So I have realized that I have been rather dramatic lately. Dramatic in my writing, dramatic in my processing, and even dramatic in my cleaning. Just the other day, Paul and I were frantically cleaning every inch of the house to get it ready to go on the market. I definitely had a strategy to my madness. I was working from one end of the house to the other. There were flowers on the table that were ready to be pruned and picked down and redistributed to a smaller vase. My plan was to attack that when I literally got to it on the table in my evenly horizontal sweep of the room. Even though it wasn’t as high a priority as the dirty dishes in the sink it made sense to me to work in this way. When my mental red line, that divided the half of the room that was done from the half that was undone, reached the vase, it was time to deal with the flowers. I did the same when I came to a bowl of small oranges. Some needed to be discarded and some could be saved and arranged into something that would look pretty. Having the citrus arrangement wasn’t on the to-do list from our realtor. But it made sense to me that when I got to the bowl, taking care of the oranges at that moment was just the next thing to do. This didn’t make a whole lot of sense to Paul and he gently suggested that maybe I not get distracted on the things that weren’t top priority. I did not respond well. I really let it get the best of me and my cleaning all of a sudden became an emotional, personally defining thing. It was a lot of drama. I couldn’t really understand myself and all this emotion. Our lives have been crazy and I have been storing a ton of emotions right underneath the surface of my skin, but haven’t even had the time to recognize that they are there.
So here I am, sitting in front of my computer—my church bench of perspective. I have been absent from attending this place with the Father. I have avoided it’s hard and cold form—it’s intimidating blank white screen. I have kept myself busy with obligations and hurriedness to keep from feeling the things I hate to even consider. How often do we hide from the One who knows all. It’s so silly and foolish. So here I am…let’s get it over with. I’m ready to feel it all, to finally process all the change that’s ahead of me. Let’s strip back the skin and peel off the layers to uncover where all that drama is coming from.
My first emotion is sadness. We have been in Buda for close to 8 years. It is the longest amount of time Paul and I have lived in one place since having met back in college. Three out of the four of our children were born in Buda and little Judah just celebrated his first birthday here. The Well is the only church our kids know—the only church family they have ever had. The people who visited us in the hospital at their births, witnessed their baptisms, came to birthday parties, and babysat in between—these are the people we are leaving. The people are our community and our family. The past 8 years we have sacrificed time, energy, finances, birthdays, anniversaries, date nights, and lots of emotional outpouring of our hearts for and with these people. They have been our purpose, our mission, and our life for the past 8 years. We have walked through pain and suffering with each other. We have shared in joy and celebration. This has been a hard decision. It’s not easy to leave all who we treasure so dearly. This isn’t a career choice or simply changing jobs. What is being asked of us is to relocate away from dear family and friends. We like The Well. We love The Well. We genuinely like the people and have fun with them. But God, in His gracious mercy has made it abundantly clear that the best thing for our family at The Well is to make room for new leadership and a refreshed approach. It is out of love for The Well that we leave. It’s like the parent who knows that what’s best for their son or daughter is for them to go to an out-of-state university or college that offers the best program for the desired degree. Mothers don’t want to have their children far away from them, but know that the growth and development acquired during that time of distance provides maturation, independence and a wealth of knowledge. Then there is just the simple fact that we feel called. We feel through the Spirit that God is asking us to go. He is asking us if we are willing to leave our mother, father, sister and brother, to follow Him. Following can be sad.
My second emotion is awe. We also see how God has prepared us in our 8 years in Buda for the tasks at hand in Katy. We have walked through our own cycles of repentance and restoration, that we have grown and matured in ways we could never have forecasted. Living in our independence from our own works has strengthened our dependence on Jesus. His provision, His restoration, and His vision for us has brought us to a place where it is just so obvious that we can do nothing apart from Him. We see through this move, the same message of dependence on Him for both The Well and Crosspoint. Jesus has so much for us. We just have to get our idols out of the way. Isn’t this the struggle for every believer in every situation?
In my time here in front of my blank computer screen, I’ve thought about more than just the past month of intense decision making and busyness. There are certain times in life when we get those big-picture moments. I had a friend in college call them “big” moments, when you somewhat separate yourself from living inside the four-walls of your skin and get a glimpse of a bigger work, a bigger picture that is being formed. I see something being crafted over the past year and a half.
Perhaps the fact that Judah just turned one helps to put this in focus. I think about finding out I was pregnant and the weighty feel of panic that made my heart sink. All my dreams and plans for the next year vanished in the few seconds it took to look at that little plus-sign. I couldn’t imagine life with four kids, with ANOTHER baby, and being “tied down” at home, yet again. The coming of that little life caused us to sell our house and move to a different neighborhood and into a house with one more bedroom. It was never the house of our dreams, though it suited our needs just fine. But it was this new neighborhood and house that made it impossible to attend Buda Elementary and ultimately led us to the decision to begin “Family Rehab”. This blog being the result of that decision, has led to other encouraging open doors, paths and relationships. I also over the past year have completed writing and editing a book and it will (God-willing) be published later this summer. God has done so many things this year that I didn’t see when I was panicking about diaper changing and midnight feedings. As I look back on the year, diapers aren’t even a memory. I honestly don’t remember any of the late nights and the struggle. I simply see God’s hand at work to create a bigger picture.
Having the kids at home and not in school has made this move to Katy a little easier for all of us. And I look back on the decision to do so and thank God for His foresight and knowledge and for laying it so heavily on my heart. He knew what He was doing in order to gently care for the hearts of my children. I could go on and on about how I see God painting a bigger picture of preparation and provision for our family in this move. It’s just so amazing and it challenges me to trust Him during the times when I don’t see a complete big picture.
My third emotion is fear. I really run from engaging with this emotion. I am leaving a place where I have been able to be a pastor’s wife, a mom, and still do the things I love at the same time. (Not that I don’t love being a wife and a mom…:) But, I’ve enjoyed being needed beyond the home. I’ve enjoyed being seen as having purpose outside the home. I’ve enjoyed it to the point that it’s been a struggle for me to not be satisfied just being in the home. I should be satisfied. I should be content. I should be thankful with what I have and even less. My identity is found and secure in Jesus and all that He says I am. I fear living this out everyday. I don’t want to be naive and think I won’t struggle in this area. I will. I know I will. And I fear the questions I will place on my identity and worth as it is challenged by responsibilities being removed. I also look forward to having season of rest. But, when I’m all rested up, let’s face it: I’m going to miss being needed. I’m going to miss the joy and fulfillment of using my gifts and talents to serve Jesus and others. I am confident God will continue to use me. It just might look different. And I honestly need help to trust Him in this—to really believe He knows what is best and indeed has my good and the good of the Church in mind.
Finally, (although I’m sure there are more hidden somewhere inside) the last emotion I feel is excitement. I have been and currently am so tired from the past 8 years. It’s been hard work. And I know that there is hard work coming. I feel as though all of us, even the kids, will be able to identify what specific things God is calling us to—what things we are to focus on. And I really do believe that whatever He reveals those things to be, we will have the ability to spend more time and energy focused on fewer things. I really do feel like we will be able to grow because we won’t be spread so thin. It’s exactly what my desire was for “family rehab”. I wanted us to take away school to be intentional and focused on our family. I feel like this move is an extension of that initial calling to rehabilitate. I am excited to see where God takes this and what He does with it. I’m excited to see how my children grow and are challenged. Even though I’m fearful about all the time I will have on my hands, I’m excited to see how God molds and shapes me and draws me closer to Him. I’m excited to see where we are going to live! Because right now, we have no idea!
As I look back on the emotions I listed above I see something…maybe a big picture kind of something. Out of my emotions—sadness, awe, fear, and excitement—I see that I am safe. I might feel like I am a neurotic mess, but I am safe. I am safe in the Father’s hands. I am safe and secure in His plan, His purpose, and His provision. I am covered in His love, His faithfulness, and His grace. Now I am reminded why I started coming to this blank screen church of mine—this keyboard confessional. In the silence of the typing keys and by the soft candle-like glow of my laptop, Jesus has met me where I am—an emotional basket-case. He reminds me that I am safe. I am secure. He speaks His unwavering words to me in this time of change:
But you, Israel, my servant,
Jacob, whom I have chosen,
the offspring of Abraham, my friend;
you whom I took from the ends of the earth,
and called from its farthest corners,
saying to you, “You are my servant,
I have chosen you and not cast you off”;
fear not, for I am with you;
be not dismayed, for I am your God;
I will strengthen you, I will help you,
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. (Isaiah 41:8-10, ESV)
Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. (John 20:21-22, ESV)
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there was none of them.
How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!
If I would count them, they are more than the sand.
I awake, and I am still with you. (Psalm 139:14-18, ESV)