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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Peace That Surpasses..

I am sure people will be tired of hearing about Scotland when this is all said and done but at the moment, this is a big deal to us and quite an adventure!

A couple weeks before Christmas, Ben, who has been on an amazing spiritual growth journey (for lack of a better word) this year, came home and said to me, “I prayed today and told God I am ready to be put back in the game. I am ready for an adventure!”

Immediately, I said, “What?! No, why did you pray that?! You have to be careful about praying about stuff like that!” It’s like praying for patience or more faith. Next thing you know you are dealing with the most horrendous person or situation that tries your patience like never before or you are facing some terrible unknown or fear and your faith is being tested. Be very, very careful when uttering prayers like those!

Nevertheless, his prayer was uttered, with extreme sincerity (and a bit of fear and trembling on my part) and FOUR days later, Ben got the email inviting him to Scotland for an interview, something we had deemed impossible. We have no idea of the outcome today. It could be no and we will be back to square one, praying for God to open some door for us. It could be yes and we’ll be on quite a wild ride and adventure!

Whatever the outcome, whatever the answer, we know that God is asking us to trust Him. “Will you follow Me?” He asks. It could be following Him in your current job. It could be selling off all your possessions and moving to Zimbabwe. It could be mustering up some courage and moving into a new path where you feel Him leading. It could be Scotland. It could be staying where you are and allowing Him to refine you a little more and be a little more patient while you wait.

We would like to enter a season of hope and dreaming and new adventures; we feel ready for it (am I going to eat those words??) but most of all we need to be in a place of trusting and hoping in Jesus, above all else. And resting in peace in Him. That is what we are praying for.

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Ben made it safely to Scotland, by the way! I received an email from him around 10 this morning, that he was completely exhausted but safely at his hotel! We had a chance to all Skype together this afternoon before he went to sleep and he told us that the town of St Andrews is really beautiful and nice! He walked down on the beach by the North Sea and saw a castle there! (jealousy!)
 
He said that he asked someone on the bus which stop was for St Andrews and she didn’t understand him! She told him to go ask the bus driver but later, when she figured out what he was saying, apologized and told him she didn’t understand him. Apparently, our flat American accent is hard to understand! haha. The Scottish people, with their lovely burr’s, say “St Andrews” almost like one word with rolling r’s and a charming accent. Ben said that everyone has been very kind to him so far, living  up to the reputation the Scottish people have of amazing hospitality and warmth!
 
He also corrected me in my time change. He is SIX hours ahead of us here in Chicago and FIVE hours ahead of OH (and anyone else on OH time:). I am not sure why I got confused! All this time change stuff is for the birds.
 
Several of us are setting our clocks and waking up early to cover him in prayer as he presents and later has his interview. You don’t need to wake up at 5 or 6 but if you could say a prayer before you sleep tonight, we would be so thankful!
 
Whether this is a 3 day adventure or a 3 year adventure, we are so thankful for the support and love from our friends and family!

Scotland!!

Ah! It’s Scotland time! We are leaving for the airport in the next 10-15 minutes and I admit that I am a wee bit nervous! It has been very busy the past 2 days getting things ready for Ben to leave. We were able to pack his stuff in the smallest bag we could for him to carry-on. We read that it might be a good idea not to check baggage in case it gets lost!

Imagine going all the way across the ocean for an interview and having all your baggage lost and no interview outfit or anything! Ben is getting nervous and I can tell the boys are, too, because they are going crazy bugging and wrestling. It makes the next 3-4 days seem a little overwhelming!

Please pray for Ben. Specifically, for a safe flight. His plane leaves at 7:15pm tonight and he arrives in Edinburgh after a short stop in Dublin, Ireland at 11:25 tomorrow morning. Which would be 6:25am our time! Talk about a long night!

Also, pray for him to make it safely from the airport to St Andrews. His presentation is Monday morning at 11:15am (Scotland is 5 hours ahead of Chicago, 6 ahead of OH) and lasts 30 min. Please pray for it to go smoothly (no computer/adaptor problems!!) and for him to have PEACE!! His interview is in the afternoon at 3:40pm (Scottish time). Please pray for the wisdom to answer all the questions right and mostly for him to be confident and peaceful!

Thank you so much for all of your support and prayers!! We just want to trust God no matter what happens!

Busy Ohio times!

It has been such a busy time here in Ohio, as it usually is when we travel. It feels like we go non-stop until we crash at nighttime. Today I even had to sneak in a small nap for a little while because I was so exhausted! The kiddos are having so much fun playing with new toys like Barbie, Legos, Magic kits, binoculars and more.

We have had 4 family Christmas get togethers between both of our families (2 for each), visited my Grandpa in the rehab center, had dinner with a good friend, gone shopping and more! We moved over to staying with my Grandma the day after Christmas so that we could help her while she’s alone and so we could have more space. Their basement is like living in the lap of luxery compared to our house!

We cannot believe how warm we are here in this well-insulated home with plush carpet and a fireplace:) It is seriously about 20 degrees warmer in here than at home. We may not want to go back….;)

We have a long list of things to do to help get ready for my Grandpa’s homecoming this week and some more family get togethers before we head home in a couple of days in the New Year.

I think it will be a special New Years for us this year, as we reflect on all of the growth and changes we have gone through this year and as we look forward to new things in this coming year!

The first big thing in the new year will be Ben’s trip to…Scotland!! Yea if you guessed it right! Ben is being flown to Scotland in a few weeks for a big interview and we are nervously and excitedly anticipating the trip and outcome! If it works out, there will be big changes for our family as we would move across the ocean for 3 years. Talk about the adventure of a lifetime!

If not, then we need to continue doing some serious praying, as we have no idea what the next steps will be to take. Please keep up in your prayers, for the interview and for our next season of life!

Happy New Year from Ohio!