Back in May, I had a dream come true when I won a scholarship to a writer’s retreat. In Italy. They gave one prize and I was to leave this Wednesday. For 12 days I would see Paris, consume decadent food and wine, and live, laugh, write and love in Liguria, Italy. I had reserved a gorgeous room on the edge of a cliff in an Italian Villa. Heaven.
But, and there’s always a huge but isn’t there? If you remember back to this post,I had some interesting medical problems the day before I left for Mexico. While I was on the mission trip, I received an email from my doctor explaining my benign condition and told to make an appointment to talk about the options. I filed that email and put it in the “someday I’ll call them maybe” category.
Suffice it to say that although the condition is benign, it’s had it’s way with me. I’ve had a couple weeks where I felt kind of okay and the rest have been a battle to function. I wondered how I would trip around Europe; eating, praying and loving, when I couldn’t get out of bed. So I made the dreaded call and subsequently even showed up for the appointment.
Italy is now a thing of the past and incredibly, a chance trip in the future. And now I have surgery in December, one week before Christmas, which really, is what every woman wants. Am I right ladies? Sorry guys, I can’t prepare a turkey or even a honey baked ham. Decorations? Don’t think so. But opening presents? Sure, I wouldn’t want to get rusty on my love language.
What astounds me though is that God equips me for all things. This includes and is not limited to the ability to find joy in serving in difficult circumstances and in times where I’m not doing what I had planned. I always thought being joyful was up to me, and it’s a choice to be sure, but it is God who fuels me to experience joy.
Instead of the Italian coast, we venture as a family to a nearby pacific beach. The same beach house where we took our son Mason to the hospital when his appendix was going awry. We know the way to the two nearest hospitals and more importantly we know the only way to joy.
I’m trusting and choosing to find joy in all things. Italy will be there when I’m healthy again, so I’ll do my part to make sure I am!
What about you? How do you find joy when your dreams are put on hold?
There were many men on the medical mission trip to Valladolid this past July. I watched average men be great and great men humble themselves in average ways. It is the joy though, that will never be forgotten. The very exercise of ministering delighted them and the team deeply.
In the United States it’s easy to mistakenly believe life is all about us. Upon arrival in the Yucatan however, we found our purpose through the lives of others, through the love and life of Jesus. We could only find ourselves when we looked through the lens of purpose as we served.
In my ever inquisitive “journalistic” nature, I spoke to several different men over the course of the trip, ages 18-70. Most of them love to read, but went further to say that they were in Mexico to live a remarkable story, not just to read about one.
In order to fully live, they did things that made them uncomfortable. They viewed and performed procedures in medical, built structures they never thought they were capable of and did jobs with materials which weren’t what they wanted or needed or were used to. They wore the same clothes and poured sweat, tears and love into the people of Valladolid. They lived out Matthew 25:36 and had compassion for those in prison.
In short, they lived a great story. They found themselves and it wasn’t a coincidence. They discovered who they are in the hard things that tested them, the moments and experiences that turned them upside down and inside out.
A lot of the men got their question answered. You know the one, the one we all wrestle with, “Am I good enough?” A resounding yes was the moment-by-moment response they encountered in the Yucatan.
And then they went home. For some the story ended. They closed the book on that short story with a silent prayer they’d be able to live it again someday. Some closed it and filed it under science fiction, believing it was a seven day fantasy where they got to be the hero who lives deep in their heart. Others filed their story under the travel section and put it away in their “Been there, got the T-shirt” drawer.
But a few came home and decided to live their new story, right here in the USA. It isn’t easy. The culture continues to tell them who they are and all that they will never be. Old labels haunt their every day and sometimes that pervasive darkness just won’t shake. And then they remember. The sure, strong voice of The Father telling them this is what they were designed for, this is who they are meant to be.
This is where the ladies come in. We can emasculate our men, join with culture in oppressing and marginalizing them. Or we can have compassion. We can affirm the hero they are, their strength and courage.
If we choose the latter, we change the world. There are millions of fatherless kids, desperate to live their true story. The men in your life can continue their mission and come alongside our boys, offering them hope and a different way.
Your love for your men, is the encouragement and acceptance they need to show someone else how to live and love well.
We partnered with International Medical Assistance and served in Valladolid, Yucatan, MEXICO for one week.
One life-changing week.I’d heard the trip would change my life. Heard, but didn’t comprehend. I’m still struggling to write because so much happened. It’s time to jump in though.
I’m now an URN. An Unregistered Nurse in every US state and most in Mexico.
Caring for the patients in post-op for 10,11 and 12 hour days has left me burning with passion to answer God’s call. The call to care for all of His people in a deeper way. Being a part of something much bigger than myself has become my one desire.
I’m exploring all the options for going back to school to become a nurse. Maybe even a Registered Nurse if I’m lucky.
I’ve got to believe though, that after everything I was privileged to do and all the medical things I participated in, that in God’s economy, I’m registered. Seems a real fine place to start.
So, much more later. For now I’m asking God to reveal the path.
What about you? What do you when you are overwhelmed with the good choices of fully living?
For 26 hours I rode the roller coaster, eyes closed, hands in the air, nausea and all. I’m in the final stretch of preparations for our medical mission trip to Valladolid.
After feeling ill all week, I went to the doctor yesterday. I was frustrated that I had to go and sent a text to a couple of girlfriends regarding how distracted I was by my physical problems.
After talking for a bit, the Doc asked if I could be pregnant. I almost snorted. “Um, No.”
She raised her eyebrows, burrowing into my eyes.
“Really. No chance.” I assured her.
“I want you to take a test anyway.”
10 minutes later she opened the door and dropped a bomb or several. The test came back positive. And, I was having a miscarriage. And, if the pregnancy was ectopic, I would be having surgery. And, I wouldn’t be going on the mission trip.
The rickety car flew around the old wooden tracks faster and faster as the bottom fell. The ultrasound was scheduled for today and I made my way home. I felt lousy, was consumed with a need for answers and in shock. Collapsing in bed, I prayed for direction, healing and answers. Fever and chills ruled the tunnel of night and the car began another steep decent as daylight dawned.
Finally we bumped to a stop about 10:00 this morning. Blood work showed no pregnancy, ultrasound was great, no explanation for a host of unusual symptoms and a positive pregnancy test yesterday. I do have an infection, but that’s a different distraction which has nothing to with the original problems.
I’m baffled by the events of the last two days. I don’t have answers and I have more questions. But what I do know, is that God is good, He’s got this and He will lead me away from the tracks.
My job is to stay the course now. This isn’t about me and I won’t be distracted from serving the marginalized people of Valladolid. I value my health and I will take care of myself, however I won’t lose my ability to pay attention to what I’ve been called to do.
You can easily see what to pray for and as always, we deeply appreciate the power of standing tall together, on our knees.
What about you? Ever had a time of deep distraction from the things God was calling you to? What did you do?
A quick update on where our son Keegan and I’ll be, this time next week.
We leave Saturday for Valladolid, Yucatan, MEXICO. Sleep is elusive, as I’m so excited. Keegan is serving on the music team and the band will lead us in morning devotions and put on several open air concerts. I’ll be working in pre-op at the hospital in the picture. I’m most looking forward to helping ease the pain and suffering of our Mayan brothers and sisters, in Jesus’ name.
To those who have supported us financially and spiritually, you have made a huge difference in many lives already. Truly, we would not have been able to go if hadn’t been for you. We look forward to putting hands, feet and voices to your prayers as well your dollars.
I discovered tonight that the hospital has a Facebook page. Check it out HERE. I don’t know a lot of Spanish, but enough to see that they are excited about us coming and they have been praying for us. That humbled me to the core.
I can’t wait to get my flip flops on the ground in Valladolid as Keegan and I both will be rocking it for God’s people.
We covet your continued prayers.
This is the perfect writer's getaway. A tropical resort community with lush palms swaying in the breeze and great neighbors. A place where you'll easily read or write the next great American novel. Plus, we could meet at Starbucks on your break and discuss all things books!
Get out of that soon- to- be snowy state and come on down where it's always warm.
We'll leave the sun out for ya.
For more pictures and information visit Franks on Shea.
On the last of school, my mild mannered son threw a teen sized tantrum over the Playstation 3 breaking. Then one of my other son's posted this on Facebook: "My call of duty is to play as much COD as possible this summer."
I wondered just what kind of summer we were in for.
Then the next day, the first official day of summer break, we left for a long vacation. There were no video games, no internet, no mobile phone service, no friends, obligations, homework, deadlines, 16 games to attend in a weekend, video game thumb, carpal tunnel or strained eyes. Translation: no stress.
Here is what the boys looked like sans technology and cultural expectation:
Were they depressed? Lonely? Desperate for the overstimulation by the world wide web? No. But they were in fact, completely different men.
We had actual, real live conversations with whole phrases and not instant message communication with "words" like u, 2morrow, B4, L8tr,brb, and ppudwug2store (Please pick up donuts when you go to store). And we certainly never talked about COD (Call of Duty).
In the spirit of honesty, we did use '"B4" when we were repeating back our diagonal line which won us $89.00 at Bingo. Yes I had to resort to gambling to get that good quality family time. Don't send me the scripture about how I shall not gamble, the bigger risk is not interacting with my kids. Plus God saw fit to have us win so I can't be all wrong, right?
Anyway, 5 days post trip, our boys remain changed. They are exercising every day, practicing their music for hours, interacting in meaningful ways with other human beings face to face and are generally happier people. The video games have been played, but it's been minimal.
So I ask you fellow parenting soldiers, what is your Call of Duty this summer? Maybe just maybe, you are to fearlessly lead your family to and through a land of no internet, no 3G network and no cultural expectation, for a time.
Be warned though, that land can definitely come with no Starbucks attached, as it did for me.
We all gave up a little something, and each of us are better for it.
Long after the last iPhone has died, the spirit of authentic, loving relationship will reign eternal.
My boys have been doing a lot of traveling as unaccompanied minors this summer. I have found Southwest Airlines to be the best, and certainly the most frugal way to fly. Not only do they have great air fares but there is absolutely no additional charge for minors to fly. One other airline, previously known as America Worst, charges $100 EACH WAY for kids to fly unaccompanied. Are you kidding me? They’d better be spoon feeding them Steak and Lobster and then rocking them to sleep, for that much money.
Southwest Airlines has always been pleasant to deal with, are usually on time and I love that if you don’t use your flight, they just bank the money and there is no rescheduling fee the next time.
My only complaint is that they lost my son’s bag back in June. It had some items that were very precious to us and it looks like we won’t be getting them back.
To be frugal, do whatever you can to fly Southwest, especially if you have a child flying alone.
For more Frugal Friday tips, head over to www.Biblicalwomanhood.com.