Tuesday, May 25, 2010

"Is it really that different?!"

The British vs. American cultures, I mean.

This has become my least favourite question to hear.

Yes. It is.

I can't tell you what a temptation this question is to me. I immediately have to start talking to myself. "It's ok. They don't know."

I spoke with someone this week who went away as a family for 9 months and then came back. They were told, that it would take them a year to adjust to being back "home." With relational changes, changes in themselves, etc.

I can't tell you how freeing and helpful that was to hear. I was gone 16 months. And in another country, too. There is grace to adjust slowly. I don't have to pretend. Or tell others I'm "there." Nope. I'm here. Weak. Confused a lot of the time. Mis-communicating with everyone and their mother. And NOT adjusted to America yet. And yes, I spent 22 1/2 years of my life here.

As I sat around eating brownies with some friends tonight, I began to see a glimpse of just HOW British I became while away. To hear their confusion/slight frustration with my short and abrupt answers to their questions made me chuckle. I remember feeling that way about everyone else!

I watched them begin to process this new "me" I guess you could say. More reserved. Quiet. Not free to express my opinion unless asked. They asked lots of questions. And seemed so perplexed.

I can't imagine how hard it is for them. I didn't just "go away" and then "come back." No. I went to another world. I became part OF that world. And now I'm back but I'm an alien. That's what it feels like.

I can't explain to you what its like to adjust culturally. It's beyond words. I can't paint a picture for you of the various cultures...you have to see for yourself.

What I CAN tell you is: There's grace. Grace when I feel mis-heard. Mis-understood. Sad and not able to detect exactly why. Just really craving tea and biscuits. Missing British humor and being so un-impressed with American wit.
etc. etc.

Thank you for your prayers. I need them.
My transition is going so much smoother having had Jo visit. She helped in ways that...oh man. I can't even describe. Our constant cultural conversations. Her observations and thoughts after interactions in a group...invaluable wisdom.

Thank you, Jo. Miss you.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Trusting in love.

Yay! Jo is here! What a wonderful time it has been with this precious friend. Oh how she serves me. Ah. The kindness of God. What wonderful timing. This trip has been so excellently placed in my continuing "transition" back to the States. Jo has faithfully poured grace upon me since she arrived: lavishing me with gospel love and encouragement. I am praying the ash around Iceland gets bad again so she can stay a bit longer.

Her visit has made me see that I've really hardly transitioned culturally and relationally. It makes us both laugh at times. Her insight has been like valuable treasure to me.

I thought I'd take a minute to share with you my journal entry from this morning, as the promises of Scripture seemed especially sweet to my soul today. As my subconscious often wonders what part of the world I live in, and I am still very much sorting out life in the States...these words filled my heart with peace.

"But I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation. I will sing to the Lord because He has dealt bountifully with me." Psalm 13:5

"Oh, this is good. I must trust IN His steadfast love. Love that never waivers- I must trust IN it. Trust. That means: have faith. Rest in. Anticipate. Hope upon. Expect from.



His love.

But not just any kind of love...steadfast love. Un-moving. Sturdy. The same: in Wales, in America, in each and every season. Including now.

God is not waiting for me to change. Or transition culturally or relationally. No. He has ordained this long transition and stumbling around. He wants to reveal His love to me. He wants to care for me. He loves to do it. He does not leave me to care for myself. This love has no variation or shadow due to change.

I CAN trust it. It's not going anywhere. It's not moving. It's not changing.

THIS...seeing His love, and then TRUSTING in it...because its steadfast...makes my heart REJOICE in salvation. Rejoicing because I see what I once was: an enemy of God. And what I now am: His child. Ransomed. Adopted. made a daughter of the King. Justified and made new and then adopted. Ah. Brought into family. Not foster-care. Not one home to another to another: No.


Legal. Irreversible. Final. I rejoice in this when I trust in the steadfast love of God.

'I will sing to the LORD because He has dealt bountifully with me.'

Sing. Bursting into song. Rejoicing. Celebrating. Glory-ing in. Enjoying. Delighting in. Worshiping. Almost like its an overflow of fullness or satisfaction.

God, help me to trust in your steadfast love today. I need you. I need your help-- and you've made me thus. Help me enjoy my human-ness. "

Monday, May 3, 2010

"Success" in relationships.

What deems your relationships as "successful" or not worth the energy?

For me, the answer to this question changed my life about a year ago.

God does not measure the "success" of a relationship based on what the relationship looks like in and of itself. Whether there's restoration or reconciliation. If communication is good or bad. If you're "on the same page" or reading totally different books. Those things can only happen by Him, yes. But I believe that Scripture argues...that "success" is not limited to only that.

There is success when I remember the promise of forgiveness I've made, and pray that the LORD would help me keep my promise. Success is when, "as far as it depends on me-[I] live peaceably with all." Success is overlooking an offense...again. Success is when I love- biblically defined. Patience. Kindness. Joy. Gentleness. Each and every time, God sees THAT as "success."

Why would I attempt to give myself the job of say, being the "Restorer" when I have no control over another's heart?!

So, when you are tempted to whisper (or scream) the words, "What's the point?! It doesn't even matter...!" I urge you...no, I urge US: reconsider. Possibly re-adjust our definition of what "matters." How would God define "success" in this relationship?

Your efforts might not "matter" in that they aren't changing anything (or anyone) to make your life easier. But God DOES see your work, effort, prayers, and pains. And if He's called you to this relationship...He will give you the grace to be faithful. (And remember: your faithfulness does not equal reconciliation. It means success for you.) And this can only happen by GRACE.

We are called to rest our hearts in Him. Trust....that is active. Active rest.


Sunday, May 2, 2010

"Confused? It's because I love you."

God is faithful to repeat Himself. He knows my mind forgets. My heart grows faint. My body grows weary. He remembers that I am dust.

This morning during our church meeting, I was encouraged. The last five-ish years have been confusing. Lots of abrupt, "drastic" (for lack of a better term) seasonal or relational changes. Overnight, literally. Sharp turns in the road that were very unexpected. Time and time and time again.

Why, Lord? Why all the homes? Why the sojourning? Why the pain in relationships? Why so many life-altering changes?

No one else has any answers for me. Those who know my seasons well tell me time and again that "this is unusual." Or "it doesn't make sense." It really does encourage me to hear that these last years seem to be an "exception" in their difficulty. Like...its not "normal" to have events like this happen in such close proximity. (but what is normal, really?)

And yet, this morning I was told the answer once again. The answer to my confusion. The answer I've heard in and out of each and every single one of the painful or challenging seasons.

"It's because I love you."

God has marked each step. Brought me to all the "green pastures" and "quiet waters"- whatever form they have taken. This was all on purpose.

God is jealous for my heart. He wants all of it. He wants all of me. And the reason He wants all of me: is because He knows thats what will give me MOST JOY. And He wants that. My happiness. My peace. My gladness. He is for me.

Why the pain? Because He loves me. Not in some kind of twisted way. It's real love. Affectionate love. Not just "wanting me to learn" so I'll change. No, compassionate love. Tender love. Grace-filled love.

He wants to show me the depths of His grace and comfort. Why confusing relational challenges? Because Jesus is the only True Friend. He is the Only One who keeps His promises. Why the homes? It's not just to teach me. It's not just an opportunity for wisdom to be imparted to me: though, both of those things are dearly and greatly treasured and I wouldn't trade them for anything. It's because He loves me. The Gospel has become my home.

And while I'm not currently in a season of trial or great pain, it is good to consider these things.

I must enjoy this present season of prosperity and not "wish" I was struggling so I'd grow in other ways. No. I must be grateful in this season and delight in all it's blessings.

Yet, I find it helpful to remember, God's love is not expressed in my circumstances; ie: if things are good, He loves me, and if things are hard, He's upset. No. His love was expressed on the cross.

"When the sun is shining down on me and the world's all as it should be" or "When the road's marked with suffering and there's pain in the offering"...still: Blessed be His Name.