17 May, 2015

Headed home by Naomi Reed

I’ve finally got around to owning and reading this book by Naomi Reed (I quoted from it in a post this time last year, though I hadn't read the book I'd seen the quote in a Christian periodical). 

A friend sent me her first two books in this series several years ago (My Seventh Monsoon and No Ordinary View). I was amazed. Here was an Aussie woman, an Allied Health Professional, a mum of three boys, and a missionary who writes. How I identified! At the time I was feeling God directing me into writing, but I was also feeling particularly passionate about how few women missionaries were out there writing biographical type material.

I loved this book too. It is about the journey of settling back into Australia “permanently” after six years of service in Nepal. Though we aren't in that phase of life yet, I did understand the struggle with the definition of Home. Yes, it's something of a theme that's come through on this blog in the last year or more.

Here are some thoughts that especially resonated with me, not all of them, just a selection.

Outsider p 41
Naomi talks about being an outsider, about not quite fitting, though you look like you should. Yep, we experience that all the time. 

She ends each chapter in a prayer addressing God personally, honestly. The prayers are excellent. 
Oh Lord, . . . Reminder us that it's normal to be the outsider — that we should expect it. Remind us that Jesus was the outsider and he never said that we would be defined by our ability to fit in or our sense of acceptance or understanding, or our talent for making cheese scones. instead, the Bible talks about being strangers and aliens.
Comparison p 86
In the Christian life, we don't ever have a scale to measure up to. We don't have work reviews, reward points, pay rises or grades from 1 to 10 — which is good. But maybe the temptation is to look over our shoulders in order to figure it out. How am I doing...?
Yes, this is great temptation, perhaps even greater as a missionary when you find yourself in the public's eye more often. When there are fewer to compare yourself against on the mission field and often higher ideals to strive for.

"We might not get another chance" p106
This is a phrase her husband uses often. It's one that isn't said often in our house, but I do think in that way. It's a good way to think about interesting opportunities.

God doesn't just use our 'personal best' times p 138
I especially liked the prayer that followed a chapter about her perceived failure in something she felt God was leading her to do:
Lord, we're all a bit hopeless. Some days we wake up and our legs are weak, our eyes are tired, our necks hurt and our voices are shrill and scratchy. We can't speak well, write well, paint well, sing well, cook well or do anything well at all. We're just 7s. We want to do things that honour you and speak of you, but often we don't feel as if we can. . . Lord on those days lead us gently. . . Reassure us that you'll do something in the middle four hopelessness — you'll provide what we need. . . So Lord, help us today to keep walking forwards, or keep speaking, or keep writing, or keep recording, or keep singing, or keep working, or keep parenting . . . or keep doing whatever it is that causes us to shake and tremble with nerves, but that brings honour to you. Amen
How often I feel fairly hopeless. Especially every time someone asks about my language ability, about my boys' language abilities. Every time someone says, "I don't know how you do it, this moving back and forth between Australia and Japan." I want to grab them and say, "I don't know how I do it either, but one thing I do know, I often feel incompetent and weak and have no idea how I'm going to make it over the next hump."

She finishes the book well, coming back to look at the enigma of the concept "home". She considers the thought that the between-home status that we often experience could be a gift. In that it causes us to face our homelessness as Christians. We're not home yet, none of us ever will be on this earth. But we are on the way home.

But in the meantime, we stop in places and make them home for a while. The places, people, and roles in those times are given to us as gifts. "We grow to love and understand them. . . But during the whole time, wherever we are there's a small part of us that is still the alien and the stranger, that is still longing for something more deeply satisfying."


Anonymous said...

Does one need to read her other books in the trilogy to be able to appreciate this one, or can this read as a stand-alone book?

PS, you should post a review on Amazon. She has none on the Aussie site and only two on the American one. The more the merrier.

Wendy said...

You can read this as a stand-alone. But I do recommend the others too! I don't like doing book reviews, but I'll give it a go.