We are not not…

city vs countryWe love living a bit more rurally, having dirt in between our toes instead of cement and don’t mind giving up convenience for a bit of quiet. We love seeing the same people each day because the community is small, love being creative with limited resources and love just being in a more rural setting. Some may classify this by saying we are more country people or we are NOT city people. The problem with any statement beginning with WE ARE NOT is that it makes it hard to be able to thrive if a season (or the entirety) of your life has you in an environment where you are NOT. You start to be defined by what you cannot be rather then what you can. You start to spend your waking (and sleeping perhaps) hours dreaming of a better environment and miss the beauty of the current one. The “if only” falls in this realm as well. IF ONLY I lived…. IF ONLY I had… IF ONLY my spouse would…IF ONLY my kids…IF ONLY…we start to define ourselves by what we lack rather then what we have.

This is a battle I fully believe we must fight. Sometimes we can choose our circumstances, and environments often we cannot. We are in one of those seasons where it would be so easy to sigh, throw up our hands and say, well we would (……) BUT. Or perhaps our minds drift to IF ONLY….or sometimes even to WE ARE NOT… Together J— and I combat these thoughts by thinking about what we are here rather then what we are not.

We left our rural house on the Nile to one of the biggest cities in Africa. We are living on the fifth floor in the center of the city surrounded by traffic, little green, lots of cement and stores and resources galore. We struggle to get to know our neighbors (rather then struggle to have some private space), we can have groceries delivered (rather then have to fly them in), there is no outdoor space for our kids to play, unless we pay to enter a park (vs having the entirety of our surroundings be a playground. We are in the polar opposite environment we thought we would be in this year and as the weeks have passed we have slowly been moving from the WE ARE NOT stage to the WE ARE.

It is a subtle battle of the mind and words but instead of sitting down and talking about the lack of options for the kids like we were accustomed to we sit down and explore the myriad of options here (ballet class, schooling for language, playgrounds, art lessons, a library). We talk about the benefits of our apartment (exercise walking up those stair flights, the view of the city, privacy), sometimes we discuss the benefits of commuting around the city (language practice, direction giving, meeting and conversing and sometimes sharing about God with our cab drivers).  Medical benefits (labs, testing, procedures that can be completed in country). Just the other day we reached a point where while we would still classify ourselves as more naturally at home in a country environment we could honestly say we are living well in the city. Or more specifically we are not NOT city people (a double negative in this case is a step up from NOT right?). At one point my dear husband even said, we are looking at this all wrong we need to think about what people do here not what they don’t. It really struck a chord with me … to focus on the we are aspect of life and embracing the good. To allow the benefits to define our experience not the negatives.

So in the battle of balance between self awareness and contentment we can confidently say that we are more naturally ourselves in Melut, but we are not not city people and are enjoying embracing the traffic, stores, cabs, and honking horns for a season…as long as we can vacation away from it all a few times a year.

What are some battle you fight where you are seeking to not default to the excuse of if only or we are not but embrace the season for what it offers? (Please encourage us by sharing!)

 

We seek to empower our children, our teammates and our Sudanese friends to love and know more of who God is through acts of loving service and biblical teaching.

11 thoughts on “We are not not…

  • 30 March, 2014 at 1:57 pm
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    This was a good reminder for us to evaluate how we deal with frustrating situations in life. Complaining and “looking at a glass half full” can eventually lead us down a path that culminates in distrusting God. As the Israelites in the wilderness, “If only we were back in Egypt….” after they had seen miracle after miracle of God’s deliverance!
    Thanks for the great words to evaluate how we are looking at life right now!

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  • 30 March, 2014 at 2:11 pm
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    my season right now is the inability to do the normal things we do everyday..getting dressed, combing hair, cleaning and cooking, etc. I broke my wrist/arm area and am in a cast to the shoulder, and sling, for 3+ months…this is only my second week. If it doesn’t begin to heal within a couple of weeks, then surgery to put screws in my wrist will take place, extending healing time for up to 6 months. Of course it is my right arm. So uncle Dave and cousin David are now doing everything…I have decided to spend more time with God and read some good Christian fiction books. Love you and praying for you. Love the pictures you send

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  • 30 March, 2014 at 4:04 pm
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    Hello Dear Cross Family!! So well written, thanks so much for taking the time to share with us all. Yes, starting the day by being thankful first for the blessings instead of looking for what’s wrong is THE only way to move forward in circumstances that are not ideal. I too have had to adjust to city living, the noises, the sirens, the homeless walking back and forth in front of my window, the graffiti on my doorstep, the sirens and arguing at the bus stop in front of my door, having to remember to even lock my front door…to remind myself I don’t live in a white bread neighborhood anymore. HE commands us to love ALL those we are exposed to, no matter what. After all, to love our neighbor DOES come right after, “Love the Lord God with all your heart, mind and soul”… and the second is this, “Love your neighbor as yourself”. What a challenge that can be. Especially when they can be drug dealers that enter your home. Yep, it’s happened here at the Whitson city cabin. And it’s hard. But I know now without a shadow of a doubt, this is where God wants us. The battle of not only accepting where God puts us must also meet with joy and thankfulness. Praying for all of you…love you all dearly!!

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  • 30 March, 2014 at 4:41 pm
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    Wonderful thoughts to reflect on each time I hear myself say “if only.” And love the way you used the double negative to declare that you will not be defined by your circumstances or wallow in discontentment for “not” being where you thought you would be. Someone commented to me recently that I say “I wish” a lot, and that was a wakeup call to me to begin counting my blessings instead of my regrets. I also remember reading a long time ago that if I truly trust God for His sovereignty in my life that my discontentment is also a sign of my ungratefulness. THAT was sobering. Not to negate the emotional feelings that go along with all these things, because they are real and must be acknowledged, but reminders of truths are very powerful in overcoming those negative emotions that sometimes bog me (us) down. Love you guys and trusting that God is at work in and through you every day. Dee

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  • 30 March, 2014 at 7:10 pm
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    Well written, Amie, as usual. No matter where we are, we always have a choice over our attitude and I think it’ stone of Satan’s tactics to tempt us to complain, be ungrateful, all the if onlys… But if we can look/hunt for the good, the blessings God has given, then we learn and grow so much more/quicker, not to mention we are more of a blessing to others. Praying for you!

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  • 30 March, 2014 at 7:50 pm
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    I’m getting to do this now, not in a location sense but in a season of life sense. I had thought that I was past the baby stage and was moving forward with plans for my doula business and music work…and yet here I am with a baby again, those plans indefinitely on hold. Life looks so different than what I had been expecting!!! It would be easy to get frustrated about “not” doing an being all the things I had planned. But I’m working on seeing the positives and enjoying this new little life that God has blessed me with (even if I am awfully sleep deprived!) God willing, I will have many, many years ahead to spend on music and work with birthing women. Today I am called to a smaller role outside my home, and a larger focus within it. And honestly, I look at my little son, who is babbling and chewing on everything and just learned how to scoot (everywhere!!!) and I’m grateful for the gift.

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  • 30 March, 2014 at 9:45 pm
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    Reading this caused me to put into words our current lives. We just moved from our home in Auburn that we had put 17 years of gardening, remodeling to our liking, and in general loving our home. We moved to a townhome rental in Sumner. We didn’t want to dwell on what we miss, so we made a list of what we like here: Call the manager for maintenance, a few pots of flowers that take far less time, walking to the grocery store, a much homier small town, even stairs to the bedroom and PC room – to force us to exercise (yea). So yes we agree with you defining yourself by what you lack instead of what you have is not living as God has placed you. Thank you for your thoughts.

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  • 30 March, 2014 at 11:53 pm
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    it just reminds me that God has placed each one of us in a special place for this season of our lives. There is an abundance of opportunities to share His love if we but take the time to look around. Each season of life has it’s challenges and joys. Praise God for where He has placed us. I love your insight, May God bless you as you serve Him.

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  • 31 March, 2014 at 1:58 am
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    Thank you so much for perspective, I have so many blessings and need to focus on God’s goodness and what Is and not what isn’t.

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  • 1 April, 2014 at 11:22 pm
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    Thank you for encouraging us with your wise perspective. Praying for you all!

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  • 6 April, 2014 at 3:47 am
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    Thank you for this post Amie! I really appreciated it and has got me thinking about my own life..to be thankful where God has me and what He has given me. Love you!

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