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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

For Unto Us...

Luke tells a story in the first 2 chapters of his letter about real people (who, had they lived in the 21st century, we just might have been friends with on Facebook) daring to live lives of worship, and how God used them to bring about the most significant and humanity-defining event in the history of the world.  You should read their story here.

May God bless you richly by setting your heart set on Jesus this Christmas as we celebrate the birth of Emmanuel, God With Us.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Indelible Wisdom

Just for the record, I love to learn about early missionaries (see On Sacrifice, On Perserverence) .  Their work, experiences, and hardships leave a deep, indelible mark of wisdom in their words.  James Gilmour (1843-1891), Scottish missionary to Mongolia, explained how God called him to his work in this way:

During the summer session in Edinburgh I thought the matter out, and decided for the mission field; even on the low ground of common sense I seemed to be called to be a missionary. Is the kingdom a harvest field? Then I thought it reasonable that I should seek to work where the work was most abundant and the workers fewest. Labourers say they are over-taxed at home; what then must be the case abroad, where there are wide stretching plains already white to harvest, with scarcely here and there a solitary reaper? To me the soul of an Indian seemed as precious as the soul of an Englishman, and the Gospel as much for the Chinese as for the European; and as the band of missionaries was few compared with the company of home ministers, it seemed to me clearly to be my duty to go abroad.

But I go out as a missionary not that I may follow the dictates of common sense, but that I may obey that command of Christ, 'Go into all the world and preach.' He who said 'preach,' said also, 'Go ye into and preach,' and what Christ hath joined together let not man put asunder.

This command seems to me to be strictly a missionary injunction, and, as far as I can see, those to whom it was first delivered regarded it in that light, so that, apart altogether from choice and other lower reasons, my going forth is a matter of obedience to a plain command; and in place of seeking to assign a reason for going abroad, I would prefer to say that I have failed to discover any reason why I should stay at home.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Lasts

As I get closer and closer to leaving the country I have lived in my entire life, I'm beginning to notice all the things about it that I may be missing soon. Already, I am taking note of the big and small "lasts" that may not happen again for quite some time.  Last piece of Thanksgiving pumpkin pie, last time my toes are numb from the cold, last time I'll conveniently order anything off the internet, and others.

I don't say this to make you think I'm sad - no, it's more like pre-nostalgia.  Taking in and noticing all the good things here that usually I take for granted.  I am blessed in Kansas.  I will be blessed in Thailand.  Still, they are not the same, and there are things I will miss.

I'm looking forward to moving to Thailand.  There are so many good and new and different things to come.  And even so, in his grace, Jesus tells us (Matthew 19:29),"...everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life."  

Not gonna lie, the lasts are hard.  But Jesus promises 100 times better.  And that makes the lasts not sad, but full of anticipation for what is to come.  Maybe some in Thailand, but maybe not until heaven.  But the promise is sure.

Last day as a Food Pantry volunteer.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Bananas, Birthdays, and Bethlehem

It is amazing how fast time flies when you're...busy.  The past couple weeks has been a blur - and I'm writing this through bleary eyes that are ready to call it quits for a while.  Coffee at my side, let me give you a quick rundown of all the fun I've been up to lately. [I had to go to bed after I wrote this last night - posting this morning for you, though!]

Last Tuesday, I successfully defended my right to an MPH degree!  The presentation went well, several people came to support me, and I only got mildly sizzled by the questions I was asked by my advisory committee.  They must have liked my answers enough to pass me!  Praise God!  The presentation was followed with cooking mountains of lo mien and other Chinese dishes for a shared birthday celebration.  (I turned 29 on Dec.1!!)  Only, my co-birthday girl was secretly helping conspire a surprise party for me!  While we were downstairs eating with chopsticks on a festively decked ping-pong table, friends and co-conspirators alike were gathering upstairs to celebrate my MPH and my birthday with me.  I have great friends!


I also hit 83% of my needed support level before I can leave for Thailand!  I'm a little closer each day, but not quite there yet!  This elephant still needs five more bananas ($500/month) until those mountains of northern Thailand become a reality.

Lunch with a group of vet friends I used to work with was another highlight - coincidentally, the four of us all work at different places now, but somehow, adversity bonded us while we worked together a few years back, and I enjoy catching up with them so much!  We were too busy talking to take a picture.  :)

Friday I had to have a new picture taken for my driver's license, complete with helmet hair...because I got a motorcycle license!  (Thank you to my dear friend Lisa who made it possible!!)  That's right, travelers and pedestrians alike should tremble in fear at the thought of me rocketing down the road at a lightening speed of 25mph (it feels that fast, okay!?) on the back of a two-wheeler.  Whether or not I have a scooter in Thailand, I'm sure the license won't go to waste.

This weekend culminated in the event I've been looking forward to for several months: Bethlehem Revisited!  A walk-through, live nativity from Genesis to Jesus' ascension into heaven, it is alway a favorite of mine, and several hundred  1,800 to 1,900 (just found out numbers for this year) other people who come to walk through each year.  This is the first year I was able to be in costume to help lead groups, as usually I am behind-the-scenes.  Three nights, worth 18 hours in frosty weather with 200 other volunteers dressed as Roman centurions, beggars, shepherds, prophets, and angels has got to be a good time, doesn't it!?
Rachel Buffington
No picture of me in costume, since cameras aren't part of the biblical dress code!  This is a pic from last year's BR.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Not Quite the Big Time

This article was recently published in a small circulation.  It is kind of weird to hear someone else describing what I'll be doing, but cool nonetheless!


Introducing Dr. Rachel Buffington, CVM's Newest Long-Term Missions Veterinarian


Dr. Rachel Buffington - Serving with CVM in Chiang Rai, Thailand


Christian Veterinary Mission's Send a Vet program has strategically and carefully placed over 30 extraordinarily qualified veterinarians in more than 13 countries.  Their newest addition, Dr. Rachel Buffington, is no exception.  Rachel is going to a remote part of northern Thailand in the famous Golden Triangle area of [Southeast Asia].  This is an area widely known for the illegal drug trade.  Her work will address animal production as a way for the poor ethnic minorities (the hill tribes of South East Asia) to earn a living and effectively care for their families - without participating in the drug trade.  Rachel will also fight against the spread of AIDS by working to prevent the trafficking of young women.  Throughout all of this work, Rachel will have the opportunity to speak of the gospel and introduce people to God's love.  She will bring the news of hope and abundant life to those living in the spiritual darkness found in Animism and folk Buddhism.


Rachel's calling and preparation to serve in Thailand is impressive and divine.  Following graduation from veterinary school in 2006, Rachel began practicing as a veterinarian to receive the hands-on experience recommended by CVM.  She has diligently pursued all necessary avenues to obtain her goal of long-term missions with CVM including numerous CVM trainings, a Master's degree in Public Health, and a short-term mission with CVM to Asia.  Through that trip in 2008, Rachel felt the Lord affirm his call for her to go to Asia and she has worked ever since to prepare.


Rachel has currently raised 75% of her financial support and hopes to have her full support raised in time to depart in January.  As well as financial support, she also needs our prayers.  Please consider partnering with Dr. Rachel Buffington as she finalizes her formal deputation.


To learn more, please visit Rachel's CVM website.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

A New Tweet

As of today, to the best of my ability to calculate, I am 77% of the way to being able to leave for Thailand.  Only about $700/mo left!  And that's only 14 people giving $50 per month.  (Coincidentally, if you'd like to be one of these 14 lovely individuals, please don't be shy - let me know!  I may be close, but that one-way plane ticket is just a dream until I reach 100%.)

So, in a selfless effort to stay more connected with you once my spell checker no longer recognizes English, I have done something I really never thought I'd do.  I've joined Twitter.  

I'm not Twitter's type.  I already know nobody cares what kind of spaghetti sauce I bought on sale this week, or how the guy standing in line with me looks like Jamie Lee Curtis.  I forget my cell phone at home all the time, but it doesn't matter because it hardly is ever charged.  I pay $0.10 per incoming text, and would never think of adding unlimited texting to my plan because even if I typed all month long I couldn't send enough texts to make it worthwhile.  They need to invent phones that have more than 9 buttons for that.

But I'm excited about the possibilities this brings.  I still won't be tweeting about the grocery store or my favorite brand of toothpaste, but I do hope to utilize this mode of communication for something important: prayer requests.  So, as things come up here, or in Thailand, I can tweet them and know that I have a group of people that is praying in real time.  Wow!  

You can click on the page above (labeled Prayer Requests (via Twitter)) to see my feed with constantly updating info, or you can follow me by clicking on my new little blue friend.
twitter Is Twitter a Stethoscope or Megaphone??
And for those of you who may need extra incentive, my Twitter profile pic is of me chowing down on a worm.  You know what they say about the early bird...




Saturday, November 13, 2010

Electronic Housecleaning

I like cleaning.  In a way it's cathartic to just scrub or sweep and it helps me clear my mind.  I haven't been doing too much of it lately with everything else going on, but one thing that has been nibbling on me is this blog.  I've been wanting to wipe it clean and start fresh.  So, to celebrate the attachment of my thesis to an email sent to the members of my academic advisory committee this afternoon ("handing it in" is an outdated phrase, isn't it?),  I thought it would be fun to perk it up a bit around here.  I've got a few other ideas in mind, but I think this is a good start.  Right now, I'm ready to hit the hay.

Its good to be back.  I missed you guys!


Thursday, November 11, 2010

Words: 6,785

It's been slow around this blog lately, and I have missed posting.  But!  I have a valid excuse for my negligence: I've been diligently working away at my Master of Public Health report, and I'm a couple of days away from being done!  I came up for a breather, so I thought I would share the current stats on the longest paper I have ever written.

Topic: HIV/AIDS prevention programs in developing areas
Pages: 38
Words: 6,785
Chapters: 8
Weirdest word that is not a proper noun: p-value
Number of times weirdest word appears:  12
Longest sentence:  A baseline needs assessment was established in 2006 in order to gain an understanding of the people's knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors on HIV/AIDS/STI in the target township, to help shape the intervention and the curriculum used, and to determine the degree of comparability of the target (Mxe) and control (Mun) townships.

Okay, back to work.  I'll post the final stats after I hand it in.  See you in a few days!

Monday, November 1, 2010

On Perseverance

November marks the climax of a year and a half of work on my Master of Public Health degree.  This is the month in which I will submit and present my defense.  It's make or break.

I'm overwhelmed with work these days - on my paper, classwork, support raising, work, and preparations for living in Thailand.  I'm reminded of what William Carey, missionary to India and the father of modern missions, said about trusting in God:

"There are grave difficulties on every hand, and more are looming ahead - therefore we must go forward."

William Carey

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

MedSend

Great news - I have been approved as a MedSend grant recipient!!  These people work hard to fund grants for the educational debt of health professional missionaries while they are serving overseas.  The high cost of health (and veterinary) education is one of the primary reasons willing missionaries never make it to the field.  MedSend is making it possible for more people to make it overseas by taking over their loan repayments while they are serving.  Check out the MedSend website to learn more about the great work they are doing.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

It Has Begun

My orientation to missionary life, that is.

[Written and posted while stranded at a local cafe that has been open for at least 5 years in this town, but I have never frequented.  I'd say that was a wise choice, considering this raspberry Italian soda.]

This week I am leaving the perfectly-red-leaves-in-the-66-degree-fall-pleasant Kansas for 4 days to the cold, soggy Northwest to be officially oriented as a Christian Veterinary Mission fieldworker.  I've been looking forward to it since I made the plans a few months ago.    

Suitcase brought up from Mom's basement: check.  Laptop and cell phone chargers: check.  Adequate layers to stay warm: check.  Umbrella: no idea where that thing went - I'll survive.  All liquids zipped into a clear bag: check.

Little did I know that my orientation into missionaries-have-stuff-go-wrong-frequently lifestyle had begun already.  It was all coming together until late this afternoon after I packed up my car and popped to the other side of town to run a couple of errands before heading out to Mom's tonight, to cut down on tomorrow's 2:30am trip to the airport considerably.  Errands accomplished and minutes before merging onto the highway, my car overheated, squirting a stream of green engine coolant into the street, and instantaneously rendering it nearly undrive-able.  

God is good.  I was just around the corner from my mechanic's.  
God is good.  He wasn't busy at all and had my car up in the air in no time.
God is good.  I didn't break down on the highway.

As it turns out, the diagnosis is a faulty fan that is not cooling the engine properly.  (If this brings back memories from the last time I posted on my car, I'm happy to report it turned out that it was a minor sensor problem, and not the transmission.  God is good.)  The bumper and headlight will have to be removed, and new parts ordered. It will be out of commission for a while.

God is good.  I have a Mom that is willing to come pick me up and take me to her house tonight, half way between me and the airport.
God is good.  The mechanic is just around the corner from a cafe that has free Wi-Fi and terrible Italian sodas.  I only suffered minor humiliation toting my wheelie suitcase, a big duffel bag, a loaded backpack, my purse, and a shoe box down the busy road, past a grocery store and a medical supply store before pulling up at the cafe.
God is good.  Thanks to Mom and Howard, I have a vehicle to get to the airport in the morning, and a way to get home at the end of the week.
God is good.  I won't be needing my car this week, so it can be fixed without leaving me cloistered at home.

I've learned that being stranded with a broken car, hours away from missing my plane and my plans can be a stressful event.  Unpleasant, to say the least, as is this raspberry Italian soda.  But, in the end, my orientation so far has left me with only one conclusion: God is good.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Almost There!!


I am getting close to being able to leave for Thailand!  I still need just about $1000 in regular monthly donations.  Will you help me fly this plane all the way to Thailand?

(For example: 10 people giving $100/mo will get me to Thailand!  Or 20 people giving $50/mo, or 40 people giving $25/mo!)  

Email me at rdbuffington@gmail.com for more information!


Monday, October 18, 2010

An Ocean of a God

Note: This is Part 6 in a 6 part series of an exploration of the book Expectations and Burnout: Women Surviving the Great Commission.


Today is the last day of our series.  We've talked through expectations missionary women have of themselves, of their sending agency, of their sending churches, of the people they go to serve, and of their own teams.  Missionaries also have expectations of God. 

What does the missionary expect of God?  She expects Him to work in and through her to draw people to Himself.  Of this we can be sure He will do.  But, she expects Him to do it in a way that is predictable and makes sense, and not leave her disappointed when circumstances are hard and she needs him and wants him to show up: this is where she falters.  She wants God to show up in powerful and miraculous ways in despair, to always see him clearly in situations that are hopeless.  And when he chooses not to, she gets frustrated and confused.  Robynn explains it this way:

"I don't like swimming in the ocean: there are living things lurking beneath the surface; the waves are unpredictable and splash my face; it's cold and deep; there are undertows that pull and frighten; it's salty and sandy and alive.  I do not like swimming in the ocean.  I much prefer a swimming pool, a heated pool at that.  The temperature is controlled.  You can enter at your pleasure, either the deep end or the shallow end.  You can go in as far as you like and then climb back out.  Inflate a floating device and float on top if you choose!  The bottom is level and smooth.  There are no surprises.  Nothing lives in a swimming pool. 

"And that's the kind of God I would prefer as well: one that is controlled and moderate; a God I can measure and understand.  I can enter His depths but only as far as I am comfortable.  However, that's not the kind of God we have.  Our God is an ocean of a God.  He is alive and dangerous.  There are forces at work below His surface.  He alone controls the depths, the sprays, the splashes of His personhood.  He woos us to the bottom where the water may appear murky and mysterious.  Our God is wild and untamable.  He is expansive and unpredictable.  When we say He is holy, we mean He is strange and we do well to take our shoes off.  The ground is holy and the water is deep."

Our faith and trust in God is not based on what He will do for us, or how well the ideal outcome in our minds lines up with his plans.  Our faith in God is rooted in who He is.  We are studying Habakkuk in my church this Fall, and it is fitting that Sue and Robynn should end with Habakkuk's conclusion in Chapter 3:

"Though the fig tree does not bud
and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
and no cattle in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the LORD,
I will be joyful in God my Savior.
The Sovereign LORD is my strength;
he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
he enables me to go on the heights."

God is not safe, but He is always good.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Team Spirit

Note: This is Part 5 in a 6 part series of an exploration of the book Expectations and Burnout: Women Surviving the Great Commission.

It is extremely rare to send a missionary out on his own.  In the bush of Africa, or in the high rises of Delhi, missionaries work in teams.  We need each other for support, encouragement, accountability, advice, and a shared nostalgia for spaghetti and cookie dough ice cream.  We work together, play together, eat together, share holidays together, and worship together, and sometimes live together.  You can see where this is going.

Being on a team is hard. Different personalities, viewpoints, convictions, goals, and opinions can sometimes get in the way of being united in one purpose.  Team mates have expectations of each other and let each other down.  Sometimes these expectations can hinder teammates from being honest about their struggles, for fear of being seen as less qualified than others.

For a new missionary, coming into an established team is hard.  Team dynamics are already established, and it may be difficult to find how she fits in.  Vetran missionaries may not realize a newbie is having a hard time with the work or the language or the culture shock or just finding milk at the market.  Sometimes they are left to sink or swim.  Single women on the team often feel like the married couples expect them to do much more than they have the capacity to do, because no family is at home to care for.  They may not have a reason to take vacations or holidays, which can lead to burnout.

The Bible says that others will know we are Christians by our love for one another, and if for only this reason alone, team dynamics are incredibly important.  Good communication, grace, truth, mercy, love, and intentionality are paramount.  Sue and Robynn recommend honest communication about expectations of one another, expectations of ourselves, and humility in sharing our struggles.

Just like any situation in life where two or more people are involved, mission teams need to work with each other and grow together in order to move forward.  Luckily, we have a God who says he makes all grace abound to us at all times, having all that we need, so we may abound in every good work.

Friday, October 8, 2010

The Church: Partner or Pen Pal?

Note: This is Part 4 in a 6 part series of an exploration of the book Expectations and Burnout: Women Surviving the Great Commission.

Missions does not start or end with the missionary, but is a mandate for all believers in Christ.  Jesus told his followers to "go and make disciples", and this charge is still applied to Jesus-followers today.  The job is not done and we are all responsible to complete the Great Commission.

But the fact is, only some believers are called to minister in another culture, while most are called to be in a support role.  (I happen to believe more are called to go than actually end up out there, but that's a topic for another time.)  In fact, John Piper, pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, would argue there are only three types of Christians today: the goers, the senders, and the disobedient.  The church plays a vital role in the sending and supporting of a missionary.

Understandably, sending churches and missionaries alike have expectations of the other.  Sending churches desire their missionaries to be faithful in their work and ministry.  Missionaries expect their sending churches to be supportive and care for their work on the field.  More often than not, I believe the relationships between these senders and goers are compatible.  However, the very definitions of going and sending describe a disconnect and distancing between the two, and that's when communication can break down and barriers can be built up.

Sue and Robynn explain that for missionaries, the sending church is critically important.  It is the church that supports her and cares for her, and faithfully prays for her.  It is the place she is accountable, she seeks guidance, and turns to for strength.  They are partners in her ministry.

However, time, distance, and life can disconnect the missionary from the bond of her sending church.  She may not be able to visit for years, and when she returns, she only knows a few of the faces.  The church may not understand her struggles and frustrations of living in another culture.  A surface-level relationship can end up feeling more like pen pals than partners.   Sometimes, in an effort to be good stewards of their resources, churches may place undue restrictions or requirements on missionaries that may cause misunderstandings.  All this can lead to a build up of hurt, frustration, isolation, and disappointment.

I am very blessed to be sent by Grace Baptist Church, where they take their call in the Great Commission seriously.  The mission of the church can be summed up in four words: seek (putting God first in all things), saturate (delighting in God's Word), send (working to expand God's Kingdom), and serve (loving others through serving).  They strive to walk alongside their missionaries, even from across the globe.  The love, care, and commitment Grace gives is unparalleled, in my book.  They do a great job caring for, praying for, and communicating with those they've sent, some of whom have been on the field 50+ years, and still call Grace their "home" church.  Though people come and go, Grace's commitment to missions and their missionaries are foundational in the church.  What a blessing.

I'm so thankful for Grace, and I'm excited to see where this new partnership takes us!







Friday, October 1, 2010

Introducing Mekong Minority Foundation

I just can't help it - one more video before we continue with the series.  I'd like to introduce you to a great team of people doing some great work in Northern Thailand, and I get to work with them! I am blessed!


Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Introducing Christian Veterinary Mission

Since we are halfway through our series on Expectations and Burnout: Women Surviving the Great Commission, I thought we could take a break and watch a video.

I'd like to introduce Chrisitian Veterinary Mission to you.  This is the video they have produced for the 2010 theme: Rest for Your Soul.



Monday, September 27, 2010

Foreign Is A State Of Being

Note: This is Part 3 in a 6 part series of an exploration of the book Expectations and Burnout: Women Surviving the Great Commission.

One of my first experiences outside of the US was a trip to Mexico with my Jr. High youth group.  Packed into a van loaded down with Pringles and tape casettes for the road, we headed south of the border to an orphanage.  The children lived in a low, long bungalow with dirt floors and iron bars instead of glass in the windows.  In the front of the building was a dirty courtyard where the kids ran barefoot, kicking up dust and a deflated soccer ball from morning to night.

I remember thinking that we were doing something so great.  Playing with the kids all afternoon.  There were so many of them and they wanted to braid my hair and show me where they slept, since they had no other belongings to be admired.  We were there for hours, playing and loving on the kids.

The afternoon was hot and the sun beat down on the treeless courtyard.  My tongue stuck to the roof of my mouth and my face was gritted with a layer of dirt.  My hair clung to my neck and shoulders.  All I could think about was the sparkling, cool water bottle I had left in the van.  Oh, to have a sip!  Nobody else seemed to notice the thick air or how their sweaty shirts clung to them.

So in a moment undetected, I slipped past the heavy iron perimeter gate and popped open the back door of the van. The crisp, fresh water was now like bottled bath water, but never was there a drink more refreshing.  I relished it. Only, I was not alone.  Little Mexican eyes popped in and out of sight through a crack in the wall surrounding the orphanage, and soon I found myself chastised by my leader and the orphanage director.  If the children don't have any water to drink,  you should not tease them on this hot day by drinking your water in front of them.  It was only then that the light bulb went on: I realized they must be thirsty too.  

I learned an important lesson that day.  It is shocking to a missionary to realize that the good intentions she has  do not always match the needs of the people she goes to serve.  Missionaries serve in other places because they desire to make a difference in the lives of others.  They desire to serve not only their spiritual needs, but to minister to their physical needs as well.  But in their only partial understanding of the culture, and their exuberance, sometimes what they give the needy is a game of dusty kickball, when what they really need is spiritual and physical water.

Unrealistic expectations about the host culture are common among missionaries.  Sue and Robynn touch on many of these.  For some, it is the expectation that she can adapt to her new culture to a great degree.  She can become like the people.  For others, it is a struggle when the host culture does not embrace them and their good intentions with the appreciation and/or admiration they think should be forthcoming.  Maybe they are not even welcome.  Many missionaries do not expect to have to "work to find a place in the community" (p. 127).  Many missionary women expect to make friends with nationals.  What they may not be prepared for is trying to figure out if the friendship is wanted, or if ulterior motives like money or help or a green card may be driving the befriended national to play the part.

What does all this mean for me?  I am finding it important to think through exactly what I anticipate happening, and then challenging those expectations with the opposite!  The what-if's loom large right now, and it's important to keep an open mind.  But it can be discouraging to think that I may not be appreciated by the Thai people, I may not befriend anyone without them trying to gain something from me, or that I may not be welcome at all in my new culture.  Sue and Robynn explain there is only one solution.

I must remember that heaven is my real home.  The Bible says we are only sojourners on this earth, waiting for the day when we can truly go Home.  The fact is: I am not home here in Manhattan, KS as much as I am not home in Chiang Rai, Thailand.  My roots belong somewhere else, and I am only visiting for a short time here.  So, when the going gets tough and I feel like an alien in a foreign land, it's because I am!  It may be hard, but it's temporary.  And the anticipation of one day finally being Home - that is an expectation that will not be disappointed.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

On Chickens And Water Wings

Note: This is Part 2 in a 6 part series of an exploration of the book Expectations and Burnout: Women Surviving the Great Commission.


Let's face it: I'm like a chicken trying to swim with the swans.  This missions stuff is relatively uncharted territory, and I own few skills to navigate here.  While there is bound to be a learning curve regardless of my experience, the fact is I've never dipped my toes in the pond before, and I don't even know if chickens can float.  I'm not about to just dive into the deep end, strap on an Eddie Bauer backpack and hop the first train to Thailand.  A swimming chicken needs the buoyancy, faithfulness, and the security of water wings (I'll leave you guessing as to whether that pun was intended), better known as the mission agency.

A mission agency's role is essential in the life of the missionary.  They help her figure out where God may be calling her, what ministry may be a good fit, and how she should best prepare for the swan-swimming pond.  They help figure out how much money she needs and  help her raise it, and they talk and pray through the hard times with her.  They support and encourage her on the field, and make sure she is cared for.  They support the chicken in her endeavors to swim.

However, misunderstandings can happen between the missionary and her agency when communication breaks down, or when she does not feel supported or cared for by her agency.  Sue and Robynn explain that for the relationship to work, both sides must do their best to agree upon responsibilities, roles, and expectations of the missionary and the agency.  If these areas are not settled before the swimming starts, a chicken may end up feeling as if her water wings have sprung a leak.

I am so grateful to call Christian Veterinary Mission my agency.  Not only do they care for me as a missionary, but they care for me as a person.  They are delightful, God-honoring people with a twisted sense of humor (as only vets can manage), and do a great job making sure that each of their fieldworkers is well-supported in their ministry overseas. They have experience working overseas themselves, and have gone through many of my own experiences.  They give wise advice.  I have been well tended by CVM, and I am so thankful God placed me in such a wonderful organization.  Not only have they guided me through my preparation to serve overseas, but they have proved their intentions to care for me after I leave by their obvious love and support for the CVM missionaries already afloat in their own ponds.  As far as this chicken is concerned, CVM water wings are just what I need to jump in!

"I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers."  Ephesians 1:16

Part 3: Expectations and Nationals

Sunday, September 19, 2010

The Perfect Clay Pot

Note: This is Part 1 in a 6 part series of an exploration of the book Expectations and Burnout: Women Surviving the Great Commission.


Expectation #1:  A missionary woman should be perfect!

It doesn't seem like it should come as such a shock to a person that she is not perfect.  What human being with a belly button is?  (My seventh grade science teacher warned my class to never trust a person without a belly button, as this proved they could not human.  This is my only take-away lesson from seventh grade science.)  Instead, when a person comes to know Christ, she admits she is faulty down to the core of her being, and takes on Jesus' perfection as her substitute.  So, why should it come as a shock to a missionary that she doesn't have it all together?

Our authors Sue and Robynn explain that for a woman in misisons, having idealistic expectations about herself and what she can achieve for God is not uncommon.  Missionaries go because they desire to live lives that reflect Christ's love.  They desire to do that well in a different culture: to speak fluently, to have meaningful relationships with the people, to always minister in the right way so as to point to Christ, to have a clean home and offer generous hospitality all the time, to have successful programs or bible studies, to (insert your favorite missionary daydream).  But those hopes and aspirations become her measuring stick by which she falls short when living real life in another culture.  And this feeling of personal failure can contribute to burnout over time. She hasn't accomplished enough for God, and she is disappointed.

This is a timely warning for me, and I am grateful to be tuned into my unrealistic expectations before nosediving in Thai culture myself!  I am a Type A personality, along with most other vets.  We are a group of driven, detail-oriented, achievement-seeking people.  We like to do well.  We like math and science: they follow formulas.  You add X to Y and you always end up with Z.  Formulas for science, formulas for life.  Such a nice way to live, don't you think?

But in a different country, all the X's and Y's, and formuals for that matter, are coded in a different culture; as impossible to understand as the label on the grocery store package that has a picture of what appears to be a steaming cup of tea, but contains something completely unimbibable.  (That is not a hypothetical example -  I bought a box of lotus root starch that way.)

I am bound to have and create misunderstandings; to not like some people I meet and have some people not like me.  I will find it difficult to connect with people, or to understand their needs and how to serve them well.  I will not know the right things to say to point them to the cross, or if I do, I won't know them in the right language.  I will fail, and I will be disappointed.

But Robynn reminds us that we are called, chosen and clay.  Though we are as fragile and unimpressive as  clay pots, women in missions should remember we are called by the Potter, who fashioned us.  He knows the difficulties, and does not ask us to do more than He has made us to do.  He is in charge, and we can trust him with the less-than-ideal results. It is good for me to remember that He chose to put this clay pot in Thailand.  Not because I can do it all, but because through my weakness His power is known (2Cor 12:9).

Next up: Expectations of her sending agency

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Expect Some Expectations


A couple of weeks ago I was recommended by two separate individuals a book addressing cultural adaptation and learning to live successfully in another culture.  Okay, that's nice, but I've already read lots on this subject.  Maybe I'll get around to another book about this sometime. 

Ah, they replied, but specifically, this book works through particular hurdles women in missions need to be aware of in their own lives while ministering overseas in order to avoid dissatisfaction and exhaustion.  Oh, well now that's more like it!

Ever since picking up Expectations and Burnout: A Woman's Guide to Surviving the Great Commission, I have had a difficult time putting it down.  Chock-full of experience from the field, co-authors Sue Eenigenburg and Robynn Bliss identify six areas where women tend to have unrealistic assumptions about ministering in another culture, and how to handle the disappointment that comes from unmet expectations.

I have found the book insightful, and helpful in identifying some of my own expectations for the field that I was not aware I had.  Over the next few weeks, I'd like to journey with you as I prepare to minister in another culture and try to expect the unexpected.  So, check back, and be expecting some expectations!



Monday, September 6, 2010

Obsticality Reality

Obsticality:  n. The condition in which obstacles inhibit rapid (or any) progression in the preferred direction(s), and in fact the preferred directions become obstacles to one another. Example:  Rachel's life is an obsticality.


It seems as though I've been paralyzed with indecision lately. Too much to do; what to do first?  The top priorities are:

  • Raise full support to live in Thailand
  • Write a Master's paper (which must be thoroughly researched first)
  • Finish the last semester of Master's classes well
  • Prepare to leave for and live in Thailand
  • Maintain status of "live human being"
How do you manage five full time jobs at once?  An obsticality, indeed.  If left to my own devices, I will certainly fail at all of these priorities and crumple into an unidentifiable and useless lump.  2 Corinthians 4:7 reminds me that I am but a feeble vessel God is shaping to display His goodness, not my own.  The stretching hurts sometimes, but it's worth it in the end.


But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.



Thursday, September 2, 2010

He Swung His Legs Over

This past week I had the opportunity to attend CVM's 9th Annual Shortcourse. It was a blessed time to catch up with old friends, make some new ones, and fellowship with other Christian vets that have a passion for sharing Christ's love through veterinary medicine. This year's theme was "Rest for Your Soul", based on Jeremiah 6:16


This is what the LORD says:
"Stand at the crossroads and look;
ask for the ancient paths,
ask where the good way is, and walk in it,
and you will find rest for your souls."

What a nice command, right? But how is that possible when so often our lives are caught up in sickness, conflict, financial trouble, job insecurity, stress, loss of loved ones, deadlines, and hardship on all sides? When the wind howls around us and the waves crash down? Can we truly have rest in a restless world?

Peter knew this rest for his soul. It's what caused him to swing his legs over the edge of a boat on the night a storm raged so fiercely he thought he might die. Though outwardly, Peter's world was in turmoil - slammed like a rag doll into a battered boat, terrified and exhausted, the wild spray stinging his skin and eyes to blindness - the deep current in Peter's soul was quiet. He knew to Whom he belonged.

Rather than fighting against the crashing waves in his own power, Peter allowed Jesus to give him true rest. Though the outward appearances look bleak, all we need to do is swing our legs over and go to Jesus, who is faithful to bring us through the storm.


Saturday, August 21, 2010

Wahoo!!



My Christian Veterinary Mission webpage has had over 1,000 hits since beginning in May! Thanks to all of you who have supported me through your encouragement, prayers, and love! I am blessed!

In honor of the occasion, I've posted new pictures on the site. Check it out!

Monday, August 16, 2010

This Little Light of Mine...

...I'm gonna let it shine...

Ever since I came back from Asia, that little "CHECK ENGINE" light has been my constant, happy companion, glowing faithfully everywhere we go. Great.

Now, I've been back for several weeks. And I'm not trying to be willingly neglectful of the fact that first gear is getting stickier and stickier and we're not shifting smoothly any more. I've noticed. But what do you do when you're so totally dependent on technology and modern transportation to have any semblance of a functional life? What does it say about me that I am unable or unwilling to sacrifice my freedom of movement for just a few days, or hours?

I plan to take it in this week to see what's going on. I just wish I had a horse.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Point Me To The Skies

This past week marked a significant event in my Grandma's life: she went Home. I will miss her, but can't help but rejoice she is in the presence of Love himself. What a great hope we have in Jesus.




Friday, July 30, 2010

Father, Long Before Creation

In honor of my recent trip to Asia, I thought I'd post a translated hymn written by a Chinese brother or sister. God is at work in Asia, revealing Himself as loving and steadfast:



Father, long before creation
Thou hadst chosen us in love,
And that love so deep, so moving,
Draws us close to Christ above.
Still it keeps us, still it keeps us
Firmly fixed in Christ alone.

Though the world may change its fashion,
Yet our God is e'er the same;
His compassion and His covenant
Through all ages will remain.
God's own children, God's own children
Must forever praise His name.

God's compassion is my story,
Is my boasting all the day;
Mercy free and never failing
Moves my will, directs my way.
God so loved us, God so loved us
That His only Son He gave.

Loving Father now before Thee
We will ever praise Thy love,
And our songs will sound unceasing
'Til we reach our home above.
Giving glory, giving glory
To our God and to the Lamb.



Monday, July 26, 2010

Prevailing Purpose

Already the end of July!

I am Stateside this week and still fighting major jet lag, but today already seems better than yesterday which was way better than the day before. My time in Asia ended a few weeks early so I could come back and spend some time with my grandma who hasn't been feeling well for the past couple of months.

It's nice to be home, but there is major stuff to be done! Since I left early, I will need to pick up on my Master's project this side of the Pacific, which will entail more work than I had anticipated. There's a detailed MedSend application to complete, some presentations to prepare for, support to raise, and a garage sale to pull off sometime this fall. That's on top of classes which start in a month and work which I hope starts sooner!

I wasn't able to travel around in Asia, like I had planned, and some things I wanted to accomplish while I was there never happened. I have to pick up where I left off from 2 months ago, plus add all the new stuff I have to catch up on while I was gone as well as all the things that need to happen in preparation for what comes next.

Plans don't always work out as we want. There are usually plenty of twists and turns in the road. But God has a way of working out exactly what He wants from all of our messed up intentions. Already, I can see how the unexpected events of my summer are working for my good and for God's glory (Romans 8:28). And that makes all the inconvenience of not getting my own way a very little thing, indeed!

Many are the plans in a man's heart,
but it is the Lord's purpose that prevails.
Proverbs 19:21


Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Heat is On

It's a heatwave here in Asia-I think someone may have forgotten to let them know it's summer and they can turn off the furnace. Temps have been up in the 100's this week, and one night at 11 I went to bed with the outside temp reading 89, with the inside temp being a good deal warmer. So what do you do when you insanely do some impromptu hiking up a giant hill in the middle of the day right after lunch and don't have a hat?



You let nature provide!
The air was so muggy and hot it felt like wading through a bowl of re-fried beans. But we were rewarded with a beautiful view of an Akha village and a little shade through a rubber tree grove on the way down the hill.




Akha houses have 3 levels - the ground level below the house is open and this is where firewood, motorbikes and other non-perishables are stored. The second level has the main floor of the house - kitchen, bathroom, bedrooms, etc. The third level is a loft that houses the stored grains.
On return to the village, I was so soaked in sweat I figured I wouldn't be any worse off for making a quick visit to the pigs.






On the way home our van overheated when it ran out of water (call it drought conservation??), so we cooled off in the stiff wind that was blowing on the side of the road. Overall, a very nice day.






Monday, July 5, 2010

Top 10 Things I've Learned in Asia

Yesterday marked the 1 month anniversary of my arrival in Asia. Okay, not that it's exciting, but the past 30 days has given me plenty of new experiences to glean some important take-home messages from. Like the time I accidentally ordered squid for dinner, or had to find my way around the domestic airport with no English help. So, I've decided to compile a list of the 10 most important things I've learned since my arrival.

10. Just because it looks like you're buying milk (which is not refrigerated and comes in shelf-stable packages) in a plastic water bottle does not mean it's milk. It could be soy drink or yogurt. Even if it is milk (or soy or yogurt), it could still deceive you by being peanut or apple or corn flavored. The moral of the story is to taste it before you dump a big chug in your morning coffee and take a swig.

9. Walking down the sidewalk makes you a traffic hazard. Your white skin and light hair will cause motorcyclists (on the street or the sidewalk next to you) and taxi drivers alike crane their necks around for the best possible gawking opportunity. This is also true in the supermarkets. Asian shoppers will invariably glue their eyes to the contents of your basket as you pass, curiously trying to decipher the impossible, strange puzzle of what white people like to eat.

8. Saying the same thing over and over again in a language the other person does not understand does not help that person comprehend your meaning. I know, as the sender and receiver of such repetition.

7. All kids speak the same language, regardless of their words.

6. A Praying Mantis on your wall could mean that it is waiting to feast on the baby Geckos that have hatched somewhere in your kitchen cabinets.

5. Dogs are a conundrum. They are ardently loved by their owners, but are allowed to run free on the streets amidst the endless variety of cars, tractors, bikes, and motorcycles. As a result, they have better traffic-sense than I do.

4. Banana flower soup? Corn ice cream? A street vendor's fried dumplings with mystery filling? Try it; it might be delicious!

3. Just because you don't speak the language doesn't mean people won't be warm, friendly, and hospitable. You will still be invited home with them for dinner.

2. Just because you are staying in a very nice, new apartment complex in town doesn't mean you won't be awakened daily by a rooster's crow at 5:30 am. Your neighbor may just be housing a flock of chickens on the balcony next to your bedroom window.

1. There is probably a good reason for the way things are done, even if you don't understand. It's wise to remind yourself of that occasionally.






(The aforementioned residence of my faithful poultry alarm clock: they live in the coop under the press board by the outer wall.)

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Gettin' Around


This is one of my main modes of transportation these days. You see these little 3-wheelers all over the roads, parked at corners with their drivers zonked out, or zipping down the street packed with 7 or 8 people, a dog and possibly even a mattress or something as equally peculiar. The seats have been covered and recovered several times, and my feet are always close to being vibrated numb and my hair is in a frazzled state by the time I/we reach our destination. At any rate, I don't think we ever leave first gear.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Mercy


It's been raining daily here in this city that is nestled low between the tree-covered mountains. Hotels, shops and apartment buildings stud the streets like pearls on a string that wind through the valleys of this region. Life is not slowed by the rain--umbrellas are everywhere and it is common to see poncho-clad bicycles peddling through standing water after a downpour.


Rain brings restoration and life to the area, and has been long-overdue here. The overcast skies are a welcome relief from the drought as well as a cooling insulation from the scorching sun. I am reminded that God is sovereign and He is merciful, bringing rain on the just and the unjust alike.


Saturday, June 5, 2010

Hello from Asia




Hello from the beautiful continent of Asia!

I arrived late last night after a long, but uneventful 40 hours of traveling. We went up and over the Arctic-far north of Canada, Greenland, and Europe, then came south through Russia and Mongolia, where we passed right over Ulaan Bataar. That weirds me out a little to be so close to the North Pole, but we made it safely so it must be fine to travel up there.

Today was a morning of orientation, then lunch at a local restaurant where we sat at a table 2 feet high on little wicker stools and drank tea from miniature cups. I was waiting for a bunch of little girls to show up any minute with their stuffed animals, but the place was full of grown businessmen hunched around their tea and bowls of rice, so I guess that's fine too. I'm still jetlagged so this afternoon I couldn't resist taking a nap.

Dinner tonight will be an Asian pear and a ripe, almost syrup-y sweet mango with some toast and tea. I've been in Asia twice before, but have missed the mango season both times with much disappointment. Third time is a charm, and I'm looking forward to eating as many of these as my GI tract can handle!

I hope to have fairly regular internet access this summer, so check back for more updates...


Thursday, May 27, 2010

Moving on

Time just keeps marching forward, ready or not! Tonight is my last night at the ER clinic, tomorrow I finish packing up my things and move out Friday. A weekend to figure out where I packed my passport and travel alarm clock, and I leave Tuesday! Looking forward to 10 weeks in Asia. Now, what to bring...

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Love Lustres at Calvary

Christ was all anguish that I might be all joy.
cast off that I might be brought in,
trodden down as an enemy
that I might be welcomed as a friend,
surrendered to hell's worst
that I might attain heaven's best,
stripped that I might be clothed,
wounded that I might be healed,
athirst that I might drink,
tormented that I might be comforted,
made a shame that I might inherit glory,
entered darkness that I might have eternal light.
My Saviour wept that all tears might be wiped
from my eyes,
groaned that I might have endless song,
endured all pain that I might have unfading health,
bore a thorny crown that I might have a glory-diadem,
bowed his head that I might uplift mine,
experienced reproach that I might receive welcome,
closed his eyes in death that I might gaze on unclouded brightness,
expired that I might live forever.

Taken from Valley of Vision's 'Love Lustres at Calvary'



Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Done!

I am officially finished with Spring Semester 2010, having completed my last graduate project 3 days early! Woo! Leaving for Asia in 20 days though, with sooo much to get done.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Tidbits


A very sweet note was waiting for me at work last night. It was full of pictures of Tilly's 8 pudgy babies! Mama and Tidbits are doing great - getting fatter and fatter daily. Thanks for sending them, Mitchell family!

Forewarning: These pictures were taken at 4:30am after 3 hours of surgery prep, c-section, and recovery. Cut Tilly and I some slack, please!

Here's what the note read:



A lapfull of Tidbits just after being born

Tilly saying "What have you gotten me into?" just after waking up from surgery

At home, Mama is content in her role as Cafeteria Lady.


Wednesday, May 5, 2010

The FW's EPL is re: STM

Here are some common lingo that are used in the missions world:

FW: Fieldworker. The missionary. Aptly named after Matt. 9:37-38 I think.
PL: Prayer letter. Usually monthly to bimonthly.
EPL: Electronic (email) version of said letter.
JD: Job description. What I'm doing out there! Part of my JD will be training CAHW. See below.
Secondment: An agreement between the FW, the mission agency, and the partner agency.
Goer: The person who is the FW.
Sender: The person who supports and prays for the FW, just as vital to the ministry.
LT: Long-term, usually describing a commitment of 3 or more years.
STM: Short-term missions, usually referring to a few weeks to months mission trip
Shuttle: The CVM word for a STM that focuses on vet medicine. I am looking forward to hosting some vets/vet students on shuttles!
CAHW: Community Animal Health Worker. A villager trained by me and my team to do vet type work in their own community. A very important role!
MOU: Still don't know what this means!

Here's a pic of a CAHW training in SE Asia. Learning to give shots to an unsuspecting water buffalo:






Friday, April 30, 2010

Abundant Life Project

I did a c-section on an English Bulldog named Tilly in the wee hours of Monday morning this week. A first time mama, Tilly did great. Her regular veterinarian had taken an x-ray just previously and had counted 5 puppy skeletons inside her belly, so when she went into labor Sunday night, we knew what to expect.

Only, after Puppy #5 was born, came #6, then #7, and then #8! Tilly's got a lot of work cut out for her! With 7 sons and 1 daughter, I'd imagine a lot of wrestling, chewing, and general mayhem is in her near future.

It got me thinking about the concept of Abundant Life. Jesus said he came to give life, and give it abundantly. (John 10:10) He gives not only the status quo, but loves to give so much more!

I chose the name Abundant Life for my project because that's really what it's all about. Finding abundant spiritual joy and life in Jesus, but also practically helping people see abundant physical life in their livestock. We shouldn't just try to live, but to thrive! That's a lot of living to do!

I hope to post pictures of my youngest patients soon. From what I hear, they are growing like weeds and getting pudgier every day.


Crunch Time!

Big week this week.

Heard back about my visa - very good news! I've been issued the visa with the least restrictions, which will be very easy to work with this summer. Now, for the nitty gritty planning to actually get there.

Also, my first prayer letter is getting assembled and mailed out this week! I'm doing it myself, as this is the first one, so lots of work to get done.

Two big final projects to do, one which I've just received this week and the other which I've had over a month to do, and have excelled only in procrastinating to get it done. Working on that one big time this week, and so far, so good. It's going to get done, slowly but surely.

Things are coming together to finish up this semester well, as long as I stay on track!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

One Elect

If you haven't got a copy of The Valley of Vision, let me share with you what I read today.

Love to Jesus

If I love thee my soul shall seek thee,
but can I see thee unless my love to thee
is kept alive to this end?
Do I love thee because thou are good,
and canst alone do me good?
It is fitting thou shouldst not regard me,
for I am vile and selfish;
yet I seek thee,
and when I seek thee there is no wrath
to devour me,
but only sweet love.
Thou dost stand as a rock between the scorching sun
and my soul,
and I live under the cool lee-side as one elect.
When my mind acts without thee
it spins nothing but deceit and delusion;
When my affections act without thee
nothing is seen but dead works.
O how I need thee to abide in me,
for I have no natural eyes to see thee,
but I live by faith in one whose face to me
is brighter than a thousand suns!
When I see that all sin is in me, all shame
belongs to me;
let me know that all good is in thee,
all glory is thine.
Keep me from the error of thinking thou dost
appear gloriously
when some strange light fills my heart,
as if that were the glorious activity of grace,
but let me see that the truest revelation of thyself
is when thou dost eclipse all my personal glory
and all the honour, pleasure and good
of this world.
The Son breaks out in glory
when he shows himself as one who outshines
all creation,
makes men poor in spirit,
and helps them to find their good in him.
Grant that I may distrust myself, to see
my all in thee.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Answered Prayer

"But animals don't get AIDS." This is the sentence that I've been hearing a lot lately.

It's usually after I've just explained that I'll be traveling to Asia this summer to work on my Master's Project which entails largescale HIV/AIDS surveillance and prevention strategies.

True, animals don't get AIDS. But I happen to be a veterinarian in the field of public health. And you can kind of think of the public like a large herd of animals. Disease spreads largely the same way through a group of people as it does through a group of cattle, and I know something about that.

First, my being in the Master of Public Health program is a direct answer to prayer. I had heard of the program as a vet student, but it wasn't until last year - only 2 weeks before the application deadline, that I decided to get serious about it. I wasn't convinced it was a good idea, but the Lord knew otherwise. I will hardly be finishing in December of this year before I put my newfound public health skills to work in Thailand.

Second, the project itself is a direct answer to prayer - I will be able to learn, to a great degree, part of the job I'll be doing when I get to Thailand, since MMF is also diligently addressing the alarming HIV epidemic in SE Asia. Part of my job as a public health vet will be to evaluate these programs and help with the technical aspects (all that boring math and statistics stuff).

Third, God has provided financially for this trip in a direct answer to prayer. Being a student full-time, and getting started with support-raising for Thailand which is a significant time investment, have left me with just enough hours in the week to work part-time at an ER vet clinic. But going to Asia is not cheap, and plus, I'm going to have to pay tuition for this trip. Yikes! I've been praying that the 3 scholarships I've applied for will cover 100% of my expenses, and so far, I've heard back from 2. They are covering more than 75% of my anticipated expenses, including tuition!

I leave sometime during the beginning of June for 10 weeks, which should give me a chance to take some good pictures for you.



Monday, April 19, 2010

The Daily

Sent my passport away to the Consulate in Chicago for a visa this morning, with no concrete plans nailed down. Hoping things will fall together soon! There's not many pages left, and I may just get it filled up this summer.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Peter Paralleled

I've been thinking about Peter walking on water lately. The focus always seems to be on the walking-on-the-water part. Did it feel solid or squishy? Cold and clammy? Wet and wavy? Undoubtedly a miracle.

But I wonder if Peter even felt any of those physical sensations at the time because a bigger miracle had just taken place: Peter jumped out of the boat! Adrenaline must have been pumping through those veins; thoughts going a million miles an hour but not thinking a thing except "I've jumped out of the boat! What have I done? I don't care how, Lord, but I know you're the only one that can do anything about this now!" And his feet just kept moving.

Everyone has storms in life, and there are many different sources of waves and wind and rain and eye-stinging stinging sea spray. Maybe it's finances, or health, or a personal crisis, or a new direction, or maybe, it's apathy and distraction that's making it hard for you to keep focused on Jesus. Regardless, we all have choice to make: cling to the man-made boat in false security, or swing your legs over the edge and start running. There is a right choice, and we have the ability, through Jesus, to parallel Peter's miracle.

I think Peter had the courage to jump out because he knew the One he was running to:
"He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it." 1 Thes. 5:24 Ready! One, two, three, jump!



Wednesday, April 14, 2010

On This Side of the Shampoo


I ran out of shampoo yesterday, and completely forgot until I was already mid-shower this morning. Fortunately for those that laid eyes on me today, there was enough of a film in the bottom of the bottle to procure a decent lather with a little hot-water help.

A year ago, I would have had a moment of frustration at myself, made a slightly greater effort at remembering to buy shampoo today (maybe the empty bottle would actually make it out of the shower), and gone on with life. Besides, what's the big deal when you can just zip on over to Wal-Mart and get whatever scent you want and a Diet Coke for the ride home?

Today, however, went a little differently. After my self-admonishment for being so irresponsible and that I really should know better, my thoughts gravitated not towards how I dealt with problems a year ago, or how I'll deal with them today, but how I'll deal with them a year from now. What's going to happen when I run out of shampoo in Thailand?

Not that Thais don't use shampoo. They do. There will be plenty for me when I get there (if I remember to buy it!!) But as I draw nearer and nearer to being a foreigner, I often wonder about a lot of the unknowns. Of course the big things like food and culture are different, and I can certainly live if they don't have my brand of shampoo, but what about all those other creature comforts I've taken for granted for so long?

There's a lot of unknowns on this side of the Pacific too. Like, will I be able to find good homes for all my houseplants that are sort of like pets to me? (If you've got a green thumb and are interested, let me know! I've got a deal for you!) What things should I take, what should I store, and what should I give away? Funny how I didn't realize I valued my butterfly display or my TV stand until I thought about parting with them. The heart really is deceitful above all things, isn't it?

It's been a good pruning process for me. Jesus himself said not to worry about these things. He would take care of them.

"And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these."
Matthew 6:28-29