In returning to the states I anticipated rolling back into my old life. Hanging out with the same folks, eating at my favorite spots, settling into a routine and newfound freedom from 85-100 kids, 21 days of work in a row and carrying around a walkie talkie 24/7.
What I found was the quiet at night and in the morning seemed too loud, some of my favorite spots are gone. The same folks have moved on and are busy in new ways. Much like a kid who has gone off to college and returned home for summer break only to realize after years away everyone you knew had changed. And you did too.
I never had training for how to serve in a foreign country, raise support, take care of myself while away, nor how to return to the states after years away. I'm finding it much different that I expected and at times overwhelming.
I feel homeless some days. Grateful and thankful and blessedly I get to live with some friends while I work and figure out the future. Build or buy a house or get an apartment. Then but all the things one would need- starting over because I've sold almost everything I own. Bed. Couch. Vacuum. Brooms. Washer and dryer. Dishes and silverware. If my friends decided they didn't want me to live with them i would be homeless. (I know the federal guidelines for homelessness from working with them in seminary). This isn't a completely disconcerting thing but it humors me.
I think of everyone excited I'm returning to the US and myself included for the most part. Then the realization of how little I had hit. I had to buy all new pants for work- the few I still had didn't fit. I had not dress socks. I needed toiletries and everyday things one wouldn't think about. A car the Lord provided that I have to pay off. It added up and I had not even staters work. And when I did it took 3 wks to get paid.
The holidays brought a grief I didn't anticipate. Missing my hooligans. My kids. My bigs. On any given day 10 would be mad at me and 10 would be totally my best friend telling me they loved me when I walked or drove by. Life seems too quiet. The anticipation they have over new trams and presents. New movies to watch and getting to play the Wii once in awhile. Teaching them new things. Reminding them they do matter and they are loved by the Father. I've forgotten how to have holidays without them involved. Being with my family for part of a day was sweet but just felt strange.
Hearing people say "thank you for the time you served the Lord" felt weird. I still am. He no doubt sent me here. To this job. To this city. For this time. Just because I'm in America hasn't changed my heart to serve and Glorify Him. Just the context.
New Year's Eve I sat in church as the pastor talked about "all that has happened in your life this year". And I could barely think of a thing the past year held. I thought of the months when Katja was gone and I had the responsibility of my kids and decision making for them. Moving back to the states. And that's all I could think. I felt that I'd isolated my time in Honduras and visits to the states on vacation into a separate place I couldn't access. To keep the grief to a minimum. And I felt lost.
Then about 10 minutes later the pastor quoted Jeremiah 31. And my friend Bufanda looked over at me and said "isn't that Micah 7?" “Who is a God like You, who pardons iniquity And passes over the rebellious act of the remnant of His possession? He does not retain His anger forever, Because He delights in unchanging love. He will again have compassion on us; He will tread our iniquities under foot. Yes, You will cast all their sins Into the depths of the sea.”
Micah 7:18-19 NASB
And I said yes. And she flipped in her bible to look it up. And I couldn't. Because suddenly I was flooded with remembering one of the things he taught me and in turn I taught my kids. He has tossed my sins into the sea. No one can retrieve them. Walk in freedom from them and from the shame. Longing for my kids to understand that. To walk with Him in His love and freedom.
And it was all I could do not to weep. To be served the Lords supper by my friends. Reminded of his sacrifice for me. The blessing of his brokenness and blood poured out on my behalf. So the only sacrifice needed would be my life in service to Him out of thankfulness love and gratitude for his grace and mercy.
The next day at round 2 of church I asked my friend to pray. She asked "anything specific?" And I said no. And His answer to our prayers was He is enough. He satisfies. He gives joy. Walk in freedom in it.
Just what my heart needed to hear. Not something "big" and loud. And steps to follow in getting from where I was to somewhere else. Just Him.
Even in what feels completely unsettled and a lot of times solitary and too quiet. Him. Just Him.
And now as we take off on a delayed flight to Atlanta we take off in the rain and fog. To come out above the clouds. With the plane wing visible in the backdrop of stars. And I'm reminded sometimes the quiet that feels so lonely and scary is just Him. Pulling me aside to Him alone to cover me in His love. To get above the fog and rain and storm. The balm I need to heal the hurt I feel in the missing my kids. In missing heaven and being with Him. I long to be there. I long to see His face. To be before Him. To worship Him without distractions or hesitation. To see His light and marvel at His creation like the stars in the sky.
I long for geography not to matter with those I love. In countries spread from Africa to Central America. Across states and even 2 hours away. For the constraint of money to not Exist.
To be whole. With my people. Gathered around the throne.
So for now I return back to my temporary home. My job tomorrow. And I seek to remember the simplicity He shows me. What freedom looks like from self made expectations. To walk in his way. Listening to His voice to lead me into spaces and places with those He has called me to serve and serve with.
And to find Joy in the journey.
So grateful for where He has taken me in my 42 1/2 years. And praying in this next calendar year to be diligent to just listen. Stand. Fight. Speak truth in love. And be graceful.
Thankful for those of you with me in this journey.
Let's love Jesus. Because He has loved us first. And love like Him.