Should have

Lately, the words "should have" have been circling through my head. A dear friend would have words of wisdom to go with them

I've been scratching my head, thinking "I should have ..." too much.

Mostly those words "should have' have been about health, and all types of health: physical and mental as well as the health of others.

I should have started wearing a mask earlier (and done a better job once I started).

I should have gone a strict diet to go along with my dog-walking exercise regime (at least 3 miles a day).

I should have used the money that would go to food I don't need to feed those here in Guatemala who don't have food.

I should have been using my time perfecting my Spanish instead of just practicing on the kids I see while walking the dog.

I should have been writing blog entries more often and reading the Bible more and praying more and connecting with friends more. It goes on but I think you get the picture.

I will also think about getting a haircut. Good heavens!

But one of those "should haves" was weighing on Tabitha on us recently: we should have gone back to the States a while back.

While we have been doing some good work with our mission team, I'm sure they would survive without us. And really one good reason is keeping us here: our dog. We can't take her with us and we don't know when we can come back. I don't want to go that long without her or ask friends to watch her for months.

Another major reason was I believe God told us to stay put. At first this seemed like He knew what he was doing. We have been pretty safe, healthy and productive.

We were stopped at a police checkpoint a few weeks ago, which can be a stressful situation. When asked me when I got to Guatemala, I said January or February (remember I said I need to work on my Spanish). He asked when I plan on returning and I said it was safer in Guatemala. It was a joke that was steeped in truth.

The first thorn that made me wish we'd have returned already was having our son Isaac telling us he wanted us there to help him move. Our daughter Emma said the same. Yes, they are moving at the same time, but the bonus is they are moving across the street from each other.

My back and knees are thrilled that we are not helping them move. I also know that we will not be there every time they do move so it's good to let them experience this while they're young.

But the whole idea that they wanted us there to help organize things and give them our opinion was shocking at first and a sign of maturity. But we can video chat and tell them our opinion from a couple of countries distance. I know it's not the same and miss them fiercely.

The second thorn is more like a dagger. Yesterday we learned of the tragic traffic accident that took the life of Lydia (Buford) Beaver, one of Tab's former students and Isaac's friends.

She was (the use of those two words together twists that dagger) not only an extremely talented performance artist, she was simply a joy to be around.

She married her high school sweetheart, and my heart breaks for him and his family. His siblings, cousins and friends were the backbone of a truly gifted theatre department. My last should have is we should be there to grieve and support those who grieving.

Tabitha mentioned something was also going through my mind: it's like Spencer all over again. Spencer Nicodemus was (I really need to stop using that verb) another notable, talented, joyful kid who died too soon.

One of the reasons I decided to come to Guatemala was a couple of years ago I was at an orphanage and something in the back of my mind said "Spencer is here." I was so happy to think that someone so full of joy could be somewhere like an orphanage. I realized later that what the voice (probably God) meant was that no matter where I go (and I've been in five countries in the past year) I take the memory of Spencer with me. It's a great comfort.

As for that dear friend's words of wisdom: don't should on yourself. You cannot change what you have done, you can learn and set goals.

So ... I will do what I can to stay healthy. I will work to better myself, my relationships with God and others.

I will pray and read scripture.

I will remember those who have been an influence and are now gone. I may weep because I miss them, but I will smile as well.

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