The Hayes Zoo

Our Purpose

- to know God and use our entire lives in service to Him.

- to stand in the gap through prayer, giving and service to viable ministries in Latin America.

- to be transparent helpers of fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, using our resources and skills that through the Holy Spirit, we might encourage and equip those who have less.

- to share a living perspective from Latin America to our churches, friends and family in the states and beyond.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

A borrowed thought.................

Be forewarned: This is a long post. I was wordy and I borrowed words. So get something to drink and get comfortable because if you follow from start to finish - you'll be here a while. :)

The blog world is an interesting place isn't it? A window, if you will, into the lives and thoughts of others. Now, I will be the first to say that it can't and shouldn't replace regular, in person fellowship but for those like me, who find themselves in places where actual one to one relationship with friends is hard to cultivate and encourage due to language and cultural issues, it is like sitting down, visiting with friends while a cool breeze blows over me.

In this world I've found a few friends who I can't wait to meet in person some day. Several are incredibly gifted with words and one of these, Mary Grace, penned a post a few months ago that said so well something I've been looking for, and failing I might add, to express. So off I shot a Facebook message (technology to the rescue once again!) asking permission to use her as a 'guest blogger' so to speak. You should stop in and visit her.

I will add some comments at the end as to why this was so perfect for me when I read it but for the groundwork to be laid, read this first.

Saturday, January 3, 2009


Have you ever been given a gift that was so fabulous, so wonderful, so over the top that it took your breath away? Something that you certainly didn't deserve and didn't ever see yourself calling your own? There's a feeling of utter awe and thankfulness that washes over you when you realize that you're loved that deeply. I can't put my finger on the English word for that kind of emotion, but in Greek it is stergo--the love that only a family can conjure, the love that warms and protects and surpasses logic.

I have been wrapped in stergo for the past few weeks, and I have found myself struggling to unwind its tentacles from my heart and free myself from its nest.

The truth is that I am a person who has a hard time being loved. I can go on and on about how I grew to be this way but really, it's not important. What is important is that I am learning, bit by bit, to accept stergo on the terms it is offered and not super-
impose my own expectations or desires on the bearer of this precious gift.

Especially when the bearer is YAHWEH.

I fully admit that there are times when I have boxes I want God to check. I have a list of wants (not needs) that I selfishly keep hidden in that hard spot at the back of my heart. I sing when God throws me a bone and blesses me with one of them. I pine secretly over the ones He chooses not to satisfy. I strive for contentment at all times and come up short just like everyone else. I can admit that.

But God has this funny habit of blessing me with things that I never asked for. It's stergo in action: Here, Mary Grace, my beloved daughter. Take this. Trust me. You'll like it. Like a child who has learned obedience but not fully soaked in the heart of compliance, I take the gift. I move on. And I always, always learn to love it eventually.

But those first weeks, months and even years can have the pallor of forced optimism written all over them. I am the child posing with the new sweater at Christmas and eyeing the box of Lincoln Logs my brother just opened.

Seven years ago I found myself bathed in this unasked-for stergo. This was in the month immediately after 9/11 and long before I embraced the concept of "the more the merrier" in regards to my family size. I found myself pregnant just a few short months after regaining my equilibrium from an incredibly harsh bout of post-partum depression. The world was falling apart, it seemed ... and so was any sense of balance that I'd ever hoped to have in my life.

People around me congratulated me on the enormity of the blessing I was receiving. Another child! How good was God, they asked, to gift me in this way as the whole
world reeled from the devastation of September 11? It must seem, a woman told me, like God had his finger of healing on me even as everyone else wept.

But I didn't feel it at all. What I wanted--what I had asked for--was a season, just a season, Lord, of quiet. A season of peace. Not this. Not another screaming newborn and months of sadness and a house even more cluttered with the acrruements of infancy.

How did the message get confused? Wasn't I clear in what I wanted? This isn't what I asked for, Lord!

But it's what He gave me, praise God. I wouldn't trade a single second of life with Logan for the peace and quiet I craved all those years ago. The blessing God gave me was far greater and in His mercy and wisdom, He gave me the better thing.

Right now, God is in the process of leading me to the thing that He wants for me yet again. Not the thing I would have chosen. Not even the thing I can see in my future. But the thing that is best. The thing I will look back on and say yes, that was a
blessing. That was stergo.

This thing is a brand-new, nearly 3,200 square foot house.

How a woman can be conflicted over such a gift is a matter of shock for a great many people, but let me assure you that the kind of home I always saw myself raising my family in is smaller by half and older by a century or so. I am not a new house person. I am not a big house person.
I find newly constructed homes in cookie-cutter neighborhoods to be devoid of character, poorly planned for real living (master suite, anyone?) and havoc with green standards in all kinds of unpleasant ways.

Not for me, thanks.

But I am the child who unwrapped the gift of Lindt chocolates when all I really wanted was a Hershey's bar. My cup, it seems, runneth over.

I have no doubt that the possibility of this home is a gift straight from the hand of the Lord. There are many reasons, not the least of which is Mr. Blanding's absolute confidence that God is going to do amazing things to get our family under that as-yet-to-be constructed roof. And I believe him. I'm already seeing it at work; we originally expressed an interest in a 2,500 sq. ft. model and were instead steered to the 3,200 sq. ft. house ... for the same price. We did the finances and came out ahead, somehow--even if we make a measly $10,000 profit on what we paid for our townhome six years ago.

Sounds like my God.

God is using this exercise in blooming where you're planted to grow me in amazingly unexpected ways. First and foremost, I am submitting myself, yet again, to the sovereignty of a God whose plans are far beyond anything I could imagine. Second, I am trying to embrace a blessing I feel more than a little sheepish about. And third, I am wondering over God's vision for my family and my own.

I am waiting on the Lord. Trying not to disparage His gift in the presence of others (a hard one, because I feel incredibly guilty about the notion of even living in a house this big). And waiting for my heart to let the outrageous stergo of a fatherly God seep into my heart.

So please be patient with me as I grow comfortable in the spot I find myself occupying. I never meant to be here. I never meant to be that woman--the one who has a line of beautiful children, a handsome, witty husband, the gas-guzzling SUV and the big house. But here I am. Blooming where I'm planted, and watered with stergo.

Amazing wasn't that?

Do you want to know which part was so huge for me? A bit of background - there was a wonderful family that came down to visit at the end of 2008 and it was such a great time. I can't fully express what their fellowship meant to us. **Side note: NEVER underestimate the ministry of your PRESENCE...** We were blessed with LOTS of laughter, sharing of stories, and playtime; kids and adults. During their visit they mentioned feeling led to bless us; unbelievably with a fridge or a freezer, whichever we needed more. ???WWWWHHHHHAAAAATTTTTT??? That was so over the top, unbelievably out of the range of the possible I couldn't quite grasp it. But yet, here the gift Aaahhhh - now you see why Mary Grace's post means so much.

You see, we'd been living with the little dorm sized fridge we had while in Mexico. It worked there fine - I did have to go to the market every couple of days and store fruit and veggies in cupboards but it worked. Sometimes when the food didn't seem as cold as before we'd just wrap a bungee cord around the door and voilia! Alan even built me a little table to stand it on so that it was taller and I could store fruits and veggies underneath. (you can see the comparison below in the picture w/Alan. That's the little one behind him. :)) Here it wasn't working so well. Going to the market is more complicated, I can't store fruits and veggies on the counters or in cupboards partly due to there not being any of those things in here and partly because the humidity allows things to stay good until about 15 minutes after I bring it through the door. I still haven't figured that one out. A new fridge or freezer wasn't in the budget. It wasn't really even on the radar except a 'hmmmm.....we might need to look at this issue soon...'.

Enter new friends/brothers and sisters in Christ who were wanting to be obedient to what they were told and a God who gives me good things in spite of...what is fair. We are thankful. Amazed. Awed. Every time we go to the market, every time we open the freezer, every time I put ice in my cup that runneth over I have a tangible reminder of the wonderful provision from the Ultimate Provider.

Deep Breath.

However, He wasn't going to let me have just one experience with this. No - He enjoys blessing abundantly. Enter 2nd 'you could blow me over with a leaf' experience. The container arrived after a couple of months of delays. Several things were in that container specifically for our family. Wonderful things from 'home' from grandparents, pictures of friends and family and then a 'little' surprise from two friends in Maine. Did you realize it is entirely possible to send a new house in a box? If you'll back up with me a bit to right after we moved here, I'll explain.

I had been posting pictures here and on our Facebook page (I'm seeing a trend. You??) of our house and asking for advice. You see, my mother is a wonderful decorator but the decorator gene just never trickled down to me. While we lived in the states I could sort of fake my way through it but here....well, how DO you organize things with no closets, shelves, or storage of any kind? (Personally 'decorating' isn't SUPER high on my to-do list. Organization? That's right up there after morning coffee. :) I'd rather shop for organization tools than...well...just about anything. I missed out on the 'shopping' gene too. I organize for fun and relaxation. Seriously.) So I asked that very question. My sweet friends Laurie and Jen, emailed with the words, 'WHAT are those big gaping holes in your kitchen and how big are they (you can see them in the fridge pictures)???? I have some great ideas if you can let me know!" I promptly emailed back and begged for any and all ideas they could spare. This turned into a 'secret plot' to bless the socks off the whiny missionary. All the while they sent taunting little emails dropping hints, yet leaving me completely in the dark as to the extent of their plot.

Back to unload container day. We came home with 6, yes you read that correctly, 6 boxes from said partners in crime. We had a wonderful Christmas in February from our family while I put those boxes in the corner to wait for the perfect time to open what I KNEW was going to be a scary, wonderful, breathtaking gift. I peered at them working at getting myself emotionally ready for this. You can't really 'get yourself emotionally ready' to be blessed beyond measure, I'm learning. I was not disappointed. Not that that could have happened but oh. my. goodness. Drawer assemblies, baskets (like 15 of them!!), rugs, curtains, external closet, magazines, chocolate, coffee, food items for the kids, cute wall decorations...the list goes on.

Honestly, it's taken me this long to be able to blog about it. I'm still coming to grips, if you will, of being on the receiving end of such gifting. Not once, but twice; and this doesn't take into account the special love gifts sent from our families. Interestingly enough, these friends and family have had an incredible part in helping me to function here; as a mom, as a wife, as a person. I have been handed rest of sorts. Rest for my mind and our family. I've struggled with feeling somewhat vain regarding the 'everything works good = happy person' issue but I'm also very aware that God knew we needed this. This confirmation, this encouragement, this love, this STERGO.

Once again I'm going to edit in this paragraph as it is 'so right' in expressing my feelings.

God is using this exercise in blooming where you're planted to grow me in amazingly unexpected ways. First and foremost, I am submitting myself, yet again, to the sovereignty of a God whose plans are far beyond anything I could imagine. Second, I am trying to embrace a blessing I feel more than a little sheepish about. And third, I am wondering over God's vision for my family and my own.

This is an Ebenezer stone that I'm erecting and saying, "Look at what God has done!" in the seemingly simple things on the outside but the really big things for my heart.

With love,



Jennifer said...

I wish I could put into words how much this post has blessed me.

I think that anything I say will not be nearly what I feel. But I will try.

It has opened my eyes to something as well. I came back to the US for 4 months to work for 3 months, then have the baby and then after getting the baby's passports etc. go home.

The whole plan was for me to work, and send money home to get things done that needed to be done around the house. (the back porch finished. Steps going out the back door. A pila - oh please a pila, LOL etc. etc.) Unfortunately all of the money that I have sent home has had to go for other things, and then the baby arrived 5 weeks early, which cut out 4 weeks of work. I have been frustrated because I feel like I have come up here, been apart from everyone, and for what, basically for nothing. (other than awesome health care for the baby and me) But reading your post has brought back into the front of my mind that God will, and does provide. The money wasn't wasted - it was just spent where I hadn't planned it. But I have to remind myself that it was spent where God had it planned.

So thank you for this post.


Missus Wookie said...

Thank you so much for sharing... and I'm so thankful that they blessed you so!

TexasHeather said...

what a wonderful blessing for you guys!! I'm thrilled for you, and thank you for having Mary Grace "guest blog" for you. Wonderful post!!!