live a page-turner;
leave a legacy.
We returned last week from our mission trip to Guatemala. Without fully understanding why God had called us to go on this trip, we stepped out into the uncomfortable zone of obedience, believing that God knew what He was doing, even if we didn’t. This obedience was a test and Guatemala was one of the steps.
If you missed that post about how we even signed up to go on this adventure, you can read about it HERE.
We were told that a trip like this would be hard. It would challenge us in ways we had never been challenged before. From a practical standpoint, we would have none of the comforts of home. Beds, showers, heat at night, toilets, safe roads, clean water, and electricity are topping the list of things that I can think of now that we take for granted in our everyday lives and were put on hold while we were in the remote village of La Reforma, Guatemala. I will never forget wearing 2 pairs of leggings, sweatpants, a long-sleeve shirt, a t-shirt, a zip-up sweatshirt, hoodie, winter coat, gloves and hat, while tucked into two sleeping bags, and still shivering myself to sleep each night. I cried because I was so cold and I just wanted to sleep. And then I cried because I realized this is how the people in this village lived. I got to go home in four days. They were home.
We were told that a trip like this would change our perspective. It would change our marriage. It would change how we viewed our current lifestyle. We were told that we would experience God in ways that we never before have. Brian and I are still wrestling with these things. They are all true.
Let me tell you a little about our trip:
While in Guatemala, Brian worked on a construction crew where they poured a concrete floor and altar in the church at the village where we stayed. Since he grew up working on concrete crews, he knew his way around this process. Each day he witnessed the work ethic of the people in Guatemala, saying that they worked harder than anyone he has ever seen on any of his concrete crews growing up. At one point, he saw a mom with a baby wrapped around her back start carrying rock from the bottom of the hill to the top to prepare for the next day. It brought my tough-guy-husband to tears to work with this team of hard workers and devoted worshipers. Even when he didn’t understand the language, he understood the love, heart, and center of it all.
Our medical team saw a record number of patients. Some of the patients walked hours to get there and waited hours to be seen. Our medical team of doctors, pharmacists and dentists worked morning till evening, not wanting to send anyone away. Each morning before the clinic opened, one of the pastors would say a few words and the crowd present would pray and worship in a way that I have never before seen or heard. I guess you don’t have to understand the language to feel the love of Christ moving in your heart.
I was on the “swing team” which means I did a little bit of everything. I got to hang out with kids, paint some fingernails, blow bubbles, make bracelets and try to talk in Spanish—which only made the kids laugh! I also spent a morning assisting our dentist. But mostly, I made lunches for our team members and delivered them to the right places. I have to admit that it didn’t feel like I was doing much. Many others on our team were really seeing and hearing from God at work in what they were doing. I didn’t have that experience, and I kept asking God “Why am I here?”
Then I received some horrible news from home. My uncle had taken his life. I was sick about it and I wanted to be home with my family. I wanted to have time to grieve. I started arguing with God, like I was pointing my finger at his chest and saying “Why am I here? Why am I not at home? We came here out of obedience and you said everything would be okay.”
It took a day or two of keeping busy with tasks that needed to be done before I would even open up to how God wanted to work in my life through a mission trip in Guatemala. As I shivered myself to sleep, I felt him gently whisper to me: “I did not say everything would be okay. I said you would be okay.”
So why did God take Brian and I to Guatemala?
Now that we are home and kind of going a million miles an hour, we are figuring out how God wants us to apply what we had to go all the way to Guatemala to learn. At this season in our lives, in our marriage, and in our family, ministry isn’t about doing more, it’s about being more real right where he has placed us.
Brian was deeply moved by what another team member had said to him. They talked about the importance of being a leader in the home, as a husband and father, and not burn out on doing more and more “stuff” for God. To do the work that God has placed before him in obedience and with heart, and to worship even when it would naturally seem hard. The way he saw the people of Guatemala work and worship. And to lock arms with the church family God has provided to be about the business of reaching out in His name.
God kind of turned my insides all out on in this trip. When I was consumed with sadness and wanting to be home with my family, He gently reminded me that I had Brian and a team of 23 other people that He chose to be my family for this week in Guatemala. It was okay to reach out and be vulnerable. To not be “okay.” To be authentic. This is something that God has been working on in my life and heart over the last year. I’ve attended the same church for 19 years, and gotten by without hardly knowing anyone, or letting anyone really “know” me. I think I will see Guatemala as a turning point in my life in which God knew the only way I would be “okay” would be to let my guard down, and not be “okay” in front of other people.
He also showed us the difference between knowing the stories and experiencing them.
We learned that the heart of serving isn’t just knowing what needs to be done and doing it. I mean, that helps! But serving in obedience with heart happens when we get real with the people around us who look different, live different, speak different, and worship different. It happens when we choose to engage with and let ourselves be inspired by each other and our differences even when we don’t understand each other.
Traveling to Guatemala taught us this, but as I glance around our lives and where we live, it is clear that we don’t need to travel far and wide in order to experience stories like this or serve with a heart like this.
I need to wrap this up and say a huge “thank you” for supporting us through your prayers and financial support. Your gifts helped to change lives in the small village of La Reforma, Guatemala.
And your gifts changed our lives as well. While we are still taking each step of faith out of obedience, we’ve added a little bit of heart, trust and expectation to that equation, knowing that even if everything isn’t “okay,” we are.
Thank you for being a part of our story.
~Robin & Brian
Basketball season is nearing it's end in our house. I have two girls on the high school Junior Varsity basketball team. One of them dresses Varsity along with two other JV players.
On the JV team, these girls are starters. You can see them leading and encouraging their teammates. From the beginning of the season, they practiced, played and knew their role on the team.
On Varsity, their role was mostly on the bench, sometimes subbing in when their was foul trouble, injuries, or the score was just too ridiculous not to let them have some time on the court. At least that is how the season started.
This changed for one of the JV players. Due to an injury of one of the Varsity team members, she saw some significant playing time. She proved herself during that time on the court. By the end of the season, she no longer even dressed for JV. She is a Varsity starter. It has been so fun to watch her play this season.
I sorta feel like these three JV players.
I started out this season of work on the JV team. I have excellent coaches who have been teaching me the plays, how to improve and how to do the best job that I can in the area of my interest and giftedness.
I'm pretty good where I'm at. I'm totally comfortable running plays and even leading and encouraging others on the team. I feel like I'm a team captain. People kind of look up to me.
In the writing world, I've been invited up to the Varsity team.
My work has been noticed. I'm getting some playing time.
I struggle a little more than the others on the court--the ones who are used to playing with each other. They know the plays. Subbing in and out, I'm getting to know the plays and the players. I'm using words like proposals, promotion, and publishing. These terms were always a part of the training on JV, but generally didn't apply as much.
I'm not on the Varsity starting team. And I cannot even say if that is the place that God wants me.
But I'm dressing Varsity. And that is kind of fun, too!
One year ago this week I thought I would be starting on my next big project. I was scheduled to meet with an author to sign a contract and ghostwrite her book. The night before our meeting was scheduled, my author's family had a house fire. Everything for her and her family was put on hold. Including the book I had planned on spending the better part of 2017 working on.
I was faced with the question of how I was going to pay my bills for the year. I prayed: God, I've been feeding these kids you gave me every day since day one. They've come to expect that now. Should I start applying for jobs? Should I tweak my platform and market myself?
The answer always came back: Wait.
So that is what I did. I waited in all the areas that God was telling me to wait. Even when it didn't make sense. Incidentally, one area that He told me NOT TO WAIT was in the area of giving. Which also didn't make sense.
Obedience is hard. And it usually doesn't make sense. But I decided that I would obey, even if I didn't understand and even when my attitude about it wasn't always right. I kind of treated it like a challenge. I was like "Okay, God. If you want me to wait, then you're gonna have to show up."
God was like "A challenge Robin...really? Okay."
I've learned a few things about obedience while in the middle of the "wait." It isn't really boring. Actually, it is kind of an adventure. It doesn't look adventurous or glamourous. But God didn't ask me to wait and do nothing or not provide the work or resources I needed. It was kind of scary at times. I worried. But God always showed up. In ways that I couldn't have imagined.
I learned that going "All In" for God doesn't always mean moving forward on the outside. Sometimes "all in" means staying put so God can move on the inside.
As I get ready to walk through 2018's door, I glance back at 2017 and the picture is starting to make sense. The waiting wasn't a time-out or a punishment. It was preparation. For something different. Something better.
And I hear something just on the other side of the door. It's not a big-booming voice. It's not a huge announcement. It's a kind statement, almost like a whisper: "It's almost time to go."
My proverbial bags are packed. I think I'm ready. And even if I'm not, I think I'll walk in obedience anyway.
Happy New Year, Friends! Praying yours is full of Holy Spirit Adventures, no matter how glamorous they look!
"When you can't say something nice, type it in to your computer and let Siri say it for you." A Throwback Thursday Post
One of the things I LOVE
about journaling with photographs is being able to go back and enjoy memories.
Somehow having a photo to look at with a caption describing what was going on reminds me that the ordinary days really are worth remembering.
I used to blog a lot about just the ordinary days. Then Facebook came along those blogposts turned into status updates. That's okay, but I miss the stories.
If it's alright with you (even if it's not), I think I might take some space here on my newer home of the world-wide-web and pull out some story snapshots from my old web-home.
As I look back at the memories, the ordinary really does seem extraordinary. I'm glad I took the time to record the stories of our every-days.
This Thursday Throwback is called "WHEN YOU CAN'T SAY SOMETHING NICE" type it into your computer and let Siri say it for you."
(until I figure out a better way to copy the stories here, you can just click the link to read the original.)
How about you? Do you make Throwback Thursday posts on social media or love it when Facebook reminds you about "this date in your history?" Tell me more.
That's My Story.