Gleaming from the 3 Magi and Their Role

Merry Christmas!! Happy Holidays! And oh YES… Happy Anniversary to us!!
You see, today is our Anniversary. 28 years to be precise.. See, I love this time of year! I love the sights. The Smells.. The Decorations… The Music.. Most of all I love the Movies!! I Am a sucker for Christmas Movies. Romantic Comedies to be precise!
But this Christmas is different. I am alone. I am sitting in my apartment this Christmas season, on our Anniversary, with the tree lit in it’s warm glow of multicolors. The ornaments hung by my wife before she left. Each one placed purposely.. accordingly to shape, color, size… I am listening to instrumental Christmas music as I do every morning since she left for America to see the grand baby, and our family.
I am missing out on Pumpkin Pie, Buttermilk Pie… Watching movies with those I love. Family arguing about the little things of life.
I had to stay behind this year. So for the first time in 28 years we are apart for our Anniversary. For the First time in 30 years we are apart for Christmas and New Years. I am watching all our favorite movies.. the classics and the newer ones! But it’s not the same. This year, it’s about Mitzi.. My wife.. It’s about who she is and what she is becoming..
Oh!! This is also my First Christmas and New Year in Albania…… I am alone trying to figure out what this season of my life has taken me, and where it has brought me. I am trying to figure out what the New Year will bring with it… Like all movies there is the Star of the Show.. The one figure the story is based around. Also there are minor characters and backups…. And like most Christmas movies, the theme is love… Love Lost. Love Forgotten.. Or Love Awakened.. And in the stories the characters are reunited, or brought together, by circumstances beyond their control.
Memories of the past are brought to light. Feelings of love spring forth. Regrets, hard decisions, bad choices made brought to remembrance.. Plans of the future seem bleak. Hope sometimes lost… Regrets seem to heavy to bear. Loneliness breathes it’s chilly breath on the back of the neck, sending a chill thru the soul. Past wounds are dancing like fairies in the mind.. But it is here that the story, our story, maybe your story too.. Takes place..
You see, even though there are a couple of main characters, (and seems love always finds a way) there is always this one character who has but a small part in the whole story, but sets the stage for events, or seems to be able to bring perspective to things. Offering more understanding to those around… This character is able to shed light, to make clear the choices set forth.. This character usually has few lines and isn’t seen often but drops these weighty words that find fertile soil in the hearts and minds of those around…. For instance, Tiny Tim in a Christmas Carol.. The little girl in the Grinch Who Stole Christmas.. Scott Calvin’s son in, The Santa Clause…. Or yet, Even more important and true, The Three Wise Men coming to see the New Born King in Bethlehem…
The story isn’t about them. But without them the story doesn’t unfold. The story doesn’t get told. Wisdom is not understood… And so this Christmas.. This Anniversary.. This New Year.. The theme for me is this.. I am not the star of the story. I am not the hero, or even a main character! I am just this one who comes in and out of the stories around me. The one who appears for a brief moment, says his lines, and then leave. I am walking with the Ghost of Christmas Past.. I am being drug by the coattail of Christmas Present.. I am eagerly awaiting Christmas Future..
My part in this story is to say my line.. To set the stage for those whom the story is about. To draw attention not to myself but to the one who the spotlight is on. And this season, the last 2 years even.. It’s not about me. I am not the star of the story. I am not the main character. I am in a supportive role to which the story is allowed to play out.
My wife, my family… (and others around me).. it is their story that is being told.. It is their time to shine. I say my lines. I play my part.. I set the stage so that they can capture the moment. At most at times I am just a stage hand. Preparing the set, the scene, so that life can continue for the characters. I may or may not have a speaking role… The props are heavy.. The scenes are crowded and hard pressed.. I have to manuever in such a way that things can keep playing out.
Sometimes I have a few words to say, a gift to give… But, this too is only a brief moment and then it’s gone..

I am alone, in Albania… First time my life, I am alone.. Because…. The story isn’t about me. In thinking of the first Christmas, I realize the gift of the Magi on that first Christmas Morn was the set-up. A minor story.. An introduction of a Great Story. It wasn’t about them or the gifts.. They were minor casts coming to set the story in perspective. It wasn’t about what they gave, or the struggles, or the journey to get there… No one asked the 3 Wise Men how it went? No one asked them for personal information… No one took down their names, or followed them on their journey to see the King of Kings. Nor were they asked if they made it safely..
There was no great fanfare given on their return. No crowds followed their journey back.. They even had to take a different route, a new direction to get home. We don’t even know if they made it home or not… WHY?? Because that’s not what the story is about..
So, I will not lose hope.. I will not get over frustrated as I pass away from the story around me. I will not try to steal the spotlight with gifts, or the adventure it took to get here. I will just say my lines… I will just set the stage for those whom the story is to be told…
I will watch as the story of my wife unfolds. As all fairy tales and Christmas stories, I will watch as one rises above the struggles of the season, who finds her place in this world. I will present my gifts.. I quietly lay them down.. I silently back away from the scene, as she takes her role, using her gifts and talents to be the person she was meant to be.
See, John the Baptist had it right… “I must decrease.”.. Maybe there is truth in these Christmas stories, “it’s better to give, than to receive.” Maybe we can learn more from the Wise Men than we thought.. Maybe we would do better serving, giving, and leaving, than we would trying to capture more of the moment than we should. Maybe, we are a small part of a greater story.. We will never know the impact of our lines and parts until the play is over. But one thing is for sure. We can not take the Lead Role.. We can not be the Main Character… There is only one for that. The Wise Men came, they followed a sign.. The Star.. They found the Christ… They gave their gifts.. with no strings attached. They gave what they had to the one that would Give ALL He Had. They didn’t waste time. And they were soon forgotten! (And so will we be..)
This Christmas.. This New Year.. I wish you the Best.. I wish that you find your role in the story of your life, and those around you. I hope you look closely at the First Christmas and gleam from there a brighter tomorrow. A Merrier Heart.. and A New Year for eternity..

Advertisements

Echoes from the Past, Shadows of What was

Echo

  • a sound or sounds caused by the reflection of sound waves from a surface back to the listener.

  • a close parallel to an idea, feeling, or event.

  • (of a sound) be repeated or reverberate after the original sound has stopped.

Please give me the liberty to use a few movie quotes… If you have seen the movie, The Grinch, starring Jim Carrey as the Grinch, there is a scene where he is in his cave up in the mountains talking to himself and his dog. He gets distracted by the echo repeating what he says and he starts talking to the “Echo”.. So he wants to call the Echo an idiot, so knowing it will repeat him, he says, “I’m an Idiot.” The Echo replies back.. “You’re an Idiot..” Now he gets mad and whispers knowing it won’t echo, but still the “Echo” replies, “You’re an Idiot.” (I love the Scene.)

I don’t know why, but I find is hilarious. But as I sit alone this Holiday Season in my apartment (My wife went home for the holidays to see our family,) here in Albania reflecting on this past year, and also what has lead to this point, my mind can hear the faint echo of words that were said. Some were said in whispers, and some said openly.. But the words that were said reflect in my distorted mind bouncing off the walls of doubt, shame and fear, reverberate back to me, “You’re an Idiot.”

The words of people, maybe spoken in shock, or maybe in disbelief, resound in my soul. “You left America?” “Are you CRAZY?” “Are you Mentally OK?” “You sure you are making a wise decision?” “What about your children?” … What ever words they speak, the “Echo” is, “You’re an Idiot.”

Or maybe in my reflecting, I am more in-touch with the scene from “A Christmas Carol,” where Scrooge is talking with the Ghost of Christmas Past. And as he is shown some of the small joys, but with those the great loses.. Loses made by bad decisions and poor judgment, he is left completely undone. He responds, Spirit!” said Scrooge in a broken voice, “remove me from this place.” “I told you these were shadows of the things that have been,” said the Ghost. “That they are what they are, do not blame me!” “Remove me!” Scrooge exclaimed, “I cannot bear it!”

As I reflect on the past two years, living now in Albania.. Family back in America. Friendships have dissipated. Friends have died.. Extended family has moved on.. The youth I ministered to, now married and grown. Some with their own families now… What was, is just shadows of the things that have been.”

Previous churches where once I had friends, previous leaders and pastors saying, “You’ll never do anything, as long as I am here.” Or, “Just Leave!” And some even saying, “No one likes you.”

These are all echoing in the recesses of my soul. They reverberate, they echo.. doubt, fear, and shame. Oh how, I have cried out many times, “remove me from this place,”!!

So, as I reflect on the choices and decisions I have made.. The resounding “Echo” of my mind is, “You’re an Idiot.” But!! like the Ghost of Christmas Past, The Holy Spirit responds, these are just shadows of things that have been.” And in saying this He affirms that this is not who I am, nor is it who I was. These are just words from the Grinch, Satan himself, speaking lies into this wounded soul.. Lies spoken from the “father of lies,” in hope of stopping what is. What can be…

See, I am an emotional person by nature. I feel before I think, and I often feel deeply. I am moved more with compassion and mercy than thought and reason. I do stop and think, and I try to keep my emotions under control, but God has so wired me that I feel deeply. (It helps when ministering to others in loss and suffering, in grieving and isolation, but can be overwhelming at times.) So, words are powerful. They carry a great weight with them. And even a lie spoken more often than the truth, becomes more real in the mind than the truth itself. This is why Satan, “the father of lies,” is also referred to as the “deceiver”, “crafty”, and “the accuser”.

This holiday season.. I am alone. Reflecting on the “shadows of things that have been,” I am writing down the good, the bad, and the ugly.. And even though at times I still scream, “Remove me from this Place,”  I know I am comforted by the Great Comforter, The Holy Spirit, who will never leave nor forsake me. The One who says, “My Peace I give, not as the world gives.” It is this Holiday Season I reflect, I listen, and I wait for the “Echo,” of the one I love the Most. The One who came as babe, born in a manger. Born of a virgin. Who came to bring “Peace on Earth,” an “everlasting Peace,” whose rule will bring justice to the oppressed, healing to the afflicted, and comfort to them that mourn.
And as I still battle with my doubts, fears, and shame, the lying “Echo” screaming “You’re an Idiot,” I will reflect on the one who forsook All.. Who came from Heaven and “though he was rich, He became poor,” so as the Ghost of Christmas Present said, “come and know Me better man,” our God bids us “Come!”

Merry Christmas!! “God Blesses One and All!!”

Searching For Normality

“You who live in eternity
Hear the prayers of those of us who live in time;
We can’t see what’s ahead
And we cannot get free from what we’ve left behind;
I’m reeling from these voices that keep screamin’ in my ears
All these words of shame and doubt, blame and regret;

I can’t see how You’re leading me
Unless You’ve led me here;
To where I’m lost enough to let myself be led” Rich Mullins

19478203_10203756248864894_2118944522_nYou ever watch one of those discovery shows like Ghost Hunters, or Looking for Bigfoot? You know the shows that do everything they can to make it seem exciting and to show proof, or evidence, of that which they are looking for, but never seem to get it on camera. Specially the Bigfoot and Ghost Shows.. It’s like all the locals claim it’s there, but the evidence is never found and by the end of the show you feel you wasted your hour watching it.

Yeah, that’s me here in Albania. Every Day!! I am Searching for that Illusive Creature called Normal, also known as Normality.

What is normal? I’m asked, “What is a normal day like??” My answer is, “I don’t know, I haven’t had one yet!!” I am working on it. I have only been here a year and half and so far to the best of my ability I can not say what is normal. Well, I can describe somethings as normal and maybe that will shine some light on that mysterious creature I am looking for. So let’s go on a hunt for this unknown thing. Let’s take a journey into the Chaos of this life and see if we can find this mystical creature/ghost that is always lurking in the shadows behind us but never able to capture.

First we must decide, am I normal?? Is there something different about me??? I have been told I am IMG_20180926_115849normal, but I have also been told there is nothing normal about me. I have also been told I am a normal missionary in an abnormal country… so…no help there.

So, let us look at a few things. You could describe “normal” as walking 2-3 miles to several different banks trying to find a bank that has enough money in the ATM to pay rent. Or it could be, walking somewhere, for something, to do a certain thing, and stopping in-between to have a coffee.. But, this is where life happens here. It is not the list of things that must get done everyday, which is alway iffy and changing.. But it is in going to do these things that you realize, “you’re not in Kansas anymore”. This ghost of normal comes in many forms. You get a glimpse of it when it takes a month to find a sink stopper or a lightbulb for your mirror in the bathroom, or a tailight cover for your car.. (It did.)

IMG_20180426_104003Some distant sounds of Normal may be when you are taken into a coffee shop, wither you want to go or not, and kept longer than you would like, or until they “allow” you to leave. Finding Normal is like trying to find Bigfoot. People says it exsists, but you just can’t find it. A year and a half and we are still looking for the footprints, or some evidence that it exsists. What we do know is, life happens inbetween the goals of accomplishing things. Normalcy is not getting it done, but who you met and had coffee with as you are going and doing. Normality is greeting the same people 3-4 times a day as you continue to pass by their shops.

We find that “normal” is not accomplishing something, (but it’s always a treat when you do) it is going to the same small grocery store for almost all your needs and the owners doing everything in their power to find and stock those things you really like. (Like Peanut Butter, or your Favorite Coffee..)

Normal is going to the same market, buying from the same people every week your fruits and IMG_20180926_120124vegetables. Normal for us is going to the same coffee shop meeting the same people for the last year and a half, and finally getting to converse with them.

This elusive being is not in accomplishing anything. This being is found in friendships, in relationships, and those happen with a great amount of time and investment. To find normal is not in setting goals, but enjoying the journey. Normalcy here is not what you are doing but who you are doing it with. There is no way to measure success or normalcy, there is only the process of, and it doesn’t end.

Tomorrow we will get up. We will have our share of meetings, visits, and shopping to do.. We will see how it goes.. What I do know is

We can’t see what’s ahead And we cannot get free from what we’ve left behind;
I’m reeling from these voices that keep screamin’ in my ears
All these words of shame and doubt, blame and regret;
I can’t see how You’re leading me
Unless You’ve led me here;
To where I’m lost enough to let myself be led…

And we are lost in the search of Normality…43823183_509829339485713_5010499832377245696_n

Memories… Echoes of What Was…

In the Beginning was the word.. And word was God.. The word was spoken and it created, and it was good. But death came into this world, and night quickly followed. Seasons of change came. From the north the wind howled, and frosty chill blew thru. The grass withered and the flowers faded away, but the Word of God yet endured.  

Forever since things, possessions, loved ones deceased.. Health always fades. People come and go, Death knocks at the door of our loved one, our friends and family, sometimes bustiing down the door to steal away the hopes and dreams. 

It’s loss.. The Loss of the things that make you… you.. That have shaped and grown you, but still more shaping must take place. I am who I am.. Just less in some ways. Not complete, not whole, not totally.. For a lot that has formed and shaped me has withered and died. There is now echos in the cavities of my life, leaving its void in some of the most tender places of the soul. 

There are memories where once reality ran wild. There are distant echoes of the past where hopes and dreams once thrived. There are holes, caves, and cassums now where the whole was. In the caves are the painted memories telling of the history of a past life. On the walls are the stories, under the stories are the rocks that have been broken to paint the story. The walls are the time board telling of the laughs and tragedies of what once was. But, who is coming to explore there? Who will venture down this cassum and cave to find the stories lost? 

In the caves as in the surface there are rocks and under the rocks are the words of God written in the beginning of time. So often someone turns over the rocks and reads what was written so long ago. It is the journey thru the caves of one’s soul that the tragedies, the anger, and the hurts, that are painted on the walls. It is the shapes of the joys, laughter and excitement that has been knocked down. Theses stones have been chipped away, making room for the painting of the memories. It is the stones that once made us complete, that now give us an echo of the past. 

It is only journeying down these tunnels where the stones have fallen, it is under these stones that the words are written, and these words are mine, if I have the courage to move the rocks. 

I will walk down the tunnels and caves lighting a path for someone to come to join in, to see the stories painted on the walls and hear the words that are mine and come to the fire of my soul and warm themselves.  

There are many who pass by. Some even turn to look to see where the smoke or light is coming from. But few are there who will walk down this path. Not many will go thru the valley of the shadow of death. 

But it is here , here in the darkness there in the struggle that the good Shepherd comes with His rod and staff. It is here that the friend closer than a brother comes and sits along side us and turns over the stones tha may have buried my heart. It is He who comforts, “Blessed are you who mourn.” “Blessed are the poor in spirit,” “For it is better to go into the house of mourning than the house of Joy.” 

In the end we find, we didn’t light the fire, We didn’t create this path. The words have always been written on the stones. And on the stones sit our Savior inviting us to come into the light speaking to us, “Come all who are weary and I will give you rest”. It is in this rest we invite others to come. 

Consider The Loss of All Other Things

But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ.” Philipians 3:7-8

Do we know how to count the loss of all other things? Have we given any thought to what it actually costs to follow Christ? Today we are told to make a decision for Christ. We are told, “God has a plan to Prosper us” and to make us “the Head and Not the Tail”.. Yet, we skip over some blaring scriptures that say, “Consider the Cost.” or “He who does not forsake all his possessions can not be My Disciple.”

I wished I could forget the Cost!! I wished I didn’t know. I wished I wasn’t reminded daily of it.

What is the Cost?? What is the Cost of Discipleship? (Actually a Great book by Dietrich Bonhoeffer) I have been reading a book and it has been talking about the cost we pay as we travel to serve in a foreign country. Costs that we sometimes don’t take into consideration. Costs like, we lose our status & identity.. We lose a sense of normality. We lose close connections with friends that were once close, as we try to adapt to a new culture. We lose fellowship with those we use to hold dear, as we struggle to start a new life.

We have lost the income we once were comfortable with, to live off of what those few people who support us give.. We have lost the independence we once had to be at the mercy of a few supporters. (which we love dearly! Thank you!!)

We have lost a sense of security, for a never ending adventure into the unknown. We have traded a house for an Apartment. We have traded our own things for stuff borrowed. And the Loss of All things doesn’t just stop with things..

We lose out on knowning what is the new fads, who won the Super Bowl, or what the next hotest Tv Series are. We don’t know what’s “in” or what is “cool”.. We don’t know what’s hot in music, worship, or christian radio..

Yet, the loss of things are sometimes easier than the loss of one’s identity. Because saying bye to all the things America offers, (And what everyone here in Albania is dying to get to) is easy, but learning to know who you are with out all the norms is totally new adventure into the Father Heart Of God. See, when Jesus bids us to come, he is actually bidding us “to come and die.” (Dietrich Bonhoeffer).. But, this is the Grand Adventure, because only when we lose all things, especially ourselves and identity, can we become what He has promised to make us..”To be conformed into His Image.” When we become identified with Christ in his Death, we become united in His Life.. So Paul writes, “I have been crucified with Christ, never the less I Live, Not I, but Christ in Me.”
See, we will never know the real adventure by just moving overseas, but by leaving all we were, all we are, and all that we look to for security and identity; not until we count “all things loss.. in order that we may gain Christ,” will we be free. Free to love unconditionally. Free to give and not hold back.  To Become like Christ.  Only when we are “buried with Christ” we will be raised to “newness of life.”

My losses have only been material.. I have lost friends by moving. I have lost income for ministry. I have lost independence, but gained faith (though small).. I have lost position and status, for isolation and loneliness in a new culture. I have lost all sense of normality for an adventure of faith.. But one thing I will hold onto, “knowing Christ.”

See, Paul goes on to say, “Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus”.

I am not perfect.. I am weak, “but He is strong.” I am poor, “But Blessed are the poor, for theirs is the kingdom of God.” I am broken and bruised,  yet “a bruised reed He will not break and a smoldeing wick He will not put out.” Most of the time I feel lost and confused as to why I am here, maybe even abandoned, yet the One who is Faithful says, “ Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised.”

Everyday, I am considering the cost. I am reminded every time I open up Facebook. I am reminded everytime someone wants to show off their collection of something, their new car, boat, house, or brag about their accomplishments, or vacations.. I would like to go a day with out knowing the cost, but I am afraid the world keeps shouting it at me..

Maybe the World’s Worst Missionary

Maybe the World’s Worst Missionary..???

10428493_357767687742531_2838769125749831671_nWhat is a Missionary? Oh, I have a few ideas of what one should be like.. I have read books and been to some seminars, and I even know a lot of them. But, that is really like reading some books about the width and depth of the ocean with out jumping into it, or sailing it..

Well, for several years now, we have jumped into the ocean. We have untied our boat and sailed into the unknown to see the majesty of the ocean. We have had a taste of its depth, we have experienced some of the crashing waves, and have endeavored to become missionaries.

We have left my all we have known. We have sold or given away everything, said goodbye to our American way of life, and embarked on a journey overseas to live in a totally different culture.

Some have called us stupid. Some have told us we are crazy. One, or two, have called 36575816_10205255376662152_7632428408529485824_nreferred to us as heroes, examples to follow, but I feel far from any type of hero. Even on my best day, I can’t say I am even a “good example”.

I am basically a fish out of water, flopping in the dirt, wondering what brought me out of the water. A little confused, and some what disoriented, I am trying to grab my next breath, but yet remain calm as everything around me is not my norm. I might be the world’s worst missionary.

34414321_1110920612380770_6848235635900153856_nWe all have some idea what our lives should look like. Or, we have some mental bar set for what we deem as success and failure. Our American culture drives it into us at an early age. We carry this with us in all walks of life. People deem us successful or not by various outward conditions… rarely about anything inward..

So, by all sense and all comprehension my life looks more like one of failure.. (Even as a missionary.)

I had a great job, where I was respected and appreciated, now with very little respect and definitely no appreciation, we live in a foreign land. Once I knew the taste of success and achievement. I now know more certainly of failure and shortcomings. I once possessed things, achieved goals, met deadlines, and built relationships with clients.. Now, I can’t really put a finger on what I do.

In passing I might say “I am a missionary.” In reality I am trying to figure out what that is. In preconceived ideas I knew. In reality I am a fish flung onto dry land, wondering how I got here. In setting out I had vision, purpose, desire, maybe even dreams of grandeur.. (Stupid, I know.)

I can’t tell you if I am the norm for a missionary, or even close. I can tell you that I have met more successful and read more books of successful missionaries.. But that’s not what this is about, what I offer you is my view, experience and perspective.. I am probably the world’s worst missionary.

32852394_10205074390497611_3659838196671315968_n

A Missionary is one that has left all the known for the unknown. (Check) Someone who has crossed cultural barriers to bring the Gospel, not just social action, to a Race, Tribe, or Nation. (Check) They leave their families, (Check) their friends (Check), their status in society (Check), to become unknown, unfriended, and lost in a new society.. (Check)

 

Sounds like I’m nailing it.. Just wait

A missionary has to adapt to a new language, (In process! I’m a very slow learner with no ear for sounds.) A missionary has to adapt to a new culture, and fit in. (Working on it.) A missionary has learn what is now acceptable and what isn’t, what is now the new normal, even if it doesn’t make sense in your brain. (Takes years)

But now, let’s talk about the other things a missionary will have to deal with, or might.. Bombs, There is the occasional bomb that goes off in the city. (4 Bombs the first year. Only one exploded.) Maybe threats on your life, or your well being. (Check) And this… something you have to adapt to is CRAZY DRIVING, with A FEW Laws.. (Yes, you are more likely to get a ticket for not having Headlights on than driving crazy and fast.) You have to learn to drive like everyone else to survive.

30412595_10204939231518721_1708395861291040768_nAs a missionary you have to figure out how to do paperwork for EVERYTHING! In a foreign language. (So Stressful) Another wonderful treat is trying to explain when something goes wrong with your car to the mechanic (A Reoccurring Problem that I HATE!) Next is staying healthy!! (Can’t Do it!) I have tried, but this seems to be a continuous struggle that I lose. I have been sick more in this country than in my entire life, (I think!) Sleepless nights (Check) Chronic Stomach issues which include throwing up all night and, or diarrhea (Check)!!! Food Poisoning (Check)!! Then my normal life problems.. Back Pain with two surgeries. Chronic numbness in my leg, and also broke my big toe again this year. A problem when you walk 4-6 miles a day.

So, All this while trying to learn a language and become a minister of the Gospel in a foreign land.

I can’t tell you if I am successful.. I have read books of those who were.. I can’t tell you even if I am moving forward at a steady pace. I can only tell you I am surviving… People ask me how I am doing after 2 weeks of barely being able to sleep because of a cough, and my response is “Surviving”.16427661_10203108002779147_7344658554981935007_n

People ask me, “How is it going?” Well, After spending $3000 fixing a car I bought for $2000 and it died on me 2 times last week in the capital, “I am Surviving.” After the death of a close friend, a suicide of a friend, and the deaths of family members while overseas, “I’m Survinging”..

I maybe a missionary, might even be the worst… But I’m tired of reading success stories that never share the other-side.. We have left all we have known.. We have left Family for Strangers. Dear Friends for acquaintances that you can only say hi and bye to. We have left a place where having a conversation with people is normal, to only being able to say basic sentences and not being able to explain anything to anyone at any given time@!!

36680591_10212336071020221_8983798795443634176_nI don’t know if I am successful, but I have survived another day.. Don’t know what tomorrow holds, but with out an interpreter it will be difficult… It will be just as lonely.. We will be set apart as different. We will be viewed as Americans with any & all stigmas, mainly rich and privileged.

In the world’s eyes we are failures. Possessing nothing now. No Status. No wealth. No retirement. No prospects for change..

Even to most churches we may even be considered failures. Yes, we preach and teach the Gospel. Yes we serve in our local church. Yes we are apart of local ministry, yet we can claim no converts. No Baptisms. No prospects of church planting. Language, barely able to comprehend. Health, always a concern… we know will be judged by those back in America as successful or not.

Yes, I may be the world’s worst.. I don’t know. I have only read about successful missionaries.

I will make you fisher of men…

I love fishing. Well, I use to love fishing. I loved watching fishing shows, competitions, whatever I could. I use to love being on the water, early in the morning, sun just coming up over the crest of the earth bringing to live all the rays touch. The gentle lap of the water against the hull of the boat. Positioning everything for that first cast..
   I have left fishing and I have become “a fisher of men.” Now, as I fish for those that are cast aside in society, I use words for bait. My sentences are the line that I cast my thoughts upon the water with. My mind is the turbulent waters and stormy sea that I pray Jesus walks on, and calms the storms that batter my boat. I feel I have been fishing all night and haven’t caught anything..
A Great movie all should see, A River Runs Through It. In it Norman McLean says, “in the Arctic half-light of the canyon, all existence fades to a being with my soul and memories and the sounds of the Big Blackfoot River and a four-count rhythm and the hope that a fish will rise”.
Sometimes writing is like fishing, you have to leave your line in the water long enough to catch something. Also, the more you do it, the better you get. For me, I have not had my line in the water in a long time. I have forgotten how to cast. I have lost my positioning and technique. So, this is me rising early once again, feeling the morning gradually awaking from the night. My boat is now my chair, my pole is the computer that sits in my lap, I will now attempt once again my passion for words. Not just any words, but words so strung together that thought and poetry give way to meaning and cohesiveness. May my words form character and body, constructing the emotion and feelings of the time.
The water is calm this morning; the wind is yet somewhat turbulent. The clouds loom, not allowing the morning rays to cast it’s light. Yet, the fish, or words, are stirring. Maybe something will bite.
I don’t fish, (write) for a living. (A dream it would be for sure.) I do it because it makes me feel alive. I do it for the peace it gives. The click of the keys, the flow of the words like the current of the lake, each click lapping the hull of the boat. A rhythm sets in. A pattern.. I’m not looking to catch a lot, just one good one. One story. One thought.. To not only wrestle with it; to feel the fight, but to bring it in so others can see it.
Many casts, and with many stokes of the keys, I am getting fewer and fewer nibbles. All it takes is that one. It’s not like I am going to keep it. I will just let it go. But, in catching that thought, bringing it in, and releasing it, I feel a sense of accomplishment. Conquering? Maybe.. Understanding? More likely. Of myself and hopefully to those around me. I write because I feel the words. I cast my words out and draw them back in a rhythmic pattern, slowly at times and then fast at others.. At times I just let them free fall, “in hope that a fish will rise,” a thought will be captured, a truth be told, and understanding gained.
The Scriptures tell us to “Cast your bread upon the water, and it will return upon every wave.” So this is me.. I am pulling away from the shore once more. I am going to my favorite spot. I am hoping for the best, or better yet, what is deemed best for the moment.
 It has been a long time since I have fished. It has been a while since I have written.. I hope you find your place on board this boat. I hope you feel the rhythm of the waves, some may be turbulent, but they are real. The feelings, emotions, and the spirit behind the words I catch. I will release them for others in hope that they too may catch what I have found. That they may reel-in what I have and in doing so we may share some similarities and stories.
I am pushing away from the shore. I am typing. My fingers are tying the line with each stroke of the keys and with the “half-light of the canyon, all existence fades to a being with my soul and memories,” my thoughts, and “a four count rhythm and a hope a fish will rise.”
“I will make you fisher of men.”