Hope you're having an awesome, joy-filled week! I hope it's one of those weeks that's so joyful it's like when you can't wait for the day to come when you get to go to the airport to meet someone you've never met but you've always wanted to!!
I'm going to have a week like that! On Sunday I'm gonna speed (not really, just sorta!) out to the airport to meet someone I love with all my heart but I've never met!! I can't wait!!
No, it's not my new grand babies. It'll be a few weeks before they have their cute little American passports with their cute little smiles on them (smiling is a new skill they've just learned in the last month!)
It's Tina I can't wait to meet! I really can't wait!
It's not like I've never met her, tho'.
I've known her for a good long time! We've got a bunch of kids and now eight grand kids together! I know her pretty good! It's just that…
The longer I walk thru the world with her, she always turns out to be deeper, braver, and stronger than the Tina I knew up to then! I'm always totally convinced she's the sweetest and most capable person I've ever known. And than something new comes along and I meet new sweetness and new capacities in her that I've never seen before!
She always winds up being someone new that up to now I've not yet met!
When we got married, she was the kindest, most gentle person I'd ever known. After a while, she began to really want kids. It came from a place deep in her heart. "Tina, the Mom" was a new person to me. I hadn't met her before. And when she got to actually be a mom, Wow!! Was she amazing! During all of our kids' births…and I was at 'em all!… the wonder of all the wonders of those moments-just before and just after- was always to me, her face.
We moved to Italy when we were thirty. Our colleagues were pastors and theologians with graduate and post graduate degrees. Tina always worked from the day we got married so that I could go to school. She never got to go to college. But after a while, all the Italians we knew would always make fun of all of us for our American accents. Than they would always add, "The only one of you who speaks perfect Italian with no accent is Cristina!"
"Cristina, La Italiana" was a Tina I hadn't really known before! It was a wonder to watch!
Once we had a church up and going, EVERY Sunday she'd cook a humongous after-church dinner for everyone who had no place to go. It was always crowded around our table! We had loads of folks in their twenties who had just come to know the Lord. As Paul says of Rufus' mother, they could say of Tina, "…And she has been a mother to me!" (Romans 16:13)
Wow! Cristina, La Mamma Italiana! She was new for me! I hadn't really known SHE was inside the Tina I had known and loved!
Seemed like there was always a new Tina I'd not yet met!
Then when we moved back home and eventually found a little place out in the "country" of Oliver Springs, she started growing stuff and raising stuff. My life filled with wool, fur, and feathers! Chickens, sheep, goats, rabbits and other strangers I knew nothing about! She knew ALL about 'em! When we built our barn (with TONS of help!) on the inside there's a network of complicated gates and fences so "this critter can go here without that one going there". I just put 'em up step by step exactly as she told me. "Babe, is this cooler than you ever imagined? I said at the exhausted end of the day when we finished the inside. "No. It's exactly as cool as I imagined," she replied calmly.
Tina the farmer…After all these years, there was a country Tina I had never met!
Now she weaves on hundred-year old looms upstairs and blogs about it. People read it all over the world. It's a language I know NOTHING about! "12/3 cotton warps…loopers…lease sticks between the castle and the back beam…" I didn't know she spoke that! Unbelievable!!
I knew she could do stuff like knit and stuff, but "Tina, the Artisan of Ancient Crafts"! I hadn't really met her 'til a few years ago!
Emi asked her to come to Africa and help her and Graham with the process of getting the boys home. She cried! She was praying that call would come! She ran to Knoxville to get weeks of vaccinations. Before you know it, this thing was happening! Tina was going to Africa! Without me!! To rock and hold two African babies in the sweltering heat all day long!
As she was getting ready to leave, my heart was a MESS! "How did this happen?!" I asked the Lord! I've always gone to places and countries by myself to serve Jesus, but she never had! Sometimes she gets to go with me but she had never gone WITHOUT me!!
I was praying for peace. Someone reassured me that God had called HER to this…"You'd just be in the way! They don't need three babies there!"
And she has been amazing! Fearless! "My trip here was great," She told me. "A couple of things happened that would have freaked you out but it was fine!"
Knoxville to Dallas to London to Africa…alone!!
Serving, sweating, laughing, crying, loving…
Tina the Missionary to Africa!! Rockin' it!
On Sunday, I'm going to the airport! I won't have to carry a sign with my name written on it…She'll be able to recognize me!
But I can't wait to meet her!!