Marie Alvero is a former missionary to Africa and Mexico. She currently lives a happy, busy life with her husband and children in Central Texas, USA.
As the Hallmark movie channel announced 40 new Christmas movies for their 2019 schedule, it occurred to me that few events get the expectation and hype that Christmas does. Christmas has come to represent the culmination of the year in an extended season of beauty, feasting, generosity, friendship, and joy. We plan for traditions to be repeated, bringing all the perfection of Christmases past into today’s edition.
In the doctor’s office where I work, we have a regular patient by the first name of Blender. That is her legal, given name. I haven’t had an opportunity to ask about the back story, but I am so curious as to what made parents name their child after a kitchen appliance. Maybe it means something beautiful in another language. I have no idea!
Do you ever feel like you’re unicycling on a tightrope, while juggling five flaming torches and being chased by a tightrope master with a laser gun? I do! Life is balancing and juggling and trying to keep everyone alive, all at the same time, all the time. I’m tired, and I bet you are too.
I love reading invigorating stories of people who have started NGOs, founded orphanages, adopted foster kids, created fair-trade organizations, or pulled off some other world-changing feat. But as inspiring as these people are, most of us aren’t called to that kind of mission. We’re in one place, woven through a family and a community, living pretty low-key lives.
Four friends sit around the kitchen island. Each of us has jobs, schedules, responsibilities that pull us in different directions, and it isn’t often that we have the opportunity to hang out together. But on this evening we sit together and share life.
I lived in a village in Tanzania that had a big, old avocado tree that was a local treasure. The tree grew in the middle of town, and its fruit was available to anyone in the village. The tree was cherished and protected by the villagers—for some of whom an avocado might comprise most of the food they’d get in a day.
The ringing of my phone interrupted my quiet evening drive. It was a close friend on the other end, “Marie, I need you to pray for me!” She only had a few minutes to talk, just enough time to tell me about the very stressful things going on in her life, and I assured her that I would pray for her. After she hung up, I prayed for her out loud for the rest of my drive.
It was summer and I was on a youth mission trip on the northern coast of Poland. As our trip came to a close, our base in Warsaw was sending a van to pick most of us up, while Nick, René, and I planned to head back by train/bus/hitchhiking. I have no idea how this harebrained plan was conceived, but for some reason, we thought it was great.
When my youngest was a toddler, each night I would put her to sleep in her own bed. Sometimes this was an easy job and my tired little one would be asleep in minutes; sometimes it was a hardcore showdown of her stubbornness against mine. But always, eventually, she would end up peacefully asleep. (Mom won!)
I have a hard time defining success, specifically when it comes to my work. It seems like any enterprise that gets 40+ hours of my life each week should be setting me up for tangible success. There should be promotion, challenge, and a sense of pride and accomplishment. But what if there isn’t? What if you feel pretty much invisible at work; no one is recognizing you, let alone promoting you? Does that mean you’re not succeeding? If success isn’t measured by achievements, then how is it measured?