K and her new photo-face on Pikes Peak, Colorado
Well, we just got back to Spain a couple weeks ago after spending the summer in the USA. The last time we were home – in 2013 – Pilgrim House wasn’t open yet. This time around it was, so it was great to see so many supporters and friends and actually share what Pilgrim House looked like now and stories of pilgrims we’d met over the past two years.
One surprising thing was how hard it was for me to leave the US this time. During this visit, I realized how sad it was to not regularly share life with our parents, relatives, and good friends. When we only see them every couple years, it’s great and we make special memories, but the more that time goes by (9 years now!), the more I feel the loss of being able to share milestones and go deeper with each other on a regular basis.
And then while we were home we had to update our wills, since the last wills we did were ten years old and only included two kids instead of four. Our lawyer in Maryland looked at our old wills and said, “Well, if one of you outlived the other one, this would be fine, but if both of you ever died at the same time this would be a disaster!!” Then his office rushed and put together a new will and estate plan (not that we have tons of stuff, but of course whatever is there we want to go to all the kids, not just two). All of this serious thinking about what would happen to the kids if we both died, how things would go in Spanish court and US court, and what life would look like for them and how they would be provided for was a bit emotionally crazy!
We signed the papers for the new wills on a Friday, and then we flew back to Spain the following Monday. I had death on the brain that entire weekend. The kids surviving without parents and needing to live with their guardians seemed so immediate those few days. It was a nice relief to land on the tarmac in Santiago without any mishaps and know that the plan we had so carefully executed with our lawyer wouldn’t have to be enacted in September of 2016.
Then, 8 days after we landed, I got into a car accident. Thankfully, K, M, and I were fine, and the other driver was fine. But our car’s whole left side was damaged when the Correos truck slid into and then stuck completely to our car:
The truck sheared off our side mirror as it dented in both doors on the driver’s side. Shortly afterward, when the police came and had the truck pull away so the two of us weren’t blocking traffic anymore, the truck couldn’t break away cleanly and ended up tearing off our front bumper with an enormous ripping sound and crash. It was nuts. And also a little hilarious because, as you know, all Correos vehicles are painted yellow and now our black car was all yellow on one side. But I was grateful for kind police officers and then our insurance company who literally took care of everything.
So our goodbye to America and re-entry into Spain over the last month has encompassed a range of emotions, complications, and good things. As always, though, seeing everyone in the US, catching up, sharing about Pilgrim House, and enjoying some of our favorite American things was worth it. It will be interesting to see how our next US trip and re-entry into Spain will be. After all, you can only get hit by a Correos truck once, right?
The longer we go in this journey of working in Pilgrim House, the more we realize how inadequate words are sometimes to describe how meaningful the Camino experience can be. With this in mind, our friends Andrew and Marianne Nicodem created a video of the deeper aspects of going on pilgrimage on the Camino. If you’re interested, you can watch it here at the Pilgrim House website. Enjoy!
Back on October 29, we moved from our great rental apartment into a new townhouse. It’s been a wonderful change for our family to have one more bedroom, a backyard, and a garage now.
We also have a mortgage now with a Spanish bank – and getting that was an adventure as well.
One huge drawback, though, was that for six months we didn’t have internet at home. Apparently the builder had never connected the internet cables from the street to the utilities box in front of our home, and we would eventually have to tunnel through a meter of concrete to get it all set up. “We” being our contractor friend Martin, who had also put in all of our lighting, painted the interior, fixed our defective window blinds, set up the plumbing for our washer and dryer, and patiently waited during all of these tasks as we fastidiously weighed all of the options and slowly made decisions. (I told him one day – he’s a pastor as well as a contractor – “Martin, I’m so glad God led us to you. You’ve been such a blessing to our family!” To which he paused and then laughed a bit unconvincingly. Not sure he feels the same about us, ha!)
Anyway, we were in survival mode from November through April, and now we’re finally starting to come out of it and have energy for things that we left behind in October. Blogging was one thing that totally fell by the wayside while we settled into the new house, but I have more energy now as well as more things that I just have to share with you all, being an extrovert and all (must share! Must share!!). The addition of internet and wifi into our home back in April also helped. So…here we go again!
Two weeks late, we started Advent readings as a family to prepare our hearts for Christmas. The first readings were all from the Old Testament, and at first I had a bad attitude, thinking, Why are all of these readings from the OT? When can we get to Jesus?!
Then it hit me – the people in the OT were all waiting. The prophecies about the coming Messiah were there to encourage them to wait expectantly, but they’d seen no one yet to fit the descriptions. It was just waiting, and waiting…and waiting.
Then one night Jesus was born, and suddenly the world was on the other side of all the waiting. The Messiah, the One who had a rescue plan for all of us, was here. Hello from the other side! How fortunate are we to no longer be waiting for the Messiah to come! We know how He was born, how He lived, how He died, and how He rose again. We have the privilege of reading the old prophecies as well as seeing how Jesus fulfilled them. If I reflect on how things were before Jesus was born, the Old Testament readings don’t seem as boring and obscure then; rather they set the stage for what was to come that one holy night.
This painting by Ron DiCianni, called Simeon’s Moment, shows the joy Simeon probably experienced when he held baby Jesus for the first time. Now there was someone who had been waiting, but who got to see the Messiah in person. The story is found in Luke 2:25 – 34. May the painting bless you as well this Christmas season:
I’ve been telling everyone who will listen that I just turned 40 a couple months ago. My friend Jeff C. turned 40 recently, too, and blogged about it. Since I’m always prone to suggestion, I thought it was a good idea and decided to jot down the top 10 lessons the Lord’s been teaching me these past 40 years. (Doing so will ward off feelings of sadness that my reflexes really aren’t what they used to be, as playing Egyptian Ratscrew with six slap-happy 20-somethings last night really didn’t help me feel any younger…)
1. I wish I had listened and actually put on more sunscreen when I was younger.
2. Classics are classics for a reason, and it’s fun to find out why.
3. Related to #2, it’s so edifying to read a book by a gifted writer, sit under the teaching of a gifted teacher, listen to a gifted musician, see the craft of a gifted chef/artist/actor/athlete/workman, and use the systems created by a gifted administrator. Instead of being jealous (my natural tendency), over time I’ve realized it’s a privilege to experience something from someone whose giftedness has been developed into expertise.
4. Our friends, Woody and Su, shared a conversation Su once had with her mentor, Win. “You need to have high goals for your marriage,” Win said. When Su asked Win what her own goals were, Win replied, “To abolish all selfishness in my life.” Wow! Judging from our first 16 years of marriage, this goal will take the rest of my life and beyond to realize.
5. Sometimes we’ve had to learn the hard way, but I love that God knows exactly what He’s doing. “Be still and know that I am God” has been proved over and over these past 20 years.
6. Related to #5: Waiting is unspectacular, but I need to honor the process. In many, many important things there’s a process. I’m not a process person so I usually seriously despise and loathe all tedious details. But if we’re willing to submit to the process and go through the steps, we have a solid product/ outcome/ infrastructure built at the end of it all.
7. Related to #6: I’m still learning to respect God’s limits. For example, the Lord ordained a rest day once day a week and created our bodies to need sleep – those are both limits. We have young kids and can’t stay out late at night all the time because they have to sleep – that’s also a limit. The laws where we live also provide limits. A lot of times I want to cram my life full of stuff and do everything, or I start entertaining thoughts of cutting corners. But if I respect the limits that exist I have more margin and balance, and my faith is increased because I see how God provides.
8. I have a half-baked theory: the older people get, the more intensely they become themselves. When I’m 75, will I be a more intense version of a self-centered, impatient person who’s critical of everyone (my weaknesses)? Or will I be wiser, more friendly, and more gracious? I hope I’m the latter – but then I need to make good decisions every day and ask for a LOT of help from the Lord to help me love others well.
9. Very closely related to #8: In recent years four things have become more important: pursuing time with Jesus, pursuing maturity, pursuing wisdom, and learning how to love others well.
10. The more I read about Jesus, the more it’s striking how he fit in everywhere with all different people. He actually liked people. Sometimes I think God loves me because he’s supposed to, since he created me and loves everyone. It’s harder to think that he likes me, since I know how bratty, self-absorbed, or highly inappropriate I can be. I once heard you could paint a picture for your kids (and yourself) and say, “What does God think when he looks at you? He smiles and says, ‘That’s my (insert your name)!'” How rarely I think he enjoys me like that – but the Bible says he delights in us. He not only loves us but he really actually likes us. Beth Moore’s book, Jesus, the One and Only, has been a great read these past couple of months that’s reminded me of his heart toward us.
And that’s it! Thanks for reading. I feel better about myself now. So what if I’m the first one eliminated from Egyptian Ratscrew (although, I keep talking about it so maybe I really do care) when I can recount all these great lessons! :)
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