Posted in being a mom, homeschooling, honesty, life thoughts, the Cost of Love

The Sometimes and the Most-of-the-Time

Sometimes you just want what you want. Selfishness moves in where compassion once lived.

Sometimes the day has worn on too long. The heat too strong. And your emotions cave and a crying monster emerges who desperately needs a hug and an early bedtime. Not a punishment bedtime, we won’t even tell you that we put you in bed early. But we’ll just so happen to read an extra chapter of our bedtime read-aloud that day, requiring us all to pop into bed a little early. And there over the top of the book, I will watch you drift off before I even complete the first chapter.

Or sometimes. you just can’t put into words what it feels like to live thousands of miles away from those who used to live within a finger’s reach of you, for as long as you can remember.

Sometimes you need to tell me again how much you didn’t like Portuguese school, even though I also remember how much you couldn’t wait to go. Because today you remembered someone saying something mean and assuming you couldn’t understand it. Today you remember the harder instead of the good. The growing pains over the victories. And you just need someone to listen and agree with you, even if it’s not where we both know you’ll land when you think about it again tomorrow.

Sometimes all four of you have those kind of moments in one day. Or a series of days. And it’s tiring for us all. Emotionally and physically.

But then there’s the most-of-the-time that catches me. How we look back at your photos of just last year and you notice how your face has changed. How you have grown.

And I remind you how God has been shaping you this whole time. During those sometimes moments as well as those elated moments of joy during the most-of-the-times.

And I see that little girl in a phase of wrestling to surrender selfishness for loving compassion, pouring over a puppy when no one else is looking.

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You are listening and internalizing, even if the battle is uphill sometimes.

 

I see a “me too” little girl finding her welcome place amid a new sister-and-friend dynamic.

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Even when dynamic changes can come with growing pains.

 

I see a young girl growing into a confidence of self-control and responsibility not being an unwanted consequence,

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but choosing instead to embrace them as a gift, even if it costs a sacrifice of selfishness.

 

Yes, I see your quiet efforts of increasing self-discipline and chosen obedience

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even when responsibility costs the price of your perceived frolicking freedom.

 

My ladies, I am proud of you. I am really, really proud of you. Kindness, self-control and responsibility can feel like very sacrificial choices at times. And I am praying for God to continue to give me the grace to extend to you all as you learn these critical lessons. Oh the sometimes moments have happened and will happen again. Maybe even for another series of days. But I trust that just as He sustains me when I turn to Him to teach me how to love you better, He will continue to grow you through all that He has given you in this life. And I am proud of you. Keep wrestling to do right when wrong feels so easy. Keep fighting to be kind and gentle when roughness and selfishness feel so natural. And know that even in the rawness of the processing, I am still thanking the Lord that He has given me the gift of being your Mom.

 

I love you, little ladies. What a privilege to fight the good fight together.

Posted in Crossing Cultures, honesty, life friends, the Cost of Love

When You Let Go of Your Last Known Embrace

It’s really hard to process. I don’t even really know where to start.

Part of me wants to go back home and hide and pretend like we will see each other again next year or the year afterward.

While the other part has a stinging that’s hard to put into words.

It’s just so hard to possibly explain to you how bittersweet it is to have other missionary friends.

Like not just the kind who live in the same town as you by the mere grace of God, but the kind that live literally ALL over the world.

And then to make it worse, there’s the kind that are returning to the States because their shorter term mission is nearly complete and the whole rest of their lives is about to unfold.

I feel like they should come with some kind of a warning label. Something that reads like, “I’m amazing, but I’m also going to rip your heart out when you realize we will probably never live in the same part of the world. Ever. But we absolutely will have to be friends.”

Oh man, it’s that kind of stuff that I just don’t even know how to process.

I have never had a file for that. That kind of box just does not exist in my world.

Oh the plight of missionary friends. Missionary friends that are amazing. Absolutely “kindred spirit” amazing. Their passion for the Lord, their burning fire for sharing His Word in even the hardest of places, their sharing of Scriptures and times that God just presses into them and drives them to deeper layers of faith, their hysterical laughter over the ironies of life, their shared resilience that just pushes and encourages you so. Oh man, why do they have to be such a blessing?!

You know, like if they weren’t such a wonderful family it wouldn’t hurt so much to say, “See you ‘later.” When all the while we both want to leave the conversation on the note of “you never know what meeting He could orchestrate in the future,” our hearts ache within us at the thought that He just might not orchestrate a time to see each other again.  No one wants to even say it. But it catches in both of our throats as we walk away. You return to your country and me to mine. Please, Lord, may that not have just been the last time I get to see them on this side of Heaven.

And THIS is why I feel like they should come with a warning label, people! Ugh. It rips your heart out.

Like think about it, our distance, friends and family, is intense. I don’t really like to think about it. I still like to feel like we live in your backyard. You know, just your very large, kind of wild backyard. 😉 And while the distance feels almost too much to bear sometimes, there’s a comfort that we can both rest in at the end of the day. Lord willing, we have every plan to come back. We have a time to look forward to when we will grab you up in our arms. We know where to find each other. For now we find each other online, but come our Stateside assignment, we get to find each other side by side for a beautiful season. A beautifully “promised” season. (I put that promise in quotes but don’t be scared, anyone. I’m just trying to learn not to speak in 100% definites if it’s not found in Scripture. I’m not the planner here, just the willing tool in His hands. So while that’s the game plan on absolutely everyone’s radar, God holds the ultimate trump card in His Sovereign hand and I want to be yielding, even in passing speech, to whenever and wherever He would lead.)

But for my international missionary friends, there’s no reunion hanging out there. No lingering meeting to hold in our hearts on the “the distance is too far” days. We’re not even on the same continent, some of us! How in the world would we ever even cross paths?!!

I can’t explain to you how this fact about our lives feels. Because in all honesty, I don’t even have words for it. It’s that lump caught in my throat when I think about it. That thing that makes my eyes hit the floor sometimes cause it’s too intense of a hurt to put words to.

Oh my, but how beautiful it is. How incredibly beautiful to have precious hearts literally all over the world sharing in the same drive. The same devotion. As much as Mozambique becomes even on your radar, friends and family, because we live here, there is an endless list of countries that pop off the map for us too because we have “family” living there. Serving there. Pouring out there. And a piece of our hearts are with them.

That’s just how we’re wired.

And it hurts to let go of the last embrace known to us. And it hurts to take that first step in the opposite direction that they’re going, wondering if your footsteps will ever line up again while here on earth.

But you can’t possibly keep from loving them. It’s just not even fathomable. They’re family. They’re precious.

And part of you is just overwhelmingly proud to call them family. Overwhelmingly delighted to encourage them in their pursuit of spreading the Gospel to the very ends of the earth.

There’s just no words for how proud and honored you are to call them family. Just like there’s just no words for how much it hurts…

when you let go of your last known embrace.

Posted in honesty, life thoughts, Mozambique, that's just life, willing hands

Goodbyes Again

We stood there laughing as we dripped oil from our fingers. We laughed at how horrendously I attempted to roll the slippery dough before I got the hang of it. We joked about being overly emotional when the onions were cut. We marveled words of encouragement as we learned how to make chamusas together (a meat-pocket of goodness here in Mozambique).  And there standing over the burner stirring the meat, I had a moment.  “This will never happen again. This will only live on as a treasured memory.”

 

I guess after almost a year of seeing someone Mondays through Fridays you just get used to the normal. Oh the normal can feel crazy and out of control and stretch you in ways you never even had a file for back in the States, but still the faces are your normal. The conversations, the shared stories, the depth.

A part of my normal is leaving and it hurts…

 

Someone once said that you know the friendship was real when it hurts to say goodbye.

 

That day I said goodbye to my language teachers. But they were so much more than teachers, they’re dear friends. My sweet sisters in Christ. And while neither of us is dying, Lord willing, fifteen hours south is quite a distance to behold (especially in a developing country).

 

I was talking with my dear friend in Senegal, cause she’s a dear sister. You know, we were just talking one day about real things, deep things… cause she’s a safe place to process depth. And it hit me, “I think sometimes we process saying goodbye when we have to say goodbye again in a new place.”

It’s the quiet underlying that I don’t really know how to put words to. It’s a mixture of excitement and fear of “being on our own” for the first time without dear supervisors to “bail us out” in our city. And yet there is this confidence that I cannot possibly explain that in all my insufficiency, He is and will continue to prove Himself more than Sufficient.

It’s a jumbling of butterflies that make you both thrilled and feel a bit sick to your stomach. It’s a great and very raw new stress. And it’s all coming to a head as they begin to hand over details about our new home in our job city. As we get our new car and trade in our old one (thanks again, Taylor, for the reliable transportation). As we pack away what we will bring with us and give away what we thought we would need when we moved here, but didn’t. As we learn how to settle into just being us again, without schedules and rushing the girls to school and hurrying to get homework done in time for baths and we just find ourselves… embracing us again. It’s the days that we have prayed for, cried over and longed to hold in our hands that are now being handed to us. And it’s just a lot to think about sometimes. A lot to hold in these hands. A lot to pray about.

Life is life, with it’s curves and twists and hilltops. And we are continuing to learn how to lift each day as an offering to the Father who so graciously gives us each day.

Each step forward.

Each butterfly.

Each tear, both good and hard.

Each anxiety that we lay at His feet.

Each moment.

Lord, help us to embrace each part and say goodbye well.

Before we get to say our next good-hello.

Posted in Crossing Cultures, honesty, Mozambique, my heart, that's just life

Even When it’s Hard to Find Words

You know, it’s really hard to find words sometimes. No, I’m not just referring to our efforts to crack away at Portuguese fluency. I’m talking about crossing cultures back across the ocean.

It’s really hard to communicate how much I deeply treasure these beautifully flawed people. It’s really hard to live in the gap between two very different, but very encouraging worlds and find myself at a loss of relayed words.

What do our brothers and sisters of the United States want to say to our brothers and sisters here? Is He not the same God?  Are we not reading the same Word?

I find myself floundering in an unexplainable loss of words some days. What will I put on the blog? What will be heard back from here? What words will represent a world that so many may never see firsthand? How can I possibly capture the beauty of the world here without others only seeing the ashes? How can I possibly portray the realities here without others there thinking money and pity need to be given? How can my words encourage the depth I can barely express when language seems to slip like sand through my hands?

These are the thoughts that sometimes paralyze me as I think of what and how to share with you all. No, I don’t over-script my words or create situations that are not true to the realities here. But my heart just yearns to share a depth with you all there. My heart longs to connect my people on both sides of the ocean. You all are my world, disjointed as it may feel at times. And I am honored to wrestle with how to cross the ocean with heartfelt words. I am honored to let Jesus stand in the gap through our lives here.

Please know that I think of you often and hold you all so dear in my heart, even when I wrestle to find the words. Thank you for your joy in the pictures and the videos we spend hours and hours downloading through slow internet realities so that we can share life together. And thank you for your patience as things take more time here and as we learn that taking time is not always a deficiency, but many times an opportunity to really think through and treasure each investment.

The ocean between us is huge… and deep.

It’s easy to get lost out there amidst the waves.

Thank you for fighting the surf with us,

riding out this adventure

even when it’s hard to find words.

 

Posted in honesty, Mozambique, Wrestling Language

Loves? How about a strong Like?

“Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge,

but he who hates correction is stupid.” -Proverbs 12:1

You know, I’d be lying to pretend like I always want to study Portuguese. Five hours per day sometimes makes me come unglued. Not in like an Incredible Hulk chaos, but more like a potato chip staring at the wall. I got nothing to offer here, people.

Self-discipline. People, sometimes I just don’t wanna! (said in the best preschool whine).

Ever felt that way? Ever heard those words come out of your mouth?

Loves discipline? Really, God? How about just a strong like?

Yeah, that’s the real of it.

And then you don’t like the taste of those words. They just hang there all ugly-like.

So then you get up and go listen to your vocabulary recording again.

 

One of my friends said it best:

“You don’t fully realize the gift of tongues until you’re trying to learn a foreign language.” – from a friend learning Mandarin Chinese

Now THAT’S a language. Oh my! Maybe Portuguese isn’t so bad…. 😉

The gift of tongues! Instant ability to communicate the Gospel without a single hour of studying… Ha! If only…  😉

“Whoever loves discipline…”

Do I love discipline? Self-discipline?

I have been praying for a while now to have a heart for learning Portuguese. Cause you know, then like it won’t feel like death EVERY hour of studying. But I can honestly tell you that I have yet to really have a heart for knowledge.

Maybe I’m broken. Or just super not interested in the world of college study mode anymore. But I’m so thankful that He HAS answered my prayers with a heart for the hot mess people here. And to make things clear, I think all people everywhere are hot messes – just in different ways. I’m so thankful for God stepping into our hot mess to make something beautiful of our hearts.

Anyway…. back to the grind of fluency.

And if you have a moment, please join me in praying for self-discipline for Matt and I both in this process. (Sigh) It’s killer hard work when you really just want to flake out after 7 months of constant fighting with the language.

Thanks for joining me on this super anti-climactic moment of internal wrestling over self-discipline. 😉

He will triumph!

– One step at a time.