Thursday, May 18, 2017

A Tribute to Missionary Mamas

We had been in Honduras for a few months, when I decided to wonder off in the crowded San Pedro Sula market to “look for care bears.” I was three years old, but I still remember my mother’s frantic expression, running through the rows of vendors, with my older sister in tow. “Busca mi nina,” she called over and over in her broken Spanish. She was sweating, half-crazed, and crying when she swooped me into her arms, shouting, “never do that again.”
A lost child is every parent’s nightmare. A lost child in a foreign country, in which you don’t know the language, the infrastructure, or the people is doubly frightening. But that was my mom’s life. She made a commitment to raise her children in a strange land. A land where we were frequently lost and confused. A land where we stood in lines for hours, and were always worried about these strange things called “visas.” A land where we were often stared at, teased, or even pinched. And she did all this, made this strange commitment (that very few people in her family understood), because she loved the Lord. And the Lord told her and Dad to go. So, we all went.
My mother’s experience in the mid-eighties in Honduras is not an isolated one. There are mothers throughout the generations who have been bringing their children and families to strange lands going back to the days of Sarah and Abraham. Mothers are doing it still and since this article is posted just in time for Mother’s Day, I simply want to say: I admire you. Raising your children in a cross-cultural context for the sake of Christ is a hard, radical act of love.
Strong words I know, but I am missionary kid and I have been around missionary families my whole life. Currently, my sister is raising my niece and nephew in Malaysia. Furthermore, I had the chance to speak with many missionary mothers, as I wrote and prayed about these words and I heard their struggles. The weird food, the sunburns, the centipedes in the backyard, the strange germs. Constantly getting lost and trying to learn a language. Worrying that your child is the only dark kid, or the only light kid in the room. Worrying that your child is called “gringa,” “khawajah,” “querra,” or “muzungu.” Not having access to things like soccer camp, swim lessons, or the latest toys from Target. Concern that your child is missing their grandparents or the midwestern town with the cul-de-sac. Not to mention, the many people who warned you that raising your child in Ethiopia or Singapore was a completely crazy idea. And of course, there were all the moments you secretly wondered the same thing. What if your child got hurt, would the ambulance come in time? Would you be able to find the specialist you need for their issue? What if your house gets broken into again? The fear, the guilt, that often comes with your unique, wonderful call.
And here, I have one last thought for the missionary mama (and really the missionary family). “Your” call was not yours. It was God’s call on your life and thanks be to God you responded with a willing heart. When we are living God’s will, goodness and love follows. And the many challenges of the cross-cultural life will work together not only for your good, but the good of your children. Take it from St. Paul, “We know that in everything God works for good with those who love him, who were called according to his purpose,” (Rom 8:28).
Or, you can take it from me personally. Being a missionary kid was tough, but oh has it blessed my life! It gave me a perspective and experience I wouldn’t change for anything. It made me a life-long lover of language, culture, and the rich beauty and diversity of God’s amazing people. Most of my or my sister’s adult work in some way stems back from being third culture kids. My sister who was repeatedly called “gringa fea” by classmates (because kids can be mean in every culture) now holds a Ph.D in Latin American history and did all her doctoral work in Spanish. Hmm…did God use her third culture experience for ultimate good? I think he did!
And did you know that being the only white kid in the room will bless your child with a call to work for racial justice? And the whole time you were waiting for that visa to come through your child was learning to trust God too? And when you worried about your family’s health or security they saw “mommy praying on her knees,” and learned God was their steadfast help. Those cross-cultural experiences formed you and your child into a more loving, compassionate, and tight-knit family. For God is in the business of constantly turning our greatest weaknesses, fears, and insecurities into strengths.
And just as little side note, soccer and cul-de-sacs are great but so are trips to coast of Mauritius or the historical sites of Cambodia. I mean your kid might get to climb a volcano or see Macho Picchu. How cool is that? Please have your children call me when they grow up so we can discuss how awesome it is to be third culture kids.
Missionary mama – I salute you. You are doing real Gospel work. It’s not easy (it’s downright tough), but from my perspective it’s pretty glorious.
Lord Jesus, thank you for all the families who are committed to this radical call to love all people from all nations. Thank you for the holy sacrifices they make for the call you placed on their life. May you strengthen, protect, fortify, and bless them that they may be a beautiful light to all nations.

Your sister in the faith,

Lilly Sanders Ubbens

Thursday, April 28, 2016

A Book, a Rest, and Changes to Come

It's been awhile hasn't it? Far too long. I have been at work with the publication and promotion of our book God's Refugee. Things really got started after it won first place in non-fiction at Florida Christian Writer's Conference and has not stopped since then. John (who is the book's subject) has been busy with a tour garnering support for his seminary, Good Shepherd College and Seminary, and getting to speak a lot about the book, from coffee shops, newspapers, and even some great radio press. God has really been behind him and it is wonderful to see.

I was so shocked at our first reading to feel so much love and connection with our readers. I thought it would be super awkward and feel very "promotional"- yuck, but just the opposite was true. It felt joyful to get to share with others.

I have also had some much needed down time with my husband and children after so many writing deadlines. Although I still write daily, there is no pressing time-frame, which is a wonderful change.

Lastly, I have been reflecting on future projects, praying, writing and seeing what God has in store, but I believe some changes to the old blog are in order. I began this blog with no clear focus or direction and that ambiguity has remained. Truthfully, I began this blog because I felt pushed (from no one in particular) to create platform for God's Refugee. I think this pressure has surfaced in the writing. Writing for the sake of platform is a terrible dark road - never go down it.
Thanks be to God, I have lately felt called to write (and yes, even blog) with greater integrity, courage, and authenticity. I am working on some ideas, which I hope will be ready at the moment they need to be. Not much else to say, but more to come.
I hope everyone who stumbles upon this little post, in this little corner of the internet is richly blessed and if we are not friends already, I hope we get to become so soon.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Latest Awesome Read: The Last Ride

I love young adult and teen fiction books. Some of my favorite novels fall into this category. I'm always looking for spirited and fun female protagonists. Scout, Jo March, Christy, and Ann of Green Gables - these ladies all encouraged me to read and to write.
I recently finished Susan K. Marlow's, The Last Ride, and I was introduced to another great character, Andrea Carter, who lives in the 1880's on big cattle ranch in Fresno. In The Last Ride Andi learns of a deadly secret, one that has serious consequences to her life. Through her experiences with her cousin, she learns to let go of resentment and move toward forgiveness.
As a mentor to middle grade girls, this type of book is exactly what I'm looking for and as a bonus, enjoy reading. I'd like to read the whole series. If you are a fan of Little House on the Prairie, you'll like this book too
Also, as a writer and reader I'm beginning to see how important a cover of a book is. It communicates so much. I think this cover perfectly suits its book.
I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend and is reading something good. You know I also need book suggestions. Send them my way.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Down with Perfectionism

I'm a perfectionist and it really sucks. I always want a clean home, nutritious meals, wonderful family time, better writing, quality time with Bo, and fruitful ministry. Trying to keep all this perfect wears a person down. Do you share this struggle?
Where is the room for God's grace? His tender mercy and love? How can God protect and defend you if you're trying so desperately to do it yourself? Our hands are so full juggling, we're never open to receive from him.
Perfection is boring. It doesn't exist. I'm so over it and I hope you are too.
Every day I tell my son and daughter, it's okay to make mistakes. Mistakes happen. Mistakes just give us the chance to love each other with more grace. God loves you even when you fail.
Mistakes and failures, God can work with. He loves to redeem our failures. If you have failed recently, thank God for his grace, let him love, forgive, and set you free.
This blog is so not perfect. I have all these great ideas, but it's always in progress. Ahhh, oh well. I'm going to sign off with an imperfect post with no glossy photos.
Have a beautiful weekend. You are more than loved then you could scarcely fathom.
Peace, your imperfect sister in the faith.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Woman of Faith I admire - Mrs. Krista Bump

John, Krista, and their lovely children
Here on the ol' blog, I'd like to feature some of the amazing Christian women that inspire, encourage, and uplift me to follow Jesus and love others without fear, but rather, with simple, wholehearted devotion.
Krista is one of these women. She and her husband, John, have two biological children, five adopted, and have fostered fifty children.
When I last visited her, she had just adopted her last child, a beautiful baby girl, Valayeh. I noticed how sweet these two were together. Everywhere Krista moved Valayeh followed her with her eyes. She often stretched out her arms to Krista wanting to be held. It was like the sun rose and moon set with Krista. Love is a powerful force. Were all desperate for it and this little girl was finally, getting her fill.
Valayeh has fetal alcholol syndrome. When Krista stood with the doctor discussing her future he outlined some pretty bleak facts, but concluded saying, "but I think overall, she'll be okay." Krista responded, "Even if she never walks, she'll be a treasure, because Jesus loves her." He was taken aback. That's fearless devotion.
I'm telling you friends, if more mothers had the strength and courage to love their children like that, this earth would be transformed.
As Krista and I were chatting she held Valayeh in her arms.
"God knew what he was doing giving me this girl," she said.
"I know," I said, "He wanted to bless and shower her with love." Krista smiled and said,
"I was actually thinking he wanted to bless me with her." That is simple, loving devotion.
How does Krista do what she does? How is all this possible? The fearless, loving devotion of Christ. He showers us with his love, so were able to pour it out on others. The love we give reflects the love we have received