Friday, April 27, 2018

A Spring Moment

I wish there were enough pictures and words to accurately portray the beauty of spring in our woods. It's the smell in the air when I get up and go outside. It's still cool enough to need a jacket but I didn't grab one, so I just stand and shiver for a minute while the rooster is growing and the hens are cackling and the dog is barking her crazy head off. The cats come rub against my legs (two of whom have just had litters of kittens ๐Ÿ˜ฌ)...and I'm reminded that they need to be fed. The laundry on the line and the garden that is starting to produce...and all the unfinished projects of course...all pull at me. But I take a minute to just breathe and look up. And the incredibly blue sky is a stunning backdrop to lush green treetops. Everything is green now, or almost everything. Our new road is revolutionary. Truly. Everything is just a little bit easier to manage having that lovely long expanse of mud free walking, and I rarely walk down it without thanking the Lord. Yes, I'm fighting sand and red dirt now, but that's ok.
 I hear the birds singing and twittering, and I soak in the view and think...God made all this and entrusted it to us. Not just our little piece of land, but the world as a whole. What a privilege! And what a responsibility. I can hear Him so much more clearly outside, surrounded by the reality and beauty of His creation. It's  peaceful in this moment. The clamor of pressing needs and responsibilities and worries all fade and I hear "Be still and know that I am God". And I also hear ," Be careful for nothing but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known into God, and the peace of God that passeth all understanding shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. "
 And I know that it's true.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Will there be mud in Heaven?

I'm surrounded by mud most of the time.
There is mud outside.  Huge swampy puddles that we have to navigate around and through.
There's mud on the porch. And muddy boots. There's mud on the rug. And in the kitchen.
There's especially mud in my laundry. And in the shower.
Basically, it's everywhere.
Some days, all I see is the mud. When we go to town (aka church), it's a process of wearing mud boots up to where the truck is parked, switching to our church shoes in the middle of the road while juggling the 50 million things that must go with us, and then do ??what?? with the muddy boots....
It's a constant challenge to keep from sinking. Literally and figuratively.
 I asked Ed one day last week if he thought there would be mud in heaven.
He said "yes". I say "no".
I think there will only be perfectly moistened soil. And lots of grass. And flowers. Who's with me?
  I've been trying all week to get a blog post written. Not just in my head but actually on paper. Or more precisely, on my new Kindle fire. But it's just been one of those weeks. Run out of phone data several days too soon, issues with our solar power, issue with our water system, mud. You know, death by a thousand paper cuts, or something equally dramatic.
 And then we come to yesterday. Sunday. Where I was reminded yet again that our enemy's tactics are pretty much always the same. And have been since the beginning.  Deception. Distract us from the goal. Discouragement. ( Text taken from 2 Sam. 15:1-6)  Why do we find it so easy to forget?
 I'm sure many of you have seen the movie War Room.  I've been attempting to do something similar with a bulletin board and notebook ( although the privacy and quiet are a little harder to come by) . One of my new years goals was to renew a dedicated quiet time. Not just fit it in wherever I can through the day. It hasn't been a perfect success, but that being said, the reminder for me is this. That this war we engage in, the struggle in the midst of the mundane. Is for our hearts. Our minds. Our thoughts.
I need this reminder daily. Even hourly. It's embarrassing how easy it is to find I've spent all day mentally rehashing a conversation I wish I had gone differently. Or what I'm going to do about _____. Or even complaining to myself. Embarrassing.
  I started recording things in my prayer notebook too. Not journaling, but relevant Scripture, some quotes and even thought provoking questions. And they remind me. Of how big my God is. How small my problems are. Who my enemy really is. ( And no it's not the mud.) And what my weapons are to fight with.
  My list of "To Do"s , the obstacles that seem to lie in front of us, the weight of responsibility that sometimes threatens to overwhelm...
  " Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things...but one thing is needful. "
 I only need to have one item on my To Do list.
   Sit at Jesus' feet and talk to Him.
 You can't even see the mud if your eyes are closed.

Monday, November 13, 2017

M.K.s: Then and Now

So I recently stumbled across a paper (thanks to my sweet Dad) that I wrote my senior year of high school. It was a project for speech and, I confess, I was cringing a little when I re-read this old paper (that I will actually share with you here) due to its amateurish writing and my very obvious youth. But it triggered a whole host of thoughts and emotions that I felt should be written down, which then turned into this blog post. Please bear with me in this somewhat-awkward-but-very-real, trip down memory lane.

                          M.K.s: A Paradox not a Paragon
  Today I want to discuss how missions relates to everyone in general and M.K.s in particular. First of all, What are M.K.s? Well, M.K. stands for "missionary kid" or a little missionary. Missionary kids are people just like you. They aren't aliens. I admit, sometimes they do look a bit strange - even talk weird - but they are human. They have feelings just like everyone else. They laugh, they cry, sometimes they even get scared and lonely, but most of all they love. They love God and they love people.
  As people, in many cases, they act just like you would. They aren't superhuman, they do make mistakes - plenty of them. In other cases, if their actions are different than yours, consider how they grew up. For example, if they are ecstatic over peanut butter and kool-aid for Christmas, just overlook it.
 M.K.s are also paradoxes. Not paragons - paradoxes. They can fit everywhere, yet they can't fit in anywhere. They get to go the most, yet they also get left behind the most. They have lots of friends, yet they often go friendless. living in the midst of a lot of people, loneliness is no stranger to them. But - in spite of all that, M.K.s are very privileged. They are allowed to see and participation God's work first-hand. They get to travel and a get a broader perspective of what life is like for others all over the world. They get to learn new languages - and use them in the U.S. so no one knows what they are saying. They are given so many opportunities to learn, even if they don't graduate when everyone else does. They get hands-on training - better than a college class-room can give.
  Okay, so we know a little bit of who they are, but what do they do? A question frequently asked is, " Don't you get bored with nothing to do?" Well, hardly! There is plenty for a missionary kid to do. They live over there just as you do here - well, almost, anyway. What I mean is, life is made up of certain basic activities, and M.K.s do those basic activities too. Perhaps a little more or less than you do, but they still do them. They work, have school, and play by turns. They witness and sometimes even suffer persecution. One of our personal friends was talking to a Muslim priest and he said something the priest didn't like, so the priest punched him in the mouth and knocked his front tooth out. That's not a common occurrence but it does happen.
  Last of all, let's look at what M.K.s need. Just like anyone else they need a lot of prayer. They are subject to so many pressures and Satanic attack, prayer protection is essential. Many times, even all times, prayer decides the success of how an M.K. spends the rest of his life. Did you know that only a small percentage of all missionary kids return to the field?
  They also need love and support. This goes a long way with them. They accept the fact that they won't please everyone or be liked or approved of by everyone, but if they know that they are loved and supported by their family and friends it really helps. It makes decisions easier if they know that they have support no matter the outcome. And they do. God is always there. He provides love, and if they are following His will, support too. Don't pity them, they don't need your pity. But a little understanding will go along way.
 In closing, I want to say that M.K.s don't have a corner on God. God is there for any and everyone who will accept Him. M.K.s sometimes have a more balanced perspective than others, but that doesn't mean that others can't get it too. God will use anyone, any time, any place if they will just trust and obey. You can be a missionary right where you are. If I've don't nothing else, I hope I have caused you to think and helped you see things from a different perspective.
- by Jessica Rogers -

 so....yeah.  I felt it deserved a re-write or an update. If you still feel like reading that is..

     M.K.: A Paradox not a Paragon (20 years later...)
  What is an M.K.? I'm not sure anyone ever truly knows what these strange creatures are who call themselves missionary kids, least of all themselves. 
  I wrote that little paper 20 years ago now, right before graduation. having spent very little time on this side of the ocean. Fast forward about a year and half and I was married to a wonderful man from south Louisiana. Thus began my life in a culture that was, in many ways, more of a mystery than any I had ever lived in before. I my paper I noted that we are a paradox of ideas. Walking contradictions. I felt this more than ever as I tried to adapt to my new life. That is one thing we do a lot of: try to adapt to the situation you are in without looking like an idiot, or making any grave social faux pas, while also appearing relaxed and at home. Marriage and parenting added fathoms to that concept.
        I never would have imagined that I would spend the next 20 years in just one country, America. That I would not get on another plane for 10 years, that even then it would just be to another state, or that it would scare me to death. ( What happened there?) I never imagined that "Cajun" was a foreign language ( aren't we saying the same words?) or that the most complicated culture I would ever learn would be my own. (I still haven't figured out what the secret southern code is for who you hug and who you shake hands with. Anyone? a little help please...) I never anticipated how hard it would be to be the one left at the airport gate waving goodbye to Mom and Dad and siblings, wondering when I would get to see them again. Or how much I would miss traveling and all those mission conferences. Don't get me wrong, I love my life in all it's surprises and adventures since being married. We've certainly had plenty and I wouldn't trade a day of it. It's just that the adventures weren't ones I was expecting, and the biggest surprise to me was not that life changed...but that it stayed the same and I didn't. I couldn't. God was taking me a different direction.
 I won't lie, it was a scary thing when I first thought I was losing my identity as a missionary kid; and while we often are more than willing to challenge the status quo, and think outside the box, we still instinctively shrink from fundamental change. Now where do I fit in? How do I identify myself? 
 In many ways I'm still figuring that out, but the simplest answer is this. I find my identity in Christ. and I fit into His Kingdom. We all do. That is where we all find our ultimate belonging. And my mission field is right here, where I live every day. Just like it's always been, regardless of geographical location.
  In re-reading my paper, I was struck by something I wrote then but didn't really understand. And that is this: as much as we are different, we really are< all of us> the same. I understand this better at 38 than I did at 18. We all struggle to fit in. To know who we are. To feel comfortable in our own skin. We all feel the same emotions: joy, pain, fear, loneliness, love...the same God is above all, and in all and through us all...
 I'm also pretty sure we can't claim a more balanced perspective. Maybe a more multi-colored one. But to claim balance indicates perfection, and we are far from achieving that. I also hope I'm not being presumptuous in saying "us" in reference to missionary kids. I realize each person's experience in as unique as they are. These are just some observations from my own life as well as that of siblings and other family and friends over the years. 
 I may never have the privilege of traveling overseas again, though I hope and pray that I will, but I know that I'm still an M.K. My parent's are missionaries and always will be, regardless of where they live. And I'm learning about a whole new phase called 'Being a Grown-up Missionary Kid with a Family of your Own'. Who knows. I may write an update in another 20 years.

 (P.S. A huge shout out to all the spouses of all missionary kids everywhere. We couldn't do it without you.  I know I certainly got the best, and I thank God for the privilege of living life with him every day. )


Monday, January 30, 2017

Mopping in the middle

Do you ever find yourself waiting for the optimum time to mop? I do this all the time...
      Used to, I would do it after the kids were in bed, but anymore I'm too tired by then and always promise myself "tomorrow".  We are 10 people living in under 800 square feet (and that's counting the loft), so it's a challenge to have the floor clear enough to mop. Now sweeping...that happens 10 times a day. Give or take. But mopping just seems like one of those chores that I like to do super thoroughly and it's hard to find that perfect time to move everything enough to be "thorough". So I usually end up spot mopping and consoling myself with false promises. However, this weekend a sick little boy and a batch of baby chicks sort of forced my hand. I made up a batch of mop water and just started mopping right in the middle of the chaos. I mopped around people and under feet. I mopped under furniture and moved buckets. And every few minutes I had to shake the excess grass and wood chips out of my mop. ( I had already swept at least 4 times immediately prior to mopping.) By the time I was done my floor was decently clean. Not perfect, but sanitary at least. And I was reminded yet again that life is what happens while you are busy making plans. There is never a perfect time to mop. Or sew. Or write that thank you note. Or make that call. Or read a story to your toddler. You just have to do it. And do it in the middle of the mess and noise that makes up our lives. Because those are the things that make it lovely ( and clean๐Ÿ˜‰) and worthwhile.
Happy mopping!

( ps. This is still Jessica, I just sometimes use Ed's profile because I'm too lazy to switch users. ๐Ÿ˜Š)

Friday, January 20, 2017

Seeing God in the puzzle

I love jigsaw puzzles. I love that you can take a mess of jumbled up little pieces, and bring logic and reason and a little creative thinking to it, and it turns into something cohesive. Beautiful.
  We have quite a few 1000 piece puzzles, but, because of our small space, I haven't been able to figure out how to work on one without it taking over the house (another puzzle:).
Until now.
I've finally hit on a working solution, and it has made me so happy. It's the little things, y'all! I realized that if I used several stacking puzzle trays ( aka old lasagna pans lined with paper). I could stack them inside a small lidded tote and put it under the bed when I have other things to do. But then I can pull them out and work on them easily when I have a bit of time. And the kids can join me too. Maybe. If I'm not being too OCD.
 Anyway, I happened to have some time today, and  I'm currently working on this amazing one that is an Eye-Spy puzzle of mixed up vintage board games. Very cool. So I was working on this one area that seemed almost complete but there was a piece that I could tell was supposed to fit and it just wouldn't go anywhere I tried it. I finally gave up and had moved on to another area when I stumbled across the piece that made that little picture all fit together. And it struck in that moment how much we do that with God. Events in life, or even parts of the Bible, just don't seem to line up or fit together. And it's because we are missing some of the "pieces". We won't see it all here on this earth, but sometimes...every once in awhile...God lets us have another piece of the puzzle that puts things in perspective. I know this is not a new revelation. It's been said many times before. But it was a sweet reminder that whether or not what I'm seeing makes sense right now, it will one day.
 And in the meantime...we just keep putting together the pieces God has already given us.