girl problems

When you are a missionary at Kidz Camp on the Southwest Ohio District, you hear a lot of funny stuff. My favorite quote this week came from a little dude who was probably 8.  We found him sitting, slouched over with a grumpy face by a light pole. I thought his world had come to an end. He was missing his mom and his friends were teasing him? Or maybe, he was in trouble with the counselor? Or maybe, his dog Pinkie just died?

We asked, ‘Hey Dude, are you okay?’ as we walked by.

No,’ he grunted and then hugged his arms around his little chest.

‘What’s wrong?‘ in my best ‘mom’ voice.

‘That girl over there likes me.’ Came the disgruntled reply.

Ahhhh, trouble in paradise, indeed. If only he knew that SWO Kidz Camp was just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to girl problems.  Our hearts go out to ya, Little Dude.

There is a lot of pessimism out there for this kid’s age group, called ‘Generation Y’, and the generation a little older, the  ‘Millenial Generation’. What with their iPods and connectedness and Snap Chat frenzy, a lot of people believe that the Selfie Generations have little to offer.

Outside of North America, these generational tags are rarely used and the defining and characterizing of ages into named and charaterized boxes is also quite an ‘American’ thing. But, people everywhere still like to talk about and often criticize ‘those young people.’  Perhaps, a bi-product of Western cultures is a tendency to silo people into categories.

Churches have teen groups, Senior Adults have Prime Timers, and then there is Kids’ Sunday School, with its flurry of activity. There is something for every generation, but the something is rarely a ‘together’ activity. We tend to plan our church events according to age-appropriate, age-restrictive lines.  When this becomes the norm, it may be that we forfeit our ability to appreciate and exist in the beauty of the Body in its diversity.

Here at Southwest Ohio Kidz Camp, we have been watching adults pour into the lives of 200+ kids and it is nothing short of heroic. We are witnessing a group of men and women, many of whom have taken a week of vacation from work, shepherd active, sweaty, energized, sugar-charged pre-teen kids through a series of daily events meant to tire the body and feed the soul.  In the process, the buzz quiets to hear Jesus and they rush the altar to respond to his voice. There is a fantastic beauty, purity, and simplicity in their child-like interaction to the voice of God in their souls.

When was the last time that we, as adults, took God at his word like that?

When was the last time we danced in worship so our bodies could quiet down and hear Jesus speak?

The intentional coming together of generations, genders, and races is never easy, never fluid, it is rarely comfortable, but this is the true picture of the Body of Christ. We are never more alone than when we silo ourselves into homogenous units of people.

Part of our role as missionaries on Home Assignment is to create awareness of other cultures and issues and to tell the story – the story of what God is doing. Why? Because we have a tendency, as humans, to think about our own needs and persepectives to the exclusion of others. In some ways, we tend to forget that we share this planet with the rest of the world.

Just as girl problems are a reality for every age of life, so to, is the sharing of the sandbox more than a kid problem.  Our world needs a peek into the kingdom today and maybe we do too.

Did Jesus mention something about childlike faith?

As for girls problems, Little Dude, we hear you, but we have bad news: It just goes downhill from here … for a while. Shakespeare himself said, ‘the course of true love never did run smooth.’ But, eventually you learn the rythms of unity, of shared passion, of relinquishing ‘me’ for ‘us’.  That is the Gospel, isn’t it? No greater love than this, that a man lay down his life for a friend.

That man was Jesus.


Photo Bomb Mom

mom’s losing it

There is a scene in Cheaper By the Dozen when the 7-year old twins are in search and destroy mode. In her final moments of sanity before her head blows up, the movie-mom who has birthed a dozen says in her final pre-blast off warning, “Mom’s losing it.”

Been there. Done that. Numerous times.

photo bomb mom

Continue reading

weeping linens

Most assuredly,  I come as a huge shock to the scurrying shoppers swooping in to quickly gather up their bounty.  There, in the middle of the linen aisle, I stand, a forlorn woman, weepingly caressing a trendy gray and yellow weave, 400 count, Egyptian cotton sheet set.

“You are beautiful.” I lament.

“Ma’am, do you need help?” Asks a new mom with a semi-comotose babe in her buggy.  She offers me a tissue. Continue reading

when missionaries are weird

When we left for Moscow all those years ago, young and carefree and very American, one of our best friends made us promise we would not morph into weird missionaries.  We have tried our best, Mark, to take your advice. Even so, being back in the States rams home the reality that we have changed, a fact that often becomes evident when we are at dinner.

My best guess is that the average person runs out of things to ask us about 2 minutes into the conversation, right around the time we start to grow multiple eyes and green, scaly skin.  It is an awkward silence around the dinner table at that point.

We basically have two audiences reading this blog:  the scaly, skinned, multi-eyed, half-normals and Mark (the old and new folks that are trying their best to be our friends).  I want to talk to Mark for a minute.

We are different and that is okay – the scaly skin sometimes itches but we are embracing it and we want you to embrace us.  You can poke and pry into our lives a little bit.  We will not be offended.  We want you to ask us questions.  We are dying to share about our lives because we miss it when we are here.  Ask questions.

We still like sports.  Jay is great at trash talk and stats.  We love the Chiefs and Patriots.  Some of us wear their t-shirts and get up at 2:00 AM to watch their games then work the next day.  See … weird.

We have electricity and toilets.  But, go ahead and ask because we have some great and hilarious stories about Turkish toilets.  If you do not know what that is, google it.

We know that you do not know where it is on a map.  That is okay – no offense.  But, we would love to show you some photos and tell you stories of places that you may never get to visit.

We do speak another language and we are in the process of learning. We would love to cry on your shoulder and tell you how difficult it is.  We know that the majority of you have not learned another language and may not even want to.  We could show you ours and explain why it sometimes makes us cry.  All half-normals have reality-show stories of language foibles.  Ask at your own risk and we will be happy to share.

Our children go to school but, like you, there are choices.  This is one of our most passionate topics because it hits at the heart of our struggle.  Please ask us and feel free to offer advice, insight, or a prayer.

We watch t.v., movies, and read books other than the Bible.  You can talk about your favorite show with us and even suggest your favorites.  We keep a list because we like to watch shows as a family.

Yeah, we want to tell you about the hard stuff.  Broken homes, human-trafficking, abuse, homelessness, prejudice are a reality where we live just like they are where you live.  It might be time to send the littles to another room and then ask us.  We have stories we need to share.

We struggle.  Someone said that going to the mission-field is like pouring miracle-grow on all of your weaknesses.  It is true.  We face our insecurities, our failures, our inadequacies.  It would be great if you were willing to hear some of the hard stuff.  You do not need to have answers.

You can support us financially but you do not have to.  We did not come to ask you for money.  We want relationship.  It is an awkward situation, we get it.  The other side of it is that sometimes God lays giving on your hearts and the needs we face might be how God is leading your heart.  Let us figure out together how to address this.  We do not want you to think we are in relationship for money.  We do not want to cheat you out of a chance to give if God is leading you.  It is complicated, true, but we are willing to figure it out if you are.  Regardless, you can pray since it is the best kind of support.

So, there you go – a beginner list:  bathroom conversation, sports talk, and free-time activities.  Not so hard.

Most of the time, you guys do not respond with comments but I am hoping you will this time.  Start the conversation on my facebook page where this posts.  Half-normals, feel free to pipe in.  Mark … what do you think?  Be honest.  Let’s talk.