Changing Gears

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Changing gears is how I describe the week or two before leaving the US for Malaysia or leaving Malaysia for the US. It is also part of the week of jet lag after arrival. I like being in both places. There are things I miss in each country while being in the other. There are different rhythms of life in each country. I don’t dislike either one. But they are different. It takes a week or so to say, “Goodbye” to one life and to say, “Hello,” to the other.

It is still hard to say, “Good bye,” to good friends. I know we are just a phone call from them, but half a world from a hug

So what do I do when I’m leaving?

  • I soak up every opportunity to be with friends and family when I can be with them. It means careful planning, but the sacrifices are more than compensated.
  • I never miss the opportunity for hugs and saying, ‘I love you.’
  • I take lots of photos to jog my memories.

Then what do I do when I arrive?

  • I rest to get over jet lag and to give myself time to embrace what’s new.
  • I use email, Facebook, and other media to keep in touch with friends and family.
  • I pray for my friends both near and far as often as they come to mind.
  • I rejoice in new friends and opportunities I would never have if I stayed put where I was.
  • And I never wallow in loneliness. I sometimes cry a little, but life is too short to spend in regrets.

But no matter what I do to ease the ‘changing gears,’ there is always the ache in my heart that will never stop until I reach our heavenly home. All the pain of separations will end then, because there will be no good byes and no more tears. In that moment it will all be worth it!

While I was writing this, I realized I’m changing other gears.

Even harder than changing countries is changing ministry. In laying down Peter’s Wife, I’m laying down a ministry that I have loved. I know it hasn’t reached a lot of women, but they have been very special to me. For the handful who have written back, I’ve felt it was worth the time and effort. It was first for Peter’s Wife that I learned to build web sites. It was a monthly reminder that there are women on the field who need a touch from someone who understands their struggles.

I have to see this change as a way to reach out to more women, not just those who live and work outside their home culture. I want to reach young women who would like to hear from someone who has been where they are. I’d like to reach out to women in the ‘sandwich’ generation between children and aging parents. I’d like to be a voice of reason in an age of unbridled media sound bites. I would love this new endeavor to take off, but even if it only reaches a few, I believe it’s what I’m supposed to do at this time.

Rest

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There’s an epidemic of exhaustion. A number of my friends and those I counsel are stressed, exhausted, and falling ill. Often I hear, “I’m so busy, everyone wants a piece of me.” “I’m responsible for so many things. There are just not enough hours in the day!” “I’m so tired!”

Those who know me will recognize my three questioning.
1. How is your walk with God?
2. Are you taking care of your body: eating, sleeping, and exercising?
3. How are your relationships with family and friends?

Many, many times the answer to these questions is, “Not what it should be.”

Rest is God’s Answer
God made us. He knows how we function best. He gave us a pattern from creation. Rest! It was first mentioned in the account of creation. God went on to make Sabbath the fourth of the ten commandments. Then in explaining the commandments He said, ‘Six days you shall labour, but on the seventh day you shall rest; even during the plowing season and harvest you must rest.’ Ex 34:21

We no longer live under the Old Testament law. Jesus gave us a new law of love. He showed us God’s grace. But, I think we ignore God’s pattern of rest at our own peril. Since He thought it was this important, it seems to me we should take it seriously.

For clergy, weekends are the busiest part of the week. If their weekly rest has to be on either Saturday or Sunday, they would never get a rest. Others also work at jobs and need to rest on different days. I don’t believe we all have to do it the same way. The grace we see in the New Testament should allow us to rest at different times. Jesus said, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.” (Mark 2:27 NIVUK) I believe that means Sabbath was meant for our good, not to fulfill a law.

Sabbath is time to get the physical rest we need. It is time to process what has been happening during the week so we are not just plowing through life, but tasting the fruit from our week. There is time to stop and just enjoy hearing the birds at dawn or see the color of the flowers or the majesty of sunset. Rest is time and space to hear God’s quiet voice of comfort and direction.

My husband and I have had a weekly day of rest almost every week for most of our 48 years of marriage.

From time to time we have heard criticism of this practice. A few have thought only lazy people could take a day off every week. More have looked longingly and said they wish they could find the time.

It takes commitment to do it. We see the benefits far out weigh the necessary planning and occasional inconvenience.

This is how we do it. Over the years WHAT we do on that day has changed, but these PRINCIPLES have not changed.

  • No regular work. We don’t take meetings or schedule counseling. I don’t do any computer work, laundry, or house cleaning, etc. We even purposefully lay down discussions revolving around our work.
  • We plan relaxing things we enjoy doing together. (As much as possible, we included our children in our activities.)
  • We take time to share God’s goodness to us and those we love. We remember the highlights of the week.

Having a Sabbath rest requires not just setting boundaries for ourselves, but also for those we work with or for.

We don’t have to declare to everyone that we practice Sabbath every week. We can simply say, “We already have plans for Monday.”

I often tell those I’m email counseling, “I read your emails as soon as I can, but I don’t reply until Tuesday.”

If we always talk about it we sound like religious nuts. But when I see my friends suffering from stress, I do talk about it and encourage them to make the commitment.

Everyone who wants to embrace a practice of rest, must seek God’s wisdom in how to reorganize their life. Sometimes it means quitting some activities that take up too much time or that sap too much energy. Sometimes it means an activity is not meant for this season of life. Sometimes it means using our work time more efficiently.

Once you have a plan, stick to it. Taste and see the wisdom of God in following His plan for our lives.


To read about another family’s practice of Sabbath: The Gift of Sabbath

Scary Change

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With the Brett Kavenaugh Supreme Court Nomination, I see a scary change in America. This is a post I wrote and posted on Facebook.

“If the well-delivered, yet unsubstantiated memory of one woman can bring down the reputation of a man with family, friends, colleagues, FBI investigations, and personal integrity over his whole career to substantiate his testimony; our nation is re-entering the age of the Salem witch trials. No one will be safe from vicious lies to further someone else’s agenda. Our senators should be quaking in their boots, no matter which side of the aisle they sit on. If this one woman can do this, think what a mob her actions may set loose on any good person. Throughout this whole hearing the person with the greatest integrity is the accused.

It looks like Isaiah’s prophesy is again proving true. Isaiah 59:14 says,

“Justice is turned back, and righteousness stands afar off; for truth has stumbled in the public squares, and uprightness cannot enter.”

I read an article the following day that raised concerns about A New Kind of Fury

 

A Trip Back 50 Years

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When I first heard my nursing school class was going to have a 50 year reunion, I wasn’t sure I wanted to go. I was afraid I wouldn’t recognize my friends with their old faces. Did I really want to resurrect 50 year old memories? Would my memories match my classmates memories of the same occasions?

The more I thought about it, the more I wanted to go. Then, because of already purchased tickets, I only had one weekend of the available dates that would be possible. It worked! I believe God opened the way.

We arrived in the States on Thursday afternoon. I flew from DC to Chicago on Friday morning. Carol, one of my classmates, picked me up at Ohare Airport and we drove to the Carlton Hotel of Oak Park. Some of the class were already setting up. We went together to eat lunch nearby.
I tried to nap in the afternoon to get a head start on jet lag recovery. No deal! I guess I was too excited. Jet lag didn’t keep me from enjoying a moment of the reunion.

So what did it mean to me?

Our bodies have aged, we have spent our lives quite differently, but we were the same personalities as we were 50 years ago. We laughed at the same things, we teared up over the same things, we cared deeply for each other.

We all thought that the ‘bad’ things that happened to us in school, only happened to us. With some shame or pain, we harbored these in our hearts for 50 years. When we talked, we found out many others had similar, or even worse, stories about these experiences. How healing and freeing this was!

Members from our class have gone to all 50 states and many, many nations on all continents. We took what we learned and experienced around the world! Many in our class have served in churches or missions, both long and short-term. We have been His ambassadors. Awesome!

Many have taught nursing, as well as practiced what we learned. Many others did not continue to work in nursing, but have used their knowledge and experience in other fields of service. Nothing has been wasted!

Although we didn’t recognize many of our classmates at first, with name tags that had our grad pictures, we soon caught up with each other’s lives. Such good, and sometimes painful stories, we all identified with each other.

Our tour of the hospital, nursing school and dorm was emotional. The hospital has been up-dated, added onto, and changed so much as to seem quite strange to us. But strong emotions and memories poured back when we walked down the basement hallway to the dorm. The ceilings were much lower the wall tiles, and old doors looked just as we remembered them. Our dorm has been abandoned many years ago. We saw where our sweet dorm mothers used to sit, the coat room where a few of our number got their first kiss. We wondered how the bumper pool table fit in that tiny space! The elevators have been out of service for years. The hallways were dark and the rooms were so tiny, we wondered how 2 or 3 girls could ever manage in the space for a year at a time! I guess I’m still processing all of this. I don’t have words yet for this part of the reunion.

I am so grateful for all the hard work done by the organizers to make this reunion so meaningful.

Passionate for Pre-born Babies

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In August, my niece, Kimberly Hubartt, posted what Abby Johnson said changed her mind about abortion. Here’s her summary:

“It was not the gruesomeness of abortion that caused me to leave my job. It wasn’t the blood. It wasn’t the baby parts. In fact, I spent years piecing together aborted babies before we disposed of them. It wasn’t the gore that changed me. The gore only showed me the death of something that I didn’t even consider valuable.

“It was the humanity that changed me. It was seeing a child fight for his life. Seeing that heart beating faster and faster until it finally stopped. It was seeing the natural fight or flight response that is in all of us…that’s what made me realize that abortion was wrong. Seeing that this tiny baby in the womb was no different than me…he was only in a different location…THAT is what changed my heart.

“This is why showing a woman the LIFE in her womb through an ultrasound is so incredibly effective. This is why showing her a tiny fetal model of her currently growing baby changes minds. Because we show her what IS…not what was.

“Where there is love, life naturally follows.”


To read more of her Abby’s story, see her Personal Information on her About page. It is really eye-0pening!