All of us all around the world are experiencing some form of “different” right now, some sort of space between the life that was normal and a life that is something new. We are all is some form of lockdown or quarantine or social distancing. For our family and our team in Spain, we are in to week 5 of very strict lockdown protocols. Only the lucky few who have a patio or a rooftop terrace have the luxury of fresh air and stepping outside. Police and military are on the streets enforcing the laws that are now in play regarding the national State of Alarm.
It has been a big change for us! The La Mesa Turquesa community center, a place meant to be a refuge and welcoming home to those who need community, has been closed for 5 weeks. We are missing our people, missing visiting around our big table with friends from so many countries, missing the ministry that we had been working so hard to build and the people we had come to love in the process. Not only has our daily ministry “normal” changed and been in lockdown, but our goals and projects have all suddenly taken drastic twists and turns. We have no idea when things will loosen up, when our current lockdown will end, or when we will be able to return to our work with La Mesa Turquesa and other ministries. Some goals and dreams seem to have gone dark and left us wondering if we will be able to postpone them for later, or ever. We’ve had to cancel events from March through May, and we are now facing the very real possibility of cancelling several summer events and ministries, as well.
I won’t sugar coat it… we are feeling a fair amount of grief and loss. We have our days. We have days when we feel lost. We are so accustomed to going, going, going and having full calendars and being surrounded by a team and a community, working hard and always planning for the next thing, the next leadership development, the next outreach. We have days when we feel unfocused and scattered and unsure of what’s next.
A friend shared this with me yesterday:
"Everyone who saw the risen Jesus saw him after. Whatever happened in the cave happened in the dark. As many years as I have been listening to Easter sermons, I have never heard anyone talk about that part. Resurrection is always announced with Easter lilies, the sound of trumpets, bright streaming light. But it did not happen that way. If it happened in a cave, it happened in complete silence, in absolute darkness, with the smell of damp stone and dug earth in the air. Sitting deep in the heart of Organ Cave, I let this sink in: new life starts in the dark. Whether it is a seed in the ground, a baby in the womb, or Jesus in the tomb, it starts in the dark." ~Barbara Brown Taylor
That really hit me. There will be good things at the end of this! New life will come from this. It’s not easy now, in the dark moments of being isolated, of not knowing what’s next, of not feeling connected to our goals and dreams, to our communities and team. But there will be an end! There will be something new. It won’t look like our “normal” looked before, but it will be new and God will do something wonderful with it.
Even now, new things are happening. In the midst of a worldwide crisis, TMS Global has 180 adult cross-cultural workers and over 100 children who are facing this around the world. Some of those families are serving in places where life is really, really hard on a perfect day. Some of those families are directly responsible for running businesses and employing dozens of local people who rely on those jobs to feed their families. Some of our workers are medical personnel in other countries. Some of our workers care directly for orphans or vulnerable peoples. In the midst of all of this chaos, Billy is leading a Crisis Care Team who is connecting with each and every one of our workers continually to check on their well-being and ensure that they are not losing connection, community, and hope. TMS Global has put out emergency pleas for funds to help our workers who are directly responsible for feeding communities and vulnerable families. Our staff has been working around the clock to ensure that CCWs have what they need and are cared for. In some cases, we have helped to repatriate workers who had to evacuate for special reasons. The vast majority of our workers elected to stay in their countries-of-service and continue to live among and love their neighbors and weather this crisis together with their communities.
Billy and I have had sweet times of connection with neighbors as we meet at our windows and balconies each evening at 8pm for the applause and nightly “pep-rally” that continues. I really cannot believe that we are five weeks in to this and not a single night goes by that the neighborhood does not explode with applause and music and cheers as neighbors gather to wave to each other, check in, and encourage one another.
I really do believe that new things are going to happen when we all come out from this time of uncertainty. Yes, there is grief and loss and ‘darkness’ right now, but there is also hope and light and a new thing coming.
Thank you for being a part of all of this! Thank you for standing with us.
We know that perhaps we all have more in common today than ever… we are all in this Coronavirus Crisis in some form or fashion. Know that we are thinking of you and we pray for the United States and all of our friends and family who are facing this back home. If it is any encouragement at all, Spain has been the worst hit country in the world for per capita contagion and per capita deaths, and we are seeing light at the end of the tunnel. We are facing each day with our chin up. It will be over one day. And so far we have a 100% success rate at making it through our hard days, right!? If you’re reading this, you have that same success rate, too! Congratulations!
Stay connected! The world is having to use their technology like never before. And they are using it to connect with the whole world! Call each other. Have a video chat. Can’t get them online? Send a video text or a voice clip and tell someone how much you love them and how much they mean to you. Check in. Be encouraging. Love your neighbor well!
We love you!!!! Hang in there! God is doing a new thing!
Isaiah 43:19 Behold, I am doing a new thing;
now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness
and rivers in the desert.
~Laurie & Billy
One of the things that TMS Global is doing to help our cross-cultural workers around the world is to reach out to their children. We have approximately 100 children of CCWs in the field who are currently in quarantine and struggling with the effects of this pandemic. TMS has a dedicated TCK Department (Third Culture Kids) who's specific role is the care and formation of our children in the field. One of their current initiatives is to record storytime and make fun stories available to our kids. Here is the book that Billy and I recorded for TMS TCKs last week. Feel free to share with any little people in your life who might like to listen along.
The current situation has had huge impacts on cross-cultural workers around the globe. Not one of our TMS Global colleagues is untouched by this virus. All of our peers are in various states of quarantine or lock down. Some of our peers serve in areas where there is little or no access to adequate health care or provisions. CCWs and their families are now facing food rationing and government curfews alongside those whom they seek to serve. Some of our peers were caught outside of their communities and countries when borders began to close and they were stranded away from home. Some were forced to leave their country of service due to situations beyond their control, only to find themselves back in The States with no home and no place to self-isolate and scrambling to find somewhere to stay for the foreseeable future. All of us are now isolated and trying to figure out how to do life and ministry in various states of confinement.
Billy is now coordinating the Crisis Care Team for TMS Global. Alongside the Coronavirus Response Management team, we are reaching out to meet the needs of our 180 CCWs and their families around the world. Billy’s team has been in continual contact with every one of our workers to provide connection, communication, and care during this time. While we are all physically isolated by this current reality, no one should feel emotionally or relationally isolated and all should be cared for! Please keep Billy and his team in your prayers as they care for others.
The best things you can do right now for your CCWs in the world:
I write this from my fourth week of shelter in place in Spain, the current European epicenter of the pandemic. Life and circumstances change by the hour nowadays. Such a paradox, to be sitting still and locked in our homes, yet circumstances outside are changing so rapidly. By the time this goes to print, I have no idea how things will have evolved and what life will look like. The only certainty is that it will have changed.
There are so many questions on the minds of those who have moved overseas to be cross-cultural witnesses. Never did I consider a pandemic when we were answering the call to go and serve and love our neighbors in another land. What does Love your Neighbor look like when you are forced inside? What effect does lock down and social isolation have on sharing the gospel? What effects will the traumas of forced isolation, illness, and death have in the long term in our communities?
For us in southern Spain, the government decreed state of alarm has been a harsh blow to life as we know it. We cannot leave our homes, not even to go for a walk. Most homes have no yard or garden. The only way to leave home is to go to buy food, and you must go alone. Police and military are on the streets enforcing the lock down. In a culture that prides itself on close-knit extended families, social connection, community bonds, and a pedestrian lifestyle, this has been almost unbearable. The impact and loss that is being felt by all is possibly as devastating emotionally as the physical devastation of the virus itself. We are, after all, created to be in relationship. We are created for connection. The grief of forced disconnection has been brutal.
Neighbors gather at their windows and on their balconies each evening to applaud those who continue to be on the front lines of this battle every day, and to encourage each other as we wait out our confinement and fight our own struggles of isolation and the inevitable fears that creep in. Neighbors who were casual nod-and-wave folks are now jumping up and down when we see each other and waving wildly from our living room windows. Neighbors who casually chit chat as we stand in line at the bakery are now singing and dancing on their balconies and cheering each other on as we rejoice in another day of health. My daughter make a heart sign with her arms to a friend in the next block. We worry about the neighbor on the corner who hasn’t opened their blinds for two days. We call out to the neighbor who has an 85-year-old mother and check to see that Miss Ana, the matriarch of the neighborhood, is well. Even “the cranky neighbors” have changed their tune and have been showing up each night on their balcony to clap and wave and ask how we are doing. When this is all over, we’re going to have one heck of a neighborhood cookout! In fact, we’re going to have one every month. We’re going to find excuses to gather often and love each other well. Because this is a new beginning. This is a new start for “love your neighbor” in Spain!
Doors are being opened to spiritual conversations. Now, during times of forced isolation when we are only connected to our friends and neighbors via text messages and social media groups, more and more spiritual comments and ideas are popping up in the conversations and we are able to join together in those and connect in ways that show our commonalities and diminish our differences. We are able to enter in to spiritual conversations that have been quite taboo in a country that has been steadily distancing itself from anything having to do with religion. It has been eye-opening for some, the realization that we are more alike than different, the idea that we all have something deep within us that asks spiritual questions and seeks answers. If this is a product of this pandemic, it would be a huge step forward and a step toward reconciliation and peace among people seeking God in Europe. ~Laurie
(This article has been solicited to appear in the May/June edition of Good News Magazine.)
Sometimes things don’t work out like you expect.
Like the fact that we’re currently living in a guest room and cooking in our garage. Like the fact that we’re washing dishes in an ice chest. Like the fact that the contractor who started the demolition on our kitchen and bathroom didn’t pull the right permits and the police came and shut down the construction. Like the fact that the city says it will be at least two months until the paperwork clears. Ugh.
Nope… we didn’t expect any of that.
I know that all sounds like it stinks. And frankly, it really does. It’s no fun. We’re having a lot of days that are not at all like we wish they would be. But, life is like that sometimes.
There are other things that don’t go quite like we expected, either. When we opened La Mesa Turquesa, we had visions of refugees and immigrants filling our center and sharing tough stories with us on a daily basis. We were prepared for emotional days and how to work through trauma. There has been some of that, for sure. We have had our share of tough stories and tears. But there has also been a lot of good in the unexpected.
We never expected to make a new Syrian friend who also happened to be a champion horse trainer in the Middle East! He and Sarah have shared lots of stories. He has even been to see her compete and help at the riding club.
We never expected to fall in love with the twin babies that were born after their mother fled her country, pregnant and afraid. We never expected to become aunties and uncles and cousins to these precious little ones. We never expected to cuddle them every Sunday while their mom attends our church. We never knew that one day we would witness their first laughs, their learning to crawl, and the joy when they reach out for us to hold them.
We never expected to witness the first black man to ever pray from the pulpit in our church. A refugee from Nigeria stood up and asked to pray and he rocked the world that day. We never expected to see history made and a church forever changed by a humble man seeking a new life in a new country and new culture.
We never expected to meet Peruvians in our center! It’s like old home week when they come in! We never expected to be helping them settle in to our town, to be helping their children learn English, or to be reminiscing about everything we love and have in common about Peru.
We never expected to become “mentors in everything”, but we find ourselves negotiating rental agreements for immigrants, helping people find food, tutoring and helping with homework, teaching English and Spanish, and trying to help people navigate the rocky waters when cultures clash. We find ourselves in tough conversations about racism and world politics and global economies, all from varying cultural perspectives.
In some ways, we expected to have to fight for our place in the community and to stand our ground for helping refugees and immigrants. What we didn’t expect is the amount of love and support that we have received. We didn't expect locals to hang out here as much as refugees and immigrants do.
What we didn’t expect was the questions about, “Why do you do this? Why do you help people with out charging them anything? Why is the coffee free? Why do you accept everyone – blacks, whites, immigrants, refugees, Spaniards, Muslims, Christians, tattooed teens… why are you so open to everyone?”
What they don’t expect is our answer. “Jesus said to ‘Love your Neighbor’. He didn’t say to love the people who look like you. He didn’t say to love the people who are perfect or popular or accepted by society. He said, ‘Love your Neighbor’. All these people are our neighbors. So, they are welcome at our table.”
When we moved in to our house, we “inherited” a bunch of extra stuff that the previous owner left behind. He was a ninety-three year old widower, and he left us with loads of abandoned ceramic figurines that I’m sure had once been special for whatever reason. A ceramic clown riding a donkey, various little vases of plastic flowers, an entire heavenly army of ceramic cherubs and angels, a few random stuffed animals, some odd pieces of glassware and some mismatched dishes, and an entire forest of dusty silk greenery, just to name a select few. We boxed them all up and took them to the local second-hand store, along with some old furniture, cardboard posters, and velvet drapery. After all of the purging, one large silk plant remained. It stood in the corner of our bathroom, measuring in at almost 5 feet tall, and was “planted” in a triangular glass vase filled with blue and orange crepe paper confetti. I thought to myself, “How did this ‘beauty’ make the cut and manage to stay in my bathroom? Billy must like it for some reason.”
That lovely, silk monstrosity has lived in the corner of my bathroom for the past 2.5 years.
A couple of weeks ago, we began to do some much-needed repairs and renovation work in the bathroom and kitchen. As we packed up everything in the cabinets and moved things to the garage for a while, I casually asked Billy, “Since we are re-doing things and starting fresh, do you think maybe we could get rid of the plant?”
“Oh my gosh, YES! Finally!”, he said, relief spreading across his face.
A little confused, I asked, “Why do you say it like that? I thought you liked the plant?”
“WHAT? I HATE that plant! I thought you liked it.”
“NO!!! I can’t stand it!”, I replied.
“Then why didn’t we get rid of it when we moved in?”
“Because I thought you liked it. I wasn’t going to make you get rid of something you liked.”
“Seriously?!” He started laughing hysterically. “I thought you liked it, so I never said anything about it.”
Then I was laughing, too. “I hate that plant! Every time I get out of the shower, I think about how ugly it is and I wonder what it is that you like about it. Every time I open the window and have to reach over it, I secretly say bad things about it. I hate that it’s always catching dust and how it’s faded and sad looking. And I really hate the blue and orange junk in the vase! It fell over a while back and I prayed that it would break, but of course it didn’t. And then I cursed it even more for being resilient!”
Now we’re both dying laughing. “Why didn’t you say something and get rid of it?”
“I didn’t want to hurt your feelings. And I didn’t think it was worth having an argument about it. So I just let it be and figured that one day, when the time was right, we would replace it or throw it out.”
So, today’s the day. The plant is leaving. We felt that a photo was in order – you know, it has been a part of my family for two and a half years now. We laughed all the way to the dumpster.
In a nutshell, that has been our approach to conflict for most of our 34 years together. We’re pretty bad at it. We would rather live with something we hate, even something that is a part of our lives every single day, than have an uncomfortable conversation that would possibly lead to conflict. Even over something as stupid as a hideous plant in the bathroom.
We’re hopeless. How on earth have we stayed married for 34 years? I wonder what else is in this house that we both hate?
How are you with conflict? Share your story and teach us how to do it!
PS... I decided to share this story with you because Billy is currently in a course of study on Conflict Resolution, and the irony of this plant story coming to light during his work with conflict and preparing to lead cross-cultural workers through conflict management and resolution was just too perfect. The first step is self-awareness and admitting that you have a problem... hahahaha!!!! Well, here we are!
Thank you for joining us in prayer. You can help this month by praying for the following:
· Prayers for financial covering for the ministry and work we do. We are grateful for the many ways that we have seen God’s provision in the past month and for those who have stepped up to help.
· Pray for our family as we step in to new leadership roles and learn to navigate new responsibilities alongside our local work and international outreach. Pray for us to find healthy rhythms and ways to stay strong as a family amidst lots of change.
· Pray for Sarah as she works toward finishing this semester and taking finals. It has been the toughest course load yet, but she is hanging in there and working hard.
· Pray for the people at La Mesa Turquesa. Many are spending their first holiday season away from family and friends, in a new country with new customs. Pray for them to feel loved by our team and to find “home” in our center.
· Pray for us as we weather another round of big family holidays away from our boys. Thanksgiving and Christmas are always hard on us, each in our own way. It doesn’t seem to matter how many years we are overseas, it never gets easier to be apart on these big holidays.
· Praises for the people and groups that found extra ways to help with the economic struggles of the ministry last month! People hosted bake sales and fundraising dinners and passed the collection plate for special donations for La Mesa Turquesa and for our family. Thank you so much!!!!!!!
· Praises for heat!!!! We were able to fix our chimney and fireplace this month!!! We haven’t had heat for 2 years! We are now cozy and warm with our working fireplace!
We are thankful for all of the amazing teammates we have serving alongside us in this work! Although many of them will never actually walk on the soil of Spain or any of the other places where our team serves, they are ALL a HUGE part of sharing the love of Christ with the world! Without these incredible, faithful superheroes, we could not serve the people that benefit from this ministry. Thank you to all who have stood beside us in 2019!!! We are proud to have you on our team!
Aldersgate UMC, Chuck and Julie, Phillip and Peggy, David and Jeanne, Roberto, Jeanne, Bernie and Paula, Brandon and Cathy, Jackie and Susan, Scott and Cynthia, Shannon and David, Doyle and Sara, Ambrose and Doreene, Nancy, Jerry and Connie, Gerald and Robyn, Myra, Steve and Ann, Neel and Lisa, Trey and Meg, J. K., Bryan First UMC Adult Bible Study Sunday School, Adam and Dana, Kim and Glenda, Leon and Dana, Sharon, Tracy, Christ United Methodist Church, David and Joanne, Norman, Kathleen, Connie, Leroy and Wanda, Bob and Deborah, Richard and Claire, Allen, David and Jayne, Thomas and Karen, Covenant UMC, Homebuilders Class CUMC, Chris and Randi, James and Cathy, Mark, Jeffrey and Laura, Dripping Springs UMC, Deryl and Ann, Mike and Debby, Jeff and Kristin, Sue, Rick and Dianne, Dean, Jim and Cheryl, Kirk and Regina, Frank and Carol, Dan and Shari, Sam and Carol, Mike and Teresa, Faith and Deeds Class CUMC, Jennifer, Dennis and Katey, Sharon, Louis and Sherry, Don and Barbara, Paul and Kim, Stephen and Marty, LeGrande and Ann, Mark and Liz, Dianna, Jeri, Lee, Steve and Janis, Andrew and Ange, Bill and Komang, Patricia, Jerome and Lana, Mick and Jane, Gary and Gwen, Jim and Charlotte, Don, Jack and Cindy, Ray and Margaret, Scott and Donna, Totsy, Charlie and Gwen, Paul and Sharon, Susan, Wes and Beverly, Nancy, Rob and Shannon, Vern, Royce and Mary, Mike and Janet, Chris, Walter and Cindy, Richard and Ginger, Frank and Tami, David and Diane, Ronnie, Linda, Tom and Sherry, Aaron, Larry and Carol, Bill, Tom and Susan, Bobbie, Terry and Karen, Heath and Jo, Wilson and Julie, Harry and Judy, Jim and Dianne, Josh and Amanda, Irene, Janet, Redith, Averyt and Randi, Hank and Liz, Chris and Susan, Deborah, Ferrel and Sue, Dan and Kim, Jim and Cathy, Larry and Gail, David and Glenda, Eddie and Denise, Chuck, Dale and Kathy, John and Nan, Bill and Carol, Marilyn and Ernie, Fred and Allison, David and Jana, Tommy and Donna, Cliff and Sonia, Sally, John and Lisa, Bill and Jackie, Garner and Coece, Gail, Chris and Angela, Midge and Betty, Maretta, Matt and Terri, John and Shelaine, Kris, Cindy, Dave and Donna, Peggy, Richard and Becky, Don and Candy, Ron and Amanda, John, Buzz and Katy, Rob and Rhonda, Raymond James Financial, Inc., Kelli and Jim, David and Susan, James and Sheila, Barbara, Don and Lynita, Jim and Vergie, Ronald and Pam, Darwin and Charney, Sanctuary Class CUMC, Michael and Jeremie, Polli, Richard and Beverly, Hendrik and Cindee, Neal and Lois, Bob and Suzanne, Leah, Shiro Presbyterian Church, Alan and Jennifer, Nancy, Ross and Donna, Aaron and Megan, Brian, David and Jamie, Forest and Kelly, Harold and Rebecca, Johnny and Courtney, Ronald and Priscilla, Sondra, Trudie, St. Lukes UMC, Ken and Carolyn, Michael, Judy and Ralph, Sid and Vicki, Randy and Kim, Jim and Ginnie, Jim and Lynne, Carol, Les and Debby, Tommie and Ashley, Greg and Cathy, Tom and Linda, John and Linda, Andrew and Shelley, John and Barbara, Shelly and Kevin, Trinity Lutheran Church, Walter and Cindy, United Methodist Women Lafayette, Andy and Susan, Steve and Sue, Tom and Annette, Jim and Cindy, Jon and Michelle, Todd and Linda, William and Tracy, Erwin and Susan, Roger and Anna, Wheelock Methodist Church, Glinn and Marlilyn, Jim and Paulette, Michelle and Ken, Jim and Phyllis, Dick and Linda, Gerald and Shirley, Chad and Darla, Pascual
We are headed in to the Christmas season in Spain. Christmas continues to be a paradox for us… both wonderful and also a little painful. No matter how long we are out of our home culture, it seems that holidays always hit us hard.
We miss the customs from our church and family back home… the Hanging of the Greens service, the advent candles, the Christmas carols, and the live nativity scenes. In stark contrast, our church in Spain has no Christmas decorations in the sanctuary, no singing of Christmas carols each week, and they do not celebrate the season of advent. There will be no Christmas Eve service, no nativity scene, and no candles for singing Silent Night. Someone a long time ago came in and taught some of the protestant churches that they shouldn’t do anything that the catholic church does, so, sadly, a lot of church traditions became taboo. That is the case in our particular town.
Sometimes, history causes a lot of pain, misunderstanding, and division. Ugh. And no matter how you try to explain or change things, traditions and culture run deep. Truth be told, it's just not ours to change. *sigh* Therefore, we try to carry on with our own customs and culture and do those special things that we love within our own home. We have our tree and our carols and our advent candles. We have our nativity scenes depicting the birth of Jesus.
Yet, a part of me longs for my home church in Texas. I long to be sitting behind the pew of The Evans Family watching little Taylor almost catch everyone on fire with her candle. I long for a sanctuary filled with poinsettias and people singing Christmas hymns. I remember the days of too many Christmas parties and school programs and concerts and decorations. Of Secret Santa and cookie exchanges and crazy Christmas sweaters and driving around to see the lights in town.
Christmas Eve will still be hard for us, because there is something special about standing and singing Silent Night with your church family and holding that candle and being with family and friends. It's a paradox... it will still be Christmas and we will still celebrate the birth of Jesus. It will be beautiful, and also difficult.
Enjoy those traditions and hold them in your heart! Merry Christmas!
Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, "Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him." (Matthew 2:1-2 ESV)
This part of the nativity story has struck me in the last few years. I cannot wrap my head around the idea of someone taking off on an epic journey to follow a star; a journey to find a baby that was promised in sacred writings. The wise men came from a great distance to worship a baby; a baby who was a king; a baby who would be the Light of the World.
In our American tradition, we call them wise men. In Spain, these men are called los reyes (the kings). If you look in the original Greek, you will find that they are called μάγοι (magoi) or magi which could be a sorcerer, wizard, magician or astrologer. Being magi, they were not following Jewish law which strictly prohibited these types activities. That leads me to think that they were not of the Jewish faith or cultural background and were probably not worshippers of the one true God. What really fascinates me about this story is that these men followed a star, a shining object in the sky, to the source of freedom for the entire human race - not just for the Jews, but for everyone. They could see what others in Jesus’ own culture could not. They saw something that stood out from the ordinary. It was different and gave them hope of things to come. A star, a light in the sky, directed them, even though they were “non-believers”, to the place where they felt they would find something special, a king worthy of worship.
Think about that… this star, this light, was shining and was attracting people of all races and religions to come and see.
That reminds me of another story. I have a friend that is a relatively new believer. Umar* was raised in the Muslim faith. One day he was in his room and he saw a vision of a light so bright it was indescribable. It didn’t hurt his eyes to look at it. In that moment, somehow he knew that the light was Jesus (he had heard about Jesus in the Quran) and he sought to find out more about Him. Umar* was attracted to something that was different, something he didn’t understand, but he knew that he needed to learn more and to understand who Jesus really is. He continues to walk in that Light today, learning and growing in his new faith.
Last week, I was reading an article about Mr. Rogers in the New York Times online. It recounts a story Fred Rogers told to a gathering a few years ago:
“I know of a little girl who was drawing with crayons in school.
The teacher asked her about her drawing, and the little girl said, ‘I am making a picture of God.’
The teacher said, ‘But no one knows what God looks like.’
The little girl smiled and answered, ‘They will now.’”
I found myself weeping after reading that story in the article. I was thinking about the star and the light again. I think that our lives are meant to be like that little girl’s drawing of God, helping people to catch a glimpse of what He looks like. Our lives are meant to be like that star, something different shining in the darkness. It makes me wonder if I am shining a light to point others to Jesus. Do they see something different in me? Do others see the way to Jesus when they see me? If they look at me, can they see God’s light shining through?
Jesus said: "You are the light of the world. …let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:14-16 ESV).
I think that we are to be light - like stars - for others. We were made to shine, to glorify God and to point others to Jesus.
In my USA life, I was a teacher in Texas for 15 years. I was also a professional photographer, a soccer mom, a horsewoman, and the neighborhood hospitality queen. I did "Joanna Gaines farmhouse style" before Chip and JoJo were even a thing - we restored an 1884 Victorian farmhouse in small town Texas and did shiplap walls until I thought I'd go crazy. I taught at NASA, scuba dived with astronauts in training, and studied animals at Sea World for educational purposes. I've tried just about everything, because I have an insatiable need to know if I can do it! Never underestimate a Texas girl in cowboy boots!
In 2006, my husband Billy and I became cross-cultural workers (CCWs) with TMS Global. For five years, we served in three rural Quechua Wanca villages in the Andes of Peru. And when I say rural, I mean RURAL - like no potty! I spent my days in Peru learning to live a Quechua lifestyle in a rustic adobe house - cooking Peruvian foods, sewing with Quechua women, raising my chickens and goats and pigs, and planting my gardens. Now I live my life in small town Spain, serving other cross-cultural workers via teaching and training and care, and helping displaced people to navigate their new reality in Europe.
I'm passionate about fostering personal growth, growth in community, and growth in The Kingdom. Walking alongside others and helping them to use their unique design, their gifts and strengths and maximize their abilities to fulfill their God-given purpose - that's what makes my heart sing!