Plane Coffee Mom

Chatting about Mission Aviation over coffee

Category: Life In Mission Aviation (Page 2 of 3)

Risk and Danger

I woke up last night in a cold sweat, heart pounding. I had been cornered. I was caught. And I had no clue what would happen next. Thankfully, the next thing that happened was waking up in my own bed, safety beneath my warm blanket.

It got me thinking. I’ve lived with danger. I’ve done risky things. Some of the most dangerous things didn’t feel dangerous, and some of the least dangerous felt very risky. I’ve been scared in perfectly safe darkness and felt safe in a spot that proved risky. When Garry talks about risk management there are two key factors– the probability that something will go wrong and how serious the effects of a failure would be.

There is a cobra in Paraguay, for instance, that is one of the most deadly but least dangerous snakes in the world. A bite is usually fatal, but they seldom bite. I think it was one of these snakes that five children under the age of nine encountered in our back yard. I persuaded them that neither playing with nor attacking snakes was a good idea at their ages and maturity levels. They came inside. The snake left. End of story.

It was scary, at least to me. My son, on the other hand, complained to my husband that I never let him do anything. I considered never letting the boys outside. I thought I should watch them more. I wondered what I would do if something happened to them. In the end, I realized that keeping boys in the house can be more dangerous than letting them play outside. You see, boys need fresh air, space, exercise, and adventures. Andrew Petersen catches the wonder in this song, Little Boy Heart Alive.

In a culture that is often averse to risk, dependent on insurance, and in love with comfort, the thought of a life overseas can be scary. Missionary life seems risky. Mission aviation feels dangerous. The unknown is scary. The truth is, boys need to leave the house and sometimes we need to venture into the unknown. Faith needs the unknown to grow. We need challenges to get stronger. From this vantage point, the most dangerous thing I can think of is not going where you’re led, not following God’s direction for today, or not embarking on journeys you are meant to take.

Not only do we need to grow, we need to see God. When there are no other options, we see God at work. When we cannot control things, we realize that God has a plan. After all, there’s difference between watching the storm through the picture window in the living room and standing outside in the midst of it. Vicariously adventuring with the latest reality TV show is not the same as going yourself. And there’s nothing like adventure to change us and grow our faith.

Reflections on 25 Years Together

Maybe I wasn’t very smart when I got married– after all, I wasn’t even 20 years old. I have, however, been incredibly blessed. Honestly, I had no idea what I was getting into. Like everyone else in the world, I had no clue how life would turn out. In my case, things have turned out a million times better than I ever imagined!

We celebrated 25 years of marriage last month. This weekend we are blessed by a few days home alone together as both our sons are elsewhere. These opportunities to reflect have reminded me how blessed I am. They have made me fall in love all over again. I’ve been nearly giddy at the opportunity to spend time with Garry. I’ve been amazed at where our sons are, and how little we really had to do with it.

On the other hand, I’ve been humbled at the realization of how different life could be. Those times when I’ve been upset and I could have allowed the anger to grow. The times Garry has forgiven me when he had every right to hold a grudge. The times I’ve been disappointed and could have kept blaming him for how things were. The times I’ve failed my husband and he has chosen to love me anyway. The ways my parenting skills have fallen short and Garry’s have filled the gaps. The ways we have both failed and yet God’s grace has redeemed what we deserved to lose.

Beyond reflecting on success and failure, I’ve enjoyed pondering the journey we’ve taken thus far. The early years of marriage when we were just two adults, free to choose how to spend our time after work. Trips across the USA and Venezuela, by car and plane and bus. Endless dreaming and planning, hard work and relaxing. The joy at the arrival of our first son and the surprise at how he changed our lives. Finding that God was so much more than we’d imagined and that obedience was sometimes costly. The joy of another son being added to our family and surprise at how life changed yet again. New countries and new experiences. Traveling the world together and staying home with the boys while Garry travelled. New friends and growing friendships. Experiencing God in everyday life and finding a relationship with Him that continues to change and grow and surprise us. Chaos and adjustment. New wisdom and continued growth. Experiences beyond our wildest dreams and sometimes pain greater than we knew existed.

My perception of the world and its size has changed dramatically. My thoughts on other people have been shaken to the core and re-organized. My relationship with God has been turned upside down. My value on family and friends has grown. My circle of friends stretches across the globe.

And the more I think about it, the more I realize that Garry has been near the center of most of these changes. Knowing him, living with him, has changed me. He has chosen the higher way and the better option again and again. He has chosen to grow continually. He has chosen to take this journey with me, and I am one blessed woman who is anticipating the next 25 years with excitement and joy.

Potential and Destiny

I’ve been going through a book called The Cure with a couple friends. The book has been good, and the last chapter in particular caught my attention. The authors talk about the difference between potential and destiny: potential being what we can accomplish with our talents, hard work, and dedication and destiny being what God has in mind to accomplish through us. In fact, this chapter came in the middle of various other conversations and information that also focused on similar thoughts. And when the same thing comes up again and again, I have to think about what God may be saying.

img_3514I’ve been pondering this thought in relation to right now and in relation to the past. Right now we are facing some changes as the house we’re renting is on the market. Reaching for our potential begs me to look at every available option, to make lists of what we need and want, and to focus on finding a perfect place to live. Walking in God’s destiny, or focusing on His destiny for me, calls me to quiet trust and patience. It seeks God and spends time asking Him for the perfect house. It scours ads and networks with friends with calm assurance that the house is there and it will come to light clearly. Destiny allows me to continue focusing on the people and tasks that God is calling me to instead of being consumed by the current issues.

As I reflect on the past, many of the same things apply. Do I interpret my past in terms of destiny, what God was calling me to, or in terms of potential, how my efforts and talents have paid off? Do I try to figure out whether I could have done better? Do I take credit for where God has brought me, or do I give Him credit?  I have been humbled by consciously interpreting the past in light of destiny, how God has brought about the impossible through normal, needy people. And it’s not just my past, it’s the past of my parents and my children. It’s being reminded that we are but a small part in an epic tale that God is writing, being amazed that we have a part in this epic tale.

And these thoughts give me deep hope for the future and grow my faith that God is creating something beautiful. Following Him leads me to His perfect destiny for me. Seeking Him is always the best option, obedience always key. I may not understand how this particular part of the path has meaning, but in God’s economy it is important. It may be that hidden in today’s mundane tasks is opportunity of eternal significance.

Getting Found While Lost

I may have more practice getting lost than anyone I know. I’ve been lost in each of the seven countries that we’ve called home and in friends’ homes. I’ve been lost in airports and grocery stores. I’ve been lost on country roads and in cities, in winter, spring, summer, and fall. In fact, I am just good at getting lost. I sometimes tell my husband that every intersection is a complete surprise, because I can’t seem to remember where any given road will take me. It takes no effort on my part to get lost and happens regularly.

There was a time when being lost was very scary, when I worried that I’d never get home. Technology is better now, and my ability to ask for help has grown. I seldom worry when I get lost. In fact, I usually laugh. It’s not that it’s so amusing, it’s simply that it’s so predictable. Besides, my family has a long list of “Remember when Mom got lost?” stories and they love adding new ones. I recently realized that I don’t mind getting lost as much now because I expect it to happen, I know what to do when it does, and I’m very confident that somehow my husband will come find me if it becomes necessary. I like to think that I am also getting more comfortable with who I am and who I am not.

img_3593Lost in terms of space is one thing, but feeling lost in terms of life is much harder for me. These days we’re facing a lot of questions, and it’s becoming clear that I’m uncomfortable not knowing where I’m going. I know how to ask for directions, and I realize only one Person has the answer, but right now He isn’t telling us where the road will lead. For that matter, while I often think I know where the road is going, I have often been wrong. And that makes me uncomfortable. I’d like life to be predictable. I’d like to plan tomorrow and have it turn out the way I plan it.

However, maybe it’s time to learn a lesson about feeling lost in life. Maybe it’s time to get comfortable with not knowing, to laugh at the uncertainty, and to enjoy the scenery. Maybe it’s time to remind myself that I am human, and controlling things is not my job.

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