Plane Coffee Mom

Chatting about Mission Aviation over coffee

Tag: #ponderings (Page 1 of 2)

The Ladies

Today I remember how coffee and tea sat in front of us while conversation swirled between our lives and our thoughts. We fired questions and shared events and stories.  Conversation slowed as it moved toward the changes God was making in our hearts and asking us to make in our lives. Both the volume and the speed of the conversation fell as it got more personal. The book study had grown out of a desire for mentorship, and times together had grown a trust and openness between us that was simply good.

These are amazing young women, the kind of people every one of us wants to have as friends. I can’t believe that I’ve been privileged to walk life with them to the degree that I have. I can hardly believe that God has allowed me these times of fellowship and this insight into growth. I am humbled by the fact that they trust me with parts of their hearts and space in their journeys. I’ve enjoyed the fervor of youth. I’ve been reminded of the joys and challenges of the first year of married life as we’ve met. I’ve gained insights into life and faith. I’ve heard God stories and shared some. God has rebuked my lack of faith through them and reminded me who He is through our times together. These times are a good gift, given by the Father of Light.

It all began with a tentative, “Maybe just you and I could do coffee one day?” from Madison. We’d met her husband and his friend when he did some work in a house we were renting. We were new to town, missing our oldest son we’d left behind, and determined to step into life and relationships.  He and Madison were dating, and after a few conversations he asked if he could bring her with him so we could meet her. One introduction led to another, and we found ourselves with a few college-age friends that were willing to join us for an occasional supper. Over the next couple of years the guys married their girlfriends, some of the girls moved away, and we gained two young couple friends whose visits brightened our days.

We met for coffee soon after Madison’s question, and she asked if we could invite Jess and maybe do a study or something. Jess was barely back from her honeymoon the first time she joined us, and the group was three. Madison chose a book which we all enjoyed, then we chose another. I watched newly weds complete a year of marriage, then another. I grew and saw them grow. Life happened, and we met to discuss it. I knew they’d eventually move on to the next place, but it took me by surprise when I realized the date of their departure was within a few months.

As these ladies prepared to move on to the next place God called them to, I was reminded of my own journey and the many hard goodbyes I’ve said. I was excited for the next step in each of their journeys, but I knew I’d miss them. We said our goodbyes one sunny day, and still I miss them.

I’m thankful that God orchestrated our paths crossing, and that each of us chose to engage with one another. I’m reminded that opportunities don’t last forever, and God gives each of us specific opportunities for specific seasons. I know there will be other ladies in my life, but there won’t be another group like this one… I’m so thankful I enjoyed this season!

Going Home

Lada, Philippines, October 2005

“School time,” I announced to the boys.

Kevin, age 10, groaned. I was ready to tell him to straighten up his attitude when he looked at me, his eyes red and brimming with unshed tears. I sat down beside him and put a hand on his shoulder, “It will be ok,” I said. I hoped I wasn’t lying. We’d come because we believed this was God’s call, and now we were here, committed to a job a world away from what Kevin was accustomed to, having exchanged a housing complex full of kids for a place beside the airstrip, our only neighbours an older couple and their baby.

Kaleb was just 6, and he knew an opportunity when he saw one. His chatter stopped and he quietly crept down the ladder from the loft above me. I heard the door close behind him, and I knew he’d escaped. Again. I wondered what to do. But this was Kevin’s moment.

He looked at me and began to yell about all he’d left behind and the friends he’d missed. I asked him what they’d be doing now and told him I knew it was hard. I listened and my heart cried, but I was determined to make this work, and I only knew how to do that by keeping a check on my heart and not giving into the emotion that often surrounded me.

We came to provide flight service for a handful of a missionaries on this island. Committed people who were preaching the Gospel. And people with relentless expectations and a string of criticism. We’d inherited a world of disappointment with the flight program and pilots before, and we did our best to simply serve and keep ourselves and those we served oriented to what God was doing. But sometimes it was exhausting. And the added grief of saying goodbye was just that, an added grief.

Eventually Kevin’s tears turned to smiles at good memories. I made him a cup of hot chocolate and me a latte in my new espresso machine, and got him settled into math for the day. Then it was time to find Kaleb.

I expected to find him in a tree, and I did. He loved to climb and just sit in the branches and watch what went on below. He would have been hard to find if not for the constant commentary on his thoughts and what he saw. The chatter was happy right now, and I knew part of it was simply that he had escaped school. I waved to him and told him to come in for school, thankful that he seemed ok. As he grabbed my hand and we headed back inside I wondered what was inside that active mind that questioned beyond his years and expressed his emotion in both chatter and screaming.

Manitoba, Canada, August 2012

The basement was cold and dark, and I huddled on the bed. Ten minutes. I’d give myself ten minutes. I cried as though my heart would break. It was. But in eight minutes I knew that if I didn’t stop now, I’d never stop.

I swallowed and gulped in air. I sat up and began to re-organize the room in my mind, chastising myself for the messiness and the dirty laundry. One minute. I headed to the bathroom and blew my nose and washed my face. I looked in the mirror and demanded compliance of my overwrought body and tired face. I laughed at the red around my eyes and blew my nose again. One more gulp of air, and I was ok. Emotions in check, yearnings locked deep inside.It had been ten minuted flat.

Garry was with his family and the boys were in the room beside ours. I straightened up our room and poked my head inside their door to make sure things were ok. Kevin sat with his headphones on, lost in music or memories or both. I didn’t want to know which just now, because I couldn’t solve either and I didn’t want to force him back into this foreign world. Kaleb was surrounded by a pile of Lego, a happy smile on his face. He was hiding, I knew it, but I couldn’t make him come out and face reality. A few more days of hiding wouldn’t hurt, and maybe in between he’d find something to smile about.

I went upstairs to chat with the lady whose house we’d invaded, a good friend. I had hoped when we arrived that we’d get a chance to really talk, but her life was obviously full also. I knew I had reason for the pain, and yet the pains all tangled into a mess that didn’t seem worth unravelling. Tomorrow we’d bury my mother-in-law. Two days before we’d said goodbye to people who were a family to us. The week before we’d said goodbye to a lot more people who were great friends. A new job in a new country and a million unanswered questions. I was recovering from a serious bout of dengue fever and Garry was still trying to deal with a back that had kept him flat in bed a few weeks before. My mother-in-law’s death had blind-sided us, happening when we least expected it. The family was in deep mourning for that loss, and that grief simply added to the other griefs we’d been trying to walk through.

Washington, USA, August, 2015

I thought it would change, and quickly. But three years later, so much pain still remains, the initial grief of moving replaced by a million small disappointments and a thousand more changes on top of a handful of larger griefs. Changes in our family as we resigned one position and moved across the country to start another, leaving our oldest son a thousand miles away. Moving a teen into a community that apparently doesn’t have space for one more person, where friendships are forged in new ways and expectations are surprising. Big dreams that sometimes feel like nightmares. Depression and anxiety and questions. Peace and purpose and answered prayers. Conflict and opportunities and challenges. Amazing forward motion and a heart that longs to go home.

And my heart hurts with the pain of each of my men. The tears come. The questions long for answers and I beg God for wisdom in how we walk through grief. I believe in friendship and grace and love. I believe in the power of being there, and yet sometimes I wonder if I am missing something. But what am I missing? I cannot see, so I go on, walking a varied road with those I love the most, hanging on to promises that have been true from eternity past and will remain into eternity future.

I suppose it will always be like this, A God who rules the universe and invites us to be part of HIs epic story. Eternity at stake and the temporal always trying to gain our attention and cause us grief. Joy and mourning, peace and conflict co-existing in a spirit that was created to live in another place. After all, we’re not yet Home.

Growing Men

It’s been a long time since I had babies. Both my sons are taller than I am, run faster than I do, eat more than I can, and are smarter than I am in many areas. They are, in fact, young men. One of them in the early stages of becoming a young man, the other moving out of “young” and into simply “man”.

I love them fiercely, yet not always well. I am deeply proud of each of them, but I don’t communicate that clearly. I want to model loving God and living well, but I miss the mark. I want them to be mature and strong and wise. And sometimes in the wanting, I miss the process. What I envision for them is easily turned into pressure to perform. And it grieves me.

In retrospect it is always clear: one year old is young to pull a full-size wagon over gravel road for long, at six your questions may not have the depth I read into them,  at ten you may not understand the reasons why your parents moved, and at fifteen you may not be ready to “pull your weight” around the house. The process is not yet at the point of producing. Kids need you to walk with them, talk with them, teach them, and love them.

IMG_1569Hindsight also proves that the hard things are not all bad: pulling a wagon at one can make you strong, character is developed in the fire, and growth comes of being stretched beyond our comfort zones.
How then, do we help our boys become men? How do we balance the need to grow with the need to enjoy this season? How do we love well and teach well? Where is the balance between the risks involved in growing and the safety they need to thrive?
It’s not all clear, but I do know that every day takes wisdom from above. Each moment is unique and grace teaches me what to do in this moment. I also know that I will never get it all right: that’s called heaven.

My sincerest hope in parenting is that love covers over a multitude of sins: it’s why I wonder if I am simply “playing mom” til the real mom shows up.

What If?

What if success feels exactly like today? What if living by faith is meant to require faith, and if the unseen remains unseen? What if the fact that we know we fail is simply a reminder that we will always need grace?

These thoughts struck hard this week. So far in life, there seems to always be struggle and hardship laced around the things that feel good. And then I realized how often the things that feel bad, getting out of bed early, cleaning the toilet, having that hard conversation, or letting someone else get the credit for my idea are actually the things that added together make the success I’d like to see. But by the time those bloom in to success, there is inevitably another hard thing to be done.

So often we expect to “finish”, “relax”, or “be done”. Yet this life is a series of circumstances in a fallen world that are designed to make us ready for heaven. God loves to give us rest and refreshment, but He means us to continue to grow and learn and change. And those things are actually good. But when want to be in a place where nothing is required of us, we are constantly disappointed.

So maybe, success feels exactly like today: choosing to believe God regardless of what our circumstances say and choosing to act on that belief, walking toward the things and people we believe He is leading us to.

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