Thoughts for the Journey

Welcome to my journey! Perhaps you'll find some encouragement, laughter, or just a thought as you walk along with me.

Monday, January 29, 2018

What They Longed For

"(Abraham) obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. ... like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents..."

"...for he was looking forward to the city with foundations
whose architect and builder is God."

"All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth. People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better country- a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them."

"...They wandered in deserts and mountains, living in caves and holes in the ground. These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, since God had something better planned for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect."

~excerpts from Hebrews 11

There are some things about this type of lifestyle (overseas missionary work) that are rather difficult. This is me sharing about one of them.

I still remember the day back in summer 2009 when our U-Haul rental trailer showed up. We were committed, so it wasn't by any means a moment of fear to pack up what belongings we hadn't sold and move across the country. But it was very surreal. Surreal to uproot our entire lives, not knowing exactly where we were going, and proceed to walk this road by faith. It's counter-cultural to much of this world to not have roots planted in the soil. To not have a foundation. (Yes, even though the houses in the tribe don't generally have concrete foundations, they do have their own form of foundations- posts that are planted deep into the earth.) It is, to say it simply, unsettling to not be settled. I'm not too terribly 'girly' in general... in fact, my husband is much more of a "Martha Stewart" than I am... I remember finding some small shelves at a thrift store once and asking him if they would work for one of our rooms, but alas, "they didn't match." Haha! But in all seriousness, as a woman I do find that the deepest part of me has a longing to be settled, to have roots planted, to have a foundation to stand on. This lifesetyle has essentially made us sojourners/travelers. Consequently, no matter what home we go to (and we have lived in so many over the last decade!), it never quite feels like "mine". In fact, the longer we live this journey, the less ANYthing feels like "mine", be it a house, or a country, or a local church, or even a friend. I don't feel like any of those things belong to me, and I don't anymore feel like I quite belong to any of them.

There are definitely times when my heart feels sad about this. The constant 'goodbyes' are a constant reminder to my heart of its reality. This lifestyle gives us the best reunions with family and friends, but they always feel much too short-lived. The people we leave behind can't feel my heart pounding as we drive away. They don't see the tear slip down my cheek as their home and their town fades off into the hills. They don't sense the tugging at my heart as our plane pushes back from the gate. They don't feel the ache as I accept that a few more years will now go by before I get to hear their hearts again or worship the Lord together in person with them. They don't grasp that I feel like a visitor at churches we have spent years with, because there are so many new faces. They don't understand that we scratch our heads that a fast food burger that used to be $1 is now $4. They don't see how we could feel foreign in our passport culture.

Then there are other times when I am feeling quite the opposite about it all, for indeed as time goes by I feel an ever-deepening closeness to those of whom the Scripture passages above speak of! These are my brothers and sisters who have gone before me, leaving all that they knew behind them for the greatest purpose there ever was! How could I do anything but rejoice along with them, even through the suffering! These are the people who feel ever more like my true friends, largely in part because I now share in their longing for that 'heavenly country'. The sense of longing for home here on earth, although quite real and heart-breaking at times, essentially becomes completely eclipsed by the longing for 'a heavenly country', for 'a better country'! There simply is no place on this earth that will ever fully feel like "mine". For the "home" that I long for is really a person. It's the Person that I long for-  it's Jesus Himself! On the day when we are finally with Him face to face for all of eternity, then I will at last feel like I have a foundation to stand on, a place to plant roots, a place to call Home. 

Friday, July 21, 2017

It's a Crock Pot Life

I. Am. Amazed.

Here we are in the USA for our first Home Assignment/Furlough.

Without wasting your time, or mine, since we are all very busy (apparently our American culture has folks trapped into thinking we are so busy that we MUST read and answer texts while we are driving in our cars??), I'll just get to the point.

Guys- my whole life feels like a crock pot. There are machines that are doing the work FOR me! I feel like I can "Fix It and Forget It" with all of these things:

  • Food. I made pork carnitas a couple weeks ago in the crock pot. It was glorious to pop it in and have it be done a few hours later with zero effort on my part!
  • Laundry. I can have a whole load washed, dried, folded and put away (ok, my kids do that part) in just a couple hours! I have a washer in the tribe, but not a dryer!! It's amazing!
  • Dishes. There is a dishwasher in the house we are staying in. This machine is so much more of a time-saver than I even realized! I put them in dirty, and add this fancy-looking dishwasher soap tablet thingy, and a couple hours later I have clean, dry dishes.
I hope this doesn't turn me into a gripe when we return to PNG next year! :) Honestly though, that is why we strive for balance over there. We are not living over there just to 'live there'. We have a job to do, a very important job! So as a mission organization, they encourage us to consider what tools/resources will help us to be most effective in that job of church planting and discipling, translating... That is why pretty much all of us have washing machines for our clothes. There might be tribal locations with a dryer, or a crock pot.. I'm not sure. But it's also why we live in somewhat normal houses, and why many of us choose not to keep up a garden or chickens or whatnot. It's not wrong to make those choices either, but we are always wanting to consider what will give us the most time to both raise our own families, and to have the most time possible spent directly with the people the Lord has sent us to reach with His gospel of grace through Jesus Christ. 

Anyway, this is going to be a different year, for sure, with all these Fix-It-and-Forget-It machines at my disposal! It's glorious, and to be perfectly simple, it's just "really, really nice!" I'm sure my daughters don't mind either- they get a break from washing dishes by hand for a year. And all of these machines equal more time they can spend with me (like it or not, haha).

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

The Final 100m

I remember running the 400m dash in high school. (Anyone else?) Those of us who ran it had 'affectionately' called it the 'race from hell'. Some consider it the longest sprint (the longest of the sprinting races). Because you literally have to run the entire lap around the track with full exertion, or you are guaranteed last place, or at least a slow time.

I have very clear memories of feeling pretty awesome for the first 200m (thank you 200m dash for helping with that!). But by the time I was rounding that last curve, the sight of that final 100m made me feel like throwing in the towel/vomiting/quitting track altogether- EVERY TIME. The only time I felt great running that last 100m was when we competed against the only track team in our district that was smaller and, frankly, slower, than we were. The other schools we ran against ... well they basically had a budget for a track team (a nice track to train on, trained coaches, more than 15 members of the track team, and uniforms more recent than the 80's). I will say no more. But regardless, our little team stuck it out year after year, and whenever we ran against 'that one school', boy was it exhilarating to finish in 3rd, 2nd, and even 1st place!

But back to the beloved 400m dash. Training for this sprint was everything. I didn't turn into an Olympian by any means, but I learned well that it wasn't sufficient to only train up to 400m. No, in order to finish it well, you needed to train past 400m- you need to be able to keep the pace to 500m and 600m and beyond. By my senior year, I applied this better and better, and even qualified at the League level for the first time! (Yeah I know, League level..."whoopee". But hey, see the previous paragraph for subtle hints about the prestige of our tiny little team! We took whatever we could get and we ran with it! Ouch...)

But even after learning to train better, and nearly qualifying for the US Olympic team (clearly!), I still found myself feeling so tired, panicked, and eager to quit once I approached that final 100m of the race. Why?? Why, with so much training, and after running the same race for 3 years?? Why was I so tired?? BECAUSE THE RACE IS RIGOROUS! (And because I'm no Jackie Joyner-Kersee. Yes she was one of my track and field 'heros' growing up....and Michael Johnson! I wanted his gold spikes so badly!)

You know you wanted them too....
(Photo credit: Complex)

So here's where I'm at, being as honest as possible. We have been learning language and culture for about 3 years now. First Tok Pisin, and the last almost 2.5 years, Tigak. If you've followed our progress as we've had our CLA evaluations, you know that we are about 3/4 finished learning the language. That's right. There's your cheesy analogy. You knew it was coming! We are staring at the final 100m, and I. AM. TIRED. Despite spending 4 years in training, becoming equipped to be great learners, understanding the cost and the sacrifice of leaving much behind to go and make disciples in the 'uttermost parts of the earth'... despite all of this equipping, I find myself getting very tired. Why? Did I do something wrong? .. NO! It's because the race is rigorous! The Apostle Paul talks about training for and running a race well. You train rigorously, and you do not run aimlessly. No, you run hard so as to win the prize. Nothing easy about it.

Granted, this final '100m' of language learning is some of the toughest. It involves trying to grasp the elements of language at a discourse level (how to naturally connect paragraphs and thoughts, in essence). And because we are at this level of language learning, we are able to dive deeper into the culture. We are learning the "why"s, the motivations, and the beliefs that lie beneath the actions and behaviors happening around us.

I think some of my tiredness makes sense, because at this stage, when we sit down with a language helper/friend to explore these deeper areas of language and culture, it's much more taxing mentally than the early days of pointing to pictures of animals and trying to memorize them. But it's not just the language learning, it's balancing so much every day that is becoming more difficult for me.

So I need your prayer, that the Lord will grant me the energy I need each day:

  • to get up and make the coffee and drink it, 
  • to sit as His feet and let Him teach me His Word (fancy talk for "read the Bible"), 
  • to savor my time homeschooling my dear daughters, to enjoy them for who they are, and raise them in His ways
  • to delight in making meals for my family
  • to be content in my work of taking care of the home so as to be a joy and helper to my husband
  • to be a diligent language and culture learner in this last 100m, because the CLA days are nearly gone!
  • to listen and hear His voice regarding any discipleship I should be doing at this time of learning
  • to have wisdom in balancing all of the above, and not to put undue guilt or pressure on myself, because that is not of Him
Would you please stop scrolling for a minute and pray for those things? I am your sister in Christ, and I would be very grateful for your prayers, because I am very tired, but I want to run this final 100m whole-heartedly, and with as much strength and zeal as possible, so as to cross the finish line WELL!

Thank you!

I'm looking forward to the free banana, granola bar, and water bottle at the end of this race.

(Photo credit: "For the Win USA Today", Rio Olympics 2016)

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Doing Ministry as a FAMILY

Our kids are in this with us. They've been in it with us since day one. Since they day the Lord blessed us with children, we wanted to glorify Him among the nations together as a FAMILY. We believe that once He gave us children, our responsibility was to raise them in His ways. And what is "His way"? To bring glory to His Name by reconciling mankind back to Himself through the death of His beloved Son, Jesus Christ. By loving our kids within our family, we model and teach them His loving, just, and merciful character and relationship toward us! And by having them minister alongside of us, we model and teach them His heart for mankind.

Some of the ways our kids are involved include:

-helping to give out bandaids and medicine each afternoon.

-answering simple requests at the door (we actively encouraged and helped them learn the national language so that they can feasibly do this. And they are learning bits and pieces of the tribal language as well).

-building relationships with the Tigak kids in the village. They play with them, cook food together over a fire, and sometimes Naya even does a litte "Bible study" with some of the girls her age.

But just last week, my children were actively involved in ministry in a very different way, 
bless their little precious hearts. Here's how the story goes.

One of the ladies, a believer, came and sat with me outside our house in the afternoon shade. Meanwhile, several young kids played together on the tire swing.

After some time,  the mama of one 3-year-old boy stood at quite a distance and called for him to come. (This young woman is also a believer, we are pretty sure.) She called for him several times, but he did not respond. Finally, she called again and as he continued to swing, he turned his head and looked toward her... and then looked away again. A couple good minutes went by, and I looked toward her, and she was still just standing there at a distance. She called him again, and he didn't respond.

So because of the relationships I've been gradually building with these ladies, I went over to the swing, stopped it, and told him (and all the children), "Your mama called for you, but you didn't answer. You need to listen when she calls you and obey what she asks of you!" He looked at me and again I said, "Listen to her voice, and obey what she tells you." He just watched me. So I gently lifted him off the swing. As I did this, he began to get off the swing on his own, and started walking toward her.

'Great!', I thought. But then he turned around to get back on the swing. So I helped turn him around and coaxed him toward his mama, saying the same thing to him again. This time he made it farther, and I was sure we'd accomplished the goal! ... Until he took off sideways to mess around with some big 'flower pots'. (Gahh!)

So I lifted him up again and put him on the right path toward his mama, repeating the same thing yet again. As we approached his mama, with me keeping him on track, I kept saying the same thing so that she might hear it as well. Finally she picked him up and took him home.

This prompted a great conversation with the lady I had been sitting with. I asked her if she thought it was good what had happened between the young mama and her son. She asked, "Are you asking if she was wrong, or he was wrong?" Before answering, I talked with her about how God treats us as His children. When He speaks to us, does He follow through on what He says? Does He keep His Word? I explained that we have the responsibility to teach our children who He is. That is the best way to parent them, because it shows His character: loving, trustworthy, faithful.

Ultimately I asked her if it was right that the little boy didn't respond to her the first time? She said no. But I asked her if it was helpful for his mama to stand far away and yell his name over and over (and not doing anything else)? She thought for a brief second, then said no.
Look at those angel faces... ready to 'minister' at all times! :)

I told her that when my kids were that age, I had to help them to obey what I told them, and to obey the first time I said it.


Naturally, RIGHT ON CUE, my children.... KEEP RUNNING AROUND US, SCREAMING AND BEING SUPER SILLY. So I tell them to go inside the house because they didn't obey me. One child obeys (PTL). The other child sits down next to me and says, "No." (!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?) I say to her, "I asked you to go inside. Now go inside." She stands up and whines, "But I don't want to go insiiiiiiide!!" Beginning to feel the fruits of the Spirit drift beyond my reach, I tell her firmly to go inside and sit in her room until I come and talk with her. Thankfully she obeyed, albeit stomping and making disgruntled noises.

I turn again to my believer friend, and ask her, "Did you see that? See, even my own children have trouble obeying my words."

She giggled with understanding, then asked me, "You said that when your children were young, you used to help them to obey you. How do you do that?" So I explained that when they were young, I would ask/tell them to do something, and if they didn't obey the first time, I would go to them and gently put them in position, or take them to where I had told them to go. I explained that I can't do it out of anger, and that they learn that I expect obedience the first time I ask them to do something. These are things we can do as parents that demonstrate the character of God to our children. He follows through with His talk. He doesn't say something and then not do what He said He would do. He also doesn't lash out at us in anger (but nor does He condone our sin).

This is where a lot of good conversations happen-
sitting in the late afternoon shade, wherever a breeze is found.
As we wrapped up our talk, I explained to her that it wouldn't have been good for me to speak to my disobedient child right away (and in case you're wondering, they both received consequences because they both disobeyed, not just the one child who disobeyed more times), because I was feeling angry and would've spoken to her out of anger. But I essentially put her in a position of obedience (in other words, I didn't remain standing at a distance calling for her over and over and letting her get away with her disobedience), and let myself gain control of my emotions and thoughts before I spoke with her and corrected her.

As she left, she said thank you for the encouragement in parenting. And as I left, I couldn't help but laugh at how my children are ever present with us in this ministry... sometimes in ways I am not quite so proud of, but ways that He uses very strongly to demonstrate to the Tigak ladies that I am not perfect just because I am the 'white missionary', and to demonstrate to them that it is very possible and in fact tangible to raise up our children in His ways!

I dedicate this post to my darling daughters. While I appreciate your ministry, do please learn to obey the first time. ;) 

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Cinderella Was a Liar

She knows it too. Just look at her face.
"These are unreasonable expectations!"
(here, a free coloring page for your kids)

Ok wait, before you throw out your hate speech, Cinderella has been my favorite Disney princess for many years.

But seriously... she was a liar.

It just simply is not possible to carry a loaded breakfast tray in each hand AND one on your head AND glide gracefully up a marble staircase in dress shoes. I'VE TRIED IT. And it just doesn't work. I am simply not enough to accomplish that feat.

To anyone who, like me, has applied the Cinderella analogy to their own life (i.e. "That's me! I'm Cinderella!"), it simply is unreasonable to put that much expectation on one 'normal', hormonal woman and count on it all being done so amazingly. So I call her bluff.

When I left the USA with my husband and kids to be a tribal church planter, I'm pretty sure that I had the expectation that I could not only 'do it all', but do it all AWESOMELY.

(Don't misunderstand- I'm not talking about "Spiritual Giant-hood" here. I am NO spiritual giant. I have a long way to go in becoming Christ-like, and like you, I have good days and bad days.)

But I thought that 'doing it all awesomely' was me simultaneously and daily being:
  • a super wife
  • a gentle, totally loving mama
  • keeping my house spotless
  • never again over-cooking chicken (this is my nemesis, folks. I need help.)
  • being a wonderful friend
  • putting in several hours of CLA each day
  • doing extra homeschool activities (outside of the basic curriculum) (sorry girls. Someday when you read this, believe me that I'm genuinely sorry that I hate crafts. Isn't being an Unpinterest Mom a thing yet?)
  • being out in the village every single day
As the months rolled by, I became increasingly overwhelmed, stressed, anxious, and even guilty about what I had or hadn't accomplished in a day. 

Finally, as I felt myself breaking down emotionally, I brought it again before the Lord (yes, I had been bringing it before Him already) and asked Him, "But what if I can't be all that? Would my offering still be enough?" (i.e. ... if "all" I have to offer in a day is taking care of my house? Or "just" being a mom even though I'm here in the village? Or only having 30 minutes to work on CLA some days? Would that be enough?) 

Well, as I was pouring out my heart before Him, before I had even finished my question, the story from Scripture of the widow who offered the two mites as her offering came to my mind. Jesus told His disciples that this woman gave more than the others, for she had given all she had.

I believe the Lord was beyond gracious with me in that moment. In my heart, I immediately felt like He had given me an immediate answer, similar to the way that a young child begins to express a fear, but the loving parent understands the question before it's even been fully asked, and immediately embraces the child and says, "No, no, don't you even worry about that!" 

The second thing that came into my mind, immediately after the story of the widow giving her two mites, was His purpose for providing Eve as the wife for Adam. God created her and gave her the specific role and privilege of being Adam's "suitable helper". He made her perfectly for that task. And not only this, but in Ephesians, Paul reminds us that our marriages are really a picture of our relationship as believers with Jesus Christ, our bridegroom. So how could there be shame or guilt in taking the time to fulfill that role whole-heartedly? And not only being a wife, but being a mother to the children He has entrusted to us.

So is it enough, for the missionary wife and mom, to not on a daily basis attempt to offer everything on that (ridiculous) list above? Ok sure, some days I definitely have super-charged days and accomplish a ton off of that list really well! But the reality is that most days, I'm having a good day if I do one of them well. But I believe what He showed me from Scripture is that doing that one thing well is beautiful to Him. Plus, this is a lesson I'm trying so hard to teach my darling daughters, one of whom is becoming a "Tween" (LORD HELP!)... "Whatever you do, do it whole-heartedly, as if doing it for the Lord and not for men." If I don't believe it myself, it'll be much harder for me to teach it to my girls.

This does not mean He doesn't want me to learn and grow and excel at things. Not at all. And it doesn't mean I shouldn't work hard. There is urgency in the Gospel! And it's important as we raise our kids that they see us willing to work hard and make sacrifices because Christ alone is worth living and dying for. Also, it doesn't serve as some excuse to hole up in my house for days and weeks on end and never set foot into the village. Rather, it is my opportunity to MODEL what is so beautifully laid out for the woman after His own heart in Titus 2... Paul, inspired by the Holy Spirit, exhorts the older women (older in age or in spiritual maturity or sometimes both) to teach the younger women: 

to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the Word of God.

And yes, sometimes that means that I don't leave the house today. Sometimes it means I have only a few minutes to learn language. On the flipside, sometimes it means that we don't do a piano lesson because we need to spend some time in the village. But in each activity I do or don't do in a day, it's an opportunity to model the life lived in Christ. It's an opportunity to model doing each thing well, beautifully, and to do it as unto the Lord. I don't always do that well, but I believe that is the goal: to grow in these things, both to become more and more like Christ, and to model His love and grace to others.

So as for Cinderella... what a bunch of hogwash. Those are unrealistic expectations, guys. But I guess it wasn't a true story anyway.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

How to Be There

"My dear friend, we are back in the ER. His symptoms got worse, and the MRI shows that his brain bleed has gotten bigger."

30 minutes later...

"They are getting ready to fly us to San Francisco for emergency brain surgery. Please pray."

One of the most difficult things about living overseas is not being able to be there for your family or your dearest friends, both in times of crisis, and in times of great joy*.

It was difficult to watch my dear friend go through a life-threatening situation with her husband, and not be there to help in any way. Not be there to sit by her. Not be there to get her a cup of coffee or force her to eat breakfast.

But sometimes physically 'being there' can be just as difficult- when your culture is so vastly different than the other person's.

"Well, your husband doesn't beat you, so..." ( you can't know what I'm going through.)

Here in PNG, it is unfortunately all too common for men to beat their wives. And some of the believers still carry that struggle. The struggle between:

  • what is 'normal' in many parts of PNG, and
  • what God teaches us in His Word
And so it goes that some of the women that my coworker Aimee and I are here to disciple, carry the burden of being beaten by their husbands from time to time. 

How do I "be there" for a woman who is hesitant to open her ears because she knows that my husband does not beat me? 

These are just some of my recent thoughts and questions. If you were expecting an Ann Voskamp-style revelation at the end, well sorry, there isn't one. There are enough real** bloggers out there now to tickle our ears. How about the wannabe*** bloggers who just have questions? Do we have time as sisters in Christ to just ask questions of each other? 
Actually.... that's what it came down to for BOTH of the scenarios I shared today. Asking questions, and giving answers, and asking more questions, and giving more answers. Why does it come down to that? Because within that kind of open communication lies relationship. How? Because both asking questions and giving answers demonstrates that we are listening, not only with our ears, but with our hearts. Without communicating, relationship fizzles out into mere acquaintance. And there is usually very little trust between mere acquaintances. 

For my dear friend, she and I were able to send emails and texts back and forth throughout that week. She told me how much she cherished the communication we shared during her crisis. I had told her I was so sorry I couldn't 'be there', but she rebuked me saying, "No, you were SO there."

one of the Tigak ladies

For the women here in the tribe, the only way I can continue getting to know them is to ask questions, be a good listener, ask more questions from their answers, and seek the Lord's wisdom for when to ask questions and when to offer Biblical answers. In this way, I can 'be there' for them, even though we are so very different. Culturally, I may never be able to 'be there' for them they way one of their Tigak sisters in Christ can, because I am, in its simplest human form, a foreigner, and always will be. That's just a reality. But with good discipleship, it's a beautiful reality that the Tigak ladies will learn to love and pour into and be there for one another as sisters in Christ, spurring each other on to become more and more like Him.


*There are VERY good and important reasons for missionaries to go home. Some life events are irreplaceable, and wisdom is always needed in knowing when to go home, and when to send a greeting.
**More than 10 followers
***Less than 10 followers, like me. Ha! But I'm not after followers, or being "known" as a 'blogger', just for the record.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

In Brokenness

"He didn't wait for us to be cleaned up and living perfect lives first. No, He sent Jesus to die for us while we were still in the midst of our sin!"

A Tigak sister in Christ sat with me after church yesterday, and together we marveled at God's tremendous grace toward us. How in the midst of our sin and our brokenness was the exact, purposeful moment He chose to save us.

How incredibly freeing, that Jesus didn't ask me to clean up my act before saving me.

Likewise, He did not ask me to clean up my act before USING me. He didn't require me to 'get all my ducks in a row' and attain to some measure of perfection, and THEN He would be able to use me. Rather, He took me in my brokenness and delighted in me! That just blows me away.

Don't misunderstand me, there was work to be done first! In high school, I sat in my English class, knowing wholeheartedly that I wanted nothing in this life but to be a part of His mission, to tell those who had never heard the Gospel of grace. I told Him, "I'm ready to get on a plane and go. Now!" But He had wonderful plans for me then, just as He does now. Those wonderful plans sure sounded unwonderful at the time. But He had a lot of refining work to do in my heart, much growing and maturing, simple life experience, and incredibly valuable equipping. And it would be almost 15 years before I actually stepped into the life I wanted to be a part of back in high school.

Now again, don't misunderstand me! He was not waiting for me to become the epitome of loveliness and grace that women everywhere would marvel at and find themselves squinting at my halo as I waltzed around sweating life-giving water with my angelic children strolling daintily alongside me and always having a spotless home and gracing my every waking moment with insurmountable beauty as Scripture flowed off my tongue and fell upon eager ears like fragrant rose petals.

Oh for heaven's sake!  I am still the same struggling daughter of His now that I was then, wrestling to rest in my identity in Him versus what the world and the evil one try to convince me of. Unsure many times how to interact with people in ways that are relatable. Fighting the perpetual mountain of dirty dishes, reeeeeeeeally dirty clothes, piles of termite residue and roach poop and spider webs (*no, I haven't made any progress in this area, thanks for asking) and ant trails that are really just a 'front' for the fact that our house is most likely held up entirely by ant hills. Longing to be 'Mother Goose' mama to my darling daughters but wishing so many times I had better control of my emotions and my (dare I say it?) tongue. Wanting to be the 'Proverbs 31 wife' but knowing I'm still in my early 30's and have a long way to go since that woman was probably much older than I and I will probably be much older than she was if that can EVER be said of me, and I also don't know much about merchant ships. Asking Him to produce the fruits of the Spirit in me since 'for some reason' I still cannot produce them on my own. Still being surprised and disappointed that I don't always have 'the right word of wisdom' to give to a sister in Christ, here in Tigak or back home, when a need arises, and wondering if that is my negligence to be in His Word and in fellowship with Him enough, or if He simply doesn't need me to be the one to always give the answers on the spot.
[Sidenote to young people considering missions: 1) Becoming a missionary will not make you holier. 2) Moving overseas will not make your struggles magically disappear. 3) There is no such thing as 'holy sweat'. Please pack deodorant.]

But in all of this...
All of this asking and longing and searching and wrestling...
I see Him not asking me to be the face of perfection. Frankly, that would be no good for these beautiful Tigak ladies. If He ever wanted something from me, it is that I would be pointing only to Him, who alone is the face of perfection. It is that my life would be the fragrance of Christ Himself. Jesus' disciples did not say, "Follow me, for I've got it all together." No no no. Just no. They said, "Follow me*, for I follow Christ!"

(*me = me in all of my human-ness, weakness, 'not-enough-ness')

And seriously, guys, we have experienced so many moments when folks here have considered that we 'white-skins' do indeed "have it all together", whether that be spiritually or financially or... (the list could go on). We MUST point to Him in everything we do. Is He the reason behind everything we do? If not, we have some re-evaluating to do.

He didn't ask me to be perfect before He was willing to use me. He asked me to be faithful. And He asks me to give Him the glory. How do I do that? By pointing to Him in all things. How so? By willingly sharing my weaknesses and struggles and my brokenness with those He has put in my path.

You know what the irony is in all of this?

It is FREEING. I think we sometimes get stuck thinking that our brokenness is crippling. Our shortcomings and weaknesses then keep us from moving and living and being effective. I have had more than enough moments of such thinking. But when I took a step back and looked at the big picture of what He is doing in me and in this world, my perspective changed. I no longer felt a slave to my brokenness and shortcomings. I felt free to use them for His glory! Oh and what a deep sigh of relief and joy there is when we can come to that place.

It's not that I rejoice THAT I am broken. And in all of this we're not talking about rejoicing over sin. No, but I rejoice that "He is" in the midst of my "I am not". And what blows my mind is that He is not ashamed to use me. In 2 Corinthians 4, Paul says that "we have this treasure in jars of clay (or 'earthen vessels'), to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us." With all of my cracks and crevices, and chips and stains and flaws, and times when I fought against His best for me, and times when I thought I had what I needed apart from Him, and times when I felt like a useless vessel because my 'world' was falling apart (oh how blind)...
In all of those things and despite them, He is not ashamed of me, because of Jesus Christ! And He wants to use me in my brokenness, and He wants to actually use my brokenness to meet others in theirs. TODAY. Not tomorrow, after I've straightened some more things out. Today. Now.