Monday, June 3, 2019

Let Them Come In

I met her about a year ago.

We were serving together at a homeless shelter. As we talked, I began to piece together that her and I were pretty different. She wasn't just coming to serve because it seemed like the right thing to do. This place, in fact, was her current home. She was serving her friends and her roommates, some that she interacted with on a daily basis. I was serving strangers that I might see once a month, if I made the time for it.

I saw her at church a few times after that.
I tried to make it a point to talk to her each time.
When it was time for our church to serve again at the homeless shelter, she apologetically told me that she wasn't going to help serve because last time she hadn't gotten a chance to eat.

Months went by without seeing her. I would often wonder where she was and how she was doing.

But then, in January, she came back to church. I began talking to her before the service started, but we were quickly interrupted by the music beginning. I found my way to my husband, with a ludicrous thought bubbling up from within. Kel, I whispered. I think we need to invite her to live with us. He graciously nodded his approval and the second the benediction ended, I scurried over to her. I hadn't thought through much about what words were coming out of my mouth or how I ought to say them, but I found myself asking questions and eventually inviting this woman into our home.

I never saw her again.
We went to Costa Rica, came back, got busy with work and school, went to church, served at the homeless shelter...and she wasn't anywhere.

On May 5th, she reappeared at church. We pulled up into the parking lot and saw her immediately. We hugged and throughout the course of the morning (before and after the service), we had ample time to talk. She was still at the homeless shelter, still not able to find a job... but she was interested in coming out to our community group on Monday nights. I told her she could stay the night afterward, if she needed a place. We drew her a map and wondered if we'd see her again.

On May 6th, she appeared at our house.
On May 29th, she left.

There's been a vacancy since she left that I'm not quite sure how to describe.
I learned a lot in those 3+ weeks of having a stranger live in our home.
I learned a lot about generosity. Not just with our things or our money... but with my time. With my ears. With my space. I learned that maybe those things aren't really mine at all.

I learned that I can't control outcomes, or people, or that maybe what I think is best is not actually was is best. I learned about letting go, about trusting, about simply not knowing.

I learned that sometimes when I think I'm the one who is supposed to be giving or offering...that maybe I'm supposed to be receiving. That maybe the Lord wanted me to learn from her much more than He wanted her to learn from me. I learned the beauty of listening, of paying attention, of being present...even when I had a million other things that I would have rather been doing.

It's been a lesson on getting over self.
Of recognizing pride.
Of walking faithfully, even when I don't know what that actually accomplishes.
Of opening our home, even when we don't know the outcome (or even the person).
Of redefining "ours" and "mine"... and learning how to replace those pronouns with "His".

I don't know who the Lord might bring into our lives next, but I do know that I am more convinced than ever that my job is to let them come in. Into "our" home, into "our" space and allow them to take up "our" time, and eat "our" food and use "our" things. To let them come into our lives. And to do what we can to love them, no matter how long or how short that season may be.

In a world that is pressing more than ever for us to take care of "our"selves, I'm quite convinced that Biblically we are called to do quite the opposite. To consider others as better than ourselves (Phil 2), to outdo one another in showing honor (Romans 12), to bandage up wounds and to take care of others--even those whom we might despise, or might be completely opposite of us (Luke 10).

I don't know where my new friend will go or if I will ever see her or hear from her again. I don't know if her short stay in our home did anything positive for her or made any sort of lasting impact in her life.

But I do know that it has affected me.
And I think God is ironic in that way. Reminding me that I know so little and have so much to learn. Reminding me that He is King of my whole life, not just some aspects of it. Reminding me that He is God...and that He brings about growth and change in His timing and in His way.

"Our" home feels more open now. Less like it's mine to control or protect. More like it's His to bring in whomever He will, for however long He will.

And it's hard.
And sad.
And heartbreaking.

But it's good. Worth it.
A reminder that this life is meant to be lived not for my glory or my benefit... but for His.


Your entries will remain anonymous

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Why Me?

Why me? 

It's a question I have asked a lot in my life.

Sometimes, the question is in response to the hard things.

Sometimes, the question beckons a different type of answer. Too many times in my life, I have felt like I needed to know the answer because the answer held the secret to all my security.

Why do you like me?
The voice of a 4th grade Debbie asks her admirer.
The answer speaks value to my little blonde self. Because I'm pretty. Or smart. Or fun. These become the critical components of likability. These are the answers I need to know...because I need to know how to do more/be more of these characteristics so more people will like me.

Why do you want to date me?
This is the voice of high school Debbie. I know now that puberty has changed me and looks only go so far. Because you love the Lord. Because you're the type of girl I would want to marry. Because you have faith. My legalistic heart checks these off the list. Do more things like this, and more people will like you.

Why me? 
It's a question I have asked a lot in my life. Sometimes audibly. Sometimes in the deepest places of my heart. It's a question that points to my insecurities, my fears, and my worries. It's a question that's hidden motive is more about wondering if I'm actually enough or how much the person in front of me really wants me.

I had the privilege of getting to stare at this painting in the chapel of Gordon-Conwell's Charlotte campus the other morning.

The Parable of the Sower, at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in Charlotte, North Carolina. Painted by artist Gerald Steinmeyer. 

As I stared, this haunted question of my past resurfaced again. 

Why me, Lord

Because as I gazed at everything going on in this painting-- the one thing that captivated me most about it is that Jesus is coming for me. Out of His world and into mine. Coming, because of a great love. The Greatest Love. 

Why do you love me
This is the pleading voice of 34-year-old Debbie who often seems to think she has life figured out. But sometimes, in the deepest places of her heart...she knows the truth. She knows that she is weak and broken. She knows that she is tired and desperate. She knows that she is not enough. 

The answer to this question feels weighty.
But the answer to this question is also simple. 

Because I do

There's this part of my soul that wants the Lord to affirm why He loves me. To commend my faithfulness, my willingness, my obedience. To lift up my efforts to be a "good" Christian, to be one in which He is well-pleased. 

But in the quiet moments of this chapel, the Lord reminds me that none of that actually matters. He loves me the same, no matter what I do or don't do. No matter what I look like or how I dress. Even when I say the wrong thing at the wrong time or when I play my part perfectly. I cannot earn it. 

The Lord doesn't give me the answer I hope for, but His answer is better. It always is it. 

It's an answer that simultaneously puts me in my place while also restoring my identity in Him. He will not give me the false praises and accolades that we so often seek from men. But He will remind me that He loves me because I am His. He will remind me that that is enough. 

He has come for me. 
I don't have to question it.
I don't have to even understand it. 

He loves me. 
I just get to live in the certainty of that. 
The certainty of knowing that while I was a sinner, Jesus Christ came to save me. Through nothing that I have done, I am His. 

It truly is amazing grace
That saved a wretch like me... 


Your entries will remain anonymous

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Saving Face

Some of the most ludicrous fights I have are with myself. 

They are these crazy battles of the mind, where I want so desperately to be right, to be justified, to defend my honor. These are the pre-fights I often have when I am in conflict with someone else. The moment someone offends me, or accuses me, or bruises my ego.... I'm immediately in the throes of an inner battle. 

I don't mean to, but it's where I automatically go. 
I'm quickly trying to prove my point to myself, to rationalize my behavior, to make sure that my course of thought is logical. I think through the argument at every angle, certain that despite whichever vantage point you approach the situation from, you will find me in the right

The situation could be with my husband, or with a co-worker, sibling, friend, or someone I barely know. But before I can have the conversation with them, I need to rationalize my position internally first. 

Save Face, Debbie

My inner pride goads me on. It cheers for me to win, to keep up the appearance of happy, good, intelligent, logical, able to juggle a million things without dropping one ball... dare I say... perfection?

Last night, I was in the middle of one of these internal battles. I had just received an email that caused me to feel slightly wronged and very much entitled. My mind, within seconds, had already collected a list of the reasons why I was in the right and why I also was deserving. I was ready to go to bat in my defense. 

But something slowed me. 
What if you're wrong, Debbie?  

It's a baffling thought, I know. Me... wrong? 
The thought kept prodding at me. And so I did my usual subconscious pre-work-- proving my point to myself, considering the situation from other perspectives, seeking to use logical discourse to make sure I wasn't too emotionally charged.  

I was in the clear. All good. I felt reasonably sound in my defense.

But the thought came again, only this time it felt different. 
You don't have to anything to prove

But... I do, I argued back. I have to prove that I am right. I have to prove that I deserve this. I have to prove that I didn't screw up. 

These are the moments that the internal arguments feel the most insane. These are the wars that are waged between flesh and spirit, sometimes over the most minute things. Sometimes these moments feel like the truest pulses of our humanity clashing with this newness that the Lord is longing to cloak us in. 

In some ways, I felt like I was finger jousting with someone-- pointing away from myself and doing everything I can to make sure my finger doesn't get turned around to point the blame back at me. But I'm not always strong enough--sometimes it feels like my opponent is winning, and other times I gain my strength and momentum for another burst of energy. It's a back and forth until one of us concedes. 

But, then I realize that this exactly what the Lord is asking me to do-- to point my finger at myself, to concede. To stop fighting to prove how right I am, and consider how wrong I might actually be. Wrong and defenseless, instead of right and defensive. 

It's a call to forget saving face, and consider my own need to be saved by grace. 
A reminder that I need the Lord and my response ought not to so quickly be about keeping up appearances and defending my "honor". It's a call to surrender. To let go. To give up. To take the blame. To look at the log in my own eye, instead of the self-righteous tendency to examine the speck in another's. 

It's a call to be reminded of the Gospel. 
That literally all the time I need to remember who God is and what He has done. That's something I get to stand in awe of instead of so desperately trying to prove who I am and what I have done. 

It's a shift of perspective. 
A necessary moment that forces me to take my eyes off of me. 

This too shall pass

There is this undeserved promise for me that is always waiting for me as I am urged to look at the Promise Giver, as I am urged to let go of the petty entitlement that I too easily cling to. 

There's a freedom that is found when I surrender the jousting. The struggle stops. The conceding brings an internal peace. 

The shift in my gaze changes everything

Suddenly the fight seems ludicrous and I am ashamed to admit the passion in which fought so hard for something so fleeting. 

There's something bigger at hand. There is Someone bigger wanting our attention. 

I'm learning.
Every day.... still learning. 

May He become greater, and I become less. 

Your entries will remain anonymous


Monday, March 11, 2019

All In

There are certainly seasons of life where the DFW airport feels a bit like home. In and out. Stay for a meal or two.

I'm currently on my way to North Carolina for 10 days. Attending some classes for (hopefully) the last time. While sitting in class all day certainly isn't cause for giddy excitement, I am always thankful for the opportunity. To learn. And to be reminded that there are countless individuals across the country who are like-minded in their desire to see God's Kingdom grow.

I read something the other day that felt profound. “[Christian worship] marks us out as and trains us to be a peculiar people who are citizens of another city and subjects of a coming King” (Desiring the Kingdom, James K.A. Smith).


Peculiar people.
Citizens of another city.
Subjects of a coming King.

I love that.

I love being reminded of that as I sit in trendy DFW wearing would-be joggers, tennis shoes and sporting my frizzy hair and make-up-less face. Peculiar. A citizen of a city that is not in this country. A servant to the King.

What a relief.

Life has been a bit of a whirlwind lately. We got back from Costa Rica and tried to catch up on all that we had missed. In some ways, leaving the farm feels like it happened years ago. Just a few days after our return we bought 12 chicks. And I took a new job (at camp). I actually start tomorrow-- while I'm in class. It's pretty fitting for my life.

When we realized Costa Rica wasn't for us, I felt like I had to do some deep soul-searching. A part of me was hoping that we would go and realize that this was our calling. Most of me knew that wasn't going to be our reality. But, when our answer was a clear no, that left me wondering: what does that mean for me? It had been 6 months of not really knowing where I belonged and I was beginning to question what I was even good at. What could I possibly have to offer?

These are the lies we believe in some of the darkest of nights.
These are the words that too quickly become our reality.
In just a moment, the thief steals, kills, and destroys. And we let him.

I'm ashamed to admit that I spent too much of my 3.5 weeks in Costa Rica halfheartedly battling the attacks. I felt like the things I was most passionate about were the very things that I believed I was worst at. Insecurity rose in my throat often, fear gripped the corners of my eyes. Tears threatened my conversations and I found myself retreating to a place that is all too familiar. A place of self-sabotage. It's easier to believe that I can't do anything than to believe that I might be able to and then fail.

Today I am reminded that any talent I have been given isn't mine to hoard or to waste. It isn't mine to determine where, or when, or how it ought to be used. It is only mine to steward wisely, to hold loosely, and to trust freely. 


We started the New Year off with a Dunk Tank.
It was a symbolic gesture to communicate that we were all in. 

Willing to take a plunge into unknown territory, to devote ourselves to the leading and teaching and training up of our staff to being disciples of Jesus Christ. Willing to do something crazy (and potentially stupid, since it was dead winter and the water sure wasn't warm). Willing to do something with others who aren't afraid to take the same risks.

These are just a few reasons that I have loved working at camp. 

And so, as I step into new role, I'm all in

All in, despite my fears of failure or inadequacy... I'm reminded over and over again that I am a part of a ministry that proclaims the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In this, there doesn't need to be fear, or worry, or failure. There only needs to be the constant reminder to lean into Jesus. To trust Him in all my brokenness, that He is sufficient. That He is the the King whom I serve with delight. 

I get to live all in because of what He has done. 

May I not forget it.
May I be the most peculiar of the people, a citizen of a world that is not the one in which I physically dwell, a subject of The King. And may the way we live radically transform the world in which we do reside. May we bring hope. And joy. And peace. And light.

May we be all in.
No matter where we are, or what we do... because of what He has done for us. 

Because, together, we serve The King.



After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”  
--Revelation 7:9-10--



Your entries will remain anonymous

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Rough Around the Edges

Kel said the other day... "If I were writing a blog about Costa Rica I would title it: When I was called Cal, the Man, Cow, Kyel, and sometimes Kel for three weeks".

"Poling" Across the River
Apparently "Kel" is a really hard name to say in the Spanish language. And sometimes even in the English language. 

It's been a week. 
A week where I can be perfectly content and at peace with my surroundings and circumstances and then ten minutes later be looking up what it would cost to change our flight to come home earlier. I'm ashamed by my lack of patience and the amount of pride I can have (sometimes over the smallest things). I'm ashamed by how selfish I can be. 

We came here to know if moving here was our calling. But we also came to serve. And we have definitely done that, but perhaps not in the ways I would have imagined. Our interaction with locals has been limited and our service has been primarily in farm work. We have also helped organize and assemble Bible lessons for children in schools along the river. And, after "poling" across the river on Thursday, we were able to go to a school and be a part of one of these hour-long programs.

At the School
I am convinced that the work being done here matters. The woman (who is close to 80) we are working with has been sharing the Gospel with the people who live along the river for the last 27 years. Churches exist because of her willingness to go. And these schools invite her to come and share. To sing songs that might stick with them for a lifetime. To teach them about the Bible through story and craft. It's actually really incredible. I wish that we were more geared toward young children or farming, but our strengths and passions are not the things that are needed here. 

And, as with probably many mission opportunities, this life is hard. It is without the comforts of running water, or air condition, or any kind of food you want whenever you want it. It is without recliners and televisions and a certain standard of cleanliness. It is without mirrors and bug spray (although those could easily be remedied). 

The Toucans we see daily
But- it's mostly hard because people can be hard to work with. They can be hard to understand. They can be hard to see eye-to-eye with. They can be hard to respect. They can be hard to talk to or listen to. They can be hard to not get frustrated with. They can be hard to trust. Granted, this is the challenge that is universal. It happens no matter where we go or what ministry we might find ourselves working in. People are different from us and they do things differently than us and, in that, we often find ourselves in conflict. 

These are the moments where I believe the Lord is refining us. The moments where I have to beg that the Lord would give me patience...and that I would be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry. But there are also moments where I have to discern when (and how) to speak up. Moments where I have an opportunity, as the Spirit leads, to say something to someone that maybe no one else has been willing to. Moments that refine us because none of us are perfect and we all have blind spots. We need each other to grow in our weaknesses. But sometimes we're too quiet. Sometimes we're too scared. Sometimes we don't think it's our place. 

I'm learning to appreciate being rough around the edges. Because, even though I can spot the flaws easily, there's something continually beautiful to me about being a work in progress. A work that has to point to God working through us because we are too imperfect for us to have done any of it without Him. It's a life that points to Jesus... because there's really no other explanation for the work that gets done. 

I get to experience that in Costa Rica. But I also get to experience that in America. We need Jesus. No matter where we are. 

I hate that I forget that sometimes. 

Someday I'll write about the supposed murderer we were living next to, or the time our boat almost flipped, or all the other moments of crazy we have encountered. Someday, but not today. 

Sunrise on the River!
Today I'm thankful for new mercies every morning.
For a grace that covers me, even when I am the ugliest of humans in my heart. 
For a bed to sleep in and plenty of food to eat.
For the hospitality and generosity of a woman who loves the Lord and is doing her best to give her life to Him. 
For a husband who continually amazes me and is willing to count my 100 bug bites for me. 
For new friends who patiently help me learn Spanish so we can communicate. 
For all the new knowledge we have gained about life on the farm and along the river. 
For internet that allows me to connect to family, friends, work, and school. 
For funny little animals that we have gotten to take care of. 

It's a good life.
A hard life. 
But a life where God is moving and working. 

Your entries will remain anonymous


Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Wish You Were Here

I wish you all could be here.

I wish you all could experience the cockroach that's underneath our bed. Or the giant frog that comes out at night in the kitchen...but you only catch sight of him moving out of the corner of your eye and you're sure, instead of a frog, that there are snakes or roaches or alligators that are going to eat you. Or the thousands of chigger bites that you try to soothe with Vicks vapor rub or some homemade substance that smells of sulfur but you'll try just about anything at this point.

I wish you could experience the dogs barking in the middle of the night, alerting you to a newly captured raccoon, or a wandering heifer that you'll have to herd back to its pasture while rubbing the sleepies out of your eyes.

Judith
I wish you could experience Eduardo, the duck (who we forgot to lock up last night...but he survived). Or taking the baby chicks to and fro every morning and every night as they molt and grow-- looking sweaty and ugly. I wish you could meet Judith, the new calf who wobbles around with gangly knees. I wish you could collect the eggs each afternoon with us, getting as excited as we do when we find one more day than the day before. Or, when we count the hens and discover one missing. See ya, lady hen...(we never found her).

I wish you could experience making cheese. We're basically professionals now...every day trying to perfect our craft to make more cheese with the same amount of milk. We've increased by almost 3 kilos since our first attempt (that's like 6.5 lbs!).  I wish you could cut down banana trees with us. Or feed Wheela (the baby pig) and listen to the disgusting sounds of pigs eating slop.

I wish you all could wash your hair in the sink (we're up to one wash since we got here...), or attempt to shave some portion of your legs. Or try to remember to put your toilet paper in the trash every time you pee, instead of the toilet.  Or let throwing some water on yourself at night be sufficient enough for being "clean".

Sophia, the cat, comes to every meal.
I wish you could all throw your chicken bones into the river after lunch, or feed the begging cat your scraps. I wish you all could drink maracuya juice with us, or cut down fresh papaya, or pluck a fresh pineapple from the plant between where you sleep and where you eat. 

But most of all, I wish you could be here and meet the people... because without that, there's no real picture of what our time here has been like.

It's been unpredictable. But predictable. Chicks, cheese, hens, cheese, chicks, chicks, cheese, hens, chicks. It's all the hours in-between that leave you wondering: what will today bring?

And while we've actually really enjoyed our time here and know that we COULD be here long-term, we made a decision. Neither of us feel like we SHOULD be here or that we have been called to move here. We still think we can help this ministry though, and we aim to do so.

Finding quality people who can handle the adventure and lack of comfort, but desire to share the Gospel with this part of the world? We want to help do that. We want to help find someone to manage the farm, and another person to go to the local schools and teach young kids about Jesus and, simultaneously, a little English. We want to find people who are willing to learn new things (or new languages), and bring their skills to a little ministry in Costa Rica that desperately needs it.

19 baby chicks (this is only half of them)
There's a little part of me that's sad about that. Mostly because, when someone is in need, I want to fix it. But, I'm realizing over and over again that I can't be the person who fixes any of it (nor do I always need to feel like I'm the one who has to).

It's where faith comes in. Trusting the Lord that He'll take care of His people and His ministries...and we get to be faithful where we are, excited about what opportunities are before us.

And tonight?
Tonight there's a rifle outside the door so when the dogs bark and the raccoons come... Kel has a job to do.

It's been a crazy day.
I'll tell you more about it sometime.

But, really.
I wish you could all be here.
(and maybe, someday, some of you will actually come!)

Your entries will remain anonymous

Friday, February 1, 2019

CHEEEEESE....!

I told Kel today that I don't have words to describe our experience in Costa Rica so far...other than just literally telling you what our life is currently like.

But even that is hard to describe.

In Costa Rica, plans are mostly impossible to make. A car breaks down, an appointment was never made, the car's tags are expired, the boat's motor gets flooded, it doesn't rain so you have no water (and therefore don't take showers for days and days), things take longer than anticipated, 17 people you're growing accustomed to living alongside leave within minutes. But somehow, through all of that, the internet has been reliable. Technology is amazing, friends.

Today we made cheese.
It wasn't supposed to happen that way.
I was going to feed the chickens and meet up with Nelson, the farmhand, so he could walk me through the process. I had sort of helped two young women two days ago make it...fumbling through Spanish to ask questions and understand what was happening, and mostly considering how to make the process more efficient.

The thing about a language barrier is that when you show up to make the cheese and Nelson never shows up (except to show you how much Caujo to add and that the cheese will be ready to make in treinta minutos) is that eventually you realize that maybe he's thinking you're making the cheese. By now it's been an hour, because you fed the chickens and the pigs and tried to knock some coconuts down (for the chickens) and walked around looking for Nelson...and so it's time to just try to mimic what I saw my new friends do a few days ago. And I wouldn't normally care about messing something like this up, but the fact that it gives the farm much-needed dollars feels a little like pressure.
our first attempt at cheese!

So, we made cheese.
And it doesn't taste half bad.

We wake up around 6:00AM.
Today Kel immediately was asked down to the river with a bucket so there would be water to flush the toilets with.  And then he went to help milk the cows, but got there in time to see one of the pigs slaughtered and taken away. I recently got assigned chicken duty-- so I put the baby chicks out each morning and make sure they have food and water all day long. They have to get fat. Fat, so they can be eaten.

There were 17 refugees here when we arrived. A family from El Salvador who had gone through some really tragic things and needed a place to stay. We became friends through pointing at objects, asking questions by using the wrong conjugations, trying out Google translate (which is actually hard because if I ask a question I didn't know how to ask, they'll usually answer the question in a way that I'll never be able to understand). They cooked El Salvadorian food for us...blended beans that you dip your fried banana into. I didn't love it. But I was thankful for their generosity and kindness. One day, the police showed up asking for passports. A few hours later, they were packing their bags, praying for us, and walking down the dirt road with rolling suitcases. I still don't really know what happened or why it happened. But, I'm thankful for them and our time together with them.

Kel getting coconuts for las gallinas (hens)
It's a little lonelier on the farm now.
(And part of why we made cheese).

But, the really pressing question is the one I don't have words for.

There's a part of my soul that could be quite content with barefeet, hairy armpits, fresh-grown fruit at my fingertips, being in the middle-of-nowhere, learning a language fluently, interacting with the local community in the various ways that this mission does--through schools, churches, business on the farm. Basically, the farm sustains the ministry.

We talk a lot about the dreams and ideas we have. Starting up a discipleship program, bringing people out to learn about hard, manual labor through farm work while also learning what it means to follow Jesus more wholeheartedly.  Continuing the sharing the Gospel in local schools, helping out local church plants, being a resource, building relationships with people internationally. So much has already happened here for the sake of the Gospel...and there's so much more that could be done.

But there are a lot of dreams we would be leaving behind. A lot of ideas that haven't come to fruition. A lot of relationships we are in the midst of. A lot of people we get to walk through life with and learn more about the Lord alongside. Foster Care. Camp ministry. Family. Community. Church. Things (and people) we are passionate about and things we believe in.

So we're here.
We made it.
We're learning about life on a farm.
We laugh a lot and sweat a lot.

Keep praying for discernment.
(and for it to rain!)
(and for us to make better cheese tomorrow!)


Your entries will remain anonymous

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Adios.

Exactly one week later and I'm back in the DFW airport.

Only this time I'm not alone.
And this time, my husband and I are heading to Costa Rica.


In a whirlwind of a week of surprises, we pushed back our trip by 5 days so I could be in Missouri to help my mom with her recovery from a broken hip. It was the right decision. And while she's on the road to rehab, we're now on our way out of the country.

I've alluded to this trip before, but haven't exactly talked about why we are going or what we are doing. It's mostly because I'm not entirely sure.

Ever since August, Kel and I have been in a place of wondering if we were where we needed to be. Events out of nowhere sent us on a quest of prayerfully considering if camp was where we were meant to be. And, in the midst of our questions, we received a "cry for help" from a longtime connection I had in Costa Rica from when I had gone in 2010:
Presently I´m teaching the Bible in 4 schools and an additional community without a school every week.  There are 5 more schools asking me to teach,  but I can´t get to more places as well as teach Bible classes to adults some 4 times a week, plus administrate the farm, and the other branches and churches we have around the river.  
It breaks my heart to have people asking me to come share the gospel and in fact I can´t get there.  
The national representative to the foundation of Las Palmas de Mamre suggested that he and I visit some mission conferences to recruit for the school of mission and for another missionary who would be able to adapt to a rugged life, to come take over some of these burdens. My problem is that I can´t be here running things as well as be up there sharing.  
The farm as also been recognized as a model organic farm and I have been sent to several trainings in organic farming as well 4 different projects on a national level.  All of this takes time and I just can´t get to everything.
We'll help.
It was our immediate reaction to the email.
Within weeks we had talked to our supervisors, families, friends, and booked tickets for four weeks to Costa Rica.

When I married Kel, one of his "things" was simple obedience. A desire to be willing to do whatever the Lord asked, whenever He asked it, with whoever needed it.  It's one of the reasons I love him...he pushes me to do what's uncomfortable and what sometimes feels seemingly impossible.

So, if the Lord were calling us to move our entire lives to help our friend in Costa Rica and the ministry that is happening there...? I believe that we would go.

Although sitting in this airport, months after all the initial excitement has waned, and my mom is recovering from hip surgery, and our jobs are filled with things we are truly passionate about, and we're in our last stages of Foster Care training... I can't help but wonder...  is this actually what's next? 

Because I want to go when I'm asked to go. 

But I also want to stay when I need to stay.

So, faithful friends...
We need your prayers.
Prayers that our hearts would be open to the Spirit's leading in our lives. I'm not convinced that there's a "right" or "wrong" decision in any of this, either. I am, however, convinced that we have been made in the image of God and that we have various giftings and passions that can be used for His glory and I want mine to be used to the fullest. So that people would know Him. So that people would follow Him with their whole lives.

Pray that we would be obedient.
Obedient in our day-to-day, as we spend the next 3.5 weeks serving in whatever capacity is asked of us. Obedient with our entire lives, with how we invest in those around us. Pray that we would not allow the lack of comforts or the unfamiliarity of culture and language to dissuade us if going is what is best. But pray that we wouldn't be swept up in the romantic notions that doing something seemingly grand for the Kingdom is better than staying with what we have known. Pray for discernment and wisdom.

I don't know what our days will look like. Traveling? Farm work? Time in the schools or Bible classes?

We will try to keep you posted often, pending our internet situation.

Above all, pray that we would be able to share Jesus with those we encounter and be a true help to those who need it. Pray that we can love well, despite the language barriers (or pray that we can miraculously remember all of our Spanish classes from high school and college). Pray that we (mostly me) wouldn't worry about all the things I cannot control back home, or at work, or with school assignments that are due every Monday... and that we could let go and really be present where we are at.

Thanks for being a community of people, near and far, who support us and love us. We couldn't do this without you.

Your entries will remain anonymous

Monday, January 21, 2019

Brave

"Who is your hero and why?"

I feel like I had to answer this question a lot growing up--whether it was a school assignment or on an application, it seemed to cross my path often. I never really knew how to answer it. I never really felt like I had a hero. A hero (to me) implied that there was someone that I wanted to be exactly like...but I never really wanted that. At least, not in every way.

I remember putting my mom down as the answer to this question. For a long list of reasons, I felt like she was the person I most wanted to be like--even if not in every way. I have the tendency to see all the ways people are imperfect and why I actually wouldn't want to be like them, even if they have a million incredible qualities. My mom probably got the brunt of this criticism more than most. In fact, she'd be the first to tell you that I was one of the most difficult children (of four) to raise. Believe it or not, I'm stubborn. And opinionated. And strong-willed. And selfish. And direct. But for whatever reason (mostly because it was so long ago and I can't recall why) I wrote my mom into that blank almost every time.

I haven't encountered the "hero" question much lately. But, I have encountered my mom more. And, the more I get to spend time with her, the more I'd be willing to write her name down over and over again to answer this question.

"You can't teach an old dog new tricks."
These are the type of sentiments we tend to believe about the people who are older than us. We're convinced that people are "stuck in their ways" and "unwilling to change".

These are the exact reasons why my mom inspires me. In the last several years, I have watched my mom change. I have watched her open her mind, her heart, her life up to new people, experiences, and challenges. I have watched her love generously, give selflessly, live more uncomfortably, and wrestle with hard things.

When I grow up, I hope I'm as willing to embrace change as much as she has. I hope that I'm willing to admit that I'm wrong. I hope that I'm willing to live my life differently than I have (for maybe even decades) as I wrestle with what is true and good and how that can affect my everyday actions. I hope that I'm willing to learn "new tricks".
__________________________________

I wrote this a few months back, knowing I'd eventually finish it. I didn't imagine, however, finishing it in the DFW airport on my way to Missouri because my mom is in the hospital with a broken hip.

But, here we are. In the midst of the constant reminder that nothing ever goes according to our plans. A simple morning routine, one that you've done every day for years. A routine that leaves you on your back, on the ice, calling for help for an hour in twenty-degree weather. A routine that leads to surgery and a long recovery.

Life is crazy.
And unexpected.
And hard.
And, somehow in spite of all of that, still beautiful.

And my mom, my hero of a mom, fights through it all.
A kid with a heart defect who survives emergency open-heart surgery at 19.
Kid(s) who come close to abandoning their faith or marrying addicts.
The loss of her good friend.
The loss of her parents.
The loss of her first grandchild.
Breast Cancer.
And now this: a broken hip.

She asked us to pray that she would be brave.
I don't know if she realizes that this is exactly who she's been her whole life. Brave enough to be different. Brave enough to be more like Jesus. Brave enough to invite a stranger to live with them. Brave enough to fight through all the sickness, the brokenness, the death and to remember that she has purpose in the life she has left to live.

Brave enough to see the people who are serving her in her incapacitated state as people and desire to know and love them.

I get to see my mom tomorrow.
I get to watch her be brave. To face the pain. To start to recover.

Because my hero of a mom is brave.
Brave and broken.
Brave and willing.
Brave and seeking for her entire life to still reflect the image of God.

Maybe all of us have something to learn from my mom.
Maybe all of us need to be a little more brave.
A little more willing. A little more open to how our brokenness can give us opportunities to be brave.

Brave enough to fight, to speak up, to love, to open our hearts up to the things and people who are different from us. Brave enough to change. Brave enough to be Jesus in the midst of a world that hates Him (John 15:18-21). 

Pray for my mom to continue to be brave.
For her to fight through this physical recovery so that she can have more opportunities to be brave in how she pursues the Lord and loves His people.

Your entries will remain anonymous

Monday, January 7, 2019

Lots of Doors

"You're opening lots of doors!"

Lately I've been seeing our next steps through a lens of chaos and uncertainty, so the above response was generous to my soul.

So what if we're heading to Costa Rica for four weeks while also working our way through Foster Care training while also trying to do our jobs while also entering my final year of graduate school...

Lots of open doors.
I like that. Maybe I need that. Maybe it helps the crazy feeling feel a little less crazy.

I was frantically getting ready for church yesterday morning because I was, of course, running behind.  I began thinking about Foster Care and what it would look like to have a four-year-old living in our house that we would also have to get ready for church. And while that might be a perfectly normal thing for most 34-year-olds in the world, the thought hurled me into a: what are we doing moment. I don't know how to be a mom.

I decided recently that I need to react more quickly to the urgings that are pressed upon my heart. The times when I think, "I wonder how ___________ is doing-- I really ought to reach out." Or, "I should probably give that homeless man something". Or, "We should invite that couple out for lunch." 

These are the types of thoughts I think often and then, almost as soon as I think them, they are gone. I haven't actually done anything. My good intentions vanish into thin air and I'm immediately consumed by another thought that's, most likely, self-absorbed.

But what if I didn't move on?
What if I paused and sent the text message? What if I stopped the car and found a way to reach out? What if I went out of my way to extend the invite?

It's crazy how quickly I can talk myself out of doing something.
It's crazy how much my own insecurities and fears send me into the spiral of self-focus and how quickly a situation becomes about me instead of the person I was just thinking about.

I get scared that I'll be rejected. Or that I'm too much. Or that I'm not enough. Or that no one really wants (or needs) me. 

Or, that I don't know how to be a mom and have never been a mom and that I'm much too selfish to really handle bringing a child into our home. How much earlier would I have to wake up, anyway? 

They're never good reasons. Even the best-sounding ones aren't actually good. They're just selfish. Fearful of change. Fearful of the unknown. Fearful of my world not revolving around me and what I want, when I want it.

I didn't mean to make a New Year's resolution. I just meant to do something different...to live differently. It just happened to be right around the start of 2019. It's not about being "my best self" or living my "best life". It's just about responding. Responding to the urgings to ask, to call, to text, to show up, to care, to go.  It's about not talking myself out of things, but talking myself into following through with the initial thoughts. It's about kindness and generosity and hospitality and hope. It's about letting go of me.

In some ways, this is like the "summer of yes" for me. Only, instead of saying "YES" to things people are asking me to do, I'm saying YES to (what I think is) the Holy Spirit moving me toward people.  Saying YES to getting over myself, my fears, my worries, my selfishness...and going towards others.


Saying yes to opening up more doors.
Even doors that might lead me to other countries. Or doors that involve us inviting kids in who need a safe place for a little while. Or catching up with someone from a long time ago. Or doors that remind me that God cares deeply for others and He wants me to learn to do the same, regardless of what it might cost me (after all, just look at what it cost Him).

We're opening up doors. Asking God to show us which ones to walk through.
And I'm also resolved to respond to the promptings.
To say yes.

Your entries will remain anonymous