November 30, 2010

The CaLLING














You are calling me deeper
To a more transformational place
My heart yearns for it
Am I willing? to pay the price?

You are calling me compassionately
To a holier place
My soul hungers for it
Am I willing? to forsake all excuses?

You are calling me soberly
To a truth-revolution
My mind reaches for it
Am I willing? to tear down all lies?

You are calling me tenderly
To a more intimate place
My whole being yearns for it
Am I willing? To forsake all other loves?

You are calling me authoritatively
To a more submissive place
My life trembles for it
Am I willing? To bow to it?

You are calling me
To a more faith-filled place
My spirit races for it
But am I willing? To step out for it?

You are calling me
With Your many voices
...which is really just ONE
Calling and calling and calling
Patiently, persistently, passionately.
This is really the only Voice I need...
...or want
You are calling
...and I am willing.


Pjs 30/11/10

November 25, 2010

My Garden Walk









My daily walk is a necessity.

And my favorite place to walk is in the country. There´s something about all that...nature. It´s so basic and natural, almost primal - except it´s too exquisite to use that word.

I am clearly spoiled here in sunny Spain because I love a clear day with sun and this place is so obliging! My nearby fields are grassy and somewhat hilly and are replete with cooling trees, wildflowers, some horses and herbs. I pluck an occasional orange or find some ripe berries. I love picking rosemary and taking draughts of it all throughout my walk. It´s healing and stimulating all at the same time (the original - and free! - aromatherapy).

I live near olive groves and so they abound on my walks. Is that so New Testament or what?! Walking fast and breathing deep make the endorphins flow - but even better, my heart begins to flow in worship and I can pray without man-made distractions.

I usually bring my dog and since she´s a hunting dog (although she´s never caught me anything), she runs for the joy of it, smelling and looking and having the time of her life. It´s her absolute favorite thing to do. I can´t believe how much joy I get from seeing her do precisely what she was created to do. And I muse: Do I give God that kind of joy when I am flowing in what I am created to do?

So, here´s a sacred confession: I feel most alive when I am out in nature communing with Him like that. Sometimes I bring music, other times it´s quiet, sometimes I walk hard the entire time but other days He stops me somewhere along the way and He speaks...or we just ARE...together. Sometimes I bring my journal and my Bible and find a place to sit and listen or pour out my heart. He shares secrets with me.

We all have different ways of connecting with God, different favorite places to spend time with Him. I often reflect on the Garden of Eden and imagine what it must have been like for Adam and Eve to walk and talk with the God of the universe in the cool of the day? I would have LOVED to be there........pre-sin, perfect Garden, perfect Companion.

For now I walk in grace in a garden not far from here.....and it is good.

Got Adventure?

This is my husband, the soldier. He has the gift of apostle and is always pushing us "to where no man has gone before" - at least beyond other "normal" people. Sometimes I want to "just be normal". But today I´m in a good place and feeling adventurous.

When I was younger I was happy to sign up for an exciting, adventurous life. As I got older, acquired responsibilities, went through different terrains and seasons, I felt more savy - but also more weary.

Battle fatigue comes with the territory I´ve been told. It´s good to know I´m normal in that sense! But why is it that I am continually wearier than he? Oh the injustice of it! How can he be so energetic, so productive, so full of vision and how does he juggle all the ongoing projects, trips, reports and people needs? He is a mystery to me still, even after 22 years. :)

His amazing discipline, focus, strength, perseverance and positive attitude is a strength to me and to our team. We joke about him being a "máquina" (a machine), evidenced by his apparent resistance to jetlag, eagerness to do airport runs at any hour and an incredible ability to push himself.

Once in a while I catch a glimpse of his humanity: a nap on the couch, forgetfulness, double booking or an occasional inability to stay awake during a movie. He works harder than almost anyone I know.

In spite of his focus on the job, he is faithfully available to us and I am so grateful for his desire to have coffee with me, play fútbol with his son, take his daughters out on a date and just "to be" with us. He is the first one up from the table to wash dishes, the first one up in the morning to make 2 mates (his & hers) and the first one to volunteer to help someone struggling in math.

Wow. Am I blessed.

The Starbucks Culture


I confess that I feel cheated at times by not having experienced the Starbucks phenomenon in the US. While it was happening, I´ve been living overseas having other cool experiences. But when we return on a trip it is bizarre to see its permeating thread running through the culture I grew up in, with its tendrils of influence in the society I thought I knew.

What first impacted me was its presence. It was everywhere. In airports, in malls, in business zones, near high schools and universities. And (at least in California), they were in arranged marriages with juice bars and bagels shops. A couple decades later, its insane. There are sometimes multiple Starbucks in one intersection. Multiple Starbucks in one wing of the airport. Multiple Starbucks in the mall. Wow. We have officially been invaded!

Secondly, what impacted me was its language & culture. They expect you to learn - and order effectively - exactly what you want in Starbuck-ease. They sell you a lifestyle with your coffee. It grabs you with its values, its traditions, its ambience, its worldview. It welcomes everyone (willing to spend 3$ plus on a coffee) as a member of its society. They confidently expect you to return - and we do.

It took me 5 trips to Starbucks to figure out how to ask for what I really wanted the first summer I was back. On one of my early trips I was behind a little old lady who, poor thing, asked for "a cup of coffee". After they explained all the lingo she whimpered, "I still just want a cup of coffee" and walked out! But I did like that once I figured that out I could go anywhere and know what I was getting. When you´re in a café elsewhere in the world, coffees vary. Even at the same café, your coffee can be slightly different and from café to café they can vary greatly. But sometimes that is a good thing.

I like variety. I´m a sucker for presentation. I love having coffee with a friend. I like a comfortable chair and I love to read. And I enjoy the smell of coffee even more than its taste!
I´m a great candidate for Starbucks but alas! I live too far away from its influence.

BUT during all the years of the Starbucks phenomenon, I have enjoyed hundreds of espressos and cappuccinos at ordinary cafés in Argentina, Morocco and Spain, the places I´ve lived. People have gathered for centuries at these to talk, sip, relax, argue, do business, read, study, kill time, get ideas, problem solve or fall in love. Perhaps, after all, I´ve enjoyed the Starbucks Culture all around the world without even knowing its name.

I enjoy an occasional coffee at Starbucks when I travel and I love to linger there. But Starbucks has nothing on the perfect, strong coffees around the world set in their quaint streetside café packaging. I´m truly glad to be bi-cultural and enjoy the best of both worlds!



October 13, 2010

I Speak Fluent Venetian








How is it that after 22 years with the same man we still do not speak the same language?! Those of us in overseas work typically dedicate 1-2 years to language and cultural study (or more). We are not naive to think that we stop at that formal marker; it is a lifetime endeavour. Today I experienced that unfortunately all-too-common misdemeanour: trying to express a concern to my husband in Venetian (or was it Martian?). It produced a defensive front and I accomplished nothing except a linguistic faux pas.

When in language study there was an ebb and flow of "three steps forward, two steps back". There were good days and bad days. There were victories when I could rejoice in communicating a new thought, using a new word correctly or understanding a local joke. There were discouragements when I listened to someone, misunderstood and proceeded to make a fool of myself. Why did I think learning my husband´s "language" would be any different?

Oh how I yearn to be fluent in Venetian! I have studied my husband and we have many areas of understanding. We can even anticipate each other´s response on many occasions. But today was one big cross-cultural miscommunication. I choose to accept this as part of a lifelong endeavour in male language-learning. And I mean lifelong!

Extending My Life with Mate (mah-tay)





The other day a well-meaning friend sent me a link to an article on how mate causes cancer. He wrote, "it looks like a reliable source". I don´t want to appear arrogant or unteachable but if that were true, most Argentines and Uruguayans would be dead!

This test stated that if you were to smoke a pack of cigarettes per day from infancy into your 80´s, that would be about the equivalent of the mate phenomenon. Somehow, all tests are not created equally and all substances do not have the same effect on the body. I don´t care how many carcinogens they measured in a portion of yerba mate, the effects on the human gaucho body cannot be compared to smokers!

This reminds me in some ways of an article I read long ago studying what centenarians have in common. (The obvious goal being that we will learn how to live to 100 ourselves with their secrets.) The problem was that the secret of one (no alcohol) was in direct opposition to another (a glass of wine every day). Or No Smoking to smoking a cigarette per day. Or daily coffee to only green tea. While there were several areas of the world with concentrations of centenarians with several overlapping values in common (exercise, climate, hope, relationships, etc.) you still have conflicting information. In the end, we all do the best we can with the information we have.

So, what does this mean?

I´ll answer that as soon as I heat some more water for this mate......


photo by: dreizehn28

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