Crash. Shatter. The sweet ornament my three student missionaries had given to us last year had toppled to the tile floor. “Adopted with Love”, with each of their names personally inscribed had not even hung for 5 minutes in the small synthetic tree. The unforgiving tile floor. Claimer of dozens of glass cups over the years and other pottery/porcelain like items. Usually falls resulting in no second chances. No redemption. Most of the time it doesn’t bother me at all. Other than the risk, mess, and time to clean up countless pieces of shards of glass. Almost all the homes here in Indonesia are tile at best. Some are cement, others are dirt and a few are bamboo or other wood. The tile is cool and easy to clean, but it does not give way to falling glass.
Jacob and Nathaniel had decorated for Christmas while Darron and I were away in Australia. We had left them home alone for 8 days. Well not really alone, but really. I mean they had many “Aunts and Uncles” taking them to school and bringing them home. They had dear Wendy, who prepared fresh veggies for them daily and whom they checked in with. The freezer was stocked with pre made entree’s. The too do check lists were hung on doors. They had internet access on one phone to “What’s App” with us. I felt a bit insane as we left them. They felt grown up. The beautiful thing is, they succeeded. But they had forgotten about the new ornament, tucked away in a safe place. I couldn’t wait to bring it out……..
Australia. A country on our bucket list since living right above it for over six years. To be this close and not EXPERIENCE Australia would be _____________ (I can think of a million adjectives: sad, disappointing, a waste….). So imagine my surprise and disbelief when a long time friend asked if I would like to attend a Women’s Retreat in Australia, with my airplane ticket included. Would I????! I wanted to go to First World Australia. No mind about attending a retreat also. Have mercy. It all seemed too lavish. Too much. Too expensive. I could imagine it for others, but for me???! Yes. For Ruth. The church board approved this idea and sponsored me. Even better, Darron was able to come along and meet with many church leaders and members to promote the work here in Papua. Post retreat we were able to do several of these visits together. Casting the vision for what is happening on the Island right above them. Also we were able to spend a little time exploring a new country together.
Australia was gorgeous and many times breath taking. We were delighted with all the beaches and bushwalks that surrounded even the city, Sydney. At the retreat location is was steep cliffs, with stunning blue clear ocean in the distance. Imagine 4 days in this setting with 320 women. For me, it was perfect. I learned and took away so much from this retreat called, “Captivating” (many of you will recognize the title, “Wild at Heart” for men. This is the women’s version from Ransomed Heart ministry).
One of the many take home messages for me was that every woman desires and has an irreplaceable role. I really had to wrestle with that. I can see how every woman is “irreplaceable” as a wife and a mother…….and for many of us that is enough and that is wide and deep. Yet we were challenged to think that it goes beyond that. Specifically that God has a irreplaceable purpose for each one of us. The sooner we start believing and living that way, the more gorgeous our impact. Yet for each of us it is different.
I love what G.K. Chesterton wrote, “How can it be a large career to tell other people’s children about the Rule of Three, and a small career to tell one’s own children about the universe? How can it be broad to be the same thing to everyone and narrow to be everything to someone? No, a woman’s function is laborious, but because it is gigantic, not because it is minute. (What’s Wrong with the World)
This week I have spent snatches of minutes here and there, gluing back the treasured ornament. This is not like me. Usually I am fast to let go of broken things and dispose of them. Perhaps it is because this ornament represents something much bigger to me. It represents three girls who wove their irreplaceable lives into ours. I’ve reached a point where the pottery shards are so tiny that I can no longer figure out how to fill in the last little hole. Reinforcing to me one of the beautiful treasures I gleaned while in Australia. We all have irreplaceable value. Even shards of glass in a broken ornament. Let’s recognize it and live like it. I am of irreplaceable value. I have things to do for God, that only I can do and so do you.
I plan to keep this broken and incomplete Christmas ornament to remind me of the irreplaceable value each of us have. Recognizing that from small streams comes great waters. It also displays another beautiful message: That God can use us despite our flaws, our brokenness and our imperfections.
A special thanks to a friend and a church who chose to give me a life changing gift. Also to a sweet Savior, whom I am just smitten by! Merry Christmas.
These pictures are at the retreat center. They had a room set up just for the ladies to be silent and worship. It was so inviting, but so was the outdoors. And the birds!!?! Darron saw many new “lifers”.
These were some of our fun walks in between “work”. Gorgeous.
Darron outside of the Division office. Darron’s cousin and his lovely wife.
They were so kind to host Darron and then both of us on our last night in Oz!
And finally the three girls with IRREPLACEABLE Value!