“So what brings you to Springfield?” I asked the woman in the seat next to me.
She had been playing Solitaire the entire flight and I was quite busy reading on my kindle.
We’d landed in Chicago and had a few minutes to chat while the plane made it’s way to the terminal.
“Oh, just a few days of continuing education classes. And you?” she asked.
“I was helping plan a retreat.”
Just keep it simple is my motto lately.
“A retreat?” she perked up. “I love retreats. What kind of retreat? Where will it be??”
Oh, dear. Not simple anymore.
“We were planning an online retreat.” I said.
“Online retreat? That doesn’t sound like it could be very retreat-ish.” she smiled, nodding her head as if I should completely agree with her assessment.
“Well, it actually can be quite retreat-ish,” I explained, trying to use her word.
“I don’t see how online could be a retreat. Who are you planning it for?” she pushed honestly.
Smiling back at her I decided to fully explain, “My husband and I live in West Africa. The retreat is for other women like me who live all over the world. We use videos, music, printables and guides to help women in far away places retreat in a similar way over the same weekend through a website. We share pictures on instagram and connect on facebook. Truly, an online retreat experience.”
Blinking and raising her eye brows she said, “That sounds very interesting… so what do you and your husband do in Africa?”
I went on to explain our work, why we are home and when we plan to go back.
She sat back in her seat saying, “Wow. Your life is definitely not boring, is it?”
She asked me about my family so I showed her a picture of us overseas. I think she was impressed with our banana trees. Then, she showed me a picture of her kids since they are very close in age to my girls. We chatted for a few minutes more and then went our separate ways, her to Charlotte and me to Grand Rapids.
Overseas life is definitely NOT boring.
We might have slow days or seasons of waiting.
We might get nothing done in a day but frustratingly continue to TRY to get things done.
We might have times of steadily plodding along in our work.
But life is never boring.
The bits and pieces of our lives continuously weave a tapestry of bold, bright colors, textures and patterns.
Interesting to look at in all it’s glorious curiosity.
For someone not expecting to sit next to a woman who lives and works in Africa, who spent a weekend with other overseas women planning a retreat for hundreds of women spread across the globe, that can be quite not boring.
When talking about my girls, she asked how school in America was going for them.
I told her about Abby having to spend extra time re-learning how to write the date. I laughed as I told her about Annalise needing to redo her math assignment after she realized her triangles were much smaller than her classmates’ triangles. She’d used centimeters rather than inches for her lesson. I talked about Elayna being called “Africa girl” and her French accent coming in handy for the fall school play. How the weather feels so cold since we’ve grown used to living in the desert.
The woman nodded her head and threw in a question here and there as she processed my words.
Not boring. Not at all.
Every day is adventurous in a way that keeps my heart pounding.
She asked me about where we live here in the states and made a cute “I can only imagine” face as I told her we live with my parents.
Again, not boring.
I told her it was a true blessing to us as we travel for work.
“My husband is in Wyoming preaching today. I’ve been in Missouri. My parents have been on Goodwin girl duty in Michigan.” I laughed.
No. Not boring.
She even asked a few more questions about Africa. Is it safe? Do we have a house? Have you traveled in Africa?
In explaining that over the course of the last 20 years we’d been to Guam, Mali, Congo, Turkey, France, Egypt, Senegal, Ivory Coast, Togo, South Africa… her eyes just got bigger and bigger.
I wonder what she was really thinking as she simply stated, “Your life is not boring, is it?”
No. Not boring.
I felt thankful, energized talking about our lives.
At the same time, I teared up knowing how hard that “not boring” life can be each day.
My heart gasped just thinking about what is coming as we prepare and leave for our next term.
She couldn’t know the strong reactions I was having to looking at the pictures on my phone with her of our life in Africa.
She couldn’t know how nice it was to talk about it with her and yet how much I wanted to end the conversation.
After a summer of sharing our story, I’ve been so raw.
After a retreat away with my dear Velvet Ashes friends, I felt especially raw.
The not-boringness of our lives incredibly real.
There are so many things going on inside of us when we get to share those moments with you. The genuine back and forth in our heads as we decide what to say, how much to say and how long to keep talking.
However not boring the #behindtheprayercard moments may seem to you… to us, those moments are our lives.
I loved having the amazing opportunity to be a part of something that encourages women like me to keep going, keep pushing, keep trusting, keep walking in the path that God has prepared for them.
During the retreat planning time, we were staying at a lake house. The house had these amazing steps and rocks laid out on a twisty path that led down to the water’s edge.
The air was cold and damp making the whole path quite slippery. I needed to watch every single step so that I didn’t tumble to the bottom of the hill in one, very not boring fall.
As I slowly walked the path, I again realized how slippery and full of turns our overseas lives can be.
In talking to that woman on the plane, this picture popped into my mind.
No. Not boring.
But taken slow, one step at a time, we truly can walk the path God has for each one of us.
“I liken God’s purposes to a pure but unpredictable river… perhaps obedience simply wades into the center and lets the current of God’s presence set the pace, be it swift or still.” @aliciabrittchole in Anonymous