Labor Pains

We have just stepped off the plane into Thailand. From the dusty slums of Africa to the bustling streets of Bangkok, we find ourselves in a completely different world. Asia beckons, a stranger. A land more foreign than anything I’ve yet faced this year. I am intimidated.

I've been travelling overseas since high school, and rarely felt inept or out of place. Nicaragua has been home for me since 2006 - even from my first visit, Latin culture was reminiscent of Texas and Mexico, so finding myself comfortble there was no surprise.

Eastern Europe presented new cultures ... but our langugages share Latin roots, the people are white, and similarities still linger from shared Anglo-Saxon ancestors.

And Africa - it welcomed me with open arms in 2005. My heart was broken, but it also opened wide like a hibiscus in the African sun of wide African smiles, African arms, African love. It, too, has been home ever since.

But Asia ? It looms - a giant question mark in my mind. I have absolutely no idea what to expect. I suppose this is fertile soil for God to sow seeds.

A part of me thinks I am too old to fall in love again - with a people group, a new area of the globe … but then, life is funny.

Just when you think life is full, marriage opens an entirely new chapter of love and sacrifice, tears and toil and laughter - pulsing vitality beyond the joy I thought possible.

As my friends one by one cross the threshold to motherhood, I watch their hearts expand again - and again - always more room in the heart for a new baby. Someday, I’ll know that joy.

But today, I groan with labor pains of another kind. He is birthing in me a fierce, proud, protective love his nations and people.

There is Nicaragua: first-born of my missionary passions, the one that is most familiar to me. Don’t get me started talking about how beautiful Nica is, because I’m likely to whip out pictures and never stop chatting about her festive spirit, her lovely Latin character, and how she’s an unexpected class favorite.

And Africa: second-born, meeting this one broke my heart. I bent low on a dirt floor in Zambia as my heart was shattered by her passion and her great need. Fiercely prideful, driven by a rhythm all her own, and alive to the work of a risen savior, she captured my heart - when I am away from her too long, I am anxious and my heart aches to see her once again.

And so I'm left, pecies of my heart strewn across continents. I'm left to wait, waiting to meet this unknown, third reflection of God on earth. The time is coming soon. What will Asia look like?

Will I have what it takes to go through this process again - to gaze in awe upon another manifestation of my God in the flesh - and give of myself?

Do I have anything to offer?

And - the most painful question of all - is there enough room in my heart … for all three - for Nicaragua, for Africa, and for Asia?

I think about my momma friends with multiple children - and I’m amazed at how the Lord grows our hearts. Even as a woman’s womb stretches to make room, so does her heart. A father’s hands reach out for his newborn child, and the Lord plants love in his very core.

Oh Jesus, would you stretch my heart as I hold out my hands ... for whatever you decide to place in them?

{For our loved family and friends who are delivering babies while we are away - we are thinking of you. It's hard to miss the really special moments. When we get home, we can't wait to meet and hold baby Camp, Josiah, Noah, Hattie, Elijah, and baby Legare. We know they'll be just as amazing as their parents. We love you!}