This post has been a long time coming. I’ve had some time recently, particularly in the last week to reflect on our journey as the year comes to an end. So much has changed from May of 2016 when I first learned I was pregnant to now as we finally expect the arrival of our baby girl. About mid-year we began to have conversations with others that went something like this “I’m pregnant… and we have decided to leave the organization we were working with… and move back to the states… and homeschool…” We sought the Lord’s direction and made so many GIANT decisions all at once that’s it’s taken some time now that we have been back in the states for three months to really reflect on all that has happened. I’ve been diligently peeling back the layers of my heart, with much care and tenderness as I grapple with both loss and gain in the last two years.
A week or so before we left the field, we were sitting in the living room of a dear friend at our goodbye celebration surrounded by our fellow co-workers. I sat with tears streaming down my face, paper in hand and I had barely enough breath between the sobs to choke out my penned dreams for our lives and my hopes for our friends who had become family.
“…Let love define you. Let your love for one another be second to your love for God. No one will remember you for what you did as much as they will remember you for who you are. Be people who live out your eulogy and not your resume. Yes, there will always be another meeting waiting, another process that needs to be created, another checklist to be checked off, even another team to prepare or lead, another crisis to solve, another fire to put out, but look around, this is what counts- because this is your family. God has uniquely wired each of you to meet each others needs, point each other to Jesus and pour into this community so you can reach many. Use the gifts he has given you- do not bury them in the sand. Do not let the fast paced need to produce cloud your ability to love each other well. I heard at the Leadership Summit last year, that an organization will only ever be as healthy as it’s top leaders. Devote yourselves to prayer, to one another, to this community and to being healthy. I try to regret very little, but I do regret allowing work and the mission to overpower loving others and meeting needs right in front of me. Community is a gift and it’s something each person must not first take from, but instead pour into and I urge you to not take this community or any community you are a part of for granted.
As we leave the Dominican, it’s hard to imagine anything as amazing as this last decade. While it’s been hard, it’s been the best adventure of my life, and I have to believe he isn’t finished with us. I have to believe the best adventure is yet to come. He has yet to reveal his plans, but we believe and hold tightly to his promises…”
The night before we left, both girls completely fell apart. While one bathed the other sobbed in my arms. I held them one at a time as they begged me to change my mind and let us stay. They asked questions like “why would God tell us to leave when there is so much good here for us to do?” “Why would he want us to be in pain like this?” And I held them and cried with them and explained as best I could and then prayed with them and over them. They practically cried themselves to sleep, puffy eyed and all.
I learned so much this year about grieving, feeling all the emotions, letting go, celebrating, moving forward and most importantly, deciding who I was going to be. Over the years, God began a very slow and gradual work in me, tenderly showing me that I did not have to be a product of what had “been done” to me, or a product of my upbringing or a product of my environment. I can actually decide who I want to be and I was going to be the person I described in my words to my friends. I was going to be the person defined by love. I was going to be the person who looked around and noticed those in front of me. I was going to be someone known for who I was and not how capable or ambitious I was. I was going to be on mission, building the Kingdom, just as God has invited us to do, starting with me and my husband and our daughters.
As he began to reveal his plan for us to walk away from the Dominican, I was tender and raw and I wanted my little people close to me in our transition. I wanted to shepherd and care for them through this time in a way I could not do if they were away from me more than they were with me. I wanted to explore life with them, and laugh, and find joy in everything everyday with them by my side. I wanted to teach them about dependency on the Lord and submission to his will, and in doing so I found myself depending on the Lord and submitting to a crazy calling he was unveiling in my life and thus our journey into homeschooling was born.
To be continued… 🙂