Sunday, July 1, 2012


What shall we do today?

Ah, the joys of time away.  Nature, beauty, cool breezes.  No agenda, no calendar, no appointments.  Nor any guilt, because even Jesus rowed across the lake to escape the multitudes...

The pure air wafts around us as we seek to shake off the concerns, the tensions, the complexities, the pressures.  It blows through our souls as we open them to the cleansing of the Maker.  It softly breathes through our hearts as we slowly lower the walls to the soft whispers of His love. We are consciously aware of the tainted, polluted energy remnants draining out with simultaneous renewing of calm, comfort, and confidence.

The still, small voice has thundered through our souls for the past few days.  Some messages to be shared, others to be pondered in our hearts.  Some words for the world, others for the privacy of our time together with Him.

It is for this the Sabbath was created.  This renewal, this peaceful acceptance, this steady assurance of relationship.

Although He will leave with us, we will all return to this place again and again...

© 2009-2012 by Melani Brady Shock

Monday, June 4, 2012

please close the door...

"There is always a moment in childhood
when the door opens
and lets the future in."
~ Graham Green

The boxes are scattered throughout the dining room and into the reading corner.  Numbered 1 through 6. Taped and ready for the address labels and shipping.  They leave tomorrow, but I will have her a few more weeks.  Until August 1.  I will blink and it will be here.

"Oh, Mom," she laughs. "I'll be home for Christmas.  Only four and a half months.  It will pass before we know it!"

"Oh, I know." I'm bright. Positive. Filled with loving support and continual encouragement. The wind beneath her wings! I feel a piece of my heart break off...

10,000 miles. Ridiculous! What kind of mother lets her young push off from the nest to go live in a city of 17 million people over 10,000 miles away? I didn't anticipate this day on the April Sunday when she was five years old and her quivering lips told me she needed to be baptized that night because, "I really want to go to heaven, Mom, and I know I have to be baptized to get there."

"Do you think we will be able to fit the storage shelving unit in, Mom?  I really need that for the closet."  Without thinking, I look and measure and mumble something about no, it won't, surely there will be some sort of shelving system that can be bought there...

It's dangerous there.  She is so absent-minded and unaware of the dark side.  This day never even crossed my mind years before when we talked almost all night about the trip God had taken her on in prayer--the night I told her to always listen to the Voice and to always say "Yes..."

A 16-year-old girl who knows God has called her to a life set apart is challenged by so many things.  Normal friendship advice and relationship advice and future college advice and "How to Plan My Life" advice just won't work in the lives of chosen vessels.  Hands joined with her father's, we prayed and carefully navigated the questions and turns and large boulders in the path.  I was beginning to understand that there was not a book available to me on how to mother a daughter who dreams dreams.  My smile stayed bright as I encouraged and pushed and applauded.  My heart turned its head when she wanted to talk about "What if?" I closed the door.  The day may come, but it wasn't now.  No need to borrow time from tomorrow.

An epiphany occurred in my mind the other day.  Out of the blue, I realized that I am now the same age my mother was when I married.  I stopped peeling the potatoes and turned, startled, to see if anyone was there to feel my terror.

The room whirled as the images of my entire life hurtled past, not stopping to chat or to rest there, just to remind me that while I had been cooking and washing and reading and writing and traveling and cleaning out the closet and making the meal plan for Thanksgiving and ordering homeschool curriculum and holding my head in my hands in exasperation over the to-do list, the years had silently filed out the door, one by one.  They left and didn't even say good-by.

And I watch through the same kitchen window my mother watched through as a piece of my heart pulls into the driveway in the silver SUV and I hear the door slam as she calls out, already halfway up the stairs, "I'm only home for a minute."

For a minute, for a minute, for a minute...

The wind captures the ripples of her laughter as they drift back toward my place at the sink and sets them ever so softly in my heart with the whisper, "Don't forget the sound of this..."

Jim Croce sang his heart out on the night of September 20, 1973 in the gym of the small-town college from which I would graduate seven years later.  He walked out of the back door into the waiting car that drove him 10 minutes to the airport.  The pecan trees on the edge of the landing strip snagged the wheels and after only having lived 30 years, Jim was just a memory.

His two-year-old son waited at home for the daddy that didn't come and today says he doesn't remember him.  But he remembers his legacy and feels the love because of the song his dad wrote about him that still plays in his mind, his house, and occasionally on the radio.  "If I could save time in a bottle, the first thing that I'd like to do, is save every day 'til eternity passes away just to spend them with you..."

Twenty-two years.  I have had her with me longer than many.  But there is still so much I need to say.  So much I haven't had a chance to tell her yet.  About how if you let boiled potatoes sit in water too long they get slimy and how to fold a fitted sheet so small that it can fit in a shoebox and how if you put Clorox 2 in your towels in keeps them brighter and adds another few years to their know, stuff that she may need to know on the mission field.  10,000 miles away.  Alone.

Who will hear her if she gets sick in the night?  Who will be there to make sure she takes her medicine properly every day?  Who will be there to help her kill the inevitable creatures that will make their way in from the outside?  Who will hug her tight when the whole world is crying hazy, humid, Filipino tears and they are dripping down her face?

I glance at the empty spot beside my pillow where she lay the night we brought her home from the hospital.  Two days old.  A six-pound, four-ounce bundle of limitless childhood whose days went far past where my eyes could see.

Please, somebody.  Please close the door.  

© 2009-2012 by Melani Brady Shock

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

...I was sick, and ye visited me..."

Nothing had prepared me for our visit to the National Children's Hospital in Manila.

I will post these few pictures and attempt a few brief explanations, but this is a painful post and one that my mind tries to push away.

According to a private blog by an anonymous poster, "In this government-run hospital lie the sickest and poorest children from all corners of the Philippines.  Many of them are terminally ill and await a slow and often painful passing.  Many of them die due to the lack of medicine costing less than $20...   The drama and suffering in the NCH is beyond description.  Unimaginable is also the parents pain.  Many of them stay close to their children in the rooms, sleeping on plastic chairs night after night, on the floor or not at all, watching their children die before their eyes...

It is into this hospital that missionary Kelley Dibble goes every Tuesday.  She brings a gift of a couple of diapers and a small snack for the child or the parent.  She brings a touch, a smile, and a prayer.  And that is all she can do.

Care at the hospital is free, but parents must pay for the medicine.  And if no money is available, then no medicine is administered.

There aren't many pictures of this day because it almost felt disrespectful to take them.

I didn't take a picture of the man who angrily told me yes, I could pray for his tiny baby girl with the sweet smile who looked as if she would not last but a few more days with cancer.  He glared at me, and as I turned to leave I saw him bend to kiss her as the tears fell from his eyes onto her face.

I didn't take a picture of the young boy, perhaps in his early teens?, lying lethargically in a bed dying of dengue fever while his father sat in the white plastic chair and looked at us with desperate eyes as we prayed for his son's healing.  I didn't take a picture of my heart that broke as I realized that could be my own son lying there...who am I that God chose to allow me to live in America with enough money to pay for the best health care available for my son?  Who am I that I have knowledge of the healing power of the Savior?  Oh, God!  "To whom much has been given..."  I will answer at Judgment Day...

I didn't take a picture of the several grossly deformed children suffering from hydrocephalus--their heads so misshapen and huge it made me almost nauseated to look...the ones who could have a brand-new life with the medical procedures available to us, but who will have no life at all because they were born in the wrong circumstances.

I couldn't take a picture of the stifling, suffocating heat that rose in waves as we walked from ward to ward.

I couldn't take a picture of the smell of death that surrounded us regardless of the masks we wore.

I couldn't take a picture of the depth of the pain in the eyes of the children...and the parents...and the caregivers.

I am still processing the depth of the experience.

I'm finding it hard to blithely breeze back into my familiar surroundings and just chalk it up to an expansion of my world view.

I feel so helpless.  Is Matthew 25:35 my response?  A one-time pat and prayer?  What about tomorrow?  And next week?  What about those in America?  What does He require?

God help me...

The sick little girl may never play with the frisbee...
but her mom will try to create a soothing breeze to bring her
a small comfort...

Smiles.  Just because it's a relief to know that somebody cares.

Love and care has no language barrier.  Warm touches and tears are universal.

The room labels scream.

Each name represents a suffering child,
and a despairing parent.

Her mother's heart is so filled with pain. Not one, but two of her precious children--
in the same bed--tearing her heart in two. Prayer...our love...the Father's love...

The gift of a treat and a diaper or two.
How I wish we could package an effective treatment
in those pretty little bags...

From the outside in.
The world looks a lot different from the outside in.
We can walk away...back to our comfortable rooms...back to our privileged lives.

It's 2012.
And yet, communication between departments still fits in a blue plastic basket
that is transported back and forth between the departments
with a rope and pulley system.
The money is just not there to implement the available technology.
And you were complaining this morning about what...?

I understand the reasons for tracking the information.
But the numbers also angered me.
I wish there was a column for number of tears shed.
A column for number of hearts broken.
A column for number of agonized nights.
A column for ways to help.

© 2009-2012 by Melani Brady Shock

Sunday, May 13, 2012

happy mother's day

so many emotions...

so many approaches...

so many responses...

celebrations.  disregard.  grudging lunches.  token gifts.  lavish love.  extravagant attention.


i choose deep, quiet gratefulness for the past, present, and future.

happy mother's day to those who make my day unforgettable.

© 2009-2012 by Melani Brady Shock

Sunday, May 6, 2012

the effectual, fervent prayer...

The effectual fervant prayer of a righteous man 
availeth much.
John 5:16

Pastor Tom.
Interceding for his congregation.
When a pastor prays, revival happens.

Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities:
for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself
maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.
Romans 8:26

Pray without ceasing.
1 Thessalonians 5:17
And now, I pray you, beseech God that he will be gracious unto us:
this hath been by your means:
Malachi 1:9
Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest,
that he will send forth laborers into his harvest.
Matthew 9:38
Then were there brought unto him little children,
that he should put his hands on them,
and pray:
Matthew 19:13

Children praying for the pastor/father

Wherefore also we pray always for you,
that our God would count you worthy of this calling,
and fulfill all the good pleasure of his goodness,
and the work of faith with power.
2 Thessalonians 1:11
I pray not that thou shouldest take them
out of the world,
but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil.
John 17:15
Finally, brethren, pray for us,
that the word of the Lord may have free course, and be glorified,
even as it is with you.
2 Thessalonians 3:1
Pray for us.
Hebrews 13:18
Brethren, pray for us.
1 Thessalonians 5:25
Neither pray I for these alone,
but for them also which shall believe on me
through their word:
John 17:20
Pray one for another.
James 5:16
And all things,
whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer,
ye shall receive.
Matthew 21:22
I will therefore that men pray every where,
lifting up holy hands,
without wrath and doubting.
1 Timothy 2:8

Whosoever therefore shall humble himself
as this little child,
the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
Matthew 18:4
Neither pray I for these alone,
but for them also which shall believe on me
through their word.
John 17:20
I will pray for them:
I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me;
for they are thine.
John 17:9
And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly;
and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body
be preserved blameless unto the coming
of our Lord Jesus Christ.
1 Thessalonians 5:23

© 2009-2012 by Melani Brady Shock


This image deserves its own personal post.

Baptism in the Name.  The only Name under heaven whereby we must be saved.


© 2009-2012 by Melani Brady Shock

images...just visiting...

What a happy reunion! We have visited several times and
it is thrilling to see the growth of this precious congregation.
I wish all could feel the heat from the picture--
it would add incredible dimension to the image...
The Sunday School room.
Only one.
Completed at great sacrifice.

Assembling a puppet stage for the Sunday School ministry

Window into the parsonage
(Total size approximate to a one-car garage)
The porch also doubles as the church "foyer"

Entrance into the upstairs Sunday School room
The plastic wrap covering the window frame
has been torn by the wind...

Another church is in process of remodeling--the sign must be protected.

Pastor's Kids.
Burdened because their parents are burdened.
Burdened because they feel the responsibility.
Burdened because they, too, see the lost souls that surround them.

Our driver from the conference--a leader in another of the churches.
Blessed with twins and a beautiful family.

Church bus ministry.
Note the church theme for the year above the motorcycle...
God is Able!

My heart melts.
What will heaven be truly be "home" with our global family?

Always hospitable...always gracious...always inclusive...

Gloria and Dorcas Ministries adding beauty to the village churches
Gloria and Dorcas Ministries delivers once again.
A beautiful curtain was made to hang behind the pulpit.
God's House deserves the best!

Regardless of the surroundings or circumstances,
growth only happens when we are intentional.
What gets measured, gets done!

Demonstration of how water is obtained.
Rain comes down the bamboo pole into a barrel.
Pray the city will restore the water supply to this church.

Sweet fellowship at the home of retired missionary,
Rev. Kenneth Fuller and his wife, Doris.

A sacred time. All felt the poignancy of the hour we spent together.

Rev. and Dr. Fuller, Kendra and I
When the saints of God spend sweet fellowship together,
all is well.
Thumbs up!

© 2009-2012 by Melani Brady Shock