Truth be told I am not doing great. We are not doing well. We are hurting. It is not one thing. More like the culmination of hundreds of moving parts making me feel sick to my stomach, light headed, and emotionally worn thin. I awoke this morning and prayed for peace, some relief, and much needed fresh perspective. I need to be honest. I have felt this way with too much frequency lately and both Jason and I have sensed something is on the horizon. But it leaves me overwhelmed, out of breath, and off center.

Like the world is askew.

But I sense and see and feel and know the light breaking through.

I am reaching for peace, for solace, for some sense of center but it feels more like grasping through an ever winding path with blurry vision, rubbed raw, and exposed from the trek thus far. This morning I woke up before the roosters, neighbors, noise, and chaos started and I opened His Word. I was commanded to love, to sing, to worship, to focus on Him not me. That helps. So much.

We are sick. Again. Not terribly but enough to make my mind reel again about how we deal with this here and wonder if I can take anymore. And when I realized yet another cycle of sickness was making its way into our home I felt my heart beat so loud in my chest. Fear. I remember in my ‘less chill days’ the feeling of a panic attack rising in my body and I just sat and cried. It is just too much. But tears are cleansing. They can be the beginning of uncovering pain and ushering in healing.

Last night I was folding laundry when Anni came running down the hall and said “come now, Papa is crying.” My heart sank and I quickly rounded the corner of Anni’s room to find my husband shaking and crying. His grandfather passed away yesterday. And we are here and everyone who we need is there. I read the email on Jason’s phone and just sat on the floor holding his hand…silent. We knew this would happen. We knew we would be here and those we love would be there. In our needs. In our joys. In our grief. We chose it. But it is a high price to pay. I started crying and Anni quickly followed suit as did Evy fearing she would be left out. A chorus of crying. Then the power cut. Poetic.
And then something I never want to forget.
Annikah, through her confused tears said “hey, why are you crying? He gets to be with Jesus now! So I don’t want to hear any more crying. Oh Dear!” (The Oh Dear is a recent addition to her vocabulary that she uses with increasing frequency that instantly made us all laugh). We smiled through tears and knew with complete certainty she is right. With limited ability to understand everything going on she can comfort and love and point the way. This is blessing. Poured out for us.

Another 5 minutes and a “hodi” came at our door. I was still teary eyed but went to greet a neighbor and friend who came by to make sure I had gotten the gift of a mango she had dropped off earlier in the day while I was at work. I did. I said thank you and then I explained my tear stained face. I told her we were sad because of our loss but that we rejoice and know he is with God in heaven because he followed Jesus and loved and lived for Him. All of his 97 years worth of days. That moment was such a stark contrast for me. A moment ordained from above. We are here. Lots of days it sucks. To be blunt. But we are here because we really want to see Jesus glorified and lifted up. By us; His beaten down at times, broken but redeemed, and imperfect saints. By everyone; every tribe, every nation, every tongue who has not heard about His glory. His peace. His Abundance. And somehow that made the pain of not being there have less sting.

The same-ness and lack of personal space here gets to me. No seasons, not much “new”, not much travel, always surrounded by people, needs, and constant noise. We work, we study the language, we visit, we make goals and plans, we do our best to respond to the ‘in need of immediate attention’ problems, and we have visitors. A lot. I some how always feel like I am behind in life about a week with no hope of ever catching up. Like a lot of days I am only reacting to that which is swirling around me.

But even though I am surrounded by people there are so many days I am lonely. And we cannot continue like this. But I am so torn because the part of me that wants to put up boundaries and step back also knows that the most amazing learning and growing has occurred for me when I have been stretched past what I knew to be comfortable. Past what I would chose for myself. Right now we are living with the “what-if’s,” with the unanswered questions, and without the plan or clear path we want. But that is life in this space. And I know for sure we want to see Jesus. In all of it. And I do know I am learning a lot about what really matters. I don’t think I’ll ever look back at my life and wished I had spent more time dusting. But I could be biased because I hate cleaning even in moderate temperatures and will make any excuse to not do it. But I do know for sure I cannot let opportunities pass me by to share, love, be with my family, and others. In Kiswahili one word for time is nafasi and it also means “opportunity, space, or chance” and I think that is pretty perfect. We only have limited nafasi. All of us. What will I choose to do with it? And this is life and we are trying to find our way through it. This blurry, winding road somewhere out there in the distance. To still maintain some semblance of family time, space, and time to breathe. Not easy.

But worth it.

We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed.

And maybe He reveals things in His time for His purposes. No definitely. Trust. I took 20 minutes today to hide in our office and blare some Third Day songs to drown out the noise outside our front door. And it was needed. The words brought me to tears because of the rawness that exists in my soul right now.

“If I run to you will you hold me in Your arms for evermore?
I’m dying out here on my own, long before I am ready your arms are wide open waiting for me to come home.

give me revelation, show me what to do, because I have been trying to find my way but I haven’t got a clue
I’ve got nothing without You.”

Yeah, something like that. We are struggling but it is ok. It requires revelation that only He can provide. It forces us to depend on Him and we are clinging and waiting. We are asking “Lord, what is Your highest use of our lives?” and then begging for the courage to live that out.

  1. Anonymous says:

    We love you so and hurt along with you. We know that all we can do is pray and trust God to bring you through all of this with abounding blessing. Our hearts are so proud of your (yours and Jason's)courage and devotion in following such a difficult path. We love all of you so very much. Tears are being shed here, too.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I don't know you. šŸ™‚ I found your blog through a close friends and have read it since… we are new members with Wycliffe and headed to live and work in Papua New Guinea. Right now we are just beginning our journey and I feel much of the pain and heartache that you so purely expressed. I just wanted to thank you for your words. I cried for your pain… and I feel the same (under much different circumstances). I am holding tight to this promise from Ephesians and my heart aches that you will as well find comfort in this from chapter 2 verse 14… “He is our peace.” Praying for your family today. much love, Sara Driggers

  3. Anonymous says:

    Roxanne, I know you don't know me, but I am a friend of Annie's and I found your blog through hers. I have been reading it ever since and I have to say that you and your family inspire me. The way you selflessly give your life in His name is both amazing and immeasurable. I am sorry to see you struggle and very sorry about the loss of your husband's grandfather. It sounds like he lived a very long life, was a beliver and was very much loved by his family. I only hope for a life with half as many pleasures.While you say there seems to be no seasons, no change where you live… I am beginning to believe that “seasons” have to be about more than the weather. I have been having the worst month in terms of struggles with my son. Everything from attitude, to rebellion, to flat out disobedience… definitely not a happy heart šŸ™ I have been begging for spring to come in hopes it would bring change to our life.The other day I read your blog about finding the happiness in little things like the ice cream vendor and it inspired me. I realized that if you and your family could find a true joy even with all the hardships you face, then who was I to be down in the dumps. After all, I'm only dealing with a strong willed child. Anyway, you inspired me to focus on finding the true joys in life, even if they are often covered in a fog of timeouts and deep breaths. You have been MY season of change and have shown me that sometimes I need to stop waiting for spring or a seasonal change to improve my life. I just need start MAKING change by find the true joys He is giving me every day.I will pray for you and your family. For peace, for strength, for comfort. Even in hard times, on super bad days, weeks or even months, God always seems to use some strange tool to show us just how wonderful and precious this life is. Thank you for inspiring me and know that your work is helping more than those in the community you live. It's changing lives by your example. Take care of yourself!Kate Ahlers

  4. Anonymous says:

    I love the word nafasi. I so feel I waste so much time, and it's not even cleaning. I have prayed for Him to help me find my nafasi too.If I could help you more, I would feel I had more purpose in my life. It is terrible to be an empty nester. You still want to help all of your children, but they have flown away, and don't need you. I can't help Rob or Katy either. The darkness you feel is definately here too. The entire world seems to be going off course. We are afraid for our children and grandchildren. I fear America has seen her best days. We feel none of you will ever have as great a life as we had, which is really scary since we lived through the Cold War, VietNam, etc. We are studying the Book of Revelation in adult Sunday school. Many thought it would be the end of times discussion, but the leader said we need to take into account the people it was written for at the time. Also he reminded us that God tells us not to worry countless times. To trust in HIM. Thus that is what I am trying to do. Hugs and Kisses from here, and I hope you can get some peace this weekend, and that the illnesses are mild. I love Anni's faith, and her new little saying…

  5. Anonymous says:

    Jason, Roxanne,You and the Engstrom extended family are being covered in prayer by Stonebridge Church. Jim forwarded your blog to the elders and I read through it. I haven't had the opportunity to meet you in person, but hear periodic updates from Jim. I appreciate your honesty in the blog and with such vivid and raw detail I can't help but to enter into mourning with you. We mourn and yet rejoice at the same time, an interesting mix. Third Day…good choice of songs to dwell on His truths.Praying for His peace to you today, and His presence in a very real way that continually brings you back to the person and work of Christ.Your brother in Christ,Steve Duffy