Hugging the hurts

Today, at church, in the midst of chaos, it felt like time stood still for a little while. I was in the middle of teaching children’s church…I had kids running around, babies crying the nursery, and about 15 kids all say “Miss Kimberly!” at the same time…thats when Ben** came up to me to ask me a question.  I squatted down to get eye level with this precious little five year old boy, but when i was actually close to him he forgot his question.  He just kind of fell into my arms in an attempt to get a hug….more than a hug he would get from Miss Kimberly today…i picked him up with his head against my shoulder and his arms wrapped around my neck.  And there, in the midst of a multitude of kids coming up to me to ask me questions, tattle on someone, or tell me they were thirsty, I just rocked him… and sang softly to him…. and prayed for him…. just like i do for Daniel Josiah and Trinity. and then my eyes started to fill with tears. I wondered when the last time someone hugged him was.  I wondered when the last time he was shown affection and or someone put their hands on him other than to discipline or harm him.  I thought about his older brother who just started giving us a hard time, just like their older sister who completely shuts down and won’t respond to anyones hugs, words, prodding or discipline.  I wondered if he was on the path to become another rebellious, angry child like his older siblings. When we went to take him home i cried again, as i ushered him in the house and gave him one last hug and told him that Jesus loved him and was with him always.   But what was i taking him home to? More yelling, more neglect, more beatings, more sexual molestation?? I don’t know…I don’t know what half these kids go through at home. No wonder they act the way they do.  For a five year old, he still knew how to ask for love through cuddling, but give it two more years and that yearning for love would turn to an attitude, rebellion, violence and acting up.  I’ve seen it over an over again. Deuteronomy 33:27 says that “the eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms” In tears, I cry out “Lord, be Ben’s refuge, hold him with Your everlasting arms, and in the mean time, may MY arms be vessels of that love and security to these hurting kids”

**his name has been changed to protect the identity of the child and his family

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Valentine’s Day… two worlds apart

On Valentines Day, Danny and I were speakers for a large Christian school’s chapel.  They split the guys and girls up and we could have “heart to hearts” with the students. Now, I am a through and through “christian school kid”.  I know the walk, I know the talk, I know the things that most of the girls struggle with, I know the do’s and the don’ts. So as Danny and I separately breached the topic of purity, I knew the crowd and I could share very openly of my testimony, the story of God bringing Danny and me together, and the ways God mercifully kept us pure for one another.  BUT THEN, I had a Valentines Dinner for the girls in our neighborhood on Friday night.  We had about 15 seventh through twelfth grade girls there and we did a Bible study on love.  Then I basically shared what I had shared with the Christian school girls.  But boy was it HARD..I had the widest spectrum of backgrounds to contend with…everywhere from girls who were raised in Christian homes, to girls who were sexually abused IN their homes, to girls were already raising their own babies in their homes (he was the only boy allowed at the dinner :), all members of a community in which the definition of sexual purity is ‘not sleeping with another guy behind your boyfriend’s back’.  Several are not even Christians, and yet I was talking to them about one of the “rules” of Christianity???…or is it not a rule but a very tangible and vivid picture of the Gospel? The God who created the joy of sex, created it as a shadow of the joy we can have in fellowship with Him, fellowship that came about only through the self-sacrificing love of Christ. This Gospel is what is reaching hearts and changing lives. I could see it in their eyes as we meditated on what REAL love is, according to God. I could see it in their smiles as I shared about how Danny (the most tangible exhibit of grace in my life) wooed my heart, I could hear it in their voice as a girl pulled me aside afterwards and said “Even though I’ve messed up in the past, this gives me hope to start over and trust God in the future”  PURITY! Because the Pure One came to purify.  PURITY! Because as Christians, the world we defy.  PURITY! something to give only to that special guy. PURITY!To receive the gift, and offer it back to the Most High

Iverclan in Japan

While were were in Japan, a Christian television station did a special on the Iverson and church life.  The camera men came to several of our family times to film us interacting  (a pleasant, unified family is very foreign to Japanese culture).  Below, is something my father-in-law wrote about the video…at this point i would just like to interject that I managed to marry into an absolutely incredible family (BY THE GRACE OF GOD-both that i married into it and that they are so amazing).  I am extremely blessed, and it is one of those things where God answers prayers immeasurably more than we could ask or even imagine. 

 

“In Dec the TV show came out to visit us about doing a show about our church.  As we talked about what interesting themes we might find in our church/ church people, and we got talking about family and family hurts in Japan, and I mentioned that we were having “IverFestJapan08” in Feb when all the kids, spouses, and grand babies were coming to Japan, the director said “lets make that part of it.”  It

became a major part of it.

 

The outline of the program is “4 Fs about life, family, and church.

The Link is below.

 

#1 F: Fun- God made us to enjoy Him forever (did not go into “and 

glorify Him forever”… due to time, and it being a very 

difficult and new concept for Japanese people.”).  Talked about 

“TRUE fun and joy” which 

included real relationships, crying together as well as laughing

together, etc.  Lots of the film is our family having fun together,

as families are hurting in Japan, NOT having fun together, generally. 

Also shows our church black gospel music group (30 folks, half

non Christians, singing Matt 11 “come to me all you who are weary

and heavy laden… black gospel music is a craze in Japan right now), 

our church kids dance group, kids “after school program” for 

neighborhood kids, etc.  When it shows Carol in the kitchen with 

daughters and daughters/wives of sons, her cute expression is saying

how much fun it is to have them in Japan cooking together. 

#2 F:  Family-  The importance of Family, and that church is like a family too.  

Good stuff about couples loving and forgiving each other for the sake of

their kids (our adult kids sharing about that), about confessing and 

owning up to our sin and failure in our families, and how church needs

to be the same kind of family (this was good, a felt need in Japan where

families are really hurting).  I share that my dad taught me: “you love your kids?

Then LOVE CAROL!”

#3 F:  Fujuubun (inadequate)-  That we are all weak, needy, fail, in every relationship, and

before the true and living God.  That in Japan the pursuit of perfection and 

perfectionism may be great for building cars, but it is terrible for husband

wife relationships, raising kids, etc, for we are all “fujuubun”.  More than that,

we are all sinners.  Before God… very needy, really.  Then, Danny and Joel

singing Danny’s version of “Spirit of the Living God, Fall fresh on me.”  They 

used this in the program to say in the Japanese writing that we who are

inadequate need outside help, from God. 

 

#4 F: Fukuin (gospel, good news)- Sharing that the gospel is for inadequate people, us, sinners.

In Christ’s gospel, our sins are forgiven, AND God helps us to grow.

 

Description: A 25 minute long Japanese Christian television show that was broadcasted on March 8th, 2008. It is a brief documentary of the Iverson family in Japan and Oyumino Church, located in Chiba, Japan”

CLICK HERE TO WATCH A JAPANESE TELEVISION SPECIAL ON THE IVERSONS IN JAPAN

fourteen hours and counting every minute

 

The plane ride to Japan was 14 hrs.  Believe me, we felt every minute.  Daniel Josiah did take a two hour nap, but for the other twelve hours of occupying a two year old AND a 5 month old, we tried every trick in the bag. Daniel Josiah tried a few tricks of his own….like practicing his wrestling moves on Trinity…. he’s toughening her up for the streets of Newark…. 

Snowboarding Adventures

He might be thirty, but he’s still pretty sweet on a snowboard. All 19 of us Iversons packed up and left at 4am one Monday morning to make a 4 hour trek to Nojiri Lake up in the mountains. We had two great days of hitting the slopes (for me, it literally was HITting the slopes as i struggled through my first time snowboarding).  Danny got to revisit an old passion, and teach his unbalanced wife, how to as well.  I am not in the above picturing as the bunny slopes and I were still duking it out (granted, Japanese bunny slopes are nothing like American ones, but still…)  Danny was so patient with me and stayed on the SAME slope for half the day, until he was graciously dismissed to join his brothers and sisters on the more advanced slopes. 

around the world and back again

Part of my new years resolution was to start blogging…so here i go..starting with the most significant event of our new year- our trip to Japan.  We had such a wonderful time and I feel like God could not have blessed it any more fully.  We had wonderful family time (family pictures to come) , wonderful sight-seeing time, and sweet fellowship time with the believers that are a part of Danny’s parent’s church.  

 

The advantage of family reunions is that you immediately have built in babysitters, so Danny and I got to do a few things just the two of us. One very cold, rainy day we got to go see the Japanese elementary school that Danny attended in 6th grade.  The principal of the school ended up looking up Danny’s picture in their old year book, and sitting down with us (over hot green tea, of course) to talk about how things used to be when Danny was a student.  I, not knowing the language, just smiled and nodded alot.  We took our shoes off (as is custom in schools) and toured the very cold (they don’t heat the hallways in schools) school.  It was lots of fun to walk down memory lane with Danny. 

Cousin Time

One of Daniel Josiah’s highlights of our Japan trip was waking up each morning and getting to play with his cousin, Noa, whose house we stayed at (Sara-Beth and I got to re-experience college housemate days, except add spouse and children). Daniel Josiah’s favorite activities included stealing anything Noa found interesting, teaching Noa the word “No!” (always spoken with the exclamation point), and mooching off of Noa’s high chair plate.  Fortunately, Noa was “very shareful” as Aunt Sara-Beth always said, and she was a very good sport to Daniel Josiah’s high energy, forceful contact, and “i’m a two year old boy” kind of play.