Fields of Salt Water and Oceans of Corn

adventure, Christian, Christian womanhood, Culture, family, Heritage, http://schemas.google.com/blogger/2008/kind#post, Island life

An ocean of prairie grass billows and the wagon sways like a ship, heavy with hope. Those brave pioneers crossed miles and miles to claim a new land as their own, as their home. Ever since I was a little girl, their stories have drawn me in, but little did I know how they would define me. 
It is going on five years since I boarded that United plane bound for the Pacific island of Guam. I was a little girl, really, en route to my destiny, an adventure I could not resist. I did some teaching and some falling in love. Now I am married and this is my home. 
It hit me the day I got my driver’s license, the day my husband first teased me about my local accent, and the day I felt more comfortable chatting with local firefighter’s wives than military wives who were pining for Starbucks and Target. This, this quirky place infused with island, Asian, and military culture was home.
If you search for “Guam Scenery” on Pinterest, your eyes will feast on striking beaches, the bluest waves, and breathtaking cliff lines. And they are real! However, those, lovely as they are, do not make this place my home. I would bet that Pinterest will not show you my humble studio apt in the jungle. Yes, the jungle. It will not show you the crazy roosters and my neighbor shouting at the other neighbors who have an all-out rock concert at 1am.

 On vacation. Did I cry when I saw the cornfields? Yes. Yes, I did.

I have struggled with how to make this place my home. A lot of my prized possessions are in the States–in plastic totes my parents are gracious enough to keep. I have thrown away a lot of things along the way, just like my pioneers who braved the west. They threw over heavy chests and other heirlooms that carried too much weight. So have I. But they clutched the lighter items, the quilts, the china, and stored them in their homes of sod and timber. A semblance of their past married the reality of their future. And it was home.
The days I have compared Guam to the Mainland and all that I miss and what I want at my disposal, those have been miserable days. And the days I have pretended to not miss Indiana and just embrace island life with no looking back, those have been dishonest days.
Truth is, I have made this place my home because this place has changed me. The people changed me. I let them change me. In order for a place to be home, you must embrace both your past, your present, and the juxtaposition that it brings. Yes, I now have a twinge of an accent, I kiss those I meet (save military) on the cheek, and I love red rice. But I also still love my blue and white china I brought in my carry on, and anything else antique and English. Every Christmas I make my aunt’s cinnamon rolls. My bookshelf boasts some old Shakespeare books from my great grandpa. 
It is possible to have the ocean and miss cornfields. I know. But it is also possible to be thankful for both. I am a heartland girl turned island girl. And because I am choosing to embrace my past and my now, I can always be at home. For in the end, Jesus is with me, and He is my home.

Keep the Faith,
Audrey Ann


All photo credits (besides #1 already noted) belong to Eric and Audrey Ann Masur. Please do not copy unless given permission.

Liberation of the Soul

Captivity, Christian, Culture, http://schemas.google.com/blogger/2008/kind#post, Island life, Jesus, Liberation, Liberation Day, Liberty
Today is the 71st Liberation Day on Guam. We celebrate the freedom of our island and honor the sacrifices made. Copious amounts of red rice, ribs, and finadene will be consumed. Fireworks will blast all night, and my dogs will go crazy. It will be a loud and lovely day as we remember.  Liberation is beautiful, because captivity is ugly.
He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins” 
(Colossians 1:13-14)

And I think about my soul and every soul, bound, captive before Jesus Christ. The liberation He offers is perfect and beautiful, because our captivity to sin is horrific. But sometimes I forget that He is our only hope. Sometimes I think that people earn their favor with God by being nice and obeying all the rules.

The lie about soul liberation is that we can earn it.

We churched ones can grow up wearing the idea, wearing it like clothing against our chests, that people can attain perfection in and of themselves. Every day we have donned these rags. Others earn our respect based on how well they obey all the rules–or how much it looks like they are, and we earn theirs the same way.

This garment is tight and restricting; we are suffocated, our breath of joy restrained. Too distracted by these binding clothes to understand true love, we are robbed of knowing who Jesus is.

Legalism can be accidental, but it is still deadly.

We believe there is a formula, a checklist, that if followed, will constitute success, respect, forgiveness. The formula becomes our god, the checklist our security blanket.

Bowing to the religion of us, we forget.

“For it is by grace…” Grace, this warrior word that defies our human prejudices and presuppositions. Grace that crashes us to our knees in relief. On our knees has always been our strongest place, because it is the place where His hand extends.

But sometimes I avoid it, because I prefer to make it about me. Grace is always about Jesus.

The joy of Jesus’ death and resurrection is that we needed it. If we could earn our way there, what does the rest even mean?

Does His grace demand our love and, in turn, obedience? Of course. But the fight for the liberation of our souls has already been fought on the cross (Romans 10:9-10, Philippians 3:4-11). And that is a reason to surrender and celebrate!

Keep the Faith,
Audrey Ann

Photo credit: http://www.nps.gov