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Saturday, June 28, 2014

Breaking News: Abbey Mac and Ir-aq

Iraq is making the news. Daily. I’m grateful that my connection with this turbulent nation brings this world-away into greater focus for many. It makes it more personal. Thank you for your continued interest in and prayer for the people locked within the geo-political borders we call “Iraq.”

Will I still go? Yes. Orientation was earlier this week. My leaders reminded me that for more than a decade Servant Group International has maintained an uninterrupted presence in Iraq. Remember the Gulf War? Remember Operation Iraqi Freedom? Remember Saddam and Osama, Obama, and the waning of American interest in our sustained support? We were there, we were there, we’re still there, and we’re going back. And it’s God’s gift to me to get to join the team this go ‘round.

When I’m asked where I’m going to teach this fall I hesitate. (Is it safer to say ‘Iraq’ or ‘Kurdistan’?) Before I give my answer I must do a quick study of my audience knowing that, normally, the former elicits a dramatic response (“Uh, you know they need English teachers in Asia, right? Wouldn’t that be the smarter choice?!”); the latter, glazed-over eyes (“Where is Kurdistan?!”). When you think Iraq you think Mosul, Fallujah, Baghdad. You think ISIS’s brilliantly violent media campaign, Shia and Sunni blood baths, and al-Maliki’s fragile government. When you think these thoughts you have reason to question my sanity. But when you think Kurdistan what comes to mind? Like West Berlin of the Cold War, it is quite different from the Iraq you imagine.

When you think about Kurdistan here’s what you should think: They love America. (The last thing any Kurd wants is a dead American in their backyard.) They operate relatively autonomously, independent from Baghdad and the chaos therein. They are, like ISIS, Sunni Muslim and as such are not as much a target for the spreading violence. Additionally, being Kurdish, in a hierarchy of sorts, is more important to them than getting involved in sectarian rifts: the Kurds have an army posted along their regional border with the capability of stopping ISIS. If tested, they will.

When you think about Miss Mac’s departure in less than 40 days to teach history and literature to 60 + 9th through 11th grade Kurdish students, imagine with me different news headlines coming out of Iraq. Insha’Allah, I will be on the ground to report them.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Prayer Ideas: a War Zone, Goals, and my Indiana Bucket List

My final California Sunrise...
After an all-nighter packing (Thank you, Uncle Chip! The bike arrived safely!)

Family embraced me at the airport. A sign was waved, a homemade meal procured. Friends clamored around with interested questions, engulfing me within an affectionate circle of support.

But Indiana has not been as welcoming. Days One through Four I've awoken (waked? awakened?) to search for the sun only to be greeted with sky's blank-faced veil of grey. A thick, unimaginative grey that presses into my soul to pull out despair. A grey that suffocates. I'm allergic to Indiana, or she to me. One of the two of us vehemently rejects the other. Or perhaps, both. Will we part as friends?

Insha'Allah, as allies or adversaries in 54 days I depart for Dohuk, Iraq. If you are following the ISIS's recent movement throughout Iraq, Dohuk is a neighboring city to the recently seized city of Mosul. My research estimates that the distance between the two cities is 45, 75, or 95 miles; regardless of the actual distance, my Iraqi friend told me, tongue in cheek, prior to my Sacramento goodbyes that I'll hear Mosul's gunfire from Dohuk. The situation on the ground is very, very serious. We need to maintain the Iraqi people in our prayers, ALL Iraqis: be they Arab, Kurdish, ISIS fighters, civilians, refugees, governmental soldiers, Sunni, or Shia; all need the sovereign and merciful intervention of Allah on their behalf. Many of you are asking, will I still go? I don't know. I'm waiting to hear from my sending organization, Servant Group International. If they maintain the green light then Yes I will go; I want to teach in Iraq.

Many of you are also asking, How can we pray for you? Thank you for your kind concern. Rather than hand you a script to read to God, a grocery list of what Abbey needs and wants, I thought it would be funner (yes, funner, not 'more fun') for you, for myself, and for God if I answered this question by giving you my Indiana Goals and my Indiana Bucket List lists. (Goals are those lofty ideals for which I am intentionally laboring to either achieve or grow in; Bucket List items are experiences that I want to have.) Whatever captures your imagination within these lists perhaps can facilitate a nice conversation between you and the Holy Spirit.

Confession: It was Mamma's painstakingly personal preparation of my room that, upon my arrival home, made me break down into tears. This dear woman left a note, flowers, chocolate, even the BOOKS I love on display to welcome me.


Growth in asking for help: Miss Independence needs practice humbling herself to live inter-dependently, the way God designed humans to operate.

Walking regularly with Mamma.

Encouraging/affirming my parents in healthy lifestyle choices.

Building a stronger relationship with Taylor.

Becoming JK's friend.

Practicing how to be a big sis to adult siblings: Role change! I'm not their guardian and protector anymore. Now I'm stumbling through the oldest-sister awkward adolescent stages of figuring out how to be their sister and friend. As a peer.

Maintaining community with CA friends and family: If I'm coming back, I want to invest into the people to whom I'll one day return.

Read The Sacred Romance and Mayada: Daughter of Iraq

Begin to consider myself as heroine and Jesus as the HERO in the epic He's telling (let myself be romanced by Him).

Practice story-telling in everyday conversation: Middle Easterners love story. Westerners love a good story. Personally, I learn best through story. The Bible is mostly Story. Wouldn't it be eternally exciting to practice the tools to connect all those dots?!

Growing in my Forward (Future) Vision: Mamma rightly diagnosed it as myopia when I was in my teens but it wasn't until a recent conversation with Uncle Don that I realized why looking forward and making plans is harder for me than turning the Titanic. Uncle Don was 8 when his dad (my grandfather) died; my father was 2. Apparently, as they were growing up the two of them would talk through their reservations towards reaching the age of their father at his death (my grandfather must have been in his thirties). Uncle Don and Daddy David approached aging with dread curiosity : "Will I make it? Will I "outlive" my father?" Uncle Don did; my father did not. Unknowingly, I inherited their growing-up apprehensions but spoke of them to no one (I assumed I was a freak). Days and years were lived out within the underlying tension: Will I make it out of my twenties? I had no idea how to plan beyond that. I was just waiting to see. At 29, I had done it. I had "outlived" my dad. This wasn't a relief; it was more of liability ("Now what?!"). So at 30, I really have no idea what to do with myself. I'm fighting to grow past this and learn how to dream, make plans, and go for them. My conversation with Uncle Don comforts me because, as a man in his sixties, he confessed that the effects of myopia still linger in his peripheral and future-vision. And that's hopeful: I'm more normal than I ever suspected.

Identifying "Dream Team" friends (5-8 people) and sharing my Vision and Goals with them: Dr. Bryce Jessup, President Emeritus of William Jessup University, recently challenged our congregation to consider what kind of legacy we want to leave behind. He suggests forming a panel of trusted friends, mentors, and perhaps family members who know you best to vet your Dreams. They constructively critique your goals, ask hard questions, and kick you in the pants when you need it. You can listen to his fabulous message here:

Preparing for Iraq: This is a multi-tiered goal, and the main reason I came back to Indiana. More to come.

...Indiana Revelries: Scenes from my Backyard...


Vision of Hope Race for Hope 10k.

World Cupping with JK and JW. (USA, USA!!!)

Recruit Task force; train and execute FishersSummerLovin Prank Campaign against formidable foes Mr. and Mrs. K, aka T&J.

Find alternative "third place" (that is NOT STARBUCKS) to hang out with Mamma.

Youtube marathon night (ESP. Studio C and blast from the past Julian Smith)!

Lord of the Rings marathon weekend!

Two dates. With boys.

Ultimate Frisbee Sunday nights.

Mrs. Pam!!!

Granite Management "Reunion."

Camping with the 'rents!

The BOXES!!!

Fire pit. FIRE!

Red Mango with YoPros.

Dance Party.

Thank you for reading my prayer update and for praying! In a future post I'll fill you in on SGI training/my schedule and traveling plans. I will also shed some light on my fears, since many of you expressed curiosity.

Lastly for now: This is my support total (in USD) to date!...

My goal remains $12,000 so I am currently 73% funded! Thanks to all for your sacrificial giving and praying!! All my love! ~abbey mac

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Forwarding Address

Running tonight. Like my sweat, when I saw what He saw grief and regret oozed out of me. It's time to move again, and my communication with God has hit a wall. I've been making sense of it to myself through the lens of circumstance:

You are sad to leave California. You are overwhelmed by the "Prep for Indiana" task List. You need to eat more vegetables. Run more. Read more. Pray more. Sleep more.

God cut through my chaos with one gentle word: When you talk to Me, Daughter, you don't believe I love you. So when you ask for My help it's reluctant and guilty, without the expectation of My reply. You wear yourself out asking.

Hosea gives me Hope. This is God's strategy, His remedy for my Doubt:

"I will allure you. I will lead you into the desert and speak tenderly to you" (2:14). I've never been in love. Thus far in my Journey I've been too fearfully self-protective for that nonsense. But I'm cracking. And love is becoming attractive, magnetic. His love is doing that to me, undoing me, wooing me.

So how does love respond to that kind of self-revelation? I'm encouraged to say that my immediate response was a plea for Him to please, please forgive me! for not believing the best about Him, for doubting His good heart, and for forgetting all His affection lavished upon me.

When I talk with God now about my departure next week for a 2-month Iraq prep back in Indiana, when I remember to Him the precious ones I leave behind, when I cry to Him for help hunting down that bike box and packing up my books and transferring the Chevy title to James, when I lay down exhausted at day's end and thank Him for living it WITH me may my sweat and grief remind me of our run, His revelation, and the realness of His love.