Monday, September 25, 2017

Embracing the Large Pot of Mixed Emotions

My bags are packed again...mostly. The cat sitter is arranged. The bills are paid. All is left is the final walk through to make sure I have all my cables & my bags aren't overweight. You would think that 8 weeks at "home" I would filled with excitement. It is hard to describe the strange bag of emotions that I have learned to keep at bay. Joy, sadness, homesickness, uncertainty, feelings of being overwhelmed, not enough time to see everyone & do everything....and many more.
And there are all those thoughts & feelings about leaving my HOME, my friends, my sweet kitties, my bed. To spend 8 weeks living in a different bed, home, city...enjoying sharing all that Jesus is & has done. All the time hoping I don't forget where I am, who I am with & what I've just said & what I hope to say.
I always struggle with the word "furlough"...I looked it up once & learned that it means "relieved" of duty. Yet we use that same word to describe a missionary returning to their home country. For me it doesn't feel much like "time off".
This trip I'll be in 4 states in the 1st four weeks. Four of my supporting churches have had a Lead Pastor change in the last year. Although I'm excited for each of these faithful servants of the Lord & the new adventure with Jesus they are embarking on...my own heart knows the reality of uncertainty...even more than that starting over. Building a new relationship with a new Pastor.
Will they like me?
Will they have the same commitment to the work here?
Will they cut the churches financial support?

But of all these the most challenging is having to start over again building a new meaningful relationship with the new Pastor. The hardest thing is trying to establish a significant connection in which you/me feel known.

I look forward to seeing many of you very soon!

I'm attaching an article that I think does an excellent job expressing what I've attempted to share here.
Keeping Track of Sorrows

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

The Ties That Bind Part 2

Sven-Erik, Moa, Maria & Reilly
Living abroad has filled my life with so many blessings, adventures & enriched me with amazing relationships. But there has been a cost...the reality that all my nieces were born since I've been here & my nephew was 2 when I left. I've done my best to try to be in touch & involved in their lives but there just hasn't been much face time.  So, you can imagine my mix of emotions when my niece Reilly asked if she could come to visit for 6 weeks.
Reilly in Schindler's Factory
Of course I was excited...but what if she doesn't really like me? Or we don't get along? Will I be able to keep her "entertained"?
It didn't take long for me to realize that my fears, though very real, were ill founded. We had a
wonderful time really getting to know one another. I treasure the time & the opportunity to share my amazing world. The only down side was that my hip was acting up & I was in a lot of pain. But we managed to do & see everything.
Reilly in Stockholm
About the 4 week mark I thought that Reilly might like to meet your relatives in Northern Sweden. I tested the water with my cousin & she came back with a heartfelt welcome to both of us. I was thinking that I would just send Reilly but it had been so long (more than 25 years) since my last visit that I decided to cease the opportunity to go on an adventure together.
Even though the trip originally was intended for Reilly, I think that the Lord planned it for me. It is hard to describe, but it was like a healing balm to my soul. Being together with "BIG" family was just what the doctor order for me. So much had changed since my last visit, yet somethings remained the same...Family! Click to see the Pictures
Being in Maria's mom's home was like going to my grandmother's. The same decor, food, atmosphere... I was home. Seeing my grandmother's brother, Martin & his wife, Ingrid was a particularly special gift. My grandma has been gone more than 20 years now so it was a miracle. I got to meet Maria's 3 daughters & their families, attend the youngest daughter's handball match. As well as, spend time with old friends.
It was like going home...especially now that my mom is gone..."home" is a bit more illusive.

I will be blessed to have 2 of Maria's daughters for a visit in September.


Swedish Winter

Monday, August 21, 2017

The Ties That Bind

Family

I'm always amazed by just how strong the bonds of family are. As a School Counselor I often was interjected into some of the most unhealthy families & yet the members were devoted to those ties regardless how unhealthy they were. I guess it is the most basic need of belonging & the family is the 1st place where we belong.

Since my Mom passed away in May 2015, though I wouldn't say we were tight, I have had that gapping inner hole that I'm missing "Family". I'm now the oldest living member of our clan. I live on the other side of the world, with no biological family of my own. I have no regrets & I wouldn't change anything but that doesn't change the reality of my heart's longing for family connections.

I'm so grateful that my Heavenly Father cares so deeply for all my needs, even when I'm not even able to verbalize them. Sometimes I don't even know that they are there or what those needs are. In the last year I have had guests at least 3 days every month except April. Most of them were church family, which isn't surprising, but Jesus also brought family into my world as well.

In September 2016 my brother took his 1st European vacation. Warren & his wife Jill went on a Mediterranean cruise that dropped them off in Venice. This prompted me to take a road trip vacation. I mean how often does your brother get to Europe? Well, lets see I've been here 20+ years & this is the 1st time...so I went. I also took this opportunity to visit my friends in Europe who are like family.

Don't you just love it when Jesus plans your itinerary? Each stop was about 6 hours from the next one. The 1st stop was in Vienna with my dear friends & mentors. It was a great visit & uplifting fellowship. So much so, no pictures...oops.

Then on to Venice...the road trip was so beautiful I wish you were all there. Or at the very least someone else was driving through the Italian Alps so I could take pictures of the Fall colors. It had been a long time since my last visit to Venice so it was great to see it with my brother. It was kind of funny because I usually have a hard time keeping up with him (he has LONG legs), but he had injured his leg on the ship and though I was limping due to a bad hip we were pretty equal. It's too bad they only had a couple of days in Venice before they were on their way back to the USA.Click to See The Many Colors of Venice 

From Venice to Bern Switzerland. I love spending time with my friends in Switzerland. I used to go a couple of times a year because Foursquare Church in Switzerland used to oversee the work in Poland.    And since I spent so much time going back & forth to the USA for Mom there hasn't been much time or money to travel around Europe. To be honest I can't remember when the last time was when I was in Switzerland. I got to spend time with my good friends Elisabeth & Erika...just hanging out & being friends...going for walks...cooking together & of course lots of talking.

Elisbeth also took me to see one of my Polish friends, Paulina who now lives in Switzerland. It was a great time to see her & encourage her in her new role as Mom. Plus, who doesn't love loving on new babies?

The next stop on my journey was to see Nathalie & Francois in Strasbourg, France & to rejoice with them over their new building. God is so faithful to give us just what we need when we need it. I loved seeing their city & the blessing of their new home & church home.

The finally stop in this European loop was with my long time friends (The Schroths, nearly 30 years) in Chemnitz. We have seen & experienced communism, its fall, the rise of a different world. I've walked with them through the childrearing years & we have both (Basia) have lamented over the challenges of caring for sick & dying Moms from a long distance. (They are coming next week for a visit)Click to see the rest of the Trip

 I love road trips & this 2.5 weeks really helped to recharge my batteries & bring much needed restoration to a weary soul. Thank you Jesus for sending my brother to Venice!