birdies

See those two birdies up there? One of them is me. Bird on a wire.

We’ve enjoyed watching these sweet babies from our balcony the last few weeks. One morning as I took my morning coffee outside I saw the new nest with mommy bird sitting on what looked like one blue egg. I Googled (as I do) and learned there were likely two eggs and that they would hatch in a few short weeks – when daddy bird drops them on something to crack their shells!

Luckily, we didn’t get to witness that part, but a few weeks later, again over my morning coffee, I saw some excitement in the nest. The babies had hatched! We watched them grow as mommy bird tended to them night and day. Then we noticed she started leaving the nest for short periods of time. As the babies started peaking out of the nest, getting curiouser and curiouser about the great, wide world (that’s from one of my favorite children’s books), mommy bird started issuing motherly challenges.

Instead of landing in the nest for feeding time, she would land outside the nest and make the babies crawl out to get their dinner. As days passed, she would land further and further away on the wire, until one day, we watched as the babies had to make their first short flight, about five feet from the nest. Mommy bird fed them from where they were. Little scrappers. They fought tooth and nail, all three of them balancing on that wire for their dinner that night. What a sight!

The little birdies started venturing out by themselves after that day. They hadn’t flown yet (other than the  short flight out for dinner) when I snapped this photo. I loved watching their contemplation as they sat perched there each morning, wobbling to and fro, wanting to jump but scared to make that leap.

That’s when I realized … that was me. (The fact that they were doves made my self-reflecting metaphor that much more intriguing for many glorious reasons.) And that’s when I heard this voice from within me say, “Now is the time.”

A NEW MINISTRY CONCEIVED

As far as I can remember, I have been searching for truth. I am a details person. I ask questions. I wonder. I listen. I watch. Lo, I drive people insane with my quest for the truth, yet I persist. I remember sitting in my first news reporting class, listening to my professor (Steve Valencia, whom some of you may know). I had taken the class as an elective to my English major because I liked to write, and the class sounded fun. Before the class was finished, however, I had made a link to something greater. I had made up my mind to be a journalist. I changed my major that day and never regretted it once.

During one of my earlier job interviews at the Shawnee News-Star, my future managing editor (I got the job!) asked me a simple question: Why do you want to be a reporter?

I’d never been asked that by anyone before. And it should have been easy to answer. Duh. But my mind whizzed like a tornado, and a thousand reasons came to my heart – so many reasons that they all got bunched up in a big lump trying to get out through my throat, and right there in Mike McCormick’s office, I began to weep. I was embarrassed beyond explanation, but if you know Mike, you know his gentleness, his kindness and his patience. He just waited.

I finally blubbered out something romantic like, “Because I believe people have the right to be heard, and it is my job to make sure that they are.” I said a few other things, which gushed right up from the depths of my soul. I thought for sure I’d be driving back to my radio job in Kansas that same night.

But instead, Mike leaned over his desk and pointed his index finger at me, and in his soft, southern, Shawnee accent, said, “Girl, you’ve got the passion.” And he hired me on the spot.

As my career grew, my faith started growing as well. I began seeing links in Scripture to truth, justice, human rights and freedoms, the values I tried with all my might to place in my reporting. I failed people, I know. But I suppose sometimes I hit the mark because lately my Facebook memories sure do remind me a lot of the Newspaper in Education workshops I hosted and stories I followed until I thought my eyes might bleed when I was publishing the North Central Reporter. Other little reminders keep popping up as well, like notes I kept from teaching journalism courses, ideas for class exercises, revelations from my first months in Thailand when the idea for a school of journalism for missions was planted, Scriptures based on justice and seeking truth and being the little guy. The list goes on and on. And then there was that voice: “Now is the time.”

It’s crazy how God’s plans are always better than ours.

I wont’ lie, though the last two years have been the happiest of my life (I never thought I’d get married!), I also have felt that missions-wise I have been walking through a desert. Two years ago, my former missions director and I were geared up to get a school started, but at the same time, we both felt that it wasn’t the time. I kept hearing distinctly, “Now is not the time.”

I followed, reluctantly, what I knew was God’s plan, and that was to continue my education, gain some teaching experience, get the girls settled in to our new location and homeschool cooperative, be a new mom to William and a good wife to Russ. I kept my hand in missions through the YWAM Global Communications team, as well as teaching the youth at church and working with a few projects in Cambodia. But I still felt I wasn’t doing enough. I have known for quite some time that my goal in missions was to establish some form of journalism education for missionaries. Yet, I still kept hearing the words, “Now is not the time.”

NOW IS THE TIME

When the birdies were standing on the wire, I realized how scary that would be. And when I heard, “Now is the time,” I realized how scared I truly am. And after I heard those words, I kid you not, information and ideas began raining onto me. Crazy weird stuff. And that scared me because it felt like it meant I was sealing the deal, no turning back! Then this quote also conveniently rolled through my Facebook feed – “If your dream doesn’t scare you, it isn’t big enough.”

The cherry on top was a book – the final resource I needed to complete my thesis.

My former and totally awesome university advisor, Dr. Rebecca Tallent, recommended the book to me. My thesis is based on Freedom of Information and how it affects truth, justice and freedoms globally and how teaching high school journalism can improve critical thinking skills needed by tomorrow’s leaders. Riveting, huh? The real title is basically just a puzzle – a sentence diagrammer’s dream. (I guess diagrammer is not a word because my spell check is going crazy right now.) Anyhow, Dr. Tallent also helped write the book, and let me tell you, if God didn’t deliver that book directly from an Amazon warehouse to somewhere in Texas (Thanks again, Carra!) to Chiang Mai, Thailand, to a suburb outside of Bangkok, then my name isn’t Korina.

I hadn’t even finished the introduction before, you guessed it, the tears started falling. It was exactly what I needed: statistics, ideas, case studies, testimonies, surveys – all written by a guy who said in the introduction that he got his start in journalism in high school, under the “guidance of a Christian brother who served as our newspaper advisor. The valuable lessons I learned back then … went a long way to forming the journalist I am today.”

“If your dream doesn’t scare you, it isn’t big enough.”

It must be big enough.

BACK AFTER IT

I want to thank you for your patience during the “dry season.” These have been hard times for me having the kind of non-existent patience that I do. Looking back, though, I see the importance of what I have learned. Not only am I nose to nose with a cultural whirlwind 24 hours a day, but I have also had the honor and privilege of studying, living, and learning with and about people from every continent on the planet. When I arrived in Thailand five years ago wanting to share journalism internationally through missions, I can plainly see now that I wasn’t ready. But, as the voice goes, “Now is the time.”

WHAT NEXT?

I know there have been times when I’ve shared with you my sometimes-crazy schedule. I haven’t done that in a while, and my schedule lately just took on some new twists. My contract with the Navy has ended, the girls started school, I’m approaching the final weeks of my thesis work, and yep, “Now is the time” has entered the picture.

So, here’s a glimpse of my “brand new usual” day. (Some days are hit or miss, but I try to keep it fairly organized.)

5 a.m. – Up before the chickens. COFFEE. One thing Russ promised me before we got married was that he would bring me coffee every morning. He’s only missed one day! (We were out of coffee that day – a horrible predicament.)

6:30 a.m. – William and I set off via motorscooter to his school. Russ heads to university. Girls get to be lazy a little longer.

7:30 a.m. – Back home. Wake girls up. Bible study. I try to sneak in some exercise while the girls are getting ready for school.

9 a.m. – School bells ring. That’s really just me coming down the stairs saying, “Girls, have you started school yet?” I field homeschool questions and grade papers from the day before.

10 a.m. – Thesis work. I try to work at least two hours a day on my research and writing. It’s comin’ along.

12-1 p.m. – Lunch with the girls.

1-4 p.m. – Journalism workshop research, writing, creating. I think this is why “now is the time” scared me so much! This is a huge job – so huge I didn’t quite realize how huge until I started outlining ideas. Soon I will begin putting those ideas together and making contacts. I feel right now I’m headed in the direction of putting the curriculum online as well as offering in-person workshops to YWAM missions bases, high school homeschool students, and possibly even international high schools. I can take this on the road, people! I hope to take the workshops to Cambodia and Thailand initially and see what happens from there. I’ll ask for prayers about this – A LOT! My curriculum will be largely based on journalism and critical thinking skills taught through Scriptural foundations for missions workers, but I would like to model a second curriculum after it aimed at teaching younger students. Oh, how I dream! (And how my knees quake at the thought.) God has managed to drum up that passion that welled up inside of me in Mike McCormick’s office, but this time, he has teamed that passion with a specific goal and a heart for truth, justice and freedom to be seen and felt and heard in every nation.

4-6 p.m. – Mom stuff. Dinner, laundry. Whatever needs doin’.

We’re usually asleep by 8! No need to ramble on.

When my thesis is finished, well, for one, I will shout really loudly, “HALLELUJAH!!!” But also, I will dedicate that time slot to working on and creating courses for the journalism workshops. Hopefully, I will be confident enough to begin pursuing opportunities to host them by the beginning of next year.

I’LL FINISH NOW!

Thanks for always reading my long, drawn-out, dramatic accounts. Thank you for continuing to support us and pray for us, even when I admit I’m walking through the desert. I want to end with some family updates. Exciting!

jaynee-uniform
Jaynee ready for her first day of English research class at Mahidol University.

The girls started school Sept. 5. We’ve changed their homeschool curriculum to a program that is a bit more intensive. Jaynee is also enrolled in an English research course at the university under her favorite teacher, Mr. Russ. She has class every Monday and Wednesday from 2-3:40. All schools in Thailand require students to wear uniforms. Jaynee is neither a uniform person nor a skirt person, so we’ve had some good chuckles at her expense! I think she will enjoy the class though.

Both girls will start sports next week.

Jaynee just finished training to be a volunteer in the youth center at church. She will help with child care once a month. Also, she has applied to be a team leader within the youth group. She is making a ton of friends there, and I’m so glad both the girls have this close unit during this time. I prayed for them to find good friends when we moved here, and God answered so abundantly.

BIG NEWS SPOILER ALERT: The missions Spirit is catchy. I can’t write much about this now because we don’t have many details, but both the girls have applied to join a youth missions group next year in Mongolia. Yes, Mongolia! I will write you more in the future, but they will have to do some fundraising. Right now, it appears the cost will be around $1,500. If you have a heart to follow up with them, let me know, and I will be sure to update you.

William is being the rock star that he is. Good grades. Thinking about his future. I don’t write a lot about his activities because right now his activities are school, school, cadets, and school. He’s up at 5:45 a.m. and doesn’t get back home until 6 p.m. He works hard, that boy, and we are very proud of him.

Russ is back to work, teacher by day, Muay Thai rock star by night. We enjoyed a nice drive down to the beach with William Saturday. It’s nice to be an hour and a half from the sea. Thanks for that too, God. Our own personal diving instructor, Mr. Russ, wants to start giving all of us diving lessons soon. If all goes well, the training alone should provide lots of fun family memories.

THAT’S IT. COULD YOU PRAY?

  • Pray for journalism workshops for missions. Pray for clarity in creating, wisdom in designing, truth in Scripture, ears to hear, hearts to listen, nations to move – all kinds of stuff.
  • Pray for my thesis to finish smoothly (and quickly wouldn’t hurt either).
  • Pray for the kids as they are being kids. Growing. Learning. Experiencing. So much.
  • Pray for Russ and I as parents and new step-parents. We both have our parenting ways, and sometimes they don’t always mesh, and let’s face it, parenting is HARD! Step-parenting is, well, a whole new ballgame. And co-parenting teenagers from three different cultures is … for another newsletter. I raise a toast to the step-parents of the world! Russ and I are good communicators, so we always work out those little wrinkles. Pray we can continue to learn from one another.

Thank you for your prayers, your encouraging words,  your updates, your love and your support, in all ways. We love to hear from you, and we hope all of you are well!

With much love and many blessings,

The Russ family (This is a joke from church – the way a lady listed us for a church outing one Christmas. We had a good laugh, and the name kind of stuck.)

And one morning, the birdies took the leap, and off into the great, wide world they went, to make a difference in their own special ways.

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