Tuesday, May 29, 2012

M.I.M: life giving in the kitchen

Sorry it's been a little while.  Hubs and I took the girls to visit family and although I kept reminding myself to finish this series, time escaped me.

Today is a real treat.  I know I say that every time I write but it's because I believe it.  The women I interviewed were not an exhaustive list.  There are so many wives, mothers and single gals that I wanted to bring into this series but alas, I had to go with my gut reaction and asked who God laid on my heart first.  These women are in all stages of learning to make their home work.  Megan is newly incorporating her baby life into her ministry life and finding that they shouldn't be that separated. Beth is a "veteran" mother who can look back on years of learning and share with us things that God has taught her.  I know I say every woman is a "real treat" but I say that only because it's true.

Today I am sharing with you my dear friend Jin who is a real treasure.  I had the pleasure of living in Jin's home for a while when I moved to a new country. You can read about that experience here.  I am super excited to share with you what Jin has been learning and experiencing using her home because I was the recipient often of life giving moments in her home.  In fact, a lot of what I do today is based on either what my mother or Jin do in their own homes.  Jin is a wonderful friend.  She's a phenomenal cook, a mother of 3 and a wife for 13 years!!  I am so thankful I get to share her thoughts with you today to wrap up our Mothers in Ministry series.  I hope you enjoy.

Thanks Jin for answering my questions!

**How long have you been overseas?
10 years!

**What has been a highlight of living overseas with your kids?
I'd have to write a book to tell you all the highlights for us.  Often, Mark and I look at each other and say to ourselves, "Our kids are having such a great childhood".  There's struggles for being a foreigner for our kids but none less than the struggles kids go through in their own country.  Some highlights - our family is tighter as we are each others biggest supporters, our children have such a wider perspective on culture and language and understanding people within this frame, being bilingual, being a third culture kid makes them flexible and love for all cultures.  They've met so many beautiful believers from all over the world who have come as guests in our home.  The list goes on.

**What has been a hardship?
Paperwork!! Sounds small but this is out biggest frustration is when we have to fill out some legal document/city paperwork with the language barrier.  Stress!! Our kids still get the stares (not from their classmates who are used to them) or finger pointing "guyjin (foreigner)" as its the first time for many of the kids to meet a foreigner.

**Do you intertwine ministry and your children's lives? If so, how?
We've taken them along to most of the student's activities and meetings that we have.  Our kids are good friends with our students.  We find that our biggest testimony is our marriage and our relationship with our kids.  They are watching and what they see is powerful for them, even though we're not a perfect family but we make it a goal to keep Christ in the center and to love our kids the way God would want us to.

**Looking back, would you do anything different?
Definitely.  I wouldn't have been so nervous about diving into the culture and the school system initially.  Preschool starts here at 3 years old and I wish I had put our kids in at 3.  We waited a year and thought they are amazing with the language, they would have gotten even more of a head start.  And entering together with all the new moms would be have been more bonding for the friendship with those moms.

**Looking forward, are there things you want to try to teach your children?
I'm at a stage in life with them where I'm needing to let go more and more and God is really speaking to me on this.  I was a good and very thorough caretaker in their young years and I realize they're growing up and needing to grow in independence.  I want to support them from the back and encourage them that they can go through anything in life if they depend on the Lord.  Key verse for them, "I can do all things through Him who gives me strength".

**What's one thing you want to share with college women, single, newly married or women with children who are struggling to do or are new to ministry?
For women with children:  I heard a message from John Piper on missions and he said one thing that has struck with me til now that effects how I view their struggles in a foreign country... "God calls not just you the parents or parents, but God is calling the whole family".  Let the children grow up in ministry knowing that they are so blessed to be, not the "poor you".  Have fun with them doing ministry together as a family.  Few months ago, we as a family went with our students on a work camp trip to Thailand!! It was phenomenal.  Our kids learned with our students the value for other cultures and how God has a heart for them along with fun things like riding elephants and petting tigers. :)

**How can we pray for you?
Pray that the Lord would continue to guard our times in the Word, in our marriage and our children.  For wisdom and steady love as we shepherd our kids into their preteen and teen years.

I hope you've enjoyed this series.  I know I did.  I think I'll reread these questions and answers now and for times to come.  There's so many good thoughts from all sorts of different women in different life circumstances.  I'm especially thankful to the women who took time to answer my questions and share life over emails and my blog.  If you have enjoyed the series be sure to leave a comment and let us know!! I'll be back later to post more Love Bugs pictures.  Can't believe how big they are getting!! Until then...

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

M.I.M: generations share a table

One of my favorite things about ministry is finding out the lines of people or generations of homes that people have frequented and passed through.  For example, I passed through and spent numerous hours in the home of my excellent friend JK.  I had many good talks around her table.  JK in turn had (I imagine) many good talks and encouraging times around the table of today's MIM lady, Beth.  If Beth hadn't had her door open and her table ready to host & warmly welcome JK, would I have had those talks and warm welcomes myself?  I like to think about the rich heritage we carry around with us in our hearts and display when we invite others in.

Beth is another kind friend and someone who I have learned much from already.  She and I share a bond of "Iowa" and the knowledge of times past.  She has been the giver of warm hugs, encouragement in single days, and exhorting for child raising.  Beth is not just an encouragement to me but someone who loved and cherished the young girl who would later become a woman who loved and cherished me.  Beth is a rare treasure of a woman and a dear friend.  I am so excited to share her thoughts on children & home as she moves into a season of her three sons now grown and adventuring on their own.

Thanks Beth for taking time to answer my questions and for being the blessing you are to me!

**How long have you been married?  
Almost 27 years
**How many kid(s) do you have & ages? 

3 men! Doug, almost 23, Greg, 21, Mark 19
**Were you ministering to women before you had children? 

Yes, a little differently than in College Ministry though as I was training women in training programs
**Were there big changes to what ministry looked like when you started having children? If so, what? 

I stayed home with the boys. Once we were on campus (boys were 1,3,5) Jim and I switched back and forth with the kids so I could go to campus. That didn’t go well. I needed my focus to be on my marriage and children and then do ministry as an overflow. I was also in chronic pain. I pulled out of all campus work for a season (maybe a year or so), prayed and healed. Then I began having women come along with me in life, to soccer games, to make meals, to visit and pray and read the Word along the way. It was precious but difficult.

**Looking back on the "early years" would you change anything? 

Initially on campus I tried to do too much, not setting a good example. Through a car accident and chronic pain the Lord revealed a pride I had in meeting with women. It was hard but good. Thankful for all He taught me then. You never get those years back with your children. Invest well in them faithfully. The women wil come and go but your children will always be your key disciples. As I write, I realize youngest leaves home in one month. The keyboard is getting soggy!

**How did/do you pray for your husband and kids? Any specific verses that you have attached to them? 

I prayed often and earnestly and still do. Often asking the Lord for wisdom and help. Lots of verses used and I memorized scripture to keep my heart and mind in the right place!

**If you met a gal who didn't have any ministry experience or knowledge on "how to" where would be an easy place for her to start?  

Share my testimony with her and have her share. Be open and honest about life. Do Lessons on Assurance to get her started. She can then do that with others. Get her faithfully reading and studying the Word and memorizing when she is ready. Praying through scripture is another key thing I do with her. (Joanna here~ see what Beth is talking about "Lessons of Assurance" by clicking on the title!)

**Is it important for young gals, single, married or with children, to invest in others outside the home? If so, why? 

YES! You are called to do this and it is a good role model for your children to see you invest your life in others. 2 Tim. 2:2

**What do you pray for your future daughter in-laws?

Praying the Lord would protect them and give them a heart fully pleasing to the Lord. That they will be quick repenters and think my son is wonderful. I pray they would not give in to idolatry (putting their husband in the place of God) but that they would know they are really blessed to have my son as their wife. That she would respect and honor him and desire to love him physically well.

Please pray for Beth and her husband Jim as they transition into their third son leaving this fall for college!!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

M.I.M: the songbird

Have I got a treat for you! Today for MIM my good friend Jamie will be sharing her thoughts and heart on how she has failed and triumphed in the area of home.  Jamie can be found here at this blog.  I definitely recommend you tune in to her blog because when she finds the time to post, it's always worth it (hey, the gals got 3 kids and better things to do then blog regularly!).  Jamie is someone I can be honest with and trust is honest with me.  She's someone I would love to sit down with and have a JUMBO cup of coffee.  Jumbo because we both love coffee, we both probably need it and we both could talk that long and never quite feel satisfied with the conversation being "finished".  

I can't remember the first time I met Jamie (sorry Jame) but I remember the first time I "saw" her.  It was on a video of her singing that a mutual friend had taken to show us the girl another friend was interested in.  The girl was Jamie.  Confused yet? ha ha!! Needless to say the friend who was interested didn't wait too long to make his interest known and now six years and three kids later they are still in love and singing together. :) 

So without further ado, I give you some thoughts on home, from my friend...

**How long have you been overseas?
Four and a half years, will be five years in February.

**What has been a highlight of living overseas with your kids?
Getting to be away from stereotypes and molds in parenting and have a blank slate for creating our own style, our own way of doing things with our kids -- we have zero pressure to conform, which isn't explicit in church culture in America, but is often felt by parents anyway.  Here, no one gives us dirty looks if our kid throws a fit in the grocery store. (In fact, sometimes the old ladies smile and talk about how cute they are, which really doesn't help.)  Throwing a fit at the store isn't a good thing, but its really nice to not feel judged -- or to at least not be aware of the judgement because of cultural barriers.

**What has been a hardship?Having small children and feeling lonely.  Making good friends who are Japanese, but never being totally sure where we stand with each other or what's appropriate for stopping by last minute or how to read them if I think I might be coming over too frequently.  And because there isn't a large Christian presence, we wonder a lot if what we're doing is okay or will cut it.

**Do you intertwine ministry and your children's lives? If so, how?
B and I have both felt called to minister out of our every day lives, and we feel like the way we minister would be the same no matter where we were living or what we were doing.  Right now, we are on full-time staff in Japan -- but we want our home and our lives to run the same if we were plumbers living in the midwest of America, or high-stakes business execs living in New York.  The where and what is different, but the way we view people and interact with them is the same. We just want to be intentional to love the people around us, have an open home, and seek depth of relationship. So our kids are a huge part of this! They latch on pretty instantly to those who walk through our door, and consider everyone a friend. (This also means they will make you lay on the floor and jump on you, or take you on endless trips around the block on the scooter!)  We want our kiddos to grow up feeling like its normal to include others in what we are doing, and we encourage them to ask the people who come over to help them solve the problems they usually come to us for help with. (Putting shoes on, getting drinks, cleaning up toys, etc)  I think this helps them form bonds with the people in our home, and then they are excited to have them over, rather than feeling like this person or this group is a hindrance to their relationship with mom/dad -- in their minds, our friends/students/neighbors come over to be with THEM. :) Also, the people coming to your home feel like they are really a part of your lives when they become helpers/big brothers/big sisters/aunts/uncles/etc to your kids -- it shows them you trust them, and I think that goes a long way in creating deep and lasting friendship.

**Looking back, would you do anything different?I don't have far to look back yet, but I've already made a lot of mistakes.  But honestly (and this will sound cliche, but I don't mean it that way), I wouldn't change many of them, because the mistakes have been the reason I've learned so much -- being angry when I shouldn't have made me learn a lot about grace-filled parenting.  Struggling with not wanting to discipline for fear of emotionally damaging my children led me down a path to greater freedom in Christ and being healed from a stronghold of guilt in my life.  These (among others) are things I wouldn't trade for the world!  Even though in the process, I messed up TONS and have done things I regret, I feel at peace knowing that those things were part of God's story for my life, and for my kids' lives.  

**Looking forward, are there things you want to try teach your children?SO MUCH! But at a recent staff conference, a couple talked about parenting and shared that it's best to not complicate things and to find just a few character traits you want to instill in your children and focus on them.  I think theirs were obedience, kindness, diligence, and respect.  B and I have talked and prayed about it, and the things that have been on our hearts to give our children are thankfulness, repentance, obedience, prayer, and love. There is so much that is under the umbrella of these, but then we have something to point toward, something to focus on.  I think these things will probably be different for each family, depending on what mom and dad's gifts are and how they experience God.

**Whats one thing you want to share with college women, single, newly married or women with children who are struggling to do or are new to ministry?
Let your life be your ministry.  Don't dichotomize between when you are doing "ministry" and when you are just living, because they should be one in the same.  Focus on learning how God has made and gifted you, and find the things that you really enjoy doing.  Then seek to include others in those things, learning and loving together as you go along.  Don't feel pressure to minister, because the people around you will know when you are being with them out of a desire to know and love them, and when you are doing it because its what you "should" be doing.  Learn to be friends with anyone.

We can pray for Jamie and her family as they return to America for four months this summer. Pray that they would have wisdom in resting and meeting with friends & family.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

M.I.M: dream big

Next on our list of Moms to question and interview for good ideas is my good friend Joni.  Joni and I first met in Japan in 2006. I remember emailing her days beforehand to see if she would bring me some hair products from America.  And since then she has always graciously given me gifts, her time, and her energy.  Joni and I have so many memories together it's hard to pick just one or two but one thing I love about Joni is that she is a BIG dreamer like me.  We often set these high and lofty goals (like reading through the Bible in a month) that we can't sometimes finish but I know that if ever I need someone to dream big with, it's Jones!

Joni will celebrate her daughter Esperanza's first birthday this June and her 2nd wedding anniversary a week or two later on.  A lot of exciting celebrations for Joni and her little family.

Thanks Jones for taking time to answer my questions.

**What's the biggest difference between ministering as a single gal and ministering with a baby?
How I spend my time and narrowing my focus...for example, I don't go on campus everyday and don't try to call up a bunch of women.  Now I have 2 women that I focus on, make it to campus once a week and invite women to come over while Esperanza is napping.

**What has been a highlight of ministering as a mother?
I love seeing how joyful Espie is with everyone she meets and she teaches me a lot about how I can love the women around me unconditionally.

**What has been a hardship?
Finding like-minded friends and co-laborers to live life with.

**Do you intertwine ministry and Espie's life? If so, how?
Yes! We have taken her with us on campus, on our spring break trip but mostly we minister from our home.  When our friends from UH come over to our apt. I try to be real with what I am learning in the moment and why God is teaching me as a mom.  Pretty much invite them into my world and get into theirs.  Actually, a lot of what I do now as a mom, I learned from my discipler Tara.  Mike and I have also asked quite a few of the women to babysit over the past year and it is a fun way to connect with them when we come back after our date! :)

**Looking back, would you do anything different?
Dude, I would do a lot of things differently!!! I would release control of ministry on campus (I would worry and feel like I should be on campus more...) and enjoy blessing people as a family.

**Looking forward, are there things you want to try to teach Espie? 
How good it is to know and follow Jesus... how to skateboard, bake cookies, arts and crafts, play guitar, hide His Word in her heart, ask good questions :)... and how to love and value people as the Lord does... (fun things like that!)

**Whats one thing you want to share with college women, single, newly married or women with children who are struggling to do or are new to ministry? 
Can I share two?  Get really good times with Jesus each day and follow His example of relating with the Father and people.  God loves you for who you are - not what you can do for Him! As you follow Him, you will find that there is so much JOY in giving your life away!

**If someone asked you, "Why is it important to be intentional outside of the home when God has given you children" what would you say?
Philemon 6 "I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith SO THAT you may have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ." If I want that, and if I want that for my children, I need to be intentional among the lost.

**How can we pray for you?
Friends in Hawaii to labor alongside of and His wisdom to know how to raise our little Esperanza!

Monday, May 14, 2012

M.I.M: ENFPs unite!

I'd love to tell you about the first time I met Megan but whoops, I've actually never met her.  I met her husband back when he was an Indiana student over the summer of 2006 when he came to Japan to hang with students for a cross-cultural experience.  I really liked Jason and the other Indiana students so naturally when he got married I knew I would equally enjoy his wife Megan (actually I enjoy Megan a bit more but that's because the more we talk, the more we find we're kindred spirits, I don't think her husband will mind me saying). We both realized we're ENFPs on the meyers-briggs which is fun because every time Megan writes me an email I sit there nodding and agreeing with 99% of what she has to say.

Megan and her husband have been married for four and a half years to which she adds "I'm still newly married enough that I count the half years!"  They've been hanging out in Japan for a little over two years and three months ago Megan gave birth to her sweet and ah-dorable little peanut, Lucy!  I really should have asked questions about birthing in another culture but that seems to digress a bit.  We'll have to save those questions for another chat. Anyway, I thought it would be great to ask her some questions not because she is a seasoned veteran of intertwining home and hosting but because she is in the thick of it.

Thanks Megan for taking time to answer the questions!!

**What has been a highlight of living overseas with Lucy? 
Its been a huge blessing to see the students respond to bringing a new baby into our ministry. 

**What has been a hardship? 
Its really hard for me to change from the mindset of what ministry looked like before to what ministry looks like now. I know deep in my heart that I do not want to put my children on the altar of ministry by trying to force my own agenda on them, and I know that my investment in her little soul now is so valuable and her needs are more centered around being at home, yet its hard to shake my expectations to still participate fully in ministry activities outside our home.

**Do you intertwine ministry and your home? If so, how? 
I recently received some wonderful encouragement that home (taking care of babies, doing the laundry, etc.) IS ministry because Jesus is the center of our home and family. Its hard to change gears from ministry being only one-to-one discipleship or big group events or more event/activity oriented. But bringing students into our home and just doing life as we follow Jesus, even if its without specific agenda, truly is ministry. Jesus really did discipleship just by living life together and teaching as He went. So yes, I'm learning to weave those things together, to give myself fully to my husband and daughter. My heart's desire is then to have capacity to create a life-giving home where people experience Jesus when they come. I'm still working out the kinks of how that actually looks on a schedule, but that's what I'm asking God to help me towards. 

**Looking forward, are there things you want to try teach your children? 
I want our children to be able to know God to the most of their ability at each stage of their childhood. I want them to know they are loved and valued by us and the Lord. I do want them to see that out of our love for Jesus and His love for us that we also love the outside world in Jesus. I want her to find how God made her and worship and enjoy Him with all her being. I want her to be able to love people well and love God well because she knows she is loved by us and by Jesus. I so deeply want her to live in the grace of Jesus.

**Whats one thing you want to share with college women, single, newly married or women with children who are struggling to do or are new to ministry? 
Please, oh please, be kind to yourself. If God's grace is enough for you, then you don't need to be harder on yourself than the Lord is. Life transitions are so much more wonderful and difficult than you know. Your Father knows just how limited you are and does not expect seamless transition, but He does want your trust in Him and walk with Him. Also, as I tell myself this over and over, stop comparing now. You will be so stuck in despair or pride if you evaluations of yourself are the standards of other women. 

**How can we pray for you? 
Would you pray for God to shepherd my heart in what activities to participate in? To know how to use my time well as far as when to say no to activities and when to say yes. That I would clearly hear the Holy Spirit when He leads me and teaches me. And that I would extend the same grace to myself. This transition is tougher than I thought!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

don't let the title fool you...

Before I share some really exciting news I just have to take a minute.... I want to thank my mother for making me the woman I am today.  For sacrificing her own dreams, time and energy so that I could follow my dreams and see so many of them come true and bear fruit.  Thank you Mom for being true to your self and true to the calling which God gave you.  Thank you for being a safe place for me to be myself; flaws and all.  Thank you for being the woman I hope to be someday.  I admire you so ardently and hope to be the mother to my girls that you were and always have been to me.  I love you more than I can express through a card, through a blog, or even through words.  So I'll show you how much I love you the next time we hug. Until then, I remain, your faithful daughter. Happy Mother's Day!!

I couldn't resist using Mother's Day to not only celebrate my own mother and other wonderful mothers in my life but to let you know a little "series" I am kicking off to on my blog.

Y'all inspired me after writing my previous posts about mothering and ministering to think and dig deep.  What I would have done when I was a single gal with a question about life would have been to call up a knowledgable friend, meet her for coffee and pick her brain. But since life is a little busy I took the opportunity to interview some mothers, friends and women in my life some questions about things they've learned along the way.

But! Don't let the title fool you.  There are pearls of wisdom for anyone interested in balancing life's many plates that are spinning in your own season right now.  And I asked some of the women to speak plainly to the singles and "no children" women who read this blog.

So I hope no matter where you are in life, you will grab a cup of coffee/tea/hot cocoa or whatever you like to sip while reading some wonderfulness and tune in to read more from what these awesome women have to offer. I really am tickled pink to share my friends with you! 

And these questions are in no ways exhaustive and the list of people was my spur of the moment fresh from the Lord people, but as I pondered this series so many more women came to mind.  So I hope you will use the comments section as the series progresses to ask questions of your own AND to chime in with what has worked for you all.

I'm really SO excited to share this with you and I hope this blesses you as it has me!

With love!  

Friday, May 11, 2012

when i was a guest

I talk a lot about having guests in my own home and how it is my recent passion to have a larger home so that we can make rooms available for others.  The first post is here and the second post where I dive in deeper into this thinking is here.

But I've never written about my experience as a guest and so without further ado. I give you my thoughts on being a guest in one's home.

From December of 2005 to June of 2008 I was a guest of the beautiful country of Japan.  If you look to the right of this blog post you will see a variety of "labels" which link together all my thoughts on one particular subject.  The label titled, "over and about" is my label for those years living in Japan and the processing afterwards upon returning home. You should read some of them.  It's interesting to me how this blog got started as a means to communicate with my family and then turned into me processing a different culture and now it is ... a way for me to still process but in my own country to who knows who!?

During the first four months or so I was a guest in my "director's" home.  I use the term "director" very lightly because although that is probably his official title Mark and his family are more friends than co-workers.  Actually Mark always hated (at least when I was there) the official titles and such that our company gives us.  Aren't we all just staffers working together and having fun?

Living with Mark, Jin and their three kiddos was one of my favorite memories of Japan.  I. Loved. Every. Second.

The blessings I received from living 3-4 months with my friends were:

  • sharing a tiny room with my new teammate and growing to love love LOVE her, 
  • my heart was bonded to my teammate (who was also new to Japan) Mary and the family I lived with, 
  • it helped ease me into the culture, 
  • sharing special moments like late night movies with Jin and Mary that were spur of the moment (and multiple viewings of Pride and Prejudice the 5 hour version... mostly starting at 10-11PM~ yikes!), 
  • sharing an early morning cup of coffee, 
  • getting to hear Mark's vision for campus life as he processed throughout the day, 
  • feeling like I was a part of the family, 
  • time with the kiddos, 
  • and of course horribly embarrassing myself but being accepted for "who I was" just as I was.  I remember panicking at one point that I wouldn't be accepted when the team found out what I weirdo I was (am) but all that was put to rest by living alongside my teammates.  I fully FULLY believe that this was crucial for all the craziness that Japan would throw at me later on in life.  I was secure in my relationship with my teammates so much so that when life came at me and went tipsy turvy I had those relationships to help me get through.

Lessons Learned
A lot of these lessons have been learned as I processed and thought through afterwards.  I owe a huge apology to Jin for not being as aware now of what I should have contributed. Jin, if you read this, I'm sorry.
Three major lessons I learned are:

  • keeping your area clean.  I can't decide how I feel about this.  I think as a host, if you have to understand that your guest may not have the same consideration for cleanliness as you do but then again as the guest, you have to remember that you are a guest in someone's home.  That they have graciously opened their doors to you and to treat their home as a gift and not like you're a sloppy college kid.  I'm sure I wasn't sloppy but I know I wasn't super clean either.  I like having my own messy space even in my home but I've learned with Hubs that my mess needs to have its boundaries and not go spilling into all areas of the house.
  • servants heart.  This goes with the above.  As a guest I wish I had engaged and served my host family and friends better.  I wish I had seen how fleeting the time was and sat with them for more meals.  I wish I had left them alone for family time for more meals. I wish I had babysat more and let Mark and Jin get out. I wish I had cleaned my room. :) I wish I had cleaned other parts of the house that I didn't live in. I wish I had simply said, "Hey, I'd like to clean. Whats a job you haven't done recently or you hate doing and I'll do it?" and then proceeded to do it with gusto.  I wish I had served more.
  • and last, I learned how to live and behave in a ministry home.  There were never moments of "lets all sit down so Mark can preach" kind of moments but in looking back I can see little wisps of wisdom that were passed on to me from both Mark and Jin as they moved around their daily life.  In fact, a lot of my most precious moments are from spending time with Jin in her kitchen....

I'd like to say that the time I lived there was "magical" but honestly it was just plain ol' every day life.  Except that there were wonderful people to share it with.

I hope someday I can open my door to guests to live alongside my family and when that day arrives, that I'll be as gracious and kind a host as Mark and Jin.

Thursday, May 10, 2012


Home is never behind us; but always just ahead of us in this life, if only in the very next instant of the present moment. 

In the best and truest sense, we can never go back home; and we can never leave home behind us. We must go on, to go home. For home is not merely a place. Try going back home. You will find that in some way, it's not there. 

Home is a gathering more than a place. Home is where your people are.

The prodigal left his home in the sense of abandoning his father, his brother, his friends and family. He abandoned his home; not merely his house. And his older brother seems to have left his home even while staying in his house, and never really comes to understand the difference between the two.

What we call "going back home" is an increasingly disappointing experience for us, and it's a mercy - a severe mercy to borrow a phrase from Lewis. It's not as we expect it to be. "Home" as we remember it, is much larger in our memory, for instance, than we find it when we go back to the place where we once had it. But that's not because we have grown. It's because "home" for us has taken on the qualities of being what it truly  is - more than a place. It is associated with a place. But the two cannot be confused. Home is a place of living realities, of sacred moments become precious memories that continue to drive us on in life to seek for them over and over again: that smile that greets us at the door, the embrace of belonging, the comforting nurture and care of mother, the strong presence of father, the joy of foolish revelry made secure and protected, by the walls that shield, confine and forbid the censure of the outside world.

Home is the place where we learn that we can be wrong - even shamefully wrong - and yet desperately and deeply loved. And belonging is only a thing of persons, never merely a place. Home is the company of the persons to whom you belong.  

And the persons to whom we belong are, like us, never intended to stay in one place; never confined to one location. Like us, they go on. So "home" is, for us in this world, a place that is ever on the move, on a journey, in the Way of pilgrimage.

The very thing that keeps us from feeling that we are dispossessed and alone in life, is that very company of "people on the move" - perhaps "the movement" itself.

For the very act of moving on, not away from the company, as the prodigal, but toward the company of the beloved as the returning son to the Father, this is the progress of life, seeking, going on, home.

There is a reason the Bible is full of the language of being "gathered to your people" ... "gathered to your fathers" when we pass from this life. It may well be that is its singular purpose: our book of Home. "In My Father's House..."  

Try going back to a place: It will empty your heart. Keep going on to your people. Your heart will know no bounds to the joy, even at the thought of it. In this life, home is always just before us, as we live seeking to be gathered to our people and to the people of our Father.

thoughts on "Home" by Ed Schupbach
picture of my purple unicorn bike on which I learned to ride without training wheels and pop wheelies alongside my brothers. the adventures on this bike knew no ends.

Saturday, May 05, 2012

dawson & sentimental fools

I am a sentimental fool.  It's true. You can call me that and I actually won't get offended.  Any other type of fool and I'd probably cry in a corner.

I don't know if Hubs knew this about me before recently or if it's more on the forefront of my life now that we have children but almost everything I dream about these days is sentimentally in tune.  Hubs noticed this when I told him about my dream to get wood from the family barn and build a door out of it for our future home.  You can see the blog that inspired me if you click here. (cue drooling now)

I love the thought of the past tying in with the present and the future, my daughters eating cookies their great-grandma learned to cook while she was a 16 year old working in a home for a rich family.... sniff, sniff.  I can't help it.  There's just something magical about sharing life and history.  It's what makes us who we are.  Let us never forget where we've come from (and I'm not talking about the "us" as in our own lives... I'm talking about the "us" that spans back generations, lifetimes, oceans, immigrations, etc.)

Hubs and I work for a Christian ministry called The Navigators.  Recently, I have been inspired to read more about the beginnings of our ministry and its founder, Dawson Trotman.  He was a pretty cool dude.  He was definitely human and flawed but it's amazing to see how God used his life very intentionally to serve a purpose before calling Dawson Home.

One thing that stood out to me about Dawson and his wife Lila is that they constantly had an open door policy with men and women in their lives.  They even had men and women living with them at different points in their lives.  This was how they did "training" with their staff.  They literally shared life with the men and women who wanted to join their ministry endeavors.

This stopped me in my tracks.  Why don't we do this anymore?

Three specific things stood out to me about this arrangement.  One: ministry is more than just meeting for coffee once a week.  Passing on what God is teaching you is about letting people see the good and the bad, like allowing people to see you pray with your children and oopsy, maybe even losing your temper with them too.

Two: because you always have someone in your life you are allowing yourself to be open and vulnerable to them as well.  Sometimes I think as "the staff" I  share and I teach but I forget that I need to listen and to be taught.  Third: the person living with you has to be quite humble.  One young lady, Morena, was asked to stay on their couch as her living quarters, often times not able to go to sleep until guests had vacated her room.  I thought, "Holy turtles, this is amazing!" because Morena was later married to Jim Downing who is an amazing staff guy.  It's basically a lot of history with the Navigators but you didn't ask Jim and Morena to sleep on your couch now.  You'd give up the master bedroom and scour it with bleach and cleanser till the whole thing shined.

These are people that God used to turn a small pack of raggle taggle Navy guys into the worldwide organization that it is today.  You don't ask these people to sleep on your couch... and yet, they did.  They did because in the grand scheme of things learning to pass on your life and ministering to others was more important than where one slept.

So all this rambling to say... how can I open my doors and let others in not just to teach but to be taught? (Anyone, wanna live with me? I promise you don't have to call me Lila.) And, what is the "couch" in my life that I am refusing to sleep on because I'm too good? (metaphorically speaking, of course)

I did live in my director's home once with his wife and three kids... more on that and what I learned next time.


(*my thoughts and sentimental ramblings are coming from the book, "Living Legacy" by Jim Downing and "Daws" by Betty Lee Skinner)

Friday, May 04, 2012

a mama's gotta do

So I've been struggling a bit.  I'm not sure where it's all coming from but I have really been rolling some thoughts around in my head and I wanted to share them with you. Men, I hesitated sharing this because I wondered what can a guy gain from motherly topics/womanly issues? Don't worry I'm not going to talk about menstrual cycles, etc.  At least I don't feel led to talk about those at the moment and if I'm already beginning to lose you can I just say, "wait"!  I think it's important for men to read up on some of the issues women face because hey, you want to be excellent husbands and fathers, Lord willing that is in your future and so I offer my humble experiences to both genders hoping that I can learn some from processing my thoughts on this blog and you can learn some from my mistakes and experiences.

My experience on staff with our christian ministry has been an up and down hilly ride of exciting seasons followed by droughts, storms that would toss even the bravest sailor and rainbows and skipping through fields.  I think I've had a somewhat well-rounded experience with our ministry.  I've had faithful teachable amazing women and I've had gals who haven't stuck around long enough to give me a chance.  All of it is fine. All of it has made me who I am. Since getting married though I've noticed that the bar for me to minister outside the home has been set extremely low.  On one hand, this is awesome because I'm not being pushed to do too much and be too busy. But on the other hand I'm not being challenged or contributing...

Since becoming a mother though I've started to wonder if I should be involved with ministry and if so, how much?

And I just want to say I think the answer for all of us (whether we're involved full-time ministry or not) is yes.  The potential example I hope to set with my daughters is that by seeing people come into our home they will see that we can love and care for others.  They will see faith being worked out as Timothy says, "And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others." (2 Timothy 2:2)

Who are my Timothys? My sweet Love Bugs.  It's my hope that they will see me ministering to people of all life stages, shapes and sizes.

The warning that is going off in my head, however, is not to become so busy that I forget that my main ministry is the home and those who are in it.  Hubs and the Love Bugs.  They have been entrusted to me, in my safekeeping, to lovingly be the iron that sharpens them into the man and women God intended them to be.

So how can we, mothers and wives, minister while not neglecting our safekeepings?
I consider this my "humble list" because I am in no way acting on all of these things but they are ideas that I want to try to include home and ministry.  The humble list includes:
*having people over for dinner often.  I wanna be better about having an open door (and kitchen) for single college kids, dating friends, married friends, co-workers, and new acquaintances.  I think there is just something about sharing a meal that really brings people together.
*having bible studies in your home. (easy enough)
*discipling gals while doing chores around the house.  I remember my good friend Beth telling me that when she was a mom she did not have time to disciple anyone but women kept asking her to disciple them (you'd understand, Beth is a gold mine of wisdom).  So she'd have them over to help her with dinners, chores and childcare while passing on her pearls of wisdom.  I really want to cultivate this in my life but right now I feel a bit frazzled when I try to focus on passing on pearls and peeling potatoes. Whew!

While some of you may jump on this right away, I know there are some that feel overwhelmed that I would even suggest you add one more thing to your ever growing list.  So let me say this, minister where you are at in life.  I couldn't even begin to think about discipling a gal for the first 6 months of the Love Bugs' life.  And then God dropped a wonderful gal into my world that ministers to me more than I do her and she came to me first as someone to help me take care of the Love Bugs.  Then as we shared about our life we realized we were kind of encouraging and living life together.  It was discipleship in its rawest forms.  Now we have a little more structure but it's about all I can handle at this stage of life.

So minister with where you are at in life.  But don't overlook that you may have more room to spare than you think.  Is it possible you could give up a night of tv to host a couple over for dinner? Or meet someone for lunch once a week?  I only encourage us mothers to at least try because I know how life-giving it has been for me.

Where can you minister in life at this time? Because to someone, you may be there "gold mine" or pearl-passer-on-er. Oooo I like that.

And if you are already ministering from your home, please pass on what you've learned and any ideas I can add to my humble list in the comments section!!

Oh, and this is no way reserved for only mothers and wives! Like I stated above I just think sometimes we aren't expected to do much outside the home which can be a good thing but if you are like me, can make me lazy in ministry.