Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Here I am Lord...Send me...

I feel so behind!! I'm realizing that I've not posted on my notes from The Christ Institute, or even last Sunday's amazing sermon...oh I'm SO behind!!

But in THIS MOMENT I am so blessed. TOO blessed to not put it into words.

TODAY I FULFILLED A DREAM I DIDN'T EVEN KNOW I HAD. 

As those words swept across my mind from my heart, I was driving the hilly road between my house and Siloam Springs. I was talking to a best friend on the phone, praising God for what He was doing in BOTH of our lives. SMILING from the inside out.

I've been going through Holley Gerth's books over the past year - reading them, leading other study groups through them, doing them online....and I always get hung up in the chapters where we are supposed to set goals. Make plans. Dream God -sized Dreams. I freeze in my footsteps.

But not today. Today I danced around the dream fulfilled. The dream God put in my heart and I didn't even know it was there. Oh, maybe I knew it in a childlike whisper - like wanting to marry a prince - or live on a tropical island (or be tall and thin). ;) 

I didn't know God would use me this way. Oh, it's only a temp job, and it's only part time, but it's OH so SWEET. And these people!! They ROCK for Jesus!! They do GREAT things on behalf of His kingdom. And they have lived lives that inspire others to live their lives for Jesus. And today we met, and prayed, and they prayed blessings over me. 

I'm humbled.

Not only am I so excited to learn and do what this job requires of me, but I'm excited because I got to meet people that share the same burden that I have for Missionary Care. That was sort of the frosting on the cup- cake. 

OH, and I met a man that knows a man that I met over a year ago in a far away land. The great BIG universe seemed very small while we spoke of God's work around the globe. It's a small world after all. 

So I feel a little giddy....oh, ok - a LOT giddy - over the amazing things that God wants to do through me; changing me all the while. I'm willing Lord. Send me. Even if it's just sending me around the corner, past the lake, and through the holler. I'm willing. Send me. 




Friday, February 22, 2013

All I learned from my mother...

MY FMF went all awry. I didn't set a timer. I needed NOT to. I needed to write this all out and get it on a screen shot and leave it there to hang to dry. It needed to be out of me. For me.

Over at Lisa-Jo Baker's blog, she's had guest posts going on this week about things they learned from their mothers. It's been quite moving, touching, and perfectly lovely to hear all the things that their moms did right.

I don't have a very big bank to draw from there. My mom died from lung cancer just before I turned 13. The years before that were stressed; between my entering "hormone hell" and her hormones flying from being a late-in-life mom (not by today's standards, but I know she was weary - I was the first of her 2nd family grouping - and my sisters were 15 and 18 when I was born - she lived in "hormone hell" all my life!!).

I'm sure we had good moments, good days, but I honestly don't remember them as a whole.

I DO remember being in 7th grade, and having a crush on the newspaper boy (back in the olden days, it was cute jr/sr high boys on bicycles that came door to door to deliver your paper, and came TO the door monthly to get their payment for the papers they delivered.). The boy was in 8th grade, and boy did I pine for him to notice me (I don't think he did, no matter God's plan was better!). After school one day, I remember sitting on the couch and having a talk with my mom about "puppy love and crushes". That's the only time I remember really talking to her about anything. I remember even then, thinking "WOW, this is cool...getting to talk to my mom like this....".

I have a handful of good memories.

I remember her putting orange marmalade on my grilled cheese sandwiches, but no one else in my family remembers that - so maybe it was a dream (I eat them still, anyways). She made amazing macaroni and cheese (home made) with tomato sauce and real butter.  We make it similarly still!

And that's about it.

Most of my other memories are not nearly as pleasant - I remember years of her waking up to send us off to school, houserobe on, cigarette in one hand and cup of coffee in the other... and me coming home to her watching "General Hospital"  - houserobe on, cigarette in hand, cup of coffee in the other.

I remember fighting and arguing with her. I remember her slapping me once...I probably deserved it... and I tried to run away from home after that (but where do I go?? I didn't have a safe place to be.).

I remember thinking that my mom was so mean. REALLY mean. Way beyond the pre-teen "you never let me...." mean. A few years ago my aunt, my mom's youngest sister told me the same thing. She said that she was sorry to say this, but she never liked my mom - she was always so mean.... and I thought "whew - it wasn't just me - it was everyone".

Even so, she was my mom. She chose to bear me, a miracle since she didn't want any more kids - she loved my dad that much....and enough for a younger sister 3 years behind me. She did things well... managed keeping a home together, having her mom live with us, keeping family secrets and dealing with a difficult marriage for the 2nd time.

When she passed, the story was that the lung cancer had already spread to her brain...she had tumors there, my dad said. He said that THAT was what made her so emotional. So mad. But I have my own version of the story, built from my older sisters, and my aunts and those that saw more of her than my work-aholic dad...

She was depressed. She had thyroid issues for years, and it was never resolved properly. She didn't want to have young kids when all her friends were empty nesting and having grands. She just wanted to be a good wife and live a good life. I don't remember affection from her, don't have photos of her hugging me or looking pleased....oh, there's family photos, posed and placed in holiday finery. But I don't remember the sweet things that others do about their moms. And that's ok.

Because of her disposition, because of the LACK of memories, it has allowed God to shape my own journey as a mom . It wasn't always perfect - not by a long shot! I had my days of pj's worn, weather channel on all day. I had my days of anger and frustration that was misplaced on kids too young. I'm so sorry for those days.

But I always tried to love on them. To tell them how proud I am of them...even today, with my girls being momma's, I try to remind them how proud I am that they are such good momma's. How proud of my son I am. So thankful that they are all serving Jesus however He has called them to serve.

And I'm so grateful that His mercies are new every morning. Thankful that He loves us. No matter. HE is shaping and creating me to be a new creation in Him. And I'll be the best grandma that I can be, knowing that I can glean lessons from women around me today - older - wiser - God following. Because that is what was missing in our home the whole time I was growing up - NO GOD. No one to submit to, to set a standard of humility, of servanthood. Of LOVE.

To have had that, most of my kids lives - better some seasons than others - is a great blessing. I pray that they'll build from my shoulders, and be better mom's than I was ever able to be...


Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Babbling About Vacations...And Going Home..And Paint...

it's nearly dusk, and there's a pelican bobbing out past the shore break in the water. oh man! i meant to get more photos of pelicans this trip...but the weather didn't really facilitate it...all cool, cloudy, rainy and windy - for most of the week we were here. 

even with the grey - the sky; cloudy - the water; reflecting the sky - the sand; all shadowy - my spirits were lifted. even though i felt grey on the inside too; fighting a sore throat the first few days, and not breathing well today. being gracious that, for now, caffeine seems to be doing the trick. 

but back to the spirits lifted thing....it's vacation. isn't that what vacations do? and why? why does the simple change of landscape impact me so much? is it even that? is it because my sweet love isn't working, isn't watching the clock, isn't sleeping as soon as he stops moving - that he is here by my side and not 4 hours away, or down the road - but actually HERE by me? holding my hand. stroking my shoulder, looking at me in the eye? 

i don't know.

but it's our last night here. in florida. and the sound of the waves crashing on the shore lull me into a dance of breathing. like a baby's breath taking rhythm with mine, my own breath holds tight to the rhythm of the ocean pushing to shore. 

inhale. 
exhale. 
inhale.
exhale. 

and each time the water makes a move somewhere near enough to this hotel balcony for me to sync with it. 

no sizzle on the sand as it's pulled back to see, like the Great Pacific did...no, these waves come one after another so quickly that the sizzle is lost - covered - by the sounds of the other waves crashing. typical Gulf of Mexico style. still in rhythm, but no delays. more like the thump. thump. thump. of a beat box in the car next to me - yet still the sound pulls me to dance to the waves.

so that's not the thing though. my breathing, it's good. i like the sound of the waves, and although i'm not sad that i didn't get to order the weather for this journey, only one partial day of sunny and 70, barely long enough to feel the sun on my shoulders. that was for me, that partial day of sun, where we put on sunscreen, only to be blown away by the sand as it skirted past the red warning flags along the shore. 

WARNING!! SAND BLASTING!! 

my face was red from windburn. not the glow from the sunshine that i'd imagined.

and the rest of our time has been cool. wet. windy.

oh- the temps warmed yesterday, back into the low 70's and we propped our balcony door open for a while, enjoying the warm breeze. it was night time though, dark. but still we heard that rhythmic lull. 

and it was warm.

but this mood thing. the joy that fills my heart and makes me smile and get shoes on each day -  it's more than having to go out to eat each day, it's the colors, the smells, the sounds of the coast. like being transported today, in the middle of the Lowe's garden center simply by the smell of the blooms on the citrus trees! limes. lemons. oranges. tangerines. grapefruit. tiny little flowers with the sweetest scent that moved me. nearly to tears. captured my heart. warm and fuzzy.

and the houses here on the island, painted all peach and periwinkle and mint green and blue. these colors visually stir my soul. like the coral paint chip that was pinned to the inside of my baby blue makeup bag for a year, as i debated painting my bedroom wall that color (when we lived in KY), each time i opened that bag, something stirred in me. like a squirt of cold water on my warm skin telling me to WAKE UP. LIVE. 

but i got tired of the straight pin poking me, and we live in AR now, and the house wouldn't fit to paint a wall that color. the house is too traditional, too Mediterranean. too solemn. 

but now. after this week, my eyes and my head and my heart are full of orange blossoms and color and joy, and i want to go home and paint the house the colors of the ocean, never mind what the next people will want; this is my home right now. i live there. now.

I WANT TO LIVE. THERE. 

because when HE says "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." (John 10:10) i think that "the thief" can be a lot of things. a lot of different things, over time. and right now, i think that "the thief" is pleasantly disguised as a society; a social mechanism that wants me to conform to what is acceptable in this neighborhood. in this real estate market. and it's smothering me. it's sucking the life out of me. this is NOT a full life. this is a life so compromised to society that when i walk in to this house that is home in every way, it's beige. and beige leaves me worse than grey. 

because grey in sky and sea and sand has tones of black, white, and every tone between. even beige. but more of the peaches, and pinks, the blues, and periwinkles, and greys and it sets off the light. fills me with light. and life. to the full. 

and who cares if society comes in and says "whoa! that's not the color i was expecting in the midst of this brick home neighborhood!" then so be it. 

paint is cheap, in comparison to life.

to the full.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Giving Birth...For all the Women in Missions...

If you know me at all, you know that my heart beats for Missionary Care (also known as Member Care, or Global Worker Care, or even Caring for Parents of Missionaries...). 

Now, I admit - I used the "Giving Birth" bit to catch your attention! I'm NOT in labor to have another child...but rather going through the birthing pains to "birth" a new ministry with (in)courage  -  the online Women's Ministry of DaySpring (yep, the greeting card company!). 

Last summer I was asked to participate in starting online Community Groups, and I've loved co-leading a group online, on Facebook, and Twitter, for "{relatively} empty nesting" - empty nesters that faced difficulties - aging parents, troubled "prodigal" kids, and boomerang kids (they keep moving home). God was REALLY good in giving us some great members, and 2 of them have stepped up to the plate to take that group over, freeing me up to co-lead something new...something a little closer to my heart.

So, Tuesday, 2/12/2013, we launch "in.courage global workers" on Facebook as a group (and soon made private).


Photo Credit: Kameesha Williams 

I'm co-leading with Jessica Rodenbaugh a wonderful young mom, who brings a lot to the table that I can't - namely, she's lived on the field, gone through a difficult departure to return back to the states, dealt with a frantic, emotional, somewhat crazy mom (that would be me!!) and is continuing to grow in faith, and in ministry, as she and her husband continue to work in various roles with a sending organization, until they go somewhere new....when God opens that door. 

SO, if you are a WOMAN (sorry guys!!) and involved in missions as a global worker, former global worker, mother or sister of a worker, or work in the area of missionary care - please join us in Facebook and join in on the conversation, encouragement, and prayer! You can find out more by going to http://incourage.me and linking up through their direct link to Facebook, or you can go to the in.courage global care site directly.  

IF you don't fit any of our areas of missionary care, feel free to go to the (in)courage site and check out the other community groups! Perhaps one of them will fit you better, and you'll be blessed (and a blessing) to others in your age/stage in life!! (The links won't be up till Tuesday, and you might need to scroll back, if you're not reading this on Tuesday!!). Don't dilly-dally though, as with any good thing, there's a limit to the number of people that are allowed to join each group! 

Blessings to you as you pray about which group/s to join in with!! 

Monday, February 11, 2013

Separate Vacations...Totally Together!

Mark looked tenderly at me last night and asks me, 


"Will you be ok? If the weather is rainy the rest of the week? It's not going to be the sunny and warm we'd planned on...should we change our plans?"

His concern is very real, but this is really ok - I'll survive a week of rain and clouds and wind on the beach. I won't come back bronzed...but hey, I had a nice rosy wind burn on my face yesterday... and I dread wearing all that sunscreen....so there's an upside too!

Besides, what happened this morning makes it totally worth it....

As I was starting to wake, sensing the light creeping in from around the edges of the rooms only window, I grabbed my phone from my nightstand and peeked at the clock. 7:10. I think, "Ooh, I should take my thyroid med...then maybe we could eat breakfast together. He's sleeping so soundly...can I even sit up and get it out without waking him? Hmm. I don't want to wake him if he's this tired. All the driving catching up with him. I'll just lay here a bit and read my scripture for the day. Check my email. Catch up on my social media outlets. Aww...man, he must be TOTALLY exhausted...not a deep breath, not a budge. Hmm. Wait a moment. (slowly roll over...) HE'S NOT EVEN HERE! Stinker. He snuck out on me...again!"


See, while I plan my vacations around the sunshine and sand and a good book, Mark lives to wake up early (always, even at home, he's the morning person in the marriage!) and walk the beach. He's a beach comber. He loves it. Don't get me wrong, I love it too, and have plenty of shells and oddities that have washed up on the shores of beaches to prove it. But for him, it's therapy. The constant sound of the sea, spray of the waves blowing up on your face, the walking on fresh washed sand, the treasure seeking (his goal here, a whole sand dollar) and the morning (or anytime, really) sunshine rising in the sky. He lives for this. Takes God there with him. Sits at His feet at the base of the pier pilings, as the rhythm of the waves beating on shore, broken by each piling, provides the percussion for some unknown worship song being sung in his heart. 

So...he's just come back to the room. I read my words to him. God's spoken to him too, and Mark shared his morning lesson...not the words written on paper (or electronically), but the lesson he learned while trying to find perfect shells on the shore. Realizing that being the first one out there, you have so much to choose from....too much really. So he sifted through the PERFECT shells, and then changed to only bring the UNIQUE ones, and then God spoke to his heart about how fortunate we are that HE is not so picky. He chooses us, chipped, broken, partially maimed. He loves us no matter how much of our inside is exposed. Whether we are ugly on the underside. Whether our color is a little off. When there's nothing lovely about us at all. Amen.

Well, I'd better shut this device down, and get on to our vacation together time. :) 




More later... and don't forget...(in)courage sign ups for the new community groups start TUESDAY!! WHOOP! WHOOP!! 

Fun stuff over there...check it out and learn what groups will fit you best this go round!! I'm staying in {relatively}empty nesting, but starting a new one with my daughter... on Missionary Care!! Find out where it is tomorrow, and join us over there if you are a woman who has been on the mission field, is currently on field, or if you are helping in Missionary Care now!! (see you then!)


UPDATE:  Here is Mark's take on his morning - from his FB post:
" Woke up while still dark. Went down and watched the sunrise while sitting on the beach. Hadn't done that in a long time. Also excited that I was the first one on the beach to pick through the many shells that had washed up through the night. At first I was picking up any whole shells, then I realized my pockets weren't big enough to carry them all. So I decieded to only pick up the all white ones. Then switched to the unique ones...shapped a little different...coloring a little odd. Then switched to the ones that were mis-shaped or odd in appearance. In the end, I had run the gammit of beauty...I was able to find beauty in just about any shell I saw. Realized that this is how God views us, that each of us is beautiful...no matter what our history, how clean we appear, we all have our imperfections, yet we are all loved because we are the result of His handi-work. That this is the type of love we are shown and that we are also called to reflect that love to those around us. Have you showed love today to someone that may be an imperfect shell in your eyes...but is amazingly perfect in His?

Ephesians 2:8-10 - For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. "