In an old Cosby TV show, Clair Huxtable is sporadically speaking Spanish to a colleague, while Cliff Huxtable stands off to the side, staring at them, because he doesn’t understand what’s being said. The two banter back and forth while Cliff’s face contorts into half a dozen classic Bill Cosby expressions. When the Spanish speaking pair looks back at Cliff he responds, “I’m just listening for my name!” That’s the one thing he understands and can respond to in a paragraph of fast flying foreign words.
This past month has been like a blur of fast flying foreign words. It’s been a series of packing and unpacking suitcases, preparing and speaking sessions, and eating lunch when I can. Between a Kenyan ladies conference, a Hutto Bible ladies retreat and my cousin’s wedding, I have spoken in a microphone more in the pat 45 days than in my entire life!
So many times after we return from Kenya, my heart is on fire with passionate future dreams. I usually hit the ground running in a flurry of activity, praying for clarity and trying to attain to the vision, before I wear a hole in the carpet.
Except all that changed about two years ago when God told us to “go home” from Kenya. We weren’t sure if we’d ever go back – not because anything bad happened but because it felt like the same cherubim and flaming sword God placed to guard the Garden of Eden from being re-entered was also guarding us against returning west.
In February of this year our church – Grace Community – was planning for a September Kenya trip. Adam and I attended the first interest meeting and it was exciting to be in the same room again with others we’ve shared previous trips with. As stories were shared, and videos rolled, I smelled the salty Kenyan air, and pictured waking up to the breathtaking sunrise.
I was ready to go.
But as Adam and I prayed about the trip and if God was calling us back, we weren’t getting the green light confirmation we expected. Emotions could easily make us excited to say yes, but were the emotions aligned with the Holy Spirit? One of our hang ups was the fact there wasn’t a ladies conference planned, only a church build and pastor’s conference.
Adam didn’t want to go without me, and it didn’t seem like I had a place this year. So one evening on our walk, Adam and I agreed it still wasn’t time to go back. We both had a peace about the decision and closed the matter.
Two days later, I had to follow through with one of the hardest school decisions I’ve ever made. Our family has been apart of Classical Conversations for roughly 5 years and for different reasons I felt like it was time to do something different. God had new plans for our next school year and I had to believe His plan was good. The only thing left for me to do was tell our director we wouldn’t be returning.
A conversation I was dreading.
The director wasn’t intimidating; the whole decision was intimidating and talking to her made the whole thing real.
I didn’t even get the first sentence out before I started crying. I blubbered though how, somehow, this is where God’s leading me even though I know my kids will miss this program. Like a good friend, she understood and said we would be missed.
Two hours later I’m driving down the road and my phone rings. I look at the caller ID and it’s my friend Sheilla.
“Hey Julie,” she said. “I just spoke with Jeff and he said Grace wants to do a woman’s conference this year in Kenya after all! They asked me if I would go and I’ve said yes and I wondered if you would join me?”
My heart started racing! Would I like to go back to Kenya and help at the ladies conference? I’ve been waiting two years for this! I tried to contain my excitement a little bit and told her I needed to talk to Adam but “I think I’m in.”
I hung up the phone and the tears came again – tears of God’s perfect timing and how He opens up opportunity as we keep walking. I just took one huge step of faith to say no to CC and God opened up a way to go back to Kenya!
Life often feels like a conversation of fast flying Spanish words, most of which I don’t understand. I’m learning I don’t have to understand everything. I don’t have to control how and when plans will play out. My job is to trust the One who speaks all languages and tune my ear to “listen for my name.” And when it’s called, respond.