Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Netherland - Day 5.5

It's one thing to travel abroad, and a whole other thing to be able to stay with family. Nate's uncle Mark, his mom's twin brother, is currently serving as a pastor of the American Protestant Church of The Hague. The Hague is definitely worth a lengthy stop during a visit to the Netherlands, but knowing that we could see Mark and Lori made it even more worthy of a spot on our itinerary.  What a gift to spend time with Mark and Lori on our own. Don't get me wrong, we love our children and Nate's entire extended family, but there is something very rich about hanging out with two wonderful people in a smaller group.

Mark and Lori were living in San Marcos California until 2016. Lori worked as a RN supervisor and Mark was the pastor of a CRC church. As they tell the story, Mark started to crave a change -- to continue to serve as a pastor, but amongst a new demographic. They prayed and visited international churches in Taiwan and Europe over many years and eventually received a call to The Hague and moved their lives in the summer of 2016.

Mark set up the wonderful carillon concert and pointed out all the hot spots of The Hague from the top of the tower
I loved hearing the story from Lori's perspective too, as leaving California essentially meant retiring from nursing four years earlier than she had anticipated. Of course we only got a small glimpse into their lives in the Netherlands during our short visit, but I was struck by the beauty of how Lori spends her days now that she is no longer working nights as a nurse. She dove right into Dutch culture by signing up for 40 weeks of Dutch language lessons and by looking for opportunities to interact with the people of her new city, in and outside of the Church. She loves flowers and cooking and has embraced the strong biking culture of the city (and entire country), by biking most everywhere she goes. A huge thanks for a comfortable bed, two wonderful meals, and many good conversations Lori!

In front of Mark and Lori's home, before we left for Haarlem & Amsterdam
I also had a special interest in hearing about Lori's decision to leave nursing behind, because I've been questioning my "career" calling lately. Perhaps it's not surprising that in Europe, I've met a lot of people who quit their jobs to discover the world, but it's been a bit of a theme on our trip. There was the frites man who quit his job as a plumber (employing 10 other plumbers) because chasing customers for payment was too much. So now he make artisan french fries. Then there was Charmaine, who left her adverting job in Shanghai to come to Europe. She ended up marrying a Dutch man and now lives in Amsterdam running food tours of the city.

On the plane ride over, I finished a great book, Present Over Perfect by Shauna Niequist, and it really got my brain churning on thoughts of doing what you love. The parts of the book that struck me most revolved around this:

"Many of us have believed the myth that achievement and success bring us contentment, only to find it’s actually things like connection and meaning...that provide true peace and genuine happiness."

Although I will say that my struggles with believing this myth happen more outside of work than they do at work. For example, I don't feel that I have an unhealthy drive to achieve higher status or pay at work. I struggle more at home, seeking to find meaning by checking things off my to-do list. Shauna describes my struggle perfectly (especially the part about the living room and well organized closets) on page 37 of her book:

“…the voice that tells me to hustle can find a to-do list in my living room as easily as it can in my office. It’s not about paid employment. It’s about trusting that the hustle will never make you feel the way you want to feel. In that way, it’s a drug, and I fall for the initial rush every time: if I push enough, I will feel whole, proud, happy. What I feel, though, is exhausted and resentful, with well-organized closets."

I've come to realize that I'm dealing with two different beasts. One is discontent with my part-time nutrition career and the other is chasing fulfillment through a clean and organized home. How to tame either one, I'm not sure. Well, I think the home one is more straightforward than the work one at this point. I'll continue to pray about both. This week away has been the perfect opportunity to step back and remove myself from both challenges, viewing each from a distant shore. Amen!

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