It’s worth mentioning that it is rainy season here in Tanzania, which is probably why I get to feel so cozy each time I sit down to write; it’s always raining here.
Regardless, this is where I find myself another week out in Africa.
I’ve become so focused on my children’s ministry and learning the language and becoming familiar with the roads here and teaching lessons and remembering to bathe and the distracted all over again with my sickness and and and…
I forget my miracles sometimes as I’m living them. The impossible becomes commonplace again and I fix my eyes forward to the next hurdle and wonder what the future will hold.
How many times do we forget our miracles because we allow them to become routine?
I’m living in Africa.
I have my living expenses and bills taken care of while I’m here.
I have more babies than I know what to do with.
I get to take pictures and film and blog all about what I see.
I can speak Swahili.
I’m forced out of my comfort zone every day.
I’m more than halfway finished.
As I lay in my net the other evening looking up at our sheet metal roof, listening to the rain, I became suddenly aware of the fact that this chapter of my life, though nearly 15 months in total, is still a chapter.
It’ll be over before I know it.
Just like playing outside with my sisters, Christina and Sarah when we were little and all we had was each other and getting into trouble.
Just like waiting tables at Terracina Grand when I was fifteen and needed my first job.
Just like all the days I spent at HEED, with all the other homeschool kids.
Just like the seemingly endless days, months, years, spent at Edison Community College to finish my AA.
Just like all the days with the Fam, wild and free that summer after highschool.
Just like Southeastern and all my times with some of the best friends I’ve ever made, which felt like the blink of an eye and have since drifted into the mist of memories past.
Just like my time in LA last year, my graduation and my summer that part of me wishes I couldn’t remember, but wouldn’t change because it’s made me who I am.
It all is just temporary. Every situation, every moment, every feeling, every fear, every joy. It’s all ever-changing and moving forward to the next thing before we feel quite ready.
And so even as I miss my family, my friends, my car, air conditioning, fast food, Starbucks, internet whenever I want it and not looking like Mufasa every day, there’s this quiet reality reminding me that it’s all waiting for me and it will be here before I’m ready for it. I am here, and I want to be here. Because before I know it, being here with my kids, the stress of one more band aid, one more washed shirt, one more greeting, will soon be there in Tanzania, where I lived for a year.
And I’m suddenly, despite being burnt out for several weeks, not ready.
I look out back and see Cassian and Alberti taking cover from the rain, eating the apples with peanut butter I gave them.
I see our mountain behind our laundry lines, and all the teens passing up to get firewood, like they do every Saturday.
I see Mama Yoketon hard at work washing dishes up by the clinic.
I see Pilot, dirty and fat, running in and out of the house with all the energy that comes with being a puppy.
I see Hillary and Pam coming up the walkway together after setting up for the seminar Tori does each Saturday for Pastors in the surrounding villages.
I see Tori with his Crocodile Dundee hat playing with our kitten as he prints all his papers and does finances.
I hear Cara and Anastasia (a 19 year old from our church who works for Cara cooking) teasing each other good-naturedly and MaySu begging to wash dishes for us.
I remember all the little voices that I can recognize without seeing them now, and the faces attached to them and how I’d spend every second of my life covering them with kisses if I could.
I think of the drumbeats that I’ve grown so attached to and all the songs I’m still learning that feel like home.
I’m not ready to leave.
Oh, how much we take for granted as we live it.
Our miracles look like every day routine, but only because we let them.
We facilitated an Encounter this week, like the one we attended in Singapore. I’ve still been straggling behind this week gaining back my strength, but I was given one session to teach.
I’m not kidding you that I groaned when I looked down to the paper Hillary handed me when I read the bolded title, “Knowing Your Worth”.
Hitting all the nerves, Jesus, I see you. Subtle.
Way to give me the topic that has been the root problem of every poor life choice for the past four years.
I’m clearly not qualified to teach this, began my rampant insecurity. My insecurity has been very loud this week, since I totally let my guard down when I was dying of the fever. The little thought, “I’m too sick to do anything”, very quickly escalated and over a week later, my general opinion of myself was that I’m the weakest link on the team, I can’t perform as well as everyone else and that everyone resents my being here.
Totally balanced and not dramatic at all, clearly.
The lesson outlined two specific manifestations when we don’t understand our value: performing and seeking approval.
Only feeling good about myself when I reach high standards and seeking verbal validation from others over every life choice I make? I obviously have never done that, ever in my life. At any point.
The thing that’s so funny about Jesus is He’s totally uninterested in what I think I can bring to the table and what I feel qualified for. I think it was my friend Meghan who told me that the way God seems to deal with me is to throw me off the deep end and then come get me, rather than coaxing me down into the pool. He knows as well as I do (and even better), that I’m not getting in the water unless I’m forced. Thus this entire year and how it’s gone down. But I digress.
My literal prayer as I walked up to minister (in the most vulnerable and peeved of moods, I promise you) was, “Okay God, if you want something spiritual to happen here, you’re gonna have to do it, because I can’t. I have nothing.”
We think we’re so impressive when we do all these grand things, teach so grandly, speak so pointedly, but the reality has only ever been that we’re obedient and God Himself makes the increase, brings the fire, sends His spirit. As unglamorous as my prayer was, I think that’s all we can ever really pray.
And surprisingly, as we go in our hideously unfortunate inability, and do what He asks of us, as we speak His truth out for others, we find ourselves to be the ones ministered to in the end, along with everyone else. And suddenly, in that moment, is where God talks to you, cutting through all your foolish excuses. No matter how many times you’ve heard the truth and no matter how dry and distant it’s been, it gets serious when God Almighty tells you it directly. When the Living Word speaks, there’s no room for miscommunication or lackadaisical listening on our part.
“Every promise that I make is like a brick that is used to build a strong wall. Things like, “I will never leave you”, “I have seated you in heavenly places”, and “I am a refuge in times of trouble”, are part of it and as you know them, you can use them to build yourself a fortress. When the accusations come, all they do is bounce off the wall. Nothing can stand against my Truth.
But when you leave the fortress, I can’t protect you. When you willingly leave your support, you’re vulnerable all over again. Does that mean that what I said, all my promises aren’t true? No. But it means unless you choose to believe that your only safe place is behind them, you’ll never be safe and I can’t protect you the way I long to.”
Trust : trəst|
1 firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something
For all the songs I’ve ever sung about trusting in Jesus and all the sermons I’ve listened to over the years about how critical knowing His Word is, it strikes me as odd how little I actually have when push comes to shove.
But the really amazing thing about Jesus is that He is able to redeem the time, our pasts, all our good intentions that still missed His heart, as much as our blatant rebellion.
So here’s to an umpteenth amount of chances to be tenderly guided back to His heart for us, no matter how many times we miss it.
Keep me safe, O God,
For I have come to you for refuge.
I said to the LORD, “You are my Master!
Every good thing I have comes from you.”
LORD, you alone are my inheritance, my cup of
You guard all that is mine.
I will bless the LORD who guides me;
Even at night my heart instructs me.
I know the LORD is always with me.
I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me
No wonder my heart is glad, and I rejoice.
My body rests in safety.
You will show me the way of life,
Granting me the joy of your presence
And the pleasures of living with you forever.
– Psalm 16: 1-2, 5, 7-9, 11