Tuesday, September 06, 2016


Sometimes you need to put into words what you are feeling.

Sometimes you don't. What if you can't handle what you are feeling?

Sometimes you need to stop running and figure out what is really going on.

Sometimes you don't.  You need to get through just this one more thing.

Sometimes you need to step back and see the situation from another point of view.

Sometimes you don't...

This week Big D left for school.  I found myself filling the empty space with binge reading and working in my classroom.  One afternoon I came home to our empty house and suddenly had an urge to go for an afternoon walk.  As I walked  I finally took the time to think about what I was feeling.   The words "I am lonely" came into my mind.  Now as I sit here typing on a Saturday morning, I think a better statement is that I feel loss.  Even though I miss Big D, it wasn't necessarily loss from his leaving.  It was the accumulation of loss from the past year- the moving, the leaving, the good byes, the what could have beens.  Some of that loss was brought back this past week as a university where some of my former students attend was attacked.  My heart still hurts every time I hear about another attack.  

I don't want to be a person who is always talking about loss.  I have so much.  My husband and I love our new jobs in West Africa.  Our children are in schools that allow them to grow and blossom.  We have friends and family who love and support us.  There is so much to celebrate.  That is why I appreciate what Emily Freeman said in her book Simply Tuesday..

We like to talk about celebrating the gifts we have been given, but facing the losses is important too.  Not to wallow, but to keep company with them long enough to recognize what part they play in our story, to name them, and eventually release them in the presence of Christ.  Before we move too quickly to hope, it's important to grieve the losses, to handle them, face them, and let disappointment do its deep work. (p. 178)

So this morning I am taking the time to grieve the loss- to remember and put into words what I am feeling.  King David did that in the Psalms.  He put his loss into words.  Of course his words are much more poetic than mine but I think the important thing is not the wording but who the words are directed too.  It is only when I acknowledge my feelings to God and give those feelings to Him that they can be dealt with.   I love how so many of the Psalms begin with "woe is me" and "everyone is after me" and end with "my hope is in God" and a declaration of who God is.  At the beginning of the summer I took the time to process and then I just didn't. The thing is grief is not just a one time thing and then it is done.  Grief is a process.  In the same way,  my relationship with God is not just one morning of journaling but a daily remembering of who God is.   In that daily remembering, I acknowledge who I am and what I am feeling so that I am free to once again remember who God is and that He alone can fill those empty spaces.

I love the story of Elijah meeting God on the mountain.  Elijah just came off a victory in a showdown with the prophets of Baal and just a few days later ran due to a threat from Jezebel.   In I Kings 19, Elijah who was on the run was cared for by ravens next to a brook and then sent by God to the mountain of God.  Upon arriving at the mountain, Elijah experienced a strong wind then an earthquake followed by fire, but God was not in any of these.   Instead God was in the small voice that asked Elijah what he was doing there.   Elijah's response didn't match God's question.  Elijah proceeded to tell God how faithful he had been and recited all his losses.  But then again God's response to Elijah didn't seem to match Elijah's answer either.   God refocused Elijah by giving him a task and part of that task would be training the prophet who would take his place.  Then as an afterthought, God told Elijah that there were 7000 in Israel who had stayed faithful to Him.   It almost seems like God didn't hear Elijah.  Shouldn't God have said something like, "I am sorry you feel that way," or "What you are saying is not really true."    The great thing about God is that he sees all of us inside and out.  On that day, Elijah didn't need a pep talk, Elijah needed a task.  God knew that.  Just like God knew when David poured out his heart in the Psalms that David needed to be reminded of who God was and where David's true hope rested.

Sometimes I need to just sit and write and wait and listen.  I need to take time to see how the losses as well as the celebrations are a part of my story.   By putting words to the loss, I make a way for hope to grow.  By recognizing my loss,  I see my weakness but also have the opportunity to see God in a new way.   By seeing where I have been and God's faithfulness in all things, I am made ready for what He has next.

Saturday, September 03, 2016

What I Learned In August (2016 Edition)

This month began with me starting school and ended with Big D leaving on a plane so he could start school.  It has been a full month getting into a good rhythm at school and spending time with Big D before he left.  As I look back on the month, here are my lessons for August.

1.  I Need My Evening Walks With My Honey

Most evenings after supper, you will find my honey and I walking along the beach road.  The weather is usually cool with the breeze coming off the ocean.  The sound of the waves helps relieve the stress of the day.  The time together gives us time to reconnect and debrief our day.  An added bonus is that I log a few more steps on my fitbit.  It is rainy season which can make walking some evenings challenging.  I notice if we go too many days without our walks that I breathe a sigh of relief when we get back on schedule.

2. My Son Can Cook

This month I came home two different times at noon to find lunch all ready for me.  The first time Big D made pizza. The second time, it was tortillas for burritos.  Then last weekend he made a key lime pie.  He is finding that cooking takes practice and a good recipe.  I look forward to more of his cooking at Christmas break.

3. Saying Good Bye to Big D was Harder This Year

My son, Big D, is starting his 11th grade year at a boarding school in Germany.  It will be his second year at the school.  Last year we could not have asked for a better year.  He was on the yearbook and enjoyed playing on the volleyball team. He made great friends and had a good dorm.  I thought knowing all these things would make it easier to say good bye.  It didn't.

I tried to figure out what was different.  Last year after saying good bye, we returned to Central Asia and moved to a different city.  A city and house Big D had never lived in.  We didn't even have a guest room so when he and his sister came to visit, they slept in the living room.   Big D was not part of the normal there.

On the other hand, Big D spent the summer with us here in West Africa.  He had his own room.  He made memories with and was part of our everyday life.  Now he is gone, and there is an empty space where he was.  

I am thankful that we will see him again in a few months.  I rest in the fact that God has Big D in his hand and that Big D is in the best place for him for this season.

3. Ping Pong is a Great Way to Spend Time with My Son

This month, my honey and Big D made a ping pong table.  We had found a net, paddles, and balls in the school room.  All we needed was a table.  The table has its own quirks but does the job.  For example, if you hit certain spots the bounce is slightly different. 

Big D and I played many games this month.  We are pretty evenly matched leaving us tied in the number of games won.  

I remember playing ping pong with my dad most every night during the winter.  It was a surprise to find that I could still play well enough to be competitive with my son.  It was also a great way to spend time together.  Hopefully I can still keep up with him at Christmas break.  Maybe my students will practice with me.

4. I Can Do This Job

I am a teacher of a one room school in West Africa.  My students include one second grader, three middle schoolers, and two high schoolers.  I am fully in charge of three of them.  For the others, I provide structure and tutoring if needed.  My first week was crazy.  I felt like I had to be in two places at once.  I had no idea if I would be able to give them the education they needed.  Besides this, I was exhausted at the end of each day.

Now that we have settled into a routine, the students are able to do more things independently, and I am learning how to plan the day so that I maximize my time with each student.  It is a help that my students are hard workers and have good attitudes.  

I love my new job.  It takes all my previous experience from being a high school teacher and homeschooling mom and puts that experience to work.  On any given day, I am singing rhymes to explaining adding fractions.   On another day, I am reviewing bones, explaining outlining, or even teaching how to catch and throw a ball.  I have a feeling I will not get bored. Now if I could just figure out how to get the Lego robot to work, I will be all set.

That's all for this month.  What have you learned?  Any inspirational thoughts or fun tidbits?

Monday, August 15, 2016

Have You Ever Wanted to Recommend a Book to a Fictional Character?

Have you ever wanted to recommend a book to a fictional character?  Well I have.  This month as I was reading the latest Aggie book by Chautona Havig, I kept wanting to tell Aggie that she needed to read this new book by Stacey Thacker called Fresh Out of Amazing.

You see Aggie has 9 children and one on the way.  It’s been a crazy three years with inheriting her sister’s eight kids, remodeling a house, and marrying Luke.  As book 4, Ante Up! begins, the family is just moving back into their repaired home that had been vandalized by teenagers.  Instead of home sweet home, they find vandals have hit again.  To top it off, Aggie is eight months pregnant and feeling overwhelmed with homeschooling and the holidays approaching.  She is fresh out of amazing.  In other books, she is always singing hymns.  In this book, the singing has stopped.  Aggie finds herself doubting and losing her faith.   She is fresh out of amazing and holding on by a thread. Ante Up! is not only about Aggie’s faith struggle.  It is about teenagers struggling with social issues, the need to communicate with others when you need help, and holding on when everything looks bleak.  It is about a family who is determined to look to Jesus and make it work even when one of them is struggling.  This book was not as light hearted as the last three but was a good read.

Why would Fresh Out of Amazing be a good read for Aggie?  In the first half of her book, Stacey Thacker examines the different ways we can feel fresh out of amazing by using the lives of Ezekiel, Martha, Hannah, and the woman at the well.  I am sure Aggie could relate to chapters called “Burdened and Busy” or “I Feel Like My Dreams Have Died”.

Aggie and I both could use the reminder from Stacey that…
Fresh out of amazing isn’t a one-way ticket to despair; it is an opportunity to see God be big.  When we see God as big, we lose the desire to merely look at the horizontal.”  

In the second half of the book, Stacey uses the book of Habakkuk to show how to deal with being fresh out of amazing.  Stacey also shares how God has helped her in her fresh out of amazing place especially after the death of her father.   Stacey would tell Aggie that it is okay to wrestle with God in prayer. Start there and see where God leads.  For Habakkuk, it led to hearing from God and eventually being able to worship despite his hard circumstances. 

Just So you know I was given an advanced copy of Fresh Out of Amazing in return for an honest review.   I honestly think it is great book to help us in those fresh out of amazing seasons.  I look forward to going through this book in the future with a friend and having some good discussions on the topics.

Once again I am linking up with Modern Ms Darcy her new and notable monthly book reviews.