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30 July, 2012

All We Ever Need to Know We Learned from a Newborn

Being a grandparent is awesome!  Our days with newborn Acacia gave us plenty of time to rock and think, admire and ponder, pace and wonder.  Without the responsibilities of parenting but with all the privileges of grandparenting we noticed with interest Acacia’s transition to life outside the womb. Watching our dear newborn granddaughter we learned all we ever need to know when entering a new culture.

Lesson  1. Recognize our dependence.
Acacia makes noise when she has a need.  Like her, we need be willing to let others know when we need assistance.  We won’t know how things are done in the new place, in the new culture.  We must acknowledge we need input from people experienced in the culture.

Lesson 2.  Communication is essential.
Acacia is good at communicating.  Her facial expressions, her different noises and her body movements all communicate what she is experiencing, making it easier for her caregivers to discern her needs.  Likewise, it is essential that we communicate with those helping us in our transition.  Otherwise we will hinder our own wellbeing and will shortchange our learning. We have to be honest about what we are experiencing.

Lesson  3. Trust our Parent.
Acacia settles at the sound of her parents’ voices.  She recognizes them, it seems.  She lets them know when something is not right, but she also lets them help her and calm her.  She trusts them to care for her and meet her needs.  And they do.  They meet her every need.  They are completely faithful to her.  In like manner, we need to recognize our heavenly Father’s voice and let Him help us and calm us.  We need to keep our complete trust and faith in Him.  We know that during transition it is tempting to follow so many other voices, and it can make us frantic.  It is vitally important for our survival that we trust our Father to meet our every need. He is completely faithful to us.

Lesson  4. Observation is key.
Acacia is very alert most of the time she is awake.  Her bright eyes seem to take in everything all around her.  She enjoys looking at bright shapes and they capture her rapt attention.  She observes and learns what to expect.  It is amazing to watch her learning take place.  We need to be very observant as we transition.  Observation brings insight.  Learning takes place.  We will learn what to expect, learn to predict others’ responses, etc. as we observe and remember.  We need to spend lots of time observing.

Lesson 5.  Learning is tiring.
Acacia is keen in her observation, sometimes seeming to use every muscle in her body to respond to what she is seeing, what she is learning.  And then, when she has all the input she can tolerate, she falls asleep (sometimes needing a little assistance from her loved ones).  We must remember this lesson, and be diligent to take the time for rest that we need.  If we fail to take breaks and rest when we need it, we might get cranky and end up needing someone else to tell us it is time to take a nap!  For learning to go well, our minds and bodies need adequate rest.  It is essential.

Lesson 6.  Smile often.
Everyone is delighted when Acacia smiles.  It makes us all feel better when she breaks into a smile.  Reflexively we all smile when Acacia smiles.  It is really important we learn to smile often when in transition.  Being too serious, too self-focused will create stress and hinder relationship-building.  Smiling with others eases tension and speaks of hope, contentment and understanding.  Everything just seems better when smiles come often.

Yep.  All we ever need to know we learned from a newborn.  How gracious of God to allow us to be part of Acacia’s cultural orientation to this world that we might learn what we need to know for our own transition.  How gracious indeed.

11 July, 2012

Experiences, our lives are full of experiences . . . . .

Experiences, our lives are full of experiences which shape us, which signify the passage of time.  My most recent experience which signifies the passage of time, is becoming a grandfather for the first time.   It seems like yesterday, Christine and I were bringing Lizz home from the hospital.  This past weekend we accompanied Lizz, her husband and their daughter home!    Wow, time does fly!    We are on a journey of experiences  as we celebrate the arrival of Acacia Joy Bramble.   

Throughout my spiritual journey in life, God has given wisdom, conviction, compassion, and direction as I have sought to learn from Him .   All of the experiences have been for my good, really for my best.   There have been times in which I readily received them and responded to them.    Other times I would find myself holding back, holding onto these experiences for my own benefit rather than releasing them and clinging to God.   Clinging to His very promise that He knows best and desires that I respond to Him in every situation.

Throughout life, I have encountered many changes and experienced many challenges.  In the midst of it, I've sought to remember that it’s all part of experiencing God.     Throughout our married life God's spoken words, to both Christine and I, have brought change, change that reflects God's work in our lives.    A change in which we found ourselves serving Him in Kenya.    With God,  life change is exciting and rewarding even in the midst of  the unknowns, amidst opportunities  to have our faith stretched and deepened.   Experiencing God is what we long for as we continue on the journey.  

When we truly experience God then we will experience life change.   This experience is more than just doing the right things or not doing the wrong things, it is an experience that comes from the heart that desires to live in the  the image of God.  This can only be done with the help of the Holy Spirit.    Experiencing God may mean a change in location, vocation, or in earthly relationships.   More importantly this spiritual experience with God will bring about a change of heart and attitude.  This "heart change" will be evident in our day-to-day lives.    If we are experiencing God then others will see this change.  

As we continue experiencing God, a deeper life change is experienced.    The deeper the experience is the deeper our life is changed!    In the midst of these often tremendous changes, including the change we find ourselves in as we enter God's work in Uganda, we know there are some constants.   God is unmovable, unchangeable, uncompromising, undistracted, uncontainable and unfailing.  His desire of good for us is strong.  His demonstration of love is endless.   During our experience with Him, we desire to see these attributes played out when we allow Him to work in us and through us. 

 We have experienced,  are continuing to and will  experience many life changes on our journey to God's "promised land" for us.   In the midst of these changes, I am so grateful God is the same today as we prepare for work in Uganda as he was "yesterday" when we left for Kenya.  He will be the same "tomorrow" as he will continually lead us through the life changes ahead.       My desire is to experience God in a new, a deeper way.   A deeper way in which I draw closer to him, a deeper way in which God can use me for His purpose to help others seek and experience God!

Jeff