A Home for the Uprooted

Home is sewn into the seams of my suitcase –  

Caught up in the fragments of childhood memories

Where I can’t place the country or state, let alone the date;

But I remember who was there

 

Home is in the beauty of silver-tipped mountains

And sweeping red canyons;

Where snow sneaks in for Easter

And July Fourth bakes the earth to a crisp

 

Home is in fierce, drumming rainstorms

Crashes of thunder

And the soft blink of fireflies;

Where stars pierce the sky

And mosquitoes outnumber them

Rachel olson home

Home.

The land of ever-changing, ever-flying, ever-new.

And the question, “what are roots?”

 

The longing for something constant in life –

Something else besides “goodbye”

 

The familiar taste of spicy meals and bustling market stalls

A far-off airport terminal I’ve known for as long as I can remember

And the voice of a treasured friend spanning oceans

Or sitting next to me

Home Rachel Olson

Home.

Both everywhere and nowhere

In heartfelt conversations or the scent

of my grandmother’s Irish Spring soap

 

And when it seems shattered, scattered to the winds

In a million pieces too tiny to recover

Home is still here in the promise of the Psalms:

 

“Lord, through all the generations you have been our home! 
Before the mountains were brought forth,
or ever you had formed the earth and the world,
from everlasting to everlasting you are God. ” (Psalm 90:1-2)

“Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.

If I rise on the wings of the dawn, 
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.” (
Psalm 139:7-10)

 

Inspired by this post from Communicating Across Boundaries.


Rachel Olson moved back to the US last year after making Africa home for a while. She is now living in her 17th home and has yet to find a simple answer to the question “where are you from?” She longs to see Jesus at work in all of life’s changes and is currently wondering if that might mean returning to Madagascar (one of her previous homes in Africa). You can find more from Rachel on her blog and Instagram, or visit here to help her get back to Madagascar.
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When Conviction Leads to the Less Traveled Path

Do you ever find your convictions leading you upstream, taking you outside the norm, even in the context of Christian community? I often find myself wanting validation from others around me about my convictions. While encouragement and community with like-minded people are invaluable, it is not what is of most importance.

Being around so many different people with diverse perspectives and good ways of living out their faith has brought this to the forefront of my mind recently. This summer has been full of family gatherings, old friends, and new friends. One thing that’s stood out to me is the common thread of a deep love for Jesus lived out through a wide variety of personal convictions and styles of worship. In the last few weeks, I’ve encountered small home churches, liturgical services, and large auditoriums. Teachers, parents, nurses, pastors, and accountants devoted to loving their families and communities, at home or across the world.

Rachel Olson conviction

I find freedom here, to seek wisdom that’s appropriate and good but not depend on others’ approval. It’s liberating to know my peace does not hinge on other people seeing the same conviction I see and approving of it. I am learning to confidently take hold of what God’s putting in front of me and not feel like I need to make excuses for it. I don’t need to dwell on if people disagree, or wonder how they’ll feel about it if God’s word says it is true. If others think my convictions are foolish, it no longer hinders me from taking hold of and finding joy in believing God alone. I can follow him and just run my race confidently.

Conviction is a gift that when we follow, enables us to be closer to Jesus. That’s a deep part of the purpose of conviction—to bring us closer to Jesus.

So follow your own convictions, not what people say around you, based on what God says in the Bible. Do that with freedom and joy. See it as a gift.

Because of my convictions and where they have led me these past several years, I’ve at times had some abrupt shock. Moments of questioning and comparing my status to the status quo loom large in my weaker moments. I am still single, without a home, a stable career, or really any roots that look to be building up what we generally associate with adulthood. While many of my friends have homes and families and long-term stable-seeming jobs, here I am being me and wondering if it is enough. At times the truth that God has a purpose for me here and now can be difficult to see. I would love to have my own family, and a life that feels more stable. Sometimes it’s easy to compare my life to others’ and feel like I’m missing out on these things. Or even worse, to wish that I had something to prove my worth to onlookers who probably aren’t even questioning it.

Am I less capable? As a competitive person, it can be difficult to feel like all my friends have the things we normally associate with adulthood and I don’t. I’m an adult, but what represents that?

As I question and process through these emotions again, I remember the decisions that brought me here were made out of strong convictions and a desire to follow God’s leading. If I had chosen a more normal career path, I know I would have regretted not obeying. I would have missed out on so much good that God has invited me into over the last few years. So even in the lack of adult things, I would rather face discomfort and disappointment about cultural expectations and some of my own dreams, than be without the peace of following God’s guidance. He knows better than I do, and I can trust him. It’s better for everyone, for me to follow that, and I won’t be satisfied with other things if I am outside of it. So I choose again that it was is worth it, and keep trusting and following Jesus’s ways. Even when his ways look weird or counter-cultural. If it’s conviction from God it’s worth it, good for the soul, the heart, and the world.

Conviction Rachel Olson

Conviction is a gift that enables, empowers, and equips us to align ourselves with God’s heart.

Turn your eyes upon Jesus; look for his wonderful face.

The things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of Jesus’s glory and grace—this is the heart of conviction.


Rachel Olson HeadshotRachel Olson recently moved back to the US after making Africa home for 2 years. She hopes to live there again someday soon, where she enjoyed sharing life with hospital patients, learning (and eating!) new things and seeing God offer hope in life’s hard places. Here in the US, she loves a good street taco, card game or deep conversation with friends and family. She longs to see Jesus at work in all of life’s changes, joys, and struggles, and writing helps her make a little more sense of it all. You can find more from Rachel on her blog and Instagram.

The Contagious Conviction of Love

Like a moth enraptured by the light, I stood just on the edges of a circle of people hovering to listen. It seemed as though the sounds and words were woven together into a third dimension, as the musicians allowed their joy and assurance to bubble out through their music-making. Their skills good, but their hearts even brighter, they summoned me and others forth into the music. Into worship.

The first time this happened to me I was a music major in college. The musicians had learned music in a cobbled fashion, picking things up as they went from whomever they could. I had been given the streamlined education destined to shoot the straight and narrow into performance. But their music was wholly ragged, entirely captivating, and contagiously convicting. The difference was that they were not focused on playing beautiful music, rather, they focused on worshipping and beauty naturally flowed through it.

Kimberley Mulder Conviction

I looked for opportunities to be with them, to listen and learn because their confidence was so attractive. They were the first people I met who were utterly convinced that Jesus loved them, and loved us. I am sure they could not have kept silent even if they wanted to.

We most often speak of being convicted of sin, but these friends of mine lived convicted of love. Like sparks among dry wood, I and others caught the flame, becoming certain of love ourselves. I left my path to performance, in more ways than one, to live out these certainties.

Conviction Kimberley Mulder

Twenty years later, I picked up my tattered musical training and offered to use it to worship in Asia. I joined two leaders whose contagious conviction is that all are welcome, most especially, the children. I have never encountered two people more convinced of the powerful love of God poured out into welcoming children. They heartily embrace the belief that children are full-grown citizens in the kingdom of God, able despite their lack of experience, and powerful in their powerlessness. We, adults, are to welcome, bless, give opportunity, and encourage them.

Like my college friends, they invite and welcome all regardless of skill. Skill level does not dictate participation. Response to the welcome and willingness governs it. As an outcome of their contagion, our worship team traveling halfway around the world was made up of a nineteen-year-old, one fifteen-year-old, two fourteen-year-olds, a twelve-year-old, and then the leaders and my husband and I!

The young ones’ emerging skills, my rusty ones, and all those present were bound together into the warm flame of worship, and a beauty like none other rolled through it. Those listening felt it, saw it, and they gathered around the light of God and were re-ignited in love which they now carry with them into the countries of Asia.

 


2016-11-02 13.10.06Kimberley Mulder is a contemplative at heart who deeply enjoys the company of Jesus in the day-to-day of caring for her family of 5 (plus a dog and a cat), teaching English to immigrants, growing her garden, and writing. Currently, her walk with Jesus is taking her more deeply into writing as she leads a spiritual formation group at her church, and shares on her blog Living a Mary Life in a Martha World.  She treasures the truth that God’s Word does not go back to him without accomplishing the purpose for which he sent it, and that that Word is embodied in our lives. (Isaiah 55:11)

The Missionary’s New Song: A Legacy Worth Leaving

Snuggled in my bed, surrounded by the soft comfort of an old down blanket, I stared at my phone watching the playback of a month old live-stream from Inglewood Baptist Church.

My Great Uncle Don Jones and his friend (another retired missionary), in a beautiful crescendo, gloriously sang the words:

 “No more death when we get to heaven. No more death when we get to heaven…Hallelujah, Hallelujah…no more death! No more death, but life forevermore.”

Don Jones quote (1)Earlier that day my Great Uncle stepped into that life forevermore; for him death is no more. He is in the presence of the Savior to which he dedicated his life, and for him there could be no better day. Those of us left behind feel the pain of loss; for him there is no more pain. I am so thankful for the prayers he prayed for me, and the support he gave me in the ministry I have had the privilege of being involved in. My thoughts of him that night were tainted with grief, yet sweet and hopeful for his new home. As my eyes became heavy with slumber, my last thoughts settled on, “What a well lived life.”

He was 88 and was still teaching, singing, and serving others because of the love first given to him by Jesus. Prayers swelled in my heart to my Savior, that I too would live a life with that type of legacy. Loving God and loving people, knowing God and making Him known, a legacy of Philippians 1:21, “To live is Christ, to die is gain.”

His wife Nita was likewise filled with bold gentleness, and together they were missionaries in South Korea for 36 years as they raised their two children. I still remember her hugs… for some reason that is my clearest memory of her. It wasn’t really the hug itself but the feeling of deep comfort wrapped within them. She died in 2004, but the love they shared didn’t. You still saw and felt it when he spoke of her.

Legacy Don and NitaI remember sitting with my grandmother and my mother huddled around our giant box of a TV watching the 1988 Seoul Olympics where Don and Nita were serving as translators. Every time their event would come on someone would yell, “Hit the record button!” as we tried to catch a glimpse of our family members on the sides of the diving pools of the world-wide competition. With such a small view of his life and his impact for God’s kingdom, I naively thought this was the coolest thing about my Uncle Don. I shrugged my shoulders at the work he was doing in Korea, that he held a Masters and a PhD, and that he had walked faithfully with Jesus since childhood. The Olympics, that was what impressed 6-year-old me. But what sticks with me now, and will remain until my own walk into eternity, is the race of faith he ran.

I look to them, this generation that went before and I dream for my children and their children. When we lose a family member who reaches the end having truly glorified Christ, we are compelled to ask: “How did they get there, and how can I do the same?” My Great Uncle and Aunt did it, my Grandparents did it, and I want to do it. Legacy doesn’t mean dying after a long life and being fondly remembered, but living well and making an eternal impact.

Now he sings a new song, one too beautiful for me to yet comprehend; it harmonizes with what his life sung of the grace and glory of God.

“If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.”      Colossians 3:1-4


Readers, This month we will be diving into thoughts on legacy. Who has left a lasting mark on your life in a way you would like to do for others? Join the conversation and let us know in the comments.

chara-donahue-head-shotChara Donahue enjoys freelance writing, Biblical counseling, and speaking to women when her four kids are out playing with dad. She holds a MSEd from Corban University and is passionate about seeing people set free through God’s truths. She is a regular contributor at Portland Moms Blog and her words have appeared at (in)courage, Christianity Today: Women Leaders, and The Huffington Post. She longs to be a voice that says, “Hey we are in this together, and there is room for us all.” You can find more from Chara at One Anchored Voice, on Facebook, and on Twitter.

Christmas Moments Amongst the Mundane

Last year, when Christmas tunes began to ring out from the radio, our mostly quiet family of three became a raucous party of seven. My husband and I have one teenage daughter and, while we weren’t on the list for emergency foster care, four siblings (ranging in ages from 7-15) were delivered to our home during a crisp late fall morning so they could spend the holidays together, connected.

As we folded new family members into daily life, I realized they knew very little of the true story of Christmas. The way in which we celebrated Christmas was drastically different from what these kids commonly expected. The holiday season became a time of learning about these kids and their traditions, and articulating our own. Christmas for us tends to go deeper than the kinds of food, type of music, and activities we participate in. As we explained that, we began to see opportunities woven throughout our days to speak the truth of God’s grand plan to seek out, love, and mend hearts.

God instructed his people in Deuteronomy 6:4-8 to teach their children of Him in all aspects of life, to let the everyday moments become meaningful.

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.

Deuteronomy 6:4b-8

We too can speak the good news throughout our days, sharing that the Savior came in the form of a fragile baby who would change the world. There may be no other season that presents more opportunities to connect the dots between our lives and the story of God in a way that deeply matters to our children, our neighbors, and our own souls.

To be honest, I didn’t plan to have any of the conversations that came about. Instead, the light of the world began to illuminate in the moments I least expected. In the car the youngest exclaimed “Jesus is the King of Love,” as she remembered the lyrics to a song she had heard. On another occasion, as we were hurrying along, the preteen asked me in a public restroom, “Why is it important that Jesus was born. Wasn’t he just another baby?” I didn’t expect to get to explain the whole story of redemption as we washed our hands and talked over the whir of the electric hand drier, but I had the privilege to do so.

Isn’t that exactly how God intersects with our lives? The moments we could never plan are when He makes Himself known.

Though these siblings were able to be reunited with family by the time Christmas morning arrived, I came away from the season acutely aware of the meaning of each moment. The real story of Christmas just needed to be pointed out. Not in a grand production, or lengthy speech, but in the simple moments wherever the Holy Spirit brought about a connection.

Today, may we ask God to illuminate the places where His overarching story of glory and grace melds the mundane moments with the eternal epic. May God connect the dots of the busy with the dots of the meaningful. Let us ponder with awe the baby in the manger and share with glad and sincere hearts of the hope He brings. May this season be steeped in moments that deepen our faith and point us to Christ.

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Readers, How do you share the true meaning of Christmas with those around you? Tell us in the comments.

b0de0-holly2bsquareHolly is a wife, mother of one, and foster mother to many. She seeks to glorify God in all she does, for all her life. She studied Intercultural Studies at Corban University and loves to build bridges between cultures and people. She welcomes people into her life, into her heart, and into her home with hopes of offering encouragement. You can find more from Holly here at Anchored Voices or at her blog Called to Restore.

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Hope on Distant Shores

Author: Rachel Olson

Just over a year ago, a lifelong dream came true. I was accepted to join Mercy Ships, an organization that brings free surgical care to some of the poorest countries of Africa. I quit my job, packed my bags, and moved to Madagascar, where I have spent the past eight and a half months wading through what it means to live and work in another culture loving people very different from me.

This all started back in middle school, when God clearly called me to spend my life with the world’s forgotten poor. That call stemmed from a close relationship with God, during a huge season of growth when I was pouring frequent, consistent time into seeking his guidance and he was radically transforming me and putting new desires in my heart. And yet even with that firm foundation, I was tempted to put international ministry on a pedestal. During the many years of waiting for this dream to come to fruition, I had expectations of how it would deepen my faith. Now that I am finally stepping into this calling, I have found something concerning — others are putting me on a pedestal for it.

I work for an organization whose motto is to “bring hope and healing to the world’s forgotten poor.” I have watched fragile, starving infants slowly become plump and healthy right before my eyes. I have seen deep despair in a patient’s eyes be replaced by joy in a matter of days. I am living in a place where the transformation is clearly visible.It is easy for me, and others, to see purpose and meaning in my work. It can be easy for my job to look more valuable or fulfilling than someone else’s. And yet, more and more, I am realizing these things can still be meaningless externals by their own merit. None of this, not one of our good things, brings purpose or fulfillment on its own.

I still believe obedience is key for living in intimacy with God, and for me that obedience meant walking into international ministry; so in a roundabout way living this life should be fulfilling. Yet I am finding that hope does not come from anything I can do or have done for God. Hope can only be found in God — in who He is, and what He has done. I can strive and work out of my own strength for God my entire life in stress, angst, and exhaustion. I can do great things that people may applaud me for, or I can seek to join God in what He is doing. Seeking to be close to His heart without my value or worth being dependent on my performance or the feedback of others. These two ways of living look similar on the outside, but in the heart they are worlds apart.

The plan for my life may be to dive into international ministry for the long haul, or it may turn out to stay there only for a season; but ultimately my purpose is to seek and know Jesus regardless of the country I am in or the level of economic standing I am surrounded by. My desire in living well is not to create my own hope, but to live out of the hope he gives.  I seek and pray that Jesus will help me to remember and walk in this truth.

~~~
Readers, Have you been tempted to elevate good works over grace by faith, or to lift dreams above the God who saves? It is easy to do, but a right view of our lives, hopes, and God will bring more peace than any desire and lead us into the adventure of living for the glory of God. 

Interested in supporting Rachel? Check out the info in her bio.

Thanks for reading,
The Anchored Voices Team

Rachel Olson enjoys reading, making music and exploring new cultures. She especially loves seeing patients find healing, often after years of waiting with no chance of receiving surgical care. To hear more about her journey with Mercy Ships or how you can be a part of it, visit mundanesplendor.blogspot.com or facebook.com/rachelinafrica