Friday, July 18, 2014

The Road to a Heart

I remember my first mission trip to the place I now call home.
I don't think my camera left my hand for two weeks.
Everything was new, exciting, different, as far opposite from my own world as could be.

I was enamored by the noises, smells, sounds, faces......the differences.
I wanted to capture it all.

But now that I've lived here over a decade, I'm hesitant to take the camera, to snap the pictures.
These are people, not merchandise.
They have thoughts, feelings, and preferences, just like everybody else.
And while many of them may live in what some consider poverty, they still have pride in how they look and where they live.

When a child gets up in the morning he makes his bed, straightens his room, dresses for school, and eats his breakfast.
And while the bed might be a mat, and the room might be shared with the rest of his family, and the clothes might be his brown and orange school uniform, and his breakfast might be beans, rice, and hot pepper, he's really not much different than you or me.

When a child sets off for school in the morning, he might go by car, school bus, moto, taxi, or tro-tro, but then again, he might go by foot.
He may walk on busy, paved roads, crowded with morning traffic, or he might walk a slippery, dirt path through the plantain trees and corn.
One foot in front of the other......just like everybody else.

When he's extra hungry, he brings the big bowl, hoping mama will fill the whole thing.
When he's cold he wears a jacket, even if it is 75 degrees F.
When he finds creatures to scare the girls at school with, they may be snails or centipedes.
And when he gets new school shoes, they may the coolest shoes he can find.....they might even be green.

I've heard it said that people all over the world are the same.
It's true.
We are all souls, seeking to be filled.
Oh, our skin tones, languages, and foods may be different.
The way we interact and what we value may not be quite the same.
The roads we walk day-in and day-out may not look alike, but the paths to our hearts?
They're all the same......
they are reached by Love.

This week the whole family got the privilege of going to public school Bible club with Daddy, and then to visit some of our church members afterwards. I hesitated on taking my camera, but in the end, I'm glad I did. Some days a camera lens between myself and the rest of the world helps me count my blessings a little better, see souls a little clearer, and appreciate my life here just a little bit more.

Friday, July 11, 2014

For the Days When You Are Not Enough....

So this day marks the beginning of this thing I call my life.
To be honest, I thought I'd be more at this age...
more mature?
more beautiful?
more organized?
more got-it-all-together?
more spiritual?
more wise?
more adult?
I'm not really sure exactly what I thought I'd be more of.......just something.
But I'm not.

I feel a constant pressure to be more.....
it's in the whispering voice of pride that tells me my worth is wrapped up in what everyone thinks of me;
it's in the clamoring voices of the internet that tell me my value comes from how many people "like" me;
it's in the unending barrage of articles that tell me that I just need to change one more thing;
it's in the endless streams of photos that urge me to change my hair, my wardrobe, my food, my fingernails, and my kid's birthday party;
it's in the sinister voice of the Liar who prods me to look at every other missionary's numbers and compare.

More often sneaks in disguised in good intentions.....
"I need to be a better Christian."
"I need to be a better wife."
"I need to be a better mama."
"I need to be a better missionary."
He ties my thoughts and emotions into knots.

But More?
He is a thief and a liar.
And just like I would never allow a real thief and liar into my house without a fight,
I must choose to do the same with this one.

I start by speaking truth.

I'm a mama of bigs and littles.
We play and cry and make messes.
There is silverware scattered on my kitchen floor most hours of most days.
Many times supper is nutritious and hopefully tasty.
Picture worthy?
Not usually.

On some days, there are tears and raised voices and lazy kiddos and a frustrated mama.
Most days there are letters on my walls, and many times they are drawn there with marker or crayon.
Some days the babes get to play on the grass, and some days I don't see sunshine at all.
On many days, there are princesses running through my house leaving a huge mess of a bedroom in their wake.
There are more dirty diapers than I care to count, and a two-and-a-half year old who is still trying to get this thing called potty-training.

I don't have ten hours to read my Bible and pray every day.
There is no sustained quiet time in this house.
I'm lucky to get the babies to nap for twenty minutes at the same time so I can rush back to the school room and work a little more with the older two before I have to get lunch on the table.

This is my life right now.
This is truth.

The fact that I am not enough?
That is true, too.
And when I accept that......
what weapon does More have against me?

Lord, help me today to remember that even though I am not enough, You are. Help me to accept the forgiveness you so freely offer when I do wrong, and choose to accept your strength to do right the next time. Settle my heart in truth. Draw me near and whisper that my worth is found in You alone.
Thank you for giving me this life. Amen.  

Tuesday, July 1, 2014


Our life lately has been made up of big, important, momentous things.
We've had lots of trips to the capital, and surgery, and family and friends come to visit.
We've made trips, and seen God provide abundantly for our needs, and rushed from place to place, and activity after activity.

We've gotten behind in school work, and house work, and the day to day things that usually must be done for life to go forward.
We've had lots of loud days, vibrant days, days filled to the brim and dripping over with excitement.
Days packed full of fun, days crammed full of memories we won't soon forget.
Days bubbling over with laughter and silliness and stories and games.

And now......
we've had to say too many good-byes....
good-byes to new friends and old,
those new to our lives, and those dear to our hearts.

We are in the quiet days of after......

They are part of our life.
This life that God has called us to often asks to be still and accepting
after the miracles,
after the big days,
after the trips,
after the loved ones leave,
after the excitement,
but not 
after Him.

In these quiet days, we find He is right here with us
showing us the way to slip back into the everyday,
back into this beautiful daily-ness we call our life.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

A Trade-Off

We've had a just a scant two weeks home from Lili's surgery.
Scraping, painting, sanding, cleaning, and rearranging have filled every spare minute.
And like most of us, those "extra" minutes are really just added on top of an already full schedule.
Mom, Dad, and a friend will arrive in the capital tomorrow night for a two week stay.
We will leave out on a bus early tomorrow morning to be there in time to get them.

Between a washing machine that keeps flooding, the water being sporadic and the laundry piling up, and an eight-month old who is cutting three teeth at once, we've had some long days {and longer nights!}
But these, THESE are the days I'm thankful for wise mentors.

As a very young mother, I was given the advice to make sure my kids knew they were needed. That hasn't always been an easy task, and I've not always followed through, but now, in these busy, whirl-wind days, I see the teaching bearing fruit.
My older two kiddos have jumped in with willing hands and hearts, and they've been nothing but a help as we've sprinted toward our finish line.

They've even done their best to decorate the room for our friend with what they could find....including the pictures that were taken off their bedroom walls when we repainted and a Trojan horse left over from a school project.

So some of our projects won't be done.

That's okay.

We've worked hard together.
My kids have gained some confidence knowing that we couldn't have done this without them.
And we'll have a few weeks with those we love.
A pretty good trade-off, I'd say.