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A Big, Fat Thank You

October 8, 2014

I don’t say it often enough.  Probably, most of us don’t.  But the truth is, I owe a lot of people a lot of thanks.

My first year in Kenya is quickly coming to a close (I’ll be home in 7 Sunday Schools!).  As I’ve been looking back over this year, there are so many people deserving of my gratitude.

To those who have supported me financially, whether a one time gift or a monthly commitment – Thank You! You are the ones who make sure I eat and allow me to have the internet access that let’s me communicate with my loved ones on the other side of the planet.  Your financial contributions also enable me to visit churches and ministries and do things beyond the scope of my classroom responsibilities.   In a very tangible way, you are the reason I’m here.

To those who have supported me in prayer – Thank You!  You are probably the only reason I haven’t fallen off a motorbike or been involved in some ridiculous road accident or contracted some weird disease. You help me overcome the struggles and battles and stand strong in what God has called me to do.  You are the reason I have survived this first year.

To those who have supported me emotionally, sending cards, letters, care packages, emails, Facebook notes, whatever – Thank You! You may think nothing of that note you hastily typed out before running out the door, but to me, it came on the perfect day at the perfect time to give me a boost of encouragement.  You are the reason I’m still here.

Most of all, to my family – I could never say thank you enough.  You made me who I am.  You support me in ways I’ll never know or fully understand.  And you always have.  Your sacrifices now and for the past 30 years have brought me to where I am.  I am so incredibly, beyond words grateful for you, grateful that God let me have you.  I am a blessed girl, a blessed daughter, sister, aunt.  You are the reason I am able to do what I do.

I may have come alone, but I am not blind to the countless people who make it possible for me to be here.  There are so many people who have joined me on my journey, and I am so grateful to God for every single one of you.

So, let me say it again…

THANK YOU

You mean the world to me.

Grown Up

September 25, 2014

I am 30.  I have 2 degrees.  I’ve held multiple jobs.  I’ve signed leases and bought insurance and have a retirement account.  I take intercontinental flights by myself.  I live on my own.  I have a funeral plan.

 By all accounts, I am a grown up.  Or should be.  Some days I feel like it.  I look around and the evidence of adulthood is undeniable.  Other days, I feel like Kevin McCallister or the girl from 13 Going on 30.  Sometimes I wonder if I will ever feel fully adult.  If I will ever stop having those moments where the girl version of Becky overtakes the adult version.

But the other day I realized, I kind of don’t want to…

I may be 30, but I still love playing pretend.  I still love imagining and wondering “what if” (as evidenced by a recent 3 day stint investigating how to become an FBI Special Agent).  I still find myself looking at the sky and making shapes out of the clouds.  I still lose myself whenever I fly through the sky on a swing.  I’m still the little girl who believed when her daddy said “you can be anything you want to be.” I still stay up far past my bedtime reading with a flashlight under the covers because I’m so drawn into some magical faraway place – whether that place is a novel or a research article.  I live in my very own make your own adventure book.

And in my mind… that’s okay.

It’s okay, because in some way, I believe our innate, childlike innocence, our capacity to imagine and pretend and see things differently from how they actually are, is a reflection of our Creator.  It takes a fierce imagination to look at the splendor of creation and say,
“You know what’s missing? Duck billed platypus.

One of my favorite quotes comes from G.K. Chesterton’s Orthodoxy.

Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged.  They always say, “Do it again”; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, “Do it again” to the sun; and every evening, “Do it again” to the moon.  It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we.

I don’t want to grow up if that means I lose “the eternal appetite of infancy.”  I want to be strong enough to “exult in monotony,” to see the joy and beauty and hope of an every day occurrence.  I crave a spirit that is fierce and free.  I hope I always maintain the capacity for pretending and imagining. I hope some part of me always believes the fairytale and follows the path of adventure.
Not naive, but innocent, trusting, exultant.

Because let’s face it, no matter how “grown up” I become, there will always be faraway worlds to conquer and dragons to slay…

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…

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