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.

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