Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Another in the fire

Maybe you don't know what the process to move overseas is like, but there was a lot of what we thought of as jumping through hoops or checking off boxes.  One of those major hoops came when our mission told us that before we could go any further in the process, we had to have some counseling.  I was super annoyed because we have had regular counseling throughout our adult lives.  I didn't want to have to spill my secrets to yet another person and start from scratch - that gets old after a while.  God knew what he was doing though (duh), and lead us to a woman who really changed my life and brought healing to me in ways that had never happened before. 

One day while talking about a particularly traumatic thing in my past, I started to get frustrated.  I mentioned that this had been talked about over and over again, but here I was still - same place, same feelings, same bondage to shame.  It felt like groundhog day, but it was happening in real life for me with one of the hardest things I had ever faced.  

She took a minute to let me cry and vent, then she calmly started praying over me.  She didn't ask me to repeat the story, or to analyze my thoughts and feelings.  Instead, she asked the Spirit to reveal the a particular instance to me.  I immediately pictured the scene that I always went back to.  As I felt myself tense up she then asked Jesus to reveal where he was.  

I have blogged about this before.  I use to feel that my life before Jesus and after Jesus was exactly what that sounded like - that the before part meant Jesus wasn't around and He came after I invited him.  This instance was in the before part, and I honestly never really gave it much thought about where Jesus was. 

There's a song I have been listening to recently called "Another in the Fire" by Hillsong United.  I absolutely love the acoustic version, and can rarely get through it without tears of brokenness as well as tears of absolute awe of his love for me.  The chorus says, "There was another in the fire standing next to me.  There was another in the waters holding back the sea. And should I ever need reminding what power set me free there is a grave that holds no body and now that power lives in me."  

In the moment that this woman prayed for Jesus to reveal where he was when I was going through that trauma, I saw - very clearly- a picture of him standing in front of me.  He was weeping, but he held my gaze.  He was holding one hand out to me and the other was held back behind him - a gesture of power, stopping evil in his tracks.  There was something awful happening, but it was not what it could have been.  I was not being swallowed up by the enemy or destroyed beyond his redemption.  He acknowledged my brokenness, fear, and pain by holding my gaze and looking at me with love and empathy while holding out his own scarred hand for me to see.  

He was in the fire with me.  He held back the waters.  

There was never a before and after with him.  "There is no other name but the name that is Jesus.  He who was and still is and will be through it all."  

This one revelation changed the way I pray and live my life.  As I pray for my family and friends who don't yet know Jesus, I pray that their eyes would be open to the fact that they are never alone no matter what they are going through.  I pray that they see the evil that is being held back and the power in the one who is doing the holding.  I pray that in my own life they will see that the darkness bows to the one living in me, the one whose name is the only thing that can stand against it.  

"And should I ever need reminding of how good you've been to me I'll count the joy in every battle, because I know that's where you'll be."  (Click the link below to hear the song!)

Tuesday, July 23, 2019


We've been living in DC for four weeks as of today.  While reflecting on this last night as a family, we realize that as far as transitions go, this has been a relatively easy one.  A big part of this is the church we have come to and the fact that my sister lives so close.  These are huge gifts to us.

A couple weeks after moving in we had a neighborhood open house to meet the people who live in this community.  Our wonderful friends and landlords set the whole thing up, so instead of taking months or years to meet the people living on the block, we had many of them in our house less than two weeks after moving.  To prepare for this we decide to do some yard work.  The front of the house has a large porch and a cute little yard, but many of the bushes had become overgrown and you couldn't even see the street when you were sitting on the porch.  Because Shawn is the expert gardener in our family, I listened to him when he said we needed to hack it all back and cut away any extra growth and unhealthy parts.  I knew this instinctively, but when we actually started doing it I continually questioned him because it was so bare and ugly! Instead of being green and lush it suddenly looked a bit sickly and barren.  This would be the first impression of people walking up to the house. 

I'm sure you can see where I am going with this.  The Bible is not lacking in gardening analogies.  But even though it seems obvious, I have been surprised at how much pruning and hacking I needed coming back to the States.  

We landed on a Tuesday and drove to DC on a Thursday to start the interview that happened for a full weekend.  I was jet lagged but excited about the possibility of this church, so the adrenaline kept us going.  We left feeling like the weekend was a sure sign that this was going to be our place, and were happy to hear 10 days later that the church felt the same way.  

But suddenly all the newness, the grief of what we had left, and the anxiety of starting over again started to overwhelm.  Even as we settle in, my eyes are open to overgrowth and places of rot that need to be cut off so healing and new life can come.  The problem is that since we are new, I prefer people see lots of the overgrowth because at least it's green, looks healthy, and hides the rot for the most part.  It comes across as life, even though it is actually sucking life out of me.  I don't want to be seen as unhealthy or with baggage, I want to be seen as capable and full of ideas and life.  

But right now God is being very clear that he is pruning me.  And he's not being frugal in that pruning - all the excess is being stripped off down to the place where it can start fresh.  Though a gentle gardener, he's very thorough. He leave nothing that is not his plan in place. 

"My child, your identity needs to be in me alone." 

All those places in life where I have been finding my identity apart from simply being His are being stripped away and I feel raw and exposed.  He is cutting and snipping and sometimes ripping away not only the unhealthy growth of lies about my identity that I cling to and let grow among the leaves, but also the good things that I think define who I am.  Being a loyal friend, being known and authentic, speaking, writing, discipling, teaching - everything has been cut off down to the stubby knot on the branch that is the only visible sign of the promise of new growth.  

But when he points to that little green knot, kisses me on the forehead, and starts singing his love song for me over me, I start to believe that this really is for my good and his glory.  

The bushes outside of our house are already growing new leaves and the gaps and barrenness are being filled in with light green growth that looks different than before, but are obviously healthier and will be beautiful and mature in time.  Shawn was right in the ruthless pruning, and God is (of course) right in his pruning of my heart.  While I can't see the vision of the gardens Shawn plans here, I always end up soaking in the beauty of the results. In the same way I trust God's plan to make me more like him to bring peace and beauty and life to those around me.  

Friday, July 12, 2019


Listening to music always speaks to my heart in ways that seem to break through even my most grumpy, tired, or distant flesh.  I have a current favorite right now that I could listen to non-stop, and whenever I hear it I feel like my emotions explode to the surface. 

"Peace, bring it all to peace
The storm surrounding me
Let it break at your name..."

If you've listened to Christian radio or worship in a place in with contemporary music at all you've probably heard the song "Tremble."  It's not new.  Nor is it filled with a truth I have not heard before.  But something in these lyrics touches me deeply in this time of my life.

Right before we left Kenya I spoke at our church ladies retreat.  One of the things we talked about the first night was how we are in a battle.  We so often and so easily believe the lies that are whispered to us from Satan and shouted to us from the world about who we are, our worth, and our identity.  The longer we allow these lies to sink in, the deeper the roots they grow and the harder the battle becomes to see truth again.  We began our battle that weekend by worshipping our living God. 

Because when we worship, we confess and proclaim that the blood of the Lamb is our saving, purifying grace.  We acknowledge that the death of Jesus overcame anything that Satan can send our way.  We exclaim that the resurrection brings new, eternal life and power to those who believe and who surrender their old life and truly die to self.  One of my favorite passages about this is in Revelation 12:11 "They triumphed over him by the blood of the lamb and the word of their testimony; they did not love their loves so much as to shrink from death."

It's hard to live in truth when you are so entrenched in the lies and hanging on tightly to the life we think is the best.  To surrender, to die - it can be very painful.  It makes us feel raw and vulnerable.  But we are not powerless when we die to self and live in Jesus.   

There is power in the blood and we battle with the word our testimonies about his truth. 

"Jesus, Jesus you make the darkness tremble
Jesus, Jesus you silence fear."

This is not just a poetic lyric to make you feel good in the moment.  I think sometimes I forget that the same Jesus who  commanded the storm to stop with just a word is the one I serve.  The same Jesus who makes the demons tremble at his name is the one working in and through me each day.  He has given us the Spirit, and through Him we have power and authority when we call out in his name for his work to be done. 

"Your name is a light that the shadows can't deny
You name cannot be be overcome
You name is alive, forever lifted high
You name cannot be overcome."

1 John 5:4 says, "For everyone who is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world - our faith."

So as we start this new chapter of life here in DC and as we get to know our new family with whom we will be doing life here, I am excited to hear the stories of these people.  I want to rejoice in the victories, and weep together in the hard, the raw, the ugly.  I want to proclaim the power of the resurrection over the dark places that we are ashamed of and take back the freedom from the slave driver who bombards us with lies.  I want to live life together and know his lavish love and abundant power in the daily and mundane.  I want to be real and authentic about the struggles we have and the places we feel enslaved, because pretending those places don't exist only feeds the lies more.  I want to remind each other of the paradox of being safe in His peace and presence, yet still aware of how we should be trembling in front of His holiness.  I want to know and be known without judgement and without fear because we are all just jars of clay. 

"Breath, call these bones to live
Call these lungs to sing
Once again I will praise..." 

Saturday, May 18, 2019

We're Not in Kenya Anymore, Toto.

Since getting back to the States from Kenya, there have been a few things that make me giggle every time they happen.  While our adjustment has been relatively seamless (home assignment last year helped this) there are still a few things that make me have to stop and think.  Here are some examples:

1.  Which side of the road should I be on when I turn on right on an unlined road?  For the most part I have not had to think twice about it.  But for some reason my right turns always confuse me.  I want to be in the lane closest to me rather than crossing the full road.  This could be dangerous if it was a busy road, but usually the confusion only happens on unlined country roads, thankfully!

2.  Stocking up for Kenya.  The last several times we have been back I would go into doomsday stocking mode.  If I saw good prices on parm, ranch packets, pepperoni, or something else we always took back to Kenya with us I would buy a huge load and take them home to pack in a bin.  Several times I have found myself grabbing unreasonable amounts of things.  The first time I went shopping I bought 4 things of parm "just in case."  Just in case of what?  A sudden shortage of parm in the whole country?  In my defense, this did happen ALL THE TIME in Kenya.  Once I had everyone I knew looking for black beans.  But here - not so much.  Stores are stocked and easy to get to - no going through security a million times, paying for parking, and then realizing the thing you need is not there anyway.  Today I was at the dollar store and saw pepperoni.  The first thing I thought was, "Good price for a pack that size.  I should buy them all."  I refrained.

3.  That's a bird, not a monkey.  Tonight we had a campfire.  We kept hearing the branches of the trees above us moving when birds would take off in flight, and several times Anna and I looked up expecting to see monkeys jumping while we prepared to protect our stuff.  (Monkeys are nasty thieves!) The birds here at not as aggressive as the Kites that we had in Nairobi, so usually we do not have to duck and dive.

4.  Water is easy.  When I am in my bedroom at night and I have finished my glass of water, I can simply go to the bathroom and fill my cup from the sink.  I don't have to buy water or wait for it to filter.  I can also get water for free at restaurants, because they can give me tap water without me worrying about getting Cholera.  Bonus!

5.  It's just barely spring here in upstate NY.  Don't let that sunshine fool you.  I definitely miss the warm sunshine of equatorial Kenya.  The last few days here have been sunny, but if you step outside of the direct sun you still feel the cool breeze reminding you that winter has just ended.  (Side note - this is not the the opinion of the people who live here!  We've been seeing these tough New Yorkers in tank tops and shorts since we landed.  Meanwhile we are wrapped in Kenyan blankets and wondering if the lake will get warm enough to paddle board before we leave at the end of June!)

6.  I don't need a bank loan to eat Keto.  Last week I bought 4 huge packs of butter (hoarding again...) for the price of what one pack would be in Kenya.  And cheese - it's every where and so completely affordable!  And so many kinds and flavors!  Last night we finished off a creamy block of bacon infused cheese! Yummmmm.

7.  On the other hand, avocados are a sad state of affairs here.  I was spoiled with an avocado tree in our backyard in Kenya.  Even when I did have to buy them they were 20 cents apiece and always a yummy texture and taste.  Not so much here.  I saw a sale - 2 for $5.  And they are not even the nice, big ones - just tiny little things. Yikes.

I am sure there will be other cultural adjustments that pop up.  I have been watching the kids and seeing what they are noticing.  They all love free refills of soda here when we eat out and driving here - even in DC - is so much more enjoyable and safe! We miss friends and nice weather, but we are excited for new friendships and putting roots down deep.  It's always an adventure! 

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Kwaheri Kenya

It's my last night calling Africa home.

I feel like the last several weeks I have been on auto pilot - doing the things I needed to do to wrap up work well and get things in place.  This week we had a lot of goodbyes, however my eyes stayed dry and my emotions in check.

But today...

What a hard, beautiful, honoring, loving, joy and sorrow filled day.

I was standing and looking out the window tonight and feeling like this chapter has come to a close.  I don't just mean Kenya - though that is the immediate, in-your-face thing.  But this dream of living in Africa.  Ever since we spent the year in Malawi I have longed to come back and live.  We lived in the most rural you possibly could in South Sudan to the crazy chaos of Nairobi in Kenya, as well as the in-between in Blantyre.  I've seen poverty I could never have imagined, and money that I never knew existed.  I've lived on the brink of war and through insane elections.  And I've shown off this life I've loved to anyone I could.  When people say, "What is it like to live in Africa" I want to tell them to come visit, because my Arica is very different from our cousin's Africa on the West side of the continent.  My Malawi is different from my South Sudan and from my Kenya.  The number of cultures, languages, tribes, landscapes, and climates would take your breath away if you truly thought about it.  And the people...

Well, here's what I have learned about people.  As they say in Malawi, "Munthu ndi munthu."  Man is man.  We may grow up in vastly different surroundings.  We tell our new teammates, "Expect difference as a starting point."  However our hearts and our desires all come from the same deep longing to experience love and acceptance - to be a part of something greater than us.  We want to know that we belong somewhere and that in this gigantic, crazy world there are people that are "ours."

We've found that here.  Our church family has been amazing.  Being in an international church is not always easy - in fact, that is rarely the word I would use to describe it.  All those cultures and languages and ways of doing things "correctly" clash often.  We reach points where we get frustrated and default into "my way or the highway" mode.  We hold grudges over misunderstandings and break relationships because it feels like too much work.  We are human that way.

But we also push into the absolute, breathtaking beauty of seeing the image of God in so many people and faces that looks nothing like us.  When we stand in a circle and take communion and I see people from all backgrounds, religions, cast systems, and cultures breaking bread and celebrating what Christ did for us - it truly is a glimpse of heaven.

As we leave Kenya tomorrow I will miss my church and many of the idiosyncrasies of "Africa."
And I will say goodbye to that dream of living here.  I am ready.  I am excited for what is next and we will jump whole heartedly into it.  But I will still need time to grieve many things as they pop up in the next several months.  It means I have loved well and been loved well - and that is a good thing.

As we look at the possibility of this new international church next weekend we are so excited to see what God has planned.  We dream about friendships and putting down some roots and all the possibilities that this new life could bring.  But we will also be working through the goodbyes as I suddenly realize one morning that I won't be singing in Hindi, or that I can't meet my bestie at Java for lunch, or that driving through a national park no longer means looking for giraffes and lions.  There will be other beautiful things and God will bring new relationships and life to us again  - I know this from experience.

But for tonight I am just sitting in gratefulness for His love for me and the life that he has given to me.

Kwaheri Kenya.  Tuonane Tena.  

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Eating Crow

I hate eating crow.

For those not familiar with this expression because you are not a native English speaker (or simply because I am old and you are not) this means having to apologize for something after taking a strong stance.  Presumably eating crow would leave a bad taste in your mouth.  So does apologizing after you have been so stubborn.

I am a hothead. I am also a verbal processor.  These two things can be explosive together when I reach a point of frustration where I just let it out.  I can't tell you the number of times I have had to swallow my pride and reach out and apologize. It is an almost painful, and certainly humbling - sometimes humiliating- experience.

Over the years as I have grown up and matured (hopefully hah) I have learned better how to hold my tongue and can usually wait until the proper moment to approach a situation in a way that is more calm and reasonable.  However there are still times of stress and feeling overwhelmed when I don't do this in the right way.  This week I had one of those times and I had to reach out to my poor victim (who truly was nothing but the messenger) and ask forgiveness.  Of course my platform to talk about the things that really are a problem is gone because no one takes it seriously anymore.  It's an unfortunate side effect of this particular sin.

One of the things that we continually talk about in our mission is the fact that we, as humans, are capable of so much more evil that we want to admit.  We often surprise ourselves when we fall back into a pattern where we thought we had victory.  We are taken aback my the toxicity of the words that flow from our mouth - or at least the thoughts that come from our hearts, even if we don't verbalize them.  I find myself thinking this often when a thought comes into my head about a brother or sister that I am with.  I expect tons of grace given to me because I know what God is doing in me, but I am quick to forget that he is working in others as well.

However, we follow up that idea with the fact that God loves us more than we can possibly know or imagine.

I have been working with interns and apprentices on this team for the last few years.  They come excited and ready to change the world in a few short months.  They come with a romanticized idea of Kenya, and fall hard when the reality of how hard it is to live cross-culturally hits them between the eyes.  It is one of my privileges and joys to help them walk through the tension of how ugly they feel when the "I'm right and you are wrong" thought permeates through them and the fact that this is not who they are anymore battles for their hearts.  Their sinfulness startles them, but I can see that it is nothing that has not been there all along.  Our flesh is ugly and messy and very, very selfish.

But then I remind them of the good news - the news that they are loved more than than they can even imagine.  The news that the old is gone and the new is here.  The news that we don't fight against each other but rather against spiritual forces of evil.  The news that there is no condemnation for those in Christ.  Often their (and my) first reaction to being confronted with our sin is justifying their actions by whatever means necessary. How crazy our flesh and our need for reputation is!   But slowly I  see a lightbulb come on (again and again) and they confess and repent, they reconcile things between them and whomever they hurt, and they let go of that weight and move on.

It's so easy to remind others of this.  I love mentoring and discipling. Both because I enjoy seeing these revelations happen in the people I am talking to, but also because it is a constant reminder to me of who I was without Christ and who I now am with him.  As I study and teach each of these lessons, I am given a new revelation of the depth of these truths each time. 

I am sure I will be eating crow many more times in life, though hopefully it won't be served as often as when I was younger.  However I am so so thankful for the grace and new life that comes as the next course of that meal.

Friday, March 15, 2019

Bookends of Beauty

I love the bride of Christ.

I know that many of you reading this have seen the ugly, the broken, the spiteful.  It has been aimed at you or someone you love and the hurt has caused so much pain that you ran.  Maybe you are still physically present, but your heart is not fully in.  I understand.  We've been in full time ministry for 23 years now.  You can't be in this type of life without experiencing some of that ugliness - or handing it our yourself. 

However, I have been reminded again recently how beautiful it can be when it is done as a picture of Him. 

In the last few churches that we have been at where Shawn has pastored we have had a point in our time there where we had to admit that we couldn't do it anymore.  These churches in the States were ones that were under redevelopment - meaning on the brink of closing for one reason or another - and we were brought in to see if there was any health left and to push it in that direction if the answer was yes.  That means that we've seen a lot of crazy things!  But we also saw things that were profound and life-giving when we were put in a position where there was nothing to do except allow ourselves to be loved.

When RJ was born with two holes in his heart, our next 6 months were a blur of weekly drives of almost 2 hours to the doctor, figuring out plans, and making sure he stayed healthy and alive.  We had 3 other kids - ages 8, 6, and 3.  Two of them were being homeschooled.  We lived in an amazing farming community and we loved these people fiercely.  We always knew they loved us - they showed us by keeping our freezer full and serving us in many ways, but never so wonderfully as during this time.  Suddenly we had people stepping in to care for the three older ones with no questions asked.  They were aunts and uncles and grandparents to them and loved them.  One time when we were gone for a good portion of the day we came back to find a huge garden planted for us!  We had decided not to do it that year because our time was so chaotic already.  Not only did they plant the garden, but they took care of it and helped with canning the harvest as it came. 

This was the same church that a year later stepped in again and paid for us to go to a marriage counseling retreat center and take some time to get ourselves healthy again.  They also surprised us when we got back from a trip once with a home makeover - painting the walls all the colors they knew I would love and giving us a few new pieces of furniture.  I felt very known and deeply loved.

The church we were at when my mom got sick and spent the summer in chemo before passing away also stepped up during this time of grief when we couldn't think straight.  It was a church of young people, and many didn't quite know how to react to me, but they loved the kids, played games with them, included them in fun things to help them not feel so confused with me gone a lot.  Loving my kids is loving me the best you possibly can. One family gave us an extra car so that I could travel to and from without leaving Shawn stranded.  It was really after this time of us being completely vulnerable to them that we started to see the church really grow. 

It left me wondering - have we often swooped in to "save the day" and allowed ourselves to be indispensable?  We started to do things differently after realizing that the church would step in when we allowed them to love us and see sometimes we were not so capable.  It is a hard thing for a pastor sometimes - to let his guard down and show that there are true weaknesses and vulnerabilities.  Shawn is really good at that - I tend to fight it a lot more when it comes to my reputation.  The truth is, these weaknesses can be a real strength.

So here we are - 4 years into time in Kenya and having this crazy kidney stone saga that has bookended our time here.  We came as evacuees to have surgery done in this crazy city knowing no one and being afraid to venture out into the place we had heard called "Nairobbery." We had zero community when we landed.  But now...

Food, meals, prayers, visitors, love in so many ways.  We just said goodnight to a family that has become our family here and came to pray over us and remind us they are here with whatever we need.  And I believe it.  Maybe by being so weak and vulnerable here at the end we have been given a beautiful gift to see God's people in action again.  Because I have not felt alone even once in all of this.  I have so many - so many- people that I can call on for big or little things and I know it will happen.  Apparently it takes a village to defeat a kidney stone!

As I look forward to our next community and the getting to know the people that will be our family and lifeline, I feel excited.  Yet I also have apprehension - everything will be new again.  It will be starting from scratch. I will have to learn the area, the people, know their lives, find their passions.  And I know that we will - we love relationships too much to not push into them deeply.  But it will take time.  I pray that our next community is one that we can get to know and be a part of for many years to come. 

For now I am just sitting here grateful and humbled.  Because you people are amazing and beautiful.  Thank you for showing us a glimpse of the face of Jesus. 

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

The Beautiful Stories

This week we had our 4th annual International Festival at New City Fellowship.  Most of you who actually read this know that our church here in Nairobi is comprised of people from all over the world and several tribes here in Kenya.  It is messy and hard a lot of the time, but so beautiful when we all work at it together.  The international festival is one way that we celebrate the unique ways God made each of us.  As we have said before, we can come together under one roof and worship the One True God together because we were first reconciled with him through the blood of Jesus, and that reconciliation and peace overflows from us because of the Holy Spirit living inside of us.  It's a glimpse of heaven when it's done right. 

Our church loves to party - one thing we do really well is celebrate!  This year was the fourth year of the festival, and though Shawn and I started it, we found that we weren't all that necessary this year.  It was such a wonderful surprise to see people really own it and do it out of their own desire to see it happen.  We even had to tell people that there was not a budget in place for it this year, so all of that yummy food and those decorations came from the people here.  While I worried this might make it harder for people to do, no one batted an eye when we told them, and instead they got together in their groups and prayed, planned, practiced, and cooked!

Before we moved to Nairobi I would have said I had a pretty good sense of the world.  I am so fascinated by cultures and languages, and I study them as much as possible.  Having lived in a very multicultural part of Malawi as well as places in New York, I thought I was pretty wise to what it meant to adjust to and learn from other cultures.  However I l still learn something new here every day. 

Each year as we put this festival on I am in wonder of the amazing, beautiful ways that God created us. 

When I was younger I would say that I didn't see different colors or cultures, that we were all the same inside.  I said that with a very naive heart, and it was done in innocence and a desire to love people from all over well.  I thought that saying I didn't see a color or hear a different sound was a way of saying that I didn't think any different of them than I do myself.  However, I have learned as I have matured and made (a lot of) mistakes, that saying that is being ignorant of the fact that we ARE different - purposefully by our Father.  He celebrates these things! Different isn't a status - it's not saying one person is better or less than another.  It's just what it sounds like - different, not the same, unique!

Yes, it is true that our hearts are all broken and turn to self naturally.  In that way we are the same.  But we don't have to have different skin tones or dialects to see how truly unique each of us are.  My kids - though they come from the same two parents and surely Shawn cannot deny them in looks - each react differently to things.  They think differently.  They receive and give love differently.  Each of their unique experiences have shaped them and continue to do so.  Anyone who is parent of more than one child knows this to be true. 

After we moved here and I started to see the beauty in each person and culture, I wanted to truly celebrate the fact that each of us are created in the image of God.  Yet each of us - somehow - are also our very own, specially made, unique and wonderfully individual self.  I am not sure how that all happens!  The creativity of our Lord is astounding and breathtaking!

So I keep asking God to reveal himself to me in others.  As broken as I am, I know he is working in me.  But I want to remember that he is at work and living in and represented by others as well.  I want him to keep opening my eyes and heart to his beautiful masterpieces all around me.  I want to do this remembering that every person has a story - a story with hurt, love, frustration, hope, desperation, fear, and victories.  I want to really hear the meaning when they share their lives with me and know how to love them better because God is opening my heart to that. 

As I do this I will try to listen well.  I will dance and laugh.  I will celebrate. I will cry with those whose stories are stuck in brokenness and have not yet come to the healing part.  I will pray. 

Not perfectly.  But wholeheartedly.

"Once you are in communion with God, you have the eyes to seer and the ears to hear other people in whom God has also found a resting place."
Henri Nouwen

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Be Still

“Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him…”

As I sit here right now, I feel like every nerve is my body is on edge.  Anxiety is creeping in.  I just text a friend to say that anxiety was winning today.  I am reading these verses over and over again, yet all around me is NOISE!
There is construction happening on three sides of us.  Construction in Africa means constant pounding all day long.  The guard is listening to music on his radio where he is sitting, which is right below my bedroom window.  Our kitchen sink is plugged so there are two plumbers talking and pounding away in the that room.  Cars are driving by – mufflers loud and spilling out noise, people are  walking by and chattering in one of their many languages that make no sense to me.  There’s an ibis outside making his loud and annoying sound over and over again.  The area out back of the flat, which is a slum area, is hopping with people hawking things, music blaring, dogs barking incessantly, and children laughing and crying.
If you were to ask me at a different time, I would tell you these are the sounds of my life – the sounds of the city in Kenya. I would take comfort in many of them, knowing it was normal life happening around me.
But today…
Today I want to yell at the whole world to just shut up for a few minutes.
When we were at pre-field training for the mission field, we did this exercise that happened every few days where the leaders would tell us we had 15 minutes to go hear Jesus.  It was supposed to train us to quiet our minds, calm our hearts, and be in his presence whenever we had the chance – even for 15 minutes in the middle of a busy day.
If this was a graded activity, I would have failed miserably.
Our two youngest boys have ADHD, and there’s no doubt where they get that from!  To have noise around me, questions swirling in my heart, and a math lesson that is stumping me makes it almost impossible for me to stop where my heart and mind are and hear Him.
But He knows that.
And suddenly he meets me.  He breaks through the noise, the anxiety, the chaos around.  Suddenly my heart is pulled in the direction of peace and stillness, if only for a moment or two.  The voice of my Father sings over me, and I sigh in relief as I gulp in fresh air – like new life filling dead bones.  The noise starts to dissipate into a familiar comfort again as the Spirit envelops me in his love.
I know I am His.  I couldn’t find him myself.  I couldn’t quiet the world around me.  But Abba knew my need, my heart,  and inclined his ear toward me and covered me under his wings.  I am so grateful.

Monday, February 11, 2019

Welcome Back

Welcome back to my original blog!  With the fact that we are moving back to the US in April I wanted to get this one up and running again.  I have copied over some of the most popular blogs from wallacesinafrica.  Thanks for going along for the ride with us!  We look forward to more new adventures as we wander this crazy life God has given us together!
So no more wallacesinafrica.com.  This is where it's happening! ;)

The Wisdom of Pooh

You guys…loving people is hard.  Waiting is hard.  Goodbyes are hard.  Uncertainty is hard.  Living in the day – in the moment – it is all so hard.

Yet this is where God has us right now.
If you have not heard our news yet – we are finishing up our term here in Nairobi and planning to move back to the US at the end of April.  There are several reasons for this (See our recent e-letter HERE to get answers to all your FAQs).  We are currently living in a state of goodbye with no clear hello in front of us.  I have been paying that God would show us a glimpse of what is next for us in the States, but so far he has chosen to have us sit and wait.  We have our own ideas of what possibilities excite us and what seems like a great fit, but waiting on his timing and his plan is something that we have never done very patiently.
So here we are.
And grief – it’s a sneaky little thing.  I have found myself full of gratefulness and hope one moment and a sobbing puddle of sadness the next – for no logical reason!   Each time we tell someone here, the grief is new and fresh and it wears on one’s heart after a while.  I feel very raw as the emotions crash over me.
Yet we have also felt loved.  I know that if it were easy to leave, we would have to question the way we lived our lives here.  Last year as I sat unassumingly with my dear friend on our patio and talked her through her time leaving here. I told her that I was praying it would be hard.  She had been struggling and was ready to leave and have no ties left behind. But we both wanted her to take only what God wanted her to take from the experience.  By the time she left, her heart ached at the thought of leaving people she dearly loved and who loved her back.  She jokingly chastised me for that prayer.  At the time I thought we would not leave Nairobi for several years, so I didn’t think too much about it personally.
Every time we have had to leave a place and people we have loved that quote from Winnie the Pooh comes back to me.  “How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”
The goodbyes seem even harder when the other side of things is still a blank canvas.  We don’t know where the hellos will come from or where our next “Something that makes saying goodby so hard” is. Honestly, we are both praying that the next goodbye is decades down the road.  We long for home and roots and community and a true sense of belonging.
But for now we will live in the moment as much as possible.  We will hang out often, dance like crazy, cry without shame, sing loudly, play wildly, eat together often, laugh hysterically.  We will live life and continue to love and be loved.  And we will trust in the hope of the one who gives more abundantly than we can ever ask or imagine.
It’s still hard.  But hard isn’t always bad.

God in the Curry

I don’t know when the smell of curries became a comfort smell for me.
I don't know when the smell of curries became home for me. 

Today as I was walking through Diamond Plaza (Little India here in Nairobi) I instantly went to a place of feeling safe and at home when I caught a whiff of turmeric and cumin wafting through the air.  These warm spices automatically hit my senses and make me happy. It brings to mind pictures of English class with my ladies; Karogas (BBQ’s) with friends – laughing, eating, and visiting; cooking lessons with our neighbor when the interns were here; and henna with friends after taking chai together.
Somewhere along the line India became home, and I’ve never even been there.
This time back in Kenya has been a bit difficult for me.  Shawn and Anna are missing from everyday life.  (Shawn will be back this week!!) I came back to a whole new team, because our Nairobi team became two as we focus on more specific ministries.  We no longer live in the house we were in for the past 1.5 year – not even in the same part of town.  We are staying in a friend’s flat while they are on home assignment, so even the furniture is different.  The boys are finishing this year’s school online rather than returning to Rosslyn, so that community is lost.  I have a new job – an actual job with a real description- that is keeping me hopping as I figure out how to balance kids, work, and the chaos that is often life here. I feel out of sorts a lot as I navigate these things.
But today, after walking into town to meet a friend for lunch, I stopped in the market to pick up fresh bread, a few spices, and a treat for the boys, and suddenly I was “home.”  I stood still for just a moment in the familiarity of it all, and thanked God for this time of life.  It wasn’t hard to find him in the middle of the craziness that is Diamond Plaza and Nairobi – he came to me on the smell of the curry.

Holding My Breath

Living in a developing country often has things to it that get me wondering what in the world I am doing.  I’ve noticed a common phrase coming out of my mouth as I am driving is, “I just don’t understand” meaning, “What in the world do you think you’re doing?!?”  Literally every time I am driving this phrase or some variation is said (ahem, yelled) at least once.  A little head shaking and maybe a glare if they look in their mirror (rarely) and then we move on.  (I’m such a good missionary…)

Insane driving aside, I do love Kenya.  But there’s a certain feel here that I don’t experience in my home culture.  I am in the last minutes of getting things ready for our apprentices to come.  I will be teaching orientation for them for the first week.  We will talk about specific things in Kenya, how to not just survive, but to thrive and excel here.  We will talk about medical things, drinking water, cultural adjustments, what to do when the honeymoon phase wears off, etc.  I feel pretty prepared for much of this, and am excited about picking them up at the airport and starting the program.
However this week something happened.
Most of you reading this probably know a terrorist attack happened in the Westlands area of Nairobi, just a couple miles from our old house and not far from where we are now.  It started with a suicide bomber and ended with at least 21 people dead and many more wounded.  It last through the night and there were hostages.  Being just a few miles away from Westgate Mall, where a few years ago a the same group attacked, it brought back many feelings for people who live here.  It happened right next door to a place I frequent and love  – and where I should have been having lunch with friends, but I cancelled due to jet lag and preparing for this week. Everyone there was safe, and I probably would have missed the bomb even if I had gone to lunch, but I have to admit that it shook me.
As I talk to these apprentices tomorrow I will touch on the fact that terrorism is a fact of life here.  Kenya is at war with Somalia, and the group that sent these people have sent some before and will send more again.
Today I had a lot of errands to run to get ready for teaching and the easiest way to do that was to go to a local mall that has every store I needed.  I took the boys with me to get them out of the house after we finished school, but on my way there I felt myself start to hold my breath.  Not panic, really, but a catching of my heart in the thought of where we were going.
This terrorist group has targeted places where wealthy Kenyans and ex-pats go, and this mall was the ultimate place for that.  The boys didn’t want to shop, of course, so I ordered them lunch and prepared to go to the stores I needed to go.  I have left them at a table eating before there, and even had a passing thought of what to do if something happened.  But today I went back to the table and sat down.
Living in Kenya (and South Sudan before) we’ve had all the talks about safety and evacuation, etc.  But today I had to review with them to be consciously aware of the situation around them.  What a world we live in – talking to our children about evil things that we hope will never happen, but understand still could.  Preparing them to stick together, find a safe place, hide, and do not come out for anyone unless you are positive it is the military. We had packed our go bags in Sudan and ended up using them.  Now today I was reviewing what to do in a hostage situation.
So I shopped, and checked in after each store.  They laughed and ate delicious kabobs and didn’t think about things again.  But I held my breath just a little longer than usual.
I acknowledge that evil happens everywhere – even in the places that we deem safest.  But I had forgotten about that need to be just a little bit more aware each day here.  As I teach the apprentices about this amazing country and how to live and love here, I will also have to tell them to make sure their eyes are open just a little more.
So we pray for Kenya, and for all of this world.  We know and live in the hope that evil will ultimately be defeated.  But for now we live, we love, we pray, and we trust that God, who is always with us, has a plan that is good.
(Side note, those of you who know RJ and his anxiety may be questioning all these things, but he has not shown any real anxiety in this time and for that I am so grateful.  He seems to be doing well in the adjustment back!)

The One Where I Watched NCIS

(*This has been transferred over from my other blog, along with many others recently posted.  It was written over three years ago!  Thanks!)

As we are coming upon a year (!) in Kenya this month, I have been thinking a lot about the last couple of years.  I wrote a blog a few years ago about the true desires of my heart for my kids (here) and I have thought about this blog several times in the last two years.  It was easy to say as I wrote it in the comfort of my comfortable, safe little home at the time.  My kids had seen some sorrow with the death of their grandmother and a drowning of a friend from church.  But for the most part when I wrote that blog, they had not seen a lot of the real world.  Though I knew it was coming, I didn’t really know what was coming.  I didn’t know that when I ripped teenagers away from their familiar world with technology and friends and family and clean drinking water from the tap and fast food and A/C how much anger would come from that.  I didn’t understand that living in a remote, war-torn place could cause such a deep wound on the hearts and the psyche of all of us, and that it would mean that, of course I couldn’t take care of the 6 of us – I couldn’t take care of myself.  It was a daily lesson in survival for emotional and spiritual health.  I knew that war was there – but what did that really mean to me?  I had not lived through gunfire, burnings, and assassination attempts on people I knew before.  I wasn’t prepared for those people to have a real face, a name, a family.  To cry with me about it – or worse yet, to talk about it with a stone-faced look because it has become all too normal.  I had gone through simulations in training on what to do in different crisis situations, but I had never lived with a go-bag packed before so we could take off with a change of clothes, malaria meds, and our important documents in minutes if we needed too.  Growing up in PA I had certainly shot a gun and seen hunters use them – but on animals or tin can targets – not on people. And I had never seen tracer fire or heard AK-47s.  I was not in the military, after all.
When I wrote that blog, I must have been naive, right?
When we left South Sudan and were in a safe place to process the huge amounts of grief and fear we had felt over the past year and I started to see the affects on my kids, I thought yes, I must have been naive.  I was so angry at the woman – the mom – who wrote that stupid blog.  What did she know? I was embarrassed because I knew so many people had read the blog and yet I wasn’t even sure any of it was true anymore.  I was mad that I couldn’t be that woman – that I didn’t even want to be.
It had felt good and empowering (and pretty darn prideful, if I am willing to be honest) to write that the first time and “know” that I must have something in me that many people don’t.  Us missionaries – we can be pretty arrogant in the name of sacrifice and service.
So while we took the last year to heal in many ways and start to really embrace life here I ignored that blog and all it’s implications.  But then tonight I was watching an episode of NCIS  (Isn’t this how all the good spiritual revelations start?)  They were in South Sudan rescuing some military doctors who volunteered their time while off duty.  And from the get-go, I realized it was not just a tv show for me.  Though annoyed at the mispronunciation of “Juba” (really people – it’s four letters long!) I found myself in tears at the first sighting of the makeshift hospital tent where the people were gunned down.  I felt panicked at seeing the gunships come in.  I felt a homesickness for the people and the accents and the Juba Arabic and the landscape.  Because yes, it had been HARD.  But it was also GOOD.  I experienced over and over again the hospitality and love of a people that just wanted to be left alone to live in peace.  I heard stories of loss and survival that ripped my heart in two and put a burning desire to see justice come to light.  I learned anew what hope looked like, even when it made no sense to me.
And my kids experienced all of these things right along with us.  Their hearts and eyes were opened to things that may seem harsh and over the top, but are realities of the majority of people of this world. I have talked with my kids about these things.  Anna said she remembers clearly the day after lockdown when she realized that the Sudanese people have no other choices.  We talked about evacuation and safety and looked at what seemed like limited options – but they were still options.  We had an out, but they didn’t.   She also realized that the Sudanese cared about us enough that they wanted us to have that out and to use it.  It wasn’t fair and it opened her heart up to justice and love and empathy and compassion.  John has talked about how the last year shaped him and that even though it was rough and he was angry most of the time, God has since shown him some things about himself and about this world that he has realized he would never really understand without having South Sudan in his life.  Andrew and RJ have really only good memories of Mundri (other than the latrine)  because yes, we had an amazing team and some really awesome times there.  They are both shaped by the input of a team that poured into them and loved them.  And what young boy doesn’t love the adventure of wide open spaces and bows and arrows?
Would I have liked to have spared them some of the things they have seen and known.  From a certain standpoint, of course!  No mother enjoys watching her children ache and cry and grieve while not knowing how to help them.  Yet I really like who my kids are today.  I love seeing their hearts open to new things and people.  I love seeing the compassion they have and the passions He has put in their hearts.  It has been our prayer for as long as I can remember that our kids would be justice seekers and risk takers in this world and they wouldn’t be content with status quo.
I forgot that for a while.  I got caught up and forgot that God is sovereign. I saw only the “in the moment” and not the molding and shaping that was happening for His good.
My kids are healthy.  They are happy.  And more importantly, they are in love with Jesus.  That looks different for each of them, but it happened in deeper, more profound ways because of this last year.  Grief can draw a sense of purpose out of you in ways that times of ease cannot.
So tonight I stand back alongside that naive woman who wrote the blog a few years ago and the quote from the book I was reading ( and need to reread, apparently) called ‘Parenting Beyond Your Capacity’ that says “The mission of your family is not to ultimately protect your kids but to mobilize them to demonstrate God’s love to a broken world.”  Of course I will continue praying protection over my kids.  But I will also pray for boldness, for compassion, for broken hearts that seek him, for things that bring them repeatedly to the place where they remember he is all they need, and for being justice seekers and grace bringers into this very broken world.
And I will pray for my own heart to be steadfast in this.

Mundri Mussings

(Originally posted Feb. 2016)

(Ok, I’m terrible at titles…)

A year ago yesterday we left Mundri.
It was supposed to be for just 7 weeks. We were scheduled to go to Kenya for an East Africa retreat and conference with all the Serge missionaries. After a couple months of severe pain and sickness, Shawn was told he had to get on the next MAF plane out and get into see a doctor to figure out what was happening. He had lost 20 pounds in just a couple weeks, had a high fever, and we were pretty sure had a kidney stone that wouldn’t pass (turns out there were seven stuck on either side). But both sides hurt, so after debating the should we or shouldn’t we, I was relieved to have someone in charge tell us there was no option.
So Friday we spent the afternoon trying to book a MAF flight to no avail, and finally decided to just drive to juba and catch a commercial flight out on Sunday. We had no idea how long it would take to drive there (they had done it anywhere from 6 hours to 12!) so we decided to stay over in juba Saturday night and fly to Kenya Sunday. Almost 48 hours of travel time to visit the doctor.
Then we packed. We were leaving for 7 weeks, but had limited luggage allowance on the plane. We packed about 4 outfits each plus swim suits for the retreat. Our tech toys came with us along with malaria meds so we could resume taking them before we came back to mundri (we wouldn’t need those in Kenya except in the coast), and a few toiletries (we would be restocking in Nairobi) and we were ready. Theresa helped me figure out how to take enough school for 6 weeks, and we copied books and ripped out workbook pages to make the weight less.
I packed up all the pantry food, because I didn’t want rats eating our precious cake mix or chocolate chips. I packed up a lot of clothing because I didn’t want rats eating my skirts and underwear! As I was looking around I thought- very briefly- “I should pack most things up just in case they have to evacuate while we are gone.” This was a fleeting thought, but always a consideration when we lived there. We talked about evacuating and gun fire and go bags and ways out all the time. It was a practical way of life, not a panic thing. And since I was already packing and we didn’t have a huge house, I decided to pack things up a little more securely so the Reeds and Justin wouldn’t have to think about that in the rare event that actually did evacuate. Plus, it had another advantage…it was dry season and I had to dust twice a day to keep up. With things packed away, I wouldn’t have as much to clean when we got back.
The next morning we loaded the car early, hugged teammates goodbye, and drove through town. As we drove through mundri town I looked for Andiwa, my language helper and sweet friend so I could say goodbye and explain language lessons would be on hold for a few weeks, but then I remembered she was in Lui for the weekend. When we drove through Mirikalanga, I scanned the tea house where Maria had started working so I could say goodbye, but she wasn’t around. I almost asked Shawn to stop so I could run and hug Cici goodbye, but I knew there was no such thing as a quick goodbye, and I would have to see everyone, and Shawn was very sick, and we didn’t how long the drive would be. So I quickly decided a text would do and I would catch up when we got back.
But we never went back.
I never got to hug Cici goodbye or chase little Tabita around again. I never got to share a chai with Maria while holding baby Larissa again. Andiwa called, so I spoke to her briefly on the phone, but after all hell broke loose in Mundri, I have never been able to reach her. Her number is turned off and the one time someone answered it wasn’t her. I didn’t see Elazai and Phoebe to tell them what an inspiration their long marriage and faithfulness to each other despite war, infertility, and insecurity was to me. I didn’t get to see Rina again, and a budding friendship built on similarities of life and laughter together was nipped quickly. I didn’t get to buy another Rolex (egg and chapati) from Gideon and talk to him about his dreams of going to America. I didn’t get to buy sugar from Makonis Billy and hear him say, “Ah, my people!” I didn’t get to sit with Stephen’s family on their compound in almost complete silence, but a comfortable peace. I didn’t get to buy g-nut paste from the older ladies in town who good naturedly competed for our business. I didn’t get to eat shea from Maggie’s again. So many losses….
Two weeks after we left, while Shawn was recuperating from his first surgery, we got word that we had to evacuate our team immediately. 24 hours later our friends stood before us in Nairobi shell-shocked and bedraggled. What had just happened?
They closed up the compound, packed a go back (they had even less allowed weight than we did because of MAF) and waited on us to let them know when their flight was coming. I remember coordinating it from this side. Shawn was in bed recuperating, I was having a brunch with some friends before we went to Rosslyn to watch RVA and Rosslyn play basketball in a tournament. How could things look so normal here while I was making evacuation plans for my friends? How could I be sitting in Java House while texting plans to help them stay safe? I was still in culture shock myself.
Our team said their goodbyes…and it was impossibly hard and guilt-filled for security reason I can’t get into. To keep others safe they couldn’t really tell the whole story why they were leaving, because of chaos and destruction that could occur. In short, they had to lie to people that were friends. It wasn’t their fault. Nothing could be done, and they were given strict guidelines to follow for the good of everyone involved. We had to leave our Sudanese friends in God’s hands.
Their goodbyes were even harder than our lack of goodbyes.
There hasn’t been closure for most of us that left last year. Larissa left in January for a “short” home assignment thinking she would be back. We left for 7 weeks, with plans in place for ministry and language learning when we got back. The Reeds and Justin still have their hearts set in going back, though that looks less and less likely with each passing day. They guys were able to go back in the fall for just 48 hours to get a few things and try to make a longer term closure of the compound. They saw people and talked and hugged and ate and cried and prayed. They closed up shop as securely as they could, but most everything has been looted or burned now. People are scattered all over or missing or worse. This country that had had so much hope when we initially signed up to go is in anarchy and hopelessness. People would rather live in refugee camps than go back to face war again.
And who can blame them? This is not the first war most of them have seen. In fact, war is all most of them know.
But closure is a funny thing. We have moved a lot in our marriage. Whether it was across town or across the world, I have always taken the time when the house is empty to walk through each room and remember and grieve and smile and pray a prayer of thanksgiving. To touch the walls (I’m very tactile) and breathe in the smell. It sounds melodramatic, but it was my ritual.
I didn’t get to do that in my cute little mundri house. I would have loved to have stood in my kitchen window and watch the neighbor kids in one of their many daily visits to the well, each with a jerry can matching their ability to carry the water- right down to tiny little Acacia with her tin can sized bottle. I would have loved to admire my newly built pantry that freed up kitchen space and looked so nice. I would have laughed at the clothes line going across the whole living area for those days when the clothes would not dry outside. I would have front-porch-sat one more time in the late afternoon before team dinner when everyone was getting back from various activities for the day and getting showers to attempt to clean up and cool off. They would stop by our porch in the way to the team house for dinner, and we would process the day together. I would have walked in the school house and been thankful for this building that helped give us some sort of schedule in the day. I would have had one more date night in the Tamarind Cafe, a little room Shawn and will decorated for Theresa and I when we complained there was no way to go on a date in mundri.
I would have taken a picture of the wall in our house with the Masso kids measurements over the years they lived in the house. We didn’t let them paint over that in the pantry making process
I would have had Shawn stop so I could hug my friends one more time.
But these things can’t happen, and there’s no turning back time.
We are on a wonderful new team and I am loving Nairobi and our life here. Though at times I struggled with guilt of really letting myself embrace this place, because it meant I was fully letting go of Mundri, I have learned a lot about the capacity of the heart to let more in. It’s fascinating and amazing how much we can hold on to and call ours when we come to realize that hellos and love and friendship is at least as powerful the pain of goodbyes and loss. You can’t have one without the other, and I refuse to give up the first. So I have come to accept and even sit in and be ok with the latter.
I have come to terms with the fact that even if I did go back, nothing would be the same. Most of the people are gone, the home I lived in is empty and looted. The solar panals are mostly gone, so power and internet is not an option anymore. The shops are destroyed and empty, the cafes are not open. Mundri is a shadow of its former bustling self.
And I grieve slowly. When my mom died, the grief was intense at first. Years later it comes in waves and at unexpected times. I suspect that Mundri will be similar for me. When I’m walking in the village here in Kenya and the camp fire smells and small town feel hits me like a ton of bricks out of the blue. When I’m laughing and enjoying new friends and I suddenly wonder where Andiwa is and if she’s ok. I’ve come to realize that this is healthy and normal, and there is no real end when it comes to grief, but more of a riding the waves.  I can also smile and be thankful for the good things that came from our short time in Mundri as well.
And in the middle of it all, I can keep falling in love with Kenya, with our church, with new friends. We’ve been trying to teach our kids that giving yourself in friendship to a new person does not make you disloyal to an old friend, it simply adds more depth and love to your life. You don’t have to hate one to love the other. You don’t have to ignore one or forget it to immerse yourself in the other. We have deep, abiding friendships and memories all over the world because we’ve chosen to live this way rather than cut ourselves off in case of hard goodbyes.
This doesn’t have to be different. I can embrace the impossible hardness and immense joy that came from living in Mundri and mourn that loss while still jumping whole-heartedly into life here. I can add our life in the States into that recipe and have a complicated, messy ball of emotions, but learn to live in that mess and fully experience each day and each feeling as it comes. I don’t have to choose Kenya over South Sudan or the States over Kenya. I can love (and sometimes hate) them all- in the same breath.
I guess leaving Mundri without a lot of closure has helped me realize that. Life isn’t black and white. It’s more like a big canvas of crazy colors and patterns that don’t always match and make sense. Sometimes they clash and we can barely look at them side by side. But it’s vibrant and full of energy and emotions.
A year ago yesterday I left a life I loved and hated to the extreme. And I entered into a place where (unbeknownst to me at the time) I would soon call home and learn to love and hate to the extreme at times. And I am thankful for this crazy, bumpy, chaotic, sometimes insanely hard road of life that God has placed me on.

Another in the fire

Maybe you don't know what the process to move overseas is like, but there was a lot of what we thought of as jumping through hoops ...