Emotional Preparations

Lately I have been in a new stage of preparing for Lebanon. It isn’t the stage I planned on being in either. Isn’t that always the way? I inform God and those around me of my plans, and then God patiently and gently guides me down the path of His plan. I do not always understand that it is a path, but here I am again on God’s path when I suddenly look up and realize that this is not the place I thought I was headed.

Of late, my plans to physically prepare by downsizing our storage unit, purging our house of unneeded items, donating clothes and such to Savers or Goodwill, and organizing important paperwork, all of those plans have fallen by the wayside. However, as I reflect on the past month not making headway on those goals, I realize that I have been continually prepared by God in my devotional time with Him, in my prayer life, and emotionally as I have taken time to process those people and events that keep me sane and motivated in my life. Driving to accountability and small group times shows me how important those are to me, and I have cried over the probable loss of them and then been hopeful in determining how to continue those relationships and accountability sessions when we leave.

Even taking Davy to the gym to fulfill our New Year’s Resolution of preparing him for daycare when we go to our training at the end of March has had some emotional processing. Davy loves going and playing with the kids after his two month break from going to the gym at all. It was relieving and also a mommy sadness to know that he might adjust well to many of the upcoming changes. Of course, the training is 8 hours a day of daycare and the gym is only one hour every few days as well.

Finally, as I recognize changes in Louis and I that were only hoped for in the past, I am amazed to see how God has been molding us into missionaries throughout our marriage (and, really, the course of our lives). My comfort in attending church, joy in devotional time and Bible Study, prayer with Davy before meals and over those sick and hurting, and peace that stays with me; all of these are a change that has been slow and steady, but are drastic compared to several years ago when we clearly heard God tell us to head toward Lebanon.

I am currently teaching a Bible Study on Sundays at Mt. Zion titled One Story. The purpose is to see how the entire Bible points to Jesus and how the entire Bible is helpful for ourselves so we can share that story with others. I felt convicted to do this class even with my continued discomfort with leading adults because God has been showing me that my reading of His word and my comfort with this idea that even the laws and the genealogies matter to me, Annie, is something others need to hear about. Preparing for this past Sunday, writing down several stories we could discuss I realized that this idea of the Cosmic Drama, the endless cycles of Sin and Redemption, were not merely Horizons International curriculum to me. I own them. I see my story in Scripture, and I want to share it with others. This was a phenomenal discovery, and overtook my feelings of inadequacy to share my own story of being the Mark 5, bleeding woman: The Woman Who Touched Jesus. I have the audacity to reach out and hug Jesus, and call him my lover. And you can, too.

It seems strange to many people to find out about my layers. I have a teacher face (as I call it) which I have cultivated over my three years of leaving terrible morning meetings crying, but having to stand up in front of my students and teach science, math, etc. I had to put on a game face (as Louis calls it). This face keeps doctors from believing that I am sick, and keeps adults from seeing my fear in speaking to groups of them. But as I rely on Jesus more and more to show His power through my weaknesses, I am filled with a peace. The same peace as the woman in Mark 5 who, healed from her shame, throws herself at Jesus’ feet and proclaims her story. I can share my fears because it is truth, and it shows how Jesus can work through me rather than relying on a mask. Others can see it is okay to share their own weaknesses because I share mine. This is something I have known in my head, practiced at times, but now feel I understand and that it will help me immensely in any future undertakings I follow God into.

In reflecting on all of this a verse jumped out at me this week:

“The Lord God has given me the tongue of those who are taught, that I may know how to sustain with a word him who is weary.” Isaiah 50:4a

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Obedience

I woke up this morning longing for friends who are all overseas doing mission work. I prayed for them, thanked the Lord for their work, and then cried a bit from missing them. As I began looking at Bible verses about community, I cried again realizing that soon I would be the one closer to those friends, and farther from most of you. What an adventure this crazy life is, always moving when God moves, following His word. It isn’t all roses, but the suffering is small compared to the joyous glory that is to come.

Obedience to God has been the theme of our lives lately. Of course, we always want to have obedience to God, but of late it has been a constant. Serving on this upcoming TIROSH youth retreat (http://www.soazviadecristo.org/) was a large step of obedience for Louis and I and has a large impact on David Ezekiel as well. For myself it is a real struggle to commit to something that will take me away from my baby for even a few short days. For Louis it meant giving up his dream of leaving for Lebanon in February and as he continues to listen to God, the “background work” he was planning on doing for the retreat has become a myriad of talks, leadership tasks, and spiritual directing.

This morning I was sitting with my runny-nosed, coughing, teething boy and watching Veggie Tales. The story of Gideon had a funny line, and as I have struggled for the past fifteen days of this month to put into words the presence of obedience in our lives right now, Larry the Cucumber aka Gideon the Tuba Warrior, said what I have been feeling. He is speaking to the angel who has come to tell him to fight the Midianites and says, “I thought you were coming to give me a pep talk, a little ‘well done, good and faithful servant.” To which the angel responds, “If you want to hear the Lord say, ‘well done,’ then you have to do what he asks.”

The more time I am spending in Scripture and prayer, the easier it is to follow God’s To Do list throughout each day. I can go to sleep knowing that I did what He asked of me, and I am experiencing that peace that flows deep inside of me.

In obedience we are continuing to prepare for Lebanon. As with Gideon, I find myself needing to rely on God to supply. We are still in need of most of our monthly funding, and we are running low on people willing to meet with us and give. We continue to pray for God to place people in our path whom he is calling to share with us in this ministry. We are continuing to call everyone we know to meet and share our mission. In confidence that God will provide, as he did with our startup fund, we have registered for a training in April that will prepare us to go overseas.

Please join with us in prayer: Lord, please clarify Your will each and every day as we prepare to act on Your commands. Fill us with Your love, patience, peace, and joy that we may bring glory to You in all we do, say, and think. Continue to bring the commitment of our partners to supply our monthly amount so that we can fulfill Your plans for us in going to Lebanon.