Sunday, September 6, 2015

Three years ago, we left on the 4th, skipped the 5th, and arrived September 6th in Christchurch. Technically, it was yesterday if you consider time change and all that business. I remember feeling excited, adventurous, full of hope and possibility.

I am notorious for romanticizing an experience after-the-fact, of attempting to assign meaning to even the difficult, so I want to be careful. Even if the moving to New Zealand was good, it also required leaving. With time, that moment became harder -- I didn't know hugging my father-in-law at the airport would be the last time.

I wish I could tell you that the choice to live out nudges from God is immediately rewarding -- it might be but it also might be really difficult. Regardless I'm learning that the reward or harvest is not really the point. The lesson is the living out, becoming thoughtful and aware to wherever the path leads, whether we have little control or complete freedom in where it goes. The journey, in itself, is so important, maybe more than the end.

New Zealand was for me, and still is, a place of learning, a place of believing, a place of letting go. I find myself still realizing ways it changed me. I still find myself rooting for the people I loved and even for those who were difficult. I still pray, letting go of my ability to control, trusting the Spirit to be moving.

Even now, when my heart feels drawn to the people and places I miss -- it was worth it. Even now, as I readjust to this change in path and rediscovering something different -- it was worth it. I believe in the need and power of God's love -- in all things and seasons and places. That's why we went to New Zealand and hoped to give. And that's what we gained, a deeper understanding of his love. It's not finished, it's still playing out as we walk with God.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

We did it, four weeks between Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam. The world feels so small and big simultaneously. I am deeply aware of how overly privileged I am, not everyone gets this opportunity. Like Sao in this photo, my favorite tour guide, who might never visit anywhere beyond her own village. She has never attended school, taught herself English by speaking with tourists, has climbed Mount Fansipan four times, she's incredible. Traveling makes me feel such a responsibility to the world. I'm still wrestling and processing how this experience has or should change me, but more importantly how that can help me give back to others.

For now, all I can say is thank you to the beautiful places and kind people in these countries.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Many goodbyes this past week: work, friends, our church and city. As we left the South Island on the ferry, Picton grew smaller until it disappeared. It just fit. The last two and half years have been a mix of blue skies and grey clouds, it's been beautiful and an hono(u)r to call New Zealand home. The people who have loved us faithfully through beginnings and now leaving, I can't thank you enough.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

mt fyffe

We woke early Friday morning and started our two hour drive. Arrived to Kaikoura, pleasantly surprised to find the mountains dusted with snow. Being a holiday weekend, we thought the track would be busy, but found ourselves first to the hut. Alone to rest, read, reflect. The clouds started to clear in the afternoon so we approached the summit. One thousand six hundred and two meters to the tippy top.

Back to the hut, we drank tea, Logan chopped firewood, made dinner. Acquainted ourselves with our roommates for the evening. Originating from Barcelona, Channel Islands, Malaysia, Netherlands, to name a few. Logan and I may have been the only two from the same country. We shared chocolate and exchanged stories, warmed by the fire as the clouds and rain approached, then quieting ourselves to bed, giving our muscles and joints much needed rest.

I woke up freezing, the fire out, moved from my bunk to Logan's in hope of some warmth. The hut in a cloud, no sight of a sunrise. Eventually the clouds cleared, the mountains with new snow, the sun brighter and warmer than the day prior, making a pleasant descent.

This next season is going to be full, busy and different, good and hard. I know we will need to seek similar moments of solitude and rest. I came across a line in my book, seems fitting of our time on the mountain, but also a prayer for the coming months: "Humble joy. Extant gratitude. Active hope. Patient waiting" (Michael Yankoski, The Sacred Year).

Sunday, February 1, 2015

"'This attentiveness to the wind becomes the main task---no, that's not the right word---the main art of sailing. We must both attend to the wind and then respond to whatever it is that the wind is doing. We trim our sails, adjust our course, somethings we even exchange one sail for another---whatever it takes so as to be in the most receptive place given what the wind is doing. Our attentiveness to the wind allows the wind to move us.'

Father Solomon was smiling as he spoke. 'And---if you'll indulge me for a moment---this metaphor becomes all the more fascinating given that in Jesus' time there was only a single word for 'breath,' 'wind,' and 'spirit,' 'The Spirit of God,' 'The Breath of God,' and 'The Wind of God' are all accurate translations of a common New Testament phrase, a phrase that basically means Get Ready: God is up to something!'"

(Michael Yankoski, The Sacred Year)

Saturday, January 10, 2015

ten days late

Maybe we went to bed before 9pm on New Years Eve, but that day was really cold and very wet. I mean, we took the flood route around Earland Falls and still came out soaking. But the next day was perfect, clouds clearing, the sun reappeared. As we walked along the ridge to Harris Saddle, I could not get over this was the first day of 2015.

2014 was hard, a different kind of difficult to 2013. Our hearts hurt as we lived out the reality of a year without Ross, only to be rebroken by the death of our closest friend's son Oak. Going home to be with Mark and Lauren was one of the most important and meaningful decision we made in 2014. Then on the way to the airport before getting on a plane back to New Zealand, I heard of the death of Shannon, a dear friend's mom. As I prayed for Colleen and Kevin, my heart crumbled over their second loss within two months. Both of their moms died from cancer.

I would love to say 2015 will be different. If it is, it won't be because something tragic or difficult doesn't happen. No, it will be different as I continue to learn to surrender, so that I can trust and know God. This posture brings to light a different reality, one that does not allow circumstances to determine or reflect God's presence or care for me, for my friends, for my family.

'Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.' (1 Peter 5:6-7)

This year I want to let go and trust. I want to live not out of fear of the unknown.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

"In this the love of God was made manifest among us,
that God sent his only Son into the world,
so that we might live through him.
In this is love, not that we have loved God
but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.

We love because he first loved us."

(1 John 4:9-11, 19 ESV)

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Father God,

Almighty God, you are a great and awesome God.  You are worthy of our praise and service.  You are sovereign of all domains.  But yet you care about each one of us.  You are filled with compassion.  You want the best for us.  You want us to follow you with our whole heart.

Father, thank you for loving my family even more than I love them.  Thank you for watching over them and caring for them even when they are far away from me.  Thank you for giving them even better gifts than I could give them.  Father, I would ask that you show your favor to them.  Be gracious to them.  Show them your faithfulness.  Show them your powerful hand at work.

Father, do not let them go.  Allow them to walk in the light as you are in the light.  Illuminate their minds so they can see you in their science, so they can see you in their churches, so they can see you in their relationships.  Mold them and shape them into the people you want them to be.


written by Ross Hoffman on August 13, 2013
photo by Jolie Leonard