Happy New Year friends!!! I am looking at 2018 with hope & crazy-good expectation! Last Wednesday morning as I hopped into my car to head to the prayer room, after a morning of baking egg+veggie breakfast muffins with my curly-haired, pajama-clad daughter and then getting a head-start on dinner by whipping together an instagram-worthy, incredibly delicious chicken pot-pie with my “big helper” son... I feel compelled to share about one of the most tangible struggles Michael & I face as a missionary family: the gap of our support system, our beloved friends and dear family members who love us & adore our children.
Fresh off a long, refreshing, Michigan-Christmas, driving back to Kansas City in our SUV - packed to the BRIM with gifts lavished upon us (a double-whammy because we also celebrate our daughters birthday in December!)... we all felt the silent sting of leaving our people.
We are pilgrims and pioneers. We thrive on adventure and “new” and above all - we LIVE to OBEY the voice of our Lover, Jesus, so in this sense, it is easy to pack-up and follow His Voice. We’ve counted the cost and know the reward is SO WORTH IT. But at the same time, I know our gift of obedience is ever-more costly and precious to Jesus considering the family we are choosing to be apart from for this season.
I remember when we first moved to Kansas City and we enrolled in the “Intro the IHOP Internship”, we were meeting new people and began sharing the stories of our lives. When Michael shared about our family and how incredible they were, how much we love doing life together, etc. and later I was confiding in another intern how excited we were for break and to vacation with our families! I remember one girls comment, that summarized many of our new friends consensus: “I just can’t picture it... I can’t picture wanting to see my family like that! A family loving each other like that... parents who actually love each other...” The whole thing was as shocking to her as her comment was shocking to me!!!
We are incredibly blessed by the family we are part of! They are irreplaceable and I, especially recently have been feeling the sting of their absence magnified... at the same time, I feel compelled to describe how Jesus IS MAKING BEAUTY out of the seeming ashes of loss: our little family has been so beautifully strengthened and unified. I KNOW God is using this time, these days, for His glory. The foundation of Love, Trust, Unity and Adoration of Jesus during these incredibly impressionable years of my kids lives is priceless. We are literally each others best friends! Haha! And my marriage... wow. Seriously, I don’t want to make you gag by the raw romance but seriously in every arena, our marriage and friendship is going from glory to glory!!! I am more in love with Michael and my kids than ever! I enjoy them more deeply and purely now than I ever have and I soak in the marrow of the moments - both crazy and peaceful - Every. Single. Day. Seriously...
Wrapped up and around and threading through all of these family testimonies, is the romance and intimacy with Jesus which is so deep and rich. I feel like words to describe this reality are vulgar in comparison with the sacred beauty of Him and His involvement in our little family’s life. The trust and relational equity that He has built between me & Him, Him & my husband, even between my children and Him is beyond-words Beautiful.
And yet the sting lingers... we are made in God’s own image, therefore we are relational creatures. God has been in relationship since time began - as Father, Son and Holy Spirit - wow! So yesterday, after a wonderful family day of playing Uno, Legos, folding three loads of laundry (not entirely restful, but I felt very accomplished after!), and sneaking out for ice cream! Michael and I took turns “putting the kids to bed” and after I victoriously sung them to sleep, we snuggled into bed. I mindlessly checked my phone one last time (anyone else do this?) and verbally noted, “MAYN babe, I didn’t get one text message today...” There were mixed emotions, on the one hand, I kind of love not having any interruptions especially on Tuesdays... family day... and yet on the other... I do miss having friends. I’m not trying to sound like a sad little puppy, I don’t feel like a victim but nor am I down-playing the reality that the list of those I feel the freedom & bond to share deep, heartfelt, mutual friendship with are mostly out of state! My husband blessed me saying, “Melody, you will have no lack of amazing friendships!” And I felt like laughing... err I might have a little bit... but faith overpowers doubt every time! Yes LORD!!!
Back to the testimony of that morning... sooooo.... I kissed my cuties goodbye, hopped into my car, heading to the prayer room and glanced at my phone... I had SIX beautiful, super encouraging text messages from ALL my favorite people and a missed call/voicemail from another one of my besties from outta state!!! 😱😱😱 Unknowingly to me, my husband had called an impromptu “Melody encouragement day” and throughout the course of the evening, I had received four more beautiful messages which turned into heart-to-heart conversations and testimony times and let me just say, my cup has been overflowing ever since!!!
Kisses from heaven! Sharing about the “gaps” in our life can be uncomfortable and perhaps even humbling: “how dare I ever experience unpleasant emotions” or “how dare I ever feel lack in any area”. It sounds silly to verbalize these struggles of vulnerability but this is how we overcome! Let me encourage you today, even as I am encouraged, take a moment to recognize and identify how the Lord is present in your life and circumstances today, and in the same breath as you give thanks, give voice to the longings of your heart! Let faith arise in your hearts for your situation today! Abraham was a man marked by Faith, though he and his wife were barren, God promised that He would give Abraham as many children as there were stars in the sky! Even at the end of his life, Abraham clung to the promise though he had but one legitimate son, and we, as his children (sing the song! haha), are called to nothing less than radical faith and hope (Hebrews 11)!!!
If you, like me, like Abraham, like so many other pioneers, feel the sting of the “gap” - the gap between your present circumstances and the promises of God, do not stay in discouragement, rather give yourself what Michael & I call (and find ourselves constantly doing), “the Faith pep-talk”!!! Begin to declare the Lords promises, remind yourself of all the ways He has been Faithful and cling to the JOY of the LORD as your STRENGTH (Nehemiah 8:10)!!! Testify!!!