Tuesday, September 27, 2011

If only. . .

I started a new Bible Study recently with some women living in the area. It's an English Bible Study, and there are probably multiple reasons why I decided to join it, one being that I was invited and another being that my soul has been longing for something--food, fellowship, roots, something. Anyway, I'm typically hesitant to join groups like these, but it's an eclectic group, and will be interesting; if it simply forces me to take time to reflect and seek God with others, I think it'll be worth it.

Last week, the major theme had to do with our "if only's." You know, the things we think will fulfill us and make us happy, solve our problems. I, personally, have a multitude I could rattle off. But my big one right now is this: if only we had a house with a YARD. Now, I don't think it's bad to hope for things, wish we had things, wish that things were different in our relationships or circumstances, etc. Sometimes God uses those things to work his plans out in our lives. Maybe he even prompts those feelings in us. I recently heard this referred to as "holy discontent." But, ultimately GOD is the only one that can truly fulfill me. God is the only one that can really make me 'happy.' If I am counting on a yard to make me happy, make me content to live in CR indefinitely, or to solve my kids' needs to run off their energy, then I have made this idea of a yard my idol. And idols are dead and powerless. And this is something I need to look at very closely, because the way I see it a yard WOULD solve a lot of issues and would be great for lots of reasons. I could make the Lord a list of all the reasons he should provide us with one (wait, I have done that!) I keep wrestling with God about this. First of all, he provided our current house at just the right moment, and it has been ideal for ministry, guests, housing the SI office, even for our family (really, I have no room to complain!). So, he COULD provide something just as good with a yard, too. Granted, that might mean miraculously creating a new plot of land somewhere (but it could happen). We feel like God has asked us to live in Desamparados, near the bus line, near the language school and host families, near ministry sites, with easy access to teams, staff, etc. This seriously limits the options since, by my estimation, 98% of the land with those specifications is built on already and the rest would require us to win the lottery that we don't play. Sigh. AND, I really do want to be content if God's answer is to stay put. I really do! But that means letting go, sacrificing, trusting, grieving. . . not to mention continuing to find yard alternatives.

I know that within missionary/ministry circles the issue of where to live can be a big deal. How do you balance ministry, family, and longevity? Before kids, it would have been easy to say we could live anywhere. I would have seen it as an adventure to live in a grass hut somewhere, or even in a slum. It might have even felt heroic (sickening, right?). But now, the mother bear instinct has taken over. And a little bit of the desire to have my cake and eat it too. It doesn't help to be wanting a yard and then go to green, open Minnesota where my kids were able to experience the freedom of running around and riding bikes and scooters. On Sunday, after they woke up in their Costa Rican beds, Olivia and Sawyer were both eager to ride their scooters (which I said they could ride around the house), but then quickly gave it up because there wasn't enough room. Trying to remain positive, I told them it was a good opportunity to perfect sharp turns and such. . . they are slowly warming up to the idea.

Have I made it clear that this yard issue is my biggest current "if only" idol?! I'm sure I sound spoiled and ungrateful, but I'm just sharing where I'm at in this. Nobody has to tell me it could be a lot worse! I'm just convicted, don't want it to be an idol, trying to sort it out, wanting to truly hand it over to God and trust his plans (and heart!) for my family. But. it's. so. hard. Please pray for us (and me!) in this. And if you receive any insight you'd like to pass along, feel free.

Meanwhile, we'll keep wrestling, and I think I'll keep going to Bible Study.

Monday, September 26, 2011


Saturday was a LONG day of travel (3 kids, 3 flights) but everything went as smoothly as it could have, and here we are in San José once again. We had a great 2 weeks in Minnesota, visiting with friends and family, sharing at Rose City Evangelical Free Church, and working out details for the semester program that starts here in January. Since we hadn't been back to the States in almost 2 years, we felt a little strange this time. The roads were so smooth, the traffic scarce, the toilet paper flushable, the Minnesota accent stronger than ever, the carpet soft and the air cold.

Thank you to everyone who hosted us for a meal, met us for coffee, came to the open house, or otherwise made an effort to visit with us. Jeff's mom and my sister even flew in to see us; is that love, or what?! Thanks especially to my parents for allowing us to create chaos in their home for 2 weeks!

Some highlights from our trip:

Rose City Church: One of our supporting churches, Rose City always welcomes us and loves to hear what God is doing in CR. We showed a short video and shared a bit from 1st John (what we've studied this year with teams) and gave an update on ministry sites and the goings-on here. The service was followed by a true Minnesotan potluck, complete with hotdishes and bars. It was good to get back to my roots :)

Grandpa Tic Tac's house: Grandpa has lots of cool cars, kittens, and green space to ride, play with, and explore. We loved the beautiful weather and the kids even got to go fishing for the first time!

Playing outside!! We don't have a yard so Olivia and Sawyer spent a lot of time running and playing in Grandma and Grandpa's yard and driveway. They got scooters and spent about 3 solid days on them!

Riding bikes! Both Olivia and Sawyer mastered bike riding on this trip--also thanks to some outdoor space! Now to find a way to keep practicing. . .

Bonfire and movie in the backyard: Yep, even though it was chilly, we enjoyed the opportunity to roast hot dogs and marshmallows and watched "Rio" on the big screen. It was especially fun since Auntie Kara and Grandma Dixon flew in that day.

Dinners, coffees, gatherings, oh my! We loved getting together with various friends from various parts of our lives. It was fun to catch up a little with you all--though the time was far too short, and the visits are too few. . .

Phipps Inn: Jeff and I escaped for a night, leaving all 3 kids with the grandparents (including a still-nursing Lynnea), to the Stillwater/Hudson area and stayed at the Phipps Inn, an adorable Victorian B&B in Hudson. We would recommend it to anyone! We love the history and small-townness of that part of MN/WI. Beautiful brick buildings and old Victorian neighborhoods; it was fun just wandering around, looking at antiques, exploring the little shops and restaurants--a much needed break.

Children's Museum of MN: One day we went to the Children's Museum with some good friends from CA who were also in the area. The kids all loved it, and so did the grown-ups, I think. We then had a birthday party for Lynnea and a "sleep over".

Shopping: I had to include it. I actually could have shopped more, and enjoyed it more, if we'd had more time. But, it was satisfying to shop and think about how much money we were saving by buying things in the US instead of in Costa Rica. :) High on my list were canned pumpkin, ortega chilies, dried fruits, and cheese. It's the simple things, right?

All in all, it was a great trip. It was great to see those of you we were able to see and wish it could be more often! Thank you to all of you for being faithful long-distance friends and family!

(PS Pictures coming soon. It's taking awhile to get them all into iPhoto)