Monthly Archives: February 2013

Thank You and Shalom


Tonight, I need to say thank you.

Our dear friends from across the world leave in the morning. They board a bus and head out for American dreams in Columbus, Ohio. They take bags that look and smell so much like the ones we helped them to pull off of the carousel at Hartsfield Jackson International Airport nearly three years ago. They will hold a coffee urn, several china espresso cups, spices, and a coffee serving set. They will hold children’s clothing and a few beautiful outfits that will be worn on special occasions – birthdays, Christmas celebrations, etc . They will hold some American mementos picked up along the way, hopefully, too…maybe a book, probably a DVD, and likely a few pictures that they’ve taken during their time in Clarkston. I imagine they will hold the plastic sheets with images of Mary and baby Jesus that were their main apartment décor over the time we’ve known them.

I need to tell them Thank You, but our communication is still not clear enough for them to read this note. I weep because I cannot tell them the whole Thank You. A hug had to do. The small words “Thank You” had to be enough when we left them last week.

I need to tell them Thank You for their hearts – for their bravery and their fortitude and most of all for their sense of humor. The smiles and laughter that always embraced any mishap. Those are true gifts…ones I possess scarcely, but hope to possess more strongly.

I need to tell them Thank You for their children – for each precious soul who eagerly opened up their hearts to our own kids and helped to teach us all that communication is 99% not dependent on the spoken word.

I need to tell them Thank You for inviting us – for inviting us into their vulnerable spaces of child bearing and job searching and driving tests and school problems and neighbor love and pest control issues and acclimation to cold weather and semi-urban life.

I need to tell them Thank You for loving us – in their way. For continuing to offer us the third cup of coffee, even when our American selves were too busy to drink it, time and again. We seemed to always have to go – two hours in – after only two cups of artistic love.

I need to tell them Thank You for being our friends – for looking past our foibles and our pride and for welcoming us into their hearts as much as we hoped to welcome them into ours.

I need to tell them how much we will miss them. Not the idea of a refugee friend, not the “chance to serve,” not the family opportunity. THEM. We will miss them. We love them so much. They are our friends. We will miss them.

I need to tell them goodbye.

But I don’t want to.

Shalom, dear friends. May His peace be upon you.

The first coffee ceremony we had in 2010.

The first coffee ceremony we had in 2010.

Until we meet again…


Emotional Motion Sickness


I find myself emotionally car-sick these days.  When I was little, being motion sick in the car was a sure fire way to earn a seat in the middle of the back (on the “hump.”)  Not the most coveted seat in the car, but the one that allowed a steady view of the road in front of us as we drove.  The anti-venom for motion sickness is having something steady to focus on.  The problem was that my little brother got more car-sick than I did – like, he actually threw up, while I just turned green – so he was the one who scored middle seat status, while I craned my neck around my mom or dad’s head rest to see out the front of the car.  Families of seven require all sorts of compromise.

As a driver and mom, I’m the one at the wheel 85% of the time now.  When I’m not there, I’m riding shotgun next to my honey. (My favorite place, since that means we can visit, he’s got the responsibility, and I control the radio. J)  So, last weekend when we went to rural Florida for a family birthday and I rode in the back seat, I was surprised at the return of motion sickness.  The highway was fine, but as soon as we got off and started driving toward the country, I was having 9-year-old car trip flashbacks.  It’s embarrassing to have to ask your in-laws to stop the car, but wow did it feel good to walk around in the fresh air for a bit.

Life in our home has ramped up in the last month or so.  There is plenty to focus on and even more to FEEL:

The house is under contract. (Imagine sentimental impact and gratitude.)

The long awaited kitchen cabinets in the new house linger…and so does our move date, making it an ever-moving target and tough to plan for. (Imagine a control freak freaking out.)

There is a spring break Clarkston vision trip for some fun Wesleyan families in the works, mid March. (Imagine wanting it to go so well and planning for 17.)

Both teenagers have spring sports.  Did you know a Lacrosse team can cram 22 games into two months? Thank the Lord for only four track meets! (Imagine the food, calendar, laundry, and trips to school – your own life, probably.)

Our house has to be packed, sold, donated, stored, moved, and disposed of.  At least 4,000 extra square feet of stuff has to go somewhere. (Imagine the decisions.) (By the way, do you want some?)

Oh, and we both have jobs. (No imagination here…jobs are way too normal and necessary.)

That Gospel Prayer is continuing to roll over and over in my head.  I keep coming back to trust as so basic.  Do I trust Him?  Do I believe Him?  Do I believe HIM and not the system, my works, the earning, the effort, or the image?  Romans 1:17 says, “He who through faith is righteous shall LIVE.” Life.  Through faith.  That’s all. One steady gaze.

This month (well, most months) make me think that I can get said LIFE through a to do list, or a well planned series of meals, or a perfectly orchestrated day of events with a little Jesus thrown in.  Often this philosophy leaves me emotionally motion sick as my gaze shifts all over the place and my emotions sluggishly pull behind my gaze in a disorienting, stomach-rumbling sort of a way.

Life through faith.  Because His righteousness is accomplished and certain and mine is filthy and disorienting.  I’ve got to fix my eyes on Him, because He is enough, especially in the chaos.

Hebrews 12:2 says that we fix our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.

He walked in faith.  He pioneered fixing His gaze.  He perfected faith because I cannot.

So, my prayer this month is that the distractions of this move would not cause me to be emotionally motion sick.  I pray that I would fix my gaze on Jesus and LIVE because of His pioneering faith.  Experience rest in the hard work rather than distraction in the chaos.  Through faith.

Sort of like riding shotgun with my honey.