Wednesday, November 18, 2015

I Can't Handle Any More Change

Well, it's November. And yep, we were supposed to be back in the Philippines in October. I can't even count how many times our plans have been changed and how many times I have been asked, "Now, when are you leaving again?" Don't get me wrong- I LOVE my little home in the desert, being here for the holidays, Starbucks red cups, Target, (mom sigh)... but my heart is ready to go back.

My friend and I were joking around the other day talking about how we anticipate/dread our husbands coming home for lunch because we never know what new plan has hatched that day that changes everything. Well, today was one of those days. My husband and I started talking about something that has recently happened that could change our plans yet again. I had already considered this possibility in my head last week, but hearing him voice it out loud made my heart lurch. Outwardly, I think I smiled and made some comment about how God is in control, but inside I was screaming- "I CAN'T HANDLE ANYMORE CHANGE."

I have tried to be really chill about it. To others, I have seemed really chill about it. And the Lord has really done a huge work in my heart over the last few years in teaching me to be flexible and trusting Him. And I do trust Him, but that doesn't make it easy.

For a while, there was a quote going around- "God doesn't give us more than we can handle." Don't mean to hurt anyone's feelings, but that's a lie. All through Scripture and all through life, God allows people to experience more than they can handle. Because it is then that He really becomes our strength because we can't handle it. But oh- it is still hard, Hard, HARD!

Pray for me guys. We have 3 big moves coming up in the next 4-5 months, lots of goodbyes, traveling, and expenses. I seriously don't even know where we will be in a few weeks.

The Lord keeps whispering to my heart- "I don't change. I'm always the same. Always there. And I am for you, not against you. I never change."

Friday, April 24, 2015

I Have Become An Ostrich

I have become an ostrich...

When you read the news, click on the link, or that article and an overwhelming sense of sadness and helplessness comes over you, because what can you really do? So much suffering. So much poverty. Babies being killed. Women and children being sold for their bodies. People starving. No clean water. No education. Brutality. No religious freedom. Disease rampant. People who have never even heard the name of Jesus. If you have the courage to even lift your head out of the sand for a second, you are so moved and overwhelmed by the ugliness, the evil, the sadness of it all, you just stick your head back in the sand. For me, living in a third world country, it's not just pictures on the news. It's real people I'm seeing.

Sometimes I feel pulled a thousand different ways. I want to stop abortion. I want to help the poor. I want to put an end to human trafficking. I want to get food and water to those who don't have any. I want to be a doctor and help sick people in third world countries. I want to teach people to read. I want them to be able to worship God without persecution. I want every unreached people group to hear the name of Jesus. But I can't. Most days, I don't even leave my house. Who am I kidding anyway?

I feel deeply. I am deeply moved by things. Sometimes to the point that I can't function. When a friend found out she had cancer yet again, I couldn't get off the couch for hours. A couple of years ago, I asked God to show me things the way He sees them, to love like He loves, & to care how he cares. Well, be careful what you pray. Because He answers and sometimes it is more than you can handle.

What do you do? Once I realize I can't do all these things, I basically just give up and do nothing. So very helpless. I am one person in a HUGE world of evil.

But I am one person in a HUGE world of evil with an even BIGGER God, the LIGHT of the world in me. I am not called to all those things. Yes, I know I say this a lot. But I have to remind myself a lot.

I just finished reading, "Rhinestone Jesus: Saying Yes to God When Sparkly, Safe Faith is No Longer Enough" by Kristen Welch. (Highly Recommend by the way). She talks about how one small "yes" to God started her down the path of starting a non-profit organization in India for pregnant girls. One person and one yes. God led her down a path and gave her a passion and that is what she and family do. It is their calling. But that is not my calling. It's hers.

My mama raised 16 kids. 16!!!!! She gave herself and her life to giving kids life who wouldn't have had a chance otherwise. But that is not my calling. It's hers.

I have many dear friends who live in the jungles, hot and sweaty, sometimes with no power or water, for months and years of their lives, bringing the name of Jesus to those who have never heard. But that is not my calling. It's theirs.

I have family in politics, real estate, doctors and nurses, anthropologists, and writers. I have friends who run organizations to help people get clean water, stop human trafficking, and end abortion. But that is not my calling. It is theirs.

Our family is in a bit of a transition time right now. The job that we have trained for years for and spent thousands of dollars on, being a missionary pilot family, has come to an end. We have been filling in here and there for the last few months here in the Philippines and are coming back to the states for a little while to help with some things there, then back to the Philippines again. But we don't know what we are coming back to.  We believe that God has called us to serve here in the Philippines, but it could be something totally different. In other words, sometimes God changes your callings. But some callings never change.

God called me to be a missionary when I was 11 years old and that will never change, even if the location or "job" does. God has called me to be passionate, pray for, and support those who are on the front lines bringing Jesus' name to the unreached. God has called me to be a wife and that calling won't change until "death do us part."

You know the ostrich? Well, it is actually a myth about ostriches burying their heads in the sand. They build their nests and lay their eggs in a hole in the sand. They constantly check on, tend to, and turn the eggs by poking their head down in the hole. Um...yeah. She's taking care of her babies. God has called me to be a mother. To tend to and care for my babies. But she doesn't live with her head in the hole. There is a world too. An evil world outside that hole that must be dealt with. And one day, her babies will be out there too. And there are some of you who don't have babies. But I guarantee there are some eggs that need looking after! Young mommies, old grandmas...the list is endless. Together, if we all say "YES", by the power of our God we serve, the world will be changed.

I would love to hear from you how you balance the time of your head being in the hole and out of it. How do you get involved in things you are passionate about without completely overloading yourself?

So basically. Be an ostrich. Tend to your eggs, but don't shut the world out. Ask God what your "yes" should be. And for now, it may be only to your family. But that, my dears is a high calling!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

When You Just Can't Say Goodbye

Every single morning. Every morning, when I woke up, I thought about it and knew that I couldn't do it. It loomed over my head like a cloud. I just could not say goodbye.

The months leading up to our departure for the Philippines 6 years ago, I looked forward to going, but I dreaded the day that I would have to say goodbye to my mom and dad. I could not do it. When I say my family is close, I don't just mean your typical family closeness. I mean CLOSE. We have no secrets. We tell each other everything. We have walked through some of the most horrible, nightmarish things together and become closer. I talked to my parents at least once a day. How could I leave them behind?

Goodbyes are a huge part of missionary life. Just ask my kids. You get settled somewhere (which only takes about a week now), and then you leave or someone else leaves. Constant goodbyes.

From the very beginning, other missionaries had told me about this and so I started praying. "Lord, teach us how to say goodbye well. Help us to love people to the fullest even though we know that we will have to say goodbye." I also added, a little selfishly, "And please, Lord. Give us new family wherever we go..."

Well, the day came, a hot summer day in July. Our entire family, extended family, & friends came to the airport to send us off. As we told each person goodbye, the knot in my stomach kept growing as I knew my parents were getting closer and closer. And then it was there. I remember shaking and crying as they wrapped their arms around me. They told me how much they loved me, how proud they were, and to go with their blessing. And my mom said her famous words, "It will all be ok." She slid a beautiful ring on my finger to remind me of her and we turned with our bags, our 4 and 2 year old and took the first step on our new adventure.

It wasn't until I sit down in my seat on the plane, that I realized the moment I had dreaded for so long was gone. And I also realized something else. I didn't do it. HE did. He gave me all I needed in that moment. No amount of worrying or fearing could prepare me for that moment. He didn't give me what I needed before the moment.

My brother, Dan
Many goodbyes have been said since then and I can definitely say that they don't get easier, but I don't dread them as much because I know that HE always comes through.

Oh, and remember that last little selfishly said prayer? Ha!

Back in 2006, the Lord led several families to start missionary training together, several of them being with New Tribes Mission Aviation, like us. Today, 9 years later, 5 of us serve on the same field together as a team. Our kids have been born and grown up together. We have moved together, learned language & culture together, gone through fun times and hard times, and lived life together.


He has given us an awesome group of tribal church planters to serve here on our island and many of them have become some of our very best friends.

Elsie & Gilbert
(Elsie has lived with us for 6 years & married Gilbert in 2013. They are some of our very best friends.)
One of my dearest friends, Philippa, & my "mom," Julie
The kids with some of their dearest friends, Naomi, Lydia, & Evie
I am so very humbled to think of that little prayer I murmured so many years ago and to look at the big ways God has answered. I still miss my family in America, but God has given me a new family here. A new home that I miss just as much when I'm gone. No one will ever take the place of my family, my parents, my brother, my nieces and nephews, but my sweet and loving Father God has given me more people to love- more parents, more brothers and sisters, more nieces and nephews than I ever would have had I never said that first goodbye. 

My niece in America, Makayla 
My "nephew" & "nieces"- Judah, Zoey, & Izzy
Don't worry. Don't be afraid to say goodbye. Whether it is just for a time or saying goodbye to someone in death. May it do to you what it has for us- be blessed with more people to love and look forward with even more excitement to the land of NO MORE GOODBYES! And family forever!

"Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it." -Mt. 10:37-39

Thursday, February 19, 2015

The Honest Truth From This Missionary Wife- My Field Is Too Small

I knew I would be doing this. But I thought I'd be doing more. Something bigger. I thought I'd be out among the people letting my little light shine, talking about Jesus every moment, leading lots of people to Christ. What I'm doing day in and day out, I could be doing anywhere. In any country. I AM A MISSIONARY FOR CRYING OUT LOUD!!!

The alarm goes off at 6:15 and I roll over and put my pillow over my head as I groggily wait for my coffee (that my sweet hubby makes every morning). No one ever accused me of being a morning person. By the time I actually get up and quietly sneak around getting ready, I sit down with my Bible and coffee at the exact time my 10-year old son bursts through the door with the entourage of dogs to say good morning and talk about something he remembered from Star Wars. I nod my head, try to look happy, listen to something about Darth Vader, pat the dogs, and send them out to do chores, really wondering how in the world he times it like that every morning. My 8 year old sweet pea comes a few minutes later still in pajamas wanting to snuggle...and so goes my "quiet time" for the morning.

After breakfast, I gather the dirty clothes and walk downstairs to the outdoor basement to do laundry. I really do like doing laundry, (I know I'm weird), and I love drying the clothes on the clothesline. The wind is blowing, the palm trees are swaying, and the sun is shining. But all I see is the dog poop all over the yard and the latest thing the puppy has torn up. Make a mental note to clean that up later.

After I send Josh off on whatever awesome thing he is doing that day, I call the kids into start school, usually with protests asking if they can finish whatever it is they are in the middle of that is so hugely important. School goes along reading about the Industrial Revolution, giving spelling tests, and fighting our way with bad attitudes through math. Science projects are always a little funky in this climate, but we try our best. Lunch follows with house cleaning and errands. Supper, a little family time, a story (we just finished Winnie-The-Pooh), prayers and bed for the kids.

At the end of the day, I climb into bed with my book and wonder what in the world I did today...and what did I do different than someone who isn't a missionary. Any number of my friends in my home country did exactly what I did today, except maybe used a dryer rather than a clothesline. I could have done what I did today in America, except it would be more fun because I would be near friends, have Starbucks & Dr. Pepper, do my shopping at Target, maybe go to a Bible study or have someone over for dinner.

To be perfectly honest, this is not how I imagined my life as a missionary. And if you didn't pick it up, sometimes I feel like my husband is the REAL missionary. Oh my gosh, I said it.

I have struggled with this on and off since we arrived on the field 6 years ago. There have been times where I have felt more like a missionary- learning language, flying in and seeing friends in the villages, being a part of Bible dedication. But what about all the times in between? The everyday life. The "Simply Tuesdays" as Emily Freeman, one of my favorite writers calls them.

I always have wanted BIG things. Big impact. Big results. Big revelations. But so, so often, God says "little." Be faithful in the small things.

Am I ok with my "mission field" being my home? My own house and those who live in it? The Filipino couple who lives with us? My neighbors?

Am I ok with my only "disciples" being my two kids? My impact being making my husband successful at his work? Why do I think his work is more important? Because he has an official title? Because he actually gets to see results? Because he is out in the thick of it doing the big things?

And who says what is big and little? Is it little just because that's how I see it? Is it big just because I can see results right away?

What if this is what being a missionary is? Being a light, a leader, an example to those God has put in my "little field?" It's all about perspective! An attitude of thankfulness and recognizing the opportunities that God has put in my life, today. They are just for me. You can't come live my life and I can't live yours. I can't impact your children, support your husband, or show His love to those in your life the way that you can.

He has called me to be a wife, a mama, His light and love to those in my field. My field has my husband, my two kiddos, a Filipino couple, many other people who God brings in and out of my field, laundry, dishes, & schooling my kids.

What's in your field? Treasure it. It's your field that He's given you. Water it. Feed it. Watch it with the tenderest care. Because, no matter how big or small, fields bring harvest.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

My Greatest Fear

Sometimes it scares me. Most of the time actually. I feel so inadequate, so unprepared, & like I have no idea what I am doing. Wait, who am I kidding? I have no idea what I am doing. I'm not sure anything could have prepared me for it. Parenting.

When I look at my babies, I realize they are babies no more. No more babies, no more toddlers. We are in big kid territory. Babies are easy. They have basic needs, they don't understand what you're saying, and you don't have to explain anything.


 But we are entering in the realm of independence, moodiness & having to explain things- hard things. Like why there are two men kissing in line in front of us, what the dogs are doing the front yard, why we can't watch that movie, why this is wrong and this is right...and the list goes on. We are past behaviors and down to heart issues. We are walking through hard things together. Living in two worlds. Leaving people behind that we love dearly. WHY we are leaving those people behind. We are sculpting little people into big people. But the idea of me sculpting anything is freaking me out.

More and more everyday, I am realizing what a HUGE responsibility this parenting thing is. My babies are His, but He has entrusted them to me to raise for Him. This is awesome & humbling, but sometimes I just wish that He had given me a list with exactly what to do in every situation that comes up with them, like- "When they whine, you do this." "When they ask this question, you say this." There are a lot of good books on parenting out there & I am the first one to jump on the bandwagon of this parenting method or that way of discipline but when it comes down to it, I try it for a while & then quit when I'm discouraged.

I have great kids. They are imaginative, creative, & bless me so much. But I want them to have an impact for the Lord. How do you raise a world-changer? How do you prepare them for what's coming? How do you teach them to love but not to compromise? How to resist temptation? How to hear God's voice?

My greatest fear is losing my kids- not necessarily to death, but to the world. It scares me TO DEATH. I have watched so many kids from amazing godly homes, with awesome parents walk away, some of them being my own family. My parents have struggled with feelings of failure, inadequacy, & guilt. But I, and everyone else, tell them, "It isn't your fault. You were faithful and obedient and raised them for the Lord. It's their choice."

So...why am I afraid? I am afraid because it is my job to make them godly adults. I am afraid that I won't say or do the things that make them love God. I am afraid that my methods & programs won't work.

Slowly and surely, like a sunrise, the truth is dawning on my stubborn, fear driven self.
My kids are His. He has given me all I need to be a mother because HE is all I need. He is the one who saves. He is the one who creates and makes a world-changer. He has given me His word & His Spirit to tell & show me what to do and say. And so much of it is, a Spirit walk. I am inadequate. But He isn't. I don't have the answers, but He does. All He asks is that I be faithful to my calling as their mother.

Joshua Christopher- God is my salvation, bearing Christ.

Christiana Faith- Graceful follower of Christ, to trust.

He does the work, the changing, that makes them world-changers. He's always faithful.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

My Love/Hate Relationship With Change

2015...It feels weird writing that. Weird and exciting. The past few months have been a whirlwind of busyness, holidays, family & friends, speaking at churches, and literally traveling around the world. Our plans & lives have been tossed, rearranged, changed & dissected multiple times. I have a strange relationship with change. I mostly hate it. But it is exciting at the same time, because I never know exactly what's coming.

Our ministry has changed from flying airplanes to one of strategy & assessments for at least this year. I feel a little bit of an identity crisis as we have always identified ourselves as a missionary pilot family. My house is even decorated in airplanes for crying out loud. This is where my hate relationship with change comes in. When it starts messing with my identity...funny the things we find our identity in. Usually something that can change in the blink of an eye.

I recently took a personality test that was actually very accurate...I am an ESFJ- a Sentinel. Someone who stands in the same place! The SAME place. Unfortunately, it is hard to stay in the same place and go very far with God.

There is a lot of stuff out nowadays about being true to your self, embracing your inner self, etc. I think there is some truth to some of it, but to be honest, a lot of it is bunk. God has given each of us unique personalities, strengths, weaknesses, things we like and dislike, preferences, passions and callings. But I've discovered something. A lot of times, He asks us to do things, to follow Him into something or somewhere that we don't like, that we aren't "gifted" for, & that simply "just isn't me." My life is a life of change- constant change. And guess what? I am a SENTINEL, a TYPE A, a steady.

But Jesus says-
"And Jesus called to Him the throng with His disciples and said to them, If anyone intends to come after Me, let him deny himself [forget, ignore, disown, and lose sight of himself and his own interests] and take up his cross, and [joining Me as a disciple and siding with My party] follow with Me [continually, cleaving steadfastly to Me]." -Mark 8:34 AMP

I use the excuse a lot that, "This is just not me." Well, I'm right. It's not. It's HIM. And He has called me to it. And I would be miserable if I decided to do anything but what He has called me to. Sometimes I have wondered what it means to deny myself- well, for me, right now, I have my answer. To step out in obedience to this life of change & know that HE will be all I need. If HE called me to something that I was "capable" of, I wouldn't really need Him, would I?

This truly has been a rambling post...thanks for reading, supporting, & living life with me. It's truly an adventure, this missionary life.