Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Not Either!

I got back after this last trip, and it took awhile to adjust. The constant transplanting is still hard. I'm settling in now, and feeling better - still at times homesick, but settling in.

But there were those people who never understand. Who think that simply because I have done this all my life that I am "used to it". What is that supposed to mean? Because I am "used to it", it is not supposed to be difficult? Because I am "used to it", I don't feel pain anymore?

This person's comment irritated me. So, one day while driving (which is when I get to do my uninterrupted thinking), I designed this t-shirt.

Don't read the locations on the back and try to place me. I just pulled them off randomly, not wanting to list my 29 different places I have lived - hard to be anonymous with that posted on there.

But you could input your own locations on the back:

Then we could wear them proudly.

(I know I forgot one word in the bottom one, but I am too lazy to go fix it! And, do I wish I was that skinny! Ha!)

Monday, September 28, 2009

Closing Doors

Every once in awhile, I bump into a quote or something and I stop and think, hmm... I might have said that... or... I wish I had known that.... or .... I wish I could say that...

I found one today. "Grief is a door that cannot be closed until one knows, precisely, what is in the room."

I stopped. Read it again. Then smiled. It brings up a lot of memories. Some years old. Some fresh. Some doors I've closed. Some I have open. Doors of mine. Doors of others. Knowing that some rooms are ones you need to see but don't want to alone. Walking with others into some of my rooms. Walking with others into their rooms. And I smile.

I stopped. Felt it again. Knowing what it is like to try shutting doors when they can not be shut. Trying to force them closed, but they bulge like a closet uncleaned. Knowing what it is when others feel you should shut that door when you are not ready. That hurts. Don't talk about it and it will go away. No. I have a need to know, to feel, to walk in, to grieve, to feel. When I have done that, I am willing to shut the door. Not nail it shut like the lid on a coffin, but simply shut it. I may walk in there again one day. I may not. Likely I will, and when I do, I like company. Please listen to me. Please let me talk. I'll come out again and shut the door again - when I am ready. Not before. If you try to make me do it before I am ready, you will hurt me. I will think you don't care. But I will come out. Let me tell you when I am ready to shut that door. Until then, listen. Be aware that I live in two places - in the here and now, and in the room where I grieve. Walk into that room with me. I want company. I want to talk. I value people who stop to step into this room with me.

I stopped. I smiled. I know this. I know that doors can be closed. Closed and walked away from. In a good way. After they have been felt. After they have been known. And there is again delight, again joy, again the desire to run in the wind and laugh in the rain. I know that now. I can't say that while I am in someone's room. I can't tell myself that when I am walking into my rooms with doors not closed, but I know that. That quiet hope allows me to be quiet at times, to not "fix", to not change the conversation. Because I know. A knowledge that to me is as precious as purified gold. Knowing that, I can remain still. There is a way to close the door and move on. Move on deeply changed, yes, but move on. A change that does not destroy, but deepens. It deepens to feel the pain, but the deepening also means a deeper ability to feel joy. I know that. So I walk through people's rooms quietly. Let's stay here as long as we need to. Let's listen. Let's talk. One day, we'll have found we've walked all the way around the room again. We'll look at the door and decide, "Do we go out now, or do we want to walk around again?" We might walk around again, not ready to leave. Not sure we caught everything. But there will come that day we get to the door and decide to walk out. And we will naturally shut the door behind us. Before we even know we did. But we will. And then we will walk away, not forgetting, but deepened by the experience. Changed. More tender. More strong. More joyful. More sorrowful. Changed. But we will know. We will know that there is again delight, again joy, again the laughter of a child playing in the rain. But we will know that joy in a deeper way because we have let ourselves walk through the room of grief without running away.

I smiled when I read that quote today. I would have liked to say that.

Twenty - Four

Occasionally, we are the recipients of bags of clothing for my kids. I always appreciate these gifts. It is how we manage to keep four very active kids dressed. But occasionally, we open a bag and wonder...


Ok - there was the time when we were given an entire adult size green striped pajama - one piece.

Then the interesting negligee. Ok, it is bad enough to think of wearing someone else's used negligee, but I know who gave it to me... so when I see her sitting so nicely dressed in church, then there are brief moments when my mind imagines her in that.... no! What?!

The few times we get a bag of T-shirts that have long ago seen their best days, I still smile. They make great cleaning rags and painting shirts.

But today, when I opened a bag and found no fewer than twenty-four little girl's two-piece swimsuits (all sizes 4-6), I wondered. I know the family who gave them. They have one daughter. So.... twenty-four?!

Never mind that half of these are the little two triangle tops that I seriously doubt I would put on my daughter. 24? There are some nice ones in there, but 24? None of them are worn out or anything, but 24?! I only have one daughter. We could go for almost a month at the beach (are You listening, Lord - sounds like a great idea), and she'd never have to wear the same one twice.

There were also somewhere near twenty-four pairs of boy's suits, but too big for my boys, so I passed those on.

I think I'll let her pick two. Anyone got any great ideas what to do with the other twenty-two?

Friday, September 25, 2009

Happy Dance

From 117 now down to 28!!! I am getting there!

Answering and filing all my mail - like piles of mail.... like mail I had ignored for a long time.

If I can get it down to where I can deal with each bit as it comes in, that will be wonderful. Now, if only I could get there with the laundry, too....

An Impossible Request

I talked today to the father of the child who had problems in his school. It is not solved and likely will not be solved. We are seriously looking at trying to get them into the smaller Christian school where my kids go. But - funding. Ouch. We got a scholarship (from a non-christian place just by "'chance") that allows us to even think about it. Without that, it is hard to manage - even more so for this family.

But Pray. God has been known to do the impossible before, and we believe we need to move these children to a safer environment.

Pray for funding to come in soon, like next week, and to be specifically designated to cover these children's tuition.

And continue to pray for healing for emotional trauma, especially as the school will not remove, even for a short time, the offending child.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Need Prayer!

As if yesterday's problem and threat were not enough, there was another problem.

One of our team member's children came home from school and told his parents that he was bullied/sexually intimidated in the bathroom at school. It is a serious thing, and the child was traumatized. Physically not hurt, but hurting.

Pray for this kid. He is only nine. Pray for his parents as they seek to deal with the situation, and for me as I seek to support them in it.

All this while we are up to something big. Pray for protection for us all. This big something is being opposed, but we are confident in God. Oh, if only I could tell you what it is and how exciting it will be for where we work! But the something big is going on well despite the storm clouds gathered and the random attacks on individuals.

But pray for this child. He needs prayer right now. My heart hurts for him.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Only 117

That is all. I got rid of all the letters that I do not have to answer and eliminated junk. Now there are only 117 that I need to write a short note to. Only. Ugh!

Then, I need to add in and welcome new people who signed up over the summer. And pull names off two donor lists and write to them. It is taking about an hour a day to get this project done, but it has to be done. I was falling behind last year with all the stress. Didn't communicate like I ought to be doing. Catch up time.

Still, at around an hour a day, I am making progress. Slow, but progress.

Responding to letters and to donors is one of my "new year's resolutions". I make those in September since to me that is much more of a new beginning than halfway through a school year and a work year. Wish me well.

Again the difficulty with not being able to talk - today, we are facing a serious threat. That is really all we can say, but we need prayer - for encouragement, wisdom, and boldness for those threatened. For peace, for resolving the situation.

Is it just coincidence that it is happening while we are definitely up to something big? (see my last post) Likely not. Pray for protection for what we are doing now, too. That we would not be distracted from the important by the serious.


Tuesday, September 22, 2009

In the Middle of Nowhere Up to Something

Well, one of the drawbacks of this type of blog is that I can not tell you what we are doing, when we are doing something, or where we are doing anything.

But - I can tell you this - we are up to something! My son recently got a shirt that says, "I am DEFINITELY up to SOMETHING!"

Yup, we are definitely up to something, too. Can't tell you what, but it is big. And good.

But, we could use prayer right now. Prayer that this "something" goes well.


Thursday, September 17, 2009

Your Mission Today - Shopping Therapy!

My mission today was to keep one team member who, easily is stressed, occupied so she does not sit around and get nervous. What to do......?

Shopping! What woman doesn't love shopping?

We went out to lunch and then hit a local second hand shop. I made up some excuse to go in. She's never been to this place, so it was a good choice, and we shopped. We killed an hour, and I think she had fun, so mission accomplished! At least she didn't stay home and worry about her upcoming big job. Her headache disappeared while she shopped and she ate well when we went out and were talking and eating. That should help. Someone else is enlisted to cover tomorrow, and then we should be ok.

But, if I have to shop, I may as well make use of it. I am going on a trip in the early part of next year, and I needed some new clothes. Big, black (or at least navy blue or dark brown), and ugly. No, not ugly, that won't do, but shapeless while still looking neat. (Only Americans think casual is fine. Other countries are horrified by how sloppy we dress.) Long, floor length skirts that show no ankle. Long shirts or sweaters that cover the backside.

HA! Do you know how hard it is to find clothes like that here?!

But we looked. We looked and looked. I wonder what the people at this place thought as we brought item after item of long dreary black. Likely thought we were dressing up as witches for halloween! (as if!) Finally, I found a few. Three long skirts and two long shirts. I think I am well on my way. Now to buy a black or grey scarf with a little pattern in it to break up the monotony, and to sew one really long warm outfit from some wool/polyester blend that I have, and I will be set. When I get the whole outfits put together, I'll post my new look - you won't recognize me! Which is the whole point, I guess...

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

How do you do it?

Letters and communication. Ok, now because of what I do, I can't have a blog to keep up with people. (yeah, I have one, but not for that.)

So how do you keep up? I found when we were fresh out, it was easier. More people knew us then, and I knew them, and it was easy to write letters. Now we are gone so long, and while we have been gone our church divided. It was a peaceful divide, more like a plant, but apparently it didn't go smoothly. Church divisions of any sort are hard for missionaries. Sort of like a divorce - half of your family moves away, and most of the time they never talk to you again. We feel ... dropped... alienated. Do we contact them? It has been so long, and we only have so much time at home. Do we not? We used to be friends, and they are just gone. Now we are left in a church where we do have support and we do have friends, but most of them are older people left. The young families, the ones we hung out with, are gone. New families are there, and we hope to get to know them - yeah, for two weeks every few years. So keeping up, keeping in touch is harder.

I used to have two or three women who were my spokespeople. I communicated with them above and beyond the every few months newsletter, and they shared with the women's groups. Now I don't have that. I feel this huge disconnect.

In its place is a need to write more news to more people. And people don't like only newsletters. I need to communicate with them - how is the new grandbaby? Have you left for the south yet this year? How are your kids in college doing?

I am a little overwhelmed. Maybe it doesn't help that I was never a people person. I mean, I like people. I like having good, deep relationships with people. But I was never a superficial person, never one to be friends with a hundred or so. I can't remember names enough for that.

Now I have to not only remember names, but be able to communicate with people from over ten different churches. I struggle there - not sure if there is enough of me to spread around. I am not built for that many relationships, and I find communicating with such a group difficult. Hard to build relationships with so many. My comfort zone is to only talk to people I know, and when I have reached my quota for the amount of relationships I want, I stop.

Doesn't help that I've been through a lot of stress the last three years. Stress that is not all over. (It is improving - thanks for your prayers!) I close my group in times of stress, not wanting to let more people in.

But this week, I have been working on communication. Picking up the pieces. I used to be a good communicator, I think. I think it is that I have lost my contact people in most churches. In one, I have still a great contact person - our "go to person" for all news, questions, friendly chat. We stay there when we go. I can talk openly with them, and they share with their church as needed. That church is easy. But the others....

How do you do it?

I think another thing with my change of work from primarily caring for kids and logistics of team issues to primarily writing is that at the end of a long day of putting thoughts into words and writing dialog - I really don't feel like talking to people, don't feel like writing. I also live in the world of my two series of dramas - being the people, thinking like they would think, questioning, discussing. That takes up some of my available mental space for relationships. Ok, perhaps I am strange and perhaps I have conversations with my imaginary friends.... but it helps me write dialog!

This week, I've been going through 700 emails that I had largely ignored. Now to be honest, most if it is stuff I can ignore - been cc'd on team issues, junk mail, stuff. But in there are letters I should have been answering - answers to our newsletters, thank-you notes to supporters.... requests for information....

How do you do it? How do you keep on top of all the communicating you need to do? How do you maintain or try to maintain a personal relationship with all the churches and individuals who require that of you when you see them so seldom?

But, at the end of all that ranting... when someone writes me, I smile. Hey, someone did read! Someone did listen! I love mail.

Monday, September 14, 2009

People First, Right?

That is what we tell ourselves - it is really the people that matter the most. But I am not sure I always live that way.

I like order. I am not sure my husband would agree with that statement since I am not always successful at it, but I like order. When I leave for a trip, I like to leave things in order. When I get back, I like to put things in order again. Everything back in place, unpacked, cleaned up, and then figure out life. Then I go out and meet people.

This time, I thought I would rethink that. If I wait until life is organized, I might be waiting an awfully long time. (I told you that I am not that successful about order.) Today, there are piles of laundry needing to be washed, suitcases that still need unpacking, the garden which desperately needs my attention, and then just life to get back on schedule - let alone work that I am behind on. It could take me a week to get it all done.

But people first. So today, I made sure all the perishables were in the fridge, took a shower and put on something cheerful, and went out visiting. (Partly thinking if I do it first, then they won't appear on my messy doorstep!) It was great. I have one friend who is like a sister to me, and I went there first. We sat in her messy house (I visited before her cleanup routine), and had a great talk. Time to catch up, to share stories, to talk about our families and how we cope. Time to share the stresses of the summer, since there have been those, and talk them through. When I visit her with nothing to do, I always learn something new. I need those things. I need to hear stories so I can tell better stories.

It was good to visit.

I'll be working through my clean up and my priorities and plans for the year this next week. Pray I make good choices. For me, September is my New Years. That is when the new year begins and changes and choices are made. I want to make good ones this year - after I weed my garden; the sun is shining and it is beautiful out there!

Friday, September 11, 2009


I've been through this too many times for it to be culture shock. Besides that, there is not a huge culture change from my one home to another. Despite that, I still struggle with the transitions.

I was coming home the other day and looked at my garden. I have a large plant growing right in front of my roses. When I put it there, I had no idea that it would grow so big. This spring I wanted to transplant it to another section of the garden, but was advised to transplant it in the fall. Apparently, when you transplant a plant, it wilts and takes awhile to recover. So I will do that next week.

As I eyeballed that plant the other day, I realized what is wrong with me. It is not culture shock. It is transplant shock. This summer was a little unusual in that instead of just going to our home state, we went to three different places, all of which I had lived in and been at home in at different times in my life. Then, we also went to a conference where were gathered many friends and missionaries that we had lived and worked with for a long time. Another place, we met up with another friend who is like home to us, also. It was the regular succession of being transplanted over and over again, and now back here that has gotten to me.

I'm just a little wilted. Unable to draw enough water from my roots yet.

Nothing wrong that I won't get over in a week or two, but for now, I am definitely a little droopy. So, I've relaxed some on my expectations. Instead of hitting life with a bang and hoping to have everything up and going and good routines for the year right away, I've backed off and am taking a few days to recover and soak up water and enjoy the sun. Time to grow those little roots again that got torn off with all the transplanting.

Didn't help that I got a migraine my second day home. Doesn't help that we are scheduled to do a three day trip this weekend. But that is life. What I can do is be easier on myself and my requirements of myself this week.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Back Home

Here we are. In the very familiar. Without the very familiar. Up until the moment I pull into my driveway, I am not ready to be home. Then I walk into my house, and sigh. I'm home. For a few days, I will have a quiet sense of being in two places at once - the shadows of one home flitting over my daily life here. A little like a movie changing between two views on slow fade. Then it will fade away and I will be here.

We pulled in at night, and the first thing I did was run to my garden. Did it survive? Are there things growing? Yes. Sorely neglected, badly in need of weeding and pruning, but there is life there! And our house was spotless with food ready for us - thanks to our new coworkers.

Today, the kids went to school. Happy to see their friends. I am thoroughly enjoying one day without four chattering voices. Quiet. Ahhh...

And missing things - mountains, fresh air, beautiful views, time to walk, friends, talking time.

But I am home. Now I will begin to post again, I think. So to start off with, a question:

If you could change one thing about yourself (no, no super-spiritual answers of character traits or anything), what would you chose?

For me, if I could chose one thing, I would chose to be able to sing. Not just sing like manage to get along in church without being way off, but to be able to sing well enough to sing alone. Just to sing. I love music. Love singing. That would be what I would chose - far above being skinny, or having beautiful waist length dark hair, or being athletic, or a few inches taller... let me be able to sing!