Hope Deferred…

Scotland, the land of sheep, green hills, lilting burrs and rainy skies, although a place that I long to visit is sadly, not to be our home for the next 3 years.

It’s very hard when you have something like this in front of you, not to engage your heart; to hope for it,  to dream about it, plan for it a little. I knew that it would hurt if they said no and I tried to hold my heart in check but unfortunately, I have one of those hearts that refuses to listen and insists on never-ending hope and dreaming, darn it.

I am taking it much harder than Ben. Can I just say that I am so incredibly proud of my husband? He took a big risk to work for this and fly all the way across the ocean and into a culture and system that he doesn’t know and he rocked it. Despite the disappointment that he feels, he has immediately found many things to be thankful for. The honor of such an invitation, the fact that he was short-listed and in the top 4, the fact that an extremely well-known scholar in the New Testament was there to listen to his lecture, the kind treatment that he received from everyone he met there, making it a far better experience than his interview last year. The fact that this is one more interview under his belt, increasing his knowledge and experience in that area. And more.

My Ben has handled this with such grace and dignity and I am SO very proud of him. He has grown so much in this past year. He has stared down the abyss of emptiness and confusion and unbelief and has come out on the other side, stronger, gentler, humbler and more sure than ever of Jesus, his reason for living and continuing to hope.

I wish that I could say I was as mature about this! I hope that I will be after I have processed this for a couple more days. I am pretty sad and emotional about it. Despite people’s concerns about all of the details of the job or how I would handle being farther away from family or maybe their expectations about where we should or should not be, we were ready to go. It was really exciting to dream about. It would’ve been an absolutely amazing experience, even with the difficulties!

Trust me, we have faced difficulties; more than most people know. We are not the same people that we were when we started our first adventure in leaving home 10 1/2 years ago. We have been strengthened, broken, rebuilt, challenged and stretched in ways we never ever imagined, let alone asked for!

But that’s the thing about being open to what God has for you. It may not look like or be like you expected. In fact, chances are, it won’t! But it will be good. In the end, despite all of the pain or growth you experience, it will be good. If you allow God to work in you and are open to the growth.

I couldn’t have gone on an adventure overseas 10 years ago. I couldn’t have left my home, my family, my comfort zone. But then I took the big baby step of moving out of state. And then a little further a couple of years later. And as difficult as some of these years have been, I am thankful for them. I like the fact that I am stronger. I like the fact that I can say yes to an adventure. Okay….most adventures! There are a few things I can name off that I would not like to do! I like the fact that I know I can rely on God and draw closer to my husband and be okay, even without my family or my comfort zone nearby.

I have wanted to go visit Scotland since a very young age. As a matter of fact, probably a week after Ben got the email with the invitation, I remembered a Scottish magazine that I had bought years ago that I kept because I loved it so. The pictures, the dreams of such an incredibly beautiful place and different way of life. A place that captures my heart. And believe it or not, the main focus of the magazine was this really cool place called St. Andrews. Go figure.

I created a folder on my computer this past month named, simply, “Scotland.” I am not sure yet whether to delete it immediately or to save it to look through the websites and pictures when the pain isn’t quite as sharp and the disappointment has faded a bit.

I will be okay. I am not crushed. I am strong. We are strong. God is faithful and continues to give us hope, even when we think it’s all depleted or we think we can’t do this again. I will continue to pray for the next adventure or open door to come (soon) and to hope for it.

But I think it’s okay for me to be sad right now and take a little bit of time to work through that.  I think it’s okay not to need to hear all the reasons why this specific thing didn’t work out or why it wasn’t good for us and to just want to have a listening ear and compassionate hearts reaching out. There is a verse that explains this well, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick.” And maybe someday soon, we’ll get to experience the 2nd part of that verse. I want to believe that. I will choose to believe it.

Over and over again.

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Growing Pains!

We’ve been feeling a little Christmas-y over here this week and have been hanging lights, baking cookies, playing in the snow and listening to Christmas music!

Okay, who am I kidding? I am the one who has been hanging lights, baking cookies and listening to Christmas music! With Eliana, my little helper, of course:) We were busy out and about yesterday but a lot of the week we have been sticking close to home because it is just freezing outside!!

I was very thankful that our neighbor offered to drive the boys to school and home today (I take her son to/from every day and he comes to church with us!). I was worried about taking Eliana and Baby C out in this frigid weather so it was definitely a blessing. We stayed home and cleaned and baked Cranberry Orange Bread instead:)

As this year is quickly drawing to a close, we are finding ourselves thinking long and hard about what this last year has been for us. It wasn’t anything like what we thought or hoped it would be but yet in the end, it was exactly what we needed and asked for. A year of growth.

Yes, I think that is exactly what we should call this year; The Year of Growth. Growth tends to make you think of green plants sprouting, blooming, vibrancy and joy. But if we are being honest (which I like to be on my blog!), we would admit that growth actually is incredibly painful. Spiritual growth, anyways! It involves breaking, humbling, shearing away of hard parts of your heart so that the new life can burst through and begin to bloom. So you can begin to hear the Father’s quiet voice again.

That is exactly what is happening to us. I posted a couple months ago about what a difficult season this has been for us and it absolutely has been. Painful, crushing and sometimes hopeless. But God is beginning to answer all of our prayers over these past months and is filling us with new life and hope!

Do we have any answers to our problems or future yet? Nope! But we are sensing God moving and working and filling us up for what is to come. It feels exciting and scary all at the same time! Maybe our next year will be an adventure. Who knows?

All I know is that we are getting ready. Slowly, painfully, and hopefully getting ready. And we are starting by actually being thankful (mostly) for this past year and the pain it has brought. I’m sure we will feel the thankfulness even more as the freshness of the pain begins to heal and we are filled more and more with peace and hope.

Peace and hope are pretty powerful!

“Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” Philemon 1:3

Waiting and Hoping.

I have been thinking more about what I wrote yesterday. About dreams. Feeling uncertain about what I shared and yet, compelled to share my heart. Because I know I’m not the only one who is going or has gone through a time like this. I think it is so important in the times where you feel a little lost or you are in an “in between/waiting” period, as we are, to look for all of the blessings around you, big and small.

It’s so easy to get caught up in your own desires and wants and hopes and feel disappointed that something in your life doesn’t look like Joe’s life or Sally’s life or the Jones’. And instead of focusing on the beautiful little assurances of God’s love that are right in front of you, you focus on the “why’s” and the “why me’s” or “why not’s.”

There is a quote I heard this year that I just loved right away. “Bloom where you are planted.” A friend of mine painted it on a flower pot and gave it to me with a beautiful flower planted inside recently. Bloom where you are planted; where God has you, even if it’s not where you think you should be or not where you want to be. That’s what I want to do. I want to bloom and look for all that He has for me right here, right now.

Maybe then, I will gain a heavenly perspective and store my treasures there, instead of here on earth. And maybe the waiting time won’t seem so long!

“Thing about things that are lovely, things that are true, things that are pure…” There is so much to be thankful for!

1. We had food on our table today. Don’t worry about the future!

2. Our children are healthy, strong and growing.

3. We made it to a point in our life we weren’t sure we’d ever see! Several students in Ben’s program never made it through, or didn’t make it through with marriages in tact. God protected us and made us stronger than ever!

4. We have a roof over our head.

5. We are getting to know people in our church and neighbors living around us. Forming relationships and breaking out of the isolation that held us captive for so long.

6. So thankful some family is coming to celebrate with us in 1 month!!

7. But most of all, so very thankful that we (B and I) both are trusting in the Lord together, hoping, waiting (not always patiently!!) and so thankful for today.