Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Crash Photos

I struggle a little with posting this, because I don't want to seem macabre.  Since no one got hurt though, please look at them as a testimony to God's grace, holding us in His hand even as everything seemed out of control.  We are so aware of the many, many ways that this could have been infinitely worse- including the fact that no other vehicles were involved.

So, here goes.  
I don't have any pictures from the scene, no camera handy.  Some were taken though, by a passerby using his phone.  They are probably on Facebook somewhere with the heading - "Can you believe a family of 6 walked away from this unhurt?!"  Picture, if you will, our truck lying on the driver's side with the hood against the guardrail.  The camper trailer was lying on its side as well, across the highway, which was two lanes wide.  There were several close calls as cars came up and almost drove straight into it, until we turned our headlights back on.  (Someone helping us had turned off the engine which was still running and thought the lights would blind motorists, so turned them off.  Bad idea.) We got some flares going after that but it was the scariest part for the kids as we were sitting on the grass watching that!  One stopped on a dime in front of it and another went past it in the grass at the last second!  I prayed sooo loud for those few moments!

After everything was righted and towed they swept up all of our belongings from the road, along with the glass and the rearview mirror and extenders from the driver's side, which had been sheared off.  They put it all into the cover from the propane tanks.  (The tanks were tossed into the median in case they were leaking).  This is what you could see on the highway 18 hours later:

We found a broken plate, which was in the back of the truck with some cupcakes on it, a tomatillo, and a wad of silly bands (of course!)  
Because of God's grace none of the items in the back of the truck walloped DS in the head, not even a cupcake.  We had the plate, some apples and other stuff from a farmer's market, a case of water and a stroller in there. 
When we came to a stop he said, "Mom, the window's broken."  
Yup.  Lots of things are broken.
But no one is hurt.
None of that glass hurt him and he had no road rash.
This is what that bottom side looked like:  

You can see from the scratch patterns that the truck slid in two directions, although I guess the vertical ones might be from when they righted it and it scraped along the guardrail.  The guardrail blocked part of the sunroof but we still managed to squeeze out.  DH went straight to check the fuel lines and I had to get each older kid out one by one before I could get to the little one.  They had changed into their pajamas, but the little ones still had shoes on so no one was hurt walking over the glass.  What a bizarre feeling, letting my 3 year old out of a seat that had her dangling from the "top" of the car, then walking her over to the sunroof and handing her to a stranger.  You can see her car seat in the window.  I can not even imagine now how I was walking around inside the truck in that condition.

The only thing I took out of the car with me was my purse, because I could smell gas and thought it would be inconvenient if it all went up in smoke.  Later one of the men who stopped went back for my phone which had slipped out of the pocket.

What gets me is the other side of the truck.
Look at this:

If you look about halfway down the edge of the camper, you can see the imprint of where the tire of the truck hit the camper.  The top edge of the camper has to be what dented the truck door (which will not open).  Yet none of us remembers hearing or feeling this impact.  It had to have happened when we jackknifed.  And the camper had to have been turned almost all the way over on that side at the time, yet it landed on its other side at the end.  So, that's about a 175 degree flop over.  I do not know when there was time for this to have happened!!
All in all, the truck looks good, and the roof didn't crush.  It makes a good argument for getting another truck instead of a minivan, since it held up so well in this.  It kept us all safe.

But the camper did flop to the other side, which now looks like this:

The slide out had popped out partway.  Every cabinet on the inside popped open and dumped its contents onto this side, so that food, books and clothes were in the street.  Not a scrap was left in the cupboards.  Silverware was behind the couch and a can of cocoa powder over the window.  What a mess!  There's also a storage compartment on that side so Todd's toolbox was shattered and contents all over the road too.  But we had taken every item of value to the house in NY the week before, so none of this was too important.

This last picture was taken after we sorted it all out.  See how the fridge is sort of popping out from the wall?  it didn't come open, which probably saved a huge mess!  I can not imagine the noise of all of this, but I did hear the sound of the camper crashing after our truck had stopped.  I had a second to wonder whether it was going to stay upright before *Bang*!  it landed.  What a feeling.  My printer was under the dining area seat in a compartment with, off all things, a pumpkin.  The pumpkin was wrapped in a sleeping bag (don't ask).  Neither the pumpkin nor the printer appears any worse for the wear, but I can't test the printer because were out of black ink and it won't speak to me.  So the jury is out on that one.

I few closing thoughts.  First, a reminder of what all this looked like last month:
And this, just to brighten your thoughts:

Maybe soon I will get back to blogging about school.  Funny, a few weeks ago I wanted something more out of the ordinary than school stuff to blog about...

Monday, September 27, 2010

Our Nomad Days are Over

We had a terrible accident about an hour North of NY City on I-87. Everyone is OK!   I was driving so that Todd could rest and I lost control of the rig.  A truck passed and caused too much sway.  In the end we jackknifed and the truck flipped, landing on the drivers side of the truck with the hood against the guardrail, pointing south instead of North.  This happened about 11pm.

We all climbed out the sunroof and everyone is fine, although of course we are shaken and sore.  Not one scratch on us. 

The camper also tipped on its side.  Both are almost certainly totalled.  The rig was lying across all lanes of the highway and we are very, very aware of God's grace that no other passing cars plowed into it/us in the dark, and there was no fire.  As we scraped to a stop Todd was thinking, "crashing isn't as bad as I thought!"  Because God protected us!  Driving behind us were a pair of EMT's who ended up driving us most of the way home, where my Mom came to get us and took us to our house.  We got home about 4am.

We appreciate your prayers for us and ask you to continue them as we try to put our lives back together.  All our stuff was insured and apparently is mostly shaken up and not broken, but we will have to replace our vehicle.  Later today we will go down to New Paltz and salvage our belongings.   Pray for wisdom and for the kids, who were very scared.  if I can handle it I might put some pics of the wreck up in a few days, so that you can rejoice with us that God holds us in the palm of his hand, and has better plans for us that what Satan wanted to do last night.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Hello, Hippie Fans

Wondering where I've been?  On Friday of last week we left our company conference to go to another weekend conference held 2 hours away by our denomination.  We were blessed to have a neighbor agree to watch our herd so that we could both go; actually, the original plan was for me to represent us while DH (dear husband, for those who keep asking me about these abbreviations) was in Bulgaria.  He didn't go to Bulgaria, and he could have stayed home, but by then the kids were so excited about the sleep-over it would have been cruel to cancel it.  So, off we went.

The conference reminded us of the importance of living "incarnationally" which the people among whom we minister.  That means that we should treat Muslims, Hindus, secular post-Christians, etc. as Jesus treated, say, the Samaritan woman.  This is especially true for Muslims, because in today's world we see a polarization of Western Christian vs. Middle East Muslim.  But Jesus went to this woman who society said he should hate and avoid, and he showed her love and truth.  We were reminded that we ought to live this way in the world.

The combination of these conferences, back to back as they were, wore us introverts out!  We simply weren't constructed to meet that many people in such a short time; many of them people who wanted to hear our story and develop relationships with us.  We left the second gathering a little early on Saturday and went home exhausted to reclaim our kids and put them to bed.

Sunday was spent at church, then buying a car and packing.  I'd show you a picture of the car, but in the hubbub, I can't find the camera.  It's a red Ford Escort wagon, 1991 with 80,000 miles and bald tires.  On Monday, after our company sent us out with prayers and lunch, I drove the "new" car home to NY, with DD10 and a whole lotta stuff!  DH had our truck with the rest of the kids and a trailer full of more stuff!  We arrived in time to go to a potluck dinner at church, even though I drove like a granny most of the way through PA after discovering that the car gets the shimmies at 65mph.  Our kids had to give thank-you reports at the dinner to the ladies who gave them scholarships for summer camp.  They did a good job!  Todd had both vehicles unloaded by the time we all got home.

But it was not yet time to rest, as Dd10 and I had to go to the dentist Tuesday morning.  No cavities!  But, the dentist wants her to see both an oral surgeon and an orthodontist, soon!  I thought we had plenty of time before crossing this bridge, as all of our kids seem to teethe late.  Dd only has 9 adult teeth.  But under one molar there was a dark spot on the x-ray, which may be a cyst.  When I asked, the dentist said the tooth might recede, the cyst might impact a nerve bundle, and it could even fracture her jaw!  So we will be making some phone calls about that.  Once that's taken care of, we will have to address a crossbite and narrow palate which apparently are causing the teeth on one side to grow too close together and preventing them from growing at all in places.  Fun stuff.  And I thought we were just getting cleanings!!

And now, down to the real reason we're here this week:  my parents' 40th wedding anniversary was last weekend, and there's a party Friday night.  So I've spent most of today, and will spend all day tomorrow, with my sister tricking out the Gansevoort Fire House Pavillion for the event.  Tomorrow I am the master ziti chef.  The party's at 6:00.

If I survive that, we're going back to PA on the weekend for a wedding and birthday party.  We'll come back Sunday night towing the camper and the remainder of our worldly goods in it.  Then I am going to take a good long nap.
But don't worry, I have not forgotten my promise to post pics of the light hut.  Believe it or not we did school this week, too.  It was a fairly light week, thank goodness.  So that is where I have been and will be for a while.  Next week I'll show off our new school room (God is Good!) and accommodations.  Thanks for reading.

Monday, September 13, 2010

It hurts a little

Last evening our company began our Annual Conference.  This is a time for all the personnel who serve in the US or who happen to be in the US at the moment to meet together.  We are blessed to have a week of worship, fellowship, fun, teaching and business decisions.  It's really a blessing to have a team come and provide the meals, the worship and a great kids' program so that everyone can take part fully in the proceedings.

Today I did miss a portion because little princess needed a nap.  It seems the awesome childcare program was a bit too much for her, as she began throwing food at lunchtime and had clearly had enough.  So, we went back to the camper for a little cuddle and snooze, about an hour earlier than she usually does.  This was perfect for her because she got back to the childcare room just in time for the magic show. :-)

I arrived back at the Conference just in time for the end of coffee break (Oh good, coffee!) and realized that I'd missed the main event for this week- the election of our new sending base leaders!  I also missed a time of affirmation for our current leaders, who are moving on to become international directors.  I'm quiet at these events and most likely wouldn't have said anything, but I'm still sorry I didn't get to participate.

Then again, the part that I showed up for felt worse in some ways.  Our outgoing leader shared a report about what God has done in the last three years (their term).  At some point he showed the group picture of the last two Candidate classes and mentioned where they had all gone:  The Betel drug abuse ministry in NY, Italy, The Gambia, and several countries in the Middle East and Central Asia were mentioned.  At some point after that, he also had to go through a list of several others who had either joined staff here at the sending base or had some other significant change in their status.  And I know it's terribly selfish of me to be thinking about ME right then, but I was.  I simply felt terribly disappointed that there is nothing to say about us.  We're still here.  We entered our Candidate Orientation two years ago this week, graduated in December 2008, and went...nowhere.

Now, in truth we have gone through a good two years, in which God routinely showed us His faithfulness as we showed our willingness to do crazy things.  The last time I wondered silently, "Why, God?"  I heard a quiet answer:  "because now you know who you are when you are just being with me."   In other words, one of the things He's been doing in this long stretch of waiting, is helping me to tear down the idol of accomplishment.  I had to learn that He already loves me, and I don't have to, nor can I ever, earn that love.  We have always known that there was more to this wait than just that God "couldn't" or "won't" provide for us.  He was and is refining us in several ways, and sometimes, we grow impatient.   The reading of the list of people who have gone from here into full-time ministry just stung a little because my name wasn't on it.

Many people in our lives have affirmed that this move to NY is the last stop before we finally go; I pray they are right.  Not that we are perfected, of course, but we do long for God to move so that we can get to work for his glory "over there."  Our speaker this morning cautioned us about grumbling, and I'm aware that's pretty much what I am doing, in spite of it...I'm just being real...I really want to see my name on that list.  "Be pleased, O Lord, to help me."

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

U Penn Museum Excursion

Yes, he has a mohawk and no, I didn't do it.  His father did.
We are in our third week of studying Ancient Egypt with Tapestry of Grace.  I am lucky enough to be living (at the moment!) near enough to Philly to go to this Museum of Anthropology and Archaeology.  Even better, our library has a free pass you can check out like a book for three days!  And even better than that (if you are a seven year old boy), we got to take the train into the city to get to the museum.  We just had to walk a  few blocks after we got off of the train at 30th Street.  I was kind of counting on signs pointing out this attractions, as they do for things like the Liberty Bell and US Mint, but I was wrong.  I will take this opportunity to say that I have a very unusual husband (but if you know me personally, you knew that!)  He stopped a man and asked him for directions.  I hate asking for directions.  But for the record, I had the right address in my head, was heading in the right direction, and would have gotten us there eventually.  I think we even went a few blocks further West than we had to, but I digress.
This museum covers all of Ancient History, including Canaan, Etruscans, Greeks, Romans and Buddhists, as well as Mesoamerica.  Everything we will eventually touch on this year.  But our real reason for going was that guy and his friends- The Mummies!
  These guys were replicas, I think. But this guy:

is the largest sphinx on American soil.  He is made of red granite and weighs 12 tons.  We had an interesting discussion about how they weighed him and why he is only "believed to be" the third largest in the world.  Is someone just too lazy or unable to weigh the others?  And how did they get him here?  Plane?  Boat?  After all, though he is heavy, he's not really that big!  DD3 was scared of the "elephant thing," so we had to move on.  Behind him, there are some very nicely preserved columns from palaces and temples, some with their colors intact!  Pretty cool.

DD10 had her picture taken with this statue because it is featured in her literature selection, A Place in the Sun by Jill Rubalcaba.

And finally, a few more fun bits of information.
Not just a cat:
There's room in there for a mummy of your kitty to go to the afterlife with you.
And this?

Not for the coffee table.  That's a canopic jar for embalming your stomach and taking it with you.  Do you think my kids will ever forget what a canopic jar is?  I don't think so.

We ate lunch in the student cafeteria, so I took pics of this experience, which my poor un-socialized homeschooled kids miss.

 But as DD12 pointed out, there was no one there to spit tomato soup on us, so it wasn't a realistic experience.  Too bad.

Coming up:  Tomorrow we're building our Botany Light Hut, and I hope to remember to take some pictures of that as I am sure it will be illuminating...heh, heh, heh....So, if you happen to live near by and see a strange glow emanating from our camper area, fear not.  It's a compact fluorescent bulb!

I forgot to take pictures of us taxonomizing our shoes.  Apologies.  That particular exercise actually went better than I anticipated, even if we only had one item in the Kingdom:  Work shoe; Phyla:  Boot. 

Monday, September 6, 2010

God at Work

This summer, when I shared about our work at a couple of churches, I challenged people to consider writing up the story of God at work in their lives.  I wanted to inspire people to think about the many different media that made it possible for them to hear the gospel.  How did God use friends and family, pastors, strangers, books, music, or His voice to speak to you?  I also mentioned that my pastor's wife, Marilyn Palumbo, had done an autobiographical talk at our retreat this past spring, and suggested her format of using decades.  Weeks later, I'm getting around to writing mine.  Here goes:

How was God at work in the first 10 years of my life? 
Well, I was born into a family that were Easter and Christmas Christians (at the time).  I have one older sister who is 18 months older than me and was adopted when my parents thought that they could not have children.  I came along as a "surprise" later, and yes, this dynamic did affect how I turned out, although I wasn't aware of that until later.  My parents were a little older when I was born, but they wouldn't be considered so now.  We lived in a tiny town in Upstate New York where my father had lived all his life.  Although we didn't go to church much, I knew all the stories and believed in God.  After we moved to a new house outside the village, I spent a lot of time in the woods near our house by myself, and I would talk to God about things.

At the age of around 8 or 9 I began going to church, the United Methodist Church in our town where my parents were married and I was baptized.   Part of the reason I asked to be taken was that my grandmother clearly really wanted us to go.  I started reading the Bible from the beginning then, but I never got very far.  Someone always drove me to church and left me for Sunday school, then came back for me later.  Sometimes they went to the service.  Even my grandmother didn't go all that often, because she was in a wheelchair by then.  One thing I remember specifically about going to church with my grandmother was that she wouldn't let me take Communion.  At the United Methodist Church, they never withhold Communion- it is up to individuals to decide whether they want it.  Grandma's house-helper leaned over and told me, "She doesn't want you to take it until you know what it means."  I am really grateful for that, because it showed me that religion isn't just about blank participation in a ritual, and that one should understand what they are doing.

As I got into sixth grade, my Dad ran for political office and started going to church again.  My sister hated going, and at first I wasn't sure I wanted to go again either.  The church had changed buildings and combined with another local church, and I didn't know anyone.  But I went, was invited to youth group, and got involved.  I sang in the choir, and again I am glad I did because I learned so much good theology from hymns and anthems we sang.  I would say I was around 10 when I began asking myself whether I really believed in things like God, Creation and Jesus.  One Christmas Eve, during services, I said to myself, "But for God to come to earth like that would have to be a miracle...." and I heard a low voice say, "It was."  From that day on, I was in church on Sunday.

In my teenage years, I equated my relationship with God to taking part in church activities.  I didn't just do youth group; I was a leader at both my local church and the district and conference-wide youth events.  I helped plan and execute events for hundreds of teens.  I brought my faith with me into school; everyone knew I was a Christian, and I didn't hesitate to write papers and do other projects from my faith perspective.  In fact, the thesis paper I wrote for honors English on creation and evolution helped convert my Sunday School Superintendent's atheist husband into a church-goer.  I'm glad God used me for that, but I also developed terrible habits of using the Bible to say what I wanted it to say, and I know I turned some people away from Christianity with my attitudes.  I didn't have access to really good teaching, or even know about the great Christian music that was being produced.  If I ever met a really conservative Christian, I wrote them off as a nut (even though others might have done the same for me).

I didn't party in high school, and I didn't drink much.  I had some boyfriends, but I kept them at a distance.  I had strong convictions about some things, though I don't know where I got them!  My parents weren't particularly conservative, and I wouldn't even say my church taught those things.  They accepted everyone.  I think I used convictions as a way to keep people away from me, because I was, and am, really introverted.  I also think that God was just protecting me, and set me apart, and I am glad.  It wasn't much fun at the time though and I didn't have very many close friends other than at youth group.  If you read my very first post on this blog, you know that I also dedicated myself to my husband at age 17, and I didn't have much temptation to chase boys after that.

After a trip to China at 16, I decided that I wanted to become a missionary.  I lived traveling and learning languages (I was already learning Latin and Spanish) and I wanted to serve God, so being a missionary seemed like a natural next step.  I was 17 when I went away to Brandeis University for college.  Some thought of Brandeis as a strange choice; my English teacher (with whom I did not get along), asked whether I was aware that it is a Jewish school.  Yes, I knew that, but I also knew they prided themselves on their liberality and would therefore, I reasoned, be bound to accept me as different!  Truth be told, I got a lot of "Why did you come here?" from my classmates in the first weeks of Freshman year, but they got used to me.

At Brandeis I got involved with a branch of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship.  I know God was in this one!  I really thought that I would go into that club and become a leader, and own the place.  And in truth all I envisioned was bake sales.  I had no idea that my religion was only skin deep.  It was there that I discovered that I didn't have the first clue who Jesus was.  I had to ask myself whether I was still a Christian, since they turned my definition of it upside down.  I studied the Bible for the first time with these people, people who loved on me at great personal expense, even when I tried very hard to drive them away!  I will forever be grateful for Steve, Grace, Sean, Katie, Stanley, Chad, Lisa, Susanna and Kristen, among others.  Some of these people are still my closest friends.  I grew so much as a person through their persistent prayers and presence in my life for those four years.  I studied Chinese at college and went on an InterVarsity Global Project mission trip to China after my Junior year. 

And so I entered my twenties a different person!  Todd and I married when he was 20 and I was 21.  By then I had become bitter about all that I hadn't learned at the church where I grew up.  I refused to be married in the United Methodist Church!  We got married in a city park, by Todd's campus pastor.  How optimistic and crazy we were!  Within 6 weeks we were pregnant.  Our first daughter was born in June, and in August of that year we moved to Wheaton, Illinois so that I could attend graduate school in Missions and Intercultural Studies.  (My undergraduate degree was an Independent Major in International Politics and Sustainable Development, which I designed so that I could be prepared to go anywhere on the mission field).   I dragged that poor, cranky, barfing 2-month old to classes with me, sometimes setting up a playpen at the back of a classroom if I couldn't get a babysitter.  I graduated a  year later in December, and our second daughter was born a week later.

One great thing that God worked while I was at Wheaton College was to help me reconcile my United Methodist roots with my now evangelical leanings; through a class about wholism, I realized that just as God is Father, Son and Spirit, He ministers to our physical, spiritual and emotional needs.  Some churches reach physical needs, while others minister to the spiritual.  I had become a snob, and this class helped me put things back into perspective.  Now I can say it's the Methodism in us that makes us want to serve behind the scenes on the mission field, and the evangelical in us that wants to help preach the gospel.

While I was in school, Todd worked for Tyndale House Publishers, at the height of popularity because of the Left Behind Series.  He worked so much overtime, so that I could go to school.  It was difficult, but we also felt the nearness of God as every month our bills were paid.  Strangers stopped me on the street and offered me baby clothes!  We attended a great church and made some friends right away.  Later we would say that we felt closer to God then than when things were going well.  We had one paycheck for rent, and the other had to last all through the month for food, gas, car insurance, clothes and tithe.  We never went hungry, but we didn't always have all the coffee and chocolate I wanted, either.  For health care, I took the baby to immunization and weigh-in clinics, and no one ever got sick enough to need a doctor.

The rest of the decade wasn't as good.  At the time it felt like a Decade of Disaster.  As soon as I was done at school, we started making a series of bad decisions.  No, strike that.  We made one big bad decision.  That was to try camping ministry.  We thought that maybe we could use it as our skill in missions.  It wasn't that camping ministry itself was a miscalculation, but our motives were wrong.  We accepted jobs at a Christian camp near home in NY, and our decision was just as much about going back towards family as it was about following God.  We walked into a bad situation at camp, one that I won't go into here.  We were so young, and we had no people skills.  I actually suspected it was bad from the beginning, so much so that I developed a little nervous tic in my eyebrow!  But I knew how much Todd wanted to be near his family, and I wanted to bring the grandkids home to my parents, so I said nothing.

Our camping jobs lasted nine months; we left there devastated.  Since the job included housing, we had to move suddenly and ended up in a space borrowed from my mom's church.  We had to put all our belongings in storage and Todd had to take a sales job, and pull strings there to get cleared for an apartment.  We ended up taking jobs we could get by on, but I was miserable.  I realized that it was simply the first time I had failed at anything, and it was failure with a capital F to be left nearly homeless and as far away from foreign missions as I could be.  We were so wounded by this experience that we put all of our dreams on hold.  I worked part-time as a secretary and delivered newspapers; Todd eventually got a job at a warehouse.

We bought our house in 2002 and I hated every minute of it.  The first time I wrote my return address on an envelope, I cried.  What had I done, buying property when I was supposed to be living in some exotic location, sharing the gospel with natives?  I had promised my husband a grass hut!  When my Dad was unloading boxes and furniture into the new house, he complained about how many times he had done this for me (the camp, the borrowed parsonage, the apartment and now the house, in the space of 4 years), and I promised him a 5-year break.  It was one of those things I just knew- that this would not be forever but that we needed to rest, heal and, I realized later, grow up.

As we approached our thirties, I was desolate.  Many nights I cried, alone because Todd worked nights.  Even though I wanted to believe that home ownership was a 5 year plan, I saw no light at the end of the tunnel.  I kept asking Todd what he wanted to be when he grew up, so I could figure out how we could do that thing as missionaries.  If I had learned one thing, it was that to be successful we could not squeeze ourselves into a mold, but that we would have to do ministry from wherever our hearts were.  The trouble was, Todd said he wanted to be a sound man when he grew up!  I was having some fun doing youth ministry, but that wasn't a great fit, either.  Where in the world did God need a missionary sound man and an overqualified secretary?

In 2005 our youth work led us to the man who could answer that question, Derek Levendusky of Isaiah Six Ministries.  We asked that question and he pointed us towards Turkey, where an organization needed us both.  From that moment on, our journey had direction.  We had another bad experience with a missions agency, and it almost knocked us back off track.  But we did sell the house, almost 5 years to the day later.  And we made a tidy profit, which paid off all my (weighty) student loans and paid for a year at Bible school for Todd. Thus began our thirties!  God gave us a son in 2003 and another daughter in 2007.  Off we went, all six, to an apartment while Todd studied, and we continued to see God healing and shedding new light on the bad experiences we'd had.

Finally, in 2008 we came to our current agency and were accepted.  Todd has been overseas several times doing what he loves, and I have discovered the joys of homeschooling, among other things.  That's a subject for another blog.  Certainly it has been a journey that has changed me, and perhaps also changed the direction of our childrens' lives, and I couldn't begin to explain it now.

How has God been at work in my thirties?  I have realized, from hearing his voice and from the counsel of both good friends and strangers, that my success doesn't lie in accomplishing missions, or achieving anything in this life.  I have heard Him say that I'm already everything He wants me to be.  Five years ago, even two years ago, I was sure that if I didn't manage to get to the mission field, I would be a Failure again.  I was driven to become what I said that I would become.  Today, although I desperately want to get to our chosen field, my success or failure in this adventure doesn't define me.  I've learned that just walking with God is enough, even if we're not going where I think we are going.  Even if I can't see 5 steps ahead of us. To paraphrase John Piper, "Missions isn't the main thing.  Worship is."  I won't be despised or neglected, for I am accepted.  I only want to be what He wants me to be.   A worshiper.  I'll be that for as many decades as He gives me.

How is God at work in your life?