3.22.2010

There are skeletons in the closet...in the bathroom...under the stairs.


We live in a funny, sometimes stinky, little house. I love it, mostly.


My bedroom is super weird. It’s like 25 feet long, and it goes from being about 9 feet wide at one end, to about 14 feet wide at the other. All the electrical outlets are on one side of the room, and there are two overhead lights with switches about 12 feet apart. It’s funky.


Only two of the rooms have closets. And (you may remember) we converted the itty-bitty office space down stairs into a teeny-tiny bedroom for our terribly syndromed middle child. There’s no hot-water tank, no city sewage, no a/c, and the plumbing isn’t properly vented (which basically means that, on occasion, farts come out of the sink drains). Sometimes lightening arcs from the electric heaters to the metal window frames in the showers. And there’s no water-pressure on Saturdays because everyone in the neighborhood is doing laundry. The lights dim if anyone within three houses uses a power tool. Oh, and when the wind catches the tin roof it sounds like a train running through the living room - but that usually only happens in the middle of the night.


We pay $700 a month for this architectural masterpiece/olfactory deathtrap. Try not to be jealous.


By far though, the best, and most intriguing, part of the house is the downstairs half-bath - an obvious structural afterthought. Hidden behind a very narrow door is a potty so small that El Chupacabra cannot physically use it without either wedging his head tightly between his shoulder and the ceiling, or cramming his knees painfully against the wall. The “sink” is made from what I’m pretty sure is a tiny, shallow drinking fountain basin. And at the far end is another door, an even smaller door, that opens into a closet under the stairs.


This bathroom sees very little use. Mostly because it’s creepy and dark and it smells like mushrooms. But also, because I have a strict “No Pooping Downstairs!” rule. (I just really hate the idea of somebody taking a dump so close to the kitchen and, also, I think it’s rude to fill the main living area with your butt stench.)


Welcome...my door is always open. I know you can’t wait to drop by.


So, can I tell you something?


My life was an open book until I started writing a blog.


That’s ironic, right?


The thing is, I would still be happy to tell you everything. I like to think I have no secrets. I believe in living confessionally. And if you and I were to sit down and have coffee or whatever, I would spill. I would tell you about how and where and when I struggle, I would dish about depression, and how I suck as a Mom, and how my husband deserves a better wife. I would show you all my hurts the way a child shows off stitches, and I would tell you how I got so deeply wounded and about how and why the scab keeps coming off - but also how, albeit slowly, it is healing from the inside out.


I would also tell you how I’m growing and changing. How I’m learning more and more everyday what it means to be restored, healed, perfected. And if we were sitting across a dinner table, I wouldn’t be afraid to tell you about how my Spanish accent is pretty kick ass, or how I’m getting to be an awesome cook, or about any of the million minor triumphs that help get me through a day.


But what I write must be carefully weighed. And I hate that.


I hate that I worry about what will happen if our supporters don’t want to support missionaries who struggle with...*gasp*... sin. Or what if I write about my stupid little successes, and it’s interpreted as arrogance. What if being too open hurts my family because someone pulls their financial support.


Truth be told, my heart is just like this funny, sometimes stinky, little house. Full of janky rooms that make no sense. It’s messy, and unkempt, and the beds aren’t made. And there are no closets to hide junk in. And sometimes, quite frankly, it smells like farts, cause I carry a lot of crap around that I really ought not.


And then, one day, I became a missionary who writes a blog about her retarded life, and I added a room, like an afterthought, a skeleton sized closet, at the back of the bathroom, under the stairs. A place to stash the garbage that might be frowned upon, or misunderstood. A place to put things that I will only tell you when I can see your face.


Can I tell you something?


I believe, whole heartedly, that Jesus Christ, himself, wades knee deep in shit to save me.


Not that he did. But that he does. Because I am not yet wholly restored, I am not fully healed, and not nearly perfected.


Jesus doesn’t show up with a “No Pooping Downstairs!” rule. He doesn’t care how bad you stink up the place. He’s willing to stoop down and climb around in that scary dark closet, the one full of skeletons and secrets and all that junk you think is so awful.


Jesus will never walk away. Jesus can handle your crap. Jesus will never. pull. your. support.


(Oh and...

Dear Supporters,

All is well. No worries, there’s no sin here! We’re good. Real good! *wink wink*

Much love,

Jamie the Very Worst Missionary)

43 comments:

  1. Dear Jamie the Very Best Missionary...

    You are the best because you are honest. The most honest missionary I've heard from. I think you do more good BECAUSE you risk offending your supporters.

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  2. Dear Jaimie,

    Some people just have to think out side of there perfect little lives and step out of the box...or should i say into the box. Maybe they should just close their eyes because the ride is a little to scary for them to handle...

    Denise

    denise

    my day I would cry....and scream, and complain just as they would....so if anything. we should all give more...

    Can we go shopping for a bigger better living space?

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  3. I cried when I read this and I cried again as I read it to my husband. If only we could be REAL. We recently had to leave our church. My husband was 'punished' for me being a 'problem'... what the 'problem' was exactly was never explained. The only thing we can figure is that I was too REAL... didn't pretend... wasn't fake enough. So painful, but in reality, we both feel as if we've been set free. We have not and will not give up on church. God made a path directly to a new one and I can only pray we can be real there.

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  4. Aw, sundog, that's so awful!
    My heart breaks for you, because, even though you've found some sense of freedom in this, it sucks to be rejected for being honest about who you are. :( Especially by a group of "Christians"!

    You know what? Balls to them! Let them stagnate in their little bubble while you move on to a new community. Praying for Gods blessing as you build new/ REAL friendships!!

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  5. Jamie..

    I LOVE you! I LOVE your writings!

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  6. I love how you start off with something funny and then make it super applicable to Christian life. I don't know anyone else who could make farting sinks relevant to Christ's infinite love and forgiveness.

    And you know what? Reading about your imperfections makes me a little easier on myself. Not on my imperfections, but on myself. So thanks. And please keep writing.

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  7. I love it. So much. You are doing good, hard work, girl.

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  8. Thanks for the LOVE, Aydan and Tamara! I SOOOO appreciate you taking the time to leave kind words!!!

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  9. i completely get this.

    i feel the weight of every word of mine that goes live on my blog because i don't just represent me. i represent my organization. right or wrong, i don't feel like i can simply slap up a disclaimer---note: the opinions and thoughts expressed here do not necessarily reflect that of my ministry---and then say whatever i want. as a leader, what i do and say does reflect my ministry.

    at times it feels stifling. i don't want to have to filter things through the "what would a supporter think if he saw this" grid. it feels very confining at times.

    and yet in other ways, my blog has given me more voice (more influence) than i've ever had before.

    it's an interesting dichotomy.

    all that rambling to say...

    i get it.

    sigh...

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  10. Hi Alece. Truth be told, I'm a lurking fan of your blog. ~And, you do get it, I know you do.~

    Thank you, so very much, for taking the time to comment!

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  11. say wha!? really??? girl... you just may need to de-lurk sometime soon.

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  12. (PS - because i've been lurking here for months now too! ha!)

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  13. Love to you, El Chupa and tu mijos

    I can't think of anything else, or worthy, to say

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  14. AaawW, Kirk - El Chupa and mis hijos love you, too!! Thanks man.

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  15. I was eating when I was reading your blog. Now my laptop has bits of balsamic chicken on it. You should put a disclaimer "Warning, blog may cause fits of laughter. Do not read with mouth full".

    I'm a missionary in the states with a blog. A blog where at one point I carefully weighed each word, and felt like every sad feeling I wrote about had to have some sort of happy ending, even if it was fake. Then I realized most of my supporters only read my newsletters (which I still have a hard time writing and weighing). Not my blog anymore. So I changed my blog to a bit more reality.

    Glad to see your honesty and thanks for your willingness to walk in your woundedness. and to admit that healing is a slow thing. (tired of feeling like i should be "fixed" and sewn shut by now, thanks to the pressures of american society. bitter party of one!).

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  16. Amen, sister. For those of us who think we are already "wholly restored," the truth is not in them. But He is made strong in our weakness and I'm going with that -- all the way to Heaven. I'll be perfect when I get THERE and not a moment before then! :o)

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  17. I understand.

    Oh, and I'm dreading furlough for this very reason. At least in my tiny, dirty village house I can be myself---a child of God, living in the house of Adam.

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  18. Jamie, Jamie, Jamie... I come here because you always bring a smile to my face right in the middle of my work. So... what if a co-worker comes in now and sees tears in my eyes...

    CRAP!!! It just happened... This guy just popped into my office and here I am with tears in my eyes...

    Jamie, thanks you are still the bright spot to many of my days even if you (almost) made a manly man like me cry and get caught.

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  19. Mercy, you really are the very worst missionary...maybe ever...the people you live among and reach toward are blessed indeed...thanks for your words...I linked to them from my blog, so your traffic will increase by two, maybe three...your welcome.

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  20. visiting from Dirty Shame. And lets just say I'm blown away.............in a good way.
    :)

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  21. Katy - I made the mistake of publishing my blog on Facebook, and linking it on our newsletters a while back. I've since de-linked the newsletters. Sad that I sort of wish I'd never put it out there! :) and, btw, Balsamic Chicken is my FAVORITE!

    Pam - i LOVE you! Thanks for your awesome encourement, my friend!!

    Buddy B - Sorry you looked like a giant pussy at work. That's a real bummer!! If it makes you feel any better, I teared up when I wrote it (but then, I am a hundred and twenty pound chick, soooo...) BAHAhahahaha!!!

    John, Thanks for the link love. You're a great writer, I'm really enjoying your blog!

    Welcome, O Mom!! So glad you stopped by. Thanks for taking the time to comment. Very encouraging!! :)

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  22. Jamie,

    thanks for the honesty. your words are encouraging...they give me breathing room. i just started this "missionary-ish" life in Moldova a couple of months ago. most days i have no idea what the hell i am doing. :)
    thanks for sharing your story - needed to hear it today. keep writing!
    take care.
    annie

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  23. Moldova!! Annie, you just made my day!!

    El Chupacabra and I just got in an awesome argument the other day over whether Moldova was a real place because I said that Moldova is the fake country from Princess Diaries and he was like, "No. It's a real country." And I was all, "You just THINK that cuz you're a sucker." and I kept saying, all day, how Moldova wasn't real, until finally he got really mad and googled it and shouted "LOOK! This is the Wiki page for Moldova, the REAL country!!" and I rolled my eyes and said, "Sheesh, you'll believe anything." and then he, literally, threw his hands in the air like, "God what did I do to deserve THIS woman?!"

    It was all very satisfying. And, yes, I knew Moldova was for real.

    I cannot way to tell him I got a comment for Moldova, of all the places in the world!! So funny!!

    So anyway, thanks for commenting, and making me very happy!!

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  24. Jamie:

    Hahahahaha. SO HIlarious. Please. Love it.

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  25. Thanks for leading with honesty and kicking ass in costa rica!

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  26. When I go to Honduras, and am forced to blog, I hope to be real and honest as well. :)

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  27. hey! i love this. I think that the fact that you acknowledge your flaws is honorable. And i dont think you have to tell every little secret about you and your struggles to be vulnerable and transparent. I personally think you are doing really good at that just now.

    Love from a fellow missionary-

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  28. I wanted to say Hi and I am so happy I found your blog. Keep writing. You are making a profound impact in my life. love, susie.

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  29. Thanks Boomer! I try. :)

    Emily, you're going to do a great job telling your story in Honduras!! No worries!!

    Thanks for sharing the missionary love, MissPicture!!

    Susie, I can't imagine having a profound impact on anyone's life - Thanks for those very kind words! *smiles*

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  30. I am so thankful for places with this kind of honest Christianity. I grew up in a typical bible belt baptist church, I never felt cramped until in my mid 20's after the death of my dad. Chuch just wasn't a safe place to hurt. Nothing was real, the realityofwhat I was trying to survive was so much bigger than the God I had been told about. I'm thankful for a church and online community that live in the wide open spaces. You may be exposed out here, but at least you can stretch your legs.

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  31. So, you don't know me. I'm a missionary in another part of the world. A friend of Nora Mc if that helps. And I don't know you, but after skimming one of your blog posts I can already tell I like you. Thanks for being real. So many times our lives are not pretty. But they are often very funny. And no one can appreciate that as much as those who live the ridiculous lives that we do. Thanks for sharing. I look forward to reading more of how God is using you, imperfect and being perfected as you are.

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  32. You're totally right, Chris! I do have the ability to stretch my legs - and I'm grateful for that. For what it's worth, I'm very sorry for the loss of your Dad, but glad you've found a place to be real, to hurt for real, to really succeed and really fail and really live. Thanks for reading and commenting!!

    Hi Kacy - It's always a pleasure to cross paths with others who are living this whacky lifestyle! Thanks for taking the time to introduce yourself - I sincerely LOVE knowing who's out there!!! :)

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  33. I hear you. I almost didn't marry my husband because he is a pastor & I SO did not fit the "plays the piano, never speaks unless spoken to, wears culottes & wants to home school their 13 children" mold.

    I suffered - & I mean suffered - through years of living a broken life in front of people who pretended to have their acts together but were in reality WAY more screwed up than I am - which is saying something if you know me.
    We're starting a church in Toronto this summer & although I am terrified of starting over & having the responsibility of birthing a church, I am thrilled I will be free. I won't have to measure up to another staff members wife.
    There'll be a million new challenges, but I finally feel like I can unapologetically be myself.

    Thanks for being real. Too many people in ministry are too afraid to admit we're all pretty broken, but that's okay, b/c that's where Jesus comes in.

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  34. Wow I am slacking. 4 days late. I've said this in various forms (here, fb,twitter) in the past, but I would be remiss to not take the opportunity to tell you again to just be yourself. We read this blog because of who you are and what you do, not "what your sending agency says you are or should be doing."

    God is using you and El Chupacabra in mighty ways that if you conformed to the Christian bubble PC lifestyle, you would most likely be very ineffective.

    Maybe one day we can have a 'Jamie the VWM' readers meetup party or we could all jump on a plane and try to follow your crazy address to meet you where you are. Until then, we can settle for anticipating the latest in the VWM saga written honestly and from the heart and of course coated in borderline humor. :)

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  35. Thank you thank you thank you. if only we could all be this real. we are missionaries. my husband is a pastor. i refuse to be a typical "pastor's wife". I don not bake cookies, or have Ladies Coffees or host a Bible study in my house. I do a hell of a lot of other stuff that most pastors wives wouldn't do-the down and dirty stuff of life. there is something that happens when you meet people knee deep in the shit. i'm pretty sure that something is Jesus.

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  36. I actually like to stay hidden, but since everyone is doing the I'm-also-a-bad-missionary "confession" thing I'll de-lurk for a minute. I'm in South Africa for the last 7 yrs. We were also punished while on staff of a church we started a long while back because I was "loose lipped." Unfortunately I got burned enough to learn: don't let many people know everything. Not good, I know. We're not doing the organizational thing now, but relate with everybody (mostly people the church never knows) as the Spirit leads.
    Thanks for your honest, humorous, clever insights. I enjoy reading. We don't have lots of christian friends (we have lots of friends, but just a few are believers, we like it that way.) Don't know if you're the same, but living 2nd lang as a foreigner (an outsider) I feel a connectedness with my online blog friends I've found. So thanks for being my friend, even though we haven't met. Ok, I know that's all corny. I'm not witty, that's why I don't comment and I do NOT have a blog! Don't want people knowing MY shit!! But I think you're a star.

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  37. Stephanie,
    Your comment made my day! Thanks SO MUCH for de-lurking (even if only for a moment) to offer such a great encouragement to me!

    I don't think that what you said about online friendship is corny at all - I think it's true! So let me say, this feeling is mutual, my friend. :)

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  38. Really? well, thanks. Always nice to make a friend.

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  39. I followed a link from a comment you made on Stuff Christians Like. Oh, I'm so glad you did! I regularly call myself the very worst missionary! Well, except I'm not a "real" missionary because I'm in the United States at the national headquarters of a mission organization. So I guess I'm the very worst sort-of missionary. Anyway, I'm so glad I found your blog. And I feel the need to self-censor my facebook status updates & my blog because of supporters reading it, so I totally understand where you're coming from. Unless, of course, you know any of my supporters and then I have no clue what this sin is you speak of.

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  40. Haha! A friend just recommended this blog because I have recently written one similar to this.
    I struggle with this ALL THE TIME! I am like one of THE most open people, even if it's embarrassing and when we moved 6 months ago to become "missionaries" I have people criticizing when we take our family on outings to "treat" them for going along on this crazy ride with us. People criticizing when I celebrated my 3 year old's birthday on two different days, people telling me that I have too much "fun" and am not "spiritual" enough. Or that I talk about my kids more than I talk about God... sigh...
    Part of me wants to tell them to go suck it, but then part of me wants their affirmation that the choice that we made as a family was something that is awesome. But I know in the end, we go where we are called and God calls all types of people the "classic" missionaries who seem perfect on paper, and then us. :-)
    Anyways, just wanted to let you know that you're not alone.

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  41. myderbe - Love your comment! As far as I know, I am not one of your supporters, so we're all good. ;) And for the record, you sound like a "real" missionary to me!

    Des - It sucks that we have to navigate through other people's misguided judgements while we're also juggling our families, our ministries, and our new lives in a new land! I love that you are out there having fun with your family!!
    Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment - it's so good to know we're all on the same team. :)

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  42. Jamie,

    New reader here, and I am currently reading back and back and back into your older posts because I am LOVING your blogs! You are my husband in female version - highly inappropriate with a potty mouth. We have read some of these stories aloud and LAUGHED at how he does/says some of the same things. He's a recovering alcoholic/party guy/former wild child who married me - a straight A student, never drank in my life, virgin, southern baptist deacon's daughter! GOD HELP US! We are learning lots about Grace and working through all our crap together now - HA! God certainly has a sense of humor. ;)

    All that to say - with the background I have I obviously have struggled a lot with legalism and meeting the 'Christian standard' as a missionary couple. I also have a degree in Communication, which means I feel the need to put the proper PR 'spin' on everything a write. UGH!

    You are definitely not alone, and it was encouraging for me to hear that we are not the only missionaries who struggle with this thing (worrying if what we write/say will offend a supporter).

    Des - we are with you too! We had people tell us not to blog that we went to Disneyworld for our anniversary or we'd lose supporters! (Of course what they didn't know is we couldn't afford the trip on our own - a supporter gave us their condo for the week, and flew us down on their skymiles, and another one bought us tickets to Disneyworld).

    I just wrote a blog on this topic here:
    http://erickabennett.myadventures.org/?filename=does-the-call-to-ministry-call-to-poverty

    The GOOD NEWS is the ministry my husband works for is ALL about FREEDOM & GRACE (www.theworldrace.org). For that we have been so thankful, I'm shaking off so much legalism and judgement from the 'christian world' I grew up in and we are learning to be who we are!

    Thanks so much for being who you are and putting all your crap out there. You are a breath of fresh air to us 'non-religious' Jesus loving types (and I'm sure those who don't know Him yet too ;)

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