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Little elusive words that shape usJanuary 13, 2016

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Missionary life is about bending your culture to fit into another tin, chopping off pieces and adapting others. It’s not about losing culture heritage and adopting another, nor is about creating a mini slice of your passport country in another land… though there are days it’s truly tempting to do that. The longer overseas mission is a ways of life, the easier it gets to squeeze into that odd mould, to realise that only by being true to the shape can you unlock access to the community.

But, living in that shape creates a longing that echoes down the years. My mother would tell stories of ‘Hogmanay’ with distant eyes and thinly veiled sadness, to her children’s bemused faces in the south east of England. I suspect my stories of ‘Bonfire Night’, ‘School fairs’ and ‘Carol singing’ will be met with similar faces in years to come. However, alongside loss comes incredible gain. When we squeeze into that tin we find gaps, gaps that we need to expand into, gaps that stretch our skills and dependence. Gaps that sing not of loss but of abundance, of gratitude, or grace given.

This weeks word on velvet ashes is thirsty. Thirsty is an odd word, we should hunger and thirst spiritually but that sort of primal longing is often very directed, where was my specific thirst? I was thirsty not for new experiences or people or opportunity, not thirsty for material possessions or relationships or projects. My life is blessed abundantly even though I often see it’s limitations above all. And that was it, my pessimism was ruling… I was thirsty for gratitude, thirsty for daily joy.

And so I am thrilled to say I chose my word for this year as ‘Appreciate.’ A word that sits upon my screen when programs close, upon the head of my weekly planning sheet and challenges me daily. I want this to be the year of rejoicing in those pieces of life where grace shines though, where blessings abound, where the darkest cave still has the flicker of candlelight. I want to appreciate the little things and store up a treasure trove of delight. Assured that when those limitations strike I can endure, brighten the darkness that tunnels bring with memories of light before and assurance that light will flood the walkway of my journey again.

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