Thursday, May 28, 2009

not a keeper

Hey there,
So this is the last week of school for my children and it has been so busy with events to partake.  Everyday, there is something: Monday, an attendance ceremony with gym awards,  then Gus's class awards and reading theatre.  Tuesday, elementary school concert.  Sami sang in a quartet and Sarah and Gus both played the bongo drum.  Wednesday, Sarah's class awards and summer party bash.  Today, Thursday, Sami class awards and closing chapel, then they are home and school is out.  Lots of things to be a part of yet try to get things done for "ministry" at the same time.  I know, sounds like I am complaining and I definitely don't feel like the "Homeroom mom", I am the farthest thing from it.  My kids come home everyday from school with homework papers or papers that they have completed and Gus says, "you can show mom, but she will just throw them away."  It is true.  I am not a keeper.  I don't get into the nostalgia of keeping things that maybe someday, years later, I will look at and it will help remind me of the "good ole days" and I will tear up.....  Nor, do I want to hand to my children someday all of their papers from 13 years of school and tell them to keep them.  BUT, to my surprise.... as I go to these events, the school concert for example, I look at Sami and I am overwhelmed with how big she is and I cannot believe she is singing in a quartet with three other boys and is doing great and then something crazy happens.... I get this lump in my throat and my eyes get watery and I feel so proud of her.  Then, it is Gus's class, he gets an award for being a Math and Reading Monster and it happens again, this awkward feeling in my nose and I tear up....  He is so good at his schoolwork!  Okay, so then it is Sarah's turn and I see her up in front of a hundred people in a choir and she is turning out to be so pretty.  She has rythym (definitely my side of the family), she is enjoying her moment and I am struck by her beauty of who she is becoming as a girl who desperately tries to love God daily and figure out what that looks like for her.  And tears just flow.  It is like everyday is a hormonal day....  What is that???  Am I going to be the mother who starts keeping things????  Gosh, I hope not.  Maybe though I am learning that I love my kids and can feel so proud of them.  Even if I am not the den mother who organizes all the children to buy the teacher a gift, I am the mother who does want to be at these events and encourage them and love on them to be who they are created to be daily.    I may not be a keeper but I am a good mother even if Gus, daily, asks for a dog and daily, we say no, and daily he acts hurt and surprised at our response and pouts.... it is so aggravating!!!!

Oh, by the way, random thought, yesterday it poured and guess what????  It hailed forever.  We had mounds of ice that looked like snow when it was complete.  Who knew Africa could get hail, on the equator????  Exciting times!!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


"He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty."  Psalm 91:1

This is the theme for the summer.  Shelter, what does the Lord's shelter look like? If I dwell there, in his shelter, I am promised rest in His shadow.  What does that look like as well, to rest in His shadow.  I bet Christians might respond differently all over the world to these questions.  Above is a common shelter here in Nigeria, is this what they picture when they hear this verse?
Lately, I have felt so pensive, not very funny.  I want to be funny, I want to laugh and have fun, but there is something blocking the way.  So much on my mind.  So many distractions.  My thoughts are all over the place.
I want His shelter.  Not my image of it either, I want the real thing, and then honestly I want the rest that can come with it.  I don't want to settle for my fake imitations that last for a brief moment.  John and I were long distance in our relationship for about a year and when we would get an opportunity to see each other we would push everything else to the side and just "hang out" and "be together"  and then when Sunday dinnertime would show itself, I would get this feeling of let's go see a movie (something that would cause at least two more hours together so he wouldn't leave right away) or let's talk serious so we would have to finish it before he would venture home.  I would want to lengthen the time by any excuse.... you know the feeling of panic, so you grab on tighter thinking it will secure it and make "it all go away" whatever it was that you were wanting to push aside or lengthen, depending on the emotion at the time.  For me it was wanting to push the feelings aside of leaving John, and therefore wanting to grab onto our time together no matter what the cost.    I guess what I am saying is that could be my version of a false shelter.  Wanting to put something over my head to temporarily make me feel protected and "good".  I don't think that is what God's shelter is all about.  I know that tendency and I also know it has never allowed me to rest.  
So, I want to learn of His shelter.  I want to learn of the fruit of rest that comes with it. (Gosh, lots of "I wants" huh?  Yuck that is ugly in and of itself).  Can I pray my way into His shelter?  Is it a frame of mind?  I cannot imagine it being a tangible place, is it really just about relationship?  
Well, these are the questions I start this summer with and look to His Scriptures for answers and lean on the Holy Spirit for leading and ultimately look to God for it is Him that I am really seeking, ultimately, isn't it?  

Thursday, May 21, 2009

days of fasting

Good afternoon to all of you on the other side of the world!!  I hope this day finds you full of energy and ready to live!  John left this morning to take his dad and stepmom back to Abuja so they can begin their journey back home.  I cannot believe three weeks has passed by so quickly... so much has transpired and there is so much to say.....
But instead of sharing everything that has gone on, let me just share with you about the Esther bible study women.  We have met now about seven weeks.  I tell you what, let me just list the principles we have chatted about:
women issues
beauty: inside and out, how far is too far?
the mindset of the strong becoming weak and the weak being strong
our prejudices
defining moments
biggest fears and who are we if they happen
waiting on the Lord and how we know if we are really doing it
missional living and transparency
finally, how we are able to fall into the traps of satan in leading us to believe that Christianity is bondage and his ways are freedom...
Easy topics, right?  It is so interesting to me how our cultures can be so different but our struggles are similar.  There might be differences in how we dress or what we eat, but we still have the same heart issues going on, differing of opinions, real struggles, deal daily with sin, and trying to figure out how to minister as a mom, friend, wife, sister and co-laborer all at once.
I have waited to write more about this study with these women because so much has been shared, so many hard things, so much vulnerability and I don't want to get confused with my role in it compared to what God is wanting to do with it.  So, I have remained silent.....  But, we, as women, have decided to partake in a three day fast.  The focus and purpose for each of us is the same, yet slightly different.  Overall, we are praying for our walks to be a part of our daily decisions and we are lifting up each other in a way that we have not experienced before - that conviction becomes strong, legalism is removed, grace is freely given, and that we desire God's best for our sisters in Christ.
However, we are all going to be also fasting for more personal things, individually, that some things become right before the Lord.  A time of purity of heart and motive.  I am so thankful for these days.  
John is going to be joining me and he and I together are going to be seeking the Lord for this summer.  And truthfully, we would love it if anyone wanted to join us in this time of fasting.  We are beginning this Monday, May 25th and going through Wednesday, May 27th.  Honestly, we need prayer.  But, even if you just wanted to join in on one day, or if you wanted to join in but have a more personal fasting time, and not as much for John and I but for you and what the Lord has for you this summer.  I don't know, I have just started learning more and more about God's corporate body and I want to be a part of it. 
So there you have it, please join us if you desire, not out of legalism, but out of an earnest desire to be a part of this and for seeking the Lord and His will.
My kids know about next week, and they are like, "Man, you both are fasting, we won't get any real meals, great...."  It is so hard being a kid, isn't it????

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

as time moves forward

Hey there all!!
So, as Dale and Eileen are here we have been busy, visiting places, going to the kids' school, fixing broken parts, spending time with them, also working to prep for summer, I have forgotten that there are other parts of the world moving forward.
When I first moved here, I recognized the sacrifice daily of missing friendships, or missing out on what was taking place in MEX, NC, OH, IN, NY or anywhere I had a connection.  My little sister had a baby, my sister-in-law is soon to have one, our director's wife is about ready to have her baby and the list goes on with things I have missed and will miss.  BUT, what has struck me is the "time will distance you" thought is showing itself.  I don't necessarily sense the sacrifice moments, and life is getting full here.  I hear from friends and family and I feel the slight change in being farther removed from what is going on.  I feel sad.
Is it still a sacrifice then?  Living here?  I don't know.  Big picture, Yes, I think so.  I am not living in my country or even in a close culture, and I am missing out on things happening, but when this becomes normal, is it still considered sacrifice?  
I think what is hardest for me is the awareness of this becoming normal and not feeling the "loss" as much.  That scares me more than the culture shock did or the "what in the world am I doing here?" thought.  So as life moves forward, I feel torn with wanting to make sure I keep up, you feeling connected to me, me feeling connected to you.... afraid to let go of what has been and embrace the here I am now.....  It is becoming natural for me to want to embrace the here I am now.... and that I am fighting against.  Because I still care what is going on.  I still care that I have missed my sister's baby being born and I still care that my friends are making huge decisions without me by their side.  But, now I care differently, I care for them, as people, therefore I care what is going on.  It is no longer a I care because I cannot be there or I care because I feel sad on missing out.... is this a maturing thing?  I am no longer the focal point of the caring, it is them that I am caring for now.  I would like to think it is a more pure "care" but I just don't know anymore.  
Sacrifice is a funny thing.  Every decision we all make requires some measure of it.  I don't want to be scared of it.  I am guessing if I feel the sadness of awareness of distance there is a bit of sacrifice still involved... I even think, man, if this no longer is a sacrifice, what will the Lord ask me to sacrifice next?  and how soon.....?  But I guess for now, I continue to move forward and I allow the space to be there that shows itself to be the absence of what is taking place on the other side of the world.
I do still care though...... just in a different way than before.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

capturing the moment

Today we experienced with John's dad and his wife our first African Safari.  I think I have wanted to go on one since before high school.  I don't know why for sure I have always wanted to, but I have.  It was wonderful!  We had been warned ahead of time, that if you want to see real African animals you need to go to Kenya, so don't get your hopes up to see animals and look forward to the hot springs......
It took about 3 hours or so to get there and honestly it was just a beautiful day, the drive was so "stereotype" of what you picture Africa, huts, villages, herding animals, etc...  the kids were getting along, we took a nigerian friend with us and we were having in-depth theological conversations about muslims, christians, culture, etc...
Then when we arrived, there was no one else there (tourists anyway) and we saw so many animals:   a ton of baboons that came right up to you, waterbucks, warthogs, bats, deer, gazelles, lots of animals that I have no clue what their names are, and we saw a beautiful male lion, super close.  In the middle of this african adventure, I took note and soaked up all the sights and sounds and smells around me: family, nature, adventure, animals, thoughts....
Tomorrow is my 37th birthday and I feel blessed.  My spirit feels old and so does my body, and maybe with that comes the awareness of "enjoy each moment while you can"  It is something I feel so blessed in because the Lord has truly allowed me to stop and be very engaged in these moments....  as if they won't last forever and I am all too aware of this fact.  I sense a change in seasons and I want the memory of this one to be forever etched in my mind and captured there forever. 
It has been great having the grandparents in town and tomorrow we go to the kids chapel service as Sarah is part of her grade's Esther play and then on a field trip with Sami's class.  Capturing each moment while we can is our desire and we are thankful.
God Bless.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

our first family guests

Good Morning!!  So Sami and I wake up this morning very excited because John, Sarah, and Gus are going to be returning from Abuja by lunchtime with a grandpa and grandma!!!  We could not all fit with all the luggage and people, so Sami and I volunteered to stay behind and get the place ready...
We truly are excited to show John's Dad and Stepmom where we live, how we live, what things we do, show them we really are not exaggerating on our blog the way things are here in Jos.  It will be so fun, but now at this very moment, I feel panicky.....    what if they get bored?  or what if they think it is horrible here?  John and I have recognized that our standards have been changing over the last few months and what if we recognize it even more when they are here because what we have come to see as "I love it" they see as "Are you kidding me?"   
Lots of "what ifs...."  which everyone knows not to fret about, there is nothing I can do to force them to see our way of life as grand, or that what we find pretty they need to find pretty.  As much as I know this, it is such a hard discipline to not let my mind wander in that direction, to the "land of what ifs."
I guess I should just focus on the relationship.  We love them and my kids love them so everything else, I guess, will fall into place.  Right?  Relationship, I can enjoy that!  
Okay, so since they will be here three weeks, I am sure my blogging will be slower because we are going to want to soak up as much of them while they are here as we can.... so I hope to keep up and we love to hear from all of you..... and this gives me an excuse to personally invite all 67 of you (however, I see there are some doubles....) to visit John and I and our family.
We would love to have you and I promise I won't fret on the "what ifs" I will just focus on the relationship!!  I will have had practice after our first family guests have gone.  We will have them be the guinea pigs......  okay?
See you all soon!  Oh and by the way, I must admit, we are looking forward to the goodies they will be bringing also......  but it is still all about relationship.... hehe