Monday, December 20, 2010

In Between

We're halfway in between Abbotsford and Fresno!  I'm excited to see our CA friends and family again, but still sad to have said goodbye to our new friends from Canada.  (Silly side story...  We have a Uhaul trailer with a Saskatchewan license plate and walking through a parking lot tonight I wondered if the people looking at us thought we were Canadian.  The fact that our kids happened to be singing "O Canada" might have thrown them off as well.  I even caught myself tonight - I think for the first time! - ending a sentence with "eh?"  The kids thought it was funny - especially since I didn't do it on purpose!  I guess my resistance finally wore off.  : )  What great timing!)

It's hard for me to put into words how much these people have impacted me in the last 3.5 months.  I respect these people and love these people and have learned from and with these people SO MUCH.  Not since I was living on campus in college have I bonded so deeply and so quickly with anyone.  I know, I know...  I'm being a bit dramatic and emotional.  But this weekend I said goodbye to these people and to our downstairs friend and to our kids' teachers and others and all those goodbyes make you realize how much people mean to you.  Knowing that you are going to be scattering to 5 different countries (plus the people staying there in Canada) makes it even tougher.

I don't know anyone who claims to like goodbyes.  I don't think we're supposed to.  It helps us long for Heaven where we won't have to say goodbye anymore.

So for now, we're in between.  In between Abbotsford and Fresno.  In between our home in BC and our next home in CA and another one someday in Peru.  In between being a developer and a stay-at-home-mom and being missionaries.  Between being born and dying.  In the middle of life on earth, on our way to eternity in heaven.

The picture above was taken at the end of our commissioning service on Friday and as we were standing there, Kevin Boese was singing a blessing to us (a song he wrote).  (My goodness, it was so hard not to cry.)  I can't remember all of the words, but will leave you with some of them as you navigate your own "in betweens".

May the peace of Christ go with you
Wherever He may send you
May He guide you through the wilderness,
Protect you through the storm
May He bring you home rejoicing
At the wonders He has shown you
May He bring you home rejoicing
Once again into our doors...

Bless you sweet friends...  I miss you already.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Prophetic Panettone?

Sometimes God takes my breath away, makes me laugh and almost cry at the same time.

The other day Lowell brought home a recent MB Herald magazine.  In it was a story written by a former MBMSI missionary to Peru called "The Peace of Panetón."  It was a touching story about the missionary sharing "Panetón" with some Peruvian neighbors and experiencing peace on earth in that moment of breaking bread together.  

The story explained that "Panetón" is "absolutely essential to Christmas in Peru."  I had no idea!  J  I read the story without realizing that "Panetón" in Peru is the same Panettone that shows up in North American grocery stores at Christmastime.  Eventually I figured it out.  And then I remembered.

LAST YEAR at Christmas, as we were out shopping in Fresno for who-knows-what, Lowell decided to buy a loaf of Panettone. On a whim.  No reason.  And then he declared that eating Panettone was going to be one of our new Christmas traditions. 


We had no idea how exactly right he was.

But God knew.

And this year, I’m looking forward to sharing a loaf of Panettone on Christmas Eve with our family.

It’s tradition.  J

Monday, December 13, 2010

Heart's Cry

Would you stop a minute and please pray?

This is Lowell's brother Rigo.  I got to meet him when he was visiting in Canada last month.  His people - WHO ARE OUR BROTHERS AND SISTERS IN CHRIST - are experiencing severe flooding.  I talk all the time about my house being a disaster, but they are in the middle of a REAL disaster.  While you likely don't know Rigo or the people of Panama, you might be reading this because you care about our family.  Lowell's heart is breaking for these people that he knows and loves, so would you pray for them for our sake if nothing else?

Thank you...  Here's what Lowell wrote on our other blog.

Tonight my heart is aching for people that are hurting. I have been contacted over the past few days by friends and brothers in the MB churches in Panama, specifically in the Darien jungles and the city of Yaviza. Severe flooding there recently shut down the Canal for the first time for weather since 1914, demonstrating the severity of the situation.

An email tonight from my friend Obdulio indicated there is widespread loss of housing and property throughout these communities in the Darien. Families are being hosted in Yaviza, even though 80% of the houses there are without power, and there is some lack of water and food. The Pan American highway into the Darien is flooded, preventing most resources from reaching the people.

Here is a picture of El Salto, one of the communities in the Darien, from my brother Rigo:

Friends and family, pray for God to bring the resources necessary to restore the lives of these people. Pray that He will use this event to His glory, and that His church will be able to be an effective partner in this community restoration.

Thanks for letting me add this into the mix of this week.


Sunday, December 05, 2010

Pregnant with Purpose

Our Christmas Tree!
(Yes, it's a fake ficus tree.  We're moving
in 2 weeks and we love it!)
I don't remember where I first (a long time ago) or last (recently) heard that phrase, but it describes how I feel about life right now.

Funny side note...  this morning I was up first and praying when all 3 kids came out together.  I looked up from my wrapped-in-a-blanket-kneeling position and said, "Well, I'm praying..." and Toby said, "What???"   I repeated myself and he said "Oh.  I thought you said you were PREGNANT!"  Ha!  That made me laugh.  Mostly because if that had been what I was announcing, I would certainly not have told them like that!  (Though I would likely still have ended up on my knees praying!)  Still makes me chuckle.

Anyway!  Back to the real purpose here.  I love Christmas.  I love the Advent season, preparing for the coming of Christ - recalling His coming 2000 years ago in the fullness of His humility and looking forward to His return in the fullness of His glory.  But there is another thing that makes Christmas special for me.  Christmas music is like a soundtrack that takes me back to the special time when I was preparing to give birth to my firstborn.  In between contractions, I listened to Stephen Curtis Chapman's Home for Christmas album on December 13, 2000... waiting to find out if we had a baby boy or a baby girl.  It helped me relate in a whole new way to Mary and the wonder of giving birth to Jesus - the Messiah - Emmanuel - the fullness of God in the flesh and bone of a newborn baby.  (Is there a more vulnerable way He could have come?)  Those songs still stir me with emotion and joy and amazement.

Did you read my last post?  That and the music around me have gotten me thinking about Decembers.  Thinking back to 15 years ago and then 10 years ago, here's what I noticed!

December 1995 - Lowell asked me to marry him.  (I joyfully said YES!)
December 2000 - Lowell and I welcomed Mikaela Renee into our family.
December 2005 - Lowell and I were gathering with a group of people preparing to launch a new church in Sunnyside called The Grove.
December 2010 - Lowell and I are finishing our training to become missionaries with MBMSI.

Seriously, these are some of the most significant transitions that have happened in my life.  (I could even go back to December 1990 when I was putting up Christmas decorations in my dorm as a freshman at Fresno Pacific...  that Fall was the beginning of a significant season in my life as well.  I don't really want to go back to 1985 because that was 7th grade - and who wants to think back there???  hee hee)

It's fascinating to look back at my life this way.  It reminds me that God has a purpose for every season we pass through, to prune and shape and grow us and prepare us for the seasons to come.  Sometimes we feel it and other times we don't, but every season is pregnant with purpose.

Solomon knew this.  He wrote in Ecclesiastes the famous prose about there being a time for everything...  to live, die, mourn, dance...  He said God "has made everything beautiful in its time.  He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.  I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live.  That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil--this is the gift of God.  I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it.  God does it so that people will fear him.  Whatever is has already been, and what will be has been before."  (Ecc. 3:11-15)

Wow.  Those are profound words.  And they inspire me to pray.

That I will recognize the beauty of this time.
That I will be happy as I do good.
That I will find and recognize the GIFT of satisfaction in my toil.
That I will remember only what God does will endure forever.  
That I would revere and honor Him.
That I would be still and know that He has a purpose for everything that has ever been and ever will be.

And that I would find joy in the knowing.