Thursday, April 5, 2018

Musings on Life as a Consultant (Not a title I EVER thought I'd have!)

My brain works OVERTIME all.the.time. I am learning that it is part of who I am. 

Since I recently jumped into the world of what could be considered Multi-Level-Marketing {MLM}, I have been pondering and researching both the product and the concept of MLM.

In the last 24 hours, I have swung from being totally stoked and excited to hugely regretful to somewhere in the middle which is probably better than either extreme.

My intense 24 hour sprint can be distilled into these points:

  1. There is nothing perfect THIS side of Heaven. We live in a broken world, with broken people and broken systems. That is why we need Jesus and through Him will one day live in a perfect eternity.
  2. MLM businesses are not in and of themselves evil. It is business. Even when you buy from Walmart or Amazon, more than one person benefits. (Yes, I realize this is over-simplified.) However, pushing a product is not my goal. If I have already been too pushy, FORGIVE ME. There is a learning curve both mentally and spiritually in this for me. I vow to NOT be pushy from this point forward. {Here is a great article I read regarding Christianity and MLMs.}
  3. As mentioned in this article, money is not the end goal. That was a good reminder. My hope is to put this product into the hands of guests and this seemed the best way to do it! Just the body cloth alone would have been awesome to have in hot and humid Nicaragua! This whole thing is yet another opportunity to grow, learn, be sanctified, be in relationship with people, and learn stewardship.
  4. There is a scientific learning curve here as well. There is a difference between STERILE and mold/mildew/bacterial odor inhibiting properties. Micro-silver infused microfiber does NOT mean STERILE. The microsilver is not cleaning the surface you are cleaning, it is inhibiting bacterial growth in the cloth itself. So, this means, we don’t want to wipe up raw chicken juice and then turn around and wipe our kid’s hands with the cloth. {Well, I wouldn’t!} I, personally, wash the cloths often...and I have a designated and dedicated cloths for different jobs. I am still ME after all! However, silver (and its oxidizing properties) DO interrupt normal cell processes of a bacterium--it disrupts transmembrane transport which shuts down the life-supporting functions of the cell. There is lots of research on microsilver! LOTS!
  5. Microfiber is indeed a GREAT product. Microfiber DOES pick up more than a cotton cloth or a one-use wipe. It acts like a vacuum. Are there other cheaper versions of microfiber out there? Yup. I have my own reasons for choosing to purchase through this particular company. One of which is how the fiber is designed. My reasons may not be enough for you. That’s ok. Really, it is.
  6. Like many things, this is probably seasonal. Just as I only changed diapers for a season and drove to preschool three times a week for a season, this is part of my journey RIGHT NOW. I pray God uses it to His Glory! I hope I can meet some new people and have some great conversations! One of the aspects of MLMs is the relational nature of how the business works. It connects people with people--in real life, real time! With social media like it is, we seem to have less face-to-face connection with people and that is affecting "community." When I hosted my party, I met neighbors I hadn't meet before! It served as a platform for people to come together that wouldn't have otherwise come together. Just one of the "perks."
  7. One of the aspects of this that I like is that I feel like I am doing something to care for the Creation designed by God. He put us, as humans, in a position of stewardship over this planet. I want to do my part.

{ALL opinions here are those of Bethany. You may disagree. I just ask that you refrain from being mean about it!}

Thanks for letting me process this here, as well as, giving me the room to be “in process.”

Monday, March 5, 2018

Within or Beyond

I am attempting one of those Bible reading plans. Admittedly, I am not following the schedule very well. However, it does get me reading large chunks of Scripture in one sitting which has its own benefits. The other morning the passage included Exodus 3 & 4. As Exodus is one of my favorite books in the Bible, I have read it many times. However, this particular morning, I noticed something I had not taken notice of before.

When God calls Moses through the burning bush, it starts a dialogue between God and Moses. God tells Moses what He wants Moses to do -- and you'd think, when God asks you personally in an audible voice to do something -- you'd get right on it! Yet, Moses starts to argue and make up reasons why he can't carry out God's plans. This goes on for a couple of rounds. Then, God tells Moses to throw his staff on the ground. Moses does it without argument. God asks Moses to pick up the staff (that has now been transformed into a snake). AND MOSES DOES IT! The same pattern occurs when God asks Moses to put his hand in his cloak -- once to reveal spontaneously contracted leprosy and then miraculous healing of the same hand. So, now that God has established His infinite power, He goes back to giving Moses the plan. And Moses goes back to arguing.

It struck me that when God asks Moses to do something that is WITHIN Moses' ability, like throwing or moving his hand, Moses doesn't argue. However, when God asks Moses to do something BEYOND Moses' ability, Moses starts to make excuses and argue with God. In fact, Moses argues so much with God that it says the LORD's anger burned against Moses.

How often do I argue or delay or worry or make excuses (all acts of distrust and disobedience) when God asks me to do something beyond my ability? And yet, how quick am I to move forward in a task in which I know I am capable of doing and will likely even appear successful?

It is so easy to do the jobs that we perceive we can do. It was easy for Moses to toss a staff onto the ground and even pick up the end of a snake. It is a different story altogether when the job seems far beyond our skill set, ability, and even vision. And yet, God's power remains constant regardless of task--whether within or beyond our own ability.

Where are we dragging our feet in obedience to what God might be calling us to be/do because it feels BEYOND OUR ABILITY?

Sunday, November 26, 2017

If It's Not Virtual, It's Not Real

Because we didn’t post about our trip to Nicaragua on social media prior to departure, I’ll admit that it didn’t feel like we were really going. It is a little bit funny and a whole lot disturbing that the virtual side of life feels like it makes real life ‘real.’

We knew that our 10 day trip, in which two of those days were travel days, would present scheduling issues regarding how to see everyone that we wanted to see and do everything we wanted to do in such a short period of time. Inevitably, there would be people we would not be able to visit and there was great potential for feelings to be hurt. Sadly, it was unavoidable. However, we felt that one of the ways to ‘control’ the itinerary and manage the wants and needs of our family and ex-pats and nationals alike, was to keep the news of our visit off of social media. So, if you felt surprised at the news that we had visited Nicaragua, you were in the majority. In fact, it felt a little surprising to me too as the day approached!

The main impetus for us returning to Nicaragua was because Jeff was invited to be the speaker/facilitator for the annual men’s retreat hosted by the international fellowship that we attended during our years in Nicaragua. Thankfully, we had some funds remaining in our associate account at Christian Veterinary Mission which helped make it possible for our whole family to accompany Jeff to Nicaragua. We felt that it was important that for the first ‘return’ trip to our former home and field of service, the whole family have the opportunity to experience it together. This trip was not only an opportunity to visit friends and places that we hold dear in our hearts but also a way to serve and care for the missionary community in a different capacity. Granted, I served in an ‘old’ way as I offered photo shoots for some of the graduating seniors and a couple of families.

Despite the fact that it didn’t feel ‘real’ prior to our arrival into the country, upon landing, the sights and sounds and feels and smells of Nicaragua reminded us that it was indeed real!

As we continue to distill the thoughts and emotions surrounding this visit, we will be posting here on the continue to stay tuned!

The Sights (And Sounds) of Nicaragua
(It felt different to takes pictures of 'life' as a non-resident.)

Interestingly that is our old car in the background.

I assure you that the WAWA is in 'signage' only!

It is perfectly normal to have 7-10 men each sitting on a series of
telephone poles to run a line. Safety First is so overrated.

Side of the Road Cheese Vendors

The drive up to our old neighborhood. 

Only two guys sitting up top...there is so much room for more!

Food Vender set up next to shipping container turned police office.

Horse Drawn Cart

Saturday, November 25, 2017

The Pre-Trip "MOMENT"

Before I post about our actual trip to Nicaragua, let me share what happened ‘pre-trip.’ Seriously, there is always ‘something’ that happens right before we are supposed to leave for a trip. When we moved to Nicaragua, if you remember, we were told at the ticket counter that we couldn’t fly out since our tickets were ‘one-way.’ That was AFTER we had been dropped off 1.5 hours from home with all of our belongings (including a cat) at 5 o’clock in THE MORNING. That was that trip's "moment." Clearly, we got it all straightened out because we did indeed move to Nicaragua that day.

So, our scheduled dates for this past visit to Nicaragua {which was our FIRST TIME BACK}, were November 9-19. Emotions were high. There was lots of excitement to 'return.' To travel to Nicaragua (and most other international destinations), your passport expiration date canNOT be within six months of expiration. {How many of you just went to check your passports?} I had checked all five of our passports when I bought our tickets and would have bet money (um, the price of 5 tickets to Nicaragua) that our ‘dates’ were fine.

On the morning of November 8th, the morning before our flight {as in 24 hours prior to travel}, I got our passports out of safe-keeping and just happened to look at the dates again.

Here it is. HERE is the MOMENT.

Jeff and I’s passports had an expiration date of February 2018. Um, that is like 3 months away!!!! They aren't going to let us into the country (especially since there have been some changes and greater restrictions coming into Nicaragua).


I walk out into the living room where Jeff is conducting our homeschool Bible class and I say,

“We have a problem. Like a BIG problem.”

All eyes on me. Everyone stops breathing.

“Our passports are going to expire in 3 months.”

Lots of questions. Kids on the verge of tears. Scrambling to find information on-line. Frantic phone calls. Brief discussion on 'slipping someone' a hundred dollar bill at immigration. Text messages asking for prayer.

I called the Passport “people” and I get connected to a customer service representative (in record time) named Joseph. Joseph is calm and kind. He asks me what state I live in and upon hearing that I live in Colorado, he then asks how far away I live from the city of Aurora. I tell him we live about 45 minutes away. He says, “Fantastic.” {I am NOT feeling fantastic. In fact, I am still unshowered, in my pajamas, and in a state of panic. Nothing about this is fantastic.} He gives me a short of list things that we need to collect and tells me to drive up to the passport agency in Aurora, CO with all the items on the list...and don't forget to write in black ink. He says 'they will take of me of there.' By the way, these agencies do NOT exist in every state. Had we lived in Kansas...this story would have been different.

Let me pause the story for a moment and say that I believe I talked with an angel from Heaven that morning. Joseph the Angel. Seriously.

So, back to the story...we download a passport photo app onto my phone. We take passport pictures in our dining room. By the way, NEVER have I taken a WORSE passport photo EVER! And now, I’m stuck with it for TEN YEARS!!! I even asked Jeff to re-take it (or let me take a shower and 'do' my hair)--but he looked at me with that look that said, "REALLY?!?" 

Our printer broke the night before {of course} and so we upload everything we need onto a flash drive, exchange pajamas for real clothes, pile everyone in the car and head to Staples to print the needed documents. While at Staples, a new and excellent friend shows up and gives me a hug. We print and fill out all we need and drive to Aurora.

When we arrive, there is one other person in line at the Passport Agency. We sheepishly hand over all of our paperwork and wait to be called. Less than five minutes go by and we are standing at the passport window paying what the United States calls an “expediting fee” {other countries may or may not call it a “bribe”}. We are told to go out to lunch and come back at 2:15pm to pick up our new passports.


So, now we have new passports with freshly stamped pages from Nicaraguan immigration...and the WORST.PHOTO.EVER.

Stay tuned for more post about our first return visit to Nicaragua.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

OCD Part Two: Source of Hope

This follow-up to my first post on OCD is well overdue. Honestly, it isn’t any easier to write about it now than it was to write about it then. It is an ugly disorder. And yet, God makes all things beautiful!

If you remember, when I last blogged, I had results pending concerning some enlarged lymph nodes in my neck. Well, those results came back as “they look normal, just enlarged.” Those results then launched a 2 ½  month decision process of whether or not we should dig deeper or let it be. Well, for the person with OCD, both were undesirable options. However, I finally decided to ask my doctor for a recommendation to see an ENT. Because my ultrasound results didn’t show anything ‘serious’, it meant that I wasn't a priority case and would need to wait over a month to be seen by the doctor. The other option was a CT scan with contrast. So, I scheduled that. (Can I just tell you that my husband is so kind and patient and trusts God with what is needed to pay for these crazy medical expenses!)

The whole thing was a big OCD nightmare! For months, I had been obsessed with these glands. There were times where it was impossible to think about anything else. The fear and the unknown were paralyzing. The compulsion to touch the lymph nodes and ‘evaluate’ their size was impossible to fight against. In fact, I probably made them bigger by poking at them all day long! Again, I need you to hear me...OCD isn't about the silverware being 'just so' around the place setting. It isn't about the spices being lined up perfectly in the cabinet. YES, it can manifest in this way...but it is SO MUCH deeper than that! OCD is about being trapped by your thoughts. It is about being held hostage by your own mind.

Ok, rant over. Back to the story.

The night before, I was a nervous wreck! As I am lying in bed at bedtime, praying and questioning God about the whole situation...I hear this in my mind… “Bethany, you’re fine--you don’t have cancer. I needed to blind you like I did Paul, so you could learn.” {see Acts 9}


There have been a handful of times in my Christian life when I have sensed clearly that God was speaking to me. THIS was one of those times.

So, what did God need me to learn?

The biggest lesson that I learned was this:

My hope was NOT in God. My hope was in myself and my plans. My hope was in my idol of health.  When any of those things were threatened, I lost hope. God showed me that HE is the source of hope. Like Romans 15:13 says, “I pray that God, THE SOURCE OF HOPE, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in Him. THEN, you will overflow with confident HOPE through the power of the Holy Spirit.”  And if that wasn’t enough, 1 Corinthians 15:19 reads, “And if our hope in Christ is only for this life, we are more to be pitied than anyone in the world.” OUCH! That was me!

When my source of hope was in anything but God, fear stepped in a took over. Fear is OCD’s best friend and loves to hangout in the darkness. HOPE in Christ is what turns on the light in that dark room of fear.

God is so merciful. It is in His mercy that He allowed me to be ‘blinded’ so that He could show me how far I had wandered from Him. Is it easy to keep Him as my source of hope? No. It needs to be a daily choice. I daily choose to place my hope in Christ alone. We are prone to wander and His Word brings us back.

P.S. {By the way...the CT scan results came back ‘clear’. The only things observed were that I did have two lymph nodes that were slightly enlarged and I have an upper tonsil that is slightly enlarged. I call it my wonky tonsil. I consulted with the ENT via email and we decided that it was just 'one of those things' and unless I had other crazy symptoms, I should just get on with life.}

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

20 Years...and Counting.

As I sit here on the eve of our Twentieth Anniversary, it seems impossible to find the words to sum up the last twenty years (and you all know that I love words)! Marriage is an incredible journey. Truly.

Now for those who have heard our story, despite picking out my own engagement ring, when Jeff asked me to marry him, my first response was "I think so." I am so glad he re-asked me and I said YES! We were all of 22 years old when we married each other and we've grown so much together in the last two decades. The beauty of marriage is that we both sharpen, shape and sand the edges of each other's lives so that we hopefully look more like Christ.

While marriage has its ups and downs, walking those TOGETHER as been beautiful (and sometimes a beautiful mess...and a little bit crazy). I said it in a Facebook post previously...but we have walked through some valleys and stood on some mountaintops....TOGETHER. We endured the loss of three children through miscarriage and we celebrated the births of three amazing kiddos (and we've made it to the teen years!) We have endured a cross-cultural move (and taking language school side-by-side) and celebrated the joys of serving together and experiencing all God had for us in Nicaragua. We have journeyed through many seasons...TOGETHER.

Back when I could sing a little (or thought I could)...I sang "Grow Old Along With Me" by John Lennon to Jeff at our wedding rehearsal in place of our vows (we decided our vows would be said aloud for the first time at the ceremony). We have definitely grown older (and hopefully a little wiser) through the many seasons along this marriage journey. And like the song says, we are two branches of one tree...and our roots have grown deeper and stronger both in our love for each other and in the Lord. I hope we continue to grow old alongside one another because we are better together than apart. I love and cherish the partnership and friendship that we have. I love that God picked us out for each other.

It has taken intentionality to arrive at 20 years. We have had some amazing mentors along the way...both in person and in print. We have enjoyed learning and studying about marriage. We want to continue being intentional. We want to continue to be students of marriage. Being married takes effort and investment. And it is worth it! We've watched God pour blessing and provision over that effort.

We stood before God, amongst friends and family, twenty years ago and made a covenant to God and to each other. Here are the words we vowed to each other on July 26, 1997:

Jeff's Vows
I, Jeffery, in faith, honesty, sincerity and love, take you Bethany to be my wedded wife. I believe that God has brought us together that we may fulfill the plan He has for our lives so that He may be glorified. I recognize and accept the responsibility and authority God as placed in my hands. I also accept the responsibility of following God's lead and patiently guiding you and the family God may entrust to us as He directs us in the course He has for our life together. I promise to selflessly guide, protect, provide, and care for you, and above all, to choose each day to love you as Christ does His Church. I promise that just as Christ is faithful to us, I will be a faithful husband by seeking to fulfill all the duties of a husband that God, in His Wisdom, has established. And although I do not know what lies ahead on this course God has set for us, I know that I will stay by your side to respect you, be sensitive to you, and to live with you in an understanding manner. Bethany, I promise to you my life as a faithful husband.

Bethany's Vows (no surprise, mine are longer)
I, Bethany, in faith, honesty, sincerity and love, take you Jeffery to be my wedded husband. I believe that God has brought us together that we may fulfill the plan He has for our lives so that He may be glorified. Recognizing the Lordship of Jesus Christ, I  promise to live first unto Him, then unto you. Christ is the head of the Church, in the same way the husband is the head of his wife. Jeffery, I submit myself to you under God’s hand. I promise you with all my heart, my complete trust and respect, my deepest devotion, esteem, and admiration.  Above all, I promise you that I will chose each day to love you with renewed love given by God. I promise you that I will strive to be understanding when I can not comprehend, to be patient when I want to move ahead, to be selfless when I want to be selfish, to be flexible when I don’t feel like being bent, and most importantly I will strive to be forgiving, remembering that I am to forgive as Christ forgives. Although I do not know what lies ahead on this course God has set for us, I know that I will stay by your side to support, encourage and help you. Jeffery, I promise to you my life as a faithful wife.

And no blog is truly complete without some photos. Now, believe it or not...but the first 9 years of our married life, we only had a 'FILM' camera. I know. Practically an antique now. 

The September of our Senior Year of College...the year we got engaged.
Our Wedding Day
The summer of our ONE YEAR ANNIVERSARY. We went backpacking.
Jeff's Graduation from Vet School in 2001. I was 5 months pregnant with Andrew.

And two become three.
And four.
And five (then).
And now. 
20 years. Two shall become one, then five. (God's math is funny that way).
My prayer is that we continue journeying together wholeheartedly--nurturing a vibrant and thriving marriage that brings glory to God. But for now, we celebrate our twenty years (and counting).

Monday, May 8, 2017

Like a Silly Song with Larry

Before I post another weighty blog to follow up with my previous blog about OCD, I thought I'd post a somewhat silly blog as an intermission of sorts. Remember Veggie Tales and Silly Songs with Larry? This is a like that.

I am an impulsive DIYer. There I said it. I cut or sand or demolish without a whole lot of thought as to what comes next. For any given picture hanging on the wall, there are several nail holes behind it. I think this causes Jeff some stress.

For example, here is where I took a belt-sander to our perfectly decent wood floors in the dining room.

Jeff's comment was, "Um, why did you do that?"  To which I answered, "Well, I wanted to see what the wood looked like underneath." Admittedly, I am not a fan of our wood floors and have far off dreams of replacing them or refinishing them some day. We joke that NOW, I've guaranteed this project be completed since we now have a sanded spot on the floor.

Shortly after moving in, I pulled the old, metal medicine cabinet out of the wall in the bathroom. I tried to 'finish' the project, but we don't have a table saw, which apparently is something I need to finish the project. So, it looks like this...still:

Pulling Andrew in on the next project, I convinced him to help me remove the mantel on the fireplace. My 'plan' is to use a huge spruce log that we got from Shelter Pines as a rough hewn mantel piece. It is newly cut and quite sappy. Who knew it took so long for a big ol' hunkin' log to dry. I did read that you should strip the log of its bark. Andrew got pulled into this too.

When Jeff saw what we did, he said, "Did you have a plan?"  Of course, my answer was 'no' but I did mention that thing I read about removing the bark.

Future mantel? Let's hope so. 
Hearth without mantel piece

Oh, speaking of the fireplace hearth. So, I decided it would look better white washed. That's right...the DIY project you can never really come back from.  I showed Jeff some photos. He hesitatingly agreed (probably with much fear). I looked up some tutorials....which is a good step for me! And I started. Coat 1. Hmmm. Not 'white' enough. Coat 2. I think one more would be good. Coat 3. Maybe coat 4 will be the magic number.

Jeff: That is NOT like the pictures you showed me.
Me: Yeah, I know! Hmmmm. It is a slippery slope, Jeff. {Bethany starts researching how to remove paint from brick.}

Well, you will be happy to know that I found a blog from Australia about removing paint from brick.  Apparently, vinegar removes paint. Two gallons of vinegar later, it is 'better' than it used to be.  I like it. Jeff is not convinced.

coat 1

coat 2, I think.

Coat 3 or maybe 4. 

After multiple rounds of vinegar.

Current condition. Except the very bottom section which is still
sporting coat 4. I think I will apoxy some pallet wood or something
on that surface.

By the way, I decided to take a hammer to some of the brick. You know, to make it look "old." Andrew said, "Mom! I REALLY don't think that is a good idea. Maybe you should wait until Papa gets home."  {I only hit a few places with the looks just fine.}

AND...we did find a new fireplace screen that fits into the archway. Here it is:

Granted, in this room with the fireplace, we also have a hole in the wall. This would be because I thought we could use the dead space under the stairs as storage. However, for a long time I couldn't decide what kind of door I wanted. I finally decided. That is in the works.

It looks better than this now. This was 'in process.'
By the way, that is Andrew stripping wall paper off the walls.
To defend myself, eventually, I get good results. I am a visionary and a demolition addict. I know enough about 'stuff' and tools to be dangerous but occasionally successful. I have a saint of a husband who is exceedingly patient and kind. He is quite handy with tools--thankfully.

Currently, I am working on restoring an old Amish farm table. So far so good.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

OCD Part One: It's NOT About a Symmetrically Cut Pie

I've started and stopped this blog post a hundred times! Not only is it a topic that is multi-faceted but it is exposing some of the deepest parts of my crazy! As many of you know and have experienced, there isn't much that I won't say aloud! LOL! However, this topic pushes me past my comfort level in many ways!

{You’re all curious now, aren’t you?!}

This week, for the second time in the past year, I sat waiting in the radiology department for an ultrasound to determine whether or not pathology would be discovered. The first was for a lump I found on my thigh--turns out it was just a lipoma. A lipoma is a fatty mass (because a girl needs more fat in her thighs!). This past week’s visit was to look at some lymph nodes in my neck that have been enlarged for a few months--even though my bloodwork was all normal and the doctor wasn’t too concerned.  Chances are, all is well. I am still awaiting the radiologist’s report...but the technician said everything looked within the realm of normal.

{By the way: Here is where the topic starts!!!}

I have OCD (Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder). My OCD complicates ANY (and most) situations, especially, anything that has to do with health. I recently needed to block all health sites through my internet filter. Ya know why? {My apologies, in advance, for the crudeness of this description.} Because sites like WebMD, and health forums are like ‘porn for the paranoid.’ I call it medical porn. I can’t not look at it. And...all medical google searches lead to cancer and death on the internet!

In contrast to Facebook memes, OCD is NOT about having the picture frames just so on the wall. OCD is NOT a perfectly organized cabinet or drawer. OCD is NOT about a symmetrically cut pie. It can, on the surface, manifest in some of these ways...but these things do not mean you have OCD. You may be a very neat and organized person. You may be a Type A personality. But, if you have OCD then your intrusive and paranoid thoughts and/or compulsive behaviors invade and disrupt your day in a way that leaves you paralyzed and unable to function normally.

The way I describe it is: being held prisoner in your own mind.

Picture this-- an intruder comes into your living room. The intruder ties you up and then proceeds to run around you in circles screaming the same thing at you over and over and over, while you sit there, helpless to stop the madness. It’s a little like that.

I have several different triggers that open the door to that intruder. Health is one of them. It makes things like lumps and lymph nodes an all-consuming, life threatening drama filled saga. It affects my day...or days on end. It can consume me...and then paralyze me.

“Just trust God” has often been the advice I get. I wholeheartedly agree that I need to trust God. However, for me, having OCD means that I must engage in a full-contact battle between heart and mind in order to trust. Trusting God, with all things, takes ALL I HAVE. Trusting the Lord will all my heart and leaning NOT on my own understanding (Proverbs 3:5) is probably one of the hardest things I struggle to do. I recently saw the verse Exodus 14:14 with all new eyes. It says, “The Lord Himself will fight for [me]. Just stay calm.” After fighting my intrusive thoughts regarding the enlarged lymph nodes to the point of mental exhaustion, I felt powerless to trust. However, realizing that my God fights for me was hugely freeing. I am learning how to stay calm AND I am learning what my part in that battle is.

I will say that since starting medication nearly 13 years ago, trusting has become attainable. Perhaps moreso, being able to talk with the Lord without the ‘intruder’ screaming at me has become possible.

Through this swollen gland issue, I’ve realized a few things.
  1. How much fear is a stronghold for me. I desire to see God as my refuge {Psalm 46}.
  2. How much health has become a very shiny idol. It competes with my affection for God.
  3. How I need and want to learn how to glorify God in my brokenness. I don’t need to have it ‘all together’ to please or glorify God.
  4. How glorious the knowledge that the Lord fights my battles FOR me {Exodus 14:14}.
  5. How deeply loved I am by my God.

I have vowed to not ‘squander the swollen glands.’ I am leaning into God and learning. I am pushing against the fear. I am learning to surrender the things I am tempted to love more than God. I am learning what it means to live, broken, in a broken world as child of a Perfect God who loves me perfectly.

Friday, January 13, 2017

On Return-Musings and Other Ponderings

January 12th marked the one-year anniversary of our re-entry into America following our 5 year, 2 month Nicaraguan adventure.

Sometimes it feels like we just left Nicaragua and at other times it feels like we’ve been back for more than a year (then I look around at my sparsely furnished home and think of the near panic attack I had in Costco and realize...nope--just a year)! Re-entry back into American life has been AND CONTINUES to be a journey and a process. You simply cannot live outside your passport country and not be changed in some our profound ways! Our re-entry journey has been greatly influenced by several things. We have been warmly enveloped by our new community group here in Colorado for whom we are thankful. We have had the extra blessing of interning (and now working) for people who ‘get it.’ We are thankful for God's providential timing of life's events--we were able to officially 'debrief' our time in Nicaragua at Mission Training International's Debriefing and Renewal program BEFORE we officially moved away from Nicaragua and that allowed us to 'say good-bye' in a healthier way than other global workers have the opportunity to do.

It is challenging to summarize such a multi-faceted journey, so I am going to list some thoughts in no particular order.
  • The re-entry process is not limited to one year.
  • Wal-Mart still overwhelms me and I am thankful for Wal-Mart Grocery Pick-Up Service.
  • I’m still amazed by the USPS, UPS and FEDEX.
  • Not living in ‘everyday-right-outside-your-door-community' is different and at times, hard. I miss the 'sanity loops' and calling for 'Wilson' over the fence.
  • Not living in chaos is very nice.
  • My kids miss Nicaragua. That makes me sad and happy. Sad, because I am sad when my kids hurt. Happy because they loved well and were well loved. {Paradox: it is a way of life for those who have called two distinct places home.}
  • God provides. Hands down.
  • Returns. WOW! I am still amazed at the ability to return products to stores! I mean, they often don’t even need your credit card...I want to be like--"Are you sure? Don’t you just want to hold the card? What about a ‘reason’, do you need an essay outlining the reason for my return? You DO see that I opened that package, right? I mean I TASTED the food." Seriously, I feel like offering a service of returning things for people because I am just so enamored with the whole process!
  • Decision fatigue is a real thing.
  • Friendships take time...and sometimes waiting is hard.
  • Sometimes you really miss the pets you left behind.
  • Missing the friends you left behind hurts. Entrusting those same friendships to God is crucial.
  • I can still pull out some Spanish when I need to. It isn’t pretty...but it never was.
  • Dry climate hair is WAY easier to ‘do’ than humid climate hair.
  • We walk forward richer in heart and mind because of where we've been...and who we've met...and what we've done (or didn't do).
  • Inter-dependence is beautiful and America doesn’t necessarily accept or embrace it. I hope we teach our kids that despite America’s preference for ‘pulling one's self up by one's own boot straps’, inter-dependence is a far more beautiful and Biblical way to live.