Welcome to the blog
by two lefties.
Feel free to register to the
right for site updates.
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.
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.
Sunday, May 12th, 2013
I think last year I probably wrote some cute card to my mom about Mother’s day and how much I relate on the motherhood subject. But within the past 365 days I’ve realized how hilariously stupid that is and how wrong I was. Every single day I realize how little I know about being a mom. How silly a first time mother is in her new role of thinking she’s finally conquered the big mountain of bearing and birthing a baby. But, whew! My mom did this four times! Naph’s mom did it five! I mean, what?!
How the HELL (sorry mom, but it’s what I say sometimes when I’m staring at a snotty sobbing face and realize you did this with four kids) did you survive?!?!?!?!
I have one, one little ray of sunshine who actually charms the socks off of me more than she makes me mad and still sometimes things get to big for me and I feel like I’m drowning and I think how thankful I am that I only have one right now. I look forward to the slew of children that will make this home wildly disordered but along with that I am daunted by the levels of sacrifice and selflessness that they will cause in me. Is that strange? I just know it’s going to happen and I sort of dread it. I like being ignorantly selfish. Still, I know it is a worthy endeavor and perhaps, on the other end of it all, I’ll have kids like my parents. Not to say we’re all awesome, but in spite of all the things that could have gone wrong, and way the that we see the youths and adults around us, we’re pretty lucky and we’ve turned out pretty well. I hope I can look at my offspring and feel proud, relieved and thankful. I think that is what my mom and my mother-in-law seem like, having been parents for 32 and 28 years respectively.
So from this mom of one year, I say a hearty “Thank You” and proclaim a resounding “Hurrah, yip yip yip!” to the hard working mother of mine who traveled continents, rallied supporters, stayed up late doing projects, prayed with out ceasing and wipe away tears with out judgement. I hope to be just like you as I raise my wee ones.
And to the mommies of adopted children and women who wish they could be mommies but can’t carry their own and to the mommies who’s babies didn’t get to see how beautiful this earth is after all, you are fierce warriors as well. You heart has endured more sorrow than I can know and your love has found new and beautiful ways to express itself that many women will never understand. Many of you struggle silently or only with a few people to carry you along as you hurt and battle the days like today that remind you of how different your life is than other women’s. And though I know I can’t fully relate, I want you to know that you aren’t un-thought of or anonymous. I have shed tears for you and I have longed to embrace you as you let out your sadness completely. I hope you have a group of women who can sorrow with you and who can rejoice with you as you take the next step in your life wherever that may be.
At a goodbye party to a sweet mom who moved away last year, she said a prayer thanking the Lord for all the mommies, the babies who came, the babies who came but didn’t stay long and the babies who were never meant to linger outside the womb. Because no matter what, our lives were changed because of these precious babies and our hearts expanded to proportions never seen before.
Love is a much greater word than that which can be described as a fuzzy feeling and it is something women alone experience to it’s greatest definition.
Happy Mother’s Day. Happy Women’s Day. Happy You Who’s Heart Has Grown Day.
Saturday, May 11th, 2013
During our morning meeting we found out something super interesting. One of our girls had approached one of the leaders and apologized for being silly during the Praise and Worship time. Naph and I had done a few songs with motions to begin the cool down from playing games for an hour with the students. This is something we generally do at all our retreats and the kids love it. So apparently the girl felt that doing motions and stuff was a bit silly and that isn’t what worship time is for. Now this girl is one of the more rambunctious of the group and so for her to state that she felt bad for being silly was kind of a big deal. After telling of this encounter another leader said that made sense. They had been a leader at a summer camp that some of these kids went to. When her girls were getting ready to do a little bible study a girl from the top bunk dropped her Bible down to the ground and a Europe Mk got really frustrated with her saying, “not everyone has a million Bibles they can just throw around. Some families only have one for the whole family. You should be more respectful!” The pieces started fitting together for us. On top of all this we had already had one break out session with the girls and came to find out that many of them go to more conservative churches in their countries because that is all that there is and their parents are not in the place to start up completely new denominations but simply partner with other evangelical organizations to bring the Gospel. Which means that these students are being brought up in some pretty conservative circles. This is a polar opposite to their culture where the population are mostly atheistic and care nothing for spirituality. Many of these countries are still recovering from communistic and socialistic regimes and, when searching for churches, are needing something more traditional.
It finally all clicked. From this point on, as a team of leaders, we realized this wasn’t the Latin America retreat where the students are used to being a bit more charismatic in their demeanor, and it isn’t Asia Pacific where many of the kids are reserved but happy and excited to wiggle and move around. These students are serious, intelligent, controversial and deep. Very European I’d say. So we decided to stick on the more worshipful side of music and taught them some of our favorites like “Narrow Little Road,” “All the Poor and Powerless,” and “Cast My Cares.” I think one or two of them were actually written by our music leader at church or at least appended but they are such powerful songs and, for me personally, are healing songs that have helped me through some of my darkest hours.
When we lead worship time with some of these songs, and some they knew that were more traditional, the atmosphere completely changed. The students were singing loud, catching on quickly to new songs, and harmonizing easily. It was beautiful. I had to catch my breath a couple times because I was just so moved. These students are passionate, looking for encouragement, needing support and positive words to uplift them as they struggle in their environments. Matching this up with Brooks continued talks through Judges was just a total awesome time for these students that paved the way for some really great conversations.
Considering that Day 4 happened like two weeks ago it’s hard for me to remember more specifics but I do know that my head was spinning and I was beginning to feel the tides change inside me. The fear of going somewhere, or being placed in the US was clouding my mind and I started feeling overwhelmed. Like I had said before, we went there asking specific things from the Lord. I wanted to know where he was calling us and Naph wanted to know when. So after our conversation with someone about being possibly located in the US I felt a little bit disappointed. Beyond that, I felt like I should have this super serious calling to a specific place, so why wasn’t I getting that? And why was I feeling sad about the idea of being in the US? I’d be closer to my family, it’d be easier to fly out around the world, Amelie would probably have the stability I always longed for. But I realized those were things I didn’t really care about. I just wanted to be steeped in a different culture. I want Amelie to grow up internationally – knowing that it will provide her with big challenges and potentially trying memories, I still find it a rich time in my life and I think she would grow in wisdom and stature because of it. I began wondering where our kids would go to school, how much things would cost, what they would have to learn, if we’d have to move every term or would we be located in the same place for years and years? And I felt like these were fair things to ask of the Lord.
On top of all this, Naph’s birthday was two days away. There is another leader who is on staff with the organization who’s birthday is the day before. The whole team was planning a celebration for hers, but despite my contacting people and trying to set something up for Naph, there wasn’t really anything planned for him…and he knew it. He finally said something to me about which, which he never does, and it just tore at my gut. I felt so bad for him and how he’s always so sacrificial and then to not feel like people even realize his birthday is coming up and it’s not as important as someone else who’s turning 30, just killed me. So we kept up our smiley faces but on the inside we both were beginning to feel a bit disillusioned.
Amelie was doing well though she wasn’t getting all the sleep she needed. Still waking up several times a night and, it might have even been this Day #4 night that she wound up sleeping in bed with me and waking us both up every two hours. Not an easy night. Still, her attitude was awesome and she was just as hilarious as usual. I think by this day she also really had us running after her for once. She definitely picked up speed. We hung out at the pool on this day and the Larsen girls (four girls I’ve known for about 8 years!) really took her under their wing and walked around with her. So precious.
So that is pretty much Day #4. The next day was our Day Off excursion into Sevilla.