I know, I've not blogged in ages. Sorry about that.
The problem with journals is, if you slack off for even a little time, the life stories keep adding up and adding up, stacking higher and higher in the writer's mind......causing said writer to procrastinate further due to the wrong belief that, "If I write now, I have to catch up on this, and this, and this......
Augh! I will never have enough time to get caught up ...... or, maybe I will.....tomorrow. Yes, I will do it tomorrow."
Only, you know how that goes. Tomorrow never, never comes.
So, today is the day that I wave the white flag of surrender to my perfectionistic thinking that tells me I have to chronicle every event in this blog. I can't possibly catch up on our lives for the last year, except to say this:
We moved to Kenya.
I teach senior English at Ruthie, Sam and Deste's school, Rift Valley Academy.
Tim is a professor of surgery with the PAACS surgery residency program at Kijabe Hospital.
Last year pretty much at our lunch. Life was way too crazy, exhausting and -- oh, what an adjustment.
Tomorrow, school starts again for this year. Our prayer is that we learn this year, through the to-do lists and busy schedules, how to discipline ourselves to live sane and healthy lives. Burning the candle at both ends left us with no candle at all, and so our #1 priority this year is to trust God to show us what is essential and what is not, and to do the essential things, and let the rest slide.
Our relationship with Jesus is of course our #1 essential. Without Him, nothing else matters and nothing else can be done with meaning.
#2 is time to invest in knowing each other. We grow, we change, and yet.....if we don't keep spending time together each day (even a few minutes)......we end up feeling more like roommates or teammates rather than marriage partners.
#3 are the family relationships we have. With 5 kids, my parents and siblings - that's a lot of people.
#4 are our jobs.
So, if you do pray for us and our ministry, our prayer request for this year is that we would go "back to the basics" and quit trying to be everything for everyone, but instead just rest in being God's children - and doing only what we are called by Him to do.
He knew the only way to help us out of our mess was to send his (one and only) son to save the day.......and He could have said, "Not my circus, not my monkeys", and would have been justified in saying so.
We were the ones who chose our own way, who left God in the first place. He could have just said, "Your problem. Not mine. You made your bed, now lie in it. Goodbye. Thanks for playing."
But he didn't.
Even though our problem, our huge, devastating, eternal nightmare problem was not God's problem at all.......even though we (the human race) had brought this problem on ourselves........God decided, out of LOVE for us, to make our problem His problem. He decided to move heaven and earth to help us. And to give his ALL to help us. He didn't even spare his only son. That's more than any parent can imagine being asked to give.
When I think of this, it not only fills me with gratitude, it also infuses me with a little less caution about guarding my priorities. I've been focusing so much on how NOT to burn out, how NOT to become so exhausted, so depleted, so discouraged.......And Tim and I came up with our "plan" to be emotionally and spiritually healthy. It basically involves building an invisible wall around our lives and saying NO to everything that isn't in our immediate circle of calling.
That's good and well......and I certainly need more of this - to remember I am fully human and cannot go and go and go and go and help and help and help and help without finally just imploding.
AND YET, it is also imperative to remember: GOD GAVE HIS ONE AND ONLY SON.
God never says, "Not my circus. Not my monkeys."
And, being one of those monkeys, I am SO glad he doesn't!
Does God want me to solve every problem that arises, everywhere and every time? Of course not. But might God call me his year to bear the burden of someone else? To be a help to someone who needs love who officially is "not my circus, not my monkey"? Yes. I believe he might.
So, my quest this year is to LISTEN TO GOD'S VOICE, and not to harden my heart to the needs around me, even as I also try to rein myself in and safeguard my strength and time so that I have enough to give to my God and my family and myself. Hardening my heart, resolutely saying "NO" every time, means I am trusting in my own strength to restore my tired heart. I am depending on human methods to restore and refresh me. "Just say NO" is the human mantra of how to protect ourselves.
Yes, I do want to say NO a lot more often, I want to eradicate all I do that is not sent from Him, but I want to stay open to saying YES to anything He IS asking of me - because if He asks, I know it's good, no matter what. And if He asks, He will give me the strength and time to do it.
So, prayers for our family this year?
- Pray we adopt more God honoring boundaries around the time, money, relationships and energy He has given to us. That I especially let God be God, and let me be just me.
- Pray we are used to bring His love and light to our areas of ministry.
- Pray our hearts would not be hardened to His voice as we seek to protect ourselves from exhaustion, but that we would have soft hearts towards Him and open ears to His voice.
- Pray that we can find a creative way to celebrate our upcoming Silver Anniversary (25!) this May 2 without spending too much money doing it. (I know it's early, but the way time flies, we know we need to start planning now.)
- Pray for Deste's adjustment to 1st grade. He's very nervous about going to school "all day", and doesn't know if he can survive it. (Kinder was a half day program.) Pray also that he learns to read and can stay up with his class. He is fiercely competitive and when he doesn't catch on to academic things, he becomes super discouraged. He is very smart, but changing languages three times before age 6 put him rather behind on school type things.
- Sam is entering his hardest year at RVA. Junior year classes are tough, very tough - pray he can rise to the challenge, and yet still have time with all his buds. Pray also for the time he invests teaching piano (Thanks, Verna Benham!). He really loves his students and enjoys having a part time job. Pray that God keeps using him and inspiring him in this area.
- This is Ruthie's senior year. She'll be a busy bee, applying to colleges (all Texas schools), taking SATs again, taking an online college class and participating in the many RVA classes and extra activities that make up senior year. Pray for peace for her as she applies (decisions! decisions!), pray for sizable financial aid to come in for college (we can always pray, right?), and for God to direct her to HIS college choice - to just the right place for her.
- Pray for our Aggie Son, Stephen, at (where else?) Texas A&M. He's thinking through possible career directions, and maybe changing majors, so needs lots of wisdom. Pray he gets the support he needs from someone local, since we the parents are 8,000 miles away.
- Hannah, our Wheaton English major, has just started classes and moved into a slightly larger dorm than she's had in the past. Wheaton does so many things so well - great classes, fabulous professors, delicious dining hall, beautiful campus. But their housing? Except for one large freshman dorm, the housing is a rollback to OUR 1970-1980 dorms, the kind we all suffered through. 😀Actually, her dorms have always been much worse than mine ever were. Think sardine can. With 4 students inside. There ya have it. Pray for Hannah - that she and her 3 dorm-mates can find creative ways to manage their limited space and to balance fun, "down time", and study time in a crowded situation - and also whether she will add another major (education) to her degree plan.
- Pray for Deste's biological siblings, Desange and Tubunduru, who still live on Idjwi island. We were not aware that he had siblings when we adopted him, and we probably could never adopt them now. We do pray for them, and send them to school and provide some support for food and clothing and such, although not nearly as much as we'd like. Please pray for them, for health, for growth, for opportunities, and most of all, to know that they are loved by a God who never, ever says, "I'm too tired to help you, I am too overwhelmed. I can't take anything else on." So thankful that we have a God of endless strength, endless love, endless caring. Please pray that our mighty, magnifacent God will be an everlasting help to Deste's relatives on the Island of Idjwi.
- Please pray that two interns could be found - possible Business major or minor students and/or fashion design students - who would commit to spending 3-6 months in Kibogora, Rwanda, to befriend the Seka ladies, teach them, doing Bible studies with them, and setting up some systems (standardized purse making, shipping, 501c3 status, etc) so that Seka can become self sufficient eventually. We really believe that Seka was a ministry that God called us to start, but if we don't get some tangible help in this way, we are unsure how much longer Seka can continue. :(
We'd love to hear how you are doing! Shoot us an email: firstname.lastname@example.org