemicals, smells, allergens, different stimuli….you name it. It sounds like an area that needs a lot more research to find out why these things trigger those reactions. Other than avoidance, is there any other treatment that seems to work?? I can see how that leaves you feeling very isolated. There are so many people battling things that we aren’t even aware of. I will certainly keep you in my prayers and I invite you over to my blog. I know some of my readers suffer from things like chronic and debilitating migraines, fibromyalgia, etc. I know some illnesses get a lot of press, but there are others like yours that people aren’t even aware of. Thank you for enlightening me. Having suffered with anxiety disorders and depression, I am always trying to erase the stigma associated with mental illness.
Praying for you sweet sister,
Angela S says
Beautiful. God knew what I needed and he sent you right on time! God bless and thank you for sharing your father’s memory.
You continue to take me places and I feel every moment. I love your relationship with your kids and they are so rich because you share your treasures. Just lovely.
I am waiting for a prodigal daughter who 14 years ago told me she didn’t want to see me again. God has promised our reconciliation SO I’m waiting!
Nancy, I can’t imagine the hurt in your heart when your daughter said that to you, and the hurt that probably lingers there even now. Praying for you, but especially praying for your daughter that the Lord will draw her to Him and His Saving Grace, and that He will open her eyes to the wonderful mom she has waiting for her.
Bev @ Walking Well With God says
I’m waiting for a daughter as well…not nearly as long as you….but I know the heartache you feel. Joining with you in claiming God’s promises of healing and restoration….
((Hugs)) and prayers,
Thank you, Lisa, for sharing this! In today’s impatient culture, this really resonates. We expect instantaneous gratification. We get impatient with our computers and mobile devices if they don’t deliver our content within less than a second…the car ahead of us if it doesn’t go immediately when the light turns green. Waiting 6 hours? For strangers? Without any contact during that time? Even back then that was over the top! In today’s culture, that would go viral if it were posted on social media. Yet what a public testimony of the love of Christ and God’s faithfulness. The Lord has been working on me for a lot of years in this area. I now pray for people in cars ahead of me that don’t go the speed limit or turn right in front of me, rather than getting impatient and angry, because the Lord whispered in my soul that he was putting them in front of me for a reason. I pray the Lord will remind me of your wonderful “adopted” memory the next time I start to feel impatient . Thanks again for sharing! Blessings on you and your family.
Helen Lynn says
Love this memory and how you showed it to me. Thank you for reminding me to deposit my memories into my children’s and grandchildren’s lives more frequently.
Kristin Davila says
I woke up and read this! It is exactly the right words to me, Lisa Jo! I have a friend I am waiting on in love. I know she loves me and she loves Jesus and it is so worth the wait. We are pushing through hard things and I know the prize will be a brand new Jesus centered friendship.
You’ve really touched me with your story, and the beauty in humanity. Your children will have something positive to learn from it too. Thank-you so much for sharing this with us today.
Have a blessed day all,
I love the way you phrased that, ‘knotting themselves into our strands and stories until they become part of the fabric,too.’ So beautiful and true! Our daughters’ favorite stories always come after, “tell us a story of when you were little.” And, I’d have to admit some of my best healing has come out of this practice. They give me grace when the story isn’t as funny as I remember and big hugs when the story catches in my throat or makes me cry.
So much wonderful!
Beth Williams says
You and your family are blessed to have those memories of long ago. The world has become so fast paced and impatient. God lovingly says “Be still and know”. He calls us to slow down & wait. Like Bev said you never know what He will birth in the waiting. Hard to believe that people would wait six hours for your parents, but that was back in the day. Friendship meant a lot & they were willing to go the extra mile for that.
Bev @ Walking Well With God says
Just sending ((hugs)) to you today….just because you’re you!!
Thank you so much for your discourse. I am in a place of waiting after relocating and having so many changes in a short time. Here I was growing weary and anxious then your story came as a reminder that there is a blessing in the waiting. My faith is renewed and I rise to face today restored.
Diana F says
What a beautiful story of what true brotherly love of patient endurance looks like! Though it’s hard for me to pull a story with this extravagant display from my own experiences, I am grateful to see this example. It gives me hope in new possibilities. I pray I may learn to this long-suffering as the Lord Jesus continues to cultivate it in me. I lift up prayers for each of you who are waiting for healing of body, healing of soul, or healing of relationships. May the God of all comfort given each us of this enduring patience while we pray and wait for prodigal sons or daughters, unsaved spouses, or broken family relationships. I have many of these in my life, if not all. I especially ask for prayers for my unsaved husband who I am waiting for the day he will understand his need for Christ as his Lord and Savior.
How different missionaries were and their lifestyle back then compared to today. And it’s the same God we’re serving. Thank you for a great reminder that how your parents who have served sacrificially without expectations can sometimes be the best blessings that Abba has blessed us. I’d lived through some of those challenging moments and I want to say that I didn’t feel neglected or overlooked but with eyes focused on Christ, it trained me to be a better servant serving in truth and with love from the heart. Shalom!
Needed this! Thank you so much for sharing. God bless you and your family ❤️
Theresa Boedeker says
A beautiful story. And it shows the patience and faith of those waiting.
Waooooooouuuuhhhhh, I needed to hear this today. What makes me think that I can give up on people when God is there lovingly patient with me, waiting each and every single day? Being patient is a constant renewal of our hope and trust in Jesus to be able to change and transform situations and people’s hearts including hours, anytime… May be quicker than what we expect, and may be longer… May be we’ll never see the answers to our prayers but we can’t give up because HE is faithful. Waiting for changes in my own life, and waiting for a beloved Father and brother.
Thank you! I needed these words.
Lynne Hartke says
Ah, my heart is happy and teary with this story. May I remember the deep truth and BE the one who waits.
Danielle Bernock says
Lisa-Jo, your story brought tears to my eyes. What love those people demonstrated. How amazing your parents sound. You are so blessed.