Month: July 2011

Wonderful Counselor

We’re home from our month-long trip in Albuquerque and still waiting to hear back on the official offer for Michael’s long-term assignment to India. So far all parties have agreed to the position and Michael’s interview went well. All that’s left now is for headquarters in Sweden to review the proposal and the contract will be sent to the U.S. By August fifteenth we should expect the proposal to arrive, which might impact when we actually move or it might not. But until we hear different, September first is still our “D-Day” for India.

It’s been a rough time since we’ve been home. For me, the drive back was long and from the get-go, it seems like one thing after another has piled up. Everything from my aloe vera randomly dying to finding out my Grandma P’s condition has become extremely poor. But the majority of concerns are family-related and it has me asking a lot of questions about how ready I am to be away from them for a year or more.

I’ve always struggled with carrying worry that isn’t necessarily inside my boundary realm, so I’ve been having a hard time feeling guilty about moving away to India. A lot of the thoughts I’ve been wrestling with deal with abandonment: “Am I abandoning my family? Are we abandoning our family? Will I regret not taking advantage of being so close to them in the states?” Eventually, I shift my inward thoughts to God and approach Him with these questions.

So, the Wonderful Counselor listens and we work through it together.

Starting with… Where does my realm of control end and His begin? David says in Psalm 16:6: “The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places…” So I must remember that in all things God helps set healthy and “pleasant” boundaries in my life. Worrying for my family does not affect their situation one way or the other. And it says to God that I do not trust him to preserve their well-being. I cannot add or subtract one hair from my own head by worrying – much less someone else’s head! God loves my family beyond comprehension. Can I tell God how to love them better? Will my worrying do a better job for them than the methods God is presently using?

Then I think: Is “abandon” even an accurate word? It’s not like I own my family. God does. They’re not “mine”. They’re God’s. Only Jesus can truly be held personally responsible for every individual on the face of this planet. Being in Houston may grant me more physical access to my family; but it does not necessarily grant me access to their hearts, cares or concerns. How can I abandon what I never owned?

Guy walking on glass at River City Market

Despite these talks, my emotions have been getting ahead of me occasionally, and I still have more to process. But I will say that the last couple days have allowed me to focus on walking this out in the present-tense. I’ve been letting myself just experience the full realm of feelings attached with moving to a foreign place. And it’s been good. It’s almost like I woke up one day and was like, “Oh my gosh. We’re moving to India.” Then I got butterflies. We’re really moving to India. Ok. I can do this.

God is with us and with our family at the same time. And I look to my Savior for an example of how to maintain peace in the midst of my worries. Jesus knew he was responsible for the salvation of the whole world, but he found time to sleep on a boat during a storm and have dinner with sinners and tax collectors. He told his disciples “Do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is it’s own trouble.” (Matt 6:34) He did nothing apart from what He saw the Father doing (Jn 5:19) and was content to do His will.

(Haha.. gosh. If this past year has been anything at all, it’s been one big lesson in contentment. I wonder what I’ve learned?)

I never want to forget that no matter how stressful this transition might get – it’s for a reason and it’s all just apart of the Adventure God has invited us to go on.

Are you in a season of waiting or rest right now? How have you been intentional during this time and what advice can you give others?

Passing Time

We’ve basically been in India-mode for the past couple weeks. Which means the most exciting thing in the world could happen right this instant and we would only be minimally interested: “What’s that? Grandma’s going sky-diving this weekend? Oh. That’s nice.”

Staying focused in any capacity has been a real challenge. Our minds just aren’t living in the present – they’re thinking about the next few months and after. I feel especially bad for Michael because the work he’s currently doing here in Albuquerque is actually what he originally started out doing when he became an employee for Sprint. Really tedious and drawn out stuff. Not only that, but he has endure it for twelve hours a day, three days in a row. If either of us is eager to get things moving along with India, it’s got to be him.

But that’s not to say it’s been any easier for me to sit in the hotel room making five-categoried to-do lists and researching expatriate information all day. In between forgetting my Kindle at the gym (sucked, but found it), seeing Xmen: First Class (awful), then seeing Super 8 (wasn’t awful, but wasn’t the best), seeing our first road runner (looked nothing like the cartoon), reading (of course), making new social icons (as displayed in the sidebar), and working on a friendship bracelets (totally rockin’); we find ourselves twiddling our thumbs, anxiously waiting to get back home.

Thankfully, it will only be one more week before Michael will be back in Kansas City and less than that for me. Part of me wants to feel bummed that we weren’t able to travel around more here in New Mexico. But another part of me is still pretty content with the little things we’ve been able to see and do so far. Like so:

Chicken & Dumplings?
Parmesan Garlic Chicken?
Parmesan Garlic Chicken with noodles AND homemade Alfredo Sauce?

Wait a minute…
Chicken Fried Rice?

I think I’m beginning to notice a trend here…
Orange Chicken?
Turkey Cheeseburgers?

I guess I should have warned you that this post was mainly written to display my incredible hotel cooking prowess. But that doesn’t mean I’m any less satisfied with how we’ve spent our time in Albuquerque – so it’s not entirely off-track. You’ve gotta eat, right?

I also FINALLY completed the latest friendship bracelet I’ve been working on. I ran out of thread mid-bracelet and it quickly became a macramé nightmare trying to extend the strings. But alls well that ends well. After I started it, I asked God who I should give it to and I felt like he told me to make it for a friend’s daughter. I put it in the post yesterday and it should hopefully be delivered by Tuesday.

Still reading my latest book, The Memoirs of Cleopatra: A Novel by Margaret George. It’s my second historical fiction by George and I’ve got to say, I’m not really enjoying it as much as her other novel. Too much emphasis on romance and I don’t entirely care for her portrayal of Cleopatra’s character. But that’s the trouble with historical fiction; you don’t always wind up agreeing with character interpretation.

Four days and counting until I make the twelve-hour drive back home – then it’s sista’ sista’ time for an entire week. Let the cheesy hair metal/80s music begin!

What’s the longest amount of time you’ve had to spend in a hotel? How did you pass the time? 

India-Induced Insomnia

IndiaInsomniaCan’t sleep, so why not blog about India?

It seems like it’s been a tug-of-war since we were first introduced to this incredible place. We were warned before going that we’d either love it or we’d hate it. We loved it.

Well, actually, at first we hated it.

I mean, it’s unorganized, inefficient, people bobble their heads when they talk, cows lay freely in the street, “yes” doesn’t always mean “yes”, poverty is unbelievable, the smells are unforgettable, traffic will give you a headache, trash is everywhere, and the attitude of “chalta hai” makes life a general frustration for any true American. It’s no wonder we were once asked one of those typical pragmatic questions by a family member, “Is there any redeeming value to India?”

I admit I still have trouble answering that question. To an American, India is your worst nightmare. Actually, to just about any Westerner, India would be your worst nightmare. If you’re looking for kept front lawns, clean lines, punctual meetings or any sort of efficiency whatsoever – better go enjoy a walk around your own neighborhood and forget about India.

But almost as if to prove the old saying, “Distance makes the heart grow fonder”, Michael and I found ourselves missing it. I think it took coming back to the U.S. to see the charm and character of India. For all it’s negatives, there was something that tugged at us a little.
On our return home, we landed in Chicago and from there flew home to Kansas City. I remember the first time I looked outside the window just before landing and being fascinated by the clean lines of the fields below. Then as we drove home I couldn’t stop noticing the clean grass without litter or people sleeping on it. No circus horns or trucks decorated with garland. No naked children running up to the car for money. No stinky smells waiting outside. No motorcycles with families of five crammed onto one vehicle. No tuk-tuks. It was like… Wow, on a scale of one to ten, one being no character at all and ten being India, America was boring! Of course I was dealing with “reverse” culture-shock from coming back to the U.S., so it didn’t take long to readjust. And there were more trips back and forth that eventually made the contrasts less difficult to process.

It’s hard to believe that it’s been almost a year since the last time we were in India. On the afternoon of our last day there, it rained heavily and unusually late for that time of the year. Most of the monsoon rains are done by late July or early August, but this year had a longer season than normal. Michael got back to our room from work and told me to grab the camera – there was a rainbow outside. We took the elevator to the top floor and I snapped a few pictures.

Isn’t that just like God? In my heart I felt Him saying with a smile: “I’ve heard your prayers, you’ll be back.”After so much laboring in prayer to be able to return to India, God was sealing the deal with one of his most popular promise signatures. So naturally, we expected Michael’s long-term assignment would be approved without a hitch and we’d be back before we knew it.

We learned however, that God’s time-table was obviously different than ours.

Since September we’ve been through ups and downs, moves and marriages, friendships and funerals. There have been times we were sooo certain we would be sent back to India, but for whatever reason things just didn’t work out. I’ve lost count of how many meetings, talks, proposals, ifs, whens, whats, whos have been discussed about Michael returning to India. Not one of the plans have come through and each felt like a tease. We began to consider what other ways we could go back. Would it be much later in life than we were expecting? All the rules seemed to have changed.

I remember being at church one morning feeling so discouraged and bummed. Everyone’s worshipping but my heart was so broken because we were just informed no more assignments to India would be offered. There was some legal trouble between Michael’s company and India so no one else was allowed back. I remember thinking, “What now God? What does this mean? Why does this keep happening? What are your plans for us?” I couldn’t help crying. The whole situation was so disappointing. We were sure that this time everything would work out. In that moment all God said to me was: “You will go back, but it will be under different circumstances.” I tried pressing in for more, but that was all I got. So I wrote it down in my little pink journal and we waited, and waited… and we waited some more.

And then, again out of the blue, another proposal. Another long-term assignment. And not six months, or even a year, but a year-and-a-half. Eighteen months in India? We couldn’t believe it. Is this really happening?

Sometimes I go from being excited to being completely overwhelmed. Here we are in Albuquerque, New Mexico and they want Michael to leave for India by the first of September. It’s hard not to feel anxious and swallowed up by everything that needs to get done. Visas, and packing, and doctor check-ups, and legal documents, and selling our vehicles, and finding a new place to live, and, and, and, and…

Of course, to-do list queen here already has two separate five-columned lists of preparations and tasks to be done before the time of departure. And we’re hoping Michael will be allowed to come home early to give him the time necessary to get ready.

I’ve had a lot of time to think about this and in the middle of the swings between excitement and dread, I notice another very difficult emotion: sadness. There is a cost to everything, and this is no exception. I don’t think we’ll fully understand the cost this will bring to our loved ones and that’s a heavy truth to accept. For some reason when I think about leaving my little sister, it affects me the most. Not that I don’t love everyone, but I think older siblings never get over the worry of abandoning their younger brothers or sisters. And a lot can happen in a year-and-a-half. Things change, people change, and life goes on. I know that the full weight of that has not hit me entirely yet, and it kind of scares me.

I’ve been asking God, “Are we doing this for you? Is this what you want?” And the old verse from C.T. Studd’s poem keeps coming to mind: “Only one life ’twill soon be past, only what’s done for Christ will last.” In the book of Galatians Paul says that fourteen years after receiving the Gospel from Jesus, he went back to check with the elders in the church to make sure he wasn’t “[running] the race in vain”. Now that it seems we’re finally going to India, in some ways I feel like Paul. If I’m not doing this for God, it’s not worth it. And if we are doing this for God, how can we be the most intentional and bear the most fruit for Him while we’re there?

Jesus said there was a cost to following Him. Is he worth it? Is Jesus worth my family, my home, my time, my possessions, my life? And the question He asks in return is: Are the lost in India worth it? I’ve already given my life over to Him, and Jesus is not divided. He is both King and Redeemer at once. To live is Christ and that is my only option. “And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” (Mat 10:38-39)

The cost of following him is great, but he also promised to all “who [have] left houses or brothers or sisters or fathers or mother or children or lands, for [his] name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life.” (Mat. 19:29) Jesus is the ultimate reward. And the One who calls me away from my family and home is the one who loves them more and will care for them better than I ever could.

In the Gospel of Luke Jesus proclaimed: “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” (Lk 12:32) “Fear not”… The same words a woman at church received and shared at the beginning of the year. “Fear not” … The same words God said to Joshua before he took possession of the Promised Land.

So the rainbow stands, like all of God’s promises. Whether we goto India tomorrow or 10 years from now, His Word will never pass away: “For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory.” (1 Cor 1:20)

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