Permission Slip

As a momma-of-four at home, crisis schooling & teaching my own classes to my students, maintaining semblance of sanitary home, wife-ing, and friend-ing gal, I hearby grant thee the following permissions:

  1.  You may say no, nope, nuh-uh, no way with no residual guilt.
  2. Paper plates are allowed.
  3. You may read a book that you like-not for work or any purpose other than to just escape.
  4. You are granted permission to turn your phone off.
  5. Cease checking the news.  If you must check it, set a timer for 15 minutes and then move on.  Permission granted to focus on your home and those within.
  6. Sleep odd hours (even for a thing called a ‘nap’ if the opportunity arises).
  7. You may retire the iron for this season.
  8. You may lock your bedroom door for a date night (ONLY applies to marrieds).
  9. You may make a fantastic detailed schedule.
  10. You may crumple up said fantastic detailed schedule.
  11. You may uncrumple and tweak said fantastic detailed schedule.
  12. Sandwiches are permissible for any meal-as is cereal!
  13. Permission granted to focus on your home and those within.
  14. You may lock the door when you go to the bathroom.
  15. You may decorate for any season you like.
  16. Worship through song with your church, youtube videos, homemade instruments, and off-key voices.  Sing at the sink, in the shower, at the dinner table, and on the porch.
  17. You may let your kids do their work/projects by themselves-you do not need to re-earn your elementary and high school diplomas.
  18. You may let your kids fail.  It is a great lesson to learn.
  19. You have permission to start a project, quit it 1/3 way through, stick your tongue out at it, restart, and repeat!
  20. You may laugh in a gut-busting, down to your toes, tears in your eyes manner as much as you can.
  21. You are allowed to wallow and weep-give yourself a set amount of time (15 min-30 min) and have a good ol’ tantrum.  Then blow your nose and march on.
  22. You may wear comfy clothes-including seasonal ones that simply are not in season.
  23. You are allowed to fail.
  24. You are also allowed to succeed.
  25. You are granted permission to feel all the things.

May the lasting memories from this unexpected season be ones of joy and an awareness of Christ’s love.  If you don’t know Jesus as your personal Savior, email me or comment!  I would love to chat with you about Him!

Hope in the Grieving

Have you noticed something weird lately in your heart or stomach?  An odd ache?  I have.  I mentioned to a friend this weekend that the entire world is grieving.  There is scarcely a soul untouched by fear or concern. Each person I chat with or check in with is going through various stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.  Denial of sickness could happen to them, anger when others don’t follow the rules, bargaining with time saying ‘I’ll do this for this long, if…’, depression over lost opportunities, and even a few at the acceptance stage.  For some the grief is a sick feeling in the pit of their stomach, while others have gone into survival mode. Meanwhile, the grief of losing friends and family, fear of who will catch the virus next, and the lack of an end-date makes the grief inescapable.  Uncertainty taints every single decision.

Uncertainty.

That’s the word.  Most of us felt we had a pretty firm grasp on our lives. Our calendars were filled with work, events, family outings, vacations, and so forth.  Suddenly, a heap of unknowns was dumped into our laps.  Almost like our lives went through a shredder!  Now each person is scrambling to make sense of the moment-to-moment while simultaneously dealing with longterm decisions when there is no way to make sense of anything.  And it is driving us crazy.

We like to know.  Even more than knowing, we want to be in control.  Personally, the inability to control much of anything has led me to an organizing frenzy!   I assume no bin will escape my hand by the end.  We’ve also rearranged furniture and planted flowers, fruits, and veggies. We’ve made a daily schedule to create a new normal.  Others have over-shopped, over-exercised, over-couch potatoed, and over-indulged.  All the while each waiting for someone to tell us to stop-you’ve got to be ready to do such-and-such by this date!  But no one actually knows anything in these swiftly changing times.  Each of us is craving boundaries, controls, and assurances.

All of this brings to mind an old hymn “Blessed Assurance

Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine;
Oh, what a foretaste of glory divine!
Heir of salvation, purchase of God,
Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood.

This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior all the day long.
This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior all the day long.

Perfect submission, all is at rest,
I in my Savior am happy and blest;
Watching and waiting, looking above,
Filled with His goodness, lost in His love.

As a Christian, I do have assurance that God is still on His throne.  I have assurance that my salvation through Jesus Christ is not dependent on my emotions, the economy, or my fears.  I am assured that regardless of what happens to my family here or thousands of miles away, God will make beauty from ashes.

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I do not have to be at the mercy of my emotions.  Instead, I will remember I am wrapped in His mercy.  I am not forced to let fear control my steps, but I can use His wisdom and guidance to step confidently.  I can choose to find JOY in the unexpected.  I can decide to rest in His promises.  I will limit my exposure to news and bulk up on reading the Bible.  I am not helpless in these moments, regardless of how I feel.  I will be thankful and take note of those blessings I tend to take for granted.  I also know that grieving is not something I’m doing alone-so I will reach out and heal with others.  Christ has grieved before and I know His heart is breaking in these moments, too.  I will choose to remember there is hope in the grieving.

 

100 Years

Even now I can see Pawpaw’s faded overalls and hear the jangle of mechanic’s tools in every pocket as he walked.  My Pawpaw was tall and lanky.  He also had a cigar perpetually perched in the corner of his mouth (though it was usually a stub and unlit in later years).  Last month, my Pawpaw would have been 100 years old.  We celebrated with a meal of his favorites-pinto beans with cornbread.  And no party would have been complete without a banana pudding, which he much preferred over cake!

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My Pawpaw, Jesse, was born in 1920.  I loved sitting and chatting with him about what he had seen in his life as he turned grease-stained solitaire cards over and over.  He was the type that could say more in a few well-chosen words than those who prattle on for hours and say nothing.  He was from the era of letting your actions speak.  His actions spoke loudly.  He was a mechanic by trade.  Living in the South, Pawpaw fixed everyone’s car-regardless of color or creed.  This was definitely not the norm.  He could simply lean over the engine, listen well, and fix what was broken.

His life wasn’t easy.  At age eleven, a truckload of logs fell on his leg. His femur was shattered beyond repair.  Experimental surgery was performed-a sheep bone was used to replace his bone.  And it worked.  A challenge appeared later.  He was eleven and eleven year olds grow.  The sheep bone didn’t.  His leg remained that same length the rest of his days.  I can still picture the cane hanging from the loop on his overalls.

In 1970, Pawpaw was given the Tennessee Handicapped Citizen of the Year award.  An award he never told me about…which is just like him.  I am thankful for this man who lived a hard life and served others well.

Happy 100th Birthday, Pawpaw.  Love you. Longing for the day I hear you say “Love you, too,” again.

Introducing Miss Delta Huang

“WE HAVE A VAN!”  “Is that OURS?”  “We don’t have to drive in the rain anymore?!” ” Can we take it to school tomorrow?”  Our girls couldn’t believe their eyes.  Honestly, neither could I.  Today, Michael pulled up to our house with a beautiful gift.  Her name is  Miss Delta Huang.  She’s a 2014 Toyota Kijang Innova.  Our entire family can ride in her plus a friend or two!  (Car seats will be added in the morning-my momma heart is elated!).  We cannot wait to use her to bless this community.  We are truly honored to have a way to stay dry and safe in our home away from home.

One of the best things about Miss Delta Huang is her story.  From the moment she was just a dream, to the closing sale handshake, we have been surrounded by His Body.  She was purchased with partnership and prayer.  For every uphill climb, someone has walked along with us.   When things seemed impossible, there were prayers, encouragement, and faith to borrow.  We have literally witnessed community from all corners of this globe join in this journey.  Every time we are sitting in macet (traffic jam) in the shelter of our own space, able to grocery shop in one trip instead of several on a motorbike,  provide refuge from the rain, and see more of this island we love, Delta Huang will tangibly remind us of the power of the Body working together.  We couldn’t be more amazed, thrilled, and thankful.  To God be all the glory.

 

 

Reframing

Several weeks ago, I was returning home for the second time that morning.  The girls had forgotten required items and it was definitely a full-fledged Monday morning.  As I zoomed my motorbike down the road, I let the frustrations fly, too.  “Why can’t we just remember everything?”  “Why aren’t the girls more responsible?” “I can’t believe I’m losing my one free morning this week!”.  As the frustrations mounted, I heard Him remind me that I had asked for time to be Mom.

I pulled into my driveway with a very different attitude.  It was true.  All the years of raising the girls, I had longed to have time to be Mom.  Yet, here I was, complaining about  having to retrieve forgotten soccer cleats and a missing presentation item.  I had the gift of time to take care of my kids.  I actually found myself smiling as I headed back to the school.

My next run home (yep, there were actually three runs back home that morning!) was completely different.  I felt light and joyful.  I was amazed that He had given me such a great place to work which still permitted me to be Mom when needed.  I joined in laughing with the satpam (guards) as I passed each station. They knew I had already been back and forth.

Of the two emotions, joy was definitely more delightful than frustration.  I continued to think about that morning in the craziness since.  How often have I been less than thankful for answered prayers?  Way too many moments came to mind.  Here are a few ways I’ve been seeking to reframe my thinking:

  1.  Focusing on homesickness, instead of being thankful we get to serve Him in such an incredible place.
  2. Frustrated we weren’t keeping things tidy, when the evidence of games and toys out are testimonies to the life we live.
  3. Wishing I could do more, instead of doing just what He has asked.  It is immensely freeing to just operate in obedience.

While reframing is a skill I’m still developing, I am trying to do it consistently.  And guess what?  Joy has followed.

Rainy Season Thanks!

The rain we have diligently sought is all around us.  The greens are more vibrant than our eyes can take in.  We are thankful for the mighty rain from His mighty hand.  We are also thankful for those with vehicles who help transport us Davis people around while the heavens pour down.  To all of you joining in on our van adventure, we hope to have one by March!  In the meantime, enjoy this video from yesterday!

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Greens & Blues

Today was my first jaunt on the motorbike since we returned from Malaysia.  I have to admit, I was overwhelmed by the intense beauty surrounding me.  The sky was that idealistic shade from children’s picture books.  The nearby lake shown a silvery-blue as the sun danced across its surface. The mountains were decorated with patchwork quilts of greens ranging from kelly to evergreen with rich red dirt stripes.  The poofy clouds lept joyfully from hilltop to hilltop.  The other clouds reminded me of those cottonball clouds we used to glue to our sheets of construction paper-stretching them out to cover the whole top!  Even the breeze was waltzing with happiness.  I could feel His presence all around.

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How quickly I get caught up in to-do lists and getting from point A to point B.  Today, I chose to fight back.  To pull over a few times and just look at my surroundings.  I giggled at the sheep dining on the hill as the shepherd grinned back at me.  I noticed all the teens taking selfies with the gorgeous backdrops around us.  I saw husbands and wives with their jogging feet in time with one another.  I smelled the sweet grasses and observed His beauty with my two gals gasping in delight with me.

Y’all, don’t miss out on Him-whether it is in the beauty of the world around you or those people you do life with.  At Christmas we unwrap gifts from covered with paper and string, but we are given gifts every single day to unwrap.  Don’t let them gather dust.  Take the moment to see His hand, His glory, His delight, and His love for you.  Look for those greens and blues…

Don’t Be Afraid

“DON’T BE AFRAID!” cheered the Kindergarten crew.  I had to choke back tears.  The past week I had taught several classes with the littlest kids at BAIS.  Each and every class had boldly repeated the same line from the story of Jesus’s birth.  These young ones had focused in on one of the key messages from Christ’s birth-DON’T BE AFRAID.  The angel had told Mary, then said the same thing to Joseph, AND to the shepherds.  In every instance where fear had an opportunity to sink in its claws, each person was reminded to be strong, push away fear, and trust in God’s promises.  From a young, teenage gal to an older husband-to-be, to smelly shepherds cast far away from the security of a city’s wall-every single one was assured that God was in control.

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I find these words resound like silver bells in my heart this Christmas season.  ‘Don’t Be Afraid’ to leave your families in My care.  ‘Don’t Be Afraid’ to trust in My provision.  ‘Don’t Be Afraid’ to grow roots where I have you planted.  ‘Don’t Be Afraid’ of goodbyes or hellos.  ‘Don’t Be Afraid’ to be who I’ve created you to be.  ‘Don’t Be Afraid’ to obey when the only thing you are sure of is Me.  ‘Don’t Be Afraid’ to let everything go to pursue Me.  ‘Don’t Be Afraid’ to dream and see with My eyes.  ‘Don’t Be Afraid’ to love like I do.  Simply DON’T BE AFRAID.

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My hope this Christmas season is that you will hear these words ring out to your heart in the story of Jesus’s birth.  I hope this Christmas these words give you courage to seek Christ like never before.  To ask the big questions and hear the answers.  To love those who have hurt you.  To allow yourself to feel true joy.  To read the story of Jesus’s birth in  the Holy Bible in the beginning of Matthew and Luke with new eyes.  To put the phones and devices down and just be with one another.  To find delight in the One who dances with delight over you. (Zephaniah 3:17)

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Happy Christmas from all us Davis People to you and yours.  

May His joy and peace be what fills your season.

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On The Recieving End

Virus.  There is not a positive application of this word that I have ever heard.  Last week, it was my turn to have one.  For two days, I fought fever, attempted to stay hydrated, and didn’t leave my room.  In the meantime, my community reminded me how much our family is loved.  Our sabbatical visitor decided she would help watch the gals so Michael wouldn’t be so overwhelmed taking care of everything else.  My classes were covered by incredible teachers so I knew my students weren’t missing out on learning.  An elementary school event was that week-everyone stepped in and made it happen marvelously.  My Bigs helped the Littles make costumes for Storybook Day. Michael Joe even handled picture day!  (well, let’s be honest-jury is still out on that! ha!)

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One detail of His love has yet to be mentioned.  I have a crazy quirk that makes me crave tomato soup and orange juice when I’m sick.  Yes, I am well aware it is disgusting.  But I have wanted that as long as I can remember.  This time was different.  I wanted chicken noodle soup…and not the local version.  I wanted it American style.  Campbell’s version has yet to hit the stores here, so I pushed my longing aside.  On the afternoon of day two, I recieved a text asking if I wanted some chicken noodle soup.  She said He had put it on her heart to make that evening for her family and to ask me if I wanted some.

Y’all.  He loves us SO SPECIFICALLY.

Please never doubt His love for you.  Whether you are crying on your couch, celebrating in your car, or sick on foreign soil, He Loves You. “I’m absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us.” Romans 8

The rest of the week and weekend remains a bit of a blur as I tried to convince myself I was better and those around me insisted I wasn’t!  I’m still hugging sprite (which I typically loathe), but I’m so thankful to be oodles better than last week.  Enjoy a few pics of the fun I missed out on!

Storybook Day Characters!

 

 

Learning by Lissie Joy

Lissie Joy has entered preschool this year.  Her classmates are Indonesian, Korean, Austrian, American, Indian, and probably somewhere I’m forgetting.  She truly enjoys the new adventures she finds each day in her class.  Her teacher is fantastic! There are no devices, just pure hands-on fun and activities.  Everytime I glance into the classroom, she is actively chatting, doing, playing, puzzling…in short, she is learning.  My favorite is the songs she is learning.  I absolutely adore hearing her and her teeny voice singing all day long!  Here are a few pics (and a video!) of our Lissie Joy…learning.