Through the Looking Glass

Perspective.  A word I have heard many times.  Drawing attention to how I view things, what I believe about them, what they mean to me. It’s a powerful word, really.

When I think of this word I see the image of a county fair.  You know the small town fairs that have all the crazy, unstable rides and great candied apples and funnel cakes.  Yes, those.  These little fairs bring to town fun and excitement.  Often they have a section devoted to crazy little mazes and crazy little mirrors.  The misshaped and out of focus mirrors offer many perspectives of ourselves.  One shows us as really long, stretched, and lanky.  Another might show us as short and robust.  Among these mirrors only one shows the true reflection of ourselves…the right perspective.

As most of you know, we have four beautiful children.  They are more than I will ever in my lifetime deserve.  While I have every desire to nurture them, be their safe place, their home, their comfort….there are more times than I care to admit I am none of these things.  Instead my personal struggles that arise in our daily lives do not leave room for comfort, safety, and nurturing.   The pain that comes to my heart over these things is at times profound.  How to make them see and understand my love when I have yelled again… or I punish them out of frustration and not guidance…. when I quiet them all too soon when they only needed time for me to hear their heart and leave them with tear filled eyes.  This burden is deep.  It is heavy.

Perspective.  At times I see myself only through my failures… my lack of care for them.  I see that I didn’t give time there or I didn’t speak the right words to my girl who needed some extra reassurance that day.

But. Who’s perspective is this? Is it mine? My children’s? My God’s?  This is the point where the tide can take a turn.

I know that my God is a God of grace.  A God of mercy.  A God of love.  A God of right perspective.  He sees me.  He knows my heart. He knows me…better than me.  What a relief that is! On days when I can’t make sense of my own heart, my own thoughts… He has full awareness of it all.  His perspective is the true perspective of me…After all, He created me.

Now I am not advocating for a relinquishing of our personal responsibility to do our best, love our babies well, care for our families to the best of our abilities, and to pursue our personal goals with all fervency.  Quite the opposite really.  I believe we as women were created with amazing abilities to do so many things…. Personally for me, one of the greatest of these is mothering my little ones.  So, yes. By all means necessary, fight to be the most you can.  However, I would challenge you to examine your perspective.  What mirror are you looking through? What version of yourself are you holding on to? Who’s perspective are you allowing to fill your mind when all is quiet at night….when you are reliving the day in your head…when all you see if your failures and your shortcomings… all you hear is your little one’s requests and needs that went unmet.  Challenge your perspective.  Challenge your beliefs.  Challenge what you accept.  There is beauty in failure.  Without failure we can not know success.

There is freedom here.  Freedom to replace wrong views with truth.  Failures with grace.  Regret with acceptance.  Sadness with Hope.  Our God is so able.  He is so gracious.  He is so loving.

These past 6 months I have recounted many days.   But in the midst of the perspective that I am not enough, I hear my God saying I am.  So maybe it’s time to check what mirror we are using to look through.  Is it making you more weak than you are? Is it making you more angry than you are…. more forgetful, more harsh….. I would dare say there is more beauty within us all that we have yet to see.  We only need the right perspective.

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Why yes… yes I am.

I love Phineas and Ferb.  It is this hilarious little cartoon that my kids watch about two brothers.  Phineas is the main character who begins every day by telling his brother Ferb “Ferb, I know what we’re gonna do today”.  These brothers take on a challenge that is well beyond their years and seemingly their abilities.  They build roller coasters, or flying machines, or travel through time….Often they are confronted by someone who is just standing by watching.   Many times they are asked the question, “Aren’t you a little young to be ..(insert whatever crazy idea they are currently working on)..”  And every time Phineas replies with “Why yes. Yes I am.”

I absolutely love this answer.  It’s just that simple.  Why yes. Yes I am.

I have been thinking quite a lot in recent weeks about the power of the ‘yes’.  I have been recalling the various things I have said ‘yes’ to.  It often seems so easy to just throw out a ‘yes’ and move on.  But so often our ‘yes’ requires follow-up.  It requires commitment.  It requires a certain level of resolve.  It requires a physical response.  It requires personal reflection.

My most recent ‘yes’ has required more than I thought I could give.  My ‘yes’ required so much more than simply whispering a word.  It has required sacrifice.  It has demanded strength.  It has persuaded me to reflect on my inner most thoughts and beliefs.

My challenge has not come completely in the act of saying ‘yes’ but in accepting what that has asked of me and more specifically my children.  My desire to follow Jesus and answer a ‘yes’ to His request has not only impacted me…it has impacted my children.  I have watched them suffer because of this change.  I have watched them weep and miss their friends and family.  I have watched them wonder why some of the children here won’t talk or play with them.  I have listened to them ask to go home.  I have felt their anger as they tried so desperately to convey their sadness about leaving home.

I have been left with an uncertainty about my ‘yes’.  I didn’t fully understand.  I didn’t fully see.  My answer became their answer.  My decision, their decision.

I have talked to Jesus so so many times about this.  I have asked Him has He not seen their tears, their anger, their loneliness.  How could He ask this of me and Ozias knowing how it would impact our four precious little ones.  How could He.

As I have thought over this and over this, I have come to a couple conclusions.

He loves my babies more than I do.  He knew every detail of this journey for them and will walk beside them through each day.  How amazing.  At times when I fail and am frustrated and don’t offer the right support or the right words…He is present and loving and good.  He is orchestrating their destiny which I can only see as it unfolds and in glimpses of what He shows.  He sees it all.

There is no guarantee of ease.  I have really sat with this one for a while.  I am not sure where the idea in my head came from.  I don’t think I read it anywhere.  This idea that God owes me ease and comfort.  That when I agree to follow Him I am somehow signing up for a life that fits perfectly into my little comfort zone with all the perfect little elements that I love and desire.  Wow.  I could not be more wrong.  There is no such guarantee.  He may ask me to leave my home and travel to a new place, He may ask me to leave a job, He may ask me to give away my money…. He may ask.

His ways are higher.  His ways are good.  He is good.  He is sovereign.

This time in my family’s life is truly amazing.  How many people get to live in a different country and experience life from another’s point of view. To learn first hand that my way is not the only way.  To see that there is more than one side to every story.  To see the beauty in the world that God created and how He crafted each person so differently.  To learn to work and live alongside others that do not understand you and in some cases do not care for you.  To learn to love despite it all.  To see God make provisions for us to grow and change and be molded.

I am daily in awe of what He is doing here.  For every night I have seen my children sad or hurt, I have seen them extend forgiveness.  For every day that I have watched them struggle to be understood, I have seen them learn to listen to another’s story.  I have seen such bravery in their eyes and hearts.  I have heard them laugh with children who don’t speak their language.  I have seen them play with children who days before wouldn’t even look at them.  I am seeing barriers be broken.  I am seeing a worldview being changed.  I am watching four hearts being groomed for the Kingdom.

So when I think about my kids…. their futures…my marriage… our future… our family…

When I ask myself… ‘Was this ‘yes’ worth the sacrifice, tears, joy, excitement, change, growth?’

I reply.

‘Why yes. Yes it is.’

 

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Nathan showing off his newest additions to his car collection.
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Alana snuggled up before bed.
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Elijah being Elijah…. goofball.

 

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Sam exploring the Korean Palace.
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My love and I.

It’s all the same…

So… here we are.  Starting our first full year in Korea.

Yep.  That’s right.  Korea.  We took a job as teachers.  We teach mostly American subjects but most importantly we teach in English.  Ozias also works as an English pastor at our church.  So, what is it like you ask? Well, it’s completely the same and completely different all at the same time.

Life pretty much goes on as normal.  Groceries must be bought, clothes washed and folded, meals made, little ones bathed, school work completed, work planned, and time carved out for marriage and parenting.  It’s pretty much the same…. pretty much.

There are subtle differences that remind me ‘we’re not in Kansas anymore’.  Getting groceries involves buying for two days at a time because that is all that will fit in my rolling bag.  Many ingredients are foreign to me and I have yet to determine how to cook them much less eat them.  Laundry takes days to complete one load.  They must first be washed and then set out on the drying rack to complete the cycle.  Dinner most often consists of chicken, rice, eggs, pizza, and seaweed.  Occasionally there are noodles.  School work consists of 2 of our children in a Korean classroom and 2 of our children working online with Liberty University Online Academy.  Lesson plans are completed over the weekend or on free periods in between my children and the school children running into the teachers’ office asking for help or just wanting to talk.  Marriage and parenting extend into all of the above.  Ozias and I work together all day long… my kids are in my classroom and in my office.  A new norm. bless it.

Although we were familiar with the Korean culture and food before coming here, there have definitely been some moments of culture shock.  Personal space does not exist here.  Elderly women are legit… as in they do what they want, when they want, and how they want.  Elderly men are ridiculously fit and flexible (we have watched many on the side of the road doing high kicks and back bends as they wait for the bus).  Elderly people in general are so kind and funny.  They love to touch our boys hair and when sitting next to one of them on the bus will gladly play with them or try to make them laugh as they await their stop.  There is a great sense of community here  that is quite enduring.  People look out for one another.  There is a sense of belonging within their culture.

There have been moments of happiness, difficulty, uncertainty, and excitement.  My personality type is type A.  I like order. I like things to make sense.  I like to have a plan.  There have been some days when the only order and plan I have are to not lose my composure and just make it home.  Then there have been other days where I am excited about the change we could make here and happiness at seeing my kids play well with the other kids.

Being away from family is different.  We haven’t always lived near them but having the option to visit if we wanted was so lovely.  Watching from a distance is hard.  Hoping they think of you, feeling left out, and seeing them share moments that you miss…. But then there are Facetime calls and big boxes of goodies in the mail and text messages just to say ‘I love you’.  All of these give a gentle reminder that distance means nothing.  Family is family regardless of where we are.  We are loved and missed.  Such a sweet reminder in the moments we feel very far away.

I don’t pretend to understand everything that the Lord is asking of us here.  Some days it seems that we will never make a difference.  The school we work at is a Comprehensive school.  Many of the children here have behavioral difficulties and some have been kicked out of other schools so that our school is their last chance.  Some days it is painful.  It is sad.  It is hard.  And then there are moments when a difficult student hugs me or says hello in the hallway.  Moments that show that God is bigger.  God is bigger than my personal agenda for my life, my husband’s life, my kid’s life… He is bigger.  I try to remember that.  I can’t see the whole picture.  I see pieces.  I see what I want to see, not always what He is asking me to see.  Children who are hurting and need help.  Children who can have a bright future and who need love.  His children.

So… here we are on this journey.  A journey to answer a call.  A journey to learn and grow and change and become more than we are today.   Let’s begin.