To See and Be Seen

To See and Be Seen

I’ve been going through career counseling recently as we try to make a decision about our next missions assignment, and after all the tests to figure out what jobs would best suit my personality and strengths, we’ve made a discovery: I’m an odd duck. (Friends and family, you may all now say in unison, “Well, duh!”) My unusual combination of personality traits makes me an even odder duck in an organization of odd ducks (because, let’s face it – missionaries aren’t normal). This hasn’t come as a surprise to me. I’ve always felt a little out of step with the world around me, wherever I am. But I think I’m not alone. I’ve been asking around, and I’m finding something I’ve suspected for a while. Most people have a sense of being different. Most of us have facets that...

Read More

The Broken Body

The Broken Body

A few weeks ago I went through some testing for several autoimmune disorders. The tests eventually came back normal, but while I was waiting for the results, I started hearing story after story from people who were living with everything from lupus to rheumatoid arthritis. When a body starts to attack itself, it’s not a pretty thing. Something that’s supposed to function as a unit starts to have all kinds of issues when it turns its weapons inward. We Jesus followers are intimately familiar with the ugliness of internal conflict. We’re all a bunch of humans, with a tendency to act really human-y. We limp ungracefully along, looking more like the Bride of Frankenstein than the Bride of Christ. The Church, the Body of Christ, is a giant, complicated mess, with as...

Read More

Welcome Home

Welcome Home

The immigration officer with the stamp in his hand had a strong Long Island accent. We’d been up for nearly 24 hours, and our kids were melting down waiting in the first of many lines at JFK, while more English than we’d heard in a long time swirled around us. We handed over our passports, and he asked us questions about where we’d been and for how long. Then he handed them back with two words. “Welcome home.” I didn’t expect the lump in my throat. And a few hours later when we landed into a brilliant orange sunset in Charlotte, I couldn’t hold the tears back. Home. I grew up rootless – some life in the Philippines, some in Ohio, Texas, Virginia, North Carolina… Fifty houses and twelve schools in the first eighteen years of my life. And now I’m doing something...

Read More

Letting It Go: The Road Back to Joy

Letting It Go: The Road Back to Joy

I freeze people. Not as dramatically as a singing snow queen, but I do. I freeze them in my mind. I remember who they used to be, what they were like before, the words they’ve said, the hurtful things they’ve done. And I keep them there in my head like little shrines to unforgiveness. I forget that they are living, growing, changing human beings. I forget that I’m not who I was yesterday. Or the day before. Or the day before that. Or the string of months before that. In fact, I’ve changed pretty drastically since this time last year. The other day I remembered a piece of myself. I was at Zumba (yes, we missionaries sometimes do Zumba), and I couldn’t get my directionally challenged self to figure out the steps, so I turned to the also-very-lost woman next...

Read More

But What About the Teddy Bear?!

But What About the Teddy Bear?!

The biggest blow up of our early married life was over a teddy bear neither my husband or I ever owned. Before we started dating, during that tenuous stage of trying to figure out how to define our budding relationship, a close friend of Mike’s pulled me aside and said, “Be gentle as you get to know him, because he had his heart broken not too long ago. He gave a girl a teddy bear, and she ended up giving it back to him.” As I got to know him, I kept waiting for Mike to open up and share with me about the girl who had broken his heart. I didn’t ask, afraid of pushing him to talk about something that must have still been tender. He never brought it up. Two years of dating, then engagement, and not one mention of the teddy bear. I didn’t think about it much in the...

Read More

Don’t Wait Until I’m Ready

Don’t Wait Until I’m Ready

I took a deep breath and pushed the words out of my mouth. “Do you want to see the rest of the house?” I didn’t know Susan well, but I had invited her in for a spontaneous cup of coffee without a chance to even try to straighten up. The living room was a wreck – toys and books and crumbs everywhere – and the rest of the house was worse. I had to swallow the impulse to try to explain away the mounds of clothing in the bedrooms and the dishes piled in the sink as I showed off the oddities of one of the quirkiest houses in our community. It rambles and twists like most of it was tacked on as an afterthought, and each turn revealed a little more of my mess. I would like to say this is unusual for me, but it’s not. Recently my friend Carrie told our Bible study group,...

Read More