Relieved 2013 is over.
I am astounded we are in such good condition. There were new lows in our marriage as my husband and I wrestled with upside-down and different roles. Instead of him out of the home as a pastor and paramedic 72+ hours a week, he was working from home. Oh wait, first we had to define ‘work.’ What is a missionary raising support supposed to be doing, anyway? Such a strange time. We figured out a clunky system of sharing the homeschooling responsibility, sharing support-raising (mostly me wanting him to do it all), me taking care of my dreamy-eyed baby girl, and him managing much of the household (used to be my job). Yes, it was a weird time. I battled post-partum depression like I’ve never experienced before—the cold, dreary winter making it worse. Our (then) 7- year old daughter developed stress-induced insomnia and started sleep-walking. Then my husband left for a month to South Africa to get some answers to big questions about our ministry. All of this was done with minimal sleep, minimal income, in a falling-apart doublewide with a sketchy gentlemen’s agreement for rent. And this was just the first 5 months of the year.
I guess I’m feeling honest today.
If I can share my best memory of 2013, it is of my dad walking in from the cold to our linoleum-floored kitchen with freshly baked cranberry muffins. His bike parked outside, glasses all fogged up, our kids bouncing up and down and rallying for attention from Grandpa. Pretty much every memory I have of myself is holding a baby in my bathrobe. That’s why I secretly hate Skype, by the way. Somehow we were always on Skype in 2013, with a huge audience…either my sister-in-law’s busy household in S. Africa or in front of our dear church family in Missouri. And I’m in my bathrobe, with coffee in hand, spit-up on my shoulder and big raccoon eyes…or, I’m cleaned up but worried one of my kids is picking their nose live on screen in front of our church!
Which brings me to Jurassic Park. You know how John Hammond created dinosaurs from mosquito DNA, and the dinosaurs who were at first cute and novel became an uncontrollable force with a mind of their own?
Lately I’ve felt my husband and I created our own version of Jurassic Park. We have 5 amazing, energetic gifts of life with minds of their own who make a noise best classified as varying decibels of roar. We are responsible to guide and steer them in the right direction, while keeping cautious boundaries in place. It is a daunting, colossal task. Our kids are growing up. Just as I started to feel rather overwhelmed, God provided food and direction for my soul as a parent through one of my favorite authors, Sally Clarkson. We are praying and writing down 5 ways to leave a legacy for our children, and then practical goals in how to implement our plan. I am excited as we figure out who we are as a family and what our values are.
So I’m relieved 2013 is behind us and 2014 has begun! I am shedding an old, dead skin of flesh. God is stretching me in new ways. I feel like we have an open road ahead of us, and in many ways, that we are equipped for whatever lies ahead. Not to say it will be easy, because our faith is really being tested. Since I am being honest, it is still really hard for me to not have a normal job with a steady paycheck. Don’t every romanticize missionary life! This is part of the shedding process. Today, God probed my heart…do I want Him more than gold or silver? Is He the one who can satisfy me? Does my heart long after him, or after other things like the security of a ‘normal’ life? But this is the life he has called us to, and he is building Jurassic strength in me to take on the challenges.
I sure miss you all. I would give anything to drink an extra-hot, Grande, Toffee-Nut Latte with half the syrup from Starbucks with you. Or to hear the sound of my parent’s clock chiming again. Or to see my kids playing with their cousins in the States. I miss that feeling of belonging somewhere.
2014 is going to be a great year. Thanks for letting me share some of the real, grueling parts of last year with you. Raising kids, building faith, and following the Lord is messy business. But as I was reminded recently, God is transforming us from glory to glory (2 Corinthians 3:12-18). As Matthew Henry says, ‘we should not rest contented without an experimental knowledge of the transforming power of the gospel…bringing us into a conformity to the temper and tendency of the glorious gospel of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.’
It pleases God to make us strong. This is my word for the year. Keep pressing on!