Back in October life hit an unexpected bump which changed the trajectory of my plans for the fall. After a week in Kenya and then 10 days later speaking at the Hutto Bible Ladies Retreat, I was hoping for some peace and quiet and old fashion R-E-S-T. The kind where you zone out with a couple seasons of a Netflix show.
But apparently God had other plans.
The day I unpacked my suitcase from the retreat, Adam packed his. For the next two months, he had to work away from home for three to four days a week.
Not exactly snuggling on the couch watching Netflix together.
Since I couldn’t control the circumstances around me, this need for something to go as I planned bubbled up inside me. All of a sudden, I needed to sew something, paint something or rearrange something in my house to funnel the energy bouncing around within me and not take it out on the people around me.
So I bought some fabric.
As the leaves fall in layers outside my window, crunch beneath my shoes and swirl behind the cars, it reminds me summer is over and winter is coming. This little season we call fall prepares the way for holidays like Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas. It ushers in chilly mornings, darker evenings and pumpkin spice smells in the kitchen.
I’ve often said that if I was a deciduous tree in fall, I would be the one to look around and say, “You know what, I’ve decided I’m keeping my leaves this year! I mean these are my favorite set! What’s the point of dropping my leaves now just to get them back again in a few months? Winter isn’t too bad here, can’t I just keep them?!”
What’s going to happen to me?
I’m probably going to freeze to death because if trees don’t drop their leaves in fall, they’ll die in winter from lack of food. Winter is not the time for nourishing extra things like leaves.
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.
Well it’s time for me to eat some humble pie here on this website. So much has transpired in my mind since the last time I posted here. Let me catch you up a bit…
During the Christmas break and after Papa passed, I struggled again with this calling of homeschooling. I’ll save you the long boring details. Let’s just say that in the end the Lord showed me that this calling to homeschool is like a marriage. Sometimes we’re on the same page and sometimes we’re not. Sometimes we get along and sometimes we fight. But He’s called me to be committed to this relationship no matter what.
With that said, when I try to squirm out of this calling and imagine how wonderful it would be to NOT homeschool, I’m being unfaithful to this marriage. It’s like flirting with another man. GULP! That truth really broke me. God’s word is so sharp and so personal that it hurts when He convicts you.
It reminds me of my sweet, bouncy daughter. Her favorite thing right now is to kick her own butt with her heels as she walks. So literally, every other step she’s alternating her heels into her backside. I can handle the commotion for awhile, but by evening time when we’re in the kitchen together and she’s bouncing around I have to say, “Darling, STOP! Please just keep your feet on the ground!”
This morning my sleepy 13 year old stumbled into my room. Since he was the first one up, he nestled quietly into the coveted spot right beside me on the bed. With his head against a pillow propped up on my leg we discussed quite deeply the thoughts of a young hunter/trapper boy. Most of the language I didn’t understand but I tracked along as well as I could with my barely awake brain.
He talked about guns and what the calibers meant, how many bullets go in each barrel and so forth. And I just listened. We talked battle scars and injuries and how it would be good for his future wife to have some nursing background.
I marveled at how easily we embraced and how fluidly the conversation ebbed along. I wasn’t distracted by my phone pinging the day’s notifications and I wasn’t in the middle of teaching my other two math or English. It was just me and him enjoying some sweet conversation.
It happened yesterday. That dark cloud moved in, uninvited over my thoughts. Even though the sun was streaming through the windows of my house, inside my head, it was raining.
Thundering memories reverberated through my body. Lightening flashbacks suddenly illuminated my mind and I was transported to a few years ago when I walked through the most intense struggle of my life.
See, I wish I had a Wile E. Coyote testimony. One where I continuously ran off the cliff until one day, Jesus caught me, changed me, placed me on solid ground and I never ran toward the edge of the cliff again.
But I don’t.
Jogging down the back roads behind my house with hay bales dotting the horizon, I felt the Lord ask me to write my story. Actually, I had already written it in the pages of my journal, but He was saying it’s time to compile it – all of it.
The words of this story frequently came like labor pains at midnight, hard and fast and impossible to sleep through.
Get up! The Lord would nudge me. Write it down!
I would fight against the prompting for two hours usually, and then finally accept the fact that words being birthed don’t care what time it is.
As I ran that summer morning, I couldn’t out run the voice of the Lord telling me that this story would one day be a published book.
One year ago today, my feet stepped back onto American soil after spending one month in Kenya, I wrote in my journal. I took a deep breath, and let my head rest back on my pillow, remembering the journey and how good it felt to be home. It felt like yesterday. No, it felt like three years ago!
It was after that trip that my life completely changed.
So much change happened all of a sudden that I don’t even want to retrace it, yet here I am writing about it.
This change rocked me to my core. It put me flat on my back and knocked the breath out of me.
First sadness set in, then grief, which turned to anxiety and finally depression.
Before last year, I’d not had a personal encounter with those words. Sadness. Grief. Anxiety. Depression. I knew what they meant and I knew people who struggled with them, but they were not feelings I lived with. Sure, I’ve had a bad day or an off week, but eventually the clouds would part in my world and the sun would shine again.
For some strange reason, Six Flags brings out the teenager in me. A few weeks ago, we took our kids for the first time to this favorite theme park of mine. Yet it was me obnoxiously fidgeting in my seat and dancing along to the radio on the car ride up there.
It was impossible to contain my excitement!
Once we finally walked through the gate, map in hand, I located my favorite ride: Mr. Freeze. I begged and pleaded with my son to join me on what I considered to be the best ride in the whole park.
As we stood in line to this ride that shoots you backwards at 70 mph, I had my own flashbacks to when I was Caleb’s age. I remember standing in the exact same line with my youth group friends, my stomach doing butterflies at what we were about to experience.
As the line died down and we inched closer to the starting gate, my heart rate quickened. My palms started to sweat and I wondered if I’d made a mistake. I wanted to pass on the memory of this ride to my son, but in that moment I worried he wasn’t ready. This was only our second ride, and I wondered if I should have warmed him up a little more.
As the guy holding the microphone prepared the group before us to take off, I started chattering constantly to a group of 13 year old girls I had befriended during our wait.
Recently, in an effort to zone out from all the activity swirling around me and actually rest, I queued up The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. For what better way is there to escape the worries of this world than to wander through the wardrobe with Lucy and embark upon an adventure filled with curiosity, faith, fauns, talking beavers and a battle of Good vs. Evil?
I’ve read the book and seen the movie many times, but the line that caught my attention this go-around was when Peter, Susan and Lucy entered the home of the Beavers. Mr. Beaver looked at all of them and said “Aslan is on the move.”
It reminded me of the song “God is on the move, on the move, Hallelujah. God is on the move in many mighty ways.”
When God is on the move, you know it. The air is different. Your spirit is stirred, restless even in anticipation of what is coming next. You can’t quite make out what it looks like, but there’s a rustling in the bushes and like a dog with his ears perked, you are waiting expectantly to figure it out.