Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Coming into Focus (or: Becoming FEARLESS)

***Warning: the following post has strongly worded faith-based convictions and may not be suitable for viewing." ***

This Move.
This Move from the Mountain to the Beach.
It has taken some time to make sense of, for This Writer.
There's no doubt that we were supposed to move and supposed to sell that house and supposed to change paths, but many times during all the last 9 months I have asked:
"God. What are you doing with us???"
We were just going about our business, loving our lives on the Mountain.
We were learning.
We were growing.
We were maturing.
We were happy.
We were enveloped in our surroundings contentedly.
Having fellow Believers to share life with closely - it was like
shooting fish in a barrel, it was so available.
Fabulous neighbors.
Tight friends.
Safety in a tiny town where the police are the crossing guards after school and the town's school carnival is its' main attraction every fall.
Challenging teaching at church.
Great mini public school.
A playground where you could bump into a plethora of buddies at any moment, unplanned.
Opportunities for volunteerism.
A yard.
A cul-de-sac.
It was embarrasingly idyllic.
"Mayberry, U.S.A."
When I think "home" ~ I think "the Mountain".
And God moved us far away.
So yes - there's been alot of:
"What are you doing with us, God? How come you are moving us away? What could be better for our boys than this life? What could you need us to change our whole lives for? Aren't we here because you led us here? Aren't we doing life 'correctly'?
Were we (gasp!) wrong? What has all this 2 years been about?"
I'm just being honest, folks.
These are the thoughts that run through the minds of parents of 3 young boys when you've moved
6 times in 11 years;
a couple devoted to loving Jesus who want to know His Plan for their lives.
This is what makes you stare at the ceiling at night, watching for neon signs.
"Did we mis-read? Did we mis-hear?
Are we mis-reading and mis-hearing now?"
It's taking time, but I believe we are starting to put pieces together.
I think we were indeed learning. I think we were indeed hearing challenging teaching at church, finding depth in matchless friendships, getting truly grounded as a family.
I believe that 2 years enlightened us as to how we wanted to do life.
We had some wonderful role-models on the Mountain and a whole lotta family time which we desperately needed after 3 years of a hellish residency.
We sort of marinated in love.
No small wonder that we were terribly reluctant to hit the road again.
Here's the truth though:
Marinating doesn't do anything for the world around you.
It changes you, but it doesn't change anyone else.
I have tought alot about Peter in the Word. I have always related to Peter because I get so fired up with love for Jesus and then slink away, afraid to open my once-brave mouth.
Thought about how Jesus blessed him with plenty
and then in the next breath called Peter away
to follow Him. (Luke 5: 1-11)
How Peter kept on growing in love and stumbling in failure,
2 steps forward & 3 steps back.
This feels very familiar.
I thought we were moving forward.
And this Move has made me wonder if we really were.
We have downsized, reformulated, recommitted, and shaken things up a bit.
Magically in the span of 9 months we have become a homeschooling, renting, beachy family, no longer a public-school-fundraising, home-owning, mountain family.
It's more solitary.
The address isn't one we own.
It's quieter.
And it's all been unexpected.
Sometimes it has felt as though we are moving backward.
Like Peter though, I want to be bold.
I feel Jesus asking us to get out of the boat, out to Him, out to the water.
I feel life changing and it is scary and freeing.
I am still a stumbler.
I certainly need Jesus now more than ever.
Call it a crutch-call it wheelchair--call me weak-deluded-foolish-call it misled-duped-brainwashed.
Call me a sellout, call me a zealot, a freak, a flag-waving idiot, a crazy.
Guess what?
I'm good with that.
I'm tired of living well and chasing comfort.
Confort, comfort, comfort.
It's been my main goal, announced or not.
My comfort, my children's comfort, my family's comfort - it's a shallow, short-sighted effort.
I'm tired of being worried about who my noisy faith will bother.
I'm tired of editing and restricting my love for Jesus
because if He really is Lord - if I really am called to follow Him - if I want God to break me down and fill me up and make my life have MEANING and PURPOSE - if I want His steadfast, rock-solid assurances - if I want to be led by His grace and march out in faith than I don't get to be concerned with my reputation anymore.
If I want to live a fearless life, if I want to
"live a life worthy of the gospel of Jesus" (Phil 1:27)
and not just live to acquire beautiful furniture, educate my smart, handsome, white American sons well, retire easily, have a great savings account balance, vacation worldwide in my 50's and above all have COMFORT (previous goals) then it is time to reach for uneasy change.
It's going to be noisy.
Prepare yourselves.
Jesus is showing me - showing the Two of Us how BIG His Plan is for us.
He has allowed this Move to start the changing process, taken us out of the marinade.
Jesus has asked us to follow.
And we are, man.
I am about to get "offensively religious."
Step back.
Fair warning.
"God is more concerned with your character than He is with your comfort." ~ Rick Warren

Waiting to Wait

(first posted on Thursday Sept 9, 2009)

We are not adopting.
Not yet.
We are waiting.
Then after that's done, we will wait some more.
And we know it.
Instead of filling out adoption paperwork or looking at lists of children or waiting on a referral with a picture of our destined daughter we are doing something first
- getting things in order financially.
And guess what?! - it's boring. BORING. Bor-ING.
***NEWS-FLASH: Paying off debt is BORING***
BUT it is important.
Important enough to be the catalyst for a major move from the Mountain to the Beach, important enough to sell our home, move our boys, cause the Hub to take a new job at a new practice, cause us to refocus and and rebudget
and change almost everything about the way we do life.
Sometimes important events are exciting:
weddings! birthdays! Disney trips! engagements!
Gotchya days! good news from a doctor! court dates!
(((YAY! EXITING!!!)))
And then again, other important events? Not so much:
Sending a check.
Watching it clear.
Checking off a list.
But, it's what's happening.
The Challenge here is to be content while we are waiting and doing what amounts to feeling like watching paint peel or milk sour or grass grow.
Again: boring.
Adoption is in our future; it's going to happen; it's approaching every day; it's destined and it's certain.
But we are aiming a slingshot without releasing it yet - we are waiting.
God hasn't let us begin, yet.
He is teaching us something here,
the same things He teaches us with every Challenge -it's not a new thing, it's not a different thing and it's actually what He will be using all future Challenges to teach us, once we begin the adoption process, once we are all home together, for the rest of our lives in fact:
To Be Close to Him.
That's all.
And do you know how much more I desperately seek Him, speak to Him, open his Word for direction and comfort and express weak neediness now that I am homeschooling and waiting to adopt than I did ever before?
My children, here at home and somewhere yet unborn overseas are already the cause of a greater love between me and my Jesus.
They are amazingly pushing me towards Him in my own neediness.
They are already glorifying Him.
That's amazing.
Even though I am waiting.