We are here…now what?

imageEven with the cloud cover, the air is hot and heavy and damp. I kind of forgot what it feels like to be warm all the time, the sticky skin and sticky clothes. Part of me loves it and part of me longs for the cool, dry, familiar air of home. It’s funny how you can want something and dream of it for so long then when you finally get it, there’s something in you that wants to retreat and to climb back into what is safe and comfortable. That’s how my heart is feeling right now. Kona, the University campus, the ocean view from my window, the breeze, the birdsong,  the sound of palm leaves scraping against the screens…all things I have been longing for. Now that I’m here though, I’ve been wondering. What is this time about? Why are we starting here? Why do I feel so unsettled. Ever since the plane touched down, there’s a strange struggle inside…to push forward and embrace or to turn my head and look behind. Even writing that scares me just a little, admitting the temptation to hold on to what is behind. I know it’s pretty normal, but I also know that God doesn’t bless it. I know about Lots wife looking back at Sodom and the Israelites longing for the benefits of Egypt while eating manna in the desert. Their result was death. I want life. And not just life but the abundant, overflowing, overcoming life that Jesus has promised to those who trust Him. So I don’t want to look back. I want to set my face ahead. I want to embrace what is new, every unfamiliar thing that leads me to a place where I get to know Him more. Because here’s the thing He’s whispering to my heart right now…in the uncertainty and change, in the heat, in the new sounds, new food, new routine, new people…He is still exactly the same. He is speaking to me of His unchanging nature even while the vantage point from which I’m gazing at Him is brand new. And He is showing me an opportunity as well.  In this place, in this season, I get to see and experience Him differently. Different facets of His character, different evidences of His faithfulness, different depths of His compassion and mercy for me…different but the same. Following Jesus, knowing Him, listening to Him is the same here on this mission base as it was in my “normal life”. I don’t have to look back to find Him, and nothing is lost by walking forward. The choice is the same as it always has been. Set my eyes on things above or set them on things on earth. I know that right now, even as He has so many times before, He is calling to me,”Look up. Look above the waves. Look at My face.” Oh how He loves me!

View from my window
View from my window




The journey…how it began

Once there was a girl with big dreams. Not the usual dreams of fame or fortune. Not dreams inspired by Hollywood or Wall Street. Instead they were dreams fueled by stories of sacrifice and courage in the face of real life adversity, reading of men and women who walked away from lives of ease and privilege to follow a call, who willingly and joyfully laid down their lives to make a difference for even one soul, who considered their lives as nothing when compared to the greatness of making Christ known and being His hands and feet to those in need. Amy Carmichael, Elisabeth Elliott, Mary Slessor, and so many more. Their stories and testimonies burned in my heart and kept me awake at night. In the front of every journal I kept as a girl, I wrote this quote, ” If my life is broken when given to Jesus, it is because pieces will feed a multitude while a whole loaf will feed only one small boy. ” I thought I knew what that meant. Then I grew up.

I married a boy who loved Jesus too. And he had a yearning for adventure and for something different than the American Dream. I knew we were made for each other and thought we were on our way to our own great adventure. It turns out that we were…only it looked very different from the jungles and tribes and orphans of my imagination. It looked like jobs and bills and laundry and choosing to let go of my expectations of a grandiose life. It looked like learning how to lay down my life in the little things for the man who woke up next to me every morning. It looked a lot like the normal American life I never thought I wanted..and for me, it was the hardest place. I know some people are afraid that God will call them where they don’t want to go. I was afraid He wouldn’t call me anywhere…ever. And for a long time, it was quite clear that God was telling us to stay and make a life.

So we settled in and prayed for babies and after years of crying out for the desires of our hearts, they came. First one boy, then two, then three little boys in three years, and our family was complete. Those next years were so good and so stretching. Some days I couldn’t stand it for the joy of watching my tiny family grow and yet motherhood showed me just how much self centered ugly was still there, wrapped up and hidden and protected. Being broken for the good of others sounds so romantic on a journal page. In reality, it is messy and painful and unpredictable.

Then in the midst of the diapers and sleepless nights, the recession hit our business and everything became hard. So our lives became a daily choosing…choose joy, choose forgiveness, choose love, choose kindness, choose patience, choose trust, choose contentment. And that last one was hard for me. Somewhere inside still burned that desire to GO even while I was sure that Jesus was telling us to stay. I pressed into my role as mom and wife, led life groups and Bible studies, started a business, sold a business, cried my way through books like “Kisses from Katie” and tried to learn Paul’s secret of being content in all circumstances. And the years went by and the boys grew taller and the financial uncertainty we lived with became almost normal. Through all the ups and downs, in the high moments and the struggles, we were being molded and equipped. And God was faithful…oh so faithful.

Then in one day, everything began to shift. An opportunity was presented to us completely out of the blue. It involved jungles and missions and business and partnership with ministries we were passionate about. Our hearts raced and our heads spun as we considered the possibilities and the ramifications. Could we walk away from our lives? Could we ask that of our children who were by now thriving in school and sports and all that American life offers? Was this God? Were we crazy to even consider it or was this what we were made for? For so many years I had buried this part of me, and suddenly it was brought out of hiding and given permission to grow. I was scared to hope but I couldn’t seem to help myself. My husband and I were talking again of the things we dreamed about so many years before. This time it felt right and good, and even when the original opportunity didn’t materialize, there was no going back. The questions had been asked and considered, the costs weighed, and we knew that wherever He led, whenever He called, we were willing and our answer would be yes.

But to go somewhere, you have to leave the place you’re in. The last two years have been a process of letting go, of our security, of our business, of our home, of our church, of our friendships, of everything stable and familiar and safe. But our path has been made abundantly clear, and God has been showing His favor every step. In just two days we leave this place that we have called home for almost thirteen years. We leave with no strings and no expectations other than in the faithfulness of our God. Our first step will be to attend a YWAM Family Discipleship Training School in Kona, HI for 5 months. After that our path is wide open…as in we have no idea where we might end up. So not without trepidation but full of faith, we step out into our unknown future – held securely in the hand of our known God.

In the words of Steven Curtis Chapman…

“This is the great adventure…”