Thursday, April 13, 2017

The Road to Indiana

Really, this is probably not the best time to start writing. Our life is in major upheaval. Everything is changing. I think the changes are what make me want to write – to process my thoughts and feelings and help explain this crazy adventure a little to those watching, and even to myself.

As we move away from everyone we know and love, I feel strongly that I need to record this journey and invite the ones we’re leaving to follow along with us as we embark into unknown territory.

I can’t promise it will be well written, or even very interesting, but it is my life and I want to invite you into it and the random wanderings of my heart and mind as much as possible.

I may not write very often. I may write everyday. I don’t know what to expect from myself as writing and blogging has been something I’ve been very inconsistent with. But I know that God is teaching me a lot and is moving in ways I want to remember. I want to build an altar of sorts, rock by rock, as a testimony of what He is doing in my life so I can look back and remember each piece He provided and each way He stepped in and did what only He can do.

The story began long ago, of God teaching me and inviting me into a life-changing friendship with Him, but our recent journey began in December. I’ve always wanted to go abroad and share the love of Jesus with people in other countries – to be a missionary – and give my life in crazy radical ways for the gospel. And this last December, I again came to my husband and shared my longing to go and be a missionary. This desire has been so deeply rooted in my heart since I first gave my life to the Lord, that I don’t know where I begin and it ends. It is as much a part of me as my own breath and for so long, God has said, “Stay. Be here. Love here. Grow here.” And I have. I’ve grown and changed and fallen in love with God in new ways everyday. I’ve been truly content and full of joy right where I am, living for Jesus where He has called me to be, but still, like an ache in my chest, I’ve longed for missions like a steady pulsing pain. A constant ache and reminder that I can’t ignore.

In December, we went away for our anniversary, and on the three hour drive, I poured out my heart to my husband for the thousandth time of my longing to go and do missions and this new sense that God is preparing us for something altogether different. I asked him, “Please pray with me. I will stay in Oregon with peace and joy if this is where God has called us to be, but will you please commit to praying with me and asking Him where He wants us to be. And will you really pray earnestly about it?” This was not the first conversation where I’ve begged Andy to move to Africa or India with me, and it may not yet be the last, but Andy committed himself to praying and to seeking God’s will for our life.

Fast forward a month, Andy had a hard day at work and came home and shared about some of the struggles. The conversation spurred on talks about the future and ideas and dreams of what could be. The following day, he shared some of his dreams with a friend of his who lives in Fort Wayne, Indiana, and they began dreaming together. Andy’s work eventually evened out, but something in Andy’s heart began to want a life in Indiana and the possibilities that were available to us there. He began to talk seriously about us moving there. We dream a lot together about this idea or that idea, so we dreamed a bit, but I didn’t truly expect it to result in anything.

In the end of January, I went on a prayer retreat and we had a time of listening prayer. During that time waiting on the Lord and listening for anything He wanted to say to me, I heard very clearly that He wanted us to move to Fort Wayne, Indiana and that it would be a season where all I had to depend on was God and that I was to press into the suffering and into Christ, choosing the path Jesus walked for the sake of the world. I truly don’t know what that means or will look like, but it certainly didn’t make me excited!

I went home and shared what I heard with Andy, and we continued talking. His mindset was still very practical – finances and career options were his primary focus at the time. We talked and shared our thoughts with some close friends and family and received very mixed reactions. Some reactions made us reconsider the idea entirely – maybe this was a horrible idea. But still, there felt like an invisible hand was guiding us down this path. We read an amazing book together called “Money, Possessions, and Eternity” by Randy Alcorn that really motivated us to think about our finances even more in the light of Kingdom values and the importance of being completely debt free. We began to talk about ways we could be debt-free in Oregon as we have a home loan, school loans, and a car loan. Through these months, we decided that stay or leave, we needed to live debt-free with no loans or mortgages of any kind and that we were willing to make drastic life changes to accomplish those purposes.

We wrestled back and forth, should we go or should we stay? What about other locations? Are we only supposed to be in Fort Wayne or could another cheaper location be an option to us as well? Maybe something closer to our families and home? No matter where we looked or how cheap another place was, we kept feeling ourselves drawn back to Fort Wayne. We felt no peace about any other place and the more we researched Fort Wayne, the more we felt drawn to a particular 10 block radius. It felt crazy, but we both felt sure it was Fort Wayne or nothing.

But we still were wrestling with the whole topic and we were struggling with leaving our amazing communities and families behind. During that season, the Lord reminded me of how He has called nearly every major biblical person of faith to leave their families and their homes to follow Him and of the call in the gospels from Jesus to do just that. Abraham, Moses, Joseph (although unwilling at first), Isaac, Jesus, Ruth, and so many more. The list was startling as I realized that this walk of faith in following Jesus sometimes (often!) calls you away from everyone you know and love and leads you to a place of total dependence on the Father.

We decided, we didn’t want to leave our families and our friends for anything other than a call from God to do so. We decided to wait and pray until my trip to Africa. We asked friends to pray with us and we felt that we would know more clearly after Africa somehow. So we waited. And prayed. And then Africa.

I fell in love with Africa. Uganda was everything I had ever dreamed of and more. It was like a I fell into a romance with a people and a place and everything about it was intoxicating and full of wonder. The people, the sights, the smells, the weather, the traffic, the food, and this siren possibility of all the ways that God wanted to do a renewing and restoring work there wooed me into a place where one night when I awoke at 1am (jet lag!), I laid in my bunk and begged God, with tears and sobs, to let me stay forever. I felt like my heart was aching and yearning in a way that I have never felt before – and breaking too. It hurt so much to want something so bad. And as I lay there, sobbing and begging, He broke my heart and told me “no.” He told me Uganda wasn’t for me, but was for my children. That my love for Uganda was for them. He reminded me of David wanting to build a temple for God and how God said that David couldn’t, but his son Solomon would. David spent the rest of his life storing treasures up for Solomon to use in building the temple, but David would never get to see it completed. My love for Uganda was the treasures I was storing up in my children’s hearts so they could one day complete what God would not allow me to do.

But in that heartbreak, He told me again that He was calling us to Fort Wayne, Indiana. He said many other things – things about a church plant and His vision for our lives there. And I knew, this was my future now. I felt a grief the rest of the trip, but also peace that comes from full surrender, and an ability to embrace my time in Uganda, however short it may be.

During my time in Uganda, Andy committed to meeting with someone each night to pray for us and for our future. During one such night, a friend and him sat and prayed together and asked God for specific direction.  Andy had a vision of our future that was a tailor-made for Andy version of what I had heard from God myself. So while I was in Africa, 8,931 miles away, we confirmed that we would follow God’s leading and move to Fort Wayne. We had no idea how or what Andy would do for a job, but we knew we were called and needed to go.

Andy had previously talked with his boss about moving to Indiana, telecommuting and the like, and his boss had said that wouldn’t be possible with the type of job that Andy had. Through a number of events at Andy’s work, they suddenly needed someone to start a warehouse in the Midwest or somewhere equally as inexpensive. In faith, before we had talked and after he had had his vision, Andy went to his boss and suggested that we would be open to running the warehouse in Indiana. That evening, Andy and I skyped across continents and shared our experiences and made our decision. Andy emailed me the next day and this is what he said:

Yesterday I expected to have a big long talk with [my boss] about IN, but as soon as I went into his office, we started talking about warehouse plans and everything. About an hour into it, I stopped and said I'd like to talk about the whole "me running it in Indiana" thing, and he responded (in other words) saying basically "What's there to talk about? That's what we're doing" so I guess it was a done deal! Glad you said yes, otherwise this could get real awkward.”

And things have been tumbling forward from there. There has been miraculous provision for our living situation that has made people who don’t even know us say, “I think this is God!” In fact, the house we’ll be renting at first is inside the 10 block radius we felt called to, is exactly the amount we first discussed for a rental, and is in the backyard of the Classical Conversations community we’ll be a part of. Plus it is walking distance to a park, has neighbors with kids our children’s ages, and is a block away from the home of our Classical Conversations director. And we’re renting from an incredible le family of believers who have been amazing to work with and who, I think, we could become good friends with!

In all of this, we’ve had people offer crazy generous things to support us in going. James, a friend who constantly embodies the willingness to serve with love and generosity, is driving over with Andy and the U-haul. My mother-in-law felt God put it on her heart to fly over with the kids and I and to help wrangle them on the plane. Another dear friend generously offered to pay a large part of our moving costs. And there is so much more that would take an entire another post to put into words.

In all this, we are just standing in awe of all that God is doing and how He is providing. There have been hard aspects of this journey, particularly in leaving everyone we know and love, and the challenges that come with that. We would love prayer going forward, especially as what God has called us to (more on that later!) is something we feel completely inadequate for. I have no experience and no model that I’ve seen to work from. We are literally walking through the dark waiting for him to light the path directly in front of our feet. And He is faithful to do that and so much more. He says He will do abundantly more than we could ask or think and so we walk, not by sight, but by faith, trusting Him to fulfill all His promises and to lead us “in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.”

All praise and glory be to Him forever and ever!

{Subscribe to follow along on our new adventure}

No comments: