Wednesday, November 30, 2016

What I Learned in November (2016 edition)


Today is a holiday here in West Africa.  It is a refreshing break to the rhythm of my days to have a day to catch up, read, and now blog.  Who knows?  Maybe we will head out to the beach later when my honey gets home.  It has been a while since I have taken the time to reflect and think about life and what I am learning.  So here are my lessons for this past month.  


1. It is hard to get excited about Christmas when the weather feels like summer.

We have finished rainy season and are heading into dry season.  The days are warm and the water beckons.  This Iowa girl misses her cold weather and snow which signal that Christmas is near.   Between the Christmas tree we put up and a Christmas music playing on the computer, the Christmas spirit is slowly creeping in.  

Here is our tree. 
It was a treat to decorate it with ornaments we have collected over the years.  Some of the ornaments come from Central Asia or Europe.  Some were gifts or handmade.   The tree is just right for my honey and I.  Now all I need are a few ornaments from here.


2. It is really good to be in a ladies' bible study.

The ladies on our team are gathering once a week to go through the book When God Weeps by Joni Eareckson Tada and Steven Estes.   Those evenings are full of good discussions, laughter and connecting in the midst of busy weeks.  This study helps me get out of my school bubble and interact with the ladies on our team.  

The study has also been valuable in helping me process our time in Central Asia.  The subtitle of the book is "Why Our Sufferings Matter to the Almighty."   It was almost exactly two years ago when two of my kids' friends were killed in an attack.  Even though we stayed for over a year after that, that event was the beginning of the end of our time there.   Our school closed a month later followed by trouble getting our flight permissions.  Memories from that time continue to bring tears to my eyes.  I wouldn't have it any other way.  It keeps my heart tender towards our friends and others there.   Many of the ladies here are processing a time of crisis here from two years ago.  As I hear their stories, I am better able to understand life here and also see their hearts for people all over the world. 

3. To be comfortable in this season.

I think the challenge in each season is to figure out what does God want from me.  What are my expectations?  Are they realistic?  Is this guilt talking or is this something I really need to be doing?  Another challenge is finding the balance between work and the rest of life.  Am I taking care of all of me?

I love my job as a teacher, but it is draining.  By the end of the day, my brain is tired, and I am ready for some time alone or with my honey.  Sometimes I struggle with knowing how much to reach out to others since I am still in the getting to know people stage.  What do I need?  What do they need in a friend?   Since I am right in the middle between introvert and extrovert, the two sides often conflict.   One side asks, "Do you really want to call someone? " While the other side says, "Wouldn't it be nice to just hang out with friends?  You need to connect more." 

So for now, I know my job will take a lot out of me.  That is a given.  Each day I enjoy engaging and keeping those dear students learning.  I treasure the evenings and weekends with my honey-cooking together, reading,taking walks.  But I also need to remember that I need to connect.  It is part of me.  The ladies bible study helps, but is that enough?  My prayer is that I will find a good balance that is right for me but also right for those who need another friend.  It is a lesson still in process.

What have you learned this month?  Interested in what others have learned this fall? Check out Emily at Chatting at the Sky and her link up. 





1 comment:

Christine said...

I joined up with Emily's blog role about lessons learned this season as well! I'm also an overseas worker - in the Philippines from Connecticut and totally with you in the summer weather thing. I'm also currently drinking iced coffee:) So great to read your words and heart!