Lessons from a week in Spain

A couple of weeks ago, Michael and I got to spend a week in Spain visiting the people we’ll be working with in the town we’ll be moving to. It was a great week, but it was not without some stress. Here are some of the lessons I learned. 

1) Our mentors/coaches in Spain are fantastic people. They took great care of us, and I felt like we got along really well. I very much look forward to living near them. 

2) Spaniards are good, friendly people. We were greeted warmly by everyone who knew our hosts, and we already have several friends there. 

3) Spaniards have washing machines but generally not dryers. You wash a load of laundry each morning and hang it out to dry. Hopefully it does. 

4) Most homes in Spain do not have central heat, despite the fact that it gets pretty cool in the winter months. You have a fireplace and a little portable heater that I can’t adequately explain. 

5) God is just as present in my life in Spain as He is in the States. This seems obvious, but we humans have a way of forgetting the obvious. Luckily, God is really good at reminding us of the obvious. 

From the moment I turned my phone on after traveling for nearly 24 hours to reach Spain, I was faced with stress. Awaiting my arrival was a text from my sister saying that our mother, who the week before had undergone open-heart surgery, was being rushed back into emergency heart surgery. This set off hours and eventually days of waiting to hear updates on her condition. I learned that the adage “no news is good news” isn’t always true. Sometimes “no news” means someone is sparing you the stress of the moment. Things got pretty touch and go for awhile. 

I had all of this hanging over my head the entire week. Situations that were already stressful, like enrolling our girls in school, were compounded by the anxiety of waiting for the next update. Situations that weren’t stressful were rendered less meaningful as I contemplated whether my mother was actually dying or not. 

Somewhere in the middle of it all (well, probably closer to the end), I felt God tell me that this wasn’t my burden to carry. My mother’s life was in His hands, and I just needed to trust in that. It’s still hard not to worry even when God tells us not to; we are still human, after all. 

Something that was a huge comfort to me was knowing how many people were praying for my mother, and for me as well. My sister was posting updates on Facebook, so many of my friends knew about the situation. I had friends from high school, college, Frankfort, and even in Spain praying for her without me having to ask. It’s amazing and wonderful to know so many people who will pray because they were led to do so. 

So that’s the long/short version of how Spain was. I look forward to talking individually with many of you about it all as time allows. Until then…

Peace be with you, my friends. 

Learning Curve

Two weeks ago, Sofia decided she wanted to try riding a bike without training wheels.  Emma went out and helped her, I went out and helped, and eventually Michael helped as well.  By the end of about an hour, she could basically do it.  I wasn’t surprised; my youngest is a tenacious competitor and has a giftedness with sports.

Her bicycle experience was different from Emma’s.  I spent weeks, probably even months, pushing Emma around the yard and our driveway, catching her everytime I took my hands off for even a moment.  There came a day when Emma decided she was just going to do it on her own, and she did.  I don’t know what I did wrong, and I don’t know what finally clicked, but she got it once she put her mind to it.

Like so many other things in their lives, the girls are on two totally different learning curves with bicycles.

What I’m figuring out is that Michael and I are on our own learning curve with this whole mission experience.

I got frustrated, even jealous, a couple of weeks ago when a friend of mine from TMS Global sent me a copy of their newsletter and said that they had just been cleared to buy their one-way tickets to their mission destination.  This was a family we met last summer in India, and they started this process six months after we did.  Just a few weeks earlier, another dear TMS friend told us that she had been cleared to launch as well.  She started with us, so I wasn’t as surprised.

Now don’t get me wrong: I’m thrilled for each of these families!  I love them dearly, and I’m so proud of the work they have put in and all that they have accomplished.  But part of me is also quite envious.  I want it to be us.  I want to fast-forward to the fall and have months of hard work of our own under our belt, and I want to be able to say that we have our one-way tickets to Spain.

What’s standing between now and that moment is a mountain of hard work, and it’s a little intimidating.  Most of that hard work is raising support.  This is something which, quite frankly, we’ve dragged our heels on.  I have so many mixed feelings about asking people to support us financially.  It isn’t the American way, asking people to put out money for you.  It isn’t comfortable to do.  We haven’t done a lot of it yet, but we have plenty of no’s and many fewer yes’s.  Knowing that we’ve been told no more often than yes doesn’t really inspire me to keep asking.

And yet.

And yet, God says to keep doing it.  He put us on this path, and He has already cleared several obstacles from our path.  Our house sold without us having to put it on the market.  Michael’s job is keeping him on part-time while we are away, providing half of our needed income.  These are huge gifts from God.

In Luke 9:23, Jesus said to a crowd, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross daily, and follow me.”  Jesus wants us to give up doing things our own way and do them His way instead.  He doesn’t promise that it will be easy; crosses are notoriously bad omens.  What He is asking us to do is to trust Him, trust that He will provide in His own time.

There is a learning curve to following Jesus.  The details are different for each person.  Some people pick it up faster than others, and that’s okay.  He loves us unconditionally no matter how quickly we learn to give up our own ways and follow His.  It’s something I can’t wait to share with people when we get to Spain.  It’s something that I’m happy to share with you now if you don’t know Jesus.

Peace be with you, my friends.