Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Purple Cow

After all I said about our oddities, when will I ever just grow up and recognize that it's okay to be different? Maybe this is another people-pleasing/ pride issue that I battle daily, but as I get older I still struggle with comparisons.

I'll never forget the time I sent out one of my earlier email ministry updates full of fluff and family nonsense. When I clicked "send and receive" (remember when those things didn't used to be automatic?), in came a prayer letter from a very articulate, erudite, "real" missionary (as opposed to a stay-at-home mom). The contrast was downright embarrassing. He was exegeting /exegesising (?) Scripture, and challenging his readers. Okay, I didn't understand half of what he said, but he said it so well! It's a wonder I didn't give up writing forever.

Just to torture myself, I went back and reread my opening paragraph in the letter this same man would be receiving from me. I had begun with a silly observation about a small herd of cows the local priest had blessed and painted purple. It made me remember the old children's poem, which I quoted in my ridiculous never-should-have-sent email:

I never saw a purple cow
I never hope to see one
But I can tell you anyhow
I'd rather see than be one.

Yep, folks, I actually started my update by admitting my remorse over never being able to honestly quote that poem again.

The comparison made me want to crawl under my bed and cry. From that day on, I'm not sure my prayer letters were ever quite as light-hearted. This blog is therapeutic for me, because I can be myself and not feel the need to defend my existence on the mission field, even if my ministry isn’t as “out there” as some.

Honestly, though, isn’t it a pain to write a ministry update on those months when it’s just the same ol’, same ol’ stuff? What more can we tell the folks back home about our life that has become mundane?

IRL*I have seen the purple cow...

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


"What’s your oddity?"

A rather odd missionary I know uses this line as a regular ice-breaker. I like it. We all have our weird quirks, both physically and personality-wise. The missionary community, in case you haven’t noticed, is full of interesting characters. Uniqueness is the common denominator among us.

For me, my physical oddity is readily apparent IRL. I look like I am five or six months pregnant. After seven children and four major abdominal surgeries, my body boasts loudly of its abuse. There is no hiding it.

Mom, in her good ol’ southern accent, always taught me, “If you can’t hide it, flaunt it!” Nonetheless, I refuse to flaunt this fat. I try my hardest to suck it in, which is impossible, and I always strategically place myself behind someone in photos. Going to the U.S., the land of mirrors and cameras galore, is a “unique challenge” I do not relish.

Personality-wise, maybe you’ve discovered my quirk. I tend to blab my short-comings before people have a chance to discover them on their own. Somehow that takes away the sting of being proven flawed or imperfect. Sounds dumb, I know, but there you have it.

How about you? What’s your personal oddity? Do share. Probably you are no more effective IRL concealing it than I am this poochy belly of mine.

IRL*one way or another, our oddities will come share!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

A Mess Worth Making

Lest you think too harshly of me after my confession about screaming at my kids during my devotions, let me just say that I LOVE my time alone with Jesus. Since that episode, I’ve learned that I have to get up very early in the morning to be assured an actual “quiet” time free of interruptions.

Daily I am amazed at the contrast between how clean and holy I feel during that precious hour alone with the Lord and the ickiness I feel when the inevitable muck is slung on my heart as the day progresses, and I interact with those around me. Emotional clutter accumulates quickly.

It makes me think of a book sitting on the shelf, which I still haven’t read, titled: Relationships: A Mess Worth Making. It also brings to mind a classic statement once uttered by my dmil* (dear mother-in-law—you see I hate those in-law terms!) who has been single for 34 years now. She was visiting us in Mexico for several weeks, and had become annoyed at how we seemingly bring out the worst in her.

It’s forever etched in my memory the way she blurted out how hard it is to be a Christian when surrounded by Christians. Truer words were never spoken. Hopefully, I didn’t laugh outright. Instead I said something more like, “Okay, let me get this straight. It’s easier to be a good Christian when you live all alone and can do everything when and how you want to do it?”

No duh! I’m a wonderful Christian, too, every morning—at least until the rest of the family wakes up. Then it gets messy.

They say that the number one reason missionaries leave the field is due to interpersonal conflicts. I’m not budging, but this last week was a doozy for me, relationship-wise. Someone sent a rather hostile email to me, copying several other people, making some very unkind and unfounded accusations about me. Wounded and weary (still eating only fruits and vegetables, after all!), I hoped someone besides my husband would vindicate me.

None did. If only we could all walk according to the Spirit, and not the flesh, and get along biblically and in love the way we should. In a perfect world…. *Sigh*

Today my prayer is that all of us will grow in grace, learning to love the very ones who rub us wrong. I am thankful to call my friends some who may consider me difficult and odd, and many others who send me to the dictionary to look up such words as “pugnacious” (don’t you love that word?) and “bellicose” so I can call them something intelligent under my breath.

IRL*It is easier to be a good Christian when you live all alone and can do everything when and how you want to do it...but I think I'd miss the mess.

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

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

De-Toxify or Die

Another of my New Year's resolutions was probably the same as many of yours. Not only am I getting my heart, soul and home in order, but I also intend to do something about this body, which is a mess after the holidays.

Notice I didn't say "get my body in shape."

That may be a (welcome!) side effect, but honestly, I will be content to simply be healthy, headache-free, and not so weary all the time. I hold no grandiose delusions of looking like a woman half my age.

Today, I am on Day Ten of a 21-day detox program. I'm eating only fruits and veggies, mostly raw, with a tiny bit of brown rice or lentils, along with nutritional protein shakes and liver/gut cleansing supplements. Sounds nasty, I admit, but I am feeling more energetic already.

Perhaps you've noticed that since living out of the U.S. we are being exposed to extra toxins in our food, water and environment. The longer you spend overseas, and the older you get, the more toxins accumulate in your body. Maybe you are dealing with fatigue and pain too.

Untreated, these toxins lead to far worse symptoms than chronic headaches and snarky attitudes that slip out when I'm not feeling well. (Yes, I've been known to scream at my poor children, "LEAVE ME ALONE! I'm trying to have my devotions!") For the sake of the Gospel, it's time to start looking for the physical roots of some of my struggles. My family and friends want to enjoy me for many years to come.

For that matter, they just want me to enjoy them, and not be so tired and crotchety.

There is a perfectly awful book I just read--Detoxify or Die, by Sherry A. Rogers, M.D. I was blessed to find an alternative doctor in Ohio who tested and treated me last summer, and gave me a serious wake-up call regarding my risk factors for heart disease and colon cancer.

My sister is a breast cancer survivor, and frankly, this was always a major concern of mine. The doctor tells me I have no medical markers for breast cancer. But, I do need to watch my weight.
Since doing my first detox regime last summer, my blood pressure has normalized and my thyroid is kicking back in. Best of all my mood swings were drastically reduced.

I'd mention the pounds I lost, but sadly I found them again. Like decluttering, dieting is a lifelong venture. No one said this is going to be easy, but I sure would like a taco or enchilada right now.

I'm praying for each of you today, that you find health for your body and spirit this year. Bless you, my new friends.

IRL*Day 10 of a lifelong process of detoxification.


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