Saturday, April 12, 2014

What if...

Before we dive into this little whirlwind of love, hate furry and passion, can I make one basic request as well as one promise?

Request:  That you will read this to the end and only stop because of a time constraint not because you can't stomach any of the content.

Promise:  That I am in no means trying to convert you or change your beliefs, stances and/or truths but instead the means, the methods to which you get to those oh so valuable beliefs stances, and/or truths.

Here we go :).

I'm a bit left.  Actually let's be serious I'm way further left than most people would be comfortable with, or maybe people from the USA.  Left like Socialist, I'm not talking about an Obama socialist or any other American Socialist.    We're so centric in the States it's not even funny especially in comparison to the rest of the political world. As it's said, some people's heroes are others terrorists... there's a high possibility that this is true in my case…but that soap box is for another day.

Like I said, I'm not going for converting minds over to my side.  The big thing I want to express here is not politics, economic theories, or ideologies.

It's your blood pressure.  Yeah your heart rate, that's what I want to talk about.

Can I make a few assumptions right quick?  Sorry to over generalize, but we are usually extremely passionate and pretty well set in our thoughts. Politics is one of those lovely dichotomizing thoughts, along with light and fluffy topics like sexual preference, religion, abortion, gun rights etc., that should never be brought up around the table where varieties may exist, which is why homo tables are the best, homogeneous in thought that is :).

Get to the point Tracey, get to the point already.

Everything is set in stone.  We have our "TRUTH" and there is no altering, enlightenment, humanizing.  We're on autopilot.  And when I say we, I really mean me.

If you asked about a year ago, I would have probably said yeah, I'm a very open minded guy, but some interesting moments have made me realize the contrary.

So I found this magazine, Letras Libres.  It's by far my favorite read, a Mexican magazine and for any Spanish speakers out there, an absolute must read.  Check out their website, seriously it's some incredible writing. I always pinned the magazine as left and so I expected left ideas, left advice, left critique. As I'm reading this one particular article on gun violence and firearms in the US, and of course I’m expecting a left tone, left ideas, left advice, I'm thrown for a loop.  The criticisms aren't only not pro-left, but much more pro-right and yet I felt in agreement with much of what was stated.  Who let this filth in my magazine of my views and why is it making some sense?

Another moment: One of the guys I'm disciplining/mentoring at the church were chatting it up one day.  Not sure how it came up, we start talking about the Right-wing dictatorship of the 70s and 80s in Chile.  This as well could be another whole blog with branches of thought to get lost in, but let's not go there, at least not right now.  You can imagine where my stance is on this.  His stance and his family stance on the other hand are completely different.  Did I say that I really look up to this young guy?  Because I do.  I admire even more his mom and dad who are pillars in our Church.  So he explains a bit of his point of view and then says he's going to bring me a book.  This book, El Día Decisivo, is the voice of Pinochet, the dictator.  Just to give you a taste of what went on, thousands of people were disappeared, concentration camps, torture, hundreds of people tossed to their Pacific graves with railroad beams solidifying their eternal silencing...  Well I just finished reading El Día Decisivo.  Very very interesting, yes a lot of lies were presented as truth, and again, we don't have time to truly unfold this monster completely.  By no means did it validate or justify his actions.  No, my basic ideas didn't change, but this bit of my understanding has grown.  This man that I once saw as pure evil did at one point seem to have his ducks in a row, very human like, a dad who loved his little girls just like I love my little guy.

So...

What if I could be wrong about my understanding, my side of the reinforced chasm of you and me, us and them?

What if I only feed my thoughts with things, people, article and podcasts that are going to embed my own thoughts that much deeper?

What if I never dare to step out on one of those oh so shunned and looked down upon slippery slopes where answers don't look scantron-ish (remember, those rectangular strips that we took all our major tests on in high school, where the only answers are A. B. C. or D.), but rather complex, difficult and did I say complex?

Better yet,

What if our societies become so entrenched in our ideologies and passions that growth is stunted and we digress all the while thinking we have made great strides by holding strong to our one sidedness?

What if you believe you have one absolute truth and see that as a pass to put everything else in absolute truths as well?

What if we're wrong, you can read into how you like, but what if I am wrong and all non-my thoughts fall on deaf ears, my deaf ears?

There's this verse in the Bible that says I, since I'm a follower of Christ, should be quick to listen, slow anger and slow to speak.  My goodness have I ever twisted and contorted that.  Yeah, I'll listen to and contemplate over someone else’s opinion, as long as I’ve already filtered all the nonsense out, which leaves me in a nice, neat, non-complex box of mirrors.  

So what’s my plan of action to change my ways?  I'm trying to listen and not just the "physical listening" but truly opening my mind to perspectives and ideas that I have often discarded, with much rage and fury at times, that didn't square with me.

In moments, days and years to come I want to –

- be intentional about the increasing the variety of inputs that I'm pouring into my noggin’ (No, this doesn't mean I'm listening to everything but that I'm asking myself, are my inputs truly diversified and enriching my thoughts or simply demonizing the other side while glorifying mine?)
- not have dialogues, days and relationships based off of how right I might be, but rather start with the question, "Is there any itsy-bitsy way in which I could be wrong?
- be quick to listen, slow to anger and really slow to speak.


We’ll see how it goes.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Earthquake

Thanks to everyone who has checked in with us regarding this last earthquake.  It was off the Northern coast, so we did not feel a thing.  Thankfully all the tsunami warnings for the entire coast have been lifted as of this morning, but there were over 900,000 evacuated last night so please keep the country in your prayers!  

Friday, March 28, 2014

Happy Birthday Coen

This kind of gratitude cannot be put into words! 























We love you Coen!  We are thankful to God for your life and that we are able to be your parents.  Happy 1st Birthday!

Friday, February 28, 2014

February Update - A Year Later

I've been meaning to write this blog for about 8 months now :)  It seems appropriate to share it for this month's update, not because it's the month of love, but because it is exactly 1 year after we asked you to pray very specifically for our marriage as we become parents and as we continue working together.

If you missed that, you can watch it here.



At that point we had been living in Chile for about a year and a half and had a month left before we became parents.  Our first year in Chile was rough on our marriage.  Being isolated in the midst of so many external stresses and changes poured a lot of tension between us.  Sharing an 8x8 ft. bedroom in another family's house for 6 months, having the exact same job with no clear job description, and going from an incredible community of friends in Charlotte to 0 friends in Santiago didn't help much either.


Obviously it wasn't all bad, and I'm not trying to be overdramatic.  Just giving the true background.  


So going into those last few months of pre-parental-life, we knew our relationship was about to leap into another huge transition.  This is when we asked you to pray for us.  It's not every day that we can say God answered our prayers exactly the way we wanted Him to.  But this is one of those times, and we want to not only thank God for that, we want to thank every one who took the time to pray for us and our marriage.

Because we have rocked that transition.

It's like, we don't know, something just clicked.  We figured out how to be parents together.  We figured out how to be better coworkers, each individually finding our own roles and relying on each other more.  We have had a lot of outside stresses, but instead of causing tension and division, they have made us a stronger team.  

Fighting the Chilean medical system together

Getting kicked out of our home together and being forced to move.  Again.

Crying together at the airport as we said goodbye to our families

Being those crazy Gringo parents that have weird ways of raising their kid
[Swaddle = "Baby straightjacket" according to Chileans] 


And we have learned so much together...


Raising a kid

Balancing work with family

Running a business effectively

Perfecting "in-house" date nights


Do we always get along?  Of course not.  At the end of the day we are still humans, trying to be more like Jesus, but coming short every time.  We are also very different in a lot of ways, and often don't understand each other :)  And that's ok.  

It has been an amazing year of growth for us as a couple.  Thank you for your love, support, and encouragement to us in this area!





Valentine's Day 2013


Valentine's Day 2014



March Prayer Requests 

1) To find peace and rest in God even though we have so many questions and doubts
2) To find a small group this year
3) Planning Sunday School and House of Hope as the school year begins



For an added bonus, check out Tracey's 30th birthday poem to me that was featured on our friend Laci's blog :)  You can't tell but it's 30 lines, each one added another word until 15 and then back down to 1.  I was impressed!




Thursday, February 27, 2014

Following Jesus = Insane

We were recently at a church service where the pastor actually spoke the words, "Following Jesus is easy…"  

I wanted to jump out of my seat and yell
"LIAR!!!!!  Do not listen to this man!!"

And if there weren't 3,000 other people sitting next to me, I really might have.  

I understand pastors who want to get people in the church doors.  I understand (but wholeheartedly disagree with) wanting to make the Gospel attractive and comfortable so that people will come to know Jesus.  But saying it's an easy road is exactly opposite of what Jesus told us.


Jesus told us that in order to follow him, we have to choose him over all our possessions. 


That we have to choose him over our family.

That we have to choose him over our own lives.  


Not to mention the fact that his disciples spent the rest of the New Testament writing about how they did suffer for Christ, and ultimately they did (literally) sacrifice their own lives for the sake of his Gospel.

So to even insinuate that following Jesus is easy is just flat out heresy.  And is, I believe, what is responsible for producing a lot of "believers" but few "followers" in today's culture.  Kind of like this quote sums up perfectly:


"North American Christianity is 3,000 wide and 1/2 inch deep."
-  J.J. Packer, The Quest for Godliness 

I have been reading a new devotional, "Conversations," by Brian Rice, in which I highly recommend.  A few days ago it asked me to read Philippians 3:7-11 and reflect upon the kind of Christian life I want to experience.  Here's how those verses went in my mind:

"I want to die."  No I don't.  "I want to suffer the way that Jesus did."  No I definitely don't.  Who in their right mind would want to do these things?!"  That is insane and I just don't understand why I should want to want that.  

Devotions done, book closed.

And while there are days I just have to close the Bible and say "I don't get it," the important thing, I have found, is to keep the conversation going.  Maybe not that same day, or even week, just sometime when I can be honest with God about whatever I think.  

Today I realized, Paul was really insane for writing that.  And what makes a person insane?  Being in love.  Paul was that insane because he knew God.  He knew the sacrifices Jesus made for him, and that kind of insane gratitude had to be his response because he actually understood it.  

I can't fathom knowing Christ that well.  It's completely terrifying.

But it does make me realize that since I'm not that insane yet, there's a lot more to God than what I understand right now.  There's a lot more of Him I need to get to know.  There's a lot more room in my life for Him to help me become more like Jesus.        
   

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Observing Ourselves

For our next video update we will be including a lot of clips from past videos, so I have been skimming over the last 3 years (wow) of footage today.  It has been really fun to look back at how much has changed, how much we've changed, the ideas we used to have and how they are panning out in our present reality.

A few things I have noticed through observing ourselves/our life in these videos:

1)  We always talk about the weather.  

2)  Winter does not look cold in the videos.  But I promise you... 

3)  We had so much more energy before we were parents :)

4)  Our perspective on missions has changed drastically.

5)  Chile is beautiful.  More beautiful than we could have ever imagined.  

6)  We seem like we have a really awesome life.  Which, we do... but there is so much of our hardship, pain, and struggles that definitely does not come through these videos.  Still trying to figure out ways to be more real in that aspect. 

7) I'm pretty sure I say "Hey guys!" about a million times.

8) Our Spanish has gotten waaaaayyy better since August of 2011!  Praise God. 

9) Looking back at how we talked in the beginning confirms that we are feeling kind of burnt out in a lot of ways right now.

10) Coen isn't even a year old and I can't remember him as small as he is in our April video.

Sometimes, (more often as time goes on,) I think about how weird it is to have a video update of our life each month.  But it's time like these that make me thankful for the ability to "observe" ourselves from the outside, remember all the good and bad of the last few years, and remember how faithful God has been to us in our life in the south!