Mother's Day 2017

It may seem a bit sappy, but Mother's Day is a time I reflect on how each of my children has enriched my life. I am so thankful for each of my kids.

In my twenties I'd been told I probably couldn't have kids due to the removal of one ovary and disease in the other. Once Kurt and I married we prayed and asked God, if He wanted us to have kids, to let me get pregnant.

And He did!

Mikayla - she's taught me boldness, confidence, not be fear asking questions.

Kirsten - her infectious smile, joy, and inquisitiveness have taught me creativity and to explore and learn deeper.

Ben - his activity, laughter, fun has taught me not to take myself so seriously, to laugh more.

James - his energy, his smile brighten my days. His adoption and the deep love I have for him has taught me the deep, deep love of the Father.

Jerard - my visitor from Heaven taught me that God loves each of us just as we are, just as I loved him just as he was.

I thank God for each of my children. Words fail to capture all the ways they have blessed me.

Family Update 4-30-17

Well, I thought I'd just give a short blurb about family life events. Mikayla, Ben, and I (Beth) will fly to Michigan June 2.

Mikayla will be transitioning to life in the USA; Ben will be in the USA for the first time since he was seven. He and I will be in the states for eight weeks then return to Davao for his sophmore year of high school.

James' visa application will be filed in January 2018. By then we should have all the documentation needed to satisfy the US government that he's been living with us since we adopted him.

We are thankful for the attorney we've hired who specializes in immigration issues for US citizens obtaining citizenship for adopted children. I don't know a time frame of how long this all will take.

I choose to wait peacefully in God's providence for the completion of James' citizenship and ability to travel to the USA.

O God of peace, who hast taught us that in returning and rest we shall be saved, in quietness and in confidence shall be our strength; By the might of thy Spirit lift us, we pray thee, to thy presence, where we may be still and know that thou art God; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. –The Book of Common Prayer, prayer “For Quiet Confidence”

We rest in Him and keep running the race He sets before us, looking to Jesus. (Hebrews 12).

Please pray for our family with the many transitions.

Odd Season

I recently turned 57.

It's an odd place in life to be – part of me feels wise and mature, part of me feels very much like a 20 year old.

Sometimes I feel like I'm still trying to figure out “what I want to be when I grow up.”

I have a short bucket list of things I want to accomplish before I pass on to eternal life with my Abba

    • getting a master's degree (almost done!)
    • Hiking the Appalachian trail – all 2000+ miles of it
    • writing a book (well on my way with that)
    • going to NYC to spend a few nights at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel, see a Broadway play, and hear a concert in Carnegie Hall.....

What's on your 'bucket list'?

Life is made of choices. I'm thankful one of the choices we made was to move overseas as missionaries.

It's been and continues to be a blessing in many ways, a road of growth and hard times,

and

sometimes it's easier to ignore important issues of life that are not so urgent but are persistent when one silences one's self long enough to listen - – inner issues, questions, thoughts, feelings, longings....such as

  • fears/concerns about health and aging

  • doubts about faith

  • inauthentic patterns of relating

  • unresolved and unaddressed traumas and woundings

  • repressed creativity (I certainly feel that with a lack of a piano)

  • regrets over ways of being contrary to my inner ideal

  • resentment towards commitments, remorse over goals not accomplished (yet)....

What inner issues whisper to you to deal with?

A psychologist, who's blog I enjoy reading states this: Over time, the long-term neglect of inconvenient thoughts and feelings cultivates feelings of exhaustion, deadness, boredom and stagnation. Life slowly becomes a joyless drag. The things we avoid within ourselves don’t go away. Like warning lights on the dashboard of a car, they are signaling that something inside needs attention.(David Clinton)

I call it burnout.

A technical definition is this, “Burnout is a state of emotional, mental, and physical exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress. It occurs when you feel overwhelmed, emotionally drained, and unable to meet constant demands. As the stress continues, you begin to lose the interest or motivation that led you to take on a certain role in the first place. Burnout reduces productivity and saps your energy, leaving you feeling increasingly helpless, hopeless, cynical, and resentful. Eventually, you may feel like you have nothing more to give.”

Yea, that pretty much sums it up.

While I have a few sprigs of new growth, mostly I feel like I don't have much to give or offer at the moment.

It's a time to tend to needs I and my family have, time to heal from many woundings (you'll read about some of them when I finish my book!)

In this later midlife stage I am reevaluating where I am and starting to take more time to listen to those “inconvenient thoughts and feelings” so I can address them and be a channel of His grace to others.

O God of peace, who hast taught us that in returning and rest we shall be saved, in quietness and in confidence shall be our strength; By the might of thy Spirit lift us, we pray thee, to thy presence, where we may be still and know that thou art God; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. –The Book of Common Prayer, prayer “For Quiet Confidence”

Storms and deserts of life create growth - maturity - and peace - a deep resting no matter what uncertainty. I know I am loved and held in my Father's loving arms. I pray you know this too.

Baptized

After listening to this morning's Easter message, James announced he wanted to be baptized. He accepted Christ into his heart when he was younger but had never been baptized in water.

Kurt had the honour of baptizing his son today while Mikayla, Ben and I watched.

“Baptism gets its meaning and its importance from the death of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, in our place and for our sins, and from his triumph over death in the resurrection that guarantees our new and everlasting life. Baptism has meaning and importance only because the death and resurrection of Jesus are infinitely important for our rescue from the wrath of God and our everlasting joy in his glorious presence...baptism is an ordinance of the Lord by which those who have repented and come to faith express their union with Christ in His death and resurrection, by being immersed in water in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. It is a sign of belonging to the new people of God, the true Israel, and an emblem of burial and cleansing, signifying death to the old life of unbelief, and purification from the pollution of sin.” John Piper

Baptism on Easter Sunday celebrates Christ's death and resurrection. I am so thankful for James' baptism today.

Words to my kids about being TCKs

Ten years ago when we set off on our missionary journey I was very naive to the struggles that children raised overseas develop in returning to their passport country.

While there are advantages to being a TCK (Third-culture kid), there are many struggles too, and as a mom, watching two of my children, young adults now, struggle, it breaks my heart. Our kids are truly TCK's. This nomenclature is a mix of advantages and challenges. But in this post I want to honor my children by telling them some things from my momma's heart.

We set foot in Davao as a family of 5. One year and six weeks later our family grew by two.

Years of joys and struggles prevailed. Jerard died in 2012. A grief to my momma's heart.

But in all our joys and journeys, dark times and happy times, God has been faithful. I've seen each of you grow in your relationships with each other, friends, and God in deep, abiding ways.

Be encouraged that no matter what the struggle or trial being walked, God is ever faithful. He will never abandon you nor forsake you (Hebrews 13:5, Deut. 4:31 and 2 Cor. 4:8-10).

You are His workmanship, created in Him for good works (Ephesians 2:10). And you are cool kids! You've whacked through jungles, fed homeless in the city park, visited squatter areas to pass out Christmas gifts, climbed up and down a volcano, learned a band instrument, flown internationally and domestically many times, killed your own chicken, tried bat, durian, jack fruit, balut. You've visited WWII battle sights, slept under stars, used all sorts of toilets, climbed part of the Banau Rice Terraces, have many international friends. Those are rich experiences.

I know it is hard. I watched you, my heart happy for you and my eyes teary, as you started school and I no longer had you home with me all day for homeschooling. I've seen your moments of hesitation when people are talking about something you don't understand, the puzzled looks on your faces when Dad or I use an American idiom that we need to explain to you. I hear your reservations about going to the USA and living in the USA – life there is a different pace; fashion may be a bit different, it's a big unknown. But together and with God's grace we will work through that transition.

I don't know what it is like for you I know what it is like to parent a TCK but I do not know what it is like to be a TCK. I have read books and listened to talks and attended seminars but you are forging a path I have not walked. I have your back, lots of Kleenex, and joy in my heart from our shared laughter. I do not know what your particular journey is like but I will hold your hand, fierce, until the very end.

I am sorry for the things this life has taken from you. The names of all the friends you have said good-bye to are branded in my mind. Grandparents and cousins at your birthday parties and school events. The feeling of belonging to a specific place, house, culture, language. Sports, art, musical and academic activities at which you naturally excel but will never fully experience.

I am thrilled for the things this life has given you. Adventure and a wide-cracked-open worldview. The opportunity to trust God when nothing around makes sense or when everything around makes sense. Friends all over the world of diverse faith and languages and skin colors and food preferences and economic levels. Creativity and the intrinsic ability to look outside the box, to see from another person's perspective. Real gratitude, stemming from an understanding that things are fleeting, gratitude for relationships and for time spent in togetherness. Adaptability. Courage. Courage.

I want to hear from you. Tell me how hard it is, tell me the things you love, the things you wish were different, the things you would never change. I need to hear from you what it is like, I need you to be honest with me about the goods and the bads and then I need you to let me hold you. And I need you to hold me.

I cry for the choices we have made. And then I defend them with passion. It is not easy to parent a TCK, or any kid, I have wept tears to fill lakes. It is amazing that our Abba God stores our tears (Psalm 56:8). Sometimes I wonder if we have been crazy or irresponsible. But then I look at you and I cry again, good tears, because you are beautiful and complicated and deep and these choices have been part of forming you into you.

You are strong. You have been through international moves and medical crises and hellos and goodbyes. You have tried new and scary things. You have laughed and cried but I haven’t heard much complaining or fussing.

You have more than embraced life.

You are unique. No one else in the world has your story. And yet, you are part of an amazing community of people with stories similar to yours and stories different from yours, whom you can listen to and learn from. You have built awesome memories. Remember all the OE trips you've taken? The outreaches you've participated in? Taking items to the flood victims at the church? Walking the Banau Rice Terraces?

You have grief. And that is okay, mom and dad are not afraid of it and we want carry it with you.

You are creative. You are empathetic. You are wise. I love you beyond words and am so blessed by each of you.

The struggles each of us face can ameliorate (make or become better, more bearable, or more satisfactory; improve) as we face the transitions, express the griefs, work through the depression, and embrace a theology of suffering.

As your mom, it's hard to have one of you half a world away. I do give thanks to my Abba who knows each of our needs and struggles, does not break the bruised reed, and is our Abba of hope and encouragement (Hebrews 4: 14 - 16, Isaiah 42:3, Romans 15: 5, 13).

Michael Card, a favorite singer and composer of mine, wrote a song that expresses it well.... "there is a joy in the journey, there's a light we can love on the way. There is a wonder and wildness to life; and freedom for those who obey"

sources:

Andrews, L. A. (2004). The family in mission: Understanding and caring for those who serve. Palmer Lake, CO: Mission Training International.

Bowers, J. M. (1998). Raising resilient MK's: Resources for caregivers, parents, and teachers. Colorado Springs, CO: Association of Christian Schools International.

Jones, R. P. http://www.djiboutijones.com/2013/03/1-things-i-want-to-tell-my-third-culture-kids/