***I am posting this from Bishkek, Kyrgistan from a wi-fi location in the food court at a mall. I couldn’t at the house I’m staying at because the power is on scheduled black outs throughout the capital…what a contrast! Back in Kyiv tomorrow and will start posting all the cool photos that I was able to take with the church camera while here. But for now here is another epic-length Cara “anti-blog” post. J***
TURNING 45 :)
So I turned 45 in Bishkek, Kyrgistan just a few days ago. I am old. :) Well. Ok, maybe not “old”. But I am definitely middle-aged. Whatever you call it, I am not young any more. (I am not whining. Just stating facts. I always say that since we don’t get YOUNGER every year, we need to embrace our age and feel good about it. And for the most part, I do! Because if getting older is something bad then every year it only gets worse, not better. So I am ok with this, it is just an interesting fact to consider the ramifications of from time to time).
TURNING 45 :)
So…I am not young. I have, if I am lucky, as many years ahead of me as behind me. But the next 45 years will probably not be able to be as productive, or active as the last 45 years….or will they? Time will tell. I do know that physically I don’t have what I used to. The first evening of our conference here I found myself sitting with the littlest ones in the nursery and I was quickly reminded that I am not young.
I saw 20-something missionary Katy sitting with three or four little ones crawling over her and she was a veritable three-ring circus for them. Laughing, tossing balloons, singing, bouncing them on her knees while they crawled and pulled and drooled all over her. I, on the other hand, sat on the bench nearby. I was like the “lifeguard” for this swirling pool of infant activity. “No one drowning? Ok. Great. Let me know if they do, otherwise I will just sit coolly behind my mirrored shades and work on my tan. Don’t bother me, ok? I'm doing MY job.” Well, no tan to work on in the far end of the upstairs “stolovaya” (cafeteria) of an old Soviet children’s camp where our conference was held, but you get the idea. At first I wasn’t exactly hands on. :}
But I used to be, really! :) I distinctly remember sitting with 6 crying little ones, two on each leg and one in each arm, singing as they cried. It was the nursery at
But this first night at our conference in Bishkek, I just didn’t have it in me. Or maybe I had just forgotten where it was stored. Sometimes when I am back in the states I forget where things are located….like shops and schools and the homes of good friends and family…even though they have been at the same addresses for years! I joke that “American addresses have been deleted to download Russian grammar”. And although it usually gets a good laugh, just ask my roommates Katya and Dasha all the grammar mistakes I continue to make on a regular basis and they might suggest that nothing much was gained in my forgetting where the Farmer’s Co-op is in my hometown! :} But back to nursery skills…after that first day I realized that I just didn’t have the energy to interact that I used to. Things were running fine on their own, so I was happy to sit and watch. But then I remembered that these little ankle-biters were people…and they really deserved some interaction, they didn’t care about my age or stamina.
So I sat on the floor. I bounced the balloons. I wiped snotty noses and guess what? The wiggly tongue still stops them in their tracks. (yeah, yeah, hold your wisecrack comments…I know this one is wide open, but ne nada, horosho?) It was fun. Really. Exhausting, but fun. Moms. Dads. You are my heroes once again. You always have been, but this was a reminder. My Mom and Dad… thank you again. In honor of my birthday (a little late, but what the hey) thank you for having me. Thank you for keeping me. Thank you for loving me. Still. And parents, teachers, Sunday School volunteers, etc. WAY TO GO! Thank you so much for all you do. So that was a good a reminder of all the effort that those that work with kids are called to do, but you know what else it made me think of? How often I can get that same “lifeguard in the tower” attitude in life and in my part I play in the church, and really this world.
I remember when I first came to
People are not God, and God is not a Master who orders us to do things just so they can be crossed off a list and then is disappointed and critical when we don’t perform up to snuff. Although God desires to have Lordship in every area of our lives (and in that sense is our Master) and there is definitely something to be said for mastery in our service (that is another blog!)… God Himself has said that “…now no longer call me Master, but Husband…I will promise you to me forever in righteousness and mercy; …in faithfulness, and you shall know the Lord..”* The things He asks us to do are to draw us closer to Him, for us to see His hand of help when we struggle, to experience His grace when we falter, and ultimately to bring joy to Him- the One we love and who first loved us - in the process and the desire that motivated the process even more so than the ultimate result.
I still remember a lop-sided, sloppy egg-shaped Easter cake my sister made for our parents (and if I remember right my brothers and I helped decorate). It was a scary jumble of cake and food coloring and LOTS of frosting to hold the whole mess together. It looked quite comical and maybe even a bit scary. (And I know I’m remembering at least that part correctly because we took pictures for posterity!) If you compared my sister’s cake with the photo in the cookbook, you could say she failed. But if you took into consideration the love and care with which she offered this gift, the smiles on my parents face AND the speed with which we nonetheless ate this sugary treat, you could only conclude that it was a roaring success! We all remember that cake (and even the colossal nightmare left in the kitchen) to this day with a smile.
So this conference I was in the nursery a lot, and once with the little older kids, too. I passed my time at the first Calvary Chapel Central Asia Conference “swimming in the deep end”…doing something that really isn’t my gift…something I haven’t done in a long time…something that many people can do better than me. And you know what? It was great! :) Hudson Taylor once said that “God’s work done God’s way never lacks God’s resources”. And I was reminded once again that when I step out into something a little uncomfortable, something that really isn’t my strongest area, but that where there is a need and I am available and willing to do with a willing heart, God does amazing things! I do not serve man, but God and over and over again I am reminded that although man looks on the outside – towards performance, skill, etc. – God looks on the inside, at our humble hearts that KNOW we are weak but who look to Him to be strong in us in the midst of whatever He calls us to.
Will I volunteer to lead up the children’s ministry? Probably not. But will I put my name on the list to help out when needed ? Yup! So whatever need God has opened your eyes to right now…could you be the one to help out for a time? Don’t be hesitant. Not because “the work” needs you, but because we need “the work”. :) We need to see God fill in where we lack. We need to stretch beyond our comfort zones and see that it really is true that “when we are weak He is strong”!
To keep our boundaries so tight that we only do those things that are comfortable, within our expertise and control cuts out the “God space” in our lives – the empty space where we can do nothing, but where God can do everything! So, dive in to the deep end and give it a try! “Come on in, the water’s fine!” :)
* (Yes, I know that in context this verse that I quoted from Hosea was said to the nation of Israel in a time of unfaithfulness to God. But I believe with the references in the NT about us being the "bride of Christ", etc. and countless verses as to the overall relationship God wants to have with us ["I speak a mystery concnerning marriage, of Christ and the Church", etc.] I don't think that this application is off the mark.)