Thursday, August 15, 2013

What I Learned While Traveling the World with My Babies this Summer (Part 2)

As I mentioned in my previous post, the main lesson that I learned while traveling to Europe with my babies this summer is that God can be glorified in a place where we focus on doing less and being more.  This is hard for me.  I like to be busy.  I like to do things, but I'm learning day by day to embrace His grace and walk in it.

I'm also learning to find joy and His fingerprints in the messes of life.  I don't like messes either, but this simple lesson was on full display as we traveled to Europe this summer with our girls (honestly, is it even POSSIBLE to travel with a 3 year old & 13 month old without a giant mess in your wake?)...and I think I'm starting to get it.  God can be in the midst of the mess.  He isn't nearly as uncomfortable as I am, and He really does love using the foolish and weak parts of our lives to show off.  Here's two ways He demonstrated this to me on our trip:

Fashion Class and "Glitter Nails" in Czech Republic
We were teaching in a creative arts camp while in Czech Republic and I was assigned to help my
amazing friend Dita teach fashion class.  Now, while I DO love a good pair of shoes & sometimes tune into Fashion Police, I am far from a fashionista and I know next to nothing about designing clothes, which is what this class would be doing.

Leading up to the camp, Dita would email me her amazing ideas (creating wedding dresses out of plastic, t-shirt transformation, and a lecture on Grace Kelly style), and often asked what I wanted to contribute.  Contribute?  As in teach something about fashion?  I had nothing.  I scoured Pinterest, but discovered that my best ideas had been done in previous years at the camp.  The only idea that I had to offer that seemed of interest was "glitter nails."  Now, I had never done "glitter nails."  I had read about it on Pinterest and seen some successful ventures on the hands of a few friends.  It looked easy enough, and I felt confident as I purchased numerous shades of polish & glitter from Wal-Mart - I could make this fabulous!

Dita gives the girls her opinion on their latest des
My first day in fashion class was fun albeit a little overwhelming.  I was trying to get into a rhythm of juggling my babies while also connecting with the young people, and I just tried to stay up.  We colored fashion designs and played with pastels to get a feeling for how color works with fabric.  I smiled at the sweet girls in our class and had barely exchanged names when our 3 hours class was finished.

Each day got progressively easier while the projects were progressively harder.  We created dresses, painted t-shirts, and designed wedding gowns out of plastic.  I quickly realized that I needed to at least try to help with fabrics & design.  I remember clearly trying to help my girls with the wedding dress and thinking to myself, "I am making a mess!"  And in that moment, I felt God whisper, "I can be in a mess...just keep working at it."  And so I stapled and fitted plastic on our model.  We laughed together and little by little we transformed yards of white plastic into a beautiful gown that I was quite proud of (if I do say so myself).

The final day of camp we had a fashion show & party where each class was able to show off what they had learned.  As we prepared for our walk down the cat-walk, Dita asked if I could give each of the girls "glitter nails" so we could look fierce.  Absolutely!

And so, in the last few minutes of class with these precious girls, I helped create another mess.  We started to paint and add glitter to our fingers when I realized that we were not looking like the Pinterest pictures that I had seen.  It was a mess.  At first I wanted to panic with the realization that this was not living up to my preconceived ideas of fabulous "glitter nails" when I looked around to see that the girls didn't see the lack of perfection that I was so sensitive to...instead, these girls who had bonded over the previous week were oohing and aahing over one another's hands.  There was laughter in the room, and more than a couple of the girls asked if I could paint their nails for them (I was, after all the "glitter nail" expert).  And in that stuffy classroom across globe, I felt the presence of God.

With sparkles of glitter on these young women that I now loved, I silently prayed that they would find Him.  May they be drawn to the One who makes life radiant.  May they see that He alone can redeem and create beauty from the messes we are so prone to create.

Pastel drawings as we practiced with color

Our plastic wedding dresses as modeled in the fashion show

Selah's FAVORITE moment of the entire trip - modeling her t-shirt in the fashion show

Puddle Jumping in Norway
Our week in Norway was focused on prayer and encouraging our good friends (Sean & Hannah) as they prepare to plant a church in September.  Again, we would "do missions" by just "being with them."  Everyday was spent prayer walking for a couple of hours & then we would simply hang out - talking, dreaming, bouncing ideas off one another.  In the midst of this talking and prayer, we had five children in their house, which could only mean one thing - plenty of messes.

I gave up after a couple of hours trying to pick up after my girls.  It was a loosing battle, and we all decided to just relax and let them have some fun.  In my mind, this was fine when we were at home, but when it was time to do our prayer walks we should be extra spiritual - no messes.

I think God was laughing at my attempts to be spiritual, because on our very first prayer walk we definitely encountered a mess.  We walked to a school where they plan on meeting for their church services, and because it had been raining for days the parking lot was dotted with puddles as big as a playa lake.  Our kids were in strollers, and so the adults took a few minutes to walk around the school praying and seeking God...and being spiritual.  I was focused in prayer when I heard my daughter's laughter across the parking lot.

As I looked up, I realized that she & Sean's oldest son had gotten out of the strollers and were running, jumping, and splashing in the giant puddles!  My first thought was that she would be soaked, and that I wasn't up to the mess that would certainly ensue, when I was reminded of my recent lesson in Czech Republic - God can be in the mess.

And so, I decided to let her play, and I stood back and smiled at the joy of these two small children.  It was better than Disney World!  They laughed and shrieked, and before I knew it, all of the adults were cheering them on.  God spoke to my heart a lot that day - about jumping a little more...about trusting Him even when what is before me looks like a mess...about the joy that is all around if I will look for it...and about this church plant.  Our friends are probably going to make a mess or two.  They will definitely be forced to jump out of their comfortable and clean lives to make an impact in Norway, but they are saying yes to God and ready to make a mess for Him.

We prayed that day while our kids jumped in puddles that this school would be a blessing for their church...that they would find favor there & that God would get glory as they make a mess for His kingdom.  And guess what?  Two weeks later, they met with the principal of that school and were given three rooms to meet in each week...for free.  Let the puddle jumping begin in Norway!


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