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Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Life Update and Thoughts

I am finally putting off the housework in a rare moment, that baby Charlotte is sleeping and Sicily and Olivia have gone to check on Grandma’s animals, to get some thoughts down and I figure, why not restart this blog which many of you have encouraged us through in the past!?  
So quick update to kind of get us caught up (more or less because who knows how much time I have until the little one wakes up!).  We have been living in Oregon for two years now since we moved back from Honduras.  Ira has been back at his Engineering job at Maxim on top of starting a non-profit (www.leadershipmissioninternational) and running everything state-side (volunteers, finances, etc.) for The Leadership Center in Honduras.  We welcomed Charlotte Rose into our family last summer and she just turned 1on August 12th.  Olivia finished first grade last year (and loved it!), she just turned 7 and is excited to get back to school with her friends for 2nd grade starting tomorrow!  Sicily, let’s be honest, had a rough adjustment to the states and then suffered from some health issues for which she had ear/nose/throat surgery a few months ago.  She is doing much better now and she has taught me a lot.  I have been doing my best to take care of our family and our home, which takes essentially ALL of my time, yet I keep wondering what else am I supposed to be doing right now and experiencing the emotions of those thoughts like… “Am I doing this right? Am I doing too much?  Am I doing too little?  Should I go back to work, or school? How can I be more intentional about taking care of my family? Should we move back to Honduras?”…and the list goes on.  All of these thoughts, the mixed emotions, confusion and lack of direction have lead me into deeper thinking, prayer and deeper conversations with Ira…and also to the purpose of writing this blog.  

I live to serve God, my husband and my family as together we work to see many who are currently living in poverty and injustice come to experience a better life.  

I need to know where I stand, God needs to know where I stand and my family, friends and community need to know where I stand on my life mission (Or maybe you don't but I’m going to tell you anyways :)  I want to write about it, talk about it, pray about it more in order to solidify this sense of direction to my life.  I do not want to be a wish blown to the wind, I want to stand solid for God, for my family, for my world and even for myself knowing that I am moving toward righteousness, I am making a difference and I am living for what God spoke into my life as early as when he created me.  There are too many distractions in this world, I need to have focus and live intentionally each day knowing what I am striving for… seriously cleaning up 8 spills in a row will make you focus on the floor, forgetting that you are giving love to your children, your husband and even yourself, providing a clean environment for everyone to work, grow and thrive in.  (side thought…perhaps I could spend this extra time on my knees also talking to God…AAHHH insert my overwhelmingly functional/ “2 birds killed with one stone” quality)

Right now our hopes, dreams, mission is encapsulated by a group of amazing young women in Honduras.  We have taught, advocated for and befriended these girls as we welcomed them to Leadership Center.  We strive to empower these motivated high school graduates to become the next generation of Honduran leaders who can deliver their country out of the cyclical poverty in which it currently sits.  To take more from what Ira has already written (on our website listed above), “We offer a 3 year Business Leadership Degree to young women who could otherwise not afford a college education. Our program will teach 3 primary areas to each graduate; Leadership, Business and English. This will provide them with the necessary skills to succeed in Honduras' difficult economic environment. It is our hope that our graduates will use their skills and businesses to enrich their lives, but also to enrich their local communities and country.”  Along with caring for our family, friends and community here in Oregon our focus is on changing lives in Honduras.  But our vision goes far beyond this.  The success of the women at Leadership Center encourages us that this type of opportunity for education and character development can be replicated, we hope to see many more schools opened in Central America and beyond, and thus many more lives changed and countries relieved from poverty and injustice (…AHEM… let’s open one in Africa!…haha you know I can’t wait to get back there!)   

Our focus on college aged students in Honduras and my experience watching my sister-in-law and her friends here in Oregon graduate from high school and function in a bigger world has lead me to think a lot about our years in high school and college.  The ways we are still growing.  This is an intense period of character growth as we desire to establish ourselves in a big world.  
As we get older we are still changing, adding and possibly subtracting from our repertoire of talents and missions.   If we have some strong character development and skill training during these years there is great opportunity to “get off on the right foot” or perhaps at least feel confident that we are going in some sort of desirable direction.  The girls at LC and those we have not met yet at future schools are in this awesome development period.  It has been incredible to see the girls at LC grow and learn and develop a confidence in themselves and their goals and dreams.   (I went way off course at this point and started stream of thought writing about what I have learned about helping young adults versus providing food, housing, edu for young children…but too much info, I am getting overwhelmed and you are probably thinking is this a blog or a book?!…maybe save that discussion for my next post, hopefully less than two years from now ;)

That said, even after these years we can be thrown “off course.”  I put this in parentheses because in our minds perhaps we are off course but…who is to say we are really?  Good things can come from straying off our original life plan.  We can grow in ways we never imagined and grow closer in relationship with our God as we seek his direction each step in a wilderness unimagined before. 

For me I was so sure at the end of high school that I wanted to go to Boston University, get the best education in International Relations possible and perhaps become a translator or humanitarian aid worker with the UN (or some other reputable organization).  It turns out I only completed two years at BU before moving cross country to Portland, meeting the man of my dreams (even if I didn't know it at the time ;), becoming a mother, and finishing (my now not so significant) degree in International Studies at Portland State University.  I worked several small jobs and learned about being a wife and a homemaker before welcoming our second daughter and then promptly moving to Honduras to start a school for underprivileged women.  This, I could see was a great work of growing Ira and I together and with God as our dreams, talents, life missions merged closer.  I praised God so often (and still do) that God brought certain unity to our relationship: growing my love, understanding and respect for family (a gift Ira always had) and instilled a passion in Ira for helping people living in poverty and injustice (a passions I prayed he would join me in :).

I stumbled upon an article about successful leaders as I waited for my babies to wake up from their nap in the stroller and some of the points have stuck with me.  For one, the article urged me to do what I am good at.  Recognize talents and then work to improve even more on those things.  This seems reasonable but does it mean we shouldn't learn to do new things?  I guess we could choose to try new things that also draw on some of our more natural skills.
I decided a few months ago to start my own little business selling wine.  It is a direct selling job that involves a lot of public speaking and asking things of people, two things of which I am not super fond of (nor good at) so several times over the last couple months I have thought, what the heck was I thinking getting into this?  Why would I try something so off my radar of natural abilities.  I do thrive being around a lot of different people and I like feeling that I am able to contribute financially for my family (no matter how small…which is what this business certainly is right now :)  But also, I wonder, can this little venture be preparing me to learn how to talk about my big mission in life, the calling on my family to travel on mission teaching, inspiring, growing others who do not have the opportunity or skills to start a small business or stand in front of others and speak their dreams for their families and their communities?  

Still I struggle to find where I fit in. These beautiful little girls, this inspiring husband, this housework…it seems to take all of my time.  But this passion too for those affected by poverty and injustice cannot be quelled.  It keeps burning inside pushing me to do something about it, I have to find a way.
Ira and I know that our ability to live out our mission that God has instilled in our hearts and our lives depends on Him bringing others along side us.  We know God is urging us to continue fighting for his people in this way of raising up ethical leaders who will in turn help their families and their communities. 

Please pray for us and share your thoughts.  Should we move back to Honduras? Should we begin raising funds to start another school? Should Ira quit his job and try to start a business that might provide enough for us to live on but allow freedom to travel back and forth? Will you stand by us while we commit to pray together for direction?