Thursday, May 23, 2013

And We Are Moving...Again.

Yeah, it's not what you think.  We are just changing houses within the same neighborhood.  And, no, we can't get mail there either.  There are many reasons why we are making this move; overall, however, we feel that this will be a better house to call 'home' for our family. The whole process of this move have raised some interesting questions and thoughts for me (which I will get to a few paragraphs down...just wade through this with me).

One of the reasons we are moving...okay, get that the tile floor, in our current house, drives me crazy.  I know, it sounds so selfish, vain, petty...believe is a little embarrassing to even write it.  But, stay with me here.  Environment, ambiance, colors, light...these things greatly affect me.  I will go as far as to say that my environment affects my mental health.  I joke that my external environment needs to be peaceful because the environment of my mind is chaotic.

I desire that my home serves as a refuge for me, my family, and visitors.  Not to mention, I home-school my three kiddos--FULLTIME--I am home ALL day.  For two years, I tried to push aside the nagging irritation caused by the busy floor and dark ceilings.  I mean, really, how can I complain about my far-beyond sufficient abode when there are others here in Nicaragua and around the world that have no place to call home.  I tried to make the current house work for me--I painted, I rearranged furniture, I hung hand-made artwork...but still I felt agitated.  Yet, I certainly didn't want my issues over tile to displace my family.  My kids call this house their home.  We love this neighborhood, the community that we have here is unique and a tremendous gift from God.   I prayed for contentment.

Then, we heard about a house that was available in the same neighborhood that did not have the crazy tile or the dark ceilings.  It is smaller and there is less yard space (but a strip of earth outside Ella's window for her much desired garden).  There are pros and cons for sure.  However, we decided after much prayer to make the move...which will happen next weekend.  I am hopeful that I will be able to settle in a little deeper, which is important as we look ahead to our indefinite future in Nicaragua.

Okay, I'm going to take a hard right turn here.  In processing this move "out loud" to others, it has raised a question in my mind.  Is my generation (and the generations that follow mine) less likely to accept and settle regarding their homes compared to the generations that have come before us?  Now, I am not at all implying that previous generations did not appreciate creativity, beauty and a lovely home.  I am asking:  in an age of DIY, Pinterest, HGTV, etc., are we a more discontent culture?  Believe me, I am all for creativity, DIY, creating a home that is peaceful and facilitates worship of our God....but do we, as a generation of Pinterest and HGTV make our homes an idol to worship.   Let me make this specific to my situation.  Outside of American culture, where the DIY generation has created its own industry, how is this 'need to improve' and have a perfect and beautiful house perceived by other cultures?  How do my Nicaraguan friends perceive my need to have a visually pleasing ceiling and floor?  Honestly, I am not sure I want the answer to that question.  I do know that we prayed about this move.  I know that 'perfect' houses do NOT exist outside of the internet.  I know that my eternal home is far more important than my temporal, earthly home.  I also know that God is a God of Beauty, Order, Creativity, and good gifts.  I am thankful for His provision of a different house within the same, great neighborhood.  

(By the way, our next newsletter from CVM addresses this as well...but I am going to post this at the risk of being redundant.)

The tile floor that drives me crazy!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

A Lesson on Suffering

Several weeks ago, a neighbor brought me (Jeff) a Guardabarranco with a severely shattered wing.  The Guardabarranco is the national bird of Nicaragua and it is beautiful.

Andrew researched how to bandage a wing and we set to it.  Once the bird was anesthetized, I could see that the humerus was severely broken and was protruding from the skin.  I already had an idea of how this was going to end up, but Andrew wanted to give it our best effort, so we tried to re-position the bones and place a bandage.

Two days later, the bandage had slipped with all of the birds efforts to get it off, and the humerus was once again exposed and looking dark in color.  The next day was Surgery Saturday, so I thought that I would let my students decide how to proceed.  As I presented the case to them, I made a cultural observation that Bethany has written about before (The Sanctity of Life 6/9/12).  I relayed to my students our observation of the contrast between the culture of the U.S. that seeks to avoid suffering compare to the Nicaraguan culture that seeks to preserve life even if intense suffering is imminent.  I think that they took some pride in the observation.  I then shared with them a quote from a book I had recently read.

So, the treatment options were:

  1. Continue to place bandages as needed for 4-6 weeks with a 99% chance of failure, bone infection and death, and a 1% chance of recovery and a life of captivity (this bird was very distressed to be was suffering regardless of it's wing).  
  2. Amputate the broken wing and remove the protruding bone that was now black.  Destined to live in captivity forever.
  3. Euthanize.  (this had my vote)
All, except one of the students, wanted to give this bird every chance to live even if it required suffering.  Even Andrew voted for amputation because he didn't want to consider euthanasia; he was becoming attached to this bird.

Well, we amputated the wing but the bird died 36 hours later.  The students and Andrew were sad, but didn't regret their decision.  I still think that a different treatment option should have been chosen (euthanasia) and I wonder if that reveals something about my character.  I do seek to remove myself from suffering.  I am tempted to choose comfort (in excess) every time.  But what is the opposite position?  To choose and pursue suffering and discomfort?  That would be foolishness at best and crazy at worst.  There is a clinical diagnosis for such a person: masochistic.

I am thankful that the Bible is not silent on such an important topic.  As I read the writings of Peter, James and Paul it is plain that they did not shrink away from suffering (I am thinking of the times after the teachable moment when Peter denied his best friend).  They knew the value of suffering, in particular, suffering for Christ.  I still have so much to learn and understand.  I am a product of my culture and my own humanness...I want to be rescued from all sources of suffering and I want to pursue all things comfortable.  The part that boggles my mind is that if I will stop seeking my own comfort and will instead accept the gift of the sufferings that Jesus endured on my behalf, for my sin (like selfish pursuits of comfort), then I am promised a suffering-free, joy-filled, eternal-existence with him.

Malcolm Muggeridge:
"Contrary to what might be expected, I look back on experiences that at the time seemed especially desolating and painful, with particular satisfaction.  Indeed, I can say with complete truthfulness that everything I have learned in my seventy-five years in this world, everything that has truly enhanced and enlightened my existence, has been through affliction and not through happiness...In other words, if it ever were to be possible to eliminate affliction from our earthly existence by means of some drug or other medical mumbo jumbo...the result would not make life delectable, but to make it too banal or trivial to be endurable. This of course is what the cross [of Christ] signifies, and it is the cross more than anything else, that has called me inexorably to Christ.  (Homemade, July 1990)