Thursday, October 9, 2008

Seeking Solitude

Dear Family and Friends,

It is good to write to you again today. I’ve missed you! Perhaps you’ve wondered about what happened to us as well!

The past 12 days we traveled to MI and then to Ohio speaking to small groups, churches, and schools. We have been once again surrounded by family and friends who are warm and supportive of us. We are very blessed. We did spend much of our time away just resting and taking a step back from the whirlwind of the past few months. We are now back in Iowa where we will be until we leave for Nicaragua at the end of the month. We plan to have plane tickets by the end of this week.


Preparing to arrive on the mission field is somewhat of a surreal experience. Most of the time, I’m not sure about what I feel or think about what we are doing. I simply know that we are called to go and that the God who called us is a trustworthy God.

I’ve been thinking about Jesus and how He too was sent by His trustworthy Father to a mission field – earth. As I read the book of Mark at this time, I am recording in my journal how Jesus engaged with and interacted with the people of His mission field. I’m also recording how these people reacted to Him. I am learning so much about who Jesus is and is not and thought I would share one of my observations with you.

It is interesting to me how Jesus so often retreats to a quiet place – the lake, a mountain side, a place of solitude. He gets up early in the morning and stays up late at night to meet with His Father. His quiet time is often interrupted by the disciples or people wanting something from Him and he graciously attends to them. So often, I think we focus on Jesus’ divine nature, forgetting that he was also 100% human. His suffering did not just begin at the time of his betrayal and crucifixion. He suffered throughout the course of his life and ministry. As I record people’s reactions to Him, it has been amazing to me how often people laughed at Him and made fun of Him. His own disciples would correct Him and sometimes tell Him that He had it all wrong. When He shared God’s vision for how He would save humanity, some people thought He was crazy. Others burned with jealously and hatred and plotted to kill Him. There are times when it is recorded that Jesus sighs deeply or is deeply distressed or moved to tears.

During these past several weeks, our family has been growing in weariness. We travel often; we pack, unpack, and repack; the list of things to do is always beyond our human ability to complete; we’ve eaten out more in the past few months than we have in the past few years; we have been routinely sleeping in a different bed/home; I home school on the fly – in the car, during doctor appointments, and in between the last and next commitment; and we have recently been experiencing another wave of spiritual warfare. I love people very much and enjoy our time at churches and small groups. However, there can be something very taxing about being in front of people on a regular basis, both for Dan and me, and for our kids. I think I may speak for many missionary families.

As I read Mark, I am so inspired by how Jesus lived His life. His time with His Father was essential to His life and ministry. He needed His time with the Father and He actively pursued it. Jesus lived an unhurried life, recognizing that his relationship with His Father and with others trumped all other things. His priority was always the person standing in front of Him – not the 19 other things that He had on His list for that day. John Ortberg states in his book The Life You’ve Always Wanted, “Wise followers of Christ have always understood the necessity and benefit of solitude. It is, to quote an old phrase, the “furnace of transformation”. Solitude is the one place where we can gain freedom from the forces of society that will otherwise relentlessly mold us.”

Well, it is one thing to write and read about taking time to spend with God in solitude. And yet another to actually do it. I will end today by making a commitment to spend at least a half day sometime within the next week in solitude with the Lord. I think I will follow Ortberg’s advice – he recommends first taking a walk to clear your mind; next reading the Bible; then recording impressions, things God may be pointing out; then another walk, eat; then a nap; then set goals that emerge from the day’s reflection. Please feel free to keep me accountable to this. I know that this is what my soul needs right now. Thank you!


1) For safe travel and for a refreshing time of being together as a family and with friends and family. Will said today, “The best thing about Daddy not working is that he always gets to be with us.”

2) For rest. Thank you so much for praying for this – we are finding that often rest comes when we recognize the opportunities God gives us to rest. Praise Him too for health – our family has been unusually healthy this year.

3) For the ways that God is providing for us financially and materially. He continues to surprise us during this support raising season. I will give you more details about how this amazing story is unfolding in a future update.


1) My Dad’s health – he has been doing well recovering from his heart surgery. The next step was to put a stent in to the blood vessel leading into his only kidney to protect it from further blockage. The decision has been made to wait a year to do this surgery and to see how things progress. We pray for continued health and protection for his kidney.

2) For the details of our arrival in Nicaragua. Our home in Nicaragua is “completely unfurnished” meaning no stove, refrigerator, beds, etc. So, we are now working out the details to find/purchase these items before and shortly after we arrive. I am anxious about this as I think through our first days/weeks there and wonder how things will function.

3) Family requests: My Dad’s brother (Elmer) had a stroke last week. Would you pray for his recovery, healing, and encouragement? And for him and his family to experience God’s love. The first anniversary of my uncle’s death (my Mom’s brother) is this month. Prayers for my aunt and her two boys and their families are also appreciated! Thank you!

Thank you again for walking this journey with us by reading these updates and praying through our requests. I’m not sure if I’ve told you this before, but there are often times when I feel a wave of peace wash over me and I think to myself, “our team is praying”. Your involvement with us is very noticed, valued, and appreciated. Thank you so much.

Lisa (for Dan, Rebekah, and Will)