Sunday, June 02, 2019

Lessons Learned (Spring 2019 Edition)

It has been a long time since I have been here in this space.  What better time to begin again than with a recap of my Spring. These past few months have been a blur of activity and transitions, a wedding, and keeping up with my students at school.  My emotions have run the gauntlet from contentment, to anxiousness, to joy to sadness.  I have been in West Africa and also California.  Looking back, here are just a few of those lessons.

1. Rhythms can be lost but they can also be found.

One of the hardest things about our move in February was that I felt off my game.  I felt rushed in the morning and often had a hurried mindset.  I loved our new space but struggled with getting a good routine that worked for this new season. 

My new routine doesn't look exactly like my old one but it does fit this new season.  It requires me getting up a little earlier and some days packing a lunch to eat at work instead of coming home.  But the biggest game changer for me was factoring in time at home to "cook and piddle".  I had forgotten how those two things ground me as I take care of my family (even if it is just my husband and I in our empty nest).  I am also realizing that my commute back and forth along the beach road does something to my soul if I take the time to appreciate the ocean and its Creator as I walk or ride my bike.  See an aerial view of my commute below.

2. We often fight the same battles again and again...

but hopefully our battle strategy gets better.  One day everything is great.  Then all of a sudden the next day, the lies start to creep in.  The insecurities return.  At this point, I have a choice.  Do I recognize the lies and fight or do I give in and fall into despair?  Thankfully more and more, I am recognizing the lies as what they are - lies.  My emotions are telling me a story that is not a true story.  The challenge comes with the underlying melancholy that remains below the surface.  For me, a good prescription for melancholy is a nap, walk outside, journaling, or even cooking a fun meal or dessert.   These all give me time to think and process without allowing me to dwell on the negative. 

3. I still need to be a student of my husband.

At my daughter's wedding rehearsal lunch, each father gave a word of encouragement to the soon to be wed couple.  In his, my husband talked to our daughter about being a student of her husband.  It was a good reminder to me that I still need to be a student of my husband even after 25 plus years.  I think it is too easy to take things for granted.  Am I listening well?  Do I see what is important to him in this season?  

4. Staying near the airport is a great way to start a long trip.

In May, we were in California for our daughter's wedding.  The closest international airport to fly into was LAX.  Depending on the time of day, getting to and from the airport can be long and stressful.  Instead of having to get up early and have someone drive us to the airport, we decided to take an Uber to a hotel near the airport the night before.  After a full weekend of wedding festivities, it was delightful to rest at the hotel with no agenda.  We were also able to get a good night's sleep making our next day of traveling less stressful.  For two people who are on the introverted side, it was a great way to refresh after being around people constantly for the past few days.  Lastly, it also helped us recover from jet lag quicker on the other end.

5. I miss my friends.

At our daughter's wedding, we were blessed to see friends from Texas and also from our time in Central Asia.  It was great to reconnect, but I missed not having a longer time to really talk about where we at now and what life is really like in this season for both of us.  I am thankful for the reminder that I need to do a better job of staying in touch.  

These friendships were forged during the hard seasons.   They are like family.  I miss that.  It is not something you can recreate.  For now I am thankful for the gift that they are to me.  I pray that someday our paths will cross and maybe we will be in the same location again.

6.  Last but not least, my daughter getting married doesn't mean that I am losing her.  I am just gaining a son.

My daughter met her husband in 8th grade at an international school in Central Asia.  We have been friends with their family all those years.  After they both graduated from high school, they realized that maybe they wanted something more than friendship.  Four years of dating long distance all ended as they were married in May.  We could not have picked a better husband for our daughter and are happy he is part of our family.  

What are some things that you learned this month?

Sunday, April 14, 2019

First Quarter Reads 2019

I almost feel guilty saying this but I would rather read on my kindle than a physical book. Being an avid reader, I feel like I should be a purist and love reading from actual paper books, but I don't.  My husband bought me my first kindle when we moved overseas over ten years ago.  I wasn't too excited about it at the time, but soon embraced it when I found out it was the best way for me to keep a good supply of books coming.   A few years later, I was able to use my library card to check out books digitally which solidified my love for my kindle.

When I travel, my library comes with me.  When I move, my library just slips in my bag.  I can read at night without waking up my husband because of the built in backlight.  I can increase the size of the font when I want to read at lunch time but forgot my reading glasses.  I love being able to switch between books with a click of a button or that I can easily find a highlight even from a book that has been returned to the library.  For me, the kindle has been a blessing.   Who knows if I move back to the states, I might change my mind.  (I do have a list of books that I would love to have physical copy of for my future bookshelf.)

This time of the month, many bloggers put out reviews on the books they have read and liked or read and hated.  This month, I thought I would add in my reviews of books I have enjoyed so far this year-kind of like a quarterly report.  Here are my reviews.


Four Gifts: Seeking Self-Care for Heart, Soul, Mind, and Strength by April Yamasaki

This was a great book to start off my year especially a year with so many transitions.  I loved how she sectioned the book into heart, soul, mind and strength and had practical ideas to go with each one.   What stood out to me the most was how we often think of self care as what we do for ourselves but her challenge is that serving others is a form of self care.   Self care is about loving God by loving ourselves and others.  

Learning to Walk in the Dark by Barbara Brown Taylor

This one was a recommendation from reading other bloggers' reviews.  In her book, Barbara examines darkness-both physical and spiritual.  How do we view it? What are our misconceptions?  Is all darkness evil?  How does God use darkness? Even though I might not have agreed with everything that Barbara wrote, I feel like she did a good job of exploring this topic, and it gave me a lot fo think about it.  It also gave me a different outlook as each morning I step out into the darkness for my morning walk as the sun is slowing coming up.

The Ministry of Ordinary Places by Shannan Martin

This books was both encouraging and challenging.  My husband and I enjoyed talking about the topics in this book on our evening walk as we both read through the pages.  I liked how she talked about the smaller her footprint, the more she felt grounded in God's kingdom.  I can totally relate as my foot print is a circle that is literally 2 miles in circumference.  The question is how can I best love those around me in this time and this place.   But I appreciated the most her words on obedience and faithfulness even when you don't see any fruit in what you are doing. 


Thief of Corinth by Tessa Afshar

Tessa Afshar is one of my favorite authors, and I am always quick to buy one of her books.  I wasn't sure about this one, but the plot quickly engaged me and I had to keep reading.  The story was set in Corinth in the time of Paul's ministry.  The plot centered around a family whose dad is a thief with the daughter following in his footsteps and helping him.  The story dealt with tough family situations, the power of Christ to save, and doing the right thing even when it is hard.

The Mystic Series by Ted Dekker

I read this series on a recommendation from my husband.  The two book series centers on a girl named Rachel who lives in a secluded community called Eden and is born blind.  When she dreams, she is transported to another time and place, a place where Elyon is worshipped and the Horde is out to eliminate all who worship Him.  Rachel soon finds out that she is the 49th Mystic and must find the 5 seals before it is too late.  The plot goes back and forth between these two worlds.  As she dreams and lives in one world, she is asleep in the other.  

If you read the Circle trilogy, you will enjoy seeing some characters from that series in this story such as the Roush and Thomas Hunter. The plot had many twists and turns but also gave me lots to think about in terms of my spiritual walk and what I believe.  

What books have you enjoyed this month or this year? Do you like paper books or digital books better and why?  I would love to hear about it in the comments.

(Affiliate links are included in this post.)

Sunday, April 07, 2019

A Word for Transition Insecurities

Yesterday my husband and I listened online as our home pastor talked about his future transition into retirement and the new vision God has for him.  In October, he will pass the baton of Senior paster to an associate pastor that he has worked with and mentored for over 10 years. They are both ready for this new season, but also aware of the dangers.  Two things stood out to me from his talk that I think apply to all of us who are going through a transition.

1. Encouragement to One of Them Is Not Criticism of the Other.

Have you ever heard someone else praised and somehow it seemed like something personal against you?  For example, your husband gives your friend a complement about her brownies, but what you hear is that he doesn't like your brownies.  In the same way, our pastor said that both pastors would need lots of encouragement during this transition time.  They would both try to never take personal affront to a compliment or word of praise given to the other person.  Because most of the time, it is encouragement to that person and not a criticism of someone else.  Even if it was a criticism of us, wouldn't this world be so much better if we were not offended by these small things.

2.  A New Season Requires New Strengths

Our pastor pointed out that the new guy was more focused on one or two ideas and better able to relate to the younger generation.  He would have ideas and a vision that would be what the church needed for this next season.  Whereas, the old pastor was older making it harder to relate to a younger generation and was easily distracted by lots of great ideas.

This past month, we transitioned in a new helicopter family.  The old and new family overlapped for two weeks as the old pilot trained the new one on our procedures here.  Our team loves to have a time of encouragement and prayer to send off those who are leaving.  As our team praised the old wife about her listening skills, sense of humor, and baking skills, I glanced over at the new wife wondering what was going through her head.  I remembered my insecurities of replacing someone who was amazing or at least that is how I translated all that was said about her.  Later that week, I spoke with the new wife about the party and how I felt when I first came.  I reminded her that our team didn't need someone just like the old family.  We need their family and the gifts that God have given them.  They are just what we need for this season.   I don't know if she needed those words or not, but they were a good reminder for me.

Transitions often bring up insecurities, but they also remind us that our security is in Christ alone.  It is always great to have a reminder to stay focused on Him who gave all things for us.

Have you ever replaced someone whose shoes seemed hard to fill?  How did you deal with the situation? What was God's word to you during that season?  I would love to hear about it in the comments.