Plane Coffee Mom

Chatting about Mission Aviation over coffee

Category: Life In Mission Aviation (Page 1 of 3)

Old while Young

I felt old as a teenager and ancient in my early twenties. My memories of pain-free days as a young mom are few and far between. Now in my forties, I feel younger than I did two decades ago. While it strikes me as strange sometimes, it shouldn’t surprise me. Until my early thirties I struggled with chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia. Every day began with the same mantra, “I can do this. I can make it through another day.”

All that changed with a simple, faith-filled prayer late one night. There had been many simple, faith-filled prayers before that one, but that night God answered in a miraculous way. Things changed. I woke the next morning with energy and a new hope for the day. I’ve been sick, I’ve been discouraged, I’ve been weary since then, but neither the chronic fatigue nor the fibromyalgia has returned. It’s an undeserved blessing, one for which I am grateful every day.

I would hate to return to the fatigue of those years, and yet I would hate to live these years without those experiences. There are so many things I learned in that time that I need every day. God used sickness in a powerful way to dispel my independence and to teach me about prayer. I began to learn about empathy as I lay exhausted on the couch, trying to pay attention to my two-year-old. I had to say “no” more times than I can count, and yet it’s a skill that still comes hard to me. Sickness taught me to value the temple that our bodies are and to take care of myself and others in ways that have proved valuable.

Chronic illness was a school that taught me things I would have otherwise have had no interest in learning. It pushed me into places that I would not have chosen to go. It changed my perception of myself and of others. In some ways, I experienced age before my time and am now given the opportunity to live my real age.

What has caught my attention lately is how common this is. Maybe not the exact circumstances, but the reality that we experience things for a purpose. Today’s trials have every opportunity to be tomorrow’s joys. Today’s hardship is training for tomorrow’s joy, and for tomorrow’s challenges. What we do with today matters, not only for how well we’ll sleep tonight but also for how well equipped we will be for tomorrow and the days, weeks and months that follow.

Ideal Friday evening

It’s quiet right now, an ideal Friday evening. We’re reading and writing, chatting a little about life between the silences, and simply being.  It’s strange how seldom this happens. Life is busy. We’re running, we’re doing, we’re busy. We have people over and we go out. We are involved and engaged.

And then suddenly, quiet. We value this because we’ve learned the hard way that we need it. All four of us. Parents, grown son, and nearly grown son. We have lived many different ways and survived deep changes. The process has been amazing and beautiful, terrible and painful.

Some of my best family memories are  of  a Sunday morning spent listening to songs chosen by our sons, sometimes crazy songs with round-about lyrics and sometimes straightforward worship music. Terere, a Paraguayan ritual we’d carried with us to Philippines, made its way around our small circle as we sat together. We discussed the music. After a while we’d turn on a podcast we were interested in. When it finished we’d chat about what we’d heard and the week just passed. There was wood carving and drawing and painting in the circle. For a while friends joined our circle and we enjoyed the quiet together.  About the only thing we tried to keep outside the circle was hurry, though it sometimes crept in also.

Sometimes we planned a day of rest only to interrupted by an emergency. Sometimes we’d get a text, or turn on the radio at noon, and find our plans meaningless in the face of urgent need. Each of us had our job in those times– food, overnight bag, phone calls, and weather checks were the norm as we went methodically about the business of doing our best to get Garry out the door to do a medical flight or an evacuation. Our plans were soon forgotten in the rush and noise of interruption. The radio always crackled in the background during those times, its static somehow friendly because we knew it was what allowed us to stay in touch.

There were times we survived too long without quiet, getting by on too little sleep and driven by seemingly endless needs. Conversations and tempers both got shorter. We questioned one another’s motives and wished for more hours in a day and more energy in our bodies. Non-essentials were left undone and efficiency became king. If we didn’t choose to stop, it was chosen for us. Paperwork, sickness, or unavoidable obstacles would put us out of commission and we’d find it was a good place to regroup and get back to basics.

As I sit here writing I ponder the path that has brought us here and I am deeply grateful. I’m thankful we value this, and I’m thankful we do it. And I’m just a bit surprised still at how ideal this evening feels.

The Story that Pushes and Pulls

It’s the thrill of the story, the terror of suspense, the hope of resolution that often keeps me going. Whether we’re talking about turning pages in a book or the story of life, the reality is often the same– the story, the suspense, and the hope of resolution keep me pressing on.

While reading a novel, it’s the author that writes the story. When opening our eyes to a new day, it’s our job to create the story. And living the story means we must first see the story. Some days I’m very tempted to give up. Honestly, I’ve decided to give up multiple times, but I couldn’t figure out how to do it. If I stayed in bed, life would keep going anyway and I’d have other problems to deal with. If I quit doing the things that I didn’t want to do, they would come back to haunt me.

Several years ago I was alone with our two sons in a guesthouse in Manila. Garry was gone overnight with a young friend who was visiting. My older son was busy training for badminton and I was trying to do school with my youngest. The room we were in was nice, but it was distracting trying to study in the midst of all our things. Downstairs there was space, but there were often other people sharing the space, and it was hot. Besides school I was trying to unravel business financial issues and make plans to return to Canada. It wasn’t the most fun.

Except it was part of a bigger story. Those days we were helping with relief work after a typhoon had ravaged huge parts of the Philippines. Garry’s trip was to facilitate the delivery of seaweed to a devastated island, hopefully restoring the livelihood of the area. So the inconveniences were just that– inconveniences. Disconnected from the story, though, the situation would have been overwhelming.

In the everydayness of living, the thrill and hope often get buried beneath the terror. The story gets lost in today, the things to do and the places to go become the focus. So often it is a matter of perspective, and when I lose it I just have to go back to where I started– with the story.

To keep good perspective, I have to constantly remember that I’m going somewhere, and what I hope the climax of the story will be. I often remember Donald Miller’s note at the beginning of A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, where he talks about how we often live our lives for an outcome that wouldn’t even satisfy our longing for a happy ending to a  movie. And when we start doing that, we are missing our chance for something so much better.

Sometimes, “I just needed to say it!”  Garry teases me that I have no clue what I actually think until I say it: it might be true. The effort it takes to put my thoughts into words often clarifies what I am thinking. Talking life through with someone who gives feedback is even more helpful: their response to my story either reinforces where I am trying to go or changes where I am going to somewhere I’d rather end up.

Sometimes talking isn’t enough, then it helps me to literally write the story so I can remember it. What am I trying to accomplish today, this week, this year, this decade? What is the hoped-for  outcome that is worth today’s energy? Taking the time to actually write a page or two in a journal often unravels the pressures I feel into categories of  worthwhile or a waste of time.

In the end, my story is but a small part of the story of my family and my community. It’s an even smaller part of the story of the world, but it is part of that bigger story, the story that God is writing. This bigger perspective helps me not take myself too seriously and keeps me involved in life outside my head. It reminds me that today and the ability to write the next part of my story is an incredible privilege.

Sometimes, the reality is that I forget I am living a story, and that is the biggest loss of all. What’s your story that is pushing you forward, pulling you onward?

Getting Good at Being New

Have you ever been the new kid or the new lady? Have you ever walked into a room and felt the crowd turn to you in question, wondering why you were there? When was the last time you went to an event with no idea how it was meant to play out? New often feels scary and vulnerable, lost and alone.

Last year about this time I posted about being new at skiing. This year I’ve joined Garry in his work in a new way. While this is a different kind of new it reminds me how difficult transitions can be, how important it is how we perceive ourselves, and how many opportunities a new situation brings.

Transitions. They challenge our routine ways of doing things and make us re-evaluate priorities. And while this process can be uncomfortable, it is a huge opportunity to make new and different choices in things we’d like to change. One transition can have a domino effect, causing us to change more things than we’d anticipated. My current work-related transition is creating a ripple effect, strengthening my resolve to eat healthy food, stay active, and keep various spaces in our home better organized.

Perceptions. They are the best predictor of how things will turn out for us as we often choose to fulfill our own perceptions. When we feel capable, we will move towards becoming capable. When we feel intimidated we often lash out at people or withdraw, decreasing the chances that we will develop relationships that will create comfortable places. The most honest way to perceive ourselves is in light of scripture and God’s truth– we are, in fact, exactly who He says we are. And He is truly who He says He is. And the combination makes all the difference.

Opportunities. There are always opportunities, but sometimes they present as challenges. Every situation allows us access into places, lives, and situations that we would not otherwise be part of. Our choice to see the opportunity in the midst of uncomfortable situations is a choice for a better experience and more input into the situation.

I’ve done a lot of being new in my life. And while I haven’t always enjoyed the process, I’ve learned a lot, made many friends, and experienced life all over the globe. Each transition has enriched my life in as many ways as I’ve allowed it to. I’m looking forward to looking back on yet another transition– finding I am comfortable where I once wasn’t, realizing I’ve taken new opportunities, and finding God faithful in yet another area.

I’m doing some off-blog writing about transitions– comment below or send me an e-mail if you’d like to read more!

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