Coffeegirl63's Blog

Releasing and Embracing May 21, 2010

Filed under: Life Questions,Love,Times with My Family — coffeegirl63 @ 6:09 pm
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I apologize for the gap in posting. I’ve been busy at work, as well as in my off-work time, and I’ve been working on this post for several days wherever I have been able to grab time.

This is all about my kids, so there definitely will be some shameless bragging going on. I’ll tell some stories, but none that would make my kids change their names, shave their heads, and move to another country… they may move to another country, but that was inevitable anyway. I’m pretty sure they’ll keep their names and their hair, however.

Recently, my kids have been given opportunities to realize some of their very important and long-held dreams.

Jimmy and Jeanice have often talked about traveling for fun—just taking off and exploring the world. The first time I learned that God has His hands on my kids, that I could trust Him more than my own ability to protect them, was almost 22 years ago. In July, 1998, Jim and I took our one-year-old son, Jimmy, with us on a short-term missions trip to Guatemala. One day, we went to the garbage dump to work with the people who lived there. After we presented the drama, as I spoke to a group of women, one of them reached out and took Jimmy from me, and the other women surrounded her so that I lost sight of him. I had a split-second to make a decision. I could have pushed my way in, taken my baby back into my arms, … and lost an opportunity to speak into these women’s lives. And don’t think my mommy-instincts didn’t scream long and hard at me to charge in and protect my own. Instead, I worked my way through, put my hand on Jimmy, and talked to those women about the love of Jesus and how He wanted to be a part of their lives. As a result of this learned trust in God to protect my children better than I ever could, I have had peace as Jimmy and Jeanice have collectively been on 22 trips to 18 countries. This summer, they get to experience their first overseas adventure together since they were preschoolers. Jimmy is heading to Germany for a missions trip at the end of this month. On the last day of his trip, Jeanice will fly to Berlin to meet him and begin their adventures. They’ll spend a couple weeks “backpacking Europe.” Jimmy has been blogging about their preparations, and he’ll continue at least through the course of their trip.

Johnny has had a heart for Africa and for babies since he was very young. The first time I saw it was when Johnny was about two years old. I was reading to him the story of Hannah, Samuel’s mother. Hannah (for those of you who are unfamiliar with the story) desperately wanted a baby, but she couldn’t conceive. Every year, she would travel to the temple weeping and imploring God to give her a baby. As I read the story, Johnny himself began to cry. It just broke his heart that Hannah couldn’t have children. He couldn’t fathom pain that deep. A couple years later, Johnny was in the room as I was teaching early American history to Jimmy. (Free side-note tip for soon-to-be and young parents: kids are listening, no matter how unlikely it seems that they would be doing so.) When he heard slavery explained, he became very upset: “You can’t *own* a person! Why would they do that??” Later, we read a story about a missionary family in Africa. These and other events began to compile a world-view in Johnny’s developing little mind. When he was about 4 or 5, I heard him in his room and went to investigate (as any good mother would! 🙂 ). The only way to describe what I saw is to say that my little man was travailing. He was on his knees, rocking back and forth, crying, and praying, “God, please! You have to send someone to Africa. Mommy says I’m too young to go, and the people there will die before she’ll say I’m old enough to go. Please, God!!” Yes, deep beyond his years! Well, I’m thrilled to say that Johnny may have the opportunity to work in an orphanage there. I’m so excited for him. We don’t know what God will have Johnny do with his life, but we know that it won’t involve sitting still somewhere.

Many of you know that my kids have lived only with their dad for years. The two main reasons for this were: he was in a better financial position to house and feed them, and my mental health didn’t leave me room to care for anyone but myself for a while… and then I went through a very selfish period… and, well, anyway… Life has held some regrets over the years, but I’m moving on and making some good choices. Now, on to happier thoughts. J Julia and I are buying a house together! We are very excited. Julia has been living with her dad and her brothers for quite some time and is, as she puts it, “done with testosterone” for a while. I have been renting a room in somebody else’s house for the last seven years. We are each ready to have our own bathroom, to run a kitchen and keep a house as we like, and to just have mom-daughter time whenever we want to. I could (and even want to) write pages and pages about the house we’ve found, but instead I’ll be keeping you posted on that in updates. Ok, here’s one little sneak peek:

 In Him, Joni

 

Validations and Affirmations April 8, 2010

Filed under: Life Questions,Love — coffeegirl63 @ 6:46 pm
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A good friend of mine, Kevin Knebl, really encouraged me to start writing for public viewing. He began some time ago… pretty much as soon as I told him that I wanted to. That’s the thing about Kevin—he’ll always encourage you to do the thing that you believe will bring you fulfillment. Funny, huh? Kevin inspires me in a number of ways, but the inspiration that I would like to address here is a 16-minute YouTube video called Validation. If you take the 16 minutes to watch the video before reading further, the following will probably make more sense.

Validation. What makes you feel validated? Is it someone, anyone, telling you that you are great? Does it need to be a specific someone for the validation to seem real, to really feed your soul? Watching the Validation video created many questions in my mind, most of which are currently unanswered. I feel, however, that part of this journey called life is to seek the answers and learn how those questions are answered for us. Those answers sometimes seem to only lead to more questions, requiring us to examine ourselves, our journeys, and our purpose to answer the newly-formed questions.

Something else I’ve been learning from this week: I’m reading the book In the Meantime by Rob Brendle. The tagline for this book is “the practice of proactive waiting.” I’ve never been good at waiting, but I’m realizing that this journey is not only necessary but is unavoidable. For most of my life, I thought this necessity to be an unfortunate one. However, as my wise friend Art has told me more than once, I need to learn to embrace the process. I always thought the goal was to “arrive” and then to live the rest of my life in ease as an “arrived” one. Alas, it seems we never fully arrive until we arrive at the Pearly Gates. “In the Meantime,” there can and will be joy in the process as we live out our purpose in life. So, below are the thoughts I regularly think about all this.

Back to validation… Have you thought about what validates you, what feeds your soul? For me, it feeds my soul when I know that I’m appreciated, when I know that I’m making a positive difference in people’s lives. Physical touch also feed my soul. To those of you who recognize these aspects, you will know that physical touch and closeness and words of encouragement are two of my top love languages.

It fascinates me how people’s souls are fed. What happens when a person’s soul is fed for the first time, or for the first time in so long it’s been forgotten? How does it affect the life of the one who’s doing the feeding? Does it feed the soul of the feeder? What about when the feeding stops—either direction? Or if someone doesn’t feel the soul-hunger? What if there’s so much hurt that we have turned off our natural hunger mechanism? Can we feed our own souls? How much does it feed our souls to feed others? What does it do to our souls if others won’t be fed?

What if you’re in a situation where the physical touch or the affirmations are not readily available? If I thrive in a situation that involves hugs and hand-holding and “you’re amazings” and “thank you for all you dos” but those situations are not where I currently live, how do I create a thriving environment? I firmly believe that God does not create me to thrive and grow in certain environments, and then expect me to live with the lack. I also don’t believe He wants me to live in a holding pattern. So what is the answer? I’ve had some tell me that I need to let God fill those needs for me. I’m not saying God can’t or won’t meet my needs. I’m just saying that I don’t understand what it means to be satisfied by the hugs of God. I’ve been told that the most satisfying dance or physical touch is the one I get from God. Maybe I’m just too carnal, too shallow, but I just don’t understand that. How do I live as a single woman when what I really thrive in is mutual affirmation through touch, service, and words?

I understand that a lot of this expresses my lack of satisfaction with my current situation. While this is partially true, I also see that I am where I am in life for a reason. There’s a definite purpose in my life, where I am, right now. It’s a paradox.

I know that I don’t currently have a large following, but do any of you have thoughts on this? I’m not just looking for answers to “my problems,” but I would like to hear your feedback. Any thoughts, anyone? Anyone?