Wednesday, May 28, 2014

With a Little Help From My Friends

"With many counselors they succeed." Until I read Dave Ramsey's books and avidly listened to his podcast I had never heard this proverb, but it's right there in the Bible (Proverbs15:22).  So when we were preparing ourselves to make the major move of leaving our host country here in Asia (our home for the last 8.5 years) and moving back to America, we knew we needed to ask some friends for help. (For more details see Daniel post)

Crisco can 2007.128To start with, I've been talking to Melissa extensively about how to keep house in America.  I'm sure it seems obvious to you, but I still find myself more than a little baffled. I am totally overwhelmed by the blessings of dryers.  Just imagine doing laundry without checking the weather first!  And Crisco? Don't even get me started on Crisco. What's in that stuff anyway?

2010 Acura MDX -- NHTSAMy Dad is helping us deal with all the things related to cars.  We are totally bumfuzzled.  We'll need a used car ('cause um...Dave Ramsey) but we haven't tried to buy one in more than a decade.  (If anyone has an opinion on the most long-term reliable mini-SUV on the market we'd love to hear from you!)  Dad is not only working on research, he's helping us think about cold weather car issues, and he's driving twenty-four hours to Wyoming to bring us our stuff and help us actually go to the dealership and buy.

Pam Mosby (someone I've mentioned before) sent us a book to read to our youngest daughter about a bunch of kids who are leaving their "host" country and returning to their "passport country."  I appreciate the terminology. This place feels like home to me. One of our girls barely remembers living in America, and the other was born here.  And to my husband, home has always been America.  Those specific terms, "Passport" and "host" make it clear to all of us that "home" may be both or either of our countries.

We met with Dan and Brenda McVay (long-term missionaries in Ghana who have been part-time missionaries ever since) over the winter.  They took us out for Mexican and talked us through many of the cultural and emotional challenges we'll face as we transition back to the States.

The physical and emotional transitions are challenging enough but there will be changes  on our spiritual horizons as well.  Some things are steady.  Trust God, pray, read the Bible: no change.  But my husband will be taking a new job in full-time ministry for the first time since we were 22 years old.  That's a big change.  We've got more questions about that than anything else.

We sent a Facebook message to a friend who a few years ago also left our host country for a job in full-time ministry with a young family. He's been an elder brother to my husband, sharing (painfully at times) from his heart.  He didn't hide the fact that things haven't always been easy, but he has helped to remind us about how a Christian family lives out their faith in America*.

Autumn-country-church - Virginia - ForestWanderOne of the things we were most concerned about was the best way for a church to share the gospel in American culture.  So we called another friend.  He's a minister in the north eastern part of the US who stayed with us and taught some classes a few years ago. He was as hilarious as he was deeply spiritual, and we were both impressed by him and his perspective.  He said that seekers in his neck of the woods were looking for 3 things.  

1) Deep, personal relationships in good times and bad,
2) Clear, compelling evidence that faith plays out in practical ways like community service, care for the environment, etc.
3) Exciting, uplifting experiences, especially when it comes to worship. 

The quote went on with this devastating sentence.  "Instead of seeing those 3 as a beginning point, most of our current people see those 3 things as high, unachievable goals."

Ouch.  He recommended two books (one of which I'll review after the blogging break) on evangelism, and we've read them both.

I know this a long list of what I've been up to (bugging all my counselors with questions!) but I do have a couple of points.  First, we are much better prepared for our future by following the thousands year old advice from the Proverbs (Proverbs 11:14, 15:22, 24:6).  Sure we could have barged in bought a lemon and kicked ourselves for the next five years.  We could have assumed we'd make the transition home seamlessly and poo-pooed the people who had walked that path before us.  Instead we sought wisdom from the counselors in our life.

Do you?

Young or old, when we are facing big decisions, God's revealed wisdom is that it's good for us to seek counselors.  I'd say look for people first who love God.  His perspective and his word should color their every decision.  Look for people who are doing successfully the thing you want to do.  Want awesome kids?  Ask folks whose kids turned out great!  Look for people who love you and really want what's best for you.  Lots of people will encourage us to "follow our hearts" or "make our own path."  Few people love us enough to confront us with our sin and call us out when we are ignorantly going the wrong way!

Last but not least, we have an announcement to make.  As much as I LOVE blogging my real life is about to explode.  We are moving 4 people and 4 suitcases, 4 million miles (a slight exaggeration but I can't get google maps to tell me how far it is really).  So Melissa and I will be taking a 2 months blogging break.  During the months of June and July she'll be enjoying having her school-aged kids at home, and I'll be moving.  In August we are roaring back with a month of powerful posts about missions and missionaries.  Please know we have NO desire to lose readers, just a real desire to keep our lives in balance.  We'll see you in August!


*In case your wondering, being a Christian really does look different in different places.  When I've lived awhile in America, I'll write a post or two about it for you!

Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE(R), Copyright(c) 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. 

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