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Five Things

Five things
*Holiness Learning is the name of the game on the mission field. And not just the “fuzzy” lessons that are neat revelations that feel good. I’m talking about the yucky, “I don’t want to learn this” kinds of lessons. As a relatively new Nazarene, I’m continually learning about what it means to be part of a holiness denomination. That may sound like high church talk, but at its core, holiness is allowing the Holy Spirit to work in you continually in an ongoing re-making into the character of Christ. It’s humility and patience and self-control and many other tough-to-learn characteristics of the Savior. According to the father of our tradition, John Wesley, this change is both “instantaneous and ongoing.” I love this. Marriage has been the best teacher of this concept for me. I made the decision to make a vow to Justin on 10-16-06, but that wasn’t the end. The relationship I have with him continues to grow…some days it feels good and immersive, and other days, we are togethe…

Everyday Miracles

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When we lived in Tennessee, Justin’s job was in corporate IT work, namely healthcare. The company he worked for was not religious or faith-based, not a non-profit. He used his skills in technology to help companies meet the needs of patients and providers while growing their profits. It was a good job. Justin has been a Christian for a number of years, so he represented Christ in the workplace, but seeing God at work was sometimes difficult to do.
On the other hand, Stephanie worked part-time for a faith-based hospital as a chaplain. Not every time, but quite often, she was afforded encounters with patients and families that were significant for them and for her as she bore witness to the movement of God in others’ lives. Even in caring for Amber Joy at home, “God moments” were plentiful and it was not unusual to glimpse the Holy Spirit at work as he crafted our family and its story.
Recently, Justin and I were talking about how, since we’ve lived in PNG, we seem to be experiencing som…

Confessions

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When we moved to PNG 14 months ago, I thought I would never lack for blog topics or things to say. But this past year has been difficult to digest and even more difficult to discuss. I had expectations of what missionary work would be like. Those expectations have slowly given way to reality: the good and the bad. I tried to make sure I was as spiritually prepared as I could be, but cross-cultural living brings up more questions about God’s movement in the world than answers. In some ways, I feel further from God, but I also know that He disciplines those He loves (Hebrews 12:6). Discipline doesn’t mean punishment, rather “teaching.” Though this year has not been what I expected and it has been one of grief and change, I am learning so much about myself, my family, God’s work in the world, and my place in it. So, for the sake of remembering some of the teaching God’s doing and (hopefully) learning that I’m doing, here’s a list of some of those things in a (sort of) confessional:

I tho…

Uncrossing Arms

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Uncrossing Arms
Deuteronomy 30:19 …I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life…
Before we came to PNG, I read several blogs about living overseas, missions, and culture shock. I read about what people had experienced when they lived as expats for the first time: the good, the bad, and the unmentionable. One of the things I read in several different blogs was that it takes a year before you really settle into a new place and begin to see it…Honestly, I didn’t believe it. I knew it would be a tough transition, but surely it wouldn’t take a year?! And suddenly, here we are at the end of 10 months and I’ve never been so wrong. As we close in on one year in PNG, I can say without a doubt that it really has taken me this long to begin to uncross my arms. Let me explain a bit.
The first couple of months here, we were surprised at the level of exhaustion we were experiencing. Every single night, we were ready for bed by 8:30 or 9. We seemed to have only en…

The March blog that never was

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This blog has started and been erased a half dozen times. It’s even saved in my computer as “blog March.” But now it’s April and that’s ok.
So, I don’t know about you, but I’m a forgetter. Each time some new crisis or unknown comes along, I get lost in the forest and I’m blinded by the trees. “There’s no way through THIS one,” I think. And the worry and stress take over. The need to change or fix or correct is strong with me. Mostly, it’s the now things: the state of the house, the fight with him, the things that never got done, she’s not eating enough protein, there’s no audiologist here, what if we have a major medical emergency, apathy toward things I should care about, her messy room, no exercise in three days, the laundry mountain hiding in the back, the pile of dishes mocking from the kitchen, the unwritten sermon…
And then, those lead into the bigger worries. Are we doing the right thing for our daughter by living in this country? Is she seeing Jesus in us? Will she grow up no…

Changing the way I think

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I am a feeler, through and through. Justin and I took the Strengths Finder test as part of our missionary orientation, and it became obvious on paper what we already knew: the analytic married the one who wears her heart on her sleeve. In 11 years of marriage, what we’ve discovered is that we have the capacity to complement each other well, but we also have the tendency to be like oil and water if we’re not careful.
So, after a tough month back in PNG after vacation, I was struck hard when I read the paraphrase of the verse above: Romans 12:2 says, “Let God transform you by changing the way you think.” But what about how I feel? Nope. The original says, “Be transformed by the renewing of your MIND.” I’m learning to own the feeler/relator that I am, but sometimes, I know that my feelings betray me. How? Feelings do not always equal truth. Just because I feel something in a moment, whether it is frustration, happiness, sadness, disappointment, or any other of a plethora of emotions, d…

Mi gat 44 Krismas

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Mi gat 44 Krismas. That’s Pigin for “I’m 44 years old.” In Papua New Guinea, years are counted in the number of Christmases you’ve seen. I like it. Christmas has always been my favorite season anyway, so why not count your years by them? 
When I was a child, many of my Christmases were marked by traditions of our family, Santa’s arrival, a few carols, a wooden manger scene, and Dad forcing us to read Luke 2 before any presents could be opened. I sort of resented it. OK, I really resented it! Sometime in my childhood I remember thinking, “do we have to bring Jesus into everything??” My sister and I learned that Mark held the shortest version of the Christmas story, so as we got older, we always requested that Dad read out of Mark so we could get to the presents already.
I’ve never put this into words, but I guess I was about 12 when I found out about Santa and, even though we continued to get great gifts, the magic started to fade. I know it sounds strange, but I used to have an idea…