Random Thoughts on a Sunday

I describe my life in seasons...

The seasons are not the simple 4 seasons that are often equated with a year: Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter.  Life seasons are much more complicated and beautiful.

My life seasons have been incredibly diverse.   4 decades plus of life allows for all kinds of failures, followed by beautiful moments of clarity and a few 'wins'.    Most of you reading know my life story, so I won't go into the gory details.    Suffice it to say, I live redeemed.

In this particular season, I work as a 'missionary' in a foreign country.   Missionary is the word people use to describe my life and work, but I really disagree with the loaded imagery that comes with the word.     I used to believe the generalizations, too, at some point in my past.  "Missionaries are spiritual heroes and somehow one level closer to God that the rest of us."  

And then, I became what the world defined as a missionary.   The crazy definition didn't fit for me, nor did it fit for any of the 'missionaries' I would come to meet.    A spiritual hero for me is the elderly lady back at my home church who prays for everyone while she cares for her husband who cannot leave the house.    The rest of us are simply in varying stages of maturity often taking two steps forward and one step back.

So, what do we do with these long-held, over-generalized perceptions of 'mission work.'    Let's just wrap them up and throw them into the fire and get on with it.

At times, people will say something like, "Your family is amazing" or "Wow!  Look at you."   And I try with all of me to point out all that is human and normal about us.   We fight, we play, we argue, we laugh, we cry hard and we keep walking.    We are not amazing or superhuman or worthy of men's praise.  BUT, our God is.   And so we keep trying to point to Him.   We know that GRACE has saved us and this work we do does nothing to change the depth of His Love for us.

There is nothing I do on a daily basis that makes me more spiritual than ANY of my friends in the US.    You need to know that we are completely UNQUALIFIED for the jobs we are doing in Honduras.    There is not one school district in the US who would hire a former lawyer to be a school principal.    THIS is what makes it easy to praise God and point to Him when the crazy things that happen here are suddenly ironed straight and resolved.

I remember my dad saying when I was young, "do not read your own press clippings."  In other words, do not believe all of the praise, nor the criticism, that people heap on you.    He knew and I know that people are fickle - here today and gone tomorrow.     I also know that I do not live for the praise of people.    I LOVE people, I really, genuinely do, but I don't live for their praise or approval.

My love language is words of affirmation, so SINCERE encouragement is a balm to my soul.  False flattery or over-the-top superlatives do not fill my love cup.    All workers in any setting want to be recognized for a job well-done.   There is a difference between honoring one for the work and putting the person on a pedestal they never wanted in the first place.

Constructive criticism is also a gift.   People earn the right to offer constructive criticism by seeking to understand the organization, the individual people and the mission.    Trust is built over time, with heart-felt questions and true interest.  

This summer we asked visiting mission teams to be very open about ways that we can improve the work of Reach Out Honduras and Instituto Vida Abundante.     These groups spent time pouring into the work of IVA, they asked a million questions about the purpose behind certain areas and they invested with their words and time into the lives of our family and the mission.   There were no harsh statements of  'you should be doing this differently' but rather, 'have you ever though about this?'  or 'how would this work in the cultural setting?'   There was honor and reflection and mutual respect...

I hope this sounds a lot like your job...     Sincere evaluation, heart-felt encouragement and constructive criticism...  from a work-at-home mama to a business executive to a untrained school principal in a hot place... our lives and work are more similar than different.

This is my season here in this hot, dusty, beautiful place.   I have no idea or expectation what God will do next year or the year after that.   The ministry of ROH is not ours to hold tightly in a death grip (although it does feel like we have birthed a brood in the last 3 years.)    God willing, the ministry and the work will go on long after our names have been forgotten.  

We believe this is what God wants from us today and we leave tomorrow firmly planted in His hands.


Christy said…
Beautiful, Laura. So nice to come across your writing again!

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