Sunday, November 29, 2015

November Sunday Funday

Sundays: to relax and revel in Jesus. And when I am away from home, one of the ways I do that is by connecting with the familiar. We call family and friends, and I try to connect and catch up on personal e-mails. And...I read fun, uplifting, and spiritually challenging things on the internet.
Here are the good things I found today, that I wanted to share:
1. Serpents and Doves--the balance of wisdom and innocence Especially when I am told that (often) that I am too naive and innocent. Especially involving refugees #wewelcomerefugees
2. National Refugee Sunday--December 13th! I really wish they had their resources in Portuguese as well.
3. A HUGE list of cool travel coloring books I am a big fan of coloring books. yep.
4. As we get ready to return to the USA (a little over two weeks!) we are getting ready to receive counseling. Re-entry, marriage, parent, personal...all kinds of counseling. Because godly counsel and sharing is always a good thing! So grateful to be a part of this community!
5. For hard to understand issues, I like these short animated videos. This is on the vetting process.

I am really enjoying Hebrews right now (there is nothing like reading aloud Hebrew 11 to get you pumped up!) "Therefore (after all that was said in Hebrews 11) we also, since we are surrounded y so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us." Hebrews 12:1

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Five Months Old

The biggest thing I have realized this month is that Ana Sofia wants to be invited into my life. She doesn't want me to create a life around her, she wants me to do all my stuff...with her actively involved. 
So at meal times, Ana gets a spoon. or a cracker. or her fruit-mushy thing she can suck fruit out of. 
So when I cook, she gets a little taste on her tongue, or gets to touch all the ingredients. 
So when I am working on my laptop, she gets to read (eat) her book in my lap. 
So when we go to Living Stones, she gets to play with all the kids too. 
I am absolutely sure that when she is in her baby carrier, facing outward, she believes it is her walking around and doing everything. At the grocery store, she reached out and held on to the cart handle, like she was pushing it along as we walked. When it started raining, she held on the umbrella with me, with a face of "Of course I am helping."
This reminded me of God and I, and Revelations 3:20, about inviting Jesus in. But the more I know Him, the more I realize I don't just want Him in my life, I want to be invited into His life. 
We have dived into preparing to return to the USA and Christmas (suitcases and presents are taking over the apartment), and Ana has begun to find her voice. Literally. All possible notes and sounds--and her favorite--screeches, fill the air. I feel sorry already for the people who will share the 10 hour plane ride with us. Please pray for our little lady, as everything (climate, home, stuff, clothes, food, people) she  knows will change. As I kiss her perpetually-non-clothes wearing belly, I wonder what she will think of snow. 

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

When Talking about Refugees...

1. When talking about refugees, the whole Syrian crisis gets brought up. My disorganized thoughts about ISIS boil down to this: these are people without Jesus. I have never been able to wrap my head around war, or killing people in general, but regardless of that, I should be on my knees in prayer for them. (Matthew 5:44 “Love your enemy, pray for those who persecute you…”) NEVER is the time to be happy that someone—anyone—dies, or is being killed.
2. When talking about refugees, immigration in general gets brought up. I am a migrant. Most missionaries are. For every migrant there is a different story. It saddens me that migrants are often looked down on. I did not choose to be born where I was born—I am grateful for being an American, and feel that with great blessing comes great responsibility to pass that on. (Malachi 3:5 “…I will come to put you on trial…(who) deprive the foreigners among you of justice…”) I wrote a lot more about this here:
3. When talking about refugees, it is natural to jump to trying to find solutions (LET them into the USA! DON’T let them into the USA!). But first, let’s all stop and let our hearts be broken for a truly terrible situation. This is a crisis. And people are dying . People are in fear for their lives- for their children's lives. So before we go all American and try to fix everything, let’s sit and feel. Sit in solidarity. And then slowly, through prayer, find solutions. Many solutions . There are as many different solutions needed as people fleeing. And this will not happen quickly (Romans 12:15 “…weep with those who weep.”) NEVER is the time to close our hearts off to others. I wrote a lot more about this here: 
4. When talking about refugees, politics get brought up. Politics isn’t my area. Serving others is. And I know that politics are all tangled up in this, but I don’t think that should dictate our hearts, or be a reason for us to leave our Christian mandate to love. Truth without love is WRONG. Love without truth is WRONG. And in any discussion you have with me, I want to focus on what we can do, and what our (you, me, the church) responsibility is. I wrote a lot more about that here:
5. When talking about refugees, caution gets brought up. I understand caution. I also see caution moving into fear moving into hate. I understand needing wisdom. But I see wisdom moving into over-limitations moving into barring entry. This: brought up some good points and some points I don’t completely agree with, but were good to think about.
6. When talking about refugees, people get crazy quickly. I was suddenly involved with a very long Facebook conversation recently, where things went places I couldn’t control—and it was on my Facebook wall. I have decided I need to make it harder for me to push the share button by taking the time to write out my perspective more thoroughly on my blog. It also means people are less likely to respond, since it requires more reading. It isn’t easy for me to disagree with people I love and respect, but it is a good challenge for me to show love and grace. 
7. When talking about refugees, Americans often lump together what is happening in the USA to what is happening in Europe/Middle East. The number of people in question coming to the USA is 10,000. The number in Europe/Middle East is in the millions. Different solutions are needed for a different amount of people. Here is a quote from my friend, Em, who works with refugees in Indiana: “The demographics of refugees flooding European countries and the demographics of refugees entering the US are vastly different. It is true that the sheer millions of refugees flooding the EU borders makes it difficult for those countries to screen, but those that come to the US are being thoroughly screened. I can only speak about the Syrian families we have worked with- an embarrassing total of 25 individuals over the past year because the screening process is so rigorous. We have resettled a few adult males, but mostly families including women and children.”
8. When talking about refugees, the vetting process is brought up. From my perspective (being a world traveler for the past 10 years), it has NEVER been easy to legally enter the USA from other countries. I have had Brazilian friends YELLED at by the American consulate, told they were just trying to sneak in, and then denied a visa. The USA has a very thorough process for legal entry. Around 85,000 are allowed in on a regular year (from what I have read), so I don’t see 10,000 more breaking the system. I understand that background papers and all are hard to get, and people can slip through, but rationally, ISIS would not spend the time to come into the USA through the refugee system—it would take too long. They would find an illegal way of entry. Here is a thorough post about the vetting system:
9. When talking about refugees, money is brought up. Although I see you still have enough money to go to Starbucks, here is what Em shared about that: “We have a strict time frame of 90 days to help our clients become "sustainable", meaning that they can support their families without our assistance. When a person has experienced severe trauma, doesn't fluently speak the language of the country in which they now live, and are experiencing culture shock while starting life from scratch, the truth is that it is very difficult to work. However, they do. Housing assistance is only guaranteed the first 3 months, refugee Medicaid the first 8 months. I don't specifically work with case management so I am not sure about the deadlines for food stamps, but I know that the services we provide serve only as a buffer for our clients to have food and shelter, refuge, while they actively make steps toward the life ahead. If you actually look at the numbers, each refugee is allotted $925 for the 90 days of support we give. Could you live off that much money for 3 months? We are resettling refugees into poverty.”
10. When talking about refugees, “helping our own” is brought up (specifically Vets/homeless). As my father is a veteran, I too believe that vets are important. I worked for Good News Ministries for many, many years, and they do an amazing job every day working with vets/homeless. I am glad that so many are now interested in helping them, and hope that they will get connected with hands-on opportunities to serve. But that does not take anything away from the refugee crisis.
11. When talking about refugees, allowing them to enter the USA is brought up as a bad solution. ( I believe there are MANY solutions, and even more solutions that are needed in this refugee crisis. I believe we should be praying and working to help with as many of these solutions as possible. As an American, most of these solutions will not affect me directly. The one that might, is the idea of refugees coming to the USA. This is only a possible solution for a very few: but I believe it is a valid and needed solution for the few that can. This does not take away from other solutions (or the fact that Saudi Arabia is being a butt about things: ).
12. When talking about refugees, I wish to speak as graceful as Ann Voskamp: 
13. Another thought from Em, which I wish I had said myself: “In all the discussion about refugees, I'm disheartened that we are not actually talking about refugees. We are talking about terrorists, blatantly ignoring the oppressed and the victims of the terrorists we also fear. There are millions of refugees- mothers, fathers, children, doctors, teachers, students, friends, ordinary people, who have been torn from everything they have known to be familiar. They are not looking for a better life or a chance to take advantage of our economy, they are trying to stay alive! I'm disheartened to see how the U.S. has exchanged nobility for cowardice, precious, innocent lives for the extremely selfish and, might I add, false notion of "security", and has gone so low as to accuse the victims of being the perpetrators from whom they themselves are escaping.”
14. Another thought from me, mostly regarding migration, since that is all I know about personally:” I see people suffering from deep poverty every day. I know them. I work with them. I love them. And if I were one of them, and had a chance to work my butt off and get my kid to a place where they would not be in the same place, I would fight tooth and nail for it. I think anyone would. And that is not even a refugee- that is the story of most migrants. We did nothing to be born Americans and receive all we have been give - we have no right to shut out others. As far as protecting our own- I am all for that. And yes, sometimes I tremble at the thought of terrorism coming close to my daughter. We are to be wise They are doing much more than you think to vet people. Is the system failsafe? No. But then again, neither is closing boarders or building walls.”
15. When talking about refugees, some things I hope we can agree on: God loves the refugees. We are to love the refugees. All Muslims are to be loved. Prayer is needed. Wisdom is needed. Action is needed.
16. When talking about refugees, I hope the end result is doing something loving. Perhaps you are not called to actively work with refugees—but you are called to actively serve others. I hope you reach out to the hurting where you are—the vets, the homeless, the children, the single mothers, the suburban families that are broken but refuse to admit it…the list goes on. And let’s sit and think about this: most of us can’t go to Europe/Middle East to share Jesus…but there are people from there working HARD to be able to come here—there are Muslims here—that need to see God’s love. I believe it would be darn near impossible to be a radical Muslim if every Christian I knew refused to stop showering me with love. 

Friday, November 20, 2015

Naps and Minimization

I have been praying for Paris. Right next to praying for my family and Caid’s family and our friend and our ministries and our kids and the other things our other friends have asked us to pray for…it is a lot of prayer (that is a good thing). And I am nowhere near the “Praying without ceasing.” I am nowhere near dedicating the time I want to—and that others need—to prayer. I haven’t even seen “War Room” yet. 
My husband changed his profile picture to the French flag. I did not. I was too overwhelmed with so many tragedies, and took a nap instead. I think it is so important to let each one grieve for their own sorrows without calling into question their motives. 
The catch is this: if you say “Don’t (just) pray for Paris, pray for the world” you are hurting the people who need time to grieve specifically for Paris. It makes them feel as if you are saying their pain doesn’t matter. Their hurt doesn’t go away just because somewhere else was bombed as well. And with so many people actively praying for Paris, it makes other people feel left out and their hurt minimized (Beirut...).
To compensate, we generalize into "Pray for the world," and somehow no one is happy. 
This helped put into perspective the pain (and lashing out) that I saw from #blacklivesmatter and #alllivesmatter. BOTH are true. You don’t have to minimize one to care about the other. Focusing on one doesn't mean you don't care for the other. Sometimes we are just too overwhelmed with it all to be able to focus on more than one small thing at a time. Sometimes we should just go take a nap. 

Irritating Bible Verses

Last Sunday it was my Sunday to teach the teens. I wanted a real sit-down conversation about the Bible. Paulo couldn’t handle it very well. He is used to being taught AT: where he sits down and listens but doesn’t need to do anything else. So when I opened with, “Paulo, why do we have the Bible?” He looked shocked and scared and horrified all at once. Because he isn’t used to having to process. Having to participate. But that is what we need. That is how we LEARN.
I choose to share with the teens the things that God is teaching me. Lately, I’ve been learning that the Bible is irritating. It is frustrating and full of ugly things I really don’t like or want anything to do with (currently reading Ezekiel). AND YET.
And yet I believe it. And yet it is the inerrant Word of God. I don’t understand, but I still hold on to it. As my friend says, who loves to quote Chesterton: "The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult; and left untried." I am trying.
I asked the kids if they believed the Bible: of course. I asked them if they had read it all: of course not. (well that should eventually change) Then there were parts of the Bible they had never seen before? How did they know they believed it if they hadn’t even read it? What if they started reading all those in-between parts and found some weird stuff? I gave them a heads up—there is tons of weird stuff. Stuff about mother’s eating their babies. Stuff about wanting their enemy’s children dashed on rocks. And that is only the beginning.
I told the kids that there are a lot of smart people out there that will find those weird/hard parts of the Bible and throw it in your face. And you will have to struggle with it. But you don’t have to be embarrassed for God. He already knew it was there, and why it was there. And maybe someday you’ll understand too, or get to ask Him yourself about it.
And maybe you will never understand it, but you will get to know God better after you struggle. You will get to know yourself better after the struggle. You will be blessed in the struggle.
What about all that stuff that isn’t written in the Bible that you want to know? Like what to do when that guy asks you out? Or anything about video games (because I checked, “video games” are not in the Bible)? The Bible is there to help you get to know God, and as you get to know God, you begin to understand the principles about what He thinks and wants for your life. Somehow, and I don't really know how, everything we need is there, in that Bible.
It was a good discussion. It was real. Even if I had to drag Paulo into it. It wasn’t just “Read your Bible because it will help you” talk. It was “Read your Bible to get to know God. And even then you won’t understand all of Him because He is God. But keep going because it is worth it.”

Worth the Investment

I became a part of a Facebook conversation. One of THOSE. One that was long enough, I couldn't keep track of replies and comments and kept getting lost as I scrolled down. It was interesting, and informative, and I got to practice being diplomatic and giving thoughtful replies. And in the end, we are all still friends. But it was still quite a bit of drama. And after it was over, I realized that I don't have time for that.
On Facebook, people can't "read" the tone of voice you write things in. And strangers see your posts and take it personally. If you say something against someone they agree with, it can automatically become something you say against them--and normally taken farther than you ever intended. Most of the just isn't worth it.
But what about when it is worth it? What about when it is something you are passionate about and you feel that bubbling up of words and emotions and you can't sleep until you get something out somewhere? Here is my plan for me. Because during this Facebook conversation, I didn't feel balanced, and that needs to change.
Instead of hitting "share,"which is so easy to do, I am going to blog about it. This makes me stop, think, and put time into it. Calm down a little. And, since I am a mom, will cut down on all the things I share. Will cut down on the drama. Because hey--not as many people are willing to read my blog (after 11 years of blogging, I know this to be true) as they are a quick headline and picture. And the people who do read my blog? They are probably are worth having the discussion with.

It has become so easy to share our opinion. Or even a headline of a story we think we agree with, without even knowing the whole story. Writing blogs won't solve this, and it won't make me magically informed. But it will help me make sure it is worth the investment before pushing the "publish" button.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Two Years Married

October 31st is Halloween, but more importantly, it is Jeff Turner's birthday. Here is our vlog about it:

It is hard to believe that Caid and I have been married for two years already, and how much has happened in that time...Caid graduating with his bachelor's degree, us becoming missionaries, and us becoming parents are the three biggest things I can think of. But it has been all the little things in between that have been so special. 

Ana Sofia stayed with the Turners and Mackenzie, and Caid and I went to the "very cool" mall and then the beach to enjoy ourselves for our anniversary. It was our best date ever, but by 3:30pm I was seeing babies everywhere and missing my lil girl. I will never forget the amazing time, laughing and remembering with my husband and best friend. 
We aren't the same without this lil sweet pea. Here was two years ago:

God bless you from the Fergusons!

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Antidote to Depression

While eating at a restaurant, my daughter (4 months) smiled the brightest, biggest smile she owned at each person who walked by. And as person after person passed without noticing, my heart broke a little more. I wanted to shake them as they walked, unknowingly, and say “Hey, my daughter is smiling at you. Smile back. NOW.”
Because I know what a brave thing it is to smile at every single person you see. Ana Sofia doesn’t know that yet. It is giving something—freely. It is putting yourself out there, not knowing what will return. Ana’s little world is full of returned smiles and care. But I won’t be able to control that as her world grows bigger.
And I grieved a small grief. With every un-returned smile. Because I know life isn’t going to be easy for my little girl. My friend, cousin, and fellow missionary Amy recently shared that grief is the antidote to depression. That it is to be welcomed as a friend. And so I pause to sit and give time to grieve.
This morning I scrolled through Facebook and found out that two boys (now men) who used to by my boys at the Youth Center are dead. And two more are in critical condition. I haven’t seen them in a while, and I am so far away, but it still hurts.
And so before anyone talks about violence, gambling, or gun control, let’s sit and grieve. We need to grieve a big grief. For these young men who we will miss. For the memories we will not make. For their families and loved ones. Let us let out our emotions in a safe and healthy way. Let us take all our burdens to Jesus.
Thurm and Jonte we will miss you! Doodles and Nate--our prayers for your recovery.