Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Ups and Downs, Thanks and Trust

I just posted something on our other blog about some of the joys (like GRANDPARENTS!!!) and aches (like missing the other grandparents...) of life as a missionary.  But it's not really about missionary life. It's more about life on planet earth where there are always joys and tears and ups and downs. Sometimes we understand what we're feeling and sometimes we don't. You can read some of my thoughts about it here...

Saturday, November 03, 2012

Five Minute Friday on Saturday: Roots

Welcome to my Saturday version of 5 Minute Friday, hosted by the lovely lisajobaker, where people from all over the universe come together to write for 5 minutes on a topic with as little editing as the writers can manage. (In other words, I used the delete button a few times today...)  Here's my 5 minutes on...


Last night I watched A Bug's Life with my kids. I was struck by the little metaphor Flik tells Dot about pretending the rock is a seed which is like her growing up. That she has to be patient because she's still just a seed.

It struck me because after being in Peru for coming up on 11 months now I feel like I should be bearing fruit already. I feel like there isn't enough to show for my being here and wonder what others think. (God showed me the other day that the reason I'm worried about what others think is because it reflects on what I think. Hmmm. Yep.)  So God used a silly little movie about mean grasshoppers and 4 legged ants to remind me (again) to be patient. This season hasn't been one for bearing fruit. It's been one for PLANTING ROOTS. For learning just plain how to live in this country and how to feel at home here. And I feel like I must be nearning the end of the "rooting" season because I have an ache starting - no, growing - to do more.

And I trust that as I continue to trust Him and I remain rooted in Him, eventually there will be fruit.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Letting Go of Useful...

This one's not a song... Just some lines from my heart yesterday.

I Don't Have to be Useful

I don't have to be useful, Lord.
Just let me be faithful.
Faithful to come.
To seek You and sit at your feet.
Faithful to worship and praise You
In the chaos and in the quiet.
Faithful to choose You first.
Faithful to love with all my heart,
To love You and to love those You've placed
In my home and path.

I don't have to be useful.
But yes, Lord, let me be faithful to love!
For what other usefulness is there?
What other perfection is there?
Ancient wisdom echoes through the ages

Without love there is no usefulness.
Yet, I can't love without You.
So I put my hope in You,
That You will love through me.
When I find myself full of selfishness and impatience.
When I find in myself nothing to give away,
I will look to You to forgive me
And fill me anew with your grace.
So I can be faithful again to love.

I don't have to be useful.
But let me be faithful.
Faithful to love.
~Melissa Ens

(Isn't my daughter amazing? She took the first 2 photos. How she got that shot of her own  eye/face I have no idea. She definitely did not get her talent and patience for photography from me!)

Sunday, September 30, 2012

31 Days of Prayer for Perú

So there's this gal who has a blog. And she is hosting a "31 Days" blogging extravaganza where she invites people to blog for 31 Days about whatever theme they want.

Ay, ay, ay... Well, at first I thought I wouldn't do it because I figured I wouldn't stick with it. I tried last year after all and only posted about half the time.

But then I heard Him whisper into my heart "31 Days of Prayer for Peru..." and I couldn't say no. Didn't want to say no. Commit to write out a prayer everyday for this country we are living in and serving? Okay Lord, I'll do it. Scared? Yep. Especially since I'm doing it on my Spanish blog. But certain God is going to do something big in my heart through it? Absolutely.

Would you like to join me in praying each day this month for Peru? Or for the US or whatever country you live in? Or for your city or church or family? Join me over here...

El Cuarto de Servicio {31 Días de Oración}
You may have noticed above that I said I'll be writing in Spanish... ; ) But there is a translate button on the side of my blog that you can use to give you a pretty good idea what I wrote.  Just take it all with a grain of salt and a dash of sugar when it says something strange.  OK?


Friday, August 17, 2012


5 Minute Friday has come around again! I'm thankful for another quick chance to do a quick "no-editing-allowed" write.  Today's topic?  STRETCH

canyons,climbers,females,Grand Canyon,leisure,Nankoweap Canyon,nature,North America,people,persons,Photographs,places,rock climbing,sports,United States,USA,women
Sigh. Goodness, I'm tired these days. I don't know if it's the homeschooling that's taking up my days and making me... well, not making me but helping me give into the temptation of staying up too late because I haven't had enough non-kid time... either way - it's likely a combination of school days and too short nights - I'm tired. And feeling stretched.

And yet also (ha ha ha!!! I just realized I forgot to set the timer! See? I told you I was tired!) I'm feeling ready to stretch in another way. I'm feeling ready to wake up to more of life here in Peru... to stretch my missionary ministry muscles and figure out where I fit in here in this place. I have spent the last months just getting settled, but I don't want to stop here. I'm ready to grow more. And that probably will include some more stretching - in the uncomfortable ways of being pulled out of my comfort zone and also willingly stepping straight out of it again, further, just a bit more.

Hmmm. I'm remembering a time when we were rock-climbing and I was trying to get somewhere that I was sure I couldn't reach. But with the encouragement of others I was able to stretch way further than I ever thought was possible and was able to get to the next ledge. Lord, what does that mean here? Show me - just like on the side of a rock when I didn't know where to step next - show me where the next step is. And when I'm tempted to react with "I can't reach that!!!" help me to trust You and just STRETCH.


  Join the party at  : )  Happy weekend everyone!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Made to Connect

I don't know if I'll be able to keep this post to 5 minutes or not because this word struck such a deep chord in my heart this morning... but I'm gonna try. : )  So here goes my 5 minutes worth of uneditted, (mostly) unpremeditated, unscripted writing on CONNECT:



I was so made for connection! I have a very low tolerance for not being connected on a heart level to others - especially to women.  Especially to my family (here and there) and to God. Right now I'm feeling the lack of connection with friends. I have some missionary friends and sort of keep in touch with my family back home (Hi Mom! Hi Dad!) but I feel an urgency - a hunger to be connecting more deeply with the Peruvian women around me.  Oh, it's been aching lately. But there is also the fear. What about when I don't understand everything they tell me? I hate it when (on the rare occasion that it happens these days) someone is opening their heart to me and I miss something and find myself mid-conversation wondering if they're telling me a story about something that happened to them or their mom, yesterday or last year... I normally don't realize I missed an important detail until it feels too late to backtrack and ask what I missed.

Sigh.  But I have to do it. I have to connect anyway or I just might die.

Why? Because God made me to need people. I've written about that before. : ) It's both a weakness and a strength. But the joyous thing God reminded me of this morning is that in this way I am also made in His image because God LOVES to connect.  In every way.

He loves the act of connecting and He loves so that He can connect with us.


Wanna play? Join me and the rest of the 5 Minute Friday flash mob at : )

Friday, August 03, 2012

Right HERE.

Right here. With me. Once again, Lord, You have shown up HERE in such a sweet, surprising way. 

This evening I while I was dreaming and thinking of planning a worship retreat/seminar I kept recalling the words to a Psalm but couldn't remember where it was from. A quick scan through my son's Bible didn't help. So I thought I'd look it up on my phone, which led to downloading an app so I could search Biblegateway more easily.

: )

So guess what showed up when I opened the app and tapped on the Bible reading for today? Yep. The very exact Psalm that had been rolling through my head for the previous hour. (Psalm 63)

So I say again like I was singing earlier tonight, Lord...

"I don't want to talk about You like You're not in the room. I want to look right at You. I want to sing right to You."  Please keep me reminding me again and again and again that You really are HERE with me - HERE in me... Christ in me, the hope of glory... and that it doesn't matter if HERE is in California or if HERE is in Peru, You are with me and my soul can find rest and peace in You because You are the One who satisfies my heart and soul. Right HERE.


 Wanna play? Hop on over to and join the party!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Or not!

In my last post I was musing about how I had things to say but wasn't sure what to say or where to say it... so I was having trouble saying anything.


It turns out that writing that post (and finally getting a newsletter out!!!) and your kind comments here and on FB really helped me. And God. ( He helps me always with everything. And often uses you.) So for the first time in QUITE A WHILE I am feeling excited about writing again.  And I think I understand better now how to do it and realize that it's quite okay to have different avenues for different styles/topics of writing.  This place will always be the place where I ramble and think "out loud" and work through my thoughts and questions and feelings. I've also come to accept (and perhaps embrace?) being a thinker more because I realize that it's just the way God made me and that through putting my thoughts into writing I often come to a new understanding of things and sometimes I can help others put into words what they have also been thinking/feeling/wondering but maybe not had words yet to describe.

While working on our latest newsletter, I also realized there are quite a few things I'd like to share about Peru that haven't made it into a newsletter or post anywhere and our other blog really is a good place to do that. And it's not that I can't be or won't be honest there about struggling at times, but I also don't have to feel bad for not pouring my heart out there - as long as I'm being honest with people somewhere. : )

And, well... there's one more thing.  : )  While it might seem crazy, I have also decided to start up another blog. (Hold on before you declare me insane!)  But this one is going to be for practicing writing in Spanish because I REALLY want to improve my Spanish skills and know this is one way I can practice.  I'm going to find a couple of ladies to help me with proofreading and correcting my language/grammar so I can learn from my mistakes and hope it will turn out to be the beginning of a way I can share with my friends here some of the things God has taught me and is teaching me.  (And in case you'd like to listen in on my Spanish sharing, there will be a translate button so you can easily have it translated - though I can't promise how well it will work!) I'll post a link to it when I have something posted there.

I'm also not making any promises about how often I'll write anywhere (I've done that before and it didn't go well!) but I'm excited about having some new avenues to share and some clarity of heart about how/where to do it.  I'm also shifting some things around in my schedule that will hopefully allow me to write more because I think it's one of the things God wants me to do.

And next time instead of writing about writing... I'll write about something else.  : )

Chau amigos!

Thursday, July 05, 2012

When not knowing what to say and where to say it leads to not saying anything at all

Oh goodness.  Why do I do this to myself? I'm having trouble these days shaking the feeling that I'm not doing a good job at so very many things... so many things that matter deeply to me... that it's hard to breathe sometimes.  Like being the kind of wife and mom and daughter and friend and Jesus-follower I want to be... oh, and the kind of missionary I want to be too!  The pressure can literally suffocate the joy of life right out of me.

Let's just look at the writing/communicating pressure I'm feeling at the moment. We have a total of (wait... I have to add them up...)

  • the blog for our family missions-related posts
  • our general newsletter that we used to send out every 6-8 weeks and hasn't gone out for over 3 months now (writer's block and procrastination anyone???)
  • our prayer update emails for people who want more info and are willing to pray for us (or at least want to know what we are asking for prayer for)
  • and this blog for my just plain "Melissa in a t-shirt, jeans and a pony tail with a baseball cap on" posts

OK, so that's 4 different places to update - not counting facebook and twitter (yes... I just started a twitter account or whatever you call it.  I don't know why.  My curiosity got the best of me finally) for photos and spur of the moment quick updates.

Is it any wonder that I have sort of gone into deer-in-the-headlights mode when it comes to communicating? The tagline on my blog here used to be something about being a girl who thinks way too much and this is one of those things that I'm probably making too hard.  I guess it comes from the oddness of going from being just another member of the church to a missionary. Sometimes I don't know which Melissa to be.  Melissa the Mom or Melissa the Missionary?  I know it's supposed to be the same, but in my head it feels like this:

At our ladies prayer groups back in Fresno I could show up in the t-shirt, jeans and baseball cap I mentioned earlier and spill my tears about how I was struggling with packing and moving or saying goodbye or whatever.  It was where I shared the more vulnerable parts of my heart with women who knew me very well and loved me - I think even more because they knew me so well.  Because they were so amazing like that.  I sort of feel like writing on this blog here is like sharing there.

At the beach recently...
But when we would go to visit churches for fundraising presentations?  Well... I think it would have been a bit odd to show up dressed that way and crying on stage.  It wasn't that I didn't tell the truth when I put on a dress and did my hair (a little nicer anyway!) and shared our joy about Peru. And I did cry a few times. But it was just a different side of the truth.  A bit more polished and planned (Lowell and I both had to know what we were doing after all) and power-point presentable.  And I think I feel like writing for our newsletter and other blog is more what I would share dressed up for a presentation.  And I've been having trouble lately figuring out what to say there.

Back in Kansas in Fall last year
 Am I crazy or do any of you know what I mean?  There is a difference between what we do for work and what we do at home, right?  Well, what about when what you do at home becomes your work?  I feel like sharing my heart, but much more often than not lately don't feel like doing it "dressed up."  I feel like I can't get out of the jeans and flip flops. (In more ways than one...)  I don't even know if I will bother to actually publish this - except it would help break the silence and get me past the thinking too much before I am willing to share by a step at least.  It still doesn't get me putting out the newsletter or writing on "the other blog" but I suppose it's better than nothing.  

Anyone out there will have some advice for me? Should I just post this over on the other blog and start showing up there in jeans and flip flops because that's where I am right now?  Thanks for listening anyway.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

To Join the Dance?

This week's 5 Minute Friday writing-without-stopping-just-for-the-fun-of-it prompt is: DANCE.   Ready?  Go!

I hear the music.  Literally.  Loudly.  Coming from somewhere a few concrete backyards away it would seem.  It's 11:15pm (yeah... not technically Friday here yet so I feel like I'm cheating!!!) but surely at midnight and likely until the wee, wee hours of the morning I'll be hearing the music and the people will still be dancing because here in Peru? The parties don't end early.  : ) Frequently on the weekends I can hear the faroff nightclub music still pounding at 4:30am.  Sheesh!  But here's the thing...  Will I join the dance or not?

Now, no... I'm not literally going to go dancing.  But I still have a choice to make as I snuggle down into my bed tonight and every other night like this.  Will I grumble and gripe about how much the people here love to party and celebrate and how I have to listen to it even at midnight when I want to sleep? Or will I appreciate it and thank God for the people making the music and pray for them to know Jesus and smile at the beauty of a people who aren't afraid to make a bit of noise when they're happy?

Goodness, it can be so much more complicated.  I know there is a lot of icky that can go with the all night party... but MY choice is mine to make...

(And STOP!)

Wow, 5 minutes goes by quickly. : )  And goodness it's hard not to go back and EDIT.

Wanna try?  Come join the party...  (Maybe even dance a little!)

Friday, June 22, 2012

Risky Writing?

Risk... That was the writing prompt that Lisa-Jo posted on her blog today for her famous "Five-Minute Friday" writing challenge. For a long time now I've been intrigued by the idea... Five minutes of free writing with no editing and not too much over-thinking... It has always sounded fun. But have I ever done it? Nope. Am I finally? It looks like it.  I used to have a speed-blogging tag that I would write under occasionally but lately I haven't even had time to risk spending five minutes to write just for fun.  At least that's how I've felt.  Silly really, because I can spend or waste five minutes doing other things pretty easily without feeling bad. So why not the writing? I guess because it's riskier because it's out there for the whole two of you who still look at my blog every day to see. : )

But I think it's time and I'm hoping to, if nothing else, start risking again to write here out in public because one thing I've noticed lately is that when I write things down that I am afraid to admit I am even thinking or feeling... that in the writing down I am more honest. More honest with the thoughts and more honest with what I KNOW and maybe have forgotten is the TRUTH.

(And with that, my timer has gone off and I'm done!) : )

See you next week!!!!!  : )

Saturday, April 07, 2012

Typing Therapy (Warning!!! Lengthy rambling ahead. Read at your own risk!)

I have so many ideas and thoughts in my heart I feel like I could burst. I want to write.

Or at least I think I do. But that means I have to choose a topic. (Just one?) And I have to stop doing something else and take the time to write. Say no to facebook and the dishes and the sweeping and the laundry and the kids and whatever else for a little while and click away on keys and let some of the emotion that's been clogging up my soul pour out through my fingers.

Or at least I hope it will. But then, I don't always actually want what's  in there (in this heart and head of mine) to come out. Because sometimes it hurts. Sometimes it makes me cry. Sometimes it just makes me mad. But sometimes it helps me breathe - like exhaling the building up carbon dioxide. Like releasing the tears.

I feel like writing with big emotional, passionate images and words and phrases and pauses and exclamation points, oozing with feeling and deep thinking and joy. JOY. I how, I long for joy. And peace. HOW I LONG FOR PEACE. But life right now reminds me of the aftermath of having brought a newborn into the family. I'm emerging (I think) from the trauma of moving to another country and starting our kids in a new education system. When I think of the first months of life with my babies, unfortunately, I don't first think of how cute and sweet they were. I also remember how exhausted I was. And I think that's how I'm going to remember our first months in Peru. Tiring and emotional. But filled with lots of wonderful experiences, growth and learning.

Growth spurts. Hmmm...  I guess in many ways that's what these last months have been. Maybe these last two years. A giant growth spurt. An exhausting one.  Most moms know (you notice it for sure when they're little) that when your kids are growing they sleep a lot. Makes sense, because when you sleep is when your bones heal and grow.

In some ways, I feel like especially during this last month since we arrived and had to set up house in Northern Peru, the thinking/writing/expressing parts of me have been sleeping because after the rest of life there just wasn't any energy left for putting the experience into words. But I think it's time to start writing again because I know that writing helps me think and see clearly and remember what I know.

One thing I know is that culture shock is real and it is hard. In case you've never experienced it, it mostly feels like frustration. It stems largely from unexpected challenges and problems that you don't know how to solve (because the ways you used to solve "that" problem, don't work here). It comes from having to form so many new habits at the same time. It comes from dealing with a tremendous amount of stress without the normal stress-relievers and support networks that we were used to relying on back in our home culture.

We DID know that we were going to encounter some significant culture shock upon arriving here. But like when you jump into really cold water - KNOWING ahead of time that it's going to feel cold might prepare you for the sensation, but it doesn't keep that take-your-breath-away sensation from hitting you. But the knowing helps you know that you aren't going to die and that eventually you will breathe again. : )

Having anticipated culture shock hasn't made it much less shocking. But it has helped us know that we will keep adapting and adjusting and we will eventually probably feel quite at home here. We'll find our place in this world and start to breathe easier and easier. But as I think about it, I'm realizing at this moment that I'm having trouble really wanting to do that.  I'm having trouble wanting to attach to this new culture and make it home. In many ways, this house now feels like home. But outside? Not quite yet. And I don't know if I'm ready yet to claim it as home because that means that Fresno isn't home anymore and that still makes me sad. The grieving and letting go isn't over yet. And it probably won't be for a while.

Tomorrow is Easter. We will go to church for a 7am breakfast and early service and then come home. We're having some a couple of other missionary families over for lunch in the afternoon so that will be special. But I'm going to be thinking about and missing Sunrise Services at the baseball diamond with The Grove and leading worship and playing my guitar with my beloved friends on the worship team. (Lowell and I always led the Sunrise Services, so it was a special event for our whole family.) I'm missing Easter egg hunts with grandparents and cousins in back and front yards bursting with Spring flowers and green lawns and trees and fresh Fresno Spring air (achoo! and pollen.) I miss the eggs I blew out and dyed several years ago that year after year I would put out on my wooden window over the piano under a hanging bunch or two of dried flowers that said "JESUS IS ALIVE!"

But if there is EVER a weekend to remember that sometimes DEATH must come before LIFE, it is THIS ONE. Jesus' death will give way tomorrow to life. Abundant. Inexplicable. Hilarious. Joy filled. ETERNAL. Jesus left heaven and came to earth and died so that I can live. So that I can live here in Peru.

I think I want to start a new tradition...  To find a seed and plant it and see if it will grow. Because I feel a bit like a seed that's been buried and is starting to germinate and stretch to where I feel inside of me is up - that up above there somewhere is this thing called LIGHT. And I want it. And Jesus died so I can have it. Here. Life after death. Joy after grief. Sowing in tears to reap songs of joy.  All because of Jesus. All for Jesus.

Wherever you are, may you experience the joy of life after death in Christ Jesus this weekend.

By His Grace,

P.S. I was right. I did want to write. ; )

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Looking for the Pillar of Fire

Hello friends!  We are currently in Northern Peru in the city we are expecting to be moving to in about a month - that is assuming we find a place to live!  The school year here runs on an opposite schedule - just like the seasons. Everyone is currently on summer vacation and will be going back to school on March 5 for the new year.  That means our kids get to jump ahead a grade from where they were just a little over a month ago in Fresno. We came up here for a conference last week and to do some school and house hunting.  We are extremely thankful we have found a school we feel pretty good about.  But we keep coming up on dead ends with the house hunting.  It's another new cultural experience that is stretching us.  The systems are different, we don't have a GPS to help us find our way once we find something we do want to see, there is no Craigslist, and we don't know the city very well so we don't know really which areas of town we should look in or not.  It has us feeling quite out of control.

But we KNOW that God will lead us - IS leading us - because He promises so many times in the Word that He will.  And He can't fail to keep His promises. I started reading through Exodus recently and today was reading the account of the Red Sea parting.  So amazing!  I wondered what it was like for the Israelite moms who were taking care of their kids as they fled Egypt and thought about the panic they must have felt as the word spread that they were being pursued by entire Egyptian army.

How. Terrifying.

In some much less dramatic ways, I guess I feel a bit like we're trapped with what seems like the Red Sea of the Piura rental maze in front of us and the marching army of time closing in on us.  We were planning on heading back to our current home 6.5 hrs south of here tomorrow, but have delayed that by a day so we can try again tomorrow to find something.  School starts in 4.5 weeks and we would love to be moved up here by then, but how do we do that when we don't live here to look for houses - especially when we have so little ability to find anything? We need to head back to our current home soon, but feel restless not having found a new home yet.

But God did part the Red Sea for his people.  He led them to safety and destroyed their enemies.  He also provided a visible sign of his leading and presence.

Exodus 13:22

Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)
22 The pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night never left its place in front of the people.

But we don't actually need the cloud or the fire because we have the Word that is a lamp to our feet and a light to our path.  We have so many promises of His guidance and we have the Holy Spirit so we don't need to be afraid.  He will provide in His timing and show us the way one step at a time as we trust in Him to make our path home straight.

A street nearby.  : )