Monday, April 7, 2014

What it's Really Like Living Overseas

 I had slept for only two hours in two days. We’d just flown from Colorado to our home in Indonesia, with our three small kids.

So that January day as we drove from the airport to our home that we hadn’t seen in eight months, I turned to my husband, Brad, and said, “Look at all those trees they’ve planted since we left.”

“Um, no,” Brad said. “Those were always here."

Oh, yeah. This town does, after all, sit on the edge of one of the world’s largest rainforests.

Besides being very green, my world here in Indonesia is pretty small. The island where I live is only about nine miles by 13 miles in size. And as a mama to three little kids and with no roads off the island, I don’t get out of here much.

So, when I get asked, “What’s Indonesia really like?” I have a hard time answering.

So, I’m taking advantage of the somewhat fresh eyes I have after my time away to tell you.

I sit here in week one of returning to Indonesia. I am busy cleaning out the shrew droppings and the cobwebs and taking stock of what’s moldy and what’s broken in the Indonesian house we rent. I have lots of errands to do…police station to renew my license, grocery store to get all those raw ingredients for making yogurt and bread and granola and pickles (actually I visit three tiny stores to get everything I need).

I’m surprised at some things…that I can remember the language, and can remember to drive on the left side of the road.

But I’m not surprised at how much I still dread those power outages that can last for hours. And those long lines at the gas station—how will I keep my kids quiet for the hour that it will take to wait to fill up the car?

But overall, it all feels very exciting and adventurous to be back. My birds of paradise plants are thriving in my backyard. I get to eat fresh pineapple almost every day. I get to catch up with all my friends.

But then I learn that my Indonesian neighbor just lost her 20-year-old son.  I visit her and listen to her story as her son’s body lays there in his simple open coffin in their tiny front room. He was healthy until one day he started vomiting and coughing. My neighbor took him to a local hospital and he was dead by the next morning. She thinks it was because they gave him a blood transfusion of the wrong blood type. The doctor never explained what he was sick with or why he died.

And I am mad and heartbroken and then I remember what it’s really like here.

It’s a lot of things. Hard. Poor. Confusing. Exciting. Mundane. Dirty. Smelly. Beautiful. Friendly. Exhausting. Hot. Hospitable. Fun. Boring. Adventurous. Scary.

It’s home, but it’s also foreign. It’s where I want to be, but sometimes, on the really hard days, it’s where I want to flee.

But as I think about my friend’s son and about the mistakes made, I think, too about my own kids. I think about the times they’ve been sick and the choices we have and don’t have. I think of all the bad things that could happen to them and to me and to my husband and my friends. And it helps me come up with a word that best explains what it’s really like living here.

It’s personal.  

This is where I spent half of my 20s and now half of my 30s and almost two-thirds of my marriage.

It’s where I first became a mom and where my kids’ first steps were taken and where I wonder if I can even do this motherhood thing right.

It’s where I’ve made lifelong friends with people from everywhere and where I’ve lost some of them and where I meet new ones all the time.

It’s where I sit with my insecurities and my growth and my homesickness and my deep sense of purpose and my fears and my mama-bear courage.

It’s where I bake lumpy bread that my family still devours and where I forget about the  yogurt I’m making until it’s long ruined and where I have a pile of dirty cloth diapers to clean.

It’s where I’ve learned about the hearts of these dear Borneo peoples and yet still don’t understand why the bad things happen or how to fix it all.

It’s where death feels way too close and life is so intoxicating and love is sacrificial.

It’s where I live and breathe and sometimes feel like I can’t catch my breath.

And in many ways it’s not so different from your world wherever that may be. There are things you like. And don’t like. People who make you feel great about life and people who break your heart. There are kids to raise and sleep to long for and dreams that are shelved and dreams that are happening right now.

But here we are in the midst of the hard things and good things, the doubts and the faith, the lush trees and the drab winter. Living.

One deeply personal moment at a time.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

I am not enough

My friend looks like a skeleton, like she’s barely alive. And it’s true, in so many ways.

My Indonesian friend may have Parkinson’s which makes her look like she’s 100, though she might be just 60 or so.  On this tiny island with limited health care, she’s never been diagnosed, probably never will be.

She sees me and my three kids and calls out to me while we’re still on the road. I can’t hear her words, of course. Her voice is weak. Her body hunched and sitting in the same hard-backed chair in which she is always sitting.

I’m relieved.

This is the first time I’ve seen her since my eight-month visit to the States. And I was worried before I left that she wouldn’t make it, that our goodbye then was final. But my relief quickly turns into concern. From her increasingly skinny frame and her tired eyes, it looks like she just barely is. Just barely lives.

The first thing out of her mouth is an apology for her smell, for not having showered yet that day. Every day, she has to wait for her daughter--who just got home from work when I arrived--to carry her and bathe her and I just can’t imagine.

I tell her not to worry. Tell her that I’m all sweaty from the walk up her road in the heat of this tropical day. That I smell too.

Then she asks me if I’m real. If I’m really there. And when did I return to Indonesia? And why was I away so long? She tells me I’m her only friend. That no one else visits her. She is crying. And I guess I should be honored.

But I’m not. I’m mainly just sad.

Because I know I am not enough.

She says she aches and so I rub her bony shoulder. Her hands rest on her legs, the disease pressing her hand into a fist that I haven’t seen unfolded in years. She tells me that now that I’m back, I can massage her all the time and maybe she’ll get better.

I know it’s not true. That even if I was there 24-7, which just isn’t possible, that it wouldn’t heal her from all that makes her sick.

I know I’m not enough.

I try to unfold her fingers, to rub her hands, and it’s hard and I worry that I’m hurting her. And then I do smell her. That sweaty, clenched hand that never gets clean. And in the heat of the day, it reeks and soon my own hands reek and I fight the nausea.

We chat about my kids and her grandkids who are playing all around us. Sometimes it’s awkward and sometimes we're interrupted by a child or a neighbor or a motorbike roaring by. Sometimes my friend and I go deeper about stuff I won’t share here. And sometimes she reminds me of my grandma back in the States, the one with Alzeimer's, the one I may never see again because I am here. But soon it’s time for me to get home and finish dinner and I tell her I’ll be back in a week.

“Tomorrow?” she begs. “Why not tomorrow?”

I don’t explain to her that many days my other responsibilities and my life as a mom of young kids is so busy I feel like I’m drowning. That I’ve learned after nine years in Indonesia that I have to pace myself, that I have to leave some margin.  

That every day, I see needs and even when I respond in the tiny ways that I can, people still hurt. People still die. People still need.

That no matter what I do or how hard I try or what I’ve sacrificed to be here, I’m just not enough.

I don’t tell her that this gap between the needs I see and the small, mistakes-filled things I do is one of the hardest things I face here. That I fight guilt and inadequacy and exhaustion when I listen to the lie that maybe I could fix everything if I could just figure out how.

And with a few of her family members around, the time is not right for me to tell her again what I’ve told her dozens of times. What I tell myself almost every day. What I must remind myself so that I can live.

That I am not enough. That what I do will never be enough. Not for their sake. Not for mine.

That I, too, would be dying in so many ways without Him. That I, too, would struggle with the guilt from a lifetime of broken relationships and regrets if it weren't for Him.

That what she most needs deep down is something that no human-sized good work--hers or mine--can fill.

That though I can’t always be there with her all the time, I pray to Him for her, trust Him to watch over her. That it is Him who is Everything and who loves me and that love is so consuming that it covers all my own messiness, my stench, turns all this into beauty, and into joy, if I let it. That anything I do right or say right is not me. But Him through me.

That I don't have to carry her burdens, my burdens, your burdens because He already has.

That though I am not enough, never will be, I hope to be back again to visit her next week, to offer for the one-hundredth time, One who is.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

25 Tips on Flying Internationally with Little Kids

I now measure my worst nights of sleep against nights spent on airplanes.

As in, “I’ve been up off and on all night with my sick baby, but at least I’m not on a 12-hour flight across the Pacific, followed by a brief layover in Tokyo and then another 6-hour flight and then a 3-hour and then 1-hour flight, holding one or two of my tired, thrashing, crying kids in a tiny airplane seat wondering if we’ve crossed the international dateline yet so I can forever forget that day.”

Since moving to Indonesia nine years ago, I’ve crossed the globe several times from the States to Indonesia with some combination of my now three kids. Not to mention the flights within the States (including from the mainland to Alaska and the mainland to Hawaii), or throughout Indonesia,  or with my newborns from Singapore to Indonesia.

But this weekend I've got my growing list of tips from friends and from hard-learned experience to help me make the trip from the States back to Indonesia.



   1.       Bring new toys and maybe even wrap them. Then pull them out at regular intervals along the way for fun surprises.

   2.       Let the older kids carry or roll their own small backpacks.

   3.      Pack enough for the trip (enough diapers, changes of clothes, a couple extra blankets,  some new toys and few snacks) but try not to over-do it because you will have to carry and keep track of all your carry-on stuff and your kids.

   4.       Bring a few kid-carrying options, especially for the little ones. Like a sling (light and very packable) for that sleeping baby that you don’t want to wake as you walk through customs; or a front baby carrier for hands-free handing over of passports and that very light umbrella stroller can give that toddler a place to doze during layovers.

   5.       Double check with the airline to make sure your family is seated as close together as possible. You don’t want your 3-year-old sitting all by himself several rows back, or you with the baby while hubby and older kid are on the other side of the plane.

   6.       On those long journeys, put your kids in their pajamas when it's an appropriate time to "go to bed," give them their favorite stuffed animal or blanket and get them set up in a sleep spot. Then sleep when they sleep, even if you’re really excited about the movie you’re trying to watch. You don’t know how long they’ll sleep or what is ahead. Get your rest when you can.

   7.       Consider asking the airline for bulkhead seating to allow your children a little more area to play.

   8.       Walk the aisles. With the crying baby, with the restless toddler.

   9.       Pick your battles. I find my kids don’t like to eat much on those long airplane rides. They’re usually more tired than hungry. I don’t force them to eat at the expense of them feeling content or rested.
   10.   Bring a few favorite, familiar snacks for the kids, but focus on more of the packaged kinds—crackers, goldfish, etc. You usually can’t bring fresh fruits, cheeses and meats through customs. You might be able to bring packaged pureed baby food (applesauce, etc.) through customs if you ask real nice (but it might still end up in the trash.)

   11.   Bring their favorite sippy cups, full of water, as many airports will allow you to take those through security these days. It’s nice to have a drink all ready to go for them when the plane takes off and ears start hurting with the pressure.

   12.   Bring a few extra changes of clothes for yourself, just in case there are accidents or sick kids.
   13.   A week or so before your trip, avoid interactions with sick people or big groups of people (like nurseries, play groups). Bouts of sickness on those long flights makes the trip much more grueling.

   14.   Give your kids vitamin C drinks (or eat more Vitamin C rich food) every day for several days before your trips to boost their immune system and help to prevent sicknesses on the flight.

   15.   Let your kids (and you) have the time to recover from jet lag. Don’t plan much for those days before and after your trip to allow for some extra rest time. And be patient with your kids as it will likely take several days for them to make the time switch in their new place.

   16.   Know that whatever you bring on the airplane could get lost under a seat. So, if your kid needs his special blanket or stuffed animal, make sure you don’t leave it behind on the last airplane or have a replacement on hand.

   17.   Book a room in the hotel for those layovers lasting more than four or five hours. Consider routing your layovers through airports that have hotels right in the airport. Many of those airport hotels allow you to rent a simple room for short periods, like for six hours, which could give your family a chance to catch up on sleep. Request a crib or extra beds ahead of time if you need them.

   18.   Use your technology…whether it’s the individual in-flight movies on bigger airplanes, or your tablet or computer or portable DVD player, let your children watch or play games.

   19.   Have a friend or niece or sibling or parent that could join you for the trip? Consider bringing along a helper, even if you’re also traveling with your spouse. The more adults to help with the kids, the better. 

   20.   Talk with your spouse or traveling helper ahead of time about responsibilities. Consider dividing children or tasks. Like maybe you primarily take care of the baby, while hubby takes the 3-year-old and 5-year-old. But also include the option of switching it up to give your other kids some mommy time and give yourself a break from the baby.

   21.   Check the baggage allowances for each of the airlines you take. Even if your international flight gives you two checked 50-pound bags a person, the domestic airline you take once you arrive in a country may only give you one free 20-kilogram bag.
   22.   Keep all your important papers, documents, passports, etc. in a sealable plastic folder of some sort for easy access.
   23.   Don’t let your kids see your fear. Ahead of time, play up the trip as the adventure that it is. Make every part of the journey sound special and fun—airplane movies, special foods on their own tray, a new airport with fun moving sidewalks, etc.

   24.   Ignore the looks. As you’re walking your crying baby up and down the aisles, don’t worry what the other passengers are thinking. I’ve found most other travelers are gracious—either they’ve been where you are, or they’re just glad that they aren’t. But even if they give you a dirty look or make a comment, your job isn’t to please them anyway. It’s to get your kids and yourself through the flight.

   25.   Once you have your trip planned and your bags packed, try not to think about the journey ahead no matter how worried you are about it. Get your rest. Enjoy the place you are. Say your goodbyes as well as you can.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Going Back

“Do you want to go back?” The woman asked as she held one of my Mom’s peanut butter brownies in one hand and a cup of tea in the other. And she wasn’t even sweating.

Neither was I.

We were standing in my parents’ cozy family room on a cool Colorado summer evening, talking about our life and work in Indonesia, which felt really far away right then.

Just two months into a seven-month stay in the States, I was still getting used to the fact that I could put makeup on in the morning and it wouldn’t drip off my face in tropical sweat an hour later. And that I had choices of how to do my hair—curled, straightened, scrunched. Instead of the usual choice I had in Indonesia—frizzy.

I was getting used to pizza delivery and hubby’s availability to get up with the baby in the middle of the night and no fears of break-ins or airplane crashes or cobras.

And I was getting used to being honest about how exhausted I really was.

“Um, today? Do I want to go back? Maybe not today,” I said to the woman with a smile and a laugh to cover my almost-truthful answer.

I had just met this woman, after all, though she and her husband had been making donations to our work with MAF for the past few months. But maybe it was my dark eye circles from caring for still-jet-lagged kids all throughout the night, or maybe it was her own fears she’d admitted about ever doing what we’re doing. But most likely, it was the panic I knew I couldn’t keep out of my eyes.

She raised an eyebrow, looked me over and nodded. She knew.

No. I didn’t want to go back. All I wanted to do was go to bed and sleep. For a very long time.

Fast forward five months and many nights away by myself or with hubby with grandparents watching the kids, and many more of Mom’s cooking and convenience shopping and a baby who almost is sleeping through the night when he’s not sick or teething or moving to yet another house.  Fast forward to getting all my shots taken care of, and my teeth cleaned and fixed and my new stash of vitamins and bags packed with the items from my list. Fast forward to getting spoiled by friends giving us dinners out, vacations to rest, a chance to share, space to breathe.

And I'm ready. To go back. 

In a couple of weeks, we will board the plane and hope we have enough diapers and toys and clothes for the 20-something hour journey from the States to Japan to Singapore to Balikpapan to Tarakan in Indonesia. 

I’ve done the trip a few times before, the first time some nine years ago when I went to Indonesia sight-unseen, full of fears and dreams, ready for an adventure, but expecting a disaster.

I did it again five years ago with my first born baby boy—a year old at the time, and with a new set of mommy fears and my eyes much more wide open, but with the hopes that this time, I’d finally know what I’m doing.

You’d think it would get easier each time I go back to Indonesia, and in some ways it does. I know so much more than I did when I first went. I know how to drive on the other side of the world, how to trap a shrew, how to send my husband off to fly over the jungle without a fear in my heart.

I know how to be gracious when an Indonesian visitor arrives four hours late, and how to face down those mean dogs who bite at me on my morning run and how to use Skype to call all the way back to poison control in the States when a kid drinks something wrong.

But I also know other things.  That the goodbyes are always hard with things never said quite right. That I’m jealous that my sisters’ kids will grow up knowing each other while they’ll forget my name. That between running after my little kids and trying to figure out how to respond to endless needs around us, it will be hard to catch my breath until I return back to the States for a break…three-and-a-half years from now.

I know that this work is messy and the relationships can be hard and that my insecurities follow me to the other side of the world.  My husband who loves to save loves will spend many days disappointing people no matter how many times he says yes to that extra flight, that additional need. I know I’ll have bad attitudes about power outages.

I know that bad things could happen. That things will get taken. My kids will get sick and I’ll worry that it’s dengue fever.

People we love might die.

When I started this journey nine years ago, I only thought I wasn’t cut out for this. That I didn’t know what I was doing. That I would fail.

Now I know all that will happen.

My eyes are wide open and my thoughts are buzzing and my hands are shaking.

But I’ve learned some other things along the way. I know that things that cost a lot are worth a lot.

I know that relationships that rip your heart apart end up saving you in the end. I know that a country that both breaks my heart also fills my heart. I know I want adventure more than comfort zones, change more than same old same old, a life story of hope more a life sentence of paralyzing fear.

I know that living a life of purpose satisfies me more than the cute house with the white picket fence. 

I know that miracles happen in Borneo jungles and that sometimes that miracle is the change in my own heart.

And I’ve learned that though I am small and afraid and so very incapable, I am not alone.

So, I go back with things I know how to do and things I may never get right.  I go with preparations made and plans that will crumble in the face of reality. And I go my heart full of things I want and full of things I don’t.

But I go with Him. The Invisible whose hand in all of this is so very clear. The All-Powerful who is patient with my feet of clay. The Most-High who reaches down from heaven to hold my trembling fingers.

And so we go back and at the same time, move forward.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

The Gift Everyone Really Wants for Christmas~ 4 steps to lasting forgiveness

You spend all week cooking, all the paycheck shopping. All your best stuff strung in lights and garlands throughout your house.

They come and you hope.

But then hurtful words and hard looks and echoes of long-ago wounds hang like icicles over the turkey and the presents and the pie.

Nothing ever seems to change.
Ever wonder why that is? Why the holidays carry so many expectations, then dump so many disappointments?

Maybe it's because even while we hope for magic, we hold onto pain. Maybe it's because it's just not true that time heals all things.

Maybe it's because it's often easier to give than to forgive.

Meanwhile, time only hardens the wound, or numbs us to really caring. But it's always there, under the forced smiles and behind the fleeting frowns.

The pain someone else caused--even a long time ago--has a way of pushing its way into other relationships. It pushes out in shouted words, or layers on in extra weight on our bodies, or chases us down in impossible expectations on ourselves or pokes out in distrust of friends who truly love us.
That parent who left you? Our pain—when left to itself—kills our relationship with our friends, our spouses, our own kids.
That horrible thing you did to your spouse or your parent or your child or your friend? When we try to justify it away. When we try to shove it down. When we beat ourselves up again and again. Refusing to say we’re sorry. Refusing to see our wrong. Refusing to let ourselves be forgiven. We die more and more each day. And drag others into the grave.

But when we have no control over the circumstances. When people just won’t change. When the painful past chases us into the miserable present and the bleak future, forgiveness is the answer.

Forgiveness changes us. At the very least, it releases our heart from hate, from blame, from prison. And often, it changes others too. Certainly the ones closest to us who have had to live with our bitterness. But also, it just might change the one who did the wrong.

It's one of those funny things where we have more power when we lay down our rights. That right to blame and build walls and withhold ourselves.

Wrong things—the ones others commit against us and the ones we do to others—have a way of defining us. We become labels like the Abused, the Abandoned, the Children of Divorce, the Adulterer, the Drug Addict, the Rape Victim, the Pornographer, the Gossip. Everything that happens after is filtered through the wrong. 

Women who were hurt decide to never trust another man. A child whose parents divorced decide never to get married, never to have kids. The man who prayed to God as a child for the abuse to stop and it didn’t becomes the atheist who plans never to believe in good things again.

But when we forgive or accept forgiveness, we claim new defining moments. We become the One who had the strength to let go of the wrongs. We become the Victors instead of the victims. We become the Forgiven instead of the abuser. We can claim hope instead of sitting in despair.

Forgiving allows us to sprint forward instead of trudging along with the past caked like mud on our feet.

So, here are some ideas on helping us to forgive or accept forgiveness.

1.   Make a list.
a.       Of the people who have wronged you, who you haven’t yet forgiven, and list their wrongs.
b.      Of the people you have wronged, of the offenses you committed.

     2.    Write a letter or take a forgiveness walk.
In private, write a letter to the person or take a walk and say out loud as if speaking to the person about the things they did.
Lay it all out. The hurt you’ve felt, the consequences of their action.
Or write a letter or say out loud the things you did wrong. A confession, with no justifications, no explanations. 

    3.       If appropriate, communicate to the person that you’re releasing them of the wrong they  committed against you or that you are sorry for the wrong you’ve committed against them. 
(Give it some good thought if your communication to them of the specifics will actually help them and your relationship with them. In some cases, this could cause more pain to actually tell them about it.) 
 Even if you don’t tell them about forgiving them or about your confession, look for ways to communicate, through actions, that your relationship with them is new.
No more anger. No more excuses. No more blame.  No more self-hatred.
A fresh start, as far as it depends on you. 
(If there has been abuse and there is potential for more abuse, please consider simply praying for the person and don't actually choose to interact with the abuser.)

    4.    Forgive again.
         When the hurt returns in your heart (which it may do, even after forgiveness is given), then take the time to forgive again, release again, recommit to forgiveness.
    Then stop bringing it up to them, to others, and to yourself.


Monday, December 2, 2013

Give like life depends on it

Sometimes I wonder what it feels like to save a life.

My husband, Brad, gets to do it all the time. All part of his passion to fly. All as a result of a dream to move to Indonesia as an MAF pilot.

 All in a day’s work. 

Sometimes his passenger is a little Indonesian boy with a high fever from some faraway Borneo village that has no doctor and too many disease-carrying mosquitos. Other times it’s a pregnant woman who has been in labor for days, her breached baby losing the will to live.

Every once in a while, Brad flies somewhere that is suffering from an epidemic, something strange to our western ears like cholera or measles. Something we rarely see within American borders. But an illness that can wipe out an entire village of Dayak Indonesians in a matter of days.

And all it takes is a one-hour plane ride out of the jungle to a town with a hospital and doctors and operating tables and medicines. And then life can go back to the way it was for the patient, filled with ordinary days of harvesting rice or taking care of children or walking to school on a dirt path.

After more than eight years of living in Indonesia together, I’ve forgotten too many of Brad’s stories that I’ve heard over the dinner table,  as we ate beans in homemade tortillas, the mosque in the background calling people to pray, the ants scurrying over pots and pans that I haven’t yet cleaned.

I know it sounds crazy, but the life-and-death stories almost sound normal as I feed the baby and scrub grubby toddler hands. And if you understood why we do this, you'd see just how normal our life really is. 

But in the midst of the normal and routine and everyday moments, I try not to forget something important. Though it’s part of Brad’s almost daily life in Indonesia,  it’s not ho-hum. And while it makes perfect sense for us to do this, it’s not mundane. And while we're just ordinary people, this work is not.

Giving never is. Hard? Yes sometimes. Scary? For me, oftentimes. But ordinary? Never.

Whether it’s the hours my husband spends flying to dirt smudges of landing strips in wild jungle, the time he spent preparing for this job (seven years), the years we take our kids away from grandparents in the States to live in Indonesia, I have to remember.  The giving matters.

Whether the money that it takes to make this work happen comes from a barely legible check of a  90-year-old widow in Colorado or a college student with a small income and a big heart in Virginia or someone I’ve never met sitting at their computer in the Netherlands, you have to remember.

The giving matters.

Whether it’s the sweaty work done by a national worker in an MAF hangar, or the unsung tasks done by an MAF home office worker, or the investment a college professor made into training a future pilot or mechanc, they have to remember. The giving matters.

That’s because giving allows us—all of us—to be part of something bigger than ourselves. To make our money last longer than a click of the mouse on Black Friday. To join together as a bunch of a small, simple, ordinary people to become a team. No, a family.

And the giving us allows all of us to maybe, just maybe save a life.

And maybe that life saved is someone we never meet, someone we couldn’t understand even if we did get to talk to him, someone who will live out the rest of their days in their shack with dirt floors.

And maybe that life saved is ours.

A life saved from fears and doubts and suffocating comfort zones.  A life saved from insignificance, from thinking we can’t do anything to change the bad things. A life saved from never seeing anything extraordinary.

I know that’s how it is for me.  I may not get to write humongous checks or fly a plane with a sick child or pass out rice in a hungry village. But I get to be part of the giving. When I get on that endless commercial flight from the States with three tired kids to return to life in Indonesia, I get to be part of the giving.

And when I stand in front of scary-big crowds in the States and tell of the work in Indonesia after a sleepless night of caring for my sick baby, I get to be part of the giving—both yours and mine.

This Giving Tuesday, MAF is trying to raise $24,000 in 24 hours to provide one day of the money needed to make medical MAF flights around the world happen. 

One day of giving. Just ordinary people giving what they can to save the lives of other ordinary people. All over the world. In the most extraordinary way.

Will you join me? 

Monday, October 21, 2013

Don't call me crazy

Maybe you’ve heard our stories about monitor lizards living in our yard, trying to catch the live chicken my jungle pilot husband brought home as a gift from a remote Borneo village. 

You’ve seen pictures of our kids surrounded by cute Indonesian faces and heard how my kids think there is a beach everywhere, and that Grandma (one lives in Colorado, one in Indiana), must live on an island, because everybody does, right?

You’ve read here about orphanages and dirt airstrips and power outages and tribal unrest. Maybe you picture earthquakes and tsunamis and terrorists and volcanoes.

You might call this life of ours in Indonesia many things—risky, adventurous, sacrificial, beautiful, hard, exciting, envious, dreadful. But you probably wouldn’t call it “normal.”

Oh, but it is.

It’s normal not just because my kids make cookies with me and there are always dishes to clean and I check Facebook most days….the days we have good electricity, anyway.

It’s normal not just because our kids aren’t perfect, we’re not perfect, our team isn’t perfect. We’re nothing special. We do nothing that you couldn’t do, if you really had to. We aren’t tough as nails, or sweet as sugar or brave as lions.

It’s normal not just because sometimes I find my life scary and sometimes I wonder how I got here, and sometimes I don’ think I’m cut out for this.

But really, you know why it’s so normal? It’s because if you had what I had, if you believed what I do, if you experienced what I get to see every day, you would do this too.

If you knew how lost I have been, how messed up I have thought, how wrong my life was going. And if you knew how I had nothing, am nothing, could do nothing to make it OK. If you knew how in that utter nothingness I had been picked up, washed up, bundled up, loved, cherished, forgiven, given a fresh start, given a purpose, given mind-blowing riches, you’d want to do what I do too.

This moving-to-other-side-of-the world is nothing compared to what I’ve been through. If you want to see something crazy, then open yourself to that kind of love, life, hope, joy. Then everything that happens afterwards is completely understandable, completely explainable, completely normal.

So, what about you? Do you want to stop building a life out of things that don’t last? Wanna stop chasing dreams that don’t matter? Wanna stop holding onto things that hurt you at worst and don’t love you back at the very least? Because that would be crazy. Who would do that? That’s just not normal.

Are you living a life that’s normal? Do your choices make sense with what you believe? Do you wanna stop doubting what you know to be true, stop clinging to lies? Do you have courage because of how valuable He made you?  Do you live fearlessly because it only makes sense to trust in truth instead of chasing problems with worry? Are you ready to love those both near and far, in the home and out of it, no matter the response?

Do you wanna give it all away to those most in need, shout about your joy from a volcano, run to the ends of the earth with this amazing story of hope? 

Because if you did, I wouldn’t call you crazy. Wise? Sure. Free? Absolutely. And most of all, loved. Yes, and positively normal.

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