Tag Archives: thankfulness

My Grandmother’s Dandelions

dandelion (1)

My grandmother, my mom’s mom, sent me an email of a comic strip this week.

She’s 88 and not only does she use an iPhone, Facebook, and Instagram, but she has a better memory than I do sometimes. Maybe this happens because she’s fully present in a given moment and makes you feel like you’re the center of her world. I always joke with her that she’s not that old because my memory is worse than hers.

When I opened the comic, I had no idea why this was relevant. I asked her why she had sent it and she recalled an exchange between she and I a few weeks previously.

Most of my mom’s side of the family had been in together celebrating Easter and some birthdays so we all went out in the backyard to take a family picture to capture the moment.

Upon coming around the corner from her patio, I noticed Spring had indeed sprung up with a bunch of dandelions scattered all over her yard.

I said, “Wow look at all of those dandelions!” which were literally everywhere. I said this in a negative way as I was thinking of the toil involved in removing them.

My sweet grandmother says as giddy and thankful as possible, “Oh…Thank you God!!”

Perplexed, I asked, “You’re thankful for the weeds?”

She said, “Yes (giggled) they’re beautiful”.

The Hi and Lois comic she sent me had a little baby admiring the dandelions calling them pretty flowers and assuming that the mother must like them too because she was picking all of them. The mom is then shown gathering the weeds and quite flustered and complaining.

One saw the beauty in the evidence of Spring and another experienced the toil and nuisance of Spring.

I laughed that my grandmother remembered this and I wondered how I had forgotten it so quickly.

I assume if I had the perspective that she had that I would’ve remembered it because I would’ve been thankful like she was.

This made me ponder about how many times I’ve chosen to look at situations with an ungrateful heart and missed out on a moment to be thankful and to stop “smell the roses”( or dandelions as the case may be).

How many times have I acted old but not wise in my age? How many times do I not see with the simple faith of a child?

While I joke with my grandmother about truly being younger than me at times, I think that she has learned to have faith like a child. Even though there is a 59 year age difference where I am obviously younger, I often see things like the mom in the comic strip and instead of being thankful, I become frustrated.

After the exchange between my grandmother and I, my youngest cousin picked up a dandelion that just had seeds and blew it all over the ground.

Yes, that created more dandelions if they took root, but she seized the moment to be thankful too and created a memory instead  of losing a moment like I had. 

This little reminder with the dandelions is helpful to slow down and see the beauty even in things that are annoying and will require a little extra effort.

If you’re anything like me, stop and appreciate the small things of beauty. I immediately saw a task that needed attention instead of the fun and beauty that dandelions can produce. I forgot a moment with my precious grandmother when she savored that moment.

Also, if you have dandelions, once you’ve admired them, then go get your lawn mower or some weed killer because clearly your yard needs some attention ;-)

Happy Spring! 

Observations of a 6 Month Old Missionary

I want to start this entry by removing the “elephant” in the room (which is only appropriate because I’m in Africa ;) ) and say that the challenges that I’ve faced with my health have definitely created an unusual first few months on the field. Instead of settling in and immersing myself in learning languages and a new culture, I was chasing doctors and trying to get out of pain. That being said, there has been a lot of unplanned events, however God has done great things and taught me a lot. Here’s some humorous pictures to illustrate how I feel followed by what I’ve learned in my first 6th months as a missionary in Africa.

be a missionary
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#1–I confirmed my hatred for bugs…Yes it’s true! I’m a girly girl and while I already couldn’t stand bugs, I’ve confirmed that there is indeed a hatred for them and I’m sure I’ll be asking God one day in Heaven what the purpose of creating them was. The top of my list of questioning is anything that stings, then the newly acquainted bed bugs, closely followed by mosquitoes, safari ants and last by certainly NOT least, cockroaches.

#2—Carpet is now weird to me.
Tonight was the first time in 6 months that my feet touched carpet and it was really REALLY weird! I didn’t even know why I stopped walking and felt weird for a minute or so and then I realized it was because I was on carpet. Everything I’ve walked on has been tile, wood, or rocks.

#3—I have an appreciation for simplicity.
I downsized significantly when we moved to Madagascar. We bought basic things that we would need to live there, but for the most part I had to detach myself from a lot of things and come to terms that it was all just “stuff”. When we came to Kenya for only an intended 8 day trip that then lasted for 10 weeks due to medical reasons, I learned that less is more and I really CAN survive on minimal clothes, no computer, my every day items, etc. We stayed in 10 difference places and being ill in all of that transition was difficult, but certainly not impossible. When we went home to Madagascar at the beginning of July, I was actually overwhelmed with how much I really did have. I sat on the floor in my bedroom more than once and cried because I didn’t know how to decide what to wear. Now that I’m back in Kenya with yet again only one piece of luggage, I’m learning to not hold onto anything I own and it’s freeing in a way. God has continually provided over and over for Stephen and I in our nearly two years of being married and we’ve never lacked in anything from furniture to food. In going through testing, my attachment to material things has changed so much. Just when I think I’m missing out or start to desire things on this Earth, God surprises me with something of more eternal value.

#4–Opportunity is EVERYWHERE!
No matter what difficulty might have been going on personally, people who need Jesus have always surrounded me. This has caused me to continually pour out love. We’ve seen God touch hearts at gas stations, restaurants, hospitals, doctors’ offices and in church services. I just happen to be in Africa, but you don’t have to travel far to bring hope into someone’s life. People need Jesus all around you in everyday situations that you find yourself in.

#5–Being myself is all I need to be.
I stepped into this season feeling uncomfortable in so many ways. I faced leaving all that was near and dear; my hometown, my own background of ministry, my friends and family. I lacked full-time missions experience in comparison to my husband who is a linguistic and is in my opinion a stellar missionary. I compared myself to other missionary women who have raised grown kids, lived overseas for many years, were skilled in sewing, and great cooks. I’m not a Susie Homemaker or from the denomination that I’m currently working for and I felt awkward. To add to this, as a missionary, you’re trying to adapt to a new culture and learn new languages. The art of comparison was a daily challenge and I felt pressured to change who I was. I’m still learning all kinds of new things and I love learning and growing, but I’ve learned most to be content to be who God created me to be. If God wanted to raise me any other way or with any other background and skill set, He would’ve done so. When I operate in insecurity and pressure, I can’t contribute my God-given uniqueness to an environment…and let’s be honest; I will just be really awkward ;) I have my weaknesses, my quirks and shortcomings, but even in this I have to allow God to work on me and through me. If I’m not being true to myself, I’ll fail to represent God rightly to others.

#6—I often miss weird things about home.
The other day I literally daydreamed about donuts…((GAGS))! I can not even tell you the last time that I had one which was 4 or more years ago. There is absolutely no way if I was in the States that I’d get near a donut and be tempted, but literally I desired it the other day. I need help people—keep praying for me! ;) I find that I often miss odd things like that which symbolize home or wish I was home to participate in things that I probably wouldn’t have even done if I was there.

#7–I LOVE PEOPLE….
Seriously I’m the type of person that HAS to interact with others. I work better when I am around people. I’ve always thrived in jobs where I was interacting with others. This season of very limited Internet and most of my relationships being thousand of miles away has been more than challenging. I’ve found myself even today completely STARVED for social interactions and upon meeting up with an old friend I just want to chat chat chat. If I come home and talk even more than usual, please extend some grace ;) I’ve been in new culture and foreign languages where I pantomime most of the time…and talk to my sweet patient husband all day. What do I miss most about home? People. What is the best part of every day? People. I guess this just means that I am in the right job to serve and love people :) But really…I need social interactions with peers!

#8–I have my dream job, but it’s not dreamy.
My pictures at the top describe how I feel often. But really, I’ve dreamed of being in Africa since I was a little girl and as a missionary for about a decade. It’s not that I romanticized it entirely, but I have found that I did to a degree. I’ve found that it’s not always easy to be far away from all that was comfortable and facing challenges that you’d never face back home. Yet at the end of the day it is fulfilling, as it’s what I’m supposed to be doing. I cry when I think of lost people around me, when I see them hurting, and when I hear stories that demand a response from God. It’s heartbreaking to continue to see pain and lost people and to know that not all will find salvation and freedom. This is why I know this dream to go to the nations is of God and not something that I dreamed up.

#9–Missions is as much for you as it is for me.
I’m not suggesting that everyone reading this is called to go into full-time missions, but I also don’t want to suggest that I’m specially qualified for this. In fact many of you would have slept more and functioned higher here than I have in this season ;) I’ve realized more than ever that I NEED Jesus absolutely EVERY moment of EVERY day. I’m not anyone who is qualified in a special way or permitted more grace than anyone else to be a missionary. God’s heart beats for missions and because I fell in love with His heart, my heart beats for it too. That’s why I am here in Africa and the same can apply to you wherever you are and whatever you’re doing. As a child of God, you too can be whoever He has called you to be by simply loving Him and obeying Him. If he calls you to move your life overseas and do missions work, you CAN do it! If you’re called to start a business or get a higher education to serve Him with, you CAN do it. There is grace to love Him freely and live for Him rightly even when it’s uncomfortable to our flesh and desires. We are living in a critical hour where MANY need to know of His great love no matter where we find ourselves in this world.

*Lastly, I’d like to say that #10—Steripods are a MUST!…they are little sterilizing non-toxic clips to put on your toothbrush bristles and…amen! No ant, cockroach, gecko etc., will crawl on your toothbrush! It is at the top of my list of things to stock up on in the USA :)

Just for more laughs, since SK is an MK (Missionary kid) here’s another pic
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Cheez-Its in the Fireplace

Today, the house worker assigned to the guesthouse in Kenya where we are staying right now came over. Honestly he is more like family as he’s worked in the compound where my in-laws have lived for about 20 years. His name is Paul and he’s one of my most favorite people ever. He comes over to hand wash dishes (because there is no dishwasher) and take care of things inside of the house. There is a fireplace here and while I know some friends are sweating in the August temps in the USA, I’m freezing here in Kenya. We’ve been asked by the workers on the compound why we haven’t lit a fire yet as there is a lot of firewood outside of the house and we’ve never had a good response. We’ve been back and forth to so many medical appointments and running around that when we come home at night, we just throw on more layers and heat up hot water bottles. Last night however, we finally lit a fire! I sat near it and finished an ongoing project on my computer and then we watched a movie.

This morning when Paul came over, he was very happy to see that we had used the fireplace last night! Stephen thanked him for putting the wood in there and that we had really enjoyed it. A huge smile came across his face and a joyful laugh came forth. I’m not exaggerating when I say that Paul has the best smile and is one of the most joyful people I’ve ever met. I’m always trying to learn Swahili from him and make jokes to get him to smile. Even though he’s known Stephen for years, we joke that I’m now Paul’s favorite. All that to say once Stephen said that “Bailey really appreciated having a fire”, the man was on a mission! He cleaned out the ashes and quickly brought in more firewood.

I entered the room right as I saw him carrying a “Cheez-It” box. I thought what on earth is Paul doing with a Cheez-It box and where did it come from anyways?! I’m not going to lie, it also kind of made me hungry. I watched him as he walked over to the fireplace and began to rip the box apart. “Ah for kindling!”, I said as I realized what was going on.

Stephen and I then headed out the door in search of reliable internet. We again emphasized our gratefulness for Paul taking care of the fireplace and how much we were looking forward to another fire on this cold day. As we headed down the driveway in a car, we saw the man coming to repair the electricity in the house (which is a story for another day). Stephen went back inside with the electrician and as he did, the mechanic came to get the car which got hit two nights ago (again another story for another day). So that ended our plans to go find internet. Back inside the house I went and began to work on my laptop as Stephen discussed with these men. Shortly after sitting inside I began to hear “popping” noises. Stephen started laughing from the other room and called out to me, “Paul lit a fire for you!”. Oh my! He took my gratefulness to another level and lit a fire for me during the daytime! Good thing as we were now stranded at the house. photo 1

This made me think of having a grateful attitude to the Lord. He delights in us being thankful and praising Him. He is always moved on our behalf and wants to bring us good gifts. One word of thankfulness from our lips causes our hearts to receive more of His goodness. He is always pouring out love on us, but I’ve found that a thankful heart positions us to become more aware of His goodness. I challenge you today to thank Him for something He’s done. It could be something so small, but find something to be thankful for. Tell Him that you love Him and that you’re thankful you’re a child of God. Then wait for His reply. It might just be that your own Cheez-It box appears from no where and that your heart gets lit up with more thankfulness for Him ;-) …but really, I’m craving those tiny cheese crackers now!

Since my entry above, a VERY thoughtful missionary here in Kenya read my blog and brought me these photo 2