When Things Seem Wrong

Boarding was at 10:30 am for a quick flight from Omaha to Dallas to attend The Declare Conference.  I edged in my seat, ready to board as the speaker clicked on.

“Ladies and gentleman, we’re having some trouble with the luggage door on the aircraft. We apologize for the short delay this will cause us in boarding. As soon as we get the door open we will begin boarding. Thank you for your patience.”

I sat back again.

The next time the speaker clicked and I edged forward . . .

“Ladies and gentleman, the door issue is a little more complicated. The repair will take a while, but we’ll keep you updated as we know more. We apologize and thank you for your patience.”

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After 6 hours of updates, another aircraft was available. We boarded in a rush, but soon deplaned without going anywhere. Before we could leave the gate the pilot had reached his legal time limit for flying that day.

While waiting for the plane to leave the gate, a strange thought had come to me.“Was I the one keeping the place grounded? Was I headed to a conference I wasn’t supposed to be at?”

I remembered Jonah on a ship in a terrible storm. The sailors were crying to their gods for help. Jonah said, “It’s me! Just throw me overboard and the storm will stop. I’m not supposed to be on this ship, I’m going the wrong way.”

“It’s not all about me,” I thought. “I’m not special like Jonah. Besides, if I got off and just drove back home, nothing would make it obvious that it was me.”

The thought stuck with me, (I even told Jeff Goins about it later when meeting him for the first time. I felt stupid. “Did I always have to be so transparent??” ).

Shaking my head inside my head, we deboarded the plane and finally took off 2 hours later. Third time’s a charm they say! We were finally headed for Dallas! I was excited to at least meet some people after missing registration, dinner, and the first keynote speaker Mary DeMuth. I also had an agent critique waiting for me at 10pm I could still get too!

Before landing, a weather front moved into Dallas and we were rerouted to a nearby freight airport. We sat for 2 hours before flying back to Dallas in 15 minutes at 5,000 feet.

The shuttle friends I had planned to meet left long ago. I took a taxi in the dark, arriving at the hotel in time to sit in on an impromptu session with the agent. I sat quietly in the back. At almost midnight, waiting in line for my critique, I introduced myself to the person standing closest to me. We exchanged cards and made small talk. She was ahead of me in line and I overheard her story which took a lot of bravery to share.

I was kind of a lost puppy the whole weekend, not knowing anyone aside from their picture on the Facebook page. I introduced myself a lot and asked questions of others, but didn’t chum around with anyone. Here and there I went to say hi to Jacque since she was the first person I’d met after my late arrival. Still small talk really, but I was drawn to her.

I enjoyed and learned lots, and planned to exert myself until 10pm the 2nd night, then cut myself off. I needed a good rest for my early flight out.

I took my ipad to bed to set the alarm and Jacque was still on my mind. I peeked at her blog, read her story in 11 parts, and cried. Her story was written into a series of several posts chronicling her marriage, affair, divorce, and second marriage. I read all 11 parts of her story and cried.

I cried because I knew. I knew what it felt like to realize you’re the worst sinner. I knew why Mary Magdelene cried over Jesus’ feet and wiped them with her hair, not caring what others’ thought.  My story was like hers, but different. Every story is about a wandering heart looking for the right place to settle.

Tucked under the fluffy white hotel bedding, I shivered. My feet were like ice and my teeth chattered. I knew something else . . .

Wing

I knew why the first plane’s door wouldn’t work, and the second one had enough of a delay to boot the pilot off. I knew my silly thought made sense and that I wasn’t supposed to be on that plane at 4:30 and why our 8-hour delayed flight was comically diverted by wind and rain. I arrived in time to meet Jacque when she told her story loud enough for me to hear.

There I was, alone in a hotel and He was there giving me shivers. I lay there in the sheets, my heart lay exposed. It’s done its share of wandering. He wanted more of it and was giving me more at the same time. This was the time and place He wanted me to see.

The next morning, Jacque unexpectedly joined my group on the shuttle. Out of 6 of us, she and I were alone in the AA terminal for an hour and I told her my stuff. Small talk was over; we were friends. We rejoiced together to know what mercy feels like, to have our “good girl” shells cracked open to know it up close and personal.

So was the day all about me? All that drama that sent people into a tizzy? More than my mind can take, I’m sure the chaos could’ve been worked out for everyone in a different way, a different story, if they were paying attention.

But there’s another thing I know . . . A shepherd who says He’ll leave his 99 sheep to find the one that’s lost her way.

And that’s not all.  Check out Jacque’s account of how we met!  We were at The Declare Conference: One Message, Many Voices. Our message?  There is one watching and waiting to show love to you!

Next time things go “wrong,” start watching. How have you seen God’s love more clearly through inconveniences or struggles? Have you felt the pursuit of the Lover of your soul?

If You Ever Lived in a Foreign Land

If you ever lived in a foreign land,
you just might start with a honeymoon;
everything is new, scary, challenging,
but exciting.

Flowers

It could last a while . . .
or it could end abruptly when you sit down to a meal,
say, a fish broiled with its skin on and eyes glazed over.
You might wonder if you’ll survive this foreign land after all.

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If you stay and learn the language enough to shop for what you want,
get hospitalized and tell the nurse what your symptoms were overnight,
go out to lunch with your mother-in-law,
who doesn’t speak your native tongue
(if you married one from this foreign land, that is),
you might slowly realize no matter how fluent,
you’ll never be native.

You might miss your homeland terribly,
worry that you might not ever get back, though you plan to.
Finally the day may come to go back.
Things were probably starting to get frustrating.
It seems time.

You might get back home and after a while
your excitement fades.
Why is everything so different?
Why do I have 500 choices of cereal?
Why do they give the news and then talk about it on end,
inviting everyone’s opinion?

Depending on the level of frustration you left your foreign country with, it may take longer,
but you might start to miss the food you didn’t like on the first try,
to miss places you went,
people you met,
that you didn’t feel strange for not wearing red in Saturdays in the fall.

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You might plan to go back again,
wanting your kids to experience the country that makes half their roots.
Occasionally some may not understand why you would do such a thing,
leaving the “Land of the Free, the Home of the Brave.”
They might assume you’d gotten that out of your system
when you went there in the first place.
This doesn’t happen a lot, but it still makes a twitch somewhere in your heart.

When the 10 years you might plan to wait are up,
a complete move might be too much.
You might try an extended stay and the boss agrees,
lets your husband work from over yonder.

You might have visions of your children going to school with the locals,
exposed for several days to how they talk different than textbooks,
maybe make some pen pals.
You might be disappointed to find
they must be enrolled for a certain period of time.
Now is not it.

Subway

You might find yourself stuck for 3 1/2 more weeks,
not sure what to do with them for that long.
You might be used to having them with you all the time,
but here?

You’ll probably make the most of it, of course,
travel a little farther.
Plans are on the docket to see the volcano rumored to spew;
rural areas full of seasonal flowers;
festivals.

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It’s all good,
all fun,
but you might be reminded again that your children,
and you,
aren’t native.
It will always be so.

You might wonder where you fit.
When you’re in one,
you miss the other.
You might almost feel like don’t fit in your own land.
So silly you’ll be.

Origami

Where is your story going?
When you wonder why you ever left in the first place,
why you started this turn of your story,
left all you once knew,
brought children into a mixed existence,
you might also think its not such a bad place to be.

Maybe you never did know where your story was going;
You were comfortable and thought you knew.
Maybe being native is not the goal.
Maybe feeling like a bird without a nest is the adventure;
the story.
Come to think of it,
some birds have nests in two countries.

You might be comforted in your thoughts;
In the midst of feeling like loving one is hating the other,
not able to fully wave this flag or that,
you might realize its not about flags.

flags

To be native has its disadvantages,
when it’s the comfort of your soul.
It’s scary to be shook from your footing,
but good when you realize this world,
no matter what continent your foot lands in,
is not the final destination.

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You just might think one of the greatest benefits of travel is the tension,
of grass greener elsewhere;
Because living in this world broken,
we all long for another.

It’s just my guess, but this is how it might go, if you ever lived in a foreign land.

My Gate Runs Red

We’re in our other home, but it’s unfamiliar.  Besides another country, the pace of a giant city is something to get used to.  Kids have one pace, they’re feel free to move as they like.  I’m edgy and frustrated by them and my failure to speak patiently, my unwillingness to be incovenienced.  I snap like it’s a relex.  Why can’t I get better at this?

After breakfast, we travelled by train a ways out to see Azalea bushes.  Nezu Shrine is surrounded by them.

Tsutsuji Festival

We arrive and I’m engrossed with “why?”  Why the red gates?  There is a tunnel of them here.  Do more of them make the path more sure?

Tunnel

There are coins clanking into a box, a bell rung by one person at a time, heads bow, hands clap.  Just maybe someone will hear.

I walk through the red gates, and think of the effort man on every continent has made to find a way to God.

Gates

I remember my downcast heart this morning.  A whisper in my ear reminds me no temptation has overtaken me except what is common to man, and a way out, a place to stand under is provided. 

My failure is not unique.  My gateway is.

My way out has been made by hands tired from cutting, nailing, smoothing, and painting.  The hands of a carpenter who used his building skills for things of this earth.  But when time came to build a gateway to freedom, his hands hung and bled.

Ornate

No effort of mine,
no carving or wood and stone,
no washing of hands,
no coins,
or ringing of bells. . .

Only belief, the simplest request, but not the easiest.

I stand watching and clicking.  The scenery is beautiful.  I still don’t know what those red gates mean.  Is it coincidence, the red?  Like the Israelites painted their doorways with the death of a lamb, death passing over them?

Among the flowers, I’m revived.

Twitting

I’m not here to ring a bell to wake Him, or drop an easy donation to earn God’s ear.

I’m here to remember the red . . .the gate that holds the weight of my everyday failures.

My way out . . . and in,
He is my hope and joy.

I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved.  They will come in and go out, and find pasture.
John 10:9  

Creative Time

We’re on the other side! . . . Of the world, that is.

plane

I didn’t drop in before departure because I was, well, occupied despite my unusually good planning and preparations!

My surprise for the girls was finished at 11pm and I rushed to bed to wake at 3:30 AM and head us all to the airport.

We’ve been here 5 full days, unpacked our stuff to not prolong living out of suitcases, and pretty much adjusted to the time.

So, a few days later than planned, I now present to you my impractical, somewhat-last-minute, and incredibly fun creations which I presented to the girls when they were bored and antsy to get on the “big plane” in Chicago . . .

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roll layout

Claire roll

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I’m tickled with how these turned out.  The day before departure, I had to go back to the store for one last piece of fabric.  I told the fabric lady when she asked what I was making, “I’m so excited I could explode!”

When’s the last time you’ve been that excited with creating something?  Leave a comment and tell me about it!

If you haven’t been that excited for a while, maybe it’s time to make something, anything?  It’s a small way of partaking in the joy our Creator must have been feeling when what He made was “very good.”

For Colored Pencil Roll Pattern by Kathy Mack, visit her online at Pink Chalk Fabrics 

Be Where You Are

It’s been a couple months since I launched this new space.  I started out strong, but my fears have become reality and I have had nothing to write about this week. Not really, but looking back at the dozens of posts I’ve drafted, nothing feels right.

It could be that I’m packing and planning for a one-month trip to another continent . . . yep, that’s probably most of the problem.

Anywho, I was encouraged today by my friend Becky’s thoughts on re-starting.  Whether it’s homeschool, a blog, business, reading goals, exercise, whatever, she gave me a great reminder.  What do you feel like you’ve dropped the ball on?  Check out her post!

I’ve also been hearing this run through my mind several times a day,

“Wherever you are, be all there.” ~Jim Elliott

I’m packing for a huge time away and that can make it difficult to be all here . . .
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. . . I’m trying though and I think it’s going pretty well actually. Heck, I’ve got some stuff packed ahead and I’m sewing!

For some reason, when I know I’m going to be gone I start missing things I don’t use on a regular basis . . . like my sewing machine. I’ve been getting up extra early to work on a little surprise for the girls’ carry-on bags. I know, I’m crazy. I’ll show you the surprise before we take off! I can’t wait! .

When I’m in Japan, it’s possible I will have trouble being there too. My kids will be going to school for two weeks and I will have 5 hours to myself everyday while Emily goes to Kindergarten. Folks, this is a new experience for me! I’m tempted to stay in the apartment or go over to Starbucks and scratch, scratch, scratch on my keyboard, all for the reading pleasure of you, my friends.

I remembered this morning to keep the end in mind. No doubt, I will have time to myself, but the end of the month I want to leave with joy over all the friends I’ve reconnected with and places revisited rather than regret because I was occupied with soaking in some introverted bliss.

I hope to pop in here at least once before we depart and continue posting from Asia so stay tuned!

In the meantime, . . . Wherever you are right now, be all there!

At the Gate

I love the airport . . .

Already a month ago, I stood waiting in the ramp leading down to the secured boarding gates.  My camera strapped behind my neck, I stood back a little. My husband and children waited in front, leaning to see Ojiichan & Obaachan come around the corner after their long journey from Tokyo.  Suddenly their faces emerged around the corner, first their eyes searchingly wide, but quickly closed as they recognized the only thing familiar and their smiles exploded.

It was at this gate my parents saw me off to Europe at age 17 to stay a month with a family dear to me. . .

It was at this gate, 4 years later, they watched me leave hand-in-hand with my new fiance’ to meet his family across the Pacific. . .

And it was at this gate that my father met his first grandchild for the very first time. . .

As I stood there a month ago, watching my parents-in-law arrive to see their only 3 grandchildren, I beamed.  I love this place . . .