A Letter to Guam upon Leaving

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Dear Guam,

I am not the white girl who came and left. Please stop saying so; it is simply not true. Well, I am “white,” whatever that means. My genealogy is a quilted mess of English, Dutch, German, and Native American. In other words, I am full-blooded ‘merican. And I did come, twice, to this island, and I left once before and am about to leave again. But I still resent this title.

We like to identify ourselves by our origins, by our homes. Typically we do not realize the mark our spaces left until we find ourselves separated from them. The influence of a place or people group is more apparent when they are gone and their absence juxtaposed with the current place and people.

I had no idea how much being a country girl from the Heartland/Midwest defined me until I plopped down in a new place. And I had no idea how much being a converted island girl defined me until I left (the first time). So what happens when you  are all of a sudden from different places? When you have homes on opposite sides of the globe, what then?

It is like all the missionary kids say, “We don’t really have a home.” The beauty of scattered love is always overshadowed by displacement. And yet, it is in being displaced, being uncomfortable, missing and being missed, that we are constantly reminded: this is world is not our home.

Darling, sweet Guam, you have been a gift to me that goes far beyond salty air and crashing blue waves. God has used you to make me brave, to make me aware, to make me open. And I will miss you more than you can ever know. Most of the people stateside don’t know much about you. So, that is kind of lonely. But instead of waxing melancholy, I will just see myself in a kind of cool, elite club of those who did not just come and go, but those who came and will always be part Guamanian. Because, I will be.

I could make a long list of all your quirks and unique aspects. But for now, just know that I love you–all thirty-five miles of packed cultural diversity and extremely humid air. You hold some of the most precious people in my life and some of my very best memories. Lord-willing, I will see you soon.

Thanks for everything,

Audrey Ann

Appearance, Social Media, and Snobbery

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Palm trees reflect off of my computer screen. They distract me from the page on which I should be writing, writing. But writing about what? It seems like everyone has something to say these days. Pithy statements are accompanied by striking photos, hashtags, and links back to personal websites. I, too, want to revel in this media-circle fame. Yet I simultaneously wrinkle my nose at the repugnant nature of it all.

The internet has become a dump of human thought and lack thereof, and social media a scattered collage of chosen phrases and photos to show our lives exactly the way we want them to appear. Sometimes the dishonesty gets to me. Once I was ranting to my husband on the subject of people making their lives appear perfect on Facebook and I was worried I was doing the same. He said, “What, do you want to put up a picture of yourself picking your nose?” Okay, okay. He brings me back to planet earth. And I knew he was right.

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Truth is not always necessary to share with others. There are those mamas who tell vivid poo and nursing stories (and even bless us with photographic proof of their conundrums). There are those who tell us every emotion they experience in ten minute increments. Maybe honesty is not always the issue. I have this problem with being too hard on people–whether they are saying things I deem stupid, or portraying their lives in a way I deem too-good-to-be-true.

Social Media has never really been the issue. Sure, it is a dangerous tool. However, the real problem has always been me–comparing myself with others and getting frustrated that some seem to have their personal style and business branding all figured out, always have inspirational quotes to share, and seem to have loads of energy even after staying home with their six kids all day. Goodness, I have no children and still desire a nap from time to time!

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Deep down I know the truth, anyway. All of my friends on Facebook are real people. Photos on Instagram are merely fractured pieces of real life being enjoyed. And I need to crush this aspect of my overly critical (masked by the word ‘analytical’) self. Social media should never be a fully and intimately accurate portrayal of my life…because then, my life would be all about social media, and I would not really have one.

So, hello. My name is Audrey Ann Sanders Masur.  I have good days where I work out and am super productive, and I have days I eat donuts and cry about silly things. Please never think my life is perfect, but please know that it is blessed.

In the drab days, in the artistic days, in all of my days, I am blessed, for Jesus loves us. This I know. I hope you know it, too.

Keep the Faith,

Audrey Ann

The Struggle of Better: Lessons at Batu Caves

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Like a worn out mule I have carried this shame, this stand-on-the-sides-of-my-feet-and-keep-silent shame. It is the progeny of a struggle, this shame. The struggle? Jesus’s return to earth makes me nervous and a little sad. Our church is going through Revelation line by line, context and background discussed. Goodness, I have learned so much about prophesy that I never knew. It does seem like a lot of things are coming together, and our Lord could return at any time. And I am twitchy and undone.

One day I sat on my bed after weeks and weeks of this struggle. Pulling my knees to my chest, I began talking out loud to Jesus. I told Him how I was sorry and that I knew I should not love my life here more than the one coming, but that the one He gave me was so good. And babies, I wanted babies.

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But I knew the right answers. I knew that this life and all the joys in it are good gifts from God, but eternity is better. My life with Eric is simple and sweet, something I prayed for a very long time. The thought of not being his wife anymore makes me a little crazy. It is like telling a kid at Disneyland, “We’re going to leave your favorite characters and awesome rides to go to this place you have never seen, but it is better I promise.” Better.

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During my adventure in Malaysia, Elizabeth and I went to Batu Caves—a common tourist spot for those who stay in Kuala Lumpur. The statue/idol was (as far as size goes) rather impressive. We came prepared and modestly dressed to be able to hike the nearly 300 steps to enter the Hindu temple.

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(Read it and weep, girlfriend. No bootie shorts for you. My question: are there rules for men?)

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As we climbed the famous steps, monkeys scurried about our feet and above our heads. I was fascinated, but Elizabeth, who was reliving past encounters with the creatures, was less than enthralled. As we entered the cave, its majesty swept over us, and then the heaviness settled over the dark and damp tomb. The beauty of the cave was overshadowed by oppression. And then it hit me: Jesus will make this place better. He made it, and one day He will claim it again.

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What a lovely relief. He will make it better. All better.

Keep the Faith,

Audrey Ann