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.
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A Year of Christmas: Whoops, I Broke the Rule

Christmas, Christmas music, family, Jesus, traditions

As we approach the fall season, which is followed by the holidays, I feel that I must share a dark secret, a very dark secret, indeed. I have broken a cardinal rule. This entire year I have been listening to Christmas music. Bless my husband’s heart, it has not even been a wide, Pandora Station variety. Nope, just the fairly small playlist on our iPad. Over and over again, folks. 
As a little girl, my favorite day of the year was the day after Thanksgiving. Waking early, I would run to the living room and turn on our giant, this-is-so-the-nineties stereo and play Christmas music from our favorite CDs and cassette tapes. It was a most glorious moment. Waiting made it special. Waiting makes a lot of things special.
Yet, during this year of transition and missing my family, listening to comforting music about the triumph of Jesus and reminders of “the most wonderful time of the year” was just what I needed. It especially has been my companion for waking and baking.
Although I have tried to play it mostly when Eric is gone, sometimes he has turned it on for me–even the ancient Amy Grant album. Now, that is love. *Insert swoon here*
(It’s legendary, I promise.)
There are moments I wonder if I will regret playing the music with such frequency–will I treasure it less this coming holiday season? And I may or may not have watched White Christmas several times. After my mother reads this, there is a good chance I will be disowned. Your condolences are appreciated.
Not only have I broken the family rule, but I have also broken my own rule. When stores play Christmas music the first of November, it screams of commercialism: “Let’s play Christmas music as early as possible to sucker them all into buying more!” Cue the steam coming out of my ears. And yet, that’s not what Christmas music means to me.
Every day is for celebrating the birth of Jesus, and the rebirth He has given us. I come from charismatic roots, and those roots involved much joyful singing (and loud singing).Why don’t we sing “O Holy Night” or “Joy to the World” throughout the year? Well, perhaps it is because we are creatures of habit, or perhaps it is because throughout the millenniums, God’s people have celebrated certain acts of God at certain times. He is a God of order. The ebb and flow create a rhythm of our culture as people who love Him. And I like that. 
But this year, Christmas music served as a daily reminder: a reminder of His faithfulness, His hope, and His JOY. 
Merry Not-Yet-Christmas, everyone!
Keep the Faith,
Audrey Ann
Photo 1: Google (free) Images/www.cafeselavy.com
Photo 2: Google (free) Images/ex.wikipedia.org