1989. Prayed "the prayer"
1997. Decided I wanted to teach middle school
2003. Graduated high school
2007. Graduated college
2008. Began my master's degree
2009. Married Catalina
2010. Still working on my masters...
2012. Still working on my masters...
2014. Finished my masters!
2014. Elin arrived
2015. Atticus arrived
Everyone who has met me once knows I am very quiet. Anyone who has corresponded with me via email knows that I save all my words for writing. I have already been reprimanded several times for my tendency towards literary loquaciousness. I don't know what the allure of the keyboard is, but it is strong in this one.
So when given an opportunity to share the story of my whole life, you can see how I find myself in a conundrum. Instead of writing out my autobiography here, I am going to draw from a form of writing I have found very helpful in condensing thought. I'm going to use a number of poems that I've written throughout my life to represent my life story. Hopefully you will find this a worthwhile glimpse into who I am, and appreciate how much this has shortened my post.
The first poem represents my life in middle school. It's a very similar story to Catalina's. I was selfish and testing the waters. I was quiet, and I always appeared to be an "angel" (at least to those outside my family), but we must remember that even Lucifer was an angel. Being an "angel" on the outside means nothing.
The second poem is representative of my "awakening." While I acknowledged Christ as my savior for nearly my whole life, it wasn't until 9th grade that I truly began to grasp what that meant. It didn't mean I believed in him and needed to work really hard to make him keep liking me or live up to maintain approval. It was a realization that I utterly needed him.
The third poem and fourth poem go hand in hand. The third poem was written after I had recently met Catalina. I had gone through the doldrums of my love life, in part because I was shy and didn't really want to put myself out there. The third poem was my answer to the internal dialogue I had about pursuing Catalina. The fourth poem shows the love that we had, and the longing we had to be with each other, as we lived most of our time dating and engaged living in different countries.
The fifth poem represents a reversion to immaturity. Catalina and I had tried to figure out our theological beliefs, and landed on a Reformed Theology. However, that search caused us to feel arrogant. Fortunately, God brought us through that time and used it to give us a heart for the church universal, while still understanding the importance of truth.
The sixth poem represents our beginnings in apologetics. We had both grown up in relatively conservative backgrounds, around individuals and communities that were largely Christian, so our faiths were never challenged. However, we found that we couldn't live consistently without knowing "why," and we knew there were many others out there who had intellectual barriers to the Christian faith. We were impassioned to pursue apologetics, both for our sake and the sake of others.
The seventh poem and eighth poem go together. The first is from a time when I was in despair for what little I, or any one individual could really do to affect change in the world. But as I continued to dwell on my cynicism I recognized that it isn't up to me to change the world. It's not even up to me to change one person's heart. I am powerless, and am even in need of someone to change my own heart. God has ordained that the church be the body of changed believers who move out into the world to bring the news of promised and true change to those around the world. That is one reason we particularly like MTW. Though missionaries in MTW engage in all sorts of ministries, all missionaries have a primary goal of establishing churches and building up the local church.
The ninth poem and tenth poems also go together. They represent the new loves that have entered our lives in Elin and Atticus. I selected one of my favorite poems from each of their anthologies to represent them here.
The eleventh poem represents all of the death we are now facing. It's the imminent death of certain loved ones. It's the knowledge of the death of others that will occur while we are out of country. It is the death of conveniences and dreams. It is the death of friendships. It is the death of self. All of these things weigh on us heavily as we understand and experience more and more the realities of life, and particularly life in missions. While we know that we have hope in all of this death, we can still call death out for what it is.
Finally, the twelfth poem is about the lives we have to live. While our lives are bracketed by non-existence and death, the time in between is ours to use and experience. As we move forward, we will dwell on the blessings of memories in our past, but we will also excitedly move forward into the wide open future that lies before us. And in the end, we understand that the brackets of our lives aren't really non-existence and death, but rather non-existence and eternity. We now hope to share that good news with others who haven't heard.