Saturday, October 17, 2009

A Common Theme: Connecting

My life in the past month could be summed up by one word: Connecting. Time alone in an empty house during my first “official” personal retreat day allowed me to connect with God meaningfully. An introduction at church allowed me to connect with a doctor who works with the underserved in a Christian clinic in La Carpio, and has provided an opportunity to use my skills to minister to those in need. Facebook has allowed me to reconnect with individuals from high school and college whose lives intersected mine in a specific time and place. My older children attend the college in which Brian and I met over 25 years ago—and I was able to reconnect with them while attending my 25th year class reunion, and with my maid of honor and matron of honor. My spiritual mentors from high school and bubbly blonde Diane shared our lives over pie at Bakers Square, and a late night Christmas shopping spree at Walmart.

Such connections are manifestations of God’s grace and goodness, encouraging us to continue on, and to offer hope and love to individuals who are disconnected, discouraged and hopeless. Jesus spoke of connection in John 15- He referred to Himself as the true vine and discussed the importance of abiding in Him—and of the converse, a branch not connected, which withers, dies, and yields no fruit. Are you connected? Am I?

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Are busy women, wives or moms ever really alone?

I have made my personal goals (referred to as Key Result Areas(KRAs) by our mission organization) simple, concrete and, until today, have avoided those which I know would be beneficial, although unattainable. One such KRA, the monthly personal retreat day (known henceforth as a PRD) could not occur without sacrifice or intentionality.  How could a busy woman, wife, mom, volunteer, chauffeur, you get the picture- take time away from such duties and focus on God, re-evaluate priorities, goals, and ignore sustenance while seeking God on a normal weekday morning/afternoon? After spending the last five hours intentionally chatting and listening to God, I realized how much more productive and functional each one of us would be if we were to begin by scheduling these half-day portions of solitude.

Although my first actual PRD began with two children, my wonderful spouse, and  a guest in my house, I recognized that even a favorite corner of the house, with the door closed could allow me to focus intently on God until they vacated the premises. Moments after the family left , I realized that the peace was too deafening, so I turned on some soft (ok, maybe for some of you, more than upbeat praise music) for background noise. Time flew faster than I knew possible and I gained insight, was able to pray uninterruptedly (you know how moms pray while driving, and multitasking) while listening intently for God’s voice in the stillness.

Halfway through my time alone with the Lord, the construction noise on the other side of our concrete wall was no longer keeping time with the soft music so I walked up the hill behind our home, inhaled clean crisp air, and gazed at tropical beauty all around me. As I had fasted during lunch, and my attention and mind was fading, I greeted several local pulperia owners before I found my desired pick-me-up…a frosty Coca-Cola Zero.  I headed home, sought several favorite non-fiction Christian books, prayed intentional prayers for my spouse, family, and myself, while listening to the soothing rain on our metal roof ( the construction was rained out!).

And yes, now that the house is teaming with activity, I am thankful for the blessing of time alone with God, and am looking so forward to my next PRD in November. Dear friends, family, and fellow missionaries, take time to do this—it is more that I thought it’d be—and friendlier on the budget than a day at the spa! Guess I’ll add a quarterly PRD to my KRA’s now—and I hope to surpass that timetable!