Tuesday, May 17, 2011


...to appreciate what they've got.

As most of you know, my 15 year old daughter is in Thailand for two months ministering and teaching English-as-a-second-language. Last summer, she went to Romania and ministered to Gypsy children. Our relationship was very strained and full of drama before she went. God used the month that she was gone to do a lot of spiritual growth in her life and to heal her relationship with her family. She came back truly my Betsie "full of Joy" as her middle name reflects.

Now she's away from us again and blogging extensively about what she is experiencing and what God is doing in her life.

This morning, her 17 year old sister Anna came down and said that I needed to read Betsie's brand new blog post as our morning devotion. So I did. And yes, I got teary eyed. And we spent time together as a family reading Mark 10:29-30. We talked about how when we move to Africa, we will be lonesome at times and will miss people back in the States, but God will reward us and give us an eternal, spiritual family.

But it also dawns on me that sometimes you have to leave your family for the sake of Christ to really GAIN your family...or appreciate them in new ways that makes your family MORE than they ever were before.

I thought some of you might want to read Betsie's blog post and then encourage you all...love them and pray for them and raise them the best you can and then hold on to the assurance that one day they will appreciate what you did for them and what you gave them through their family. Loving families are an amazing gift, despite the arguments and the struggles and the mess-ups and the imperfections.

Here's what Betsie wrote last week:

Blessed be Your name
in the land that is plentiful
Where your streams of abundance flow
Blessed be your name.

I have a beautiful family. Really, I do. And thank God for yearly long mission trips that help me to remember just how blessed I am to have each of them in my life.

Once upon a time, there was a girl that [lived in the] south with her mother, father, and younger brother. Her brother would kidnap her Barbies, and she occasionally bathed in a river. There was a boy, across the country, chasing girls around the school playground, demanding kisses from the poor, terrorized things. They grew twenty-something years, both into beautiful people of the Lord emerging from broken stories. They met in college, but she graduated and chose Africa over him. The Lord led her to Africa for two years as a Journeymen missionary, and then at the end of it, He led her back home and into the young man's awaiting arms. They married.

They're my parents.

My father has always pushed me to be better than my best; and my mom has always been there to let me know that no matter what, I'm good enough for her just the way I am. A Captain Kirk on the schoolyard and a missionary--obviously they were going to have quite the life together. They did, and they gave life. Seven times. That's me and my siblings.

I have this quirky baby sister, who we allow to dress herself so that she can express herself, and be independent. More than a few mornings a week she'll stomp down the stares, modeling her scrunched up freckle smile, motorcycle boots, and black tulle "rock girl" miniskirt. With a kitten t-shirt. (My parents let me express myself in a similar fashion when I was thirteen, through the wonders of violet purple hair.) That same stomping and rocking sweet little sister will spend endless hours in my room with me when the middle students shun her, flipping through TeenVogues and Elles. More than once, I have come home from work or a friend's house absolutely exhausted, to find my bed--which I left in a I-just-rolled-out-of-you-and-left disaster for I had no time to give it any attention--made, compliments of her.

I have a little brother that is a ladies man. He's only seven. (I think...) He always has a grin and less-than genuine compliment (but a compliment all the same, so I'm not complaining!) prepared when I'm grumpy. I don't think anyone thinks I'm more beautiful than him.

I have a brother that puts ketchup on everything, and a sister that hates me, but actually loves me. Even though I pull her hair during meals. I have another brother that I can spend hours wandering through topics of universe-big things, like God and girls (for him) and guys (for me) while perched on the kitchen counters. He's always on my side, unless it's him I have the problem with. Then I'm always wrong, obviously. (Ah, sibling love.)

And then there is my older sister, who is just as quirky as the youngest. She gave me a reason to invent the word "cool-edge", and when Webster's finally recognizes its legit word validity, she will be the definition they put next to it.

1. Someone's behavior, way of life, or appearance.
-The girl's wardrobe could only be labeled as cool-edge

That's her. My sister. Anna is Anna is Anna.

I have a life full of Scrabble games and missions, of homeschool curriculum and very Walton memories. I am blessed to be a part of my family, which seems to grow every year, even after my mom was unable to have any more children. Thanks to my parents open arms, I have a wonderful "brother of another colored mother" and two girls that started out as just my friends, but now I count as sisters. But my family also grows outside of the boundaries of our hobby farm--I have boys I have grown up with that I count as my brothers; young girls that I mentor as my older sister mentored me; incredible Godly women that I can spend hours with, cappucinos and simple conversation enough to satisfy us for hours. My family spreads across the plains of Africa, snuggled in the valleys of Romania, the streets of Thailand, all of us joined by hand in our common love for Christ.

Yes. I am blessed.

But that's the thing about Scrabble games and hours perched on the kitchen counters--the kitchen counters won't always be the same over the passing years, and the Scrabble games will be pushed to the back of the closet as there is no time for it anymore. Sisters turn eighteen and move out, and then on to college. Entire families, ketchup eating siblings and all move overseas to Africa as missionaries. Or at least, mine does. Will.

And blessed be Your name
When I'm found in the desert place
Though I walk through the wilderness
Blessed be Your name.

And through it all, these last years of homeschool curriculum before college textbooks; of Scrabble games and scanning TeenVogue issues while my baby sister is still really a baby; of afternoons spent in a cafe, in fellowship with mothers and sisters I've--unfortunately--lived most of my life without, the Lord calls me away. From all of it. Yes, it is only one month, two months at a time, but still. You miss your brother dealing with a crush, your sister getting her first ticket, your ketchup maniac brother looking after a litter of newborn kittens. It's not a lot to some people, I suppose, but it is when you love and cherish all of those people a lot.

For the first time in my life, I, world-traveler-can't-stand-to-stay-in-the-same-place-for-too-long-and-risk-actually-getting-attached-to-someone-to-many-someones me, misses home. Maybe it's because I never really saw how much there was to miss...


You give and take away
You give and take away
God, you give and take away
But my heart will choose to say,
Lord, blessed be Your name!

Just like Abraham once, or Joseph, the Lord calls us away with Him because He has things He wants to show and teach just us, on our own, individually. But in the end, our paths always lead home, whether that is our temporary home, or our heavenly one. And our families are there waiting, with open arms, and we can run into them, bringing with us all the blessings the Lord has bestowed upon us. Our Father's ways are greater than ours, He can see all and He works everything for our good, so obviously His plan is the best. I will strive to learn that being in His will is home enough for Him, being in the palm of His hand is enough. I will choose to love my sisters in Christ in Thailand as much as I the little girl in motorcycle boots, to love my family in Christ here as much as I love the family on the hobby farm. And, through all this, even when He takes away, I will choose to bless His name.

To read more of Betsie's blog posts from Thailand, visit CALLED TO LOVE: http://betsie-daredtomove.blogspot.com/

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