Thursday, August 16, 2018

Lessons From a Roller Coaster Ride

My 10-year-old niece is a thrill seeker!   She loves amusement parks and there is no ride too scary for her.   My sister enjoys them too but a brain tumor has removed her ability to enjoy them without consequences.  She can ride the rides, but she won't be able to drive the car home afterwards.   Therefore,  she packs a to-do-list and makes phone calls while my thrill-seeking-niece rides.   Dolly and I went along with them for a trip this summer.   Dolly would ride with the thrill-seeker and my sister and I could have that time together.   I got to ride some too!   It was a fun day of getting to know my sister and my quiet yet fearless niece.

My sister suggested I ride a roller coaster with the girls.   The ride beat you up, dropped you down and of course went fast.  I had to keep coaching myself to not stiffen up but to be a "wet noodle" to enjoy the ride.    One part of the roller coaster ride took a steep dive into the dark.   The ride drops through a dark tunnel and I was unable to see what lies ahead.  I noticed that I was totally relaxed!   I had not just mastered the "wet noodle" but I was in "lay at the beach mode!"   I wasn't coaching myself to relax it just happened.   Starring into the darkness, I was able to enjoy the ride.   The Lord spoke to my heart at that point and said, "Remember this!"  

What lies ahead for our family is unknown, darkness.   But I experienced the peace that the Lord wants to give me on that silly roller coaster.   He is a sovereign God-He knows what He is doing and it is for my good and His glory!!!    So this next chapter of my life, I will buckle my seatbelt, keep my hands inside of the car, and try to be a "wet noodle" and rest in the hands of the God who controls the roller coasters of this life.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Stripped Away: My Journey in Denying Myself

My "word" of the year is "Deny Thyself."   Each year the Lord lays a word on my heart and I get to watch it unfold.  This year...….WOW!    Month-by-month I see this unfold.

January I was challenged to deny myself U.S. treats while we were in on furlough. So long sugar for the month of January.   Deny Thyself

In February, God called me to deny myself in the relationships with the missionary staff we lived and worked with.  Serve and honor them above myself.  Deny Thyself

March, the mission's parent organization sent in 2 representatives that told us we were going under a new parent organization.  This was a big change that came with many more changes.  Deny Thyself

April, the new organization stepped in.....it was like a step parent and we were all trying to figure out how this worked.  Deny Thyself

May, we were asked to leave the organization and the country we loved. Deny Thyself

June, we left our home, life, ministries, animals, many possessions, and friends of the last 4 years. Deny Thyself 

We were scheduled for a furlough later in June so we continued with the plans we had made.   A week of that was to go to beach where family members graciously share their condo with us.  It was a much needed time of rest and stillness.

One day while at the condo, Mark took the children to do an activity.  I was willing to go but there would be more room if I did not go and a financial savings.   He agreed to take the kids on his own and I stayed back to sweep a layer of sand off of the floor and do some laundry and clean up the condo. 

After I finished cleaning up a bit, I grabbed the book I was reading (vacation reading-a series our youngest was reading and wanting me to read it too!) and went down to lay in the sun by the pool.   I enjoy reading, swimming, the sun, and alone time....now, my secret is out!

As I was laying there I could hear the lady next to me parenting her children while they played and splashed and complained and all things kids do.  I listened because unlike other times, I was in her flip-flops with the same role.   As I laid there appearing to not have a care in the world, I wondered if people's opinion of me would be different if they knew my husband and I were unemployed and our family was essential homeless (cause legally, we are.)

I thought how I appeared to be without a care.  NO spouse to tend to.   NO children to care for.  At that moment, I did not have those responsibilities.  I was not being a WIFE or  a MOTHER..   The thought lingered, I am not a MISSIONARY, a title that I realized I had some pride wrapped up in at times.   Geez, I was not even a MINISTER'S WIFE and my certificates from the states to declare me a teacher have been expired for years, I wasn't a TEACHER either!  As I laid there considering who I wasn't, the Lord spoke to me boldly and said but, "YOU ARE MINE."  He impressed on me that this is the ONLY title I need in life and everything else is lame in comparison.  

I laid in the sunshine with a smile on my face.  I don't need titles.   I thanked the Lord for this rocky season has purpose in my life and He allowed me to see it.  They Lord was calling me to DENY the titles in my life that I thought defined who I was, cause they don't!  

That evening I feed the family (because I can deny the title in giving me worth but not the people reflected by the title.)   I had a few quiet minutes with My Dear after clean-up and shared with him what the Lord had told me.  He's response was with wide eyes and a big smile and he said, "Romans 1:1, God told me the same thing!"

So in June, I learned to deny myself of the titles that I think define me because the only one that really matters is that I am His.    I AM A CHILD OF GOD!  


Saturday, May 5, 2018

Why Change is Associated with Dirty Diapers

A couple of weeks ago, I posted on FB a list of blogs my head had written that week.  The thought of change and dirty diapers came to mind as change is going on at the mission and frankly, it has been hard and stinky!    It seemed to be a direct correlation to diaper changing.  At the time, the title made me smile a bit but I did not realize how big that change would be.

Only a few days shy of 4 years, our family will leave our home in the beautiful Kenscoff Mountains. We have prayed many, many times about our being here over the years as the Lord has held yet refined us through the struggles.  The Lord, knowing we were here until we heard clearly from Him,  made it crystal clear.   The mission is now under a new parent organization.   With the new direction the mission will be going, our services are no longer needed.   We will go in grace and gratitude for all the Lord has shown us here.  What a beautiful place this is...with beautiful people.  

At this time, we have no definite plans.  The Lord continues to refine us, we are still relying on Him.  We were scheduled for  furlough so we will continue on for a few weeks as if on furlough.  Although, we will not be speaking about the mission or "peddling our wares" of Mountain Maid products.   My Dear's desire to preach and share the word has not gone away and in fact has grown.   He has missed this being in Haiti but has found some ways to teach outside of his obligations.   

We are trying to prepare others for our leaving but balls will be dropped.  We are trying to prepare our children as well...whatever that looks like.   We have found refuge with family members.  "Can get rooms for 5 and 2 'normal' critters please?"   Dolly is transitioning other animals to their new homes and is thrilled to match them with people who are happy about their new pets!

We have gone through all sorts of emotions but My Dear and I have peace.   The children will grieve (and I will likely join them) as we say good-bye to what has become safe, comfortable, predictable.... where friends are.....you know, home!

Some prayer request might be:
I want our kiddos to transition well. I pray seeds are planted and roots are deep as they leave the safe comfort of a community of believers that spur them on (and call them out!)
I pray that work through the emotions of missing 4 years in their home country where their friends have moved on and grown through their own experiences that are very different from what our children have experienced....there are no gunned security officers at WalMart and it is okay to go out after dark.  
I pray for what's next....job, home, town, ministry.....  
I pray that we will not be a burden on others as we come back with little but need to dump the little we have in their homes and move in with them.
I pray that we end well.  That our coming was a testimony and that our going will be as well.  That it will be a testimony of our faith in the God that sent us and is calling us back to the states. We can TOTALLY trust HIM!!!!
I pray that we have loved well cause we are not out of the country just yet.

What a FANTASTIC JOURNEY this has been!   Change may be associated with dirty diapers but babies are worth it....so is following our sovereign God! 

Lord, thank you for what you have taught us here, for the people you have shown to us to love and the struggles you have pulled us through.  Thank you for what we have learned about denying ourselves.   God, You are FAITHFUL!



Thursday, February 1, 2018

Clothesline Blessings

We have been back in country for a full week now.   The first few days were harder than I expected.  I assume it is the change in altitude and a late flight followed by an early flight that knocked me off of my feet.   I don't recall ever sleeping that hard.   (I am glad to know that I can still do it!)

We enjoyed the beauty of the snow when we were out.  The coziness of homes with  double-paned windows, insulation and heat kept us comfortable when it was cold outside.   In fact, I shared with My Dear that I was warmer at night in the states than I am in our mountain home.

Upon our return, I stood at the clothesline with a fresh appreciation for the sunshine that we were getting and how warm the blankets on the line felt.   I have stood at the clothesline many times with gratitude.  On this day, I looked at the t-shirt quilt that My Dear's mom made for Billy before our move.  It was such a precious gift for a boy who was leaving all things familiar and loved behind.   Every baseball, basketball and soccer team he was ever on is represented in the quilt along with the sleeve of his gee and a football jersey.  He only got to play football for one year as My Dear and I knew it was a now or never for him, as the Lord was calling us to the island.   I am thankful for the opportunities, friends, and lessons he learned through those experiences.   Beside the quilt hung a blanket we actually bought at a truck-stop when we came to the states for the first time in cold weather.  It was a sorrowful visit that the Lord held us through and that truck-stop blanket was a thrill for a little girl who was cold and provided comfort for her.  The Lord wrapped His arms around all of us much like our little darlin' was wrapped in that truck-stop blanket.   A doll blanket hung on the line that "Mamaw" made.  I was home from church with a sick little girl, years ago.  "Mamaw," a lady who took us under her wing when we moved north, sent the blanket so the little mama could care for her baby doll.   I just looked at these items and smiled at how God continues to meet all of our needs and often in unexpected ways.  He is our Provider.  He is our loving Father who knows our needs and meets us where we are.  He is our Comforter and wraps us with love like a truck-stop blanket and much like a blanket from a truck-stop might require, He leads us to see the beauty in the broken.  Thank you Lord for showing me glimpses of You, even at the clothesline.  

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

A Lesson For the Teacher

Friday afternoons I get to hang out with some pretty cool people for English class.  This class is not required for anyone, for anything, and there is no accountability to be there.   It allows for us to have fun together and does not demand a scope and sequence which makes it fun to teach too!

Recently, in class, I talked a bit about social rules for Americans.   There are many visitors to the mission and probably just as many eager students who want to practice speaking English.  I recall being approached by them when we first moved here and feeling a bit uncomfortable.   Funny enough, I asked two female interns about how they felt because my initial feeling of discomfort are gone and well, this is my normal now.

We talked about "personal bubbles," approaching a man vs. approaching a woman, touching or not touching....just STUFF that is cultural that we don't even think about.   I will confess that sometimes when we discuss American culture, I find myself considering normal things Americans do, being odd. The same is true when we reentry to the states.   For example, while in Florida, when the sun went down, people go out on the beach wearing matching clothing to get their pictures made.  They make pretty pictures.  We have done it but it just looked odd to see it every night.   I giggled with my friend about the color of the night.  Normal stuff, it just looked odd after living in another culture even if I do still live like an American.

In English class, it came up in discussion, that you should ask someone if they have time to speak with you.   If you see someone who is in a hurry, be respectful of their time and assume they can not talk right now.  Arnold, an older gentleman (meaning older than me), raised his hand and attempted to communicate in English but soon gave up and allowed the other students to translate.   His questions were,

"Are Americans really that busy all of the time?  When do they talk to people?"

The interns and I just looked at one another.   They shared with the students that people have coffee together, share a meal together, text one another, or call one another on the phone.   But the question penetrated our hearts.  In this culture, you greet a lady with a kiss.   You ask a person how they are, how their family is, and sometimes you even hear locals asking one another if they have eaten today so to share some food with them.   But, we Americans are so busy getting things accomplished that we ask one another how we are doing while we are walking away!   We don't even stand still long enough to wait for a response.  In fact, when we lived in the states, I no longer allowed myself to say "How are you?" because so many people said it but really did not care of the response.  I wanted to be intentional with what I said.  Even as an American in another culture, I catch myself being too "busy" to stop and chat.  I do have obligations, responsibilities, and time commitments but I don't think the Lord called us to be THAT busy OR THAT obligated. 

The Holy Spirit convicted my heart with each question they asked.  How many times do I work away at home and neglect to "give my face" not just my ears to one of our children or even my husband?   How many times was my visit so short that someone did not feel comfortable getting to what they really needed to talk about?

I am task oriented.   God made me that way but He also gave me two ears to hear, two eyes to see,  the gift of salvation through Jesus Christ, and a world of people who need to know Him.   







Wednesday, April 5, 2017

All God!

In February 2014, there was a children's conference in KY.   My heart was heavy the entire weekend. My Dear had taken the children to NC to visit grandparents while I was away.   We were trying to cushion our children during a difficult time but My Dear and I knew I should continue with my plans.

I sat in a seminar and the speaker shared about a child that was a part of her children's ministry.  Shelby had a passion for raising funds so kids in Haiti could go to camp.   I listened to how she walked along side of this child and fostered her passion.

After the session, I waited for the classroom to clear out.   I stepped forward to talk with Missy, the speaker.   My voice began to shake as I held a secret that was wrecking my heart.   My friend Fay was with me and I had already shared my secret with her....in fact, the Lord had spoken to Fay before He spoke to me.  The Lord knew I would need this as one day Fay told me she was praying for me....her sister-in-law had just said the same thing to me but they had not talked to one another.  I thought little of it because they have prayed for me for years.  But this time, it seemed different.   I asked Fay, "What is it that you are praying?"   Her expression became serious.   Fay is a wise woman of faith and difficult times in her life have molded her into a spiritual giant that sits weakly at the feet of Jesus.  Fay spoke, "Do not be afraid."   I knew change was coming for me and this moment was additional confirmation.

Fay walked with me to the front of the classroom but stood back a bit.  She knew my heart battle.  I   I stepped before Missy and mentioned that the camp that the child was giving to was part of Baptist Haiti Mission.   She confirmed that it was.   I then shared with her that the following morning, My Dear would stand before some precious people that we love and that have loved us well and tell them that we are moving to Haiti.   Missy was quick to ask about my prayer needs which I am sure were many.   But I had 2 sad children and 1 that was still a bit young to understand the changes that would lie ahead.

I emailed Missy a few times after the conference just updating her and then life happened and we lost touch.  

UNTIL.....

Last week, Missy made her first trip to Haiti!    I went to introduce myself to her and some other ladies and she threw  her arms open and said, "I know who you are!"    Then I knew who she was too!  I was told a children's minister would be coming and a bit more and realized I had met Missy.  She was THE Missy that I had poured request for my children out to.  She was outside of my world and someone I could trust with this information.  She didn't know me, but she knew I was hanging on with a thread that our obedience to follow Christ would not screw-up our children.  (Frankly, I can mess them up all by myself, I didn't need any more help!)

Missy shared with me, when we talked, that she prays but often doesn't see the answers.   But to see our kids and how well they are doing, she sees the answer to her prayers.    It was such a HUGE dig for my heart!  

Missy had never been to Haiti.  She learned about our ministry at Crossings Camps (the same way we learned about BHM.)   She walked alongside of Shelby with her passion for Haiti, but not until last week was she able to wrap her heart around it.   With that being said, I think I will see Missy again on our island!

Isn't God good to wrap our hearts together!   I steal the line from Twila Paris often, "How Beautiful is the Body of Christ!"

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Day of Rest

I have learned there is no consistency to what my day of rest might look like.   Today's was very different but I can honestly say, it was a good day!

Snoozed the alarm 3 times for church.  You should know that I am not a "snoozer."  This was not a good start.

Instructed the big kids last night to set their alarms.   Fussing to prepare for church is no longer an issue for me.  They do it themselves and if they are not there when it starts, there are consequences in the area of their free time.  THIS is liberating for me!  And big sister woke little sister for me...who had a new dress so you only had to tell her once to get ready.

We came home from church and read a chapter in our book together and prayed.

I put on a pair of jeans and a long sleeve shirt.  It felt like spring here today but our concrete house is much like a cave.  I have to wear a skirt anytime I leave our housing area.   Few businesses are open on Sunday or at least have limited hours so I rarely go anywhere.  Sunday afternoon is jean day!

We watched a "cheesy Jesus movie" as Billy called it.   It had some pretty valuable points in it about the book of Hosea.  Cheesy? maybe, but we all watched it together and no one really complained about it.

I made a pot of chili and we invited an intern to come over and eat with us.   My Dear has been out all weekend and I was sure he would be hungry when he got home this evening so the chili would work for that too.

I finished reading the book, For Women Only.  I wish I had that book 15-20 years ago.   Valuable information for wives.  I "lucked" upon it when my friend accidently left it here at the mission.  I was repacking it for her and decided I should read it before sending it to her....she agreed!  (Thanks Tracy.)   This is an excellent read for newly married couples and there is a For Men Only as well.  It is suggested that the wife read the book about women and make notes in it for the husband and visa versa.  I can see how truly valuable that would be.   I think at this point in our lives, My Dear could write his own book about living with me.  (He has me pegged!)

I jumped on the trampoline by myself.   My body is neglected in this area.  Our neighbors are close. I have been shy about doing that because I would be seen.  You know what, they don't care.

Electricity came on, so I sucked the little insect wings that cling to the concrete ceiling down.   This sounds like work but when you sit down and they are staring at you....when there is no electricity....yes, it was a PLEASURE to suck'm up!

Washing dishes are usually a burden to me but I do like a tidy kitchen...as rare as it is.   I boiled some water and took care of the dishes and wiped down the counter tops and felt ACCOMPLISHED! 

Laid down to take a nap and had to move the cat over then the dog found me.  We usually keep a critter free bed, but My Dear was gone and well, they are sweet when they are asleep.

Jumped on the trampoline with Miss B and rolled around and hugged, giggled, and played.

Chatted with my neighbor and loved on Baby Harper for a bit.

Watched online as a friend gave testimony of Christ's work in his life.  Thankful for the invitation.  After he shared his story, his brother came before the church to share that he desired a relationship with Jesus Christ.  How about that for awesome!

Today,

I enjoyed my home.

I enjoyed the beautiful weather and cleaned up in the yard a bit.  That was a joy because I was moving around a bit and enjoying the beautiful sunshine.

I spent some time with my kiddos and see now that one got less time than the others. (Gotta get that time in this week.)

I thanked God.

I allowed God to love on me.

I made note of the work He has and continues to do in my life.

I am thankful for a day of rest AND that My Dear arrived home safely, the electricity came on long enough for him to get a shower and he had a wonderful weekend out sharing Jesus.