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.
All is well. No worries, there’s no sin here! We’re good. Real good! *wink wink*
Jamie the Very Worst Missionary)
I was totally gonna start out by saying that I almost died yesterday, but you know when something horrible happens, like when a plane crashes or something, and someone says, “I took that same flight just three days before,” implying that they almost died, and you respond by saying “Oh my gosh, thank God you’re alive!” but you’re actually thinking “Oh my God, you’re a self-obsessed idiot!” - yeah - I didn’t wanna be that guy so I changed my mind and wrote something totally different and it was all kinds of awesome and you would have 100% LOVED it, but then my stupid freaking ( <--- totally not the word I’m thinking) computer did this thing where it turns the whole screen dark and tells me in english and 30 other languages that it must be shut it down immediately and if I don’t do it the Earth will be hit by an asteroid and I will be personally responsible for the end of the human race. Then it gave me the bird and spit in my eye. Oh, and it erased the funniest and most inspiring blog I have ever written. Ever.
So. Sorry you missed it.
I blame Satan.
and Steve Jobs.
So this is kind of a big deal (in a -not a big deal at all - sort of way):
Don't feed it after Midnight and NEVER get it wet!
Since the arrival of my little niece, Charlotte, just a few hours ago, I have wished for a thousand things.
I wish I was there... I wish I could hold her... I just wish I could meet her... I wish I could hug my sister... I wish we lived closer... I wish I could smell her new baby smell... I really wish I had a Starbuck’s hot, venti, skinny, vanilla latte in my hand (What?! I do.)...
I’m the queen of wishing for the impossible.
When my kids were small they started wishing for stuff, too. And it drove me absolutely nuts! Mostly because they would look at me with sad, droopy eyes and “wish” for things instead of asking for them directly, like this - *sigh* “I wish I could have a cookie.” And the response was always the same, “Well, then you should try ASKING for a cookie, and see what happens.”
I don’t know why they kept on wishing, it never really worked for them. As they got older, I got increasingly aggravated at being approached like an invisible Fairy Godmother every time one of my kids wanted something. I was starting to worry about their future. Can you imagine a grown man quietly wishing for a raise in front of his boss, or subtly wishing aloud that his girlfriend would marry him? An adult sadly wishing down the price of a car to the dealer?
That would be ridiculous... not to mention embarrassingly wussy.
Then one day El Chupacabra said something that all but put wishing to an end in our household. I don’t know which kid was wishing, nor do I remember what it was he had wished for, but I do remember that El Chupacabra looked right at him and said flatly:
“Son, wish in one hand and poop in the other. See which one fills up faster.”
And, after an hour and a half of hysterical laughter, the depth of those words sunk into my bones and changed my life forever. ....um...or, they should have, cause that’s brilliant stuff right there!
His point was that if you want something, working for it -not wishing for it- is the way to go. Even if that work is as simple as asking directly. And the other part of that is that if you keep trying to fill up on wishes, you’re going to be left feeling pretty empty.
And he’s right.
The truth is, I can sit here and wish that I had been there when my sister squeezed out this kid, and I can wish that I was holding a squirming bundle of niece in my arms right this second, but I will still be in Costa Rica, and she in NorCal. I can wish and wish and wish that I will wake up tomorrow and there will be a Starbucks barista standing next to my bed ready to hand me a steaming caramel Macchiato... It ain’t gonna happen.
And if I spend too much time wishing about it all, my life could start to feel very, very empty, and then I might get very, very bitter, and I could even forget that I really like my life here in Costa Rica, in fact sometimes I love it, and I could easily dismiss the truth that it is my honor to be here.
So instead of whispering my longings to the universe today, I will say them directly to God. I will be proactive by praying for this new baby, my sister and her family, and I’ll resist the urge to be inactive by wishing I was nearer to them.
I have to admit - I’ve been wishing too often lately. Wishing for more money. Wishing I could change certain things. Wishing to heal a few deep wounds. Wishing that I wasn’t paralyzed at times by this overwhelming life I’ve found myself living. Wishing for a certain overly expensive coffee chain to show up and make it all better.
I've been doing too much wishing, and not enough pooping... er...you know what I mean...
Is there something you’ve been wishing for that you could, instead, be proactively working toward? Or is there a wish on your list for something you can’t change, and it’s leaving you empty?
My sister is having a baby.
No, I mean, like right now, as I write this, she’s checking into a hospital to to bring a teeny, tiny baby girl into this world. My niece.
My heart is a floppy rag of emotions.
I am overjoyed, ecstatic, elated at the thought of the child who will be taking her very first breath in a matter of hours, the one who will be stretching her limbs for the first time, and looking into faces, and finally hearing the unmuffled voices of the family that welcomes her today, her birthday.
My little niece. It makes me smile just to think of it.
And then my eyes fill with tears and my heart breaks with the reminder that I will be meeting her for the first time through photos. I will watch her grow up in a series of still shots and 40 second clips. I won’t be there tomorrow to hold her warm little body in my arms, to press my lips against her silky forehead, to marvel at her perfect little baby feet.
These are the moments that hit me hard. These are the times that make me crawl into bed and pull the covers over my head and say to God that being a missionary sucks balls.
And I feel comforted because I know that God knows, far better than I, what it’s like to be separated from the ones you love, and to long for them with all your heart.
Welcome to Life, baby girl. I long to be close you...