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Faces

September 3, 2014

I’ve been meaning to post this for a while… Just a few of the faces I’ve encountered over the last nine months (say what?!)

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Lucy the baker.  I buy my chapati from her.  She has an amazing story.

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The one on the left was SO sassy!

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Such a beautiful place full of beautiful people.

Yet Again

August 26, 2014

A few people have contacted me about my blog lately and it got me thinking about how inconsistent I am with my writing. I suppose I should say how inconsistent I am with my posting rather than writing, seeing as I have about a million, give or take a few, unpublished blogs.

Thing is, I often feel like I don’t really have anything worthwhile to say. Or I write the worthwhile thing, get it out of my mind, but never get back to polish it up and post it. But when I looked back over my blog this afternoon, I was really disappointed that in almost 9 months of living in Kenya, I’ve only posted 18 blogs. That averages out to about 2 a month, but really, there’s so much more I want to share, so much more I want to remember.

Quite honestly, the biggest problem is my lack of discipline in my writing. So, I’ve made a decision: I’m going to assign a particular time in my schedule to writing, just like I have certain times set aside for studying and class prep and other important things.  And I’m starting with an idea I’ve stolen from my friend Stephanie: a daily gratitude journal. 

Here’s hoping it sticks this time!

Unclutter

June 12, 2014

I find traditional liturgies to be a deep treasure, especially beautifully written prayers that I can read and meditate on.  One of my favorites is an Advent prayer titled, Come Home to God.  An excerpt…
Come Home to God
Unclutter your life
Take time to notice God’s presence
Let it flood your heart
Let it drench your soul
Let it overflow your spirit
The imagery of the second half is amazing. The overwhelming washing of God’s presence! Like a wave that completely overtakes you, dragging you under until you are completely submerged in the presence of God. Every morning when I read it, it takes my breath. But the most important part to me right now is the second line… Unclutter you life
While we certainly need to minimize the physical clutter in our lives… too many shoes, too much clothes we never wear, too many books, toys, dishes, contraptions, whatever. That’s not really what I’m talking about.  The non-material that we allow to fill our lives can cause just as much, if not more clutter. How many tv shows do I watch in a week? How many stupid articles do I read? How much music do I listen to that distracts me from my purpose and God’s heart for me? How much worry or frustration or anger do I allow to fill my heart and mind and push out joy and peace?
So this week, I choose to unclutter. I choose to make room to notice God’s presence. I choose to eradicate that which would overwhelm.  I choose to position myself in such a way that my soul may be drenched by the Spirit.  Julian of Norwich once said, “The fullness of joy is to behold God in everything.” I want my life uncluttered and uncomplicated enough that I may truly behold God in everything and everyone.

Six Months, Three Days

June 6, 2014

I’m confused…

Didn’t I just post that blog about being here 3 months last week? Maybe the week before? How is it that I’ve been in Kenya SIX MONTHS already?!?!

Well, the calendar doesn’t lie.  At least I don’t think it does.

Six months

That is one quarter of the way through my initial two year commitment.  I look around and try to gauge my progress… I’m not sure what to think.  In some areas, there is definite evidence of growth, but mostly personal.  As far as ministry goes, I’m not so sure.  Things haven’t developed quite as I envisioned, but I try to keep the big picture in mind, knowing that I am working toward a larger goal.  There are plenty of frustrations, but plenty of joys.  Life here can be ridiculously simple, yet awfully difficult at the same time.

I hope through my writings, sporadic as they may be, that I have found a way to articulate the sheer joy and blessing of walking this journey, while being honest about the struggles.  I hope I never romanticize the call to leave all behind to follow where God leads – any way you slice it, it is difficult.  But I hope just as much that I never live a life marked by complaining that would indicate in any way that this difficult calling isn’t worth it, because it is absolutely worth whatever the cost.

The hope of this calling is worth every birthday party attended via FaceTime instead of in person.  It is worth every kiss blown at a computer screen and every missed hug.  It is worth every solo dinner spent imagining the family gathered around mama and daddy’s table.

It’s been said that a missionary is someone who leaves their family temporarily so others may spend eternity with theirs.  That is my hope.  It is worth it to be so far away from the family I love so much, to live life with them at a distance, to miss out on big moments and small ones… it is worth it if even one child has the opportunity to know and experience the love of Christ.

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Answers

May 27, 2014

A while ago I posted a quote by Rachel Held Evans: “Faith isn’t about having everything figured out ahead of time; faith is about following the quiet voice of God without having everything figured out ahead of time.”

I have this quote stuck to my door. I read it multiple times every day. It has almost become my life mantra for this stage. Following without all the answers. That’s tough.

My life is full of questions; my life has always been full of questions. Best I can remember, I’ve always been inquisitive, so even as a child I was always asking questions. Or at least thinking them even when I didn’t ask them.

Honestly, some of the questions I’m currently asking are the same questions I’ve been asking for years. There are hows and whys and whens that I am still waiting to be resolved.

Lately, I feel like God has been reminding me that the answers aren’t what’s most important. I don’t need to have everything figured out. I don’t need all the answers, all the reasons, all the hows and whys and whens. All I need is to trust. Trust that there are answers, even if I don’t know what they are.

In some ways, knowledge is the antithesis of faith. Obviously, if you know me you know I’m definitely not advocating against knowledge. But sometimes we need to not know. We need to allow ourselves to marinate in the uncertainty of life so that we can be infused with faith. You ever just sit in silence and allow all the questions to roll over you like waves? Not seeking answers, just sitting with the questions. It can be an incredibly revealing experience. It can open your eyes to your own doubts and lack of faith. Somehow, by sitting with our uncertainties, we can gain a measure of strength and understanding that could never be found in the actual answers.

So here I sit, in my tiny apartment, in a town far away from my home and family and all that has shaped me to this point.  I sit with my questions; they are my constant companions.  I haven’t stopped looking for the answers, but I know the answers aren’t the end goal.  Because most of the time, answers simply bring new questions.  New questions to sit with and learn from.  And we begin again with the process of following the voice of God without having everything figured out…

My Mama – Remix

May 11, 2014
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I guess it’s kinda cheating, reposting a Mother’s Day post… like recycling a card from 3 years ago.  But, I really couldn’t say it any better than I did back then.  Trust me, I tried.  I can add, though, that her love and support for me has continued to shape me in the years since writing this.  We’ve added a few more adventures and some mishaps to our story and I’m sure that will continue, too.  I’m sure 30 years ago, she never could’ve imagined all the nonsense she would go through because of me.  I’ve enjoyed the ride; I hope she has too.

Mama, I love you.  I can’t be there today to give you a hug or a card or make dinner or sing you a song, but here’s a blog post in your honor.  I hope you have an amazing Mother’s Day.  I’m blessed to be yours.

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Last week I wrote about my Daddy and since today is Mother’s Day, I figured I’d do a little post about my Mama.

While I’m like my Daddy in a lot of ways, I carry Debbie around with me everywhere I go.

I see her eyes when I look in the mirror…

But she also taught me how to look through those eyes.  To see beauty in the world.  To love those I see.  To know that God’s glory and blessings are everywhere.

When I’m worn out and just don’t wanna anymore, I feel her strength deep inside me…

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My Mama probably would deny it, but she has a fierce strength.  I think back to the time when my Daddy was sick and honestly, my memories are good, happy.  In the midst of certain tragedy and trauma, she held us together with her determined faith, constant prayers and overwhelming love.  John-Paul and I came out of that chapter of our family’s life relatively unscathed because of God’s grace and the gifts he has given our mother – strength, faith, love.  And fortunately for me, she passed those down, too.

And probably most importantly, I hear her voice in my head.

When I’m uncertain about a decision, I hear her… “when in doubt, don’t.”  When I can’t understand or see God’s answer, I hear her… “God always answers… sometimes yes, sometimes no, sometimes wait.”  Every single time I sit at a traffic light I hear her… “Red means no, green means go.”  (That little phrase has far more applications than one would think!)  When I’m scared or nervous or just in really bad traffic, I hear her simple prayer, “JesusJesusJesus.”  When I’m questioning where my life is going, I hear her quote her favorite verse, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord…”  When I’m really tired and maybe a little lonely, I lay in my bed and hear her singing… “We love you Becky, oh yes we do.  We love you Becky, there’s none like you.  When you’re not near us, we’re blue.  Oh Becky, we love you.”

This is just to say… I love you Mama, oh yes I do.

So the most important one might actually be this last one…

I inherited her love of Rod Stewart.

Please excuse our bedraggled state.  This was taken just after the concert. 

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Quite honestly, the older I become and the farther from home I go, the more important these lessons are to me.  I still hear her songs and her prayers.  I sing them over the children I meet.  I pray them over myself when there’s no one around to pray them for me.  I wish every child could have a mother like mine.

Surreal

May 1, 2014

My life is surreal.

On the one hand, I cannot believe I live on another continent doing things I only ever dreamed of. There are nights I look up at the stars, awestruck at all the ways God is working in my life. I visit places, I see people and things that I’ve read about but couldn’t begin to believe I would one day see with my own eyes.  There are times I close my eyes and suddenly I’m a little girl again, sitting on the floor spinning a globe, wondering and imagining what I might find if I ever got to go to those far away countries.  I sit in a moment and marvel.  Yet here I am, living a life beyond my wildest imaginings.

On the other hand, there are days when I look around me and all I see are statistics come to life. Things I studied, things I’ve read or researched, in human form.  The theoretical becomes the lived.  And again, life is surreal. It can be very difficult to reconcile what you have known only as “information” with the people now in front of you.  I find myself asking over and over, “Is this real?”  How can it be that girls are married off at 12 or 13 and that is totally acceptable?  How can people actually justify and participate in practices like female genital cutting?  Sometimes I look around and wonder how some things are more than just facts in a book.

This is my life… an amazing mix a wonder and beauty and questions.

Yes, my life is surreal.

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