10 Fingers & 10 Toes

via Flickr”]20061126_DHo_baby feet (11)_B&W_ps

Often, in the “Do you want a boy or girl?” conversation, one innocent phrase pops up at the conclusion…

“As long as he or she has 10 fingers and 10 toes, right?”

or a phrase similar to it.  (“As long as it’s healthy, we don’t care what the gender.”)

A few weeks ago, I had such a phrase interjected into one of my conversations.  I smiled politely without thinking twice about the statement; but now I’m not so sure I agree.  Actually, I don’t agree with it all.

You see, I believe that even those people born with disabilities, diseases, abnormalities, and mental handicaps have been shaped and created by God.   I may not understand why God allows these things to exist, but I do know every person, no matter his capabilities or health, has a purpose in life and is cherished just as much as any healthy person.

I pray daily for our child’s health… but if our son or daughter should be born without 10 fingers or toes, or not “perfectly healthy”, my love for him or her will not diminish.

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Thinking of starting over

I would love to start blogging again…but I feel the need to completely start over .

“Parksmission: Me on Mission” just doesn’t fit anymore.  When I originally named the blog what I did, Josh and I were on a literal mission to be full-time missionaries to Ukraine.  The sole purpose of the blog was to share our experiences with friends and family at home in the U.S.  However, once we returned to the States for good, the purpose began to fade as our ministry began to fade.  I’ve used the blog occasionally to record my thoughts and experiences, specifically in relation to my faith (which fit the title and purpose perfectly), but, things are changing…I’m changing…

I guess I’m still on some kind of mission (or two).  A soul-searching mission to figure out exactly who I am and what I truly believe.  A parenthood mission – as Josh and I plan for a new baby and anticipate all the joys and anxieties that accompany being a parent.  But, even with those “missions”, the blog name just doesn’t feel right.

 

I miss writing.  I miss the blog community.  But, I think in order to truly re-engage, I’ve got to start over…

 

Me on a Good Day

Looking back through my posts, I noticed a recurring theme: depression.  I will not deny that I struggle with depression; I have fought this sometimes debilitating disease since I was a young teenager.  However, depression is NOT a constant, every day battle.  It just so happens that when I do have a downer day, I tend to release my emotions through writing…and you, my precious friends, get to hear some of my moaning.

So, I want to share some of my thoughts during the good days of my life:

1. Returning from Ukraine.  (Which I wrote about HERE).  I KNOW there’s a purpose in our returning.  I KNOW there was a purpose in our going.  And although I have my moments of shame, confusion, and hurt, overall I am happy and content with the decision to return. My hubby felt it was the right decision, and I, in obedience to God’s calling on my life as a wife, am happy that I agreed to follow Josh’s leading.  By doing so, I strengthened our marriage, uplifted my husband, and honored God.

I am EXTREMELY proud of us for even stepping out into full-time mission work.  Many people think about what it would be like to pursue a passion, but they never do anything about it.  WE DID!  We sold our house & everything in it.  We gave up good, steady careers, and left all our friends and family.  We relied solely on God’s provision and trusted Him to be our strength as we adapted to a completely different culture.  We grew in faith and discovered God in ways that we had never experienced Him before.

Our time there was not in vain. Even in such a short amount of time, we were able to minister to the Ukrainians around us & challenge them in their beliefs about God, urging them to move from empty, religious practices into a meaningful relationship with Christ.  We formed life-long friendships that still bless us.

Above all, I’m so thankful that I have a husband who is willing to do whatever it takes to help his wife pursue the passions and visions she has dreamed of for so many years.  I don’t know what the future holds concerning full-time mission work…I really don’t think it will happen again…but I know that we’ll at least be willing to step out in faith to pursue whatever God lays on our hearts.

2.  Infertility. The truth is…I’ve never wanted children until a few years ago…and I only began to want them because I saw the deep desire in Josh to have children.  He’s experienced all the joys of fatherhood once before and has always desired to experience that again, but with me!  Our many childless years resulted mainly from my hesitations.  The last year or so has been difficult b/c  I know Josh’s heart…and his grief causes me grief.  More than anything, I want my husband to have the desires of his heart.  Most days I’m 100% okay with not having children.

Gasp! What?!?!

You see, my identity, purpose, and validation is not determined by motherhood; it’s found in God and His purpose for me.  What if it’s His will that Josh and I should never have children?  If that’s His will, then that’s what I want.  If He should decide to give us children, then I’m ready for that as well.  All I desire is to live a life completely surrendered to my Heavenly Father…putting my future into His hands…because I know that His plans for my life are much greater than anything I could dream of.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.     ~Jeremiah 29:11

confession

A little over 2 years ago I spoke at a woman’s group at my mother-in-law’s church.  The topic:  my husband and I’s full time mission work in Ukraine.  At the time, we were still preparing our big move to Ukraine and I was making rounds at different churches and groups, sharing our vision, and soliciting supporters.  The group of women blessed me greatly and rallied around with open hearts and fervent prayers.

Today, I returned to the same group of women to do a book review/reading.  About 10 months ago,  when I was asked to do the book review, I hesitated…I did not want to face these women.  Shame, feelings of failure, and embarrassment still plagued me, even though I’d already been home  from Ukraine for about a year.  However, it was those same lowly feelings that urged me to say “yes”…i guess i thought that by agreeing to do the speech, I wouldn’t be disappointing them again.

I would love to say that I’m completely at peace about returning from Ukraine; that I’ve found the reason we’ve returned or discovered the purpose that we ever went in the first place.  I would LOVE to say that…and sometimes I do.  I’ve rationalized it to the point that I actually believe that I understand the divine purposes in our going and returning.  I KNOW all the Bible verses about purpose and trusting God.  And I thought that those verses moved from my head to my heart….but today, when asked (in front of the entire group), “Didn’t you go to Ukraine?” My stomach dropped and I had to hold in tears.

I responded with a simple “yes” and a polite smile.  But inside I was screaming, “PLEASE, NO MORE QUESTIONS!”

I’m tired of talking about it.  I’m tired of having to try and explain the situation, especially when I don’t fully understand it myself.  I’m still ashamed.  I’m still embarrassed.  I’m still deeply hurt. I still don’t understand.

But, because I do know the scriptures and have faith that God follows through on his promises, I hold on to them…no, I don’t hold onto them; I CLING to them like a scared child clings to his mother.  I know God has a purpose in my life – & that purpose is to SERVE HIM no matter where I live or what I’m doing as a career. I know everything’s going to be okay…in fact, my life is abundant with blessings.

But I’m still hurting.

My soul is in anguish.
How long, O LORD, how long?

~Psalm 6:3

The B/S Chronicles: Leadership

We grew up together; now we blog together.  In the B/S Chronicles you’ll get to experience viewpoints from a brother/sister team…who may or may not always see things eye-to-eye.

The B/S Chronicles:  Leadership

The art of leadership is saying no, not yes.  It is very easy to say yes. ~Tony Blair

There are many words that roll easily off my tongue.

No is not one of them.

For most of my life, as I’ve been involved in some form of ministry or activities, others could always count on me because I always said “yes” to their requests and followed through as best as I could.  Even when I realistically should not have agreed to take on more responsibility, the thought of possibly disappointing someone made me feel horrible.

Now, as a leader, I still find it hard to say “no”.    It’s that darned disappointment thing…

However, I’m learning that I must say NO, not because I don’t have the time or too much already on my plate (although, those can be valid reasons…& that’s when management and facilitation comes into play), but because I, the leader, am responsible for keeping the vision of the ministry pure and focused.  Many people have great ideas, but if they don’t fit into the vision or goals, then they are counterproductive.

A few months ago I listened to Craig Groeschel explain how at one time in the history of his church, LifeChurch.tv, they had a large amount of ministries.  Think of a ministry, they had it.  Sports, concerts, conferences, and a plethora of other ministry opportunities filled the church calendar.  To anyone looking at the wide range of ministries, the church appeared to be perfect.  But to Craig, “we added things we didn’t need, and strangled what we already had.  All these new things that we finally started doing didn’t contribute to the vision.  They competed with the vision.  We were directing tons of resources into nonproductive areas.”  Soon after, he and the church leaders ended all but 5 ministries.  Why just 5?  He explains, “because we believe those are the 5 things that God has called us to do and has best equipped us to do.  Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should do it.”**

Soon after listening to Craig’s story, I was reading Galatians chapter 1.  I couldn’t get past verse 10, “For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ.”

Lord, am I saying “Yes” because I don’t want to disappoint those I lead or am I saying “Yes” because this idea aligns with the vision you have given me?  Who am I trying to please?

There will be disappointment whenever the word “no” is spoken.  It’s a small word that many people hate to hear…but if it keeps us focused on the vision God has given us, then it must be said.

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**It: How Churches and Leaders Can Get It and Keep It by Craig Groeschel

Leadership:  What are Jeremy’s thoughts?  Click Here to read!

Next B/S Topic:  Aging

Back in the Saddle

If you haven’t been able to tell, i’ve taken a break…a looong break….from blogging.  Basically, I lost my purpose and desire for blogging after returning from Ukraine.  Most of all, I think I just needed time to figure things out without blabbing my mouth.  In essence, a time to be still and listen.  I’ve done a lot of listening, and waiting, and even more questioning.

So are you ready for all the answers to my questions? Are you prepared to hear all that I’ve learned over the last 6 months or so?

Well, you’ll just have to wait, because, truthfully, I still don’t have it all figured out.  I haven’t yet to see God’s purpose in all the events that transpired over the last year.  But it’s okay.  I have learned that I don’t always need to know God’s reasoning.  All I have to know is that God is faithful and has a purpose for everything that He allows us to go through.  And, you know what?  He’s been extremely faithful in my life.  Here’s proof:

Things that have transpired since I’ve stopped blogging:

  • Josh made it through a round of layoffs before finally being laid off in April.
  • The last day of his job, a new company hired him to start the following week.
  • All of our needs have been taken care of AND had a few added blessings thrown in.
  • I started a new job @ a Christian company with good people.  The job is easy, flexible and just plain fun.
  • Josh and I got into our own home…it’s a rental for now, but is exactly what we wanted and at an incredible rate for the location and size.
  • I’ve been accepted to Seminary, where I will begin a Master’s of Biblical Counseling program in the fall.
  • Friends and family have been so loving and supportive.  And understanding.
  • I’ve made incredible new friendships
  • Ministry opportunities continue to present themselves to me, which allows me to fulfill my calling as a missionary.
  • My marriage is stronger than ever.

I could keep listing, but I think you get the point…God has been good to me.  He speaks to me daily and I am constantly finding Him in everything.

And, I believe I’m ready to begin blogging again.  My purpose is to just share the things that God places in my heart and mind.  I don’t claim to have all the answers; my guess is that I will end up saying some things on this blog that may not be right on…but i’m thinking through things and trying to figure it all out.  I’m just a woman trying to serve the Lord, and I hope you’ll take the journey with me.

National Blogging Month – a little late

November is national blogging month, which means that bloggers are to try and post something everyday. I know, I know…I’m 14 days behind.  I almost didn’t do this, but I really need something to motivate me to write everyday; so I thought I would try to finish out the last 16 days with some writing.

It seems that the only thing I’ve really been posting are updates…I’ll go a week or two without saying anything, and then I’ll just write down what’s happened in my life.  My goal is not to just bore you with mundane everyday details of my life back here in Texas, unlike when I lived in Ukraine and mundane, everyday life wasn’t so boring.  But, now that i’m here you really don’t want to hear about my trip to the local grocery store because, well, you all have the same experiences.  I hope to get back to the place where my writings have some benefit…where I’ve learned a lesson or am questioning something or had a unique experience.

I’ve probably had a few of those experiences lately, but i haven’t really been contemplating them.  My life is so full of unanswered questions and foggy confusion that I’ve really just been focused on getting up in the mornings and making it through the day.  It’s not a deep depression where I’m struggling with my existence, it’s more that I have big life-altering decisions to make, and I don’t know what directions to choose. Over the next 16 days I’m sure you’ll hear more about what I’m facing.

I’m so thankful that I’m surrounded with amazing friends and a patient, supportive husband.  I really don’t know how I would be making it through without them to encourage me and keep me level headed.

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