Wednesday, November 30, 2016

It's almost go time

Life around here has been lively these last months.  Our move date has been set, 13 plane tickets have been purchased, and sorting and packing has begun. Our home has four bedrooms that are filled to the brim with people and their stuff.  Some of us are struggling with what to take, what to give away, and what to leave in storage here, while others are purging their belongings with abandon. As we sort and purge and store, there’s this dialogue running through us about an inexhaustible treasure in heaven, and my faith in it grows a little more each day. 

Each of us is packing a suitcase, a carryon and a personal item.  It’s been interesting to see what each person considers important enough to pack.  Piles of the obvious like clothing, bedding, and linens line the walls of the foyer.  The sentimental among us are focused on nostalgic things that give all the feels, while the practical are considering what they think they’ll need the most, like flat irons, peach ballet flats, gaming systems, and collections of books and games.  A certain 8-year-old is saving room in his suitcase for the essentials: a compound bow, some camo, a dirt bike racing suit, and a hermit crab from our May beach trip that is somehow still alive. Another someone who shan’t be named set aside a collection of 37 dum dum wrappers to pack, while putting most of her clothing in a pile labeled “give away”.  Go figure. It’s incidents like these that have prompted an increase in the level of supervision given to sorting, purging, and packing procedures. Me, I weighed my iron skillet this morning – the really big one – because I’m certain it’s more valuable than anything else I own and the airline says my suitcase cannot weigh more than 50 pounds.

Purchasing the airline tickets was a mountaintop experience for us, one of those rare moments of exaltation after a walk with Him through the valley.  I was surprised by the sadness that crept into my excitement when I didn’t purchase an airline ticket for our eldest.  The idea of leaving my firstborn baby here feels odd and a lonely sensation swirls around me at the thought of it, even though I know he’s all grown up and a college student and all.  Blake was only four years old when our family entered into foster care ministry.  For 16 years, he’s served alongside us, and his value to our ministry is immeasurable. I know letting go is what mothers must do, but it’s just as hard as I imagined it would be when he was tiny and college seemed like a lifetime away. God has provided me with some well-timed pep talks about change and transition over the past few months, and they’ve come in quite handy when the wig-out tries to creep in.  

We’re so thankful for the opportunities we’ve had over the past few months to share about ministry in Honduras and ways to partner with us in our work. We’ve been welcomed at churches, in coffee houses, in living rooms, and around dining tables, and each time we’ve been able to share confirms His leading in our lives.  Standing in front of people and talking is a new adventure for us as a couple.  Like most new adventures, there are things that stand out when we look back at them and talk about what that was like.  Our first Sunday sharing about our plans to care for orphaned and vulnerable children in Honduras, we stood before our home church and Dean read from Ephesians 3 about God’s power at work in us.  We had barely gotten back to our seats, when our pastor stood up and thanked Dean for preaching his message for him.  We had no idea that the message planned for that day was on Ephesians 3!  It’s moments like this that have been stepping stones of faith for us and the pull on our hearts has grown stronger with each step.  

We’ve had some humbling (and sometimes so funny) moments, too, like the time when I left all of Dean’s note cards in my Bible on my mother’s kitchen counter.  Every time I think about it, I get tickled again.  Dean says it’s really not that funny.   Here’s what happened.  I was reading over the beautiful message written on carefully prepared note cards.  He had his scriptures marked on them, so I thought I would go ahead and insert them into the correct chapters before we left for the church.  It was a nice thought, but I got distracted with hairbows and missing shoes.  I ended up sticking the whole stack into my Bible, thinking I would pick up the task in the van. I didn’t remember this plan until we were both standing behind the pulpit.  “No worries”, I told us.  I read the notes. I can “help” Dean by whispering all the scriptures to him at the right time.  All was going great until I whispered, “Hosea 6:8” instead of “Micah 6:8”.  Not the same thing.  Nope.  Dean tried to make it work while looking at me with such an unforgettable expression on his face.  We’re clearly rookies in the pulpit.  

Then there was the time we let the kids talk. We stood before the congregation, and I asked them questions like, “What are you praying for while you wait?”, to which one replied, “That we don’t have to go” and another burst into tears right there on stage.  A little unexpected, given that we had asked the children the same questions the night before and had gotten very different answers, not to mention all the excited and happy chitter chatter they engage in every time we talk about the future in Honduras. I love that the truth came out, right there in front of sweet friends who gathered around us on the spot and prayed for us and our children. The truth opened a door to working through things that needed working through.   You see, moving isn’t an unfamiliar concept for some of our children, and for our children, the memories that surround moving are frightening and lonely.  So many feelings swirl around the memory of moving then: fear of the unknown, fear of not understanding language and culture, wondering if you'll be liked, sadness over leaving friends and familiarity - the exact same feelings that swirl around the idea of moving now.  It was during this time that our pastor gave us a verse, Philippians 2:13.  For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.  His promises never return void.  As He’s worked in us, the desire to do what pleases him has unified us, and the swirl of frightening and lonely feelings has been replaced with a pulse of excitement and wonder at the adventure ahead. 

With the holidays upon us, I know that January 19 will be here in a flash, but there's still time and available dates for us to share about our work in Honduras with your church, in your family room, around your dining table, or in your community.  We're so excited about the next chapter of our lives with Legacy of Hope Foundation in Honduras: Defending Children, Preserving Families, Restoring Hope!

Thank you for continuing to pray for us and for your encouragement and support!