Wednesday, May 21, 2014

the two (2) essential ingredients to being the perfect mom


And sleep.

That’s it.  

That’s all you really need.  

That’s what one of my best friends said to me on the phone the other day.  She went on, “The minute I get a little more of either of those?  My day just seems to go so. much. better!  And if I don’t have either of those?  Let’s just say, it’s not pretty!”

I could be the perfect Mom if I just had enough Jesus, and enough sleep.  


So… we could leave it there, perfect idealistic Mom-hood floating just out of reach, or we could explore together HOW to get more of those two essential ingredients?

Don’t we all want to be happy, contented, patient mothers?  

Then why is it so HARD to get enough Jesus, and enough sleep?

Well, to be honest, for me the first answer is probably: 

“Not enough self-control.”

Getting more sleep requires going to bed earlier (since the kids will be up at 7 no matter when I go to bed).    And the Internet is just so tantalizing in the evenings, especially if you’ve been soothing cranky toddlers or slogging through first-grade addition problems with a stubborn 6-year-old all day… and if you have SLOW Internet, it’s even more frustrating, because you can only watch 3 seconds of a YouTube video at a time, but those 3 seconds are so alluring you just keep wanting more… and more... until a whole hour has blinked by and you haven’t even finished watching ONE STINKIN’ VIDEO.  

Then you finally throw up your hands and say, “It’s not worth it.  I’m going to bed.”  But it’s already past 10pm, and it still takes a few minutes to get into your jammies, wash your face, brush your teeth… and you’ve been looking at screens for the last two hours, so you tell yourself you need some wind-down time in bed with a real book… which means its 11:00 before you finally turn out your light… and this happens. every. night.  (And you’re one of those people who need at least 8 hours of sleep to feel good.)

Um… yeah.  

So… late to bed means less sleep, which means it’s harder to get up before the kids, which means less time (or none at all) with Jesus in the morning… which means less awareness of His presence throughout the day… which means there’s a good chance the cycle will repeat itself that evening because you can’t hear that Still, Small Voice telling you what you really need. 

“Marshaling and directing your energies wisely.”  

I love that definition, because it implies that self-control is not just stopping doing something (which always feels impossible to me).  Self-control can be a forward movement, channeling your energies into wise directions.  

As Kat Lee says, “Choose what you want more over what you want now.” 

For me, that means choosing to close my computer at a decent hour, even if finishing a project is what I desperately want now.  It means winding myself down into sleep early enough to give myself a full 8 hours, so I can actually get up when my alarm goes off, so I can do what I want most: begin the day sitting in Jesus’ presence, receiving a fresh Word of truth. 

Chances are, if I make those choices, everybody’s going to have a better day.  

I might even turn into Supermom overnight. (Hah!)

Along with marshaling my energy wisely, another way I want to practice self-control is to make better strategic choices instead of indulging and then beating myself up.  

Back to the YouTube videos: I think the ever-practical Kat would say, “If your Internet’s slow but you still need your fix, take a minute after breakfast to click on one or two choice videos (to let them load), and then watch them in that right-after-lunch sweet spot when the kids’ tummies are full and they’re happy to play quietly for a half-hour or so.”  (Rather than fending them off at arm’s length with steadily increasing frustration as the Internet stalls again.  And again.)

Now that would be a good strategic choice, and here’s why:  

Limited number of videos (or __insert personal craving here__)
plus maximum enjoyment time (because they’re already loaded)

= controlled indulgence,

which equals sanity and refreshment, instead of guilt and remorse.


Marshaling and directing your energies wisely, and controlled indulgence. 

Bingo.  Self-control in a nutshell.  

That Perfect Mom crown you’ve been dreaming about?  

It’s actually within your grasp.  

(Just kidding.)  

But seriously, though.  With Jesus and sleep?  We can do anything.


What keeps you from getting enough Jesus and enough sleep?  Is there something else you’re not getting enough of these days that’s sabotaging your Mom-happiness?

Thursday, May 15, 2014

of awareness and stray dogs {May Lessons in Listening}

{For 2014, I'm focusing on the one word "listen" - read more of my monthly musings here!} 

The heart of good listening is being aware.

In a conversation, a good listener is aware not only of the words the other person is saying but of their tone, their silences, their body language, and as much of their history and context as the listener knows.  All these elements together give the listener a more complete snapshot of the emotional, psychological and mental state of the person to whom he or she is listening.

Taking all this into consideration, the good listener is able, for a moment or two, to step into the other person’s reality and see through their eyes.  From that insider’s perspective, the love, care and empathy they offer is truly genuine, and any advice or counsel truly useful.

But in my journey towards deepening as a  Listener, I’m discovering that this awareness nurtured by a habit of intentional listening is gradually enabling me to become aware of much more than words and conversations.

I’m growing a kind of sixth sense, noticing and absorbing things which I would have previously overlooked.  Situations I might have thought “chance happenings” before are taking on new and deeper meaning.  (Can you tell where I’m going with this?)  

(The “our” is in quotes because he’s only been with us a week, and I’m still holding my breath: will he sicken with a mysterious doggy illness and die?  Will a former owner turn up at our gates and demand his polite, gentle, well-mannered pup back?  I could never have predicted the storyline so far; I don’t dare try to predict the future…)

While I’m not sure I’m ready to say God sent him to us, I’ve definitely had moments this week where my as-of-January-2014-newly-pricked-up “listening antennae” have zinged slightly, and I’ve caught glimpses of what God might be doing?

Taking me out of my comfort zone.  I love my comfort zone.  Some of you probably think I must be outside my comfort zone all the time: living as we do in post-Soviet Central Asia, taking holidays in exotic-sounding countries, and spending half our “home” leave in a country I’ve lovingly adopted but which isn’t my passport country.  

All of that might sound pretty un-comfortable, but the truth is I actually thrive on it.  I really was made to live the life I’m living; it fits me like a glove. And the human penchant for familiarity and routine flows strongly through my veins, so I’ve actually become comfortable here, in this language I’ve been speaking for 10 years, in our third year in this house we’ve wrapped around us, in this neighborhood, in the role of wife and mother.  And - I like being comfortable.  

I do not like having my comfortable routine invaded unexpectedly and uninvitedly.  Which is exactly what has happened.

I think God might doing other things, too, with the arrival of this little dog, such as…

Thrusting upon our family a chance for our eldest son in particular to learn compassion and responsibility

Opening a door for all three of our kids to learn how to care for something smaller and more helpless than themselves

Providing a living parable for our neighborhood - in particular one little neighbor boy who spends part of every day at our house - to see Christian charity (in the best and oldest sense of that word) in action…

And also, I suppose, granting that little dog a chance to become the best version of himself instead of the worst, to learn how to develop mutually satisfying relationships with human beings…

(Not that I really care that much at the moment, to be perfectly honest, with everything else on my plate, about the development of the potential worth within a stray dog, but maybe - probably? - he’ll surprise me…) 

Learning to listen is like pricking up the ears of your soul (see? I’m using doggy analogies now) or swiveling your spiritual antennae to catch new sound waves of meaning in the ordinary things that happen every day….

Like hearing a redemptive analogy in the rescue of a scrawny stray.  

P.S.  For those of you wondering if we've named him, the kids have christened him “Wags”, after Wags-the-Dog from the Wiggles (ugh).  But I've found my own name for him, a word from my second language, a word I want to use every time I tell his story to a visitor…

I’m calling him “Shepket”.  Mercy.  

(Yeah, I know, it’s melodramatic - I can’t help it.  But hey, look - it shortens to “Shep”, the classic American dog name… and now you can laugh.)

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

ok, you can all breathe a sigh of relief {Part 2 of our stray dog dilemma}

So, all 100 of you (!) who read yesterday’s post and gasped in horror can breathe a big collective sigh of relief:

I climbed down into the manhole this morning, at 6:30am, to rescue that poor shivering pup.

Yes, I did.  I got soaking wet, since there was a pump down there spraying water, but wet jeans were nothing compared to how miserable the dog looked.  My main fear was that he (she? I haven’t gotten a good look yet) would snap at my feet as I came down the ladder, but nary a whimper.  Not a single peep.  He just laid back his ears and looked up at me.  

I may or may not have said, in a rather loud voice, while gingerly climbing backwards down the ladder of a manhole in Post-Soviet Central Asia, “Jesus, I cannot believe you did this for us.  And now I’m doing it for a dog!”

Wearing cloth gloves, I picked up the dog and carried him awkwardly back up the ladder with me, talking to him all the time, and we reached ground level in safety.  I wrapped him in an old towel I’d brought with me, carried him the 10 meters back to our gate, and deposited him gently in the big old doghouse just inside our yard.  

(The owners of this house used to keep a huge, ferocious, terrifying Rottweiler to discourage break-ins.  The entire street, especially the kids, used to be terrified to even walk past this house.  It’s a good thing we’re the last house on the street.)

Yes, we have lived in this house with a ready-made dog kennel for three years and don’t yet own a dog… But here I need to say a brief word about me and animals: The largest pet I’ve ever owned is a hamster, and while I was sad when I found poor Clyde stiff and cold in his cage, and shed a few tears as I buried in the backyard with a popsicle-stick cross, I have to say that losing Clyde did not break my heart. 

I did not grow up on a farm like my husband, who laughed at me on one of our early dates for meticulously avoiding piles of animal poop as we walked down a rural dirt road.  “It’s poop!” I exclaimed.  “I don’t want to step in it!”

“Yeah, but it’s just animal poop - all they eat is grass,” he reasoned.  “Now human poop, or dog poop - that’s a lot worse.”

And now, I have a real, live dog temporarily living in my yard.  (I say temporarily because I really have no idea what’s going to happen next.) 

I have zero practice feeding dogs, interpreting their body language (ok, most of it’s pretty common sense), dealing with things like fleas and worms and vaccinations, and especially no practice dealing with any of that in a barely-one-step-up-from-a-third-world country.  

So you could say I’m pretty overwhelmed by the whole situation.  Granted, so far the first day has gone relatively peacefully - no snapping or growling when we’ve fed him/her, and even some feeble attempts to show it wants to please.

By far the best moment so far, however, was my conversation with the scrawny little neighbor boy who spends half the day at our house almost every day (who’s actually here with me right now on the front steps as I type this, telling me a story lickety-split about a dog they had once who they fed and fed until it got really big, and then someone stole it, or it went into someone else’s yard and they never saw it again…)  

This little boy turned up at our gate around 8am this morning, and when we showed him the dog in the kennel he asked if it had snuck back into our yard.  (He’d helped fill in the hole with rocks yesterday but missed the drama with the manhole in the afternoon.)  

“No,” I said, “the dog got thrown down the manhole (didn’t know that word, had to pantomime) over there.  I couldn’t stand the thought of it being in there, so I climbed down this morning and…” I hesitated, trying to think of the right word.  Suddenly it popped into my head: 

Man uni kutkuzivaldim.”  

(Literally: I managed to cause it to be saved.)  

It’s exactly same word we use when describing what Jesus did for us. 

(Okay, go ahead and get all teary now.  It is just a dog, remember, not a person; I have a whole other post brewing about that topic… watch this space!)

P.S. The kids have done really well with the whole thing.  William looked relieved this morning at breakfast when I announced I'd retrieved the dog out of the manhole.  "It just wasn't right," I said, and he nodded.  "I TOLD those boys not to throw it down there, but they didn't listen to me," he said.  All three kids helped me bring it food and water, and have checked back in periodically all day to see how it's doing.  So... object lesson in progress!

a stray dog and a moral dilemma

{I was going to post about something completely different today, but this is what's been happening at our house the last couple days... A disclaimer: It's been brought to my attention that some of the content in this post may be disturbing to those of you living in more developed countries than the one we're in... YES I am still grappling with this, and YES I hate that this happened, and NO I do not want to see it happen again.  There is no humane way to deal with stray or unwanted animals in this culture, nor are there any organizations in our town to deal with this kind of problem - if I suggested that, or told people what we have in America, I'd be laughed at incredulously.  So keep that in mind as you read... and yes, I do want your honest opinions.}

(Will's dog he used to sleep with at night, hung up to dry...)

Two nights ago, a stray dog snuck into our yard.  It spent the night curled snugly in the mesh seat of Ruby’s umbrella stroller, where James found it in the morning when he went outside to check on his cherry seedlings.  

It’s a scrawny scrap of a thing, gray and mangy, hardly more than a puppy, and it had a pointed little face and two of the saddest eyes you’ve ever seen.  

I tried not to look at those eyes while we resolutely shooed it out of the yard three times that first day.  Then it snuck back in overnight.  

James didn't have time to deal with the dog in the yard before work, and sitting at the breakfast table this morning, after James had left and the kids had been excused, I had a fight with my conscience thinking about that mangy dog.  I was afraid of worms and fleas and a mysterious dog diseases… I didn’t see any signs of rabies, but then, you never know - can rabies be dormant?  

Despite all that, my conscience is still niggling, because after watching yesterday’s drama with getting the dog out of the yard, Ruby said this morning at breakfast, very clearly, “Do-k.  B-ed (bread) -kiss, kiss- “ because that was the noise we were making to call it out from under its hiding place.  Was she wanting to cuddle the dog?  Get rid of it?  Was she scared of it?  Maybe all of the above, but she sure wasn’t missing any of what was happening.

And then, this morning, as we stood on the steps and watched James trying in vain to lure the dog out from under the petrol tank before leaving for work, Will said, “Mom, it’s just like Giovanni, right?”  

(Giovanni being a pathetic orphan character in a Five In A Row book we read this year who begs his bread and sleeps in doorways.)  

Great.  My six-year-old is comparing this mangy mutt to a human orphan, implying we should give it bread and a bed to sleep in - and isn’t that what the Bible says to do, too?  Good grief!

My conscience was more conflicted about this than I felt it ought to be.  I begrudged the mental energy spent worrying about what I should do, and resented the “mangy mutt" for taking up valuable brain time.  And then, at other, more grace-filled moments, I contemplated feeding it, de-worming it, giving it a bath for fleas, and saw grand visions of gospel grace being enacted in front of my kids - a story they’d remember for the rest of their lives.  

“Remember how mom didn’t just throw that awful puppy out on the street, but spent hours looking after it, and it became our favorite pet??”

I have a friend who wouldn’t have thought twice about adopting this dog.  She sees it as part of her mission in life to redeem stray animals.  They’d only been living in this country a few months and had already added two dogs and two cats to their household, at least one of which had been picked up off the street, spur of the moment.  

For her, there would have been no agony of indecision, just, “This is what God wants me to do, show compassion,” and the dog would’ve been in her arms.  Aaahh!  Compared to her, I feel like a grace-less, compassion-less person.  (She would disagree - she would probably say we just show grace in different ways.)

Ok, so then why is this way of showing grace so hard for me?  Is it because of the cost?  The personal cost to myself?  I would have to give up hours of precious time, and money, trekking all around town in a taxi looking for the right medicine, and then administering it in ways I can’t begin to imagine.  (I grew up in a family with no pets larger than a hamster, so you can see why I'm squeamish…)

Maybe it’s just selfishness.  Maybe it’s that showing grace to this mutt would require too much breaking of my routine, too much upheaval, too much time and sacrifice, and I'm just selfish and I don’t want to give up control of my life, especially for a measly dog.  Now, if it were a real baby left on my doorstep, that would be different… 

I call James in an agony of indecision, but he doesn’t have the brain-space at the moment to even contemplate the problem.  His response is pragmatic: “Well, keep it if you want to, but I grew up on a farm having to dispose of litters of puppies which we couldn’t feed and couldn’t sell… I’m afraid I can be pretty matter-of-fact about these sorts of things…”  

Reason intrudes, and I realize the dog could possibly bite one of the kids, or worse, and I truly don’t know what kinds of diseases it has.  I’m pretty sure they don’t sell worm medicine or flea powder in our puny town, and I don’t have the means or the time or enough Russian to go hunting around the bigger town 15 minutes down the road for medicine for a stray… 

So now I flop to the other extreme and decide it’s the most disgusting creature I’ve ever laid eyes on, and we have to get rid of it as soon as humanly possible.  

The dog is somehow getting into our yard, so when my helper arrives I enlist her in hunting for the hole, and we find it outside our fence and stop it up with huge rocks.  She dons a pair of old gardening gloves and a scrap of bread, and I grab a big stick, and we shoo the dog out from under the huge petrol tank in our yard which the boys use as a pirate ship.  It had quickly become his favorite hiding place since the tank’s belly hangs very low to the ground; he must’ve felt safe underneath.  

He yips and whines pathetically (Ruby and the boys watching the whole time - can’t get them to go inside!) as my helper and a neighbor boy carry him several hundred yards down the canal and turn him loose (notice how I wriggled out of actually getting my hands dirty).  

My heart cringes at his whines, but I harden it successfully and we all high-tail it back to our yard and shut the gate.  

He comes back, of course, and skulks around outside our fence for a few hours, but I figure as long as he can’t get through the hole he’ll eventually look elsewhere for food.

Then, a few hours later, after a bike ride, the boys accidentally leave the gate open.  Like a flash, the dog takes his chance and darts back into the yard and under his favorite hiding place.  

Now I was just plain mad.  

I had to leave him there, reluctantly, while I made lunch and fed the kids, but after lunch I immediately enlisted a gang of neighbor boys who appeared at our gate wanting to play.  

We re-enacted this morning’s scene: me pushing the dog out from under the tank with a stick, and a bigger boy donning the gloves and grabbing him, yelping, on the other side.  You would have thought we were tearing his legs off, the noise he made.  

Ruby, watching, was very distressed, and kept whimpering, “Do-k!  Do-k! B-ed!”  

As in, “That’s a real live animal making that sound and all it wants is some food!”  

I swing her up to my hip and tell the neighbor kids to take it far, far away.  Well, they’re back in two seconds, and when I asked them where they threw it, they point at an empty manhole 20 yards away which - I thought - leads to the main water pipe for our town!  

I freak out, envisioning a rotting dog contaminating the whole town’s water supply, and race towards the manhole with Ruby bouncing on my hip.  The cover is off and a long tree branch has been stuck in it; the bottom is full of rubbish already.  

I see all this while the boys eagerly inform me this manhole was for the old system of water pipes which had recently been turned off.  I find this information dizzying, since I’d seen a crew with my own eyes installing that manhole just last summer (so how could it be old?) and I was pretty sure I’d heard water flowing under through it on one of my recent morning runs...

But there's the tree branch and rubbish to prove their story, and I’m in such a rush to get rid of that awful dog, I nod and say, “All right then,” and we all troop back to our gate.

And now it’s the afternoon, and I’m sitting here writing this, thinking about horrible empty cisterns and a helpless puppy who’s never really done anything to me, except whine and look pathetic… and the fact that even throughout this whole post I’ve picked words like “mangy mutt” and “skulk” to describe him.  I’m trying to imagine if I’d feel any different about him if I’d used words like “poor little thing” and “thin, starving, helpless”.  

I’m thinking about grace, and how hard it is to give and receive.  

I'm thinking about the fact that Ruby woke up from her nap sobbing her eyes out, and when I went into her room she was sitting in a corner of her crib, crying, “Do-k!  Do-k!” over and over.  I was sure she’d had a nightmare about that ridiculous dog, and I don't know if it was because she was afraid of the dog, or just sad and traumatized by the awful yelps it made as it was dragged out? 

Have I scarred my child for life?  I think miserably, as I lay down on our bed with her and make soothing noises while I stroke her arms.  She’s soon fast asleep again, limbs splayed out, flushed cheeks, sweaty hair plastered to her forehead.  I look at her sweetness, and… 

I still don’t know if I did the right thing.  Ok, I probably didn't.  Feeling worse about it all the time...

Now, at 9:30pm, after hearing her say “Do-k?  Do-k?” twice at dinner (to Daddy), twice more during her bath, again during teeth-brushing, again during story reading (every story we picked seemed to have a dog in it somewhere!) - each time accompanied with a squinched-up face and arms clutched to her chest, whether in sympathetic pain or a mother-cuddle-instinct, I couldn’t tell - 

I finally decide she is definitely getting a complex, and pray accordingly:

“Dear Jesus, please give Ruby peace about the dog.  Please help her know You’re looking after it (in the cruel cistern!).  Please don’t let her have any bad dreams tonight (about her mother’s abuse of stray animals!), and please help her not to think about the dog anymore!”  

She quieted down and laid calmly in her bed, but I'm wondering how many more days of “Do-k?  Do-k?” I will have to endure before she forgets about it?  

Maybe never?  

If you were me, how would you teach your children that God values all life in a context where life is so undervalued?

P.S. Tomorrow I plan to have a heart-to-heart with my boys, and discuss the fact that it's a terrible thing to be mean to anything God has made, and that God of course doesn't like it... and that maybe we can keep some supplies on hand at our house in case this kind of situation happens again.... any other suggestions?

P.P.S. I've found myself wishing whole-heartedly that we lived near a really good vet, so I could have just scooped that dog into the car and gotten it de-wormed and vaccinated, and we probably would've kept it.  There's just no such thing in these parts, which is what makes this whole thing so difficult.

P.P.P.S.  In case you're wondering, I did NOT sanction those boys to throw that dog down into that cistern, and after they did it, I felt even sicker - but I just had no idea what to do.  I still don't.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

of flashbacks, faith, and Steven Curtis Chapman... {a birthday letter to my 22-year-old self}

Dear self,

I remember you, ten years ago.  You were terrified.

You graduated a week after turning 21, and a year later you were finishing your first ten months overseas.  

You’d weathered your first Christmas away from your family, which was emotional and hard even though you were with a group of wonderful people.  You were reaching the end of a year teaching music and English at a posh private school in Beijing, China...  

Sammy, the squirrel
(a very special friend)

The crazies Sammy helped me entertain - I mean, teach!

And, miraculously, you were in the final stages of your first-ever recording project.  You had been writing songs out of the delirious highs and devastating lows of that year, and your English-teaching teammates had asked you to make a record.  

So you did.  (Well, really, God did.)  It was actually nearing completion, in an awe-inspiring way.  You got goose-bumps every time you thought about it.

And - biggest of all, you had just signed up to move clear across that huge country, to a remote city on the edge of the desert, purported to be full of wildly artistic people.  You were going to see if that was the place God was calling you to make a life.

You had never been more scared in all your life.

It felt like standing on the edge of a huge precipice looking down into a bank of fog, and God saying, “Jump.”

Other days it felt like standing at the bottom of a huge cliff staring upwards, with no sign of any kind of path.  Just sheer cliff.  And God was saying, “Climb.”

What?!?!  you kept thinking.  Climb that?  Climb into a folk Muslim culture as a single woman, with hardly any background knowledge and only a puny two-week language learning course?  

Climb into another four-year commitment (two years of language followed by two years of teaching English) the same length as college?  Four years - you couldn’t even imagine your life one year from then, much less four!

God, you have got to be kidding.  

But there was that unmistakable Voice.  Gentle.  Relentless.




A vivid memory from a few weeks before your 22nd birthday.  Easter weekend, big international church, Steven Curtis Chapman on the stage.  Heart beating wildly in your chest, applause, screams, a room full of 2,000 Christian Contemporary Music fans (ok, so maybe they weren't all CCM fans, but still...) - this looked to be the most amazing Easter service ever.  

And you weren’t even enjoying it.  You were almost completely shut down by your fear.

(yes, that's really him!)
Until halfway through the service, when Steven strummed his guitar quietly and started singing these words.

…that He is God.”

You couldn’t believe your ears.  It was like Jesus had taken the mic and was singing you a solo.  

Bow before the Prince of Peace,

Let the noise and clamor cease…”

The room quieted, and so did the beating of your heart.  Everyone sat down.  Steven began the second verse.

Be still and know that he is faithful

Consider all that He has done, 

stand in awe and be amazed, 

know that He will never change.”

Scenes from the last 22 years of your life flashed through your mind as you sat in that red plush auditorium seat.  


These last ten astonishing months in China.  

The miracle of making my first album this spring.  

The album was fresh in your mind, a veritable stone of remembrance.  A symbol of God’s faithfulness. 

Suddenly you realized, in a rush: He will not leave me alone.  He who has called me is faithful.  Peace washed over you.  He knows my name.  He hasn’t forgotten about me.

A guitar.  A voice.  Simple words.  And a single throbbing invitation in your heart.  

Be still.  Trust Me.

“Be still and know… He is our Father.

Come rest your head upon His breast,

Listen to the rhythm of His unfailing heart of love

beating for His little ones, 

calling each of us to come…”

Come The title of your album.  The word God had been repeating in your heart over the past four hectic months of recording your songs.  Steven was singing it, there on the stage, in front of two thousand people.  It resounded in your heart.  Come.  Rest in me.  Trust me.  

The stomach-gnawing terror was melting away.  I won’t be going alone.  He is with me.  

Little did you know - you would take to that fiery, artistic, hospitable group of people like a duck to water, or that making your home among them would become the greatest thrill of your life.

Little did you know that one year later, on your very next birthday, you would be saying “Yes” to the question every girl dreams about; that the man of your dreams would be down on one knee, looking up at you with the bluest eyes you’d ever seen, as he opened the lid of a tiny leather box to reveal his grandmother’s antique engagement ring…

Little did you know you would pledge yourself to your new husband, your new people group and your new organization all in one massive decision, and that despite the hugeness of it all, peace would flood your heart.  

the very place where he got down on one knee...
his grandmother's ring, who gave her life in and for China...

None of that was visible to you then, age 22, at the top of the cliff, staring down into a bank of fog, hearing: Jump.  

All you knew was: He is with me.  

You gritted your teeth, took a deep breath, and stepped off that horribly high cliff into thin air, trusting that something - Someone - would rise to meet you and bear your weight.

And He did.  Oh, He did.  

Here you are, ten years later: married, with three beautiful children, saying hello to your 32-year-old self in yet another foreign land you never dreamed of living in...

...but still with the same God.  

Still held by the same Hands.  



More than anything, surprised!  

And yet, when you think about your God, it’s not really surprising at all.   

So, um… self?

Know that the Lord, He is God.  

Whatever mountain looms in front of you, whatever cliff seems impossibly high, just remember: He makes steps materialize out of thin air.  He makes impossible things possible.  He reveals a path where there is no way forward.  

Whatever’s in front of you today, move into it by faith.