Plane Coffee Mom

Chatting about Mission Aviation over coffee

Tag: memories (Page 1 of 2)

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.

Woman at War

I’ve been a woman at war. Fighting deadlines and expectations, arguing with myself, and generally conflictive. Wanting to do the right thing, so unsure what the right thing is. I want to do more, be more, see more, and rest more. I’ve been reminded that in this world we live within the constraints of time and energy.

I took a step back, or at least I tried. I decided I needed to feed different things, fill my mind with better thoughts. So I started reading The Imitation of Christ a couple of weeks ago. It has been, in fact, a different thing. There is a stark simplicity and clear direction in Kempis’s writings that is unusual today. He tells things as he sees them. He admonishes. He tells us to judge ourselves. He leaves little room for disagreement or insincerity.

Strangely enough, it is regenerative. It brings me back to places of peace and rest, the search for the eternal and the good. It reminds me that this life is very short, and what will last is often what is unseen. It takes me out of my little circle of hurry and slows my mind. And the war diminishes.

In fact, from this distance the war becomes more clear. I am not a little individual fighting a little battle. I am in the middle of a war that spans all time, the war for the hearts and lives of men and women. The war isn’t about my priorities or ideas, the war is about eternity. It’s about God’s priority in our lives and the spaces and times the enemy is trying to wrest control of. And as each of us chose priorities and worship, the battlefield is changed.

I should have known this long ago. And maybe I did. I first reacted as a baby that cried when the witch doctor next door chanted. I saw it as a young teenager who was afraid of the dark. I faced it when we were newly married and the street by our apartment was turned into a bad party scene. I experienced it living in suburbia and becoming aware of the spirits that drive us. These experiences have increasingly been realizations of the strength and power of God and the importance of prayer and obedience.

Kempis encourages us to imitate Christ in total humility. He reminds us that what matters is our hearts. He calls us to deep surrender and constant obedience. And he explains how God promises that these are the paths that lead to peace and joy. And I find that the war inside subsides when I take time to read the Word of God and ask Him how it applies to my day and how it answers my questions. Amazingly, it is always applicable, always helpful. Sometimes it replies to my questions, and sometimes it answers the questions I didn’t know to ask. But always, it stills the war inside.

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.

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