Emmanuel, the Unafraid God

Emmanuel, the Unafraid God

They prayed for us at church this morning. We stood there under the spotlight and in front of the eyes, the missionary family ready to move to Papua New Guinea in just two weeks. And afterwards, as I hugged a good friend one last time and my throat burned thick with choked-back tears, a few kind people waited to tell us that we are brave, that they admire us. Maybe they hadn’t seen our youngest trying kick her sister while a church elder was praying blessing over us. Over our mess. Over our obedience. Because obedience is really what it is. Not special bravery. There’s nothing innately in us that qualifies us to be missionaries. The only difference between our story and theirs is that God has asked us to obey Him on the other side of the world. Life, just life in...

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When It’s Better to Receive Than to Give

When It’s Better to Receive Than to Give

  “Are you afraid of losing your identity?” My counselor asked me this the other day. (I’ve been in counseling for the last few months. Shadows from the past and other nasty things have a way of surfacing during transition…) I didn’t quite know what she meant, so I sat quiet for a minute and turned her question over in my mind. “You’ve been in the role of caregiver for a long time. Maybe it’s time for you to be the receiver. Does that bother you?” Ouch. This woman is perceptive. She’s right. For the past fourteen and a half years, I’ve been the wife of a youth pastor, a mom, a Bible study teacher, a speaker, a safe place for hurting women and girls. And now I’m about to add overseas missionary to that list. No pressure there. I love what I’ve been doing. People...

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Risk and Cost

Risk and Cost

    Risking it all for Jesus… I’ve heard this phrase tossed around in Christian circles. It sounds exciting. Bold. Holy. The problem is that it’s simply not true. I would even say it might be dangerous. “Risking it all” makes it sound like some of us are the spiritual high rollers, while everybody else is playing it safe in Heaven’s casino. You know, we give up our comforts and possessions to serve Jesus and someday earn a great big eternal crown. Some of us even leave our homes and everything we know to move to the other side of the world in a grand leap of faith. And people admire us, and our pictures hang on their church bulletin boards, and we sometimes make it into their pastors’ sermons. But eventually all of that praise falls flat. It doesn’t feel so...

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An Open Letter to the Almost-There Missionary

An Open Letter to the Almost-There Missionary

 Dear friend, You sat on my couch the other day and said it’s too much. You said it with red eyes and deep breaths, and the others of us in the room breathed deep and teared up, too. Because we know. You and I, my friend, we’re in the same boat. We’re living in the in-between, not quite sure where we fit. Not completely here, but not all there yet. We’ve cut loose the moorings, and we’re on open ocean, going, going, but the going isn’t easy. The waves aren’t gentle, and they don’t seem to notice how much we’ve left behind. I want to tell you that it’s going to be ok, that if you give yourself enough time, your heart will feel whole again. But I can’t, and it won’t – at least not on this side of eternity, I think. When home is on both sides of the world, when you...

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Neither Can I

Neither Can I

   You said it with sincerity and even a touch of awe. “I could never do what you do.” The thing is, my friend, neither can I. I’m just me. A woman a couple of years from forty, doing my best to love my husband and raise our girls. I didn’t plan to be a missionary. I didn’t even want to be. It’s just something I grew into, or maybe it grew into me. But it’s certainly not a path I’ve chosen because I feel like I can handle it. Late the other night, I stood in a good friend’s kitchen, and she held me steady while I cried hot and ragged. “I can’t,” I told her. The weight of all the responsibilities, all the goodbyes, all the unknowns spilled out into the safety of that moment, and I knew it. I knew it deep.   I can’t. It’s true. I’m not able to do what I have to do...

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The Bigger Story

The Bigger Story

    I’m tired today.  It’s the kind of exhaustion that makes the mind numb and the bones ache. We’re on the road, seeing friends and family one last time, and some of the goodbyes we’re saying feel like funerals. It’s too much. Too much. I’m weak, weary, and completely overwhelmed. If it were just me, I might be tempted to just leave all this missions stuff behind. It’s hard, hard, hard, and we haven’t even left the country yet. But it’s not just me, or even just my family. This is bigger.    Way bigger. It’s 120 teens in the highlands of Papua New Guinea. It’s missionary families needing pastoral care. It’s men, women, and children waiting for the Word of God in their own languages. It’s precious people saying, “We can’t go ourselves, but we can give.” It’s the...

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