Christmas baby

It’s Christmas time and I can’t stop thinking about babies.

The baby girl born to the girl in the Bali brothel kept by traffickers to abuse and sell.

The two tiny ones born onto cemetery grounds this week.

And God.

Babies of poverty, filth and scandal.

Far from the serene story of the sanitized songs and blow up manger scenes.

God Child born into our brothel world to free and bring us home.

Jesus. Tender spot of God exposed. Vulnerability to the max. The rescue plan of God.

Brothel babies. Cemetery children. And me.

God Child making us all God’s children by becoming one of us.

He is LIGHT because it’s dark. LIFE because we’re dead. RESCUE because we lost our way

The dead can’t rise without someone to take their place.

So God has come.

Come for us to go with him for all.

For with him there’s no them.

We only marvel that He comes when we realize how far he came.

We’ll know how far we think that is because we will go the very same.

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Familiar and brand new

I jogged across a new bridge in my old town today and noticed places and things I never have before along the way.

And it’s Christmas time and Donald Trump is president and my baby sister is days away from her wedding day and I’m here with no house figuring out how to be at home.

My life is disarray but my soul is anchored in peace.

I’m remembering the key to everything is showing up. I’ve lost some ground and gained some too. The way forward and through is running toward and not away from things that scare me most.

I called a counselor cause I need help with stuff and I’ll keep showing up at my 4:30 Crossfit class ’cause I want to be strong again and there is nothing that bonds better than doing hard things together.

Opportunity isn’t about opened doors but deepened character. Every day it matters less to me where I am as long as I keep becoming who I am.

I’m determined that Indonesia will not be our best days, that today and tomorrow and the day after that can be too.

The whole wide world is beautiful and broken and brimming with loneliness. We make it better by making friends.

I told God I’d come home but had no interest in coming and going backwards.

It is the kindness and mystery of God that here in the familiar life can be brand new.

Illusion of control

Realizing lately how out of my control so much of my life is.

We can plot and plan, prepare and pray but it’s illusion that we control.

Life throws in disruption here and there revealing the fragility of fortress plans.

I’ve noticed lately a shift in my conversations with God. We talk less about what he wants me to do and more about WHO I want to be.

I want to trust God in everything.

I want to be brave.

I WANT TO LOVE LAVISHLY.

I want to be generous with my time, attention and stuff

I want to be a fierce advocate for the vulnerable.

I want to be an encouraging and loyal friend.

I want to be pure joy to my husband.

I want to be an engaged and awesome mom.

Turns out I can grow in all of these regardless of geography or clarity. And maybe not despite the unknowns but even more because of them.

Circumstances change then change some more, sometimes without warning or asking what I think.

But who I am and the posturing of my heart is always my choice to make.

Doing my best today to show up fully in the minute I’ve got. ‘Cause eternity is a real thing but tomorrow may never come.

What a journey.

What an adventure.

What a gift.

Thank you God, for it all.

Adventures with Dad and Dragons

My special adventure to Komodo and Labuan Bajo islands with my dad was uber awesome.

First we went to the hotel. The rooms were small but the breakfast was awesome.

I swam and ate then we saw the town. There we were looking for a tour so we could see the dragons, mantas and turtles. Finally after three full tours we found one called Wicked Diving, but I did not dive.

On the boat it was two hours to Komodo.There we saw dragons

and went to a short mountain.

I felt small when I was near them.

Next we took the boat 45 minutes to Manta Point.There we snorkeled with mantas.

There was one doing tight circles around me they were only a 1½  feet away it was awesome!

Last we snorkeled at Turtle City and our driver ran into 80 years of coral.

I felt sad  because coral grows slowly and we hit a lot of it.

Though it was called Turtle City I saw zero turtles then we got on the boat for home.

I’ll never forget my day with Dad, dragons and diving with manta rays!

No such thing as in-between

It’s wonderful, weird, just right and disorienting being home.

I’m trying to catch my breath, keep my composure, reflect, figure out and look ahead all at once.

The life I want means going where God invites. Sometimes that’s saying yes when no makes sense. Sometimes saying goodbye when just feeling settled in.

I want to be someone God can trust to give to and take from. Good thing were were made for hard things.

Indonesia. Not sure how different it is because we were there, but I’m changed because of it.

Coming home. At first I said we’re in the in-between. Leaving behind one season and waiting for the next.

But how about right now?

Right now is not a holding place, this day not just a stepping stone into the next.

Right now is sacred and significant and purposed.

Right now is all I’ve got so I’ll give it all I am.

Weight it with full attention.

Show it respect by showing up.

These men of mine are God’s grace to me. It’s not where we’ve been but who they’re becoming I marvel at most.

I don’t know so much more than I do. I’m not as brave as I wish I was.

But sometimes stepping into the unknown scared to death can be just the right new beginning over and over again

Going home

I’m waking up and tearful at the words I read to start the day.

O Lord, I will honor and praise your name, for you are my God. You do such wonderful things. You planned them long ago, and now you have accomplished them.  Isaiah 25:1

Today we’ll take our boys, ten suitcases, and more memories, life lessons and discoveries than we know what to do with, and board a plane for home.

Our family planned a trip back just for the holidays, Dirk’s work and our visa say maybe it’s for good,  we hold it all loosely and doing our best at trusting God.

 SO grateful that we came.

Changed because we came.

In a million years I never woulda  guessed we’d live here. And almost as equally surprised by our abrupt potential end.

But God and I have a deal and never has he not come through…Please place us wherever in the world we can do the most good AND where our family can be healthy and thrive.

For a time that’s been here. Doesn’t mean it will always be.

Hard.

Heartbreaking.

Wonderful.

Full of life.

And

a gift

of gifts

of gifts

to be here.

Maybe we’ll be back but mostly I don’t want to waste a day.

‘Cause the world is big and people hurt and God is moving toward us all.

O Lord, I will honor and praise your name, for you are my God. You do such wonderful things. You planned them long ago, and now you have accomplished them.  Isaiah 25:1

Here. There. Anywhere. The adventure continues.

The magic of showing up

Sometimes just by showing up, you’re leader by default.

It trumps anything else we’ve got to give and everything we think we’re not.

We disqualify ourselves for this reason or that, always waiting on something before we’re somebody God can use. Forgetting we’ve been invited now just as we as are.

Angel is 16. She manages an evacuee camp housing 300 weary people waiting out a volcano.
With little notice, Dawndra grabs beads and string she has on hand and heads in to hang out.

These kids from a local middle school show up at camp to “play with little kids and make people happy.” They made my day!

What are we waiting to become before we’re willing go out?

We all walk with limps and talk with lisps. It’s ok. Our healing often comes along the way.

Hurting souls don’t care how old you are or how’ve you’ve failed, they just know you came when qualified people stayed home.

Empat Belas – Education Obsession – Dirk

It’s possible I’m obsessed.  Likely, even.  I don’t know if there was a time when my obsession began, or if it’s always been there (even if seemingly dormant, at times).  I love learning.  I don’t always love schooling, but I love to learn.

And I love teaching.  Again, not necessarily schooling… but teaching.  I crave all of the little teachable moments that swarm our lives as parents.  It thrills me when the boyz latch onto a concept.  Seeing their wheels turn.  Hearing them apply some new thing in their new way.

Obsessed.

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Some days, learning looks like this
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Most days, learning looks like this

And not just my boyz.  When I visit with children in various areas of Indonesia, most of whom don’t speak much/any English… my limited Bahasa skills are just barely enough for me to teach them some English.  Which is awesome, because that’s my happy place.  Get a word right, get a high five… it’s the best part of their day, and of mine.

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Club High Five, at the Desa Les Posko (relocation camp for those displaced by Mount Agung)

Levi is an avid reader.  Oh, dear goodness, that kid devours anything about nature.  He can tell you everything about any animal, alive or dead.  But he didn’t start out that way.  He just reminded me yesterday about the time when he was just a little bugger and he spent like a month to read this really long Dr. Seuss book, Are You My Mother?, all by himself, because I promised to pay him some money as a reward.  That was a bit of a rough month… like 2 pages per day, sitting together, sounding out every word until he got it just right.  Rough, but so very sweet.  Because that victory propelled him immediately into the reader he is today (seriously, like the next week he was reading like crazy on his own), and it is a shared victory.  Something that we will both always remember and cherish.

I want to be a part of hundreds, thousands of such shared victories.  Those little sparks of recognition and understanding.  They only learn each thing once, after all… why let some random teacher have all the fun?  🙂

When we took our RV trip around the country, us parents were desperate for conversation topics to keep the boyz from crawling out of their skin on our long drives between campgrounds.  At some point, maybe a month into our trip, I started asking them math questions.  Dear heck, they loved it (and so did I)!  By the end of the trip, my little 5 and 7 year-olds could do simple multiplication and division.

Shared victories.

Our biology dictates that we learn.  Children are little sponges… they will learn!  They may not love school, they may not want to learn whatever it is that they are ‘supposed’ to learn… but they soak up knowledge of some sort at every turn.  I think our job, as educators, is to figure out what motivates each kid.  How do they learn best?  What do they love to learn?  What will make them crave learning the ‘right’ things?

This year in Bali we are home-schooling.  And it seems to be going fabulously, so far.  We are letting the boyz go as fast as they want, and they keep saying ‘give me more!’  As of today, October 6, Levi is 74% done with his 4th grade math.  Jaxon and Luke have both finished their Typing courses for the year.  October 6!

Again, learning is not just about schoolwork.  Right now, for instance, our boyz are obsessed with learning how to play video games.  YouTube.  It’s really weird to me, and even weirder because they don’t even have most of the games that they watch video tutorials about.  Even they can’t explain why they like this stuff.  I’m not exactly a fan of the video game videos, but it has made me aware that they have a capacity to learn even more than the knowledge fire-hose we’ve got aimed at them… it’s just got to be fabulously interesting to them.

Sounds like a challenge.  I’ve got this.

 

Til the last drop

I’ve been trading reigning in for venturing out and hanging on.

And where it leads surprises no one more than me.

Like into crowded evacuee camps and alongside a rescued girl coloring pictures and in conversations that change everything and among people I can’t believe I get to call friends.

I’m learning there’s a difference between praying and hemming and hawing. Between being responsible and being afraid.

Love takes us as far as we are willing to go for the sake of others. And if we fall on our face trying, so be it.

That knowing of the need is invitation to meet it.

That material needs are the easy ones and imparting dignity begins by learning her name.

I am learning that waiting til I’ve got it figured out means I will likely never start.

And that healing comes as we go and sometimes not before.

That journeying with God is not geography. It’s mindset, and matter of the heart.

It is rarely ever easy, but we were made for hard things.

When the days are heavy, but weight feels feels light. It is the provision and mystery of God.

When the days are heavy and the weight is too, it is His strength and grace that carries us through.

Just one life and I want to live it.

Pour it out loving til the very last drop.

The refuge of God

 Suffering space is holy ground. 

Entrusted even just for a moment, with the care of a vulnerable heart, the highest honor heaven bestows.

I haven’t always understood this, but it’s becoming the truest thing I know.

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Sometimes knowing of the need is invitation in itself.

We don’t need to know it all or even where it all will lead.

Sometimes it’s about just one step and the courage to take it, 

repeated again and over again.

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Into places we never heard of and moments we never imagined.

Into camps of beams and tarps housing people who are shelter to each other.

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Looking into her eyes, I see for the first time again,

That we all long for home.

And maybe till we get there we can be there for each other.

I’ll give myself to shelter you and you will be my home.

And together we will be the refuge of God.