FRAGMENTS

“There are very few human beings who receive the truth, complete and staggering, by instant illumination. Most of them acquire it fragment by fragment, on a small scale, by successive developments, cellularly, like a laborious mosaic.” ~ Anais Nin

Married Fifteen Years

IMG_1380On my fifteen year wedding anniversary I spent it at my neighbor’s house eating empanadas, sopaipillas, and roasted lamb. Emma and Lucas ran around all day riding four-wheelers with their friends. We had two girls staying with us from an orphanage, so I was busy making sure they were happy and eating, and whether they needed anything. Rodrigo and I hung out, meandering around with all the variety of people – laughing, toasting to marriage, toasting to life in Chile, feasting together. All in all it was kind of a wonderful way to ring in fifteen years.

When I got to Temuco two years ago, I didn’t know how life was going to turn out. I didn’t know who would become our friends, where we would live, or if we’d like it here. I only knew that it was time to move to Chile and more particularly, that it was time to risk something. We’d grown stagnant in the States and it was time to move out of our comfort zone and feel insecure, feel naked and vulnerable. And do something new and good for our family.

Fifteen years ago, I risked something as well. I gave some promises to a very handsome latino man whom I had fallen in love with. I was happy to make those promises and happy to make them to him. But they were scary, sacrificial, and in some way in this have-to-be-happy-all-the-time consumeristic culture they were downright daring. To make a promise to be someone’s other – no matter what comes – is one of the greatest gifts we’ll ever give. To promise to love that person as a verb and a noun. To hold unswerving to those promises even when everything in you wants to throw their laundry out the second story window and burn the underwear they can never quite get into the damn laundry basket is downright amazing.

I have two children from my marriage. Two children whom I love with every breath in me. This is because I loved another first. To give life to another human being because you and this one person have somehow figured out how to become one flesh, in spirit and in body, and want to bring a baby out of your love is one of life’s every day beautiful miracles.

It’s no small feat to make it fifteen years. We married young and have grown and changed and have had to find our way back to one anther on a couple of occasions. We’ve had to choose to make it work even when it wasn’t working and stand still and wait, choose love, choose to yield and choose to be for one another when almost everything begged otherwise. And here we are.

There have been a couple of times in my marriage when those promises we made were what held us in place. Till death do us part … kind of encompasses it all, doesn’t it? I’m not a stickler about marriage. Marriages end and break apart all the time in today’s world and there are reasons for this – some necessary and some incredibly selfish. It’s not my place to tell a person what they should or shouldn’t do, or my place to tell a person when it’s right to leave or stay. These things are personal. And private. There’s a whole world behind the closed door of a marriage room. We best be careful not to judge that which we cannot see.

However, I think it’s okay for me to say that if a person can stay and it’s safe to stay, if your life isn’t in danger and there’s some kind of mutual love and respect, even if small – it’s in your best interest to try and make it work. To hold to the promises you made, even if very young and even if very difficult. We can be a hard lot to love, us people. But love over time, heals wounds and gives one a safe place to grow.

The other night my neighbor, Sonia came to my house and told me her story. She and her husband live down the road from us. It’s obvious she absolutely adores her husband and he loves her. They’ve been married over thirty years. She told me that when she got married she didn’t love him. She only wanted to escape her family home and he seemed a good route to go. Her father didn’t like him and she decided that was good enough reason to marry him. They started dating on November 7th and got married two weeks later. I asked her how long it took to love him and she said a few months. Apparently, she went home for a visit about six months after they got married and she spent the entire time in the bathroom crying because she missed him so much and so she went home and told him she’d never leave his side again. I thought this precious. They are together every day. And when she was sick from surgery he was the only person who took care of her and she says, it was with the kindest care.

(The picture below is Sonia’s husband. I think she did well, don’t you?)

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There is a great mystery to marriage. To watch the intermingling of two lives become one flesh is sacred stuff. And how they become a family, a whole unit, is a lovely thing to see and a lovely thing to be a part of …

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I love Rodrigo Bustamante and I am so thankful that fifteen years ago he said he would love me. I hold his promises to be some of my most sacred gifts.

Much Love,

Tina

 

On Murder and Evil and God’s Goodness

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For those who haven’t heard — A young woman named Erica Faith Hagan from Kentucky was found murdered in her small apartment on the Baptist school campus in Temuco Chile. My children do all their sports on this campus and we have many friends there.

Consequently, this last week has been filled with rumors: rumors of murder, of motive, of possibilities, and also a week of great fury and shock. “How could this have happened?” they ask.

It’s hard to accept the truth of great evil, the capacity we have to do harm to one another, to commit murder.

But deep down we know the truth. We are all capable of hurting each other.

From what we can tell and what the newspapers are saying, the police have found the murderer. A guard at the school, working night shift. He was a new guard, and had keys to every apartment. This explains why there was no break in. They found blood on his shoes, and various other pieces of evidence. When the police went to pick him up at his house, he was quietly reading his Bible.

Seriously, it sounds like something out of a horror movie.

The police concluded – as of now, it had to do with money. 300,000 Chilean pesos – which is the equivalent of six hundred dollars.

Her parents flew in a few days ago and from what I’ve heard, they will fly out with Erica’s ashes. Loss. Pain. Sadness.

And soon, the rumors will cease. This man will be tried, and will most likely spend the rest of his life in the prison we drive by almost daily.

Even though the rumors will cease, people will talk of this murder for many years to come. Of this American girl who was here for a month and then was killed on the school campus. And years from now, people will whisper as they walk by the apartment building and tell the story.

Truth is, we take murder seriously. Almost everywhere in the world. We value human life enough that when someone kills another person, the world rages, people cry out for justice.

Years ago, a friend asked me to come and see a house she was thinking of purchasing. She wanted me to pray in it with her and wouldn’t tell me why. I walked through the house and everything seemed fine. Turns out, she was worried because someone had been murdered there almost a decade earlier and she didn’t want to move into a haunted house. I appreciate her apprehension.

People at the school are struggling to make sense of it all, are trying to come to terms with what happened on their campus, and trying to figure out how to trust God in the midst of it. This is one of the great dilemmas we are all faced with at some point or another. How to trust in God’s goodness, in the face of great evil.

I don’t have the prescription. These things are so personal. Each person must come to terms with evil and with good, with God’s presence and with his silence in their own way. When we try to tell people how to make sense of it, or what to believe about it all, it is somehow so offensive. Take Job’s friends. They did their best to tell Job how everything should be looked at and it did not make Job feel any better. And they got it wrong.

I prayed with a man a few days ago who is struggling with a crisis of faith. He shared some of his story – his family history is filled with so much harm and cruelty I felt my own soul shake as he gave an account of everything. So much harm.

There is a promise that holds me steady. At the very end of the Bible, in the book of Revelation, God makes a declaration: “Behold. I am making all things new.”

For now, this is what I hold onto. This is what has helped me. I have seen God make things new. My own story cries out in declaration of God’s goodness and his capacity to redeem, to stand on ruins and rebuild. There are places in my life where I can point and say with absolute assurance, where evil tried to destroy, God did something tender and beautiful and used it for good. God took destruction and evil and made something beautiful with it, is still making something beautiful with it. No one can contradict your own story. This is why the power of one’s testimony is so strong.

So I pray for Erica’s family, for the teacher who found her body, for the murderer, for those involved in the investigation. I pray that God would weave His life, His love and His redemption through it all and somehow over time, make all things new. 

How have you wrestled with good and evil and God’s presence in it all? I’d love to hear.

Much Love,

 

Tina

 

On Place and Belonging, and Erica Faith Hagan

Since we moved onto our land, I’ve been thinking a lot about one’s sense of place. The sense of belonging a person has to specific portion of land, to a city, a country. Place and setting are important for writers – in some cases setting almost takes on a personality. As a reader, this is also true. Prince Edward Island is forever Anne’s island. I hear the name and immediately think of Anne of Green Gables and all the wonderful adventures she had there. Anne’s place is almost as real as my own hand in front of me. The feeling I had when I read those books – of belonging, of home, of someone finding their home has stayed with me.

I’ve been to many places in my life. My feet have trekked through more streets than I know how to process. My head has rested on many pillows over the years.

Over time, the place where we are, where we live shapes us – shapes our personalities, our mannerisms, our way of interacting with strangers, even how we deal with foreigners. It’s interesting to me how many times I am asked what my reason is for being here in Chile, specifically in Temuco. I have to explain that I’m not on a visit – that I live here. And then I’m asked to explain why. After I tell whomever is inquiring that my husband is from Chile, they usually have a more tolerant grasp of my reason for being in their city. And the question that always comes next is … whether I have adapted to this place. They want to know if I’ve adjusted. They almost always have a wary look on their face when they ask, as if they’re not sure they want to hear the answer.

Truth is, I’m not sure how to answer their question. There are things I like about living here, people I’m fond of, perhaps even a few whom I’ve grown to love. I’ve settled into a routine, a way of being, and I’ve learned some of the undercurrents of the culture that help me orient myself around their particular slant on truth. But I feel foreign. I feel different. I notice that I’m looked at when I walk into a store, or an event – especially when people hear us talk in English. We get stared at, sideways glances. My children notice.

Despite feeling foreign, I don’t feel out of place. And I think it’s important to distinguish between the two. I feel secure about where my feet are standing. However, I’m discovering that this stems from something more internal in me, rather than because of external realities. I’ve come to terms with my foreigness, with my otherness here. And somehow I’ve made my peace with it. That is not to say I intend to stay here forever … or that we feel at home here. Those are different questions. With different answers.

Something happened over the weekend to this place, to this city. Something tragic. Saturday afternoon, the police found the body of a young American woman brutally murdered. Erica Faith Hagan. She came for a five month visit to help students with their English. From Kentucky. She was killed in a small apartment on the school campus where my children went to school and where they do all their extracurricular activities. She was twenty-two years old.

For Erica’s family and for her friends, Temuco Chile will now be a place of terrible loss. Always.

The school where she was murdered will be altered forever. Blood was spilled. Violence and cruelty and a terrible injustice occurred on their soil.

Personally, I can’t help but feel a specific and poignant pain for her parents. I too have a beautiful daughter. A daughter who may want to travel one day, who may want to go to a foreign place to help people with their English. We send our children to new places believing, hoping, praying they will be safe. We send them to specific places known for their safety, or we weigh the cost when they choose to go to a place known for danger. Many parents say no to certain places. Temuco Chile has been relatively safe. However, her life was snuffed out, it was crushed here. There is nothing that can make this better.

Erica Hagan was from my place, from my homeland. We spoke the same language growing up and she died in the place where I currently reside. The same city. These things, though not significant, certainly helped me feel her parents’ pain and horror in a different way. Perhaps, in a closer way. I don’t know.

I went to bed on Saturday night with deep sorrow and a grave sense of horror – fighting back the tears. I woke with the same pain.

If I were in Seattle, Kentucky would feel far away. Here in Temuco, Kentucky feels close to home.

The disorientation her family must feel breaks me. To die far from home is one thing, to be killed far from home is another. And on the campus of a private Christian school makes it far more disorienting.

I am an American woman living far from the place I call home. And this story weighs on me.

To Erica’s family and friends, I offer my deepest condolences. I am so sorry for your loss.

 

Much Love,

 

Tina

 

 

A Woman at the Store

IMG_3040One late morning a few months ago, I went into the nearby grocery store to pick up some items for lunch. I was moving fast, needing to get back home. I noticed a woman, brown curly hair, thin. She had the store basket tucked into arm and inside her clenched fist were money bills, revealing their various colors to me.

This woman’s face was stern, serious. It was obvious she had a lot on her mind. At the pastry section, where I was filling my bag with fresh bread, she was picking out desserts, carefully-calculating the price of each one. It clicked. She was getting ready for some guests. And I assumed the money clenched inside her tightly bound fist, was all she had to pay for her special lunch.

I said something to her and she snubbed me, not really even acknowledging my presence. Some people aren’t quite sure how to respond to a happy, blonde lady with a weird accent. She went on ahead and I weighed my bread and then went down the drinks aisle.

A few minutes later, I ended up behind her in the check-out line. She watched every item go through the scanner, staring at the price above on the monitor like she was in an eye examination. When the last item went through and the cashier totalled it all up – she was short on cash. Not by much, a couple dollars maybe. She unfolded all her bills and handed them to the cashier and then opened her purse scavenging for loose change. After a few seconds, the cashier asked what she wanted to leave behind.

I don’t usually have cash on me – but thankfully, that day, I did. I pulled out my change and set a few dollars beside the woman and the cashier. “Here. I’ve got some extra change. This should take care of it.” My voice was quiet and I tried to sound as kind as possible but also hoping to downplay it.

The woman and the cashier got confused, like neither of them knew what to do. They stared at me. Then, the woman who was short on money waved her hand fiercely trying not to accept my extra change. I assured her it was not a big deal. “It’s only a couple of dollars. I’m happy to make up the diffference. You go and have a wonderful lunch.”

She came undone. Tears welled up in eyes and she fanned her face, flapped her hand in the air, trembled a little. I reassured her, reaching my hand toward her. “I’m happy to help. I’m sure you’d do the same for me.”

At the time, all I could think, as I watched this woman crumble under the weight of a stranger’s kindness was, “Has life been so cruel to you that you don’t know how to react when someone is gracious?”

She answered my unspoken question. “No one has ever done anything like this for me.” She dabbed at her eyes.

I reached out and toucher her arm again, giving it a tender squeeze. “Please, just go and enjoy your day. Be blessed.”

The woman wanted my number to pay me back, which I refused. And finally she went on her way with all the items she needed for her lunch. Her face had transformed – years melted off.

The cashier checked my purchase. Her eyes were misty and she explained that as a cashier, who sees a lot every day, she had never seen someone something like that – a stranger helping to cover someone’s bill.

I walked out of the store that morning so heavy-hearted. Can it be so hard for people to see the person standing in front of us – in need – and not be moved?

Yes, it can. We grow calloused, jaded, dubious. We judge the scene in front of us, without knowing the backstory.

We grow suspicious that we’re being scammed or tricked and so only choose generosity if we know exactly what’s going to happen with our gift. All the while, we really don’t know anyone’s whole story. How can we? We see in part.

And then I think of the One I’ve chosen to follow, the one whose life I’m supposed to be imitating. He helped people all the time. Jesus healed the ones who asked to be healed. One time he healed ten lepers, and only one came back to thank him. He didn’t withhold his healing hand because they had ungrateful hearts. He didn’t mandate a particular response to his kindness.

Jesus fed five thousand men, plus women and children … knowing full well that even though most would never forget that day, very few would let it transform their lives. He gave anyways …

If we must choose, I say we choose generosity and kindness as our way … It undoes people and changes their faces … 

I’d love to hear one of your stories about generosity … It always changes us.

Much Love,

Tina

 

On Packages and Friends and Being Loved

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My birthday was last week. I am still thinking about the fact that I am thirty-seven. My life looks nothing and everything like I wanted it to be. One of the things that surprises me is how thankful I am for the most simple things – in ways that used to not touch me ten years ago. For example, my heart is so much more tender and full and open than it used to be. I always used to cry. I’ve always been like a sopping wet sponge, just squeeze a little and a lot of water will come out, but I’m more tender than I was before. I’m not sure how that happened. Maybe if a person cries enough over a long enough period of time, the tears run into the heart and soften it up. I feel like my heart has softened, and yet in all the ways true paradox works, it’s always stronger, more resilient, more courageous than it used to be. I think this is because I’ve been loved well. God’s love does wonders.

My mom and sisters sent me a package last week with books. Books! The ones I want to read and hold and smell and a new pair of earrings and cards and post-it notes. I’m remembered. And I’m loved. And today two other packages arrived. One from my dearest of dear friends Karissa – who is raising six kids, has goats and chickens and a garden and many other things to worry about besides me. And yet she took the time to send me coffee, (Thank you God!) and goldfish and a movie for the kids, and books. Books! Real paper.

And a new friend sent me her book in the mail from Ontario – seriously, let’s talk about locational extremes. (Thank you, Laurna!) And yet, even though she lives far far away from me, our hearts are connected. We’ve emailed back and forth and I’m amazed. So many glorious connections.

What I’m trying to say, not very fluidly is how very thankful I am for friendship. For the near and the far, for the ones I’ve known for more than twenty years and for the ones I love but haven’t actually met face to face. I used to take my friendships for granted. I don’t anymore. I’m so very very thankful that we love each other, that you accept me for who I am, that you l like me and hear me. I am also so thankful that I have the rare and special privilege of accepting you – for who you are, for the gifts and beauty you bring to this time, to this era – and to delight in it all – that our paths have crossed on this earth.

Friendships, the ones that are honest and deep, kind and long-suffering are worth the effort it takes to maintain them. That’s what I want to say today.

Much Love,

Tina

 

 

 

On Mary and Martha

IMG_1777Last week I worked on dictation with Emma and Lucas. I picked the story of Mary and Martha. It’s short, has some quotation marks, and it’s a simple story to understand.

I’ve been thinking about the story ever since.

Most of us know the details – Mary and Martha invite Jesus and some friends over for a meal. At the end, Jesus is teaching and Mary sits and learns from him, she doesn’t get up to help her sister. However, Martha wants her to. Martha asks Jesus to make Mary get up and help her. But Jesus doesn’t do what Martha expects.

How many parties have we been to when it’s the women cleaning up at the end? When the men sit around, drinking and talking and the women gather up the dishes and clean? Or everybody sits around at the end and one or two women get up and clean everything? I’ve been to dozens of parties and this happens all the time. It’s something I’m accustomed to and have accepted. I’m not saying it’s bad. I’ve even been chided for not getting up and doing the dishes soon enough after a few gatherings. And they were probably right. I should have helped more.

However, in that culture, in the culture where Jesus was from it went deeper, it was far more intrinsic. This is still the case in some places around the world. Places where women exist to serve men. In the days when Jesus walked around, women mainly served two purposes: to serve the men and make the babies.

And then Jesus goes to a dinner party … And he defends Mary. He defends Mary’s right to learn. He says, what she has will not be taken from her. In other words, she doesn’t have to do and be like everyone else. She wants to learn? She gets to learn. This was revolutionary. That’s why the story got documented by Luke, because it was out of the ordinary.

I find it interesting how many sermons and books and papers and discussions and arguments are dedicated to what a woman can or can’t do in one’s society or in the church. Recently, I even heard of a pastor, a well known pastor, who has been teaching women what they are supposed to do in the bedroom – specific acts. And I cry out, REALLY? Have we not learned anything since the birth and life of Jesus? From the one who gave women their voice – and in his gentle and radical way validated all of humanity?

Mary’s lovely sister Martha made a real attempt to shove Mary back into her duties, her social responsibilities and it even seems right in a way. Shouldn’t Mary have helped her sister with the dishes and the serving? Isn’t that her duty?

Jesus says no. And in his honest way, he invites Martha to the same thing. “One thing is necessary.” He says this in response to how many worries she has. I have a lot of worries, but apparently, one thing is necessary. Interesting.

I’m going to go out on a limb and say that most of us have lots of voices and worries in our heads. We have societal expectations, maybe people hear their mother in their heads, people might hear their pastor in their head telling them what they are supposed to do or supposed to be, people hear all kinds of things in their heads. Apparently in some places there are even voices telling us what or who we are supposed to be in the bedroom – even what God wants us to be in the bedroom. Listen, to use God to manipulate people into doing what you want them to do is a great evil. Let me say that one more time: to use God’s name in an attempt to make people do what you want them to do is a great evil.

Here’s meek and mild Jesus, advocating for a woman who wasn’t doing what she was supposed to do. She was going against what her society deemed acceptable. To me, this is stunning. Jesus gently said,  ”No. Mary’s fine. What she’s about, what she’s chosen, the voice she’s listening to won’t be taken from her.”

And I say – Amen.

There are many voices we have to choose from. There are many expectations in our heads and in our hearts and in our lives. But - Only one thing is necessary. And what you have won’t be taken from you.

Learn to hear One voice. Decide to receive approval and love and favor from the one who created you – and somehow, in some miraculous way – which will probably feel really messy and chaotic but will actually be sane and life-giving – everything will fall into place. Peace will come.

And if I may be so bold, try to resist other people’s attempts to bring you under their jurisdiction and control. It’s not right. Life and good and freedom will never come from being what everyone else wants you to be. This is no small task – but worth the effort.

Have a wonderful week.

Much Love,

 

Tina

 

On What I Know

IMG_3040Today, I turn thirty-seven years old. The clock keeps ticking, the sun keeps rising and setting, the earth keeps turning and it all amazes me much more than it used to. The wonder and beauty of it. On Saturday, I went for a walk through the land. Gilead, my favorite novel, was tucked underneath my arm, Alaska and Gibby followed behind, running every which way. They search for rabbit holes of which there are dozens. The sun shone bright and full, the sky was clear blue, high and holy. I still haven’t gotten used to my birthday falling at the tale end of winter, rather than the summer’s end. I was particularly happy to have such a beautiful day to ponder and soak in the sun’s rays.

We climbed my small hill, where at the top the view beckons me to silence. The mountains, the green rolling hills, and the overwhelming simplicity of life catches my breath. I sat on a rock and thought and prayed and read Gilead. In the distance someone was cutting something, the searing saw echoed through the acres, birds cawed and sang, the wind rustled through the leafless tress. I was utterly alone, but not lonely. Alaska came and sat next to me and stayed by my side. Gibby, the dog we paid good money for, came once and then left leaping over bushes in search of his next meal. You really can’t predict loyalty in this life – no matter the odds. In truth it’s usually quite a surprise who will stay by your side, and it shouldn’t be assumed, it’s always a gift.

So, after living here on this earth for thirty-seven years, ‘ve thought about what it is that I know. Certainly, much less than what I knew when I was twenty-seven. But for what it’s worth, I offer my simple and well-known discoveries to you…

I know that there is a cost to every call. Everytime you say yes to something, you consequently say no to about a dozen other things. This does not seem fair, but there it is. We can’t have it all, despite what everyone tells you. So choose what you say yes to intentionally and boldly. And humbly accept that it implies loss as well.

I know that I want to spend my time …with people who love me or at least like me. I’m not going to waste my time trying to convince people I’m worth it. Life is too short for that kind of self-deprecation.

I know that I can read the Bible after thirty years … and still be stunned speechless over the ways and kindness of Jesus and how he gives people their dignity and pierces through all the religious bull-shit straight to the heart of the matter. I would do well to study him more. I also know there is no greater privelege than being counted as one of his.

I know that family – good and loving family – and all my wonderful friends… make my world light up and bring meaning and significance. I also know that my husband and two children are my most sacred gifts. I hold them in high esteem.

I know there are many ways to live a good and rich life. There are many ways to be useful…. One of my friends travels the world bringing water and sanitation to the most destitute and needy. She learns people’s names and sees their humanity even when they live in terrible conditions, and she validates them. She sees them. Another friend is raising six kids in the country and has chickens and goats and a garden and she opens wide her heart and creates space for people to come and rest and she accepts them. I have another friend who lives on the other side of the world. She works as a nurse and is raising three sons and every day she shows the world a picture of steadfast courage. Hang these lives in the balance and what do you get? Love. A whole lot of love.

I know that… sorrow eventually gives way because of the strength of hope, and death breaks under the weight of life, that light shines in the darkness and dispels it, and that love truly covers a multitude of sin. I know that it is through mystery and paradox that God reveals himself. And that silence is safe.

And finally, I know there are good people… living quiet and ordinary lives all over this world who will never be on Facebook, will never build a platform, will never have a radio show or be seen by a great multitude. But their lives matter and have significance – not because everyone knows or sees them or because they have a great fortune, but beacause they breathe and love and get up every day and face the world, they till the soil, make bread and gently go through life under the watchful eye of the Audience of One. He sees them and this makes their lives significant and mine too, as well as yours.

Thank you for reading this blog, for reflecting on life with me, for staying by my side. Your friendships, near and far, hold me and warm my heart.

Much Love,

 

Tina

 

The Far Away Nearby by Rebecca Stolnit

IMG_1777It’s the first book I’ve read by Rebecca Stolnit and won’t be the last. She reminds me a little of Annie Dillard. She has those same clear thoughts that take you where you didn’t know you needed or even wanted to go. I recommend it.

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“We’re close, we say, to mean that we’re emotionally connected, that we are not separate; or we’ve become distant, to describe the opposite. After years in New York City, Georgia O’Keefe moved to rural New Mexico, from which she would sign her letters to the people she loved, “from the faraway nearby.” It was a way to measure physical and psychic geography together. Emotion has its geography, affection is what is nearby, within the boundaries of the self. You can be a thousand miles from the person next to you in bed or deeply invested in the survival of a stranger on the other side of the world.” (114)

To all my faraways, in whom I am deeply invested …

Much Love,

Tina

 

On Preparing a Place for Us

BoardwalkAt the beginning of John chapter fourteen, Jesus says something to his disciples about how in his Father’s house are many rooms, and how he’s going to prepare a place for them and Thomas says he wants Jesus to show him the way. And here Jesus speaks his infamous words that we use over and over when presenting the Gospel, the teachings of Jesus, and the whole heart of Christianity.

Jesus says, “I Am the way, The Truth and The Life.”

Years ago, I loved to go backpacking. I loved to put on a pack and trek down a trail for days. One would need a map, a compass, a backpack filled with trail mix and other dried goods, and one would need a path or a trail to show them the way. At least, I prefer having a path. I did go backpacking once when we lost the trail and had quite a lot of fun finding our path once again. But if I’m going to go backpacking, I’m not going to choose to forge my own trail.

And here we have Jesus – this Jewish man, 2,000 ago claiming to BE the map, the compass, even the trail mix, and the Path we should walk down. He claims it all.

Exactly where are we headed if we walk down the path of Jesus? I think Jesus is talking about the road back home. When we take to the way of Jesus, we are taking the path home. To God. To the Father, the Heart’s true home.

And the truth is we’re all looking for the way home.

Some time ago, feeling muddled with life and in great conflict with the circumstances I found myself in, I told the Lord, that I didn’t know the way out of where I was, I didn’t know the way through the mess. And I heard a voice in my head say, “I am the way.”

Isn’t that nice? Actually, it didn’t make me feel much better.

I appreciated the sentiment and the truth of it, but what exactly does it mean – He is the way?

Well, after wrestling with it, I’ll tell you what I don’t think it means. In today’s day we are accustomed to bullet points and power point presentations with three point this and three points that. Do these-three-things and you will find your way. You will be a better person, a better mom, a better Christian. That is not the way Jesus is suggesting. He doesn’t give us three points of anything. He gives us himself. He gives us himself in this mysterious relationship that fills you up in the deepest places.

We are communal beings, made for community. Made to be in relationship, not outside, excluded looking in.

Jesus is suggesting that we do this life with him – not with laws and regulations, rules we are supposed to follow, not with lists of right and wrong, bad and good, but in connected friendship with Jesus, the One we’ve been looking for.

This passage speaks to me in particular today because of how much I don’t feel like I belong. I’m glad he’s preparing a place for me. Here I am and we’ve have bought land, built a house, are making friends, and yet, I’ve never felt more out of place than I do right now. Have you ever felt like you just don’t make sense somewhere?

There’s a number of reasons for this. But one of them is because I have crossed the boundaries of all I know – of all that is familiar and there is no handle to hold which will root me in the familiar – I am in new territory. Nothing I’ve seen before.

However, what I have is a deep faith, and a rich interior life that grounds me and sustains me in the new place where I find myself.

The Way Jesus is claiming to be is not a physical road, but a promise that if we are in him, if we live in relationship with him, we are moving toward the heart’s true home. And though we sometimes journey from wilderness to wilderness Jesus himself becomes the handle we hold which establishes us in wherever place we find ourselves.

In him, I’m home. This is profound, indeed.

Much Love,

Tina

 

 

Life in Chile

Hi Friends,

Life is moving along as normal. Nothing drastic has happened this week. We’ve had rain, sun, laughter, smiles, and a few tears. We still have three chickens, two dogs, and one incredibly wild horse. Rodrigo is still working daily on the house. Rodrigo and Lucas built a little dog house for Alaska – the pup we found on the side of the road, and she’s living it up in her palace. We found two eggs the other day. The children were thrilled! And now we’re building a chicken-coop – Chilean style – as in one of our neighbors asked if we’d hire him for something, and we asked if he could build a house for the chickens. He looked at me if I had asked him if the sun was round. According to him, we’ll be able to fit about fifty chickens in this new little house. I’m thinking ten.

This is my backyard … It’s lovely in the morning sun.

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Lucas is up building his chicken coop.

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Alaska’s dog house.

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And last but not least, we’ve placed several of our coffee mugs in one of the new cabinets Rodrigo made… We love Starbucks! And Miss Seattle and our Seattle family and friends every day.

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Anyways, thanks for reading this blog, for your prayers, and for your unwavering support. I am so thankful.

Much Love,

Tina