Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Remember Your Journey

In reading through Micah recently, these verses encouraged me:

“Remember your journey from Shittim to Gilgal, 
that you may know the righteous acts of the LORD.” 
 ~ Micah 6:5b

Since June 2012, but really since April 2011, when we said “YES, We Will Go”, and made our decision to move to Africa public, life has moved at warp speed much of the time.  I almost feel as though I have lived two lives, the Pre-Africa life and the Africa one. 

As I reflect on our family’s identity, I sometimes have a hard time looking at our family history in any kind of continuum – instead it feels like two separate lives – that is how different the experiences are.

I love Rwanda.  I love East Africa (the only part of Africa I’ve seen).  But sometimes, even when everything is good, so good, in this present African life, sometimes I yearn, I long, like a child away at camp for the first time, for my Pre-Africa life. 

I see that past life through a very rose-colored lens, conveniently forgetting any and all arguments, sibling rivalries, loads and loads of laundry, home repairs constantly needed, marital strife, and all other stresses, and I only remember my happy little house in my small town neighborhood, where I homeschooled our four children, raised chickens, enjoyed having pets, swam almost year round with the family in our pool, took my kids to music lessons, baseball practice and games, boy scouts and the waterpark, and visited with friends while buying whatever I liked at the town grocery store, the town social hub, the H-E-B.  I even have extremely happy memories of building snowmen and sledding down the hill by our house, on formal dinner serving trays (because what Texan owns a real sled??) on those few glorious days every other winter or so when we would have ice, sleet or even snow storms.

What is my very favorite memory of our Pre-Africa life?

 My favorite memory of all is remembering how we all lived under the same roof.  

 I fondly look back on those days, especially when I’m missing my kids like crazy. 

Those four sweet little homeschoolers of the past now live in Illinois, Texas and Kijabe, Kenya, while their Mom and Dad live in Kibogora, Rwanda.  Instead of living in bedrooms sharing a common hallway, we now live in locales sharing only the same planet.  Gone are the days of muddy footprints on the floor, of wet trails leading through my house from the outdoor pool to the refrigerator for a snack, of homemade “I love you” cards and jelly smeared hand and face hugs.  But, I do get to say hello to today:  of having intelligent, inspiring and challenging conversations with my globally aware and sensititive adult and teen children, to read books that THEY recommend to ME (instead of reading Dr. Seuss over and over to them!), and I do get to enjoy watching them become independent citizens of God’s world. 

My challenge when I’m feeling homesick for my former life is to remember that we will always be family, we will always be knitted together with love, no matter how many miles separate us. 

But when I’m longing for a time travel machine, so I can relive just one of those days when the children were young and we all shared the same roof, in the same wonderful town –  for the days when we would go to the hospital and visit their Daddy in between his cases – this passage from Micah reminded me. 

“Remember your journey from Shittim to Gilgal, 
that you may know the righteous acts of the LORD.” 
 ~ Micah 6:5b

Consider the journey.  Remember your journey.   

 It is good for me to remember the past. 

But more importantly, it is good that I remember all the times God saved, protected, guided, corrected, warned, inspired, and helped me and us in the past – indeed, I need to remember all the times he did these for each member of our family. 

Because, though my memory is so rose colored, the truth is, those days were often hard, just as these days can be hard. We had more than our share of interpersonal conflict in our home.  Though I worked and tried to provide a peaceful home for our family, I think my battles with anxiety and with other demons were big contributors to our daily struggles ~ we often fought, we sometimes really misunderstood each other, we judged, and we hurt one another. 

Sometimes, Tim and I wanted to just give up on our marriage.  We were so different!  How would we ever be able to understand each other?  Sometimes, we wondered if God knew what he was doing when he let us be the parents of our children – we felt so clueless as to how to raise them the way God wanted!  (We didn’t even know what He might want a lot of the time.)   And yet, amazingly, in spite of our mistakes, they all turned out great. 

 Remember your journey.  

Remember His faithfulness. 

Yes,  God was soooo faithful to us.  He got us through.  He gave us love and hope and he daily renewed our strength.  In spite of our stubborn natures (and oh, are we stubborn!), of our myriad mistakes, or some decisions that we knew were wrong, yet chose to make anyway (okay, I’m speaking for myself in that one – I don’t think Tim ever made those, but I sure did), God was so faithful to us to keep us all together and to see us through. 

His grace and mercy to us are why we are a family today.  Of why we all still have each other.  Of why we have HIM.  And when I read this passage from Micah, I remember, to keep being able to trust Him for where we are now, for where we are going, I must remember the way He kept us safe, and kept us going, in our past journeys. That gives me the strength and hope to keep trusting Him on our new journey. 

So, how about you?  How does remembering God’s faithfulness to you in your past impact your journey with Him today? What are some specific ways He showed his love and faithfulness, grace and/or mercy to you in your past?  And how will that make a difference for your heart’s cry to Him now?  I’ d love to hear. 

“Remember your journey from Shittim to Gilgal, 
that you may know the righteous acts of the LORD.” 
 ~ Micah 6:5b

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

"On the Road Again, Just Can't Wait to Get on the Road Again...." ~ Willie Nelson


**This is being posted from Rift Valley Academy in Kijabe, Kenya, on February 17, but was actually WRITTEN at a McDonald's in Illinois, USA, during a snowstorm, on February 4.***

~ ~ ~
January 20, our "USA Leave Date", came, just like we knew it would, but only 2 of us boarded the plane back to Rwanda.  I ended up staying behind in America for a bit longer. 

In case you are as disoriented as I sometimes feel about "Where the Bergs are", for those readers who know us well enough to even care where we are,  I'll summarize:

Hannah is in Wheaton, Illinois, at Wheaton College
Stephen is in College Station, TX, at Texas A&M
Ruthie and Sam are in Kijabe, Kenya, at Rift Valley Academy boarding school
Deste and Tim are in Kibogora, Rwanda.  Deste just started Primary 1 on Tuesday!

So, where am I?  Well, I am typing this blog in a McDonalds off I-55 North, just 2 hours south of Wheaton. 

This Texan had to pull over due to all the crazy white stuff that kept falling from the sky.  It was coming down so fast, I couldn't see, and my car continuously slipped and slided all over the road!  Not to worry - it looks like a beautiful post card out there, and I am warm and toasty underneath the Golden Arches, enjoying warm coffee and free wifi.  Someday I hope to make it to Wheaton to see Hannah Berg and say a last good-bye to her before I board my plane to Africa from Chicago airport.


Since January 20, I drove Tim and Deste to the airport, kissed them goodbye, cried a good bit, finished packing up our rent house, cleaned the rent house, moved in with my parents for a few days,  been to the doctor (more on this later), and hit the road for Chicago.  When we cancelled my Jan 20 flight, I re-booked it through Chicago, so I could see many family members "one more time" as I drove to that airport, and so I could leave Hannah's car with her just before I left the country.  So far, I've been to:

  •  AGGIELAND to hang out with Stephen for a weekend and say good-bye to him again 
  • Dallas, to say goodbye to my brother Mike. 

  • Little Rock, Arkansas, where I saw my brother, Jim, his wife/my friend Susan, and my nieces, Amanda and Merry Doodle, er, Meredith (Merry Doodle is an old name for her, which continues to fit well, as she seems to always be Merry and she is a great Doodler!  She is quite the gifted artist.) 

  • St. Louis, Missouri,  seeing no one - but giving thanks for a great rest in a Holiday Inn Express
  • And now, I am trying to get to Wheaton, IL, if the snow will just let up for a bit!

When we answered God's call to leave Tim's surgical practice and our familiar life in Kerrville, I knew we were in for a challenge, even a spiritual and physical battle to keep our family together in heart if not in geography, and to keep our marriage strong and our hearts in tune with Him as we worked in an unfamiliar culture and locale. 

But I didn't understand what it would sometimes feel like to be in that battle. 

  • Sometimes, it would feel like we were really missing the days when we didn't wonder how or if we could pay our bills, especially missing the days when we weren't always praying for God to show us a way to pay college and/or high school (missionary boarding school) tuition.  As the joke goes, "I've been rich and I've been poor.  Rich is better."  No, I don't really believe that, but having money does make bill payment days less stressful and um, less adventurous.   
  • Sometimes it would feel like we were tired. Bone tired.
  • Sometimes it would feel like a kick in the gut, when we discovered, to our dismay, that people we thought were FOR us, were actually AGAINST us, and had been working against us the entire time we'd been gone, and even longer.  (No family members referred to in this sentence.)
  • Sometimes it would feel like we were so thrilled and thankful for the opportunity to serve Jesus in this way.  
  • Sometimes it would feel like we were in over our heads, paddling hard and fast to just keep our heads above water. 
  • Sometimes we experienced intense doubt, and would ask each other if we made this call up in our heads.  Do you really think God called us to this?  Are we crazy?  Or is this where we really are supposed to be? 
  • Sometimes, we've had no words, but have just held each other close, and been so glad to have each other for support.
  • Sometimes, we'd grieve together that we weren't near our high school and college age kids, and would hope, and reach up to trust, that God was making up for the lack of our daily presence in their lives.  
  • Sometimes, we would fight to hang onto the knowledge that He called us, and is continuing to call us, especially when folks we love questioned our choices, saying, "Maybe (this or that challenge) means that God doesn't want you to go anymore". 

As I sit here, sipping my coffee at McDonalds, and thinking of my sweet husband in Rwanda, all I know is that I am grateful for these days in the USA of seeing family..... but I am even more glad that soon I will be HOME in my husband's arms in Rwanda, surrounded by so many of our Rwandan friends, coworkers and neighbors. 

I love being "On the Road Again", but I'm going to love reaching that road's destination even more. I can't wait to get home!