Wednesday, August 29, 2012

All Over the Map

If you will kindly indulge me, I want to point out a couple of features in the side bar.  First of all, if you scroll down and click on the world map, you can see where all the IRL readers live: 139 different countries (if I counted correctly), and all 50 states plus the District of Columbia, Armed forces of the Pacific, Europe, Middle East, and Canada. 

This is more fun than collecting states on license plates in a National Park.  I am humbled and honored that so many of you actually read what I write. I have to agree with the gal who left me a comment declaring that I have "The Coolest ClustrMap in Blogosphere!” 

Thanks, y’all, for putting dots all over the map.

Secondly, do you see how many different topics I have discussed over the past couple of years?  Those labels are almost embarrassing; I’m all over the map from A to Z.  Man!  (Can you find the new letter I added today?)

Each week I ask myself what on earth I can possibly share with such a diverse group of readers who literally live all over the world.  Usually an idea pops into my head, but sometimes not.  Those are the posts I dutifully and apologetically send to the WOTH editor, and then you amaze me with your comments that are better than what I wrote myself.

This month I am grieving the absence of my dear friend, Cindy, who has stepped down from her position as the editor at Women of the Harvest.  She was the brain behind this blog, my motivator, and creative genius behind all the fun graphics and titles.  Now I am on my own with Cindy on the sidelines providing a dot in Colorado for my ClustrMap.

(In case you missed it, click here to read Cindy’s last “Letter from the Editor.”  You can leave her a note of appreciation there, too, if you like.)

Because this blog takes a bit more time and effort when I can’t fall back on Cindy’s creative juices to pull it together for me and find any grammatical errors, I’d like to appeal to you to provide my occasional blog fodder.  Please?  Is there anything you would like to hear about?  Questions you’d like to pose to this global audience?

I would love to hear from you.  Either leave me a comment below, or feel free to send an email to me at with your “Ask Jamie Jo” type questions.

IRL:  Usually seeing red is an indication of an anger issue, but here “seeing red” brings me great joy.  Thanks again!

In case you ever wondered, this is where I am IRL

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The "M" Word

Now that I am home in southern Mexico again after a summer of fund raising partnership development, I’d like to continue the discussion from last week on the shift in the English language and how some words are taboo and new ones are deemed appropriate.

We used to laugh at a notorious old linguist here in Oaxaca who would purposely cling to old vocabulary no longer in use.  He would talk about visiting “the tribe” (instead of the language group) and about working with his “informant” (instead of language associate). 

All the while I was snickering at him, some of you were maybe cringing to read all the posts where I continue using the outmoded term “missionary.”

After talking with some women who frankly don’t read this IRL blog, I concede that it’s time I change my vocabulary and clean up my act if I intend to be an encouragement to women of the harvest whose internet connections are not secure, and where eyes might be snooping to see what websites you are accessing.

More and more brave souls are now branching out to work among people whose lives would be in jeopardy if they associated with people known to be (whispered) missionaries.  That alone is reason to tread softly in identifying ourselves with that word.

Another thing is that on the field, the translated equivalent of the “M” word is associated with Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons, not necessarily with evangelical “C’s.”  It’s becoming necessary to clear up any confusion there.

This has been an eye-opener for me.  What I envision when I hear the “M” word is not at all what other people see in their minds.  When I was growing up, my heart was tugged to serve God in a radical way outside the U.S. because of stories I heard from missionaries who proudly wore the label missionary.

Nowadays younger recruits are shunning the “M” word in favor of other more relevant terms that are less obvious.  In order to attract these hip new global workers, we should tread softly over the “M” word and start using language that better reflects the work they will be doing overseas.

So, what is the word you prefer?

IRL:  I’m willing to join the young folks and drop the moniker of missionary if someone will just tell me what to call myself now.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Is It Really All Good??

“It is what it is.”  (But can’t it change?)  “It’s all good.”  (I’ve mentioned this one before.  No, it’s not necessarily all good even though you tell me it is.)

These are among other weird sayings of this decade.  I can hear you replying, “I know, right?”  But what do we even call this decade?  I only recently learned that the first ten years of the 2000’s were called the “noughties.”  Really?

For that matter, these past twelve years – and longer – have been about learning English all over again.  After 26 years of gradually introducing new Spanish vocabulary to my mental dictionary, random English words have begun deleting themselves at will.

Do you tend to import words into your English vocabulary from your host country’s language?  In the middle of speaking English back home (in Oaxaca), we use words like “tope” (i.e.:  “Slow down!  There’s a tope up ahead.”) and “bodega” (like “Run out to the bodega and bring me a rake por fa.”)  Oh, and “por fa” as a slang version of por favor.

When I come to the U.S. I find myself stumbling over words I seldom need in English, words I have substituted with Spanish for too many years.  FYI, in case you are wracking your brain like I was, tope is a speed bump in English, and bodega is storeroom.

As if it isn’t enough to tax an unquestioningly aging brain, certain words and phrases I do happen to remember in English are no longer acceptable in polite society.  PC is not a personal computer, as I was once taught, but something to dread and respect.

And as if our teenaged TCKs don’t have enough to worry about “doing wrong” in American culture, now they have to watch what they say.  Just because Mom has always said it back home doesn’t mean it is okay to say in public.  We hypocrites used to tell our children, “Do as I say, not as I do.”  Now we have to add, “…but for heaven’s sake, don’t say as I say; it might not be politically correct any more.”

You probably already know this, but we now call tree-huggers “environmental activists,” while waiters and waitresses are “servers,” and airline stewardesses are “flight attendants.”  Only indiscreet old folks youthfully-challenged people would say differently.

Here are some more PC terms I found on a website too noughty and naughty to recommend here:

Women no longer get PMS; they are now “hormonally homicidal.”
Women don’t gain weight; they are “metabolic underachievers.”

Did you know we must no longer refer to people who can’t read as illiterate?  No, no, no, no, no.  They are non-literate.  I was corrected back in the noughties when I accidentally, thoughtlessly, and carelessly wrote in a prayer letter that we are reaching out to illiterate people.  (If you are among the non-literate people who were offended when you read that letter, I submit my deepest regret and apologies.)

It takes time to erase terms from this worn-out memory bank, so forgive me when I lapse into old lingo no longer deemed appropriate. 

Hopefully by the time we reach the twenties, I’ll have these PC monikers mastered, even though by then we’ll have new slangy idioms like “it was what is was.”

IRL*  It’s not a matter of simply restoring the memory, but upgrading the whole system.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Worlds Collide

Have you ever had one of those moments where your worlds collide and no one in the room can relate to you?  Think about high school reunions.  If you’ve never been to one, you might someday.  This summer was my first experience in going back in time, stepping into old roles, meeting old friends, and I’ve got to say, it weirded me out a bit, and not because my friends are old.

Last weekend I had the privilege of singing with my high school choir from the 1970s and seeing photos of us on tour wearing pea green polyester leisure suits back when we lived in the same world.  Most of us come from affluent north Dallas neighborhoods—some much more affluent than my own, which wasn’t too shabby in the least.

What struck me as humorous was how diverse our lives are now.  The only equalizing factors were the choir robes and the songs we sang.  Somehow it tickled me to think that only one or two of my old choir friends have any idea where or how I live now. 

While many of them live in lovely big homes to rival those of their parents, successful by anyone’s standards, here I am, a lowly missionary with (gasp!) seven children, living in an adobe “hut” (compared to their homes, anyway), but still one of the richest people along my unpaved end of my southern Mexico town.

I just kept thinking, If only they knew. At the same time, I had another unexpected thought:  Why don’t they?  How is it that I disappeared from their world?  That seems unfortunate.  There are many reasons my home church never sponsored my ministry, but this weekend, it seemed strange.

After a packed summer of being introduced, honored, and appreciated at churches around the U.S. where people were glad to know me and glad to be part of what God is doing through my life, it was weird to be invisible at the one church I called home for eighteen years.

On the one hand, it was nice to have a weekend of not talking about unreached people groups in Oaxaca and about the need for audio Scriptures for non-literate indigenous people. It was great just singing the old hymns and reminiscing with old friends.  But on the other hand, it felt almost disloyal to put my real life behind me and almost pretend that I was a successful Dallasite (with fewer than three children), working a normal job.

Is this ringing a bell with you? Have your worlds ever collided?  Each week I write these different posts, holding my breath thinking none of you will get it, that perhaps I am the only one who has experienced this.  Then you all chime in with your own experiences, and I see that we are all in this together.  Oh, how I appreciate you ladies and your lives. 

IRL* If you happen to find yourselves in a collision of worlds where no one gets your life, you are not alone!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Drastic Shift in Perspective

The party’s over.  A sensational week with my granddaughter and all my children has come to a close.  All I’ve got to say (well, not exactly all I have to say, but with every attempt to keep this post brief) is that things sure look different waving bye-bye from this side of the security gate at the airport.

When we used to kiss my parents goodbye, taking precious grandchildren far away, I never fully understood the anguish I was causing.  Now I get it.  (I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again.)  Boy, do I get it.

Another thing I want to add is how much easier it is to trust God for protection and provision in my own life than in the life of my adult children.  Back when we were driving around the Guatemalan countryside in the midst of a civil war, was I concerned?  Not much.  We were all together, and God was there to protect and provide.

Now that my kids are the ones driving through Mexico on their way to serve as teachers at the MK school close to us, it looks a bit different.  Are you sure that’s a good idea to drive instead of fly just so you’ll have a vehicle once you get there?  Okay.  (Never mind that we used to drive all the way to Guatemala through Mexico with quite a few children.)

Suddenly I’ve had this drastic shift in perspective, and it’s making me think and trust on a whole new level.  I guess that’s a good thing.  Come what may, I have chosen to simply trust God.  Just because I’ve started gaining victory over some pesky sins doesn’t mean I have to make way for new ones.  Worry is a sin.  I hereby vow not to go there, at least not regularly.

Ugh.  Either I can trust my kids in His hands or I can’t.  It seems so ironic to start worrying now after all we’ve been through.

How about you?  Have you found certain things you used to take in stride are suddenly triggers for serious concern or even alarm?

This summer while in the States I watched an old rerun of Leave it to Beaver.  It’s funny how I used to identify with the kids on that show, but now I watch it as a mother and grandmother, and it’s a different show entirely.  Those dumb kids.  What are they thinking?

When it comes right down to it, I’m more comfortable reading the seemingly-dumb-kid side of the script than the reasonable-adult role. 

Either way, I think it’s much easier to be the one boarding the plane than the one waving good-bye from the other side.  That’s my opinion, and I’m sticking with it. 

IRL* Thanks, Mom, for loving us long-distance all these years.


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