Thursday, May 28, 2015

Staying {here}

Farewell to Silja (far left)
Transition. It never gets easier. And it doesn't necessarily have to be you who is leaving in order to feel the effects of transition. Two families on our team are heading back to the states for 6 months, and four families will be arriving/returning in the next two months. We are one of two families on our team who are staying through this summer without getting on an airplane!

Staying means we get to welcome. But staying also means we have to say goodbye.

We just had a farewell brunch for a friend from my Friday Bible study. We have had those moments of exchanging gifts, speaking truth into one another's lives, affirming what God did in our friendship, hugging and praying over her. It has been bittersweet. And as I reflect on the 9 months I've known her, I see God's goodness in bringing the friends I need at just the right time. He knew I would need Silja just as much as she needed me. And He knit our hearts together bit by bit every Friday as we opened the Word and prayed. And now I know if I ever need a place to sleep in Finland I've got one.

Friendship as a missionary is tricky, and hard, and painful. But it is also necessary and beautiful. I need local friends, I need friends back home and I need other expat friends. My life is richer and more beautiful because of these relationships and each one adds a unique dimension to my life. My rag garland (pictured left) is a daily reminder of friends I've said goodbye to, but who have added so much beauty to my life. And as I stay the garland will only get prettier!

Sometimes staying means doing the hard work of building community, even when you would rather curl up in a blanket and read a book. Sometimes staying means saying the hard goodbyes. And sometimes staying means being the welcoming committee (which is, by far, my favorite!).  It is my prayer that I {we} would never grow weary in doing the good work of building relationships, just because it's hard and the goodbyes are painful. I want a tender heart that that loves the people He has placed in my path- whether they are here a week or stay forever.

Sometimes I'm the leaver. Sometimes I'm the stayer. So grateful for the One Who never moves. Watch this.

Linking up at the Grove on the topic of "staying".

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Two Whole Months

Where do you even begin when it's been almost two months since your last blog post?!

Do you try to catch up? Do you share just the highlights? Do you ignore all these things and just pretend that two months is no big deal? Do you give all the reasons why you have been too busy to blog?? Do you stumble all over yourself apologizing and making empty promises to do better this month?

What do you want to read after a blog absence?

The Last Two Months {by the numbers}

  • 1.5 - pounds Baby #4 has gained (generally babies at this stage go from 1 lb to 2 .5 lbs)
  • 5:00- the time Elizabeth has been waking up recently
  • 2- the birthdays our family has celebrated in the past two months
  • 60- the number of people who have come to our house for a meal, a small group, a prayer meeting or coffee.
  • 4- the number of overnight guests we've hosted the past two months.
  • 45x2- the number of lunches I've packed
  • 1- the number of Bible studies I've taught
  • 228- the number of diapers I've changed (low-ball estimate)
  • 48- the number of loads of laundry 
  • 121- the number of times I've read "Are You My Mother?" to Elizabeth
  • 85- the number of beautiful pregnant or new mamas I worshiped with yesterday in the slums



So there you have it. Blogging has just taken a back-burner to life. And that's the way it should be. I'm tending the hearts He has entrusted to me. But have no fear, what He is working into my life will make for some great posts in the future {when I can sit and write uninterrupted, or, you know, when I can think two consecutive thoughts}. 

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

What to do when your life looks mostly like this:

toddler in my lap. baby bump (due August 1). grilled cheese. watching Backyardigans.

I may have been sent to Uganda, but my everyday probably looks a lot like yours, perhaps with better weather.

We are all called to go into all the world and make disciples. Most days I can do that from my living room, or my laptop. You might do that through your bank account, your prayer closet, or your neighborhood playground.

If you are anything like me, though, it doesn't always happen. I don't gather my kids around the Bible everyday. I don't pray for them like I should. I can rush through a whole day cooking, chasing, resting... without ever glancing in His direction. This is why I needed the word "tend" this year. I need to be intentional. I want to tend my little flock well.

I've discovered there are a few things I can do daily that help me remember that I am a "sent one":

  • Stay in the Word, especially the Gospels. Even if it's just one verse to cling to for a whole week- write it somewhere you will see it. And keep clinging!
  • Ask Him what He wants you to tend today. I've given up on living a "balanced" life- ebb and flow is much more realistic. And as I ask Him what to tend He gives me His assignment for the day (and it's generally way more do-able than the list I have in my head)- some days it's baking for my people, other days it's reaching out to other missionary women. Sometimes He reminds me to tend to my husband, and occasionally He says "Let Me tend you today". And when I accept His assignment I don't have to feel guilty that I am not being all things to all men every moment! Hallelujah! Such freedom in obedience!
  • Surround yourself with other women in the same season of life. And encourage each other in your mission! It has been a blessing to join a weekly Bible study targeted at pregnant mamas in a nearby slum. Not only do I get to minister by my very presence at this Bible study, I am in their same season of life. It is good for me to be reminded of the vital ministry we have to our children and future generations!
  • Don't compare! You are uniquely sent wherever you are. He didn't send anyone else. Embrace your role and your season and make disciples! {totally preaching to myself as I wish I could be a tad more productive these days}
What season are you in? What does disciple-making look like for you?



Friday, February 27, 2015

Community: The beautiful, the ugly, and the yet to be...

Play Group: August 2014
Wow! We are seven months in.

We are only seven months in.

This is a marathon, not a sprint. It's a four-year term. There have been some sweet moments of community-like this play group (but it sadly falls right in the midst of morning nap), and my Bible study ladies, our mentor sessions with the Metz's and my coffee dates with Abbey. And there have been some disappointments, the not quite clicking, the friends already preparing to leave, etc. This expat community stuff is not for the weak.

Or maybe weak is exactly what I need to be... humility and serving one another in love are two crucial components of community. I not only need to give, but receive. It was so beautifully said in this post:
"Community is not found- it is built, one brick of love at a time."
And the other beautiful thing is that God is still here. He is drawing me closer to His heart, refining me in this hard season, and allowing me to yearn for that glorious Someday. Someday there will be no more tears, no more goodbyes... and until then, we can love fiercely the ones He has placed in front of us. I don't want to quit engaging just because it's hard. He has brought dear friends into my life in the past, and He will do it again.

I don't know about you, but I want to know and be known, and so I'll build, one love brick at a time.

{linking up at the Grove: Community}

And so inspired by these posts:

6 People that Kill Community (oh, I'm guilty of playing a couple of these roles)
Cracks in Community
Love Like a Gangster
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