Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Keeping It Real

In the spirit of the honesty I promised in my first post, let me just admit up front: I am a fraud. This came to light over the holidays as I shared this little secret with my ddil* (dear daughter-in-law), who was visiting.

We were laughing over the discrepancy between my written prayer letters and the reality of the scenes that inspired them. Some of you know exactly what I mean! Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Days- slash-weeks-slash-events somehow enter the supporters’ mailboxes as simply “…unique challenges”* for which we appreciate prayer.

Right now I am facing the challenge of sending an email re-cap of the last month to our prayer partners. Just how much can I afford to admit? Wow, prayers were answered, and it was a joy to have the whole family together for Christmas. That’s true. But the rest of the story is that adding seven extra bodies (two college kids, two college graduates and my mom, plus a ddil* and a future ddil*!) to the mix provided some less than joyous interactions at times.

There, I said it. Sometimes the dream became a nightmare. We all survived, we all still love each other, and there were genuine tears when they all left. Now I’ll go write the anesthetized version to the folks back home. Only you and my closest friends (and family, of course) will ever be the wiser.

IRL*Anesthetized version-slash-unique challenges-slash-keeping it real-slash-trying...

*please refer to sidebar dictionary [Jamie Jo-speak] for the definitions of starred items!


  1. Oh thank you! I struggle every month with writing our prayer letter and coming up with something that will keep people praying and (honestly) keep them giving to our support account. Some months are just mundane and we do a lot of paperwork and laundry. Some months are so packed that we can't do it all justice in a one page letter. Your experience over Christmas is just what I need to share with another friend here whose in-laws arrived one month after the new baby and have stayed for 3 weeks in a very tiny apartment with no dryer and laundry hanging all over the place. Oh, and there is a 2 year old involved as well that grandma and grandpa want to spoil in the middle of her new entry into the terribles. Thanks for making me laugh and cry and I hope my friend can laugh with me.

  2. Give your friend a hug for me, and give yourself one, too. You certainly get the prize for leaving the EARLIEST comment in my hemisphere!

    Just remember, it's often the nitty-gritty, unlovely details that endear people to you. I'm convinced most people support missionaries because of a relationship, not because of what we do.

    If you can be honest without putting loved ones or coworkers in a bad light, tell your prayer partners about your unique challenges.

  3. Ooooohhh - I'm off to write our prayer letter now. Wonder how I can 'phrase' it well to become endeared and not infamous....hmmmm. :)

    Abrazos my IRL friend....

  4. Yeah I agree it's a major temptation to clean up the mess and not REALLY say what really happened! My wife keeps asking why I haven't written the long overdue current newsletter and the honest truth is I can't say that I'm just really treading water - so I procrastinate. One of my missionary couple friends are brutally honest and it helps to hear them be honest. One very honest blog of their's is at

    I take solace that David wrote "My friends and companions avoid me because of my wounds;
    my neighbors stay far away" (Ps 38:11) because if he could admit it then when I am too honest and people stay away at least I know I'm not weird for causing that.

    Phil [one of the lurking male missionary readers trying to readjust to USA]

  5. Okay, I confess, I wimped out on the prayer letter, and left it with only the good and positive facts. I decided it might fall into the "putting someone in a bad light" unnecessarily if I said we had a few major squabbles. Someday I may write it in my blog, how interesting it is to watch grown children disagree and then make up with a Bible open between them.

    My other excuse for not being "that" honest is that I needed to trim down the letter to a readable length. Ha! Besides I am still a chicken.

    Thanks for the link, Phil. I just subscribed to get updates from Woody. I love his writing style and what he has to communicate. I think personal blogs are great for telling "the rest of the story" - as Paul Harvey would say.

  6. Oh, we've SO 'been there'! In fact, my husband sounds a lot like Phil there, he just avoids writing the letters in the first place when there's "nothing to say". We struggle with this issue because there is so much about missionary life that is hard for the folks back home to understand and yeah, we wouldn't want to put anyone in a bad light, either. And yet sometimes we wish we could be more open and honest and let people know that the missionary life is a struggle just like any other life...would love to check out that 'brutally honest' blog and see how they do it! lol


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