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A Commission To Single Adults

Saturday, January 18th, 2014

I’ve been thinking about this post for a long time. I’ve gone back and forth on whether it’s even worthy of being typed out and aired. My blog doesn’t get much readership and perhaps that is the only saving factor for me decidedly and finally getting out what I’ve been wanting to say for quite a while now. I should warn you of some qualifiers about myself…or I guess, dis-qualifiers. I am not single. I’m a mom of a rambunctious 22 month old little girl. I did not spent much time as a single adult as I got married at the age of 22. I have not had to deal with the same things a single adult has to in many regards.

That being said, I wanted to write something to encourage and stimulate the single adults of today. Let me tell you a little bit about myself, if you don’t already know. My parents moved over seas to be missionaries when I was 7. For the next 11 years of my life I moved. Every. Single. Year. I moved within the same city, across oceans, to different schools, to different states within the same year. This affords a young girl the opportunity to start over many many times. And lets just say, I really needed that. By the time I was 22 and walking down the isle I had dated many more guys than I can count on two hands…twice over. I was a virgin by the skin of my teeth. I had cleaned up more vomit from friends drunken stupors than anyone my age that I knew. Though I had never done drugs, I was around them. Though I was only in one cat fight I witnessed plenty of dangerous fights. I also participated in more volunteer and non-profit organizations that most kids my age. Not only was it required for my school, but it was something I actually enjoyed doing because it meant I met people who were like me instead of all the rich white kids I went to school with. I have known, like really known people who have been murdered, raped, kidnapped, drug addicted and the list goes on. I volunteered in a third world country women’s jail for three years. I also volunteered a children’s hospital for a semester. I quit after that because I just couldn’t handle it. I mentored girls who had lost their virginity when they were 12, girls who’s mom’s had died spontaneously that week, girls who’s largest problem was what college to choose when they graduated. I have experienced fear beyond fear when leaving a seven year old to drown in a riptide after failed attempts at saving him. I have seen what it means to ask God to spare someone else, someone better then you in a Real Life and Death situation. I was sixteen when that happened.

By the time I was 22 I had done more and seen more than most people do in a lifetime. I’m not saying this to toot my own horn, or sound pious. I’m doing this because, although I haven’t been part of the single adult dating world, I can relate with feeling like there are too many choices to make, too many paths to follow to help identify who you are or should be, too many things in my past to make me completely undesirable to any man ever. So when I met my husband, I felt like I was 30. I still do. I still feel like I’m older than everyone around me trying to find themselves. I’m telling you all this because I want you to realize that we all come from different big and important stories. Your singleness does not make you more complicated, less understood, less sought after than the average person around you. Your singleness isn’t a disability and it isn’t something that you should use as a crutch for poor choices and bad behavior.

But this is a charge right? Not a comparison. SO here it is.

1. You Are Wasting Time: If you are spending most days working your 8 hours and coming home to a dinner for one and sitting in self pity while you watch The Bachelor and compare their spectacular lives to your sad and dreary loveless one, you are wasting time. You will never, in your life, have this much time to make an impact on your hands. The minute you tether yourself to another human being you give up some of your personal freedoms, your spontaneous whimsy, your fly by the seat of your pants opportunities. Right now you have the chance to change lives and do big things in the world because you are your own boss. Stop sitting in self pity wishing you had a mate who would just hold you tight at night. I promise, it will come. Instead fill your time with mentoring an underprivileged youth, volunteer at a local soup kitchen, drive teen moms to and from their doctors appointments, help foster parents out a bit. Even bigger – travel overseas and work with the malnourished and oppressed giving out food and vaccines. See the world as it truly is. This will give you the opportunity to realize how much you have even if your bed is still empty.

2. You Are Valuable: Almost every single person that I know who isn’t married (especially the girls) think that because they are single, something must be wrong with them. Wow. Just wow. My heart literally hurts to hear these beautiful, smart and hilarious people think they aren’t valuable because they haven’t been swooped up yet by a knight in shining armor. Women, friends. Listen to me. You Are Valuable. You have sooooo much power. You have the power to choose who you want to be with, not worry about who will ever want to be with you. You have the opportunity to pick and choose, to hold yourself in high regard because you are worth it. And if spreading your legs for someone makes you feel worth it, I promise you, you are getting the short end of the stick. This will affect you for the rest of your life. Recognize how you are valuable as a person, as a contribution to society because of your brain and your abilities rather than your mate potential. You, as an individual, have the power to change things and if you push yourselves to be in the positions to change the world even in a small way, you have been incredibly valuable. Your value supersedes what any other human being can ever say to you, though it is quite nice to hear it. :-)

3. You Are Vital To the Church: Many blogs coming out right now are how singles are not feeling wanted or needed in Church. This is accurately condemning of many churches who preach prosperity gospel to people with their happy families, grandchildren and white picket fence lives. You feel like you aren’t seen because the majority of the people you go to church with are parents, or at least married and so you think they see you with pity in their eyes. Can I be honest with you? Most moms I’ve ever met in my life actually are looking at you with envy. So are the dads. Us married people, us people with kids, we look at singles and are experiencing ungodly amounts of envy a lot of the time. Sure life is good, our kids say hilarious things, we have a unique amount of laughter in our lives. But you know what, most mom’s in the world are incredibly lonely. Incredibly, debilitatingly lonely. Set aside all the MOP’s groups, bible studies, conversations we seem to happily have during the social hour at church (which by the way, may be the only adult social time for lots of these women and that is why they seem so happy) we are still lonely. Because we feel like no one sees us. We don’t have a job where we get raises, or are recognized by our parental successes and given a high five. We aren’t feeding malnourished children, or fight for social justice. More candidly we beat our selves up when we fail our spouses and our children. We feel it so vividly that most of the time we feel like failures. Perhaps this is the reason it feels like church is so geared at the married people. Because they need a lot of uplifting to get them through another week. And I’m not saying that singles don’t need encouragement, but consider this: When you have a had day at work, or feel like you are being slighted by the church or whatever social group that is “couples only”, do you realize you get to vent about this by just going to the bar down the street at any time of time with whomever you want? Do you understand the freedoms that you have that automatically dissipate into thin air the minute you hitch up? Perhaps a way you could “get more out of church” is by serving. Keep in the back of your head that perhaps that couple had a crazy fight before they got here, perhaps that mom was just thrown up on five times, or those parents were told they were hated by their newly found freedom 5 year old. This doesn’t mean that your recent break up or failed date the night before isn’t important because it totally is. It really does matter because your heart and you matter. But take the initiative to have those conversations. Find a mentor in the church, if not because you need it then because most of the hitched adults in your church really want to pour into another adult because they are learning so much but feel like they are just getting run over by steam rollers that they forget to ask. One of my favorite things in life is to get together with my single adult friends and hear about their lives and give advice where needed and just hear about what it’s like to be single and enjoy that with someone.

4. Sex. This is really the big one right? You see the young married couples, the old married couples, the fertile families and think, “at least they get to do it whenever they want and not feel guilty.” So here is the thing. Yup, sure do. We get to have sex whenever we want. But you know what? Every single thing that I have ever done with another man before my husband has shown it’s nasty self in my relationship with my husband. And likewise, every thing he’s ever done with another girl has embedded into my brain and caused crazy insecurity. So no matter how much you say, “this is mine to give,” or  ”I don’t care about his past, I just want to be his present,” or “you just don’t understand how badly I just want to be wanted,” IT WILL COME UP. It will come up in your marriage if not right away, then in five years, or ten years, or twenty. When your marriage struggling because the kids aren’t sleeping, work is consuming, there isn’t any money and you haven’t had a date night in months, the past of your partner will rear it’s ugly little head and start eating away at you. On top of that, the sex you have now as a single, experimenting with multiple partners, is 100000000 times different then what sex in a committed relationship looks like. Not worse, not better, just very different. You have to work at having sex with the same person over and over again. You have to figure out what they actually really like and not be offended by it versus what they just say so you both can get your orgasm. You have to mentally prepare yourself for it, for like the entire day, because your kids have been brats, your boss has been extra demeaning, you had too many cupcakes today and now feel like a fat cow but you promised each other something special. You have to rise above all that and selflessly commit to the satisfaction of another human being. This is the biggest area of sacrifice that you will experience and the attitude you have is a direct result of how your relationship outside the bedroom is going. I would also wager that as you train your eye on every handsome man or gorgeous woman that walks past you as a potential spouse that you actually do sleep with will still not be as satisfying as that picture you have in your head of what true happy love looks like.  Which leads me to:

5. It’s Not What It Looks Like: Or at least, it took a lot more work than you are seeing. Those people who seem to have it all? That couple who seem to not be able to keep their hands off each other? That family who all get along and love each other in public? That has taken a lot of work, if it’s even authentic. Naph and I generally are a happy couple. We look happy, we are happy, we enjoy each other, we love to go out together, he’s my best friend. So would you believe that I have hated him more than any other person in the world before? Or that I’ve been ready to throw in the towel? Or that I have resented him for being 50% of the reason we got pregnant? Naph has failed me. But you know what? I have failed him too. I have made him so frustrated that he hasn’t even had words to express his frustration with me. I have made him yell when he had never experienced that range on his own vocal cords outside of singing in his band. I have made him give up dreams that he was made for and he has had to come to terms with all of that. We are a partnership, we are both 100% in this thing and that means that we have drop down, drag out, bloody fights and it is painful and it is hurtful and we grow and get better with each time so that each fight isn’t as difficult but resolves faster. But it takes A LOT of work. We realize we both will fail each other, we both will absolutely hate each other, we both will have to remind each other of our vows and commitments to each other and to this marriage many times for the rest of our lives. These marriages you look at and covet, they take a ton of work. They are the hardest thing you will ever do in your life next to being parents. That just adds on a whole other layer of fights to your life. I’m not saying this to make you fear relationships, or to make you think Naph and I are on the rocks. We’re good. Seriously. But I am saying this because you have a delusion that once you get married it’ll all be easier. You’ll play house, you’ll have babies, you’ll be that happy couple backpacking through Europe and bonding while sipping wine in Tuscany. Sure, you’ll maybe do all those things. But there are boring and menial days in between all those things. So that family that enjoys each other: that was hard fought by mom and dad. They sacrificed their own comforts, their own nights out with the guys or girls, their own movies of interest, their own fights with each other to comfort their little ones. They have played more stupid games of Candyland, repeated the words to Goodnight Moon more times than the average amount of words a woman speaks, and eaten more cold dinners because little Timmy just would not cooperate tonight and had to be put in time out seventeen times for not wanting to eat his peas, than you can understand right now. They have mediated horrible terrible fights between their littles over who’s doll gets to wear the shiny dress and have had to learn the little personalities and sensitivities of each of the people they created together. So those kids smile because they are loved and they are taken care of and heard and their parents are absolutely and happily exhausted.

So my commission to you single adults is the next time you throw up the pity party flag please take a good look at how you are using this time in your life wisely. How are you impacting the world around you? How are you serving those who own less, or have fewer friends, or are lonely? Are you looking at your church wondering how you can be served, or are you looking at it with a desire to really serve others? Are you opening yourself up to a mentoring relationship so that you can get a real world perspective of what the next chapters of life look like to help keep you motivated to use this time as a single adult wisely? Are you taking time to investigate what makes you tick, what makes you want to pay it forward instead of wasting time looking through Cosmo at all the perfect people and wondering what you did wrong?

Go. Get out there. Put down the remote control, pull up a web page of local places to volunteer and get your butt in gear. Before you know it you’ll be in the middle of an awesome adventure meeting the person of your dreams and getting hitched or equally finding yourself absolutely content and comfortable with being single for the rest of time. Just, go be useful, go be bold, go be a world changer answering to yourself and God.

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27

Saturday, August 31st, 2013

It’s been 27 years that I’ve been on this earth….just about to enter my 28th. I haven’t taken much time to stop and think about how things are going for me right now. Life has been very busy – especially this summer. And that is to be expected for any family with toddlers I think, especially when we live in a city like Chicago that always has some way to soak up the summer days and create lasting memories to tide over the dreary and depressing winter.

But for some reason, when I realized earlier this week that I would be having a birthday soon, I became rather sullen. No sunny 93 degree day could truly annihilate this doom I’m feeling despite my best efforts. I have been in the habit of telling myself this past year that I am young, that I still have much in life to experience and see unfold. That I am blessed to have a beautiful family – to be a mother and experience that deep and sacred relationship that is meant to be kept secret but for those who experience it in the moment. Still, I’ve found myself in hyper-comparison mode this year and so as I take stock of the last 27 years of my life and look at what I expect out of year 28, I am slightly disappointed. I really can’t put my finger on what exactly is disappointing me – if it’s me, my marriage, my career (or really lack there of), my location, my distance from family, my lack of purpose. These are all things that I’ve felt this past year and sometimes much stronger than others.

Year 27 has been a hard and fantastic year. Our marriage has been challenged, and continues to be, like never before in our five year history. When I look back over the past nine years of knowing my man, I see how far we’ve come. When I look forward to families with grown children I think “my, how far we have yet to go.” It can be daunting, or seem impossible most days, but I see our baby steps – patience with each other, empathy towards each others duties, respect of each others daily grind and stresses, helping each other in taking care of our sweet little girl.

I have challenged myself more than ever before. My fulfillment and significance are daily being redefined. I no longer have a boss to report to, a paycheck to receive in exchange for my hard work, a place to go to and then shut off when I get home…I’m just. Home. I clean poop, I wipe up snot, I play dress up, I mop floors, I do dishes a thousand times a day, laundry never ends and sleep never comes. I listen to screams about 20% of waking times each day and rub backs before nap and bed time over and over and over again. I try and paint my nails and it all chips or smudges within minutes of finishing, I get to be alone in the bathroom about 3 times a week, I wear make up at best once a week. I feel sexy at best once a month. I have gone from youthful and spry 20 something, to showered hair in a bun and my third outfit of the day, holding a needy toddler 28 year old.

I know three moms as young as me, I am close with one of them. My child is older than all of theirs. My other mom friends have at least 4-5 years on me and seem much more professional – though thankfully the mom’s group I attend shows me the truth of all our chaotic and messy lives. Still, I never though at 28 years old I’d have a one and a half year old and be looking forward to number two. I thought I’d be forging my own career and at least have climbed the ladder to a lucrative position that could afford me to finalize my debt and travel a bit more. I thought I’d own lots of pencil skirts and stilettos, get my hair done regularly and and look damn fine while solving problems day in and day out at my accomplished job. Perhaps I’d be married, perhaps not. When I got married quite young, all this still seemed possible but I’d’ travel even more because my husband is also very international and we’d pay off our debt and deal with our baggage and have a nice little nest egg before we even began to think about the idea of children. I would still be involved with other girls my age and we’d go out for drinks and go to shows and have fun girlie times and our boys would go get their beers and we’d all meet up at the game and look like a beer commercial with all the happiness oozing from us.

But things changed and I felt the world caving in around me. Who knew that in March 2012 my life would forever be turned on it’s axis and happiness would take on a whole new definition. Sure, I’m a young, stay at home mom. Sure, we don’t have all our debt paid off (by a long shot) and I only own one pencil skirt and two pair of stiletto that my post pregnancy feet can’t quite comfortably wear for longer than two hours. Sure, I’ve not traveled as much as I like and haven’t been able to enjoy as much while traveling as I thought I’d get to, and sure, we only make one income instead of two. Sure, I’m the first of my group of friends to have a baby and feel quite lonely sometimes, as if all of a sudden I’m no longer an ENFJ but more of an INFJ.

So recently, with all this swarming around in my head, I’ve been thinking, what will it take to make me happy? What will it take to finally set this self pity aside and actually just enjoy life? The answer has come as subtly and as swiftly as the whisper God used to speak to Elijah. In all the flurry of the day and the self thinking, my daughter began to really come out of her shell. I no longer have time to really sit and think about myself and what I wanted and who I am because chances are it’ll be interrupted my my toddler running her drunken run into the office with a maraca and a baby doll in her hand screaming her girlie little excited scream and expecting me to pick her up and kiss her smack on the lips. My life doesn’t consist of climbing a ladder or wearing a skirt or looking hot all the time. It consists of making another person feel like what they do matters, that they are important and special and that their development and nurture is my number one priority whether they know it or not.

It’s amazing to look at my daughter and see the way she takes my face in, how she looks at me for approval or disapproval of actions and how she looks from my face to daddy’s face when we’re having a family hug. When she says my name first thing in the morning, and hugs me with her sweet sleepy head on my shoulder and startles up just to make sure it’s really me who’s holding her and then plants me with a nice slobbery kiss, then I am happy. We have hard days, days of tantrums (they seem to be mounting as the terrible twos approach..eeeeeek) where the house doesn’t get clean, or I have a deadline so I thrown on Curious George and mentally kick myself for the screen time, days where I think I’ve failed as a mother. But every day is new, and filled with beautiful things to take up or forget about.

And every, single, day, the Lord looks at me the same way I look at my little one. He looks at me and rejoices when I say his name – he inclines his ear until he hears me utter that beautiful name, “Jesus” and he rejoices over it with singing. Do you know that? I just read that in Zephaniah 3:17. He, he who gave up his life for us, who sees all that has been and all that will come, who knows all the choices I’m going to make, rejoices of me with singing despite.

As Naph and I investigate the calling we feel in our lives from the Lord, and as we take this relationship with Him seriously for ourselves individually and as parents, we are learning a new way of experiencing joy and happiness that doesn’t always look the same as what is expected. And some have even told us that we are crazy to look forward to serving the Lord in an incredibly hands on way through missional work. But my heart leaps, and speeds up and my stomach jumps with excitement as I think of pursuing the things that we’ve been made to do that are so incredibly untraditional.

So for year 28 I want a few things.

1. I want to wake up every day saying, “Jesus” in the same longing way my daughter says, “Momma.”

2. I want to be content that my boss is invisible and has a higher standard than any other boss on earth would ever have, and has a “no firing” policy of grace for when I fail miserably.

3. I want to make an effort to be a wife and lover first and then a mother so that my team mate and partner can get as much of me as our children, and will always have first dibs at the best parts of me.

4. I want to be more adventurous and less anal.

5. I want to kayak and camp, explore and scrape a knee or two and make new memories in our current homeland.

6. I want to learn to manage my time with photography better so that my family doesn’t ever get the short end of the stick.

7. I want to pay off as much debt as possible even if that means home updates and fashion upgrades don’t happen.

8. I want to see each day with the joy I can sap out of it, instead of let the overwhelmed self pity sap me.

9. I want to talk more about my past, hash out the things that need to be hashed out and overcome my cynicism and vice for comparison.

10. I want to be confident in my role – whatever that may be.

I will probably append this list as the year rolls on but, whether I update here or mentally, I plan to keep this list visible so I can remind myself to take charge of year 28 and live life to the fullest.

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The Process of Processing

Sunday, June 2nd, 2013

We will always have information we have to upload into our brains, process and then digest. Naphtali and I are finally in a place where we are digesting what we processed in Europe. The thing is, I can sit here and write and write and write about all the meetings we had, the little fights we picked, the decisions we subconsciously made about our future, the ways we saw God working in everything we experienced. But none of it means anything until we sit down and allow it to seep into our brains and live out in our lives before we begin to pen anything. Sometimes I feel like I write things down so that I can make note and then move on. It’s like a form of therapy, they say, writing what you are feeling. The only thing is that sometimes when I write I allow the things I am processing to live there, on the proverbial page, and forget to take it up again into my heart. How many books have been written this way? Where we write out our thoughts, publish them, receive acclaim and then forget to live by them once they’ve been digested by multitudes?

And so, I ended writing Day 4 realizing we had much more to process before sharing it with the world. We needed to sit and talk, we needed to dream a bit more, we needed to confess and communicate to each other, as a couple, a unit, before giving you all that information. It’s like we didn’t want to write or say anything because words are hard to take back and we didn’t want to promise anything with our words before we really truly believed it in our marriage, our commitments and our hearts. Now, here I sit, three weeks after our return from Europe and I think I’m finally coming out of the fog of confusion on what just happened and am able to give my words a place for others to read with out feeling like I’m disconnecting with what they will mean.

Unfortunately, this doesn’t mean we know very much. Haha. Because in our commitment to letting God open and close doors for us, we’ve decided to take a step back in terms of defining things and take a step forward in simply trusting that we have some of it figured out. For instance, we know we are going to shoot for re-applying/going forward with our previous application at the end of this year/beginning of 2014. We know our goal is to be in the March Interview and Orientation that MTW (the organization we would be going with) puts on. We know that I have the opportunity of a dream job and so I’m going to begin to write my job description this week and pray over the back and forth that will happen over the next couple months and be a window into what God is making for us. We know that we are called to live overseas, hopefully within the next two years. We know we both finally feel the call to Chile. I’ve always hesitated, Naph has always known.

We don’t know when (realistically) we would go over seas. We don’t know when this job for me would kick in, where we would be located, if I could do it overseas or if it would be temporary, how much money we have to raise, if we are going to continue living in Chicago or if we are only here for another year. And these are just the things we don’t know in regards to the questions we asked of the Lord for our trip to Europe. We also don’t know when we should think about baby #2 (I have a bit of baby fever these days….like really bad. Ironic, no?) We don’t know if Naph’s job will continue being successful, when we will pay off debt, when I’ll finally take that stupid Corporate Finance class so I can get my degree! (It’s been four years). And for me personally – the things I don’t know could fill pages and pages. It’s quite terrifying really.

There was a point, perhaps I relayed it already in a previous blog, but Naph and I were walking on the beach in Spain. We were not truly appreciating the beauty and blessing in our surroundings because we were in a bit of a battle. There are days when I say I could go anywhere, do anything; that my heart is so big it could bear adopting or fostering hundreds of children who just need love. I could live in one place for a year and move the next and live a nomadic live. But then the sun sets, a new day starts and I am trapped in this cloud of fear. Where will my children go to school? Will they get a good education? Will they learn about God or will we forget? Will we have to learn a whole new language or can we just stay with what we know? Will we rent or own? Will we like it? Will we be the missionaries who cause drama, or will we be on the receiving end? Will we hurt others deeply? Will others hurt us deeply? Will one of our children give us more grief than we can handle? Will all our children?

And as I vocalized this all to my husband, he snickered and said, “so you want to control everything?” And as my mouth formed the easy excuse of, “No, I just…” it hit me. That is exactly true. I just want to control it because then God can work through me in the controlled environment that I’ve approved. Naph suggested that perhaps I talk with some other moms on the mission field and so I did. That night I talked to a couple who have been overseas only two months and they have a 15 month old. I asked her if it was hard doing all this transition with a baby and what they knew and what they didn’t know. She said they never chose Columbia but that was where they were placed and it was perfect. That they realized they trusted the Lord with themselves and then learned it wasn’t actually trust. It was just a term they used because they are adults so they can control their environment and don’t really need to trust the Lord unless something terrible goes on. But then, when they moved to a place they didn’t even know the language of with a new little guy, they actually did have to trust. In so many new and complex ways. Their little guy can’t talk, can’t speak multiple languages, can’t buy food, can’t do anything for himself. He is completely reliant and as a mother, she just has to trust that the Lord has all of them in his hand including their little helpless boy. And that was profound to me. It hit me like a ton of bricks. All this time I’ve been so hypocritical and ignorant. All this time I’ve taken my experience as a missionary kid and assumed that I know what it’s like to be a missionary. When in reality I have NO IDEA AT ALL. As an MK you are brought into the live of ministry but you weren’t called, you weren’t the one raising support saying goodbye to your parents to go do ministry in a foreign country. You’re a tag along. You’re still significant, but this choice to live overseas wasn’t yours. As a missionary you have to feel the calling of the Lord, you and your spouse should agree on this call and you learn that you will make the biggest most painful sacrifices of your live starting with saying goodbye to those you love the most to go share Jesus with those who don’t love you at all.

Wow.

My parents did that. My husband’s parents did that. The hundreds of missionaries who were at this retreat did that. They denied father and mother, took up their cross and followed Him. And I know that sounds super churchy. But think of this. These missionaries, especially those to Europe, have an incredibly hard way of it. Most countries in Europe feel that they have matured beyond the church. That God is a cute idea, or more, a foolish idea that our ancestors believed but Thank goodness we’ve evolved beyond that. You must be a fool to practice something so intangible as faith and beyond just that but faith in a higher Being ordaining all!? Bahhahaha. This is the European mindset towards God. SO these missionaries go and set up their lives among people who will laugh, and ridicule and mock and martyr them. They will go years and years just fostering a single relationship that finally is showing hope. And you know what? Sometimes that person kills themselves, or they move on, or they choose to stop talking to you. And year after year, in a country with no formal churches to go at least worship in once a week to receive some form of comfort, these missionaries do it. They form friendship after friendship, and feel withered and hopeless at times. But God sustains them and so they carry on. During our final Sunday service where all of us joined together for the final hurrah there was an opportunity during communion for families to go and receive prayer from different groups. And it hit me. These people must feel so refreshed being in this environment – where they can worship like they used to back home, where they can all speak in the same language with out having to run a dialogue in their brain before speaking so they don’t make a gramatical error, they know their children are safe, they receiving teaching from someone who wants to pour into THEM instead of vice versa. These people are tired and their cups are slowly emptying and then they come to these retreats and are given some sustenance so they can go back to the country they are serving in and do some more ministry and slowly be depleted again. And I’m not saying this to be depressing, but to be reminded of the seriousness that it means to give your life to the Lord. That when we say “Here am I, send me!” we aren’t being ignorant, or fool hardy but that we know things will be difficult and still we are able to consider it all joy.

Then I thought about what else it takes to be a missionary. For most people it means you shop at thrift stores for the rest of your life, that you don’t get a normal paycheck just for what you do but you have to make reports, visit churches, put your life on display so that others can judge and see if they want to support what you are doing financially. You give up the idea of nice things and manicured appearances. This isn’t something we are unaware of. If you look around our house you’ll see that it looks alright but it’s not cute or thematic in any way. In fact 90% of our home was either given to us or bought at a thrift store or from friends at really really low prices. The things we’ve paid full price for have taken months and months of saving. And this is how life will be for us forever. Sometimes I get depressed by that. I want to have pretty things, I want my house to be artistic and a gallery of whimsy and my personality….all the while incurring more debt. But instead we choose to put our money to pay off student loan debt and live as frugally as we can while also allowing for a few perks here and there. It’s the environment we grew up in but not the one we,deep down in our hearts, ever wanted.

So we are beginning to see how we are taking on more than we can handle, but we also know that that isn’t exactly true. God knows what we can handle and He is patient and gracious with us as we fail daily to recognize this and impose our on limitations on the daily choices presented to us. I’m learning to realize that this level of processing is what we will be doing for the rest of our lives. Hopefully, we will be on the look out for new things on the horizon that God has in store for us and we will, at each step, take a look at the process He is doing and try and recognize up from down, right from wrong, who we are meant to be from who we want to be. And truth be told, isn’t this the journey we are all on in one way or another, whether we are spiritual or not? We are all trying to figure out where we fit best and what we were most meant to do. We obviously are creative beings who were made with the purpose of something unique to us or else we would all look alike as would our environments. Hm.

So I think I’ve finally chewed the life out of these latest nuggets and will updating a little more on the trip this week. I think I needed a break from the story telling to do all the above thinking. Thanks for being patient with me.

In regards to the trip itself, there will be a better/less lengthy thank you letter coming out hopefully by the end of this/next week that will also remind you of the ways you can still donate to our trip. We are still about $1600 shy of what we needed to raise so we need to get that money back to those who fronted it for us. If you’re interested in more details let me know and I’ll make sure you get the letter. :-)

Lovies

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