For fun not likely for profit

28 August 2008

So I got this idea from a co-worker of mine (OK, I stole the idea!). 

I play around a lot with photography and like to think I'm good at it (though really I just don't have the patience or energy to be that good at it), so I joined a website called where I can display and/or sell my photos. Really, this is just for fun and very unlikely to produce any profit, whatsoever. But still... nice to think about some of these images on the face of a card or mounted in someone's hallway - even if it's just my mom's. :)

Also, I know a lot of you have taken some amazing photographs, so perhaps you should think about joining as well. Did I mention it's free?


23 August 2008

J sure is photogenic these days.

Birthday Shmirthday

22 August 2008

Anticipating 30 sucks. So far, actually living 30 isn't too bad.

Last night awesome spouse and lovely friends took me out to dinner in Dublin - Mexican food! Brilliant!

And today, Facebook and about 30 of my closest friends and family sent me birthday wishes from afar. Skype let me see the faces of all of my parents. Sunflowers were delivered to my door. Apple pie was made (and vigorously eaten). Neighbours BBQed for us and now Matt and I sit on the couch waiting for 30 Rock to come on. (Oh wait, I just got that! 30 Rock!!)

Of course, 30 +1 day might not be so hot.

But still, for today... I am grateful for good friends, good food, and feeling at home in Dublin.

Failure Feelings

20 August 2008

I have found that one thing Satan really likes is our pride, and one thing God really hates is when His children use the term "failure." I found this out early on during our Annual Conference experience, and I admit that I fell into that little hole of self pity.

Some background info:
After nearly four years of raising support to be long term missionaries, our sending agency suggested that we switch to a short term program. The benefits being a smaller budget, shorter term, and speedy arrival on the field. So we jumped at it! We believe God has called us to live and work in Ireland for the rest of our lives, but if His will is to only have us here for 2 years, we will gladly serve Him here for those 2 years. We are now currently serving our first term of 2 years, after which we will go home to raise more support so that we can come back for good.

A few downsides to this situation: we are viewed differently here. It is much more difficult to form relationships and friendships with our neighbours if they only view us as living here short term. It is hard to describe to them that while we are only "committed" here for two years, we feel that this is our permanent home. It is also more difficult to contribute openly and equally within our field of coworkers, all of whom are in this for the long haul and some of who may (inadvertently) view our situation as a temporary, passing phase.

All this came to a head for me at our organization's annual conference. Being "short termers" as we currently are now, for organizational purposes (I assume) we were lumped into a group that contained other "short termers", as well as "interns", whose terms of service ranged from 2 weeks to 2 years. I ashamedly admit that I was humiliated. I was so annoyed (hurt, offended, you fill in the blank) that my four years of painstaking work was going by unnoticed. Not just that, but I was flabbergasted that we - a couple who have committed their lives to this work - were being grouped in with people who had committed 2 weeks! The shock of it! Friends who knew us when we first joined the organization came up to us, confused, asking, "What happened? Why aren't you long term?" I wanted to answer, "Oh, we failed at support raising so they threw us a bone and are letting us serve for just 2 years." Of course, I didn't say that! But the truth was, I did feel like a failure. My pride got the best of me, and not living up to that meant failure.

So this general feeling of discontent and disgrace lasted a couple of days before my husband gently kicked my butt and snapped me out of it. "Our miracle is that we are here and that God is allowing us to live for Him here, in Europe, no matter for how long." The thing was, it didn't really matter what WE think we are doing here. What mattered was what God was doing here, that He could use people for 2 weeks to accomplish something for His Kingdom, or 2 years, or 2 decades. Not bound by time, and certainly not bound by money, He has a job for each of us. Was I willing to do that for Him, without the recognition? Was I willing to do that and give Him the glory, instead of wanting it all for myself?

Well, I think I answered yes, because the rest of the conference was brilliant. My pride and Satan's lies had kept me from enjoying fellowship and listening to God's word. God's truth and my eventual submission allowed me to share in His story - the one that He's telling in Europe.

I'm certainly not proud of most of the things written in this post, but I felt that to get it all out - to write the truth - is one weapon I can use against Satan's failing deceits. Tomorrow, when I feel like a failure all over again, I can pull this up, read it, and realize my shortcomings allow God to do the job. I can't take credit for that.

Coming "Home"

12 August 2008

Yesterday, for the first time, we came back home to Ireland. I really didn't think much of it until a friend of mine sent me a message: "Welcome home!" For some reason this has taken awhile to get used to, but today I happily rest in being home.

So yes, we are home now from Hungary, where we attended our organization's annual conference. Good times were had by all, especially the children, and I am so grateful that God has led us to this organization. Here are a few pics of our trip (including a brief stop in Vienna).

More deep thoughts will be coming your way about our time away, but I will need a few days to process before coherency can commence.

Culture Shock 101

05 August 2008

Yesterday I cried a lot. Here is the reason for my crying: it rained. Now I'm living in Ireland, so it rains a lot, without warning, intermittently throughout the day. Usually I don't mind; I actually love the rain here (though I could use some thunder on occasion). But yesterday I slept in way late, felt kinda funky, and we determined to go for a walk as a family to the shop for some milk. Thus ensued about an hour or two of temper tantrums, dirty diapers, searches for missing shoes, and time outs... until we were all finally at the door about ready to walk out when we saw it: downpour.

That was the culture straw that broke this mama camel's back. 

 I promptly turned around, went upstairs, and cried. I'm sure you're thinking that is relatively a small issue. And it was - so unbelievably small! But... I'm kinda at the end of my processing rope. We're not doing any language learning here, we're doing "culture learning". There are assignments and suggestions and discussions that come out of this culture learning period, but the level of success or completion is not a fixed variable. We're not graded, no quizzes, no certificate of completion. We just try and soak up as much as we can each day, and the next day try to maneuver life in Ireland a little better.

The mental power this takes is incalculable. We sleep nearly 10 hours every night. It takes us an hour to get ready to go anywhere - even down the street! We have to think through literally every decision or every movement over and over again. Cooking takes longer, cleaning takes longer, grocery shopping takes FOREVER! And when I do make it out of the house, praying to meet some people and have some (hopefully) intelligent conversations (I'm not as funny in "hiberno English", I've discovered), those conversations only last about 30 seconds. The need I have for interaction with people is not exactly met. I go home a little frustrated, and the next morning I get up and try again.

So about 3 months in (or in my case: exactly 3 months in), culture shock sets in. CS isn't just one event, it's a culmination. But sometimes it is one little event that makes all the others protrude on a larger scale and suddenly it seems completely overwhelming. That is where I am. Sensory overload. Emotional exhaustion. Physical weakness. Spiritually drab. Our advisor from prefield training emailed me straight away with two crisp and clear points: It isn't terminal, and it doesn't last forever. Very good to know!

Last night I could feel it getting a little better, especially after processing all of this with another new-to-the-field friend, but I know this funk might last a little bit. I'm hoping that at least being aware of it will help me handle it better. And I'm praying that in the midst of it, God will meet me someplace in the form of a new Irish acquaintance, or a tiny place to serve, or in a crowded airport with all the Irish missionaries 24 hours from now... maybe it will endear me to our coworkers here, who at times seem so far away... maybe I'll lose the will to eat and lose 10 pounds.

 See, I'm already looking on the bright side!

Declarations of a 5-year-old

02 August 2008

I originally started writing this post on the history of J's spiritual growth.  Then I remembered a crucial point: he is 5!  I don't have to dramatize the effects of this story to receive a higher grade in Personal Evangelism (Moody reference).  So I will lay the facts bare:

Saturday evening my boy asked Jesus to live in his heart.

He also asked Jesus to throw his sins away.

He also asked Jesus how big the universe is.

Three big questions for one little guy.  Now I know he's only 5, and who knows what spiritual decisions actually "take" at such a young age, but I have come to the understanding that that's God's problem.  He knows what a little boy is capable of understanding, and if a little boy wants Jesus to save him from his sins and wants to live in heaven with Jesus, then God will say, "Yes".

The best thing about this episode in our family life is this: Jackson heard God speak to him.  First, regarding the universe, he gasped and said, "God answered me! He said it's WIDE OPEN!" Second, regarding his sins.  "He answered me again! He said YES! I heard Him!"

Thinking back on it now, I have to ask myself: when was the last time I heard God's voice so clearly, and believed and obeyed Him instantly?  Not only that, but when was the last time I asked God a question, and waited for the answer?   My boy, who has been a "Christian" for three days now, taught me an invaluable lesson.  Not only does God hear us when we pray, but He will answer us.  Maybe not as quick as he answered Jackson... but there is an answer.