4.29.2011

God is good. No, but seriously...

I feel weird when things work out for someone and they tell me about it and then they sum it up by proclaiming that "God is good!"

I always want to say something like, "Well, what would He be if things had turned out different?"

Or, "Do you think the people that were, like, IN the fatal accident that barely missed your car think God is good, too?"

And, this one time, I almost said, "And if it had been cancer, then what would God be?" I came so close to just blurting it out, but you can't go around messing with people like that. They'll stop hanging out with you. Trust me.

So anyway. I wanted to tell you that we got our car back from Nicaragua. El Chupacabra and a friend of ours took the bus back to Nicaragua on Monday, bought a new engine, had it installed, and got back home - with the car - on Wednesday night. (If you follow me on Twitter, you already know all that, plus oh-so-much more.) So the only actual news here is that, thanks to a financial gift from our home church, and a few more from.... *ahem*....readers (⇐ I still feel weird saying that), the cost of the trip, engine, and labor was covered to within a few dollars of our actual expenses. Pretty cool, huh?

This is the part where I'm supposed to say, "God is good".

Which He is. But. He was also good when our the car died on the side of the road under the blazing Nicaraguan sun. He is good when the house burns to the ground, and He is good when the accident is terrible, even if it happens to me. He is good when the report says "cancer". God's goodness simply can't be measured by what my stupid, human heart deems satisfactory. So I guess what I'm getting at is that we got our car back and we can still afford to eat because it was all payed for by cool people who are really good at acting on (what I would call) the urging of the Holy Spirit, and, of course, that God is good. Just like always.

Thanks for your prayers, and thanks to those who gave, and thanks to God, whose goodness is both lost on me and found in me. I love you, all.

.... .... ....

Now, watch this in honor of.... um....Friday?:


And then, in honor of the Royal Wedding, here is story of true love, mustache love:


.... .... ....

God is good all the time! Where have you seen God's goodness?

4.25.2011

Peep show.

I’m afraid I may have given you a peek of something you weren’t supposed to see. (No, not my recent pic where a friend said I showed “boobage” – which I can assure you is nothing more than a lucky shadow cast on the bony, concave chest of a woman who has never possessed “boobage” a single day in her long, flat life. And FYI – we will not be discussing this in comments because…well…just, No.)

Anyway. I’m talking about my last post, the one about the podcast. I read it this morning and quickly realized that I had given my internal dialog a spot on the platform. Right there, in front of everybody, like a dirty, psychological peep show for the interwebz.

How embarrassing!

See, the thing about having an ongoing internal dialog is that it’s kinda supposed to stay between you and the mirror. Especially if your internal dialog, like mine, contains not so much the quiet, nagging voice of humorous self-deprecation, but a ferocious, barking dog of self-loathing.

Cause, really? Nobody wants to see that.

No one wants to see you berating yourself for being a “dork”, or having a “horrible personality”. And nobody needs you to decide on their behalf that they won’t like you before they’ve ever even heard your voice. Seriously, who need a friend like that?! Ew.

So unattractive.

I really can’t believe I went there. But I did. I let you in on a little bit of the incessant name-calling that goes on in my head. I gave a nip-slip to my insecurities. And I’m sorry you saw it.

Not because I don’t want you to know what I think of myself. But because I have to work really, really hard at not letting what I think of me obscure what God thinks of me. And because I hate to think of anyone relating more deeply to the detestable pieces of my life than to the beautifully Redeemed sum of it all - So that it isn’t the shittyness of ourselves that binds us, but the loveliness of a Savior…

One of my favorite things to come across when I’m reading the Bible is when it tells us that God will give us a new name. I love that. I love the idea that God knows all about name-calling. And I love, even more, the thought that God has a name for me and that it will answer every question I have ever had about who I am - A name to finally quiet my inner dialog… A name to ease my insecurities…

I don’t have a clue what my God-given name is. But I know what it isn’t.

It’s not Boring.

It’s not Horrible.

And it’s not Loser.

It’s not Fatty, or Mush for Thighs, or Lady McBingo Wings.

It’s not Failure.

And it’s not Ugly.

It’s not Stupid or Awkward.

It is not Bitch.

In fact, it’s not any of the names I call myself, not even the Very Worst Missionary.

It’s not Unworthy.

I will not be called Unlovable.

And neither will you….

… …. ….

The LORD has made proclamation to the ends of the earth: 


“Say to Daughter Zion, 


‘See, your Savior comes! 


See, his reward is with him, 


and his recompense accompanies him.’” 


They will be called the Holy People, 


the Redeemed of the LORD;

and you will be called Sought After, 


the City No Longer Deserted.

~Isaiah 62

…. …. ….

You will be called Sought After

4.23.2011

I did a podcast. You'll hate it.


So, I recently recorded a podcast interview with
Justin Lukasavige of CoachRadio.tv.

As in,
he interviewed me. I'm still not sure why.

But it was fun and Justin was cool, and I'm gonna give you the link, but first I want to say this:



1) I am not funny in person. Like,
at all.

2) You should only listen to this podcast if you are super into boring chicks who ramble, go on long tangents, and interrupt themselves frequently. Or, if you enjoy breathy, nervous laughter and the over use of the valley girl phrase "ya know". Or, if you just love hearing someone trail off of an incomplete statement with a long, awkward "soooooo....yyyeeeeah".

If you like any of that stuff, then this is right up your weird little alley. Enjoy.


This is the part where you click the link, listen to the podcast, and quickly realize that, in fact, we would not be BFF's in real life. Because I am a huge dork.

Sorry.

PS - You could easily skip the first half - or the second half - and not miss anything, but I'd recommend skipping the first half. Or...you know what? Just skip the whole thing.

4.21.2011

My lucky day.

"If I had known it would end like this, I would have worn pants."

Honestly? The second I decided to make the trip home from Nicaragua in stupid pajama bottoms instead of real pants I should have known that I'd end up here...

...bouncing around in the back of an old, janky pickup truck through the dust covered town of Rivas, Nicaragua. Looking super pissed. And thinking, "We are so screwed. I should have just known... and I should have worn pants."

But things had been going so well. Pants hardly seemed necessary when we left the hotel that morning.

Our last minute trip to Nicaragua to renew our visas was at an end, and our car - with it's 250,000 kilometers and recent work - had been cooperating. We'd managed to get ourselves and our crappy car through immigration, made it to our destination, even did some exploring without any problems. And now we were ready to get home, but we didn't get far before "the noise" started. My handy husband pulled over to check it out, but then the car didn't want to start again and we had to pop the clutch (requiring a pop-the-clutch moment appropriate for an entirely separate blog post in which I explain why you can't get mad at your wife for not knowing how the hell to pop a clutch when she's never done it before and you're not explaining it, like, at all, and also, how you'd be way less pissed off right now if you'd have just stopped on a hill - but she's still sorry it took three tries, even though this is all your fault) which left me a little traumatized and my husband and eldest son really, really sweaty from pushing the car (repeatedly). Anyway, we got a little further and stopped a couple more times (yes, that means more hellacious clutch-popping) and then it was over.

The car refused to move. What a
jerk. And I thought, "We are so screwed."

All you need to know now is that Nicaragua is hotter than the sun. Oh, and that in an effort to find help, my husband walked to a bar where he met a guy who took him to a friend who knows a guy who has a truck with a tow bar and is related to a mechanic, orsomethinglikethat. So the kids and I watched him disappear down the road among the dust clouds and hot asphalt heatwaves, sincerely hoping that he would come back. But I was pretty sure he was being led to an ATM and his eventual demise, so when he left I thought,
"We are so screwed."

Ok, long boring story short - We get the car to a mechanic who takes the whole thing apart, and says,
"You are so screwed" - because we need a whole new engine. BUT. It's Semana Santa - Holy Week - in Latin America, and everything shuts down. Everything. Mechanics, stores, restaurants, buses, even the border closes on the Friday before Easter. So we decide to ditch the car and deal with it later, and that's when we climbed in the back of some dude's truck, because we had to find some cash and beg a bus driver to make room for us on one of the last buses out of the country before everything shuts down. It was already 2 pm, and the bus was coming through around 3:30 - I know, I know, so screwed, right?

So there I was, in the back of a truck,
in my pj's, looking like some kind of bitter, dirty hippie who hitchhikes with her kids through Nicaraguan border towns. Beautiful. And then my youngest child says, "Mom, this is like my lucky day! I've always wanted to ride in the back of a truck!!" And, seriously? He's grinning from ear to ear. So I'm sitting there, in dumbstruck silence, sweat beaded on my forehead, looking at him like, WHO'S KID ARE YOU?! This isn't your lucky day. You're screwed, kid! You're riding in the back of a stranger's pickup in Central America because you have blatantly irresponsible, poor people for parents and you'll be lucky if you ever sleep in your own bed again." But in a rare moment of clarity, I didn't say any of that out loud...

I just sat there thinking about how cool it is that my baby sees awesomeness everywhere he looks. He just trusts that it will all be ok, that no matter the outcome, it will be ok. And all of his moments are full of this I-am-the-luckiest-person-on-the-planet kind of joy because of it.

We did end up getting 5 spots on the bus yesterday, and I sat next to my munchkin where I got to hear all about how this was his lucky day because he got to ride in a pickup, and he got to have a Coke with his fried chicken lunch, and we all got to read a book together while we waited for Dad to get help, and he found a sharp thingy to mess around with while we were at the mechanic's shop but he didn't even cut his finger off with it or anything. And then, the steward brought us our styrofoam encased dinners, and he opened his up and yelled, "High five, Mom - Fried chicken, twice in one day!!!"

And I couldn't help but smile and feel like maybe this
was my lucky day.

As the bus pulled in to San Jose late last night and I wandered my way, self consciously, through the crowds toward our luggage, I said to my husband, "Man, if I had known it would end like this, I would have worn pants." But I didn't feel screwed anymore. Actually, I felt sort of lucky.... Because at the last minute, before we left the hotel, I had decided to wear a bra.

.... .... .....

This post is brought to you by the Bikers Church! I sincerely love these guys, so I hope you'll click the link and "like" them on FaceBook - Go ahead...everybody is doing it....

.... .... ....

Um. You may have noticed the part where we left our car in Nicaragau - soooo yeah....prayers as we navigate this situation would be SO appreciated. Thanks!

4.15.2011

Respectability is Overrated... according to Seth Barnes

So this is the very first ever guest post on the Very Worst Missionary. It comes to us from the Seth Barnes of Adventures In Missions fame - so I highly suggest you read it, because he's kind of a big deal (I could be blowing smoke here), and also because I think it's a great post, and I just know that you totally care what I think. So read on:


I’m almost 53 – an age where you’d think I’d be enjoying some respectability. But frankly, I’ve always thought respectability is overrated. And Jamie’s blog bolsters this belief. She’s becoming the Rodney Dangerfield of missions, and I for one appreciate it.


Missions is a messy business. I’m going to issue a challenge to other missions executives like myself to “out themselves” with their stories that show that they, too, have had their “very worst missionary moments.” I personally have a great many to choose from. Here’s one from a mission trip to Mexico in 1993 with my friend John Rose, now a famous and almost respectable pastor:


Our group stayed at “Friends of Mexico” in the center of Galeana, a quaint mountain town. During our time there, someone told us about a primitive village above the tree line that needed food. We loaded up the group and trooped off to the mountains to minister.


When we arrived we were greeted by a small swarm of cute little piglets that ran up to us. We all grabbed one and carried them around for 10 minutes as our pets – rubbing their bellies and letting them lick us. Then, someone slammed the outhouse door, and all the piglets ran behind the outhouse to the concrete ramp that took the human waste out of the outhouse and into the pigpen. They snuffed happily at their fresh buffet.


This happened almost 20 years ago, and yesterday John recalled the incident: “My mind has been branded forever with this image. When I die, I will not see images of the birth of my children, the first kiss with my wife, nor of Maui, Baja, or the time my son hit a home run to win a game in little league. My last thought on earth will be of trying to wash and scrub all that pig slobber off my face when I discovered the source of his food supply.”


After the piglet episode, the families poured from their homes and invited us to attend their little church to give us a concert.
They rounded up four guys to play and sing for us. I mean, these guys dropped their rakes, shepherd crooks, and pitchforks and stumbled in. I don’t think any of them had showered or been indoors for a month. There was a certain build-up to how incredible this music was going to be. We sensed the holiness of the moment and felt that there would be great irony in the beautiful music pouring forth from these humble servants of God.


John recounts what happened next: “I have heard the sound of tearing metal in an auto wreck, screams of pain coming from cows while being slaughtered. I have never – in my life – heard a sound as awful and out of tune as these guys made." What made it even worse was these dear brothers were so sincere and humble and engaged in performing for us. They were genuinely seeking to share their “gifts” with us. I will never forget their wispy eyes and emphatic arm gestures. Fortunately for those men, they had two mature sympathetic Christian men who were listening to them – John and me! Certainly, we would provide supportive and mission-based encouragement.


Before long, we were dying as we tried not to laugh. We snorted and choked and coughed. Tears streamed down our cheeks. I ran out of Kleenex and started using a sleeve. I remember biting my tongue really hard and staring at my feet.
Undeterred, they kept playing encores, each seemingly more discordant. Toward the end, John totally lost it. He stumbled out the back door and collapsed in the dirt, pounding the ground in laughter.


Relieved at his blatant show of foolish behavior, I joined him. The concert finally ended and, after having destroyed years of missiological witness, still laughing, we beat the rest of the group to the truck, pausing along the way in a goat field to pick up chunks of goat dung and throw them at one another.


This month, we're celebrating our 90,000th missionary to go into the field. I like to think of it as 90,000 attempts at greatness. Some have failed, some have succeeded. Most have been messy.


One thing I've learned is that we're all a mess. When John and I were rolling around laughing at the service, I didn't realize that the real mess was inside me. After over 20 years of realizing my own brokenness, I've come to grips with the fact that God loves to work with messy people. It's really all he has to work with.


We hope to send out as many messy people as possible in the next 20 years. They have no delusions about respectability, and those are the people Jesus seems to favor. And they're the ones I want work with. Because I'm one of them.


.... .... ....

Hey there, me again. I just want you guys to know that I totally forgive Seth for comparing me to Rodney Dangerfield (not that every chick wouldn't just love to be compared to an ancient, fat, bald, bug-eyed, half-funny dude). And I also want to say that, Seth, even though you're kind of...ya know...old, and even though you made out with a poop-eating piglet, I think that what you've done in your missionary career is highly resepectable, I mean, like, "See that guy over there? The one in Depends?... That's Seth Barnes from AIM!" kind of respectable. So, please, keep on doin' what you do!


In celebration of their 90,000th (!!!) missionary, AIM is having a sale - yup, a missions trip sale - with discounts on trips all over the world - check it out, here!


**Seth Barnes is the founder and executive director of Adventures in Missions. You can connect with him on his blog Radical Living in a Comfortable World.


.... .... ....


Ok. The challenge has been issued - Out yourself! Time to dish on your "Very Worst Missionary Moments".... let's hear 'em!

4.14.2011

You can shoot me now.

I was walking by the pharmacy today and the pharmacist nudged her assistant and said, "Remember when I told you about that girl who came in and said she was having problems with her 'urinator'? Heheheh...Well, that's her."

And then she pointed at me.

*sigh*

...Spanish is killing me.

But my 'urinator' is feeling much better, thanks.

4.11.2011

Explaining Grace is, like, hard.

I was talking to my sister the other day - she's not a Christian (gasp!) - and I was just sharing some of the junk that's been on my mind lately. I don't even remember how it came up, but I said something about Grace, and then she paused and said, "What's 'grace?"

And I was all.... "Ummm....."

And for the next five minutes I tried to explain Grace to someone who doesn't buy trite Sunday school teachings and has no patience for Jesusy platitudes. She doesn't even speak Christianese, for god's sake! So, basically, there was no getting out of this conversation with a simple, but relatively meaningless "Grace is a gift" speech.

Naturally, I adopted my authoritative I-know-what-I'm-talking-about voice because I'm a missionary and all that. But by the time I was done jabbering, it was clear that I don't really know how to explain Grace, like, at all. Especially without using all those contrived word-pictures we've created to help our children accept things that, in reality, make no sense. I just ended up talking in circles, and saying things like, "wait, what I mean is... I dunno, it's weird because... blah, blah, blah", until I had finally confused myself so thoroughly I had to change the subject all together; "....and that's what Grace is. Hey, did you see that episode of Glee where Rachel and Kurt sing 'Don't Cry for Me Argentina'? It was amazing."

And then she was all, "Oooookay."

It all reminded me of why I call myself the Very Worst Missionary - It's because: Oh yeah. I suck at this.

So I thought I'd pose the question here and see if you could come up with a non-douchy response to "What's Grace?"

I'll post my three favorite comments right on this very post, Friday.

Ok? (And, remember, only non-douches need apply.) Ready?...set?....Go!

"What's Grace?"

... ... ...

This post was sponsored by Betsy and Jason! You MUST check out their blog, Portraits of Life. Stories of Us. It's both poignant AND adorable. :)

4.05.2011

Getting it all wrong.

I pray all wrong.

Not that there’s a right way to pray. I mean, there’s really not a whole lot to it - you just say, like, "Hey God” and then start talking, and you’re pretty much doing it. Silently or aloud, eyes open, eyes closed, in the car, on the crapper, at the office, in a field, at the bank – however, wherever, it’s really not important. I honestly think it delights God any time we talk with Him, and that the “hows” a “wheres” don’t matter so much.

But I’ve been thinking a lot about the things I pray about, the “whats” of my prayers. And I’ve uncovered a disturbing theme. Ok, maybe I’ve discovered a few less than admirable trends - I already told you about how I pray that God would show my husband when he’s being a dumbass instead of pointing me toward my own failings. But there’s something else. Something…worse.

I like to pray myself backward in time.

No. That came out wrong and made me sound all bat-shit-crazy… which I’m not… mostly

…. You know what? Let’s try that again.

I like to ask God to make it like it was.

I pray for the obvious “make it like it was” stuff. I ask Him to make it like it was when I could go to Target and buy whatever I wanted. And I ask Him to make it like it was when I had a bunch of cool, hot friends to go out with in high heels on a random Thursday night for nachos and margaritas. Sometimes I ask Him to make it like it was when I had a gym membership with tanning… *sigh*… I really miss that gym…

Sometimes I ask God to make my heart like it was, back before it got run through by Poverty’s sword, back when I could throw away last week’s leftovers without a twinge of disgust and before I felt ashamed at how I’m always, constantly, forever wanting more stuff.

And then, sometimes, I plead for God to make it like it was, back before my marriage collapsed… take us back, I beg, to before El Chupacabra and I had to overcome all that junk in our marriage, all that stuff that nearly ruined us. We won that battle. But not without wounds, not without the scars that are left when you take something that’s bleeding to death and carefully nurse it back to life. So sometimes I pray that God would make it like it was, back before it was ever broken, simply because scars can be hard to live with.

“Sometimes”, I say to God, ”I just want it to be how it was. Ya know?”

And God says, gently, as always, “Oh, Baby Girl… You’ve got it all wrong.

And then He reminds me of what I already know, which is that I have been Restored… and that Restoration is for the broken.

In my foolishness, I plead to God to take away the broken parts, make it like it was, like none of this ever happened. But it seems, in my haste to forget life’s biggest challenges, I would erase all of the best parts of the story. Because where I see a heart, broken and aching for the poor, He sees a heart, salvaged from materialism, and Restored to a better condition. And where I see a marriage, broken by every kind of selfishness, He sees a couple, raised from the brink of death, and Restored to a better place. And where I see all the scars left by living a dirty, messed up life, He sees that what was once broken is now made whole. Our scars are simply evidence of what has been Restored. They get to tell the Story of where our lives have been touched by God.

Why would you erase”, He asks me, “all the best parts of the Story?

“I don't know. I just wanted it to be how it was.”

Ah, but when you tell the Story how it is…. we’re Both in it.

And then I feel silly that after all these years with God by my side, I'm still getting it all wrong.

.... .... ....

Today's VWM sponsor is "the charis project" - amazing orphan care in Burma! CHECK IT OUT!!