Four months ago. That’s when we stepped back onto American soil. When we stumbled through customs in a haze. When we drank 5-Hour energy to make the trip home from Chicago, alternately opening the windows to flood the van with fresh air and cranking up the music to conquer our urge to give in to sleep. Four months since we got home, and were humbled and blessed by the love and welcome and practical helps of you sweet friends. Has it really been four months?!
And finally, finally, I think I can write. I think I might be able to communicate a little bit what is going on over here. I think I can tell you now that our hearts are fragile up in these parts. But we might be at the itty-bitty baby beginning of a break-through, so it’s time to tiptoe in and start to share.
I share because it’s therapeutic and a few of you are curious, but mostly I share because He deserves the glory and I want to declare it. God was good and faithful to us.
I wanted to come back home on fire, charging forward with clarity, sure of our next steps, able to articulate to everyone here just exactly what needs to be communicated from over there. And the truth is, none of those things apply. I’m subdued, cautious, confused, and reflective. I’m struggling to maintain our daily routines, much less be a force for change. I spend a lot of time just telling myself to put one foot in front of the other, and do the next thing, and just keep going.
I know that’s not what some may want to hear from a “missionary,” but it’s the reality of where we are at. God allowed us to blaze our trail, only to be quietly offering a cool patch of grass to lie in when we returned. Never have I had a clearer understanding of the meaning of, “Be still, and know that I AM God.”
Our time in Thailand broke our will and our hearts and the hardest parts of ourselves. It enriched us. It exhausted us. It taught us. It amazed us. There were people that stole our hearts, and we wrestle with how you love well from the other side of the world. Our kids are impacted, imprinted, a different version of themselves altogether. This was not an addendum to their lives, but a total transformation. The lens through which they view the world is altered. They ask tender questions and miss friends and familiarity to which they grew accustomed, because it was 1/66th of my life, but 1/6 or 1/10 or 1/16 or 1/20 of theirs, and I need to honor that.
I’m a little bit paralyzed by my “doing the next thing” mode. I am not sure what God wants from us for the first time in a long time. I look back with fondness on the days when we were sure we were doing what He was asking of us, looking toward a step of faith and obedience. And now, on the other side of that, we are worn and weary, waiting to hear from Him so clearly again.
I don’t like this place. I don’t. Since I’m being all uncomfortably honest with you, I might as well say, I’ve been a little bit angry or depressed or in a funk. I’ve felt far from the God I love and long to serve. And I’m not sure how to break it.
And just this week, just in the last few days, I’ve sensed relief, an easing of the heaviness that has parked itself on me for many months. It has come gently in the form of gratitude. And I shouldn’t be surprised. That all there is between me and God is my posture. I approach with thanks rather than fist-shaking frustration. He has not moved, but I have. I am quietly reflecting on all the places he touched during our months in Thailand, on all the places where I see a mark that could only have been left by Him. Friendships, joy, turning away from fear and idols, reconciliation, breakthroughs, peace, healing. He is so big and so good, big enough and good enough to handle my frustration, big enough and good enough to lead me out of my frustration and into wide open spaces.
So in this month when the trendy thing to do is proclaim your gratitude, I will join in. Because I really don’t know what else to do. I don’t know anything else that will lead me back to Him in quite the same way. I know He is waiting, not because He longs to be thanked for the sake of being thanked, but because He desires our freedom. And with gratitude, comes freedom. I’ve learned this lesson again and again.
1. A brother-in-law and sister-in-law who love my kids enough to take them for a whole weekend.
2. A husband who makes me laugh multiple times a day (and keeps going even when I roll my eyes).
3. Great books and the people brilliant enough to write them.
4. A perfect hike on a perfect hiking day.
5. Sleeping in for no reason for the first time in two years.
6. Seeing a glimpse of the nap-free next stage of family life with kids at 3, 6, 8, and 10.
7. Good chocolate cake.
8. Gluten-free options.
9. The anticipation of a birthday through the eyes of my child.
10. The smell of goat hanging on the coat of a giddy 6-year-old animal-lover.
11. Learning history with my children. (Not that I didn’t know about the Battle of Hastings before. Pffft.)
12. Hearing my son declare his concern for the underdog and imagining what life paths it will take him down.
Would love to hear what you are thankful for, friends.