Waiting.

Waiting. So much of human life is waiting. As a child, waiting for your birthday or Christmas. Waiting for a special treat. Waiting for morning when it’s time to play again. Waiting to get your ears pierced. When you get a little older, more waiting. Waiting to get your license. Waiting to have your first kiss or first date. Waiting for summer, when school is out. Waiting to graduate from high school. You grow up a little more and wait a little more. Waiting to meet someone special. Waiting to get married. Waiting to finish your schooling degree. Waiting for a baby. Waiting for a home. Waiting for a job. Waiting for the “next” thing.

Always waiting. Waiting for fulfillment. Waiting for hope. Waiting with an emptiness that longs to be filled.

We are in a season of waiting. Probably our hardest one yet. We have kept most of our struggle with it to ourselves, only sharing with a few. But oh, how hard this has been. This year, filled with some triumphs and some big disappointments. Filled with deep struggle, depression, hope, hope deferred, breaking free of isolation, love, faith, doubt. Waiting.

My heart wants to share tonight. So many nights I come to my blog, my safe little place to write and I have no easy words bubbling up. No silly stories that want to be shared or light moments from our day to day life. All too often this year, especially in the past 4 months, there is only silence. Sadness.

Oh, there are light moments. There are silly stories. There is joy. There is peace. I don’t make those things up. There are small ways that we can see God working. But in between those days? There is pain, hopelessness, fear, worry, deep struggle.

You see, we left our home 10 years ago to follow God. We prayed and asked people and believed with our whole hearts that this was the journey we were supposed to go on. Everyone supported us, no one told to wait, no “yellow” lights flashed. We heard “Go” and we went.

It was so, so hard to move away from home for the first time. We were only 3 1/2 hours away but it felt like 3 days. The first 2 years, we didn’t form close friendships because we figured out we’d be moving on and it hurt too much to lose those friendships. When the time came to move to Chicago, however, we vowed that the next season would be different. We would open our hearts and build a community around us, no matter the cost. And we did.

For five years, we were surrounded with the most amazing people! Many of them left and moved on, many more came. Those people got us through the hardest years we have ever faced in our lives. Many days of homesickness for me, days where I cried and longed and mourned over not being close to my family and missing out on life with them. Years where Ben lost sleep and so much precious time with our family because of his school work. He was driven by faceless task masters, demanding he give his all to them, not to God, not to family and all without encouragement and with very little support. Years where I dreaded Saturdays because we didn’t get to have a weekend together like most people. Terrible financial struggles. We faced many moments of brokenness and healing, reaching the end of our rope many times.

But still we continued, with that faint light at the end of the tunnel dangling far in front of us, like a carrot on a stick. We chugged, “We can do it, we can do it,” like the Little Engine That Could. One day at a time. And when we would dangle at the end of the rope, unexpected blessings would come that would give us the courage to keep going, to keep fighting.

We moved away from our little community for our boys’ schooling and slowly slid into isolation. Healing from lost relationships and a painful break in our church, not able to find a new church. We moved a little farther away. Ben started working two jobs and working on his dissertation and I was left at home with no one to turn to. It was a really hard year. Last year, we began to breath again. Ben won a fellowship and had to work from home the whole year. We got to spend some time together as a family in a way we never had before. We sputtered and limped towards the finish line, still seeing that goal, that “promise” we thought we had of how God would use these years of sacrifice.

We crossed the finish line, we danced around like Rocky on the top of a mountainous staircase, we celebrated. And then? And then nothing. We collapsed. Ben didn’t know how to rest or what to fight for anymore, so weary and broken down. Didn’t know how to just be after so many years of driving beyond normal capabilities. We didn’t have “the” job or life that we thought we were working for all these years. Idols and hope and dreams and out-of-whack priorities were ripped away.

And here we sit. Debt repayment looming. Ben working a job in seclusion in a basement. The longing for family has resurfaced with a vengeance. The overwhelming thoughts and anxieties of NOT KNOWING what the heck we are going to do next year or where we will be. Or if we can survive more waiting. Or if there will be a job. Or if it will look anything like we always thought it would. Or if we can still hang on to hope.

Waiting. Is it filled with growth? yes. Is it filled with hope for new things and beginnings? sometimes. Is it filled with good things? yes. People we love? yes. Good school for the boys? yes. An area we enjoy living in? yes. Learning to trust and depend on God in a whole new way? yes. yes. and yes.

So I can’t complain all the time because there are blessings! But I also can’t pretend all the time that we always enjoy the learning and growth. It’s actually really painful. There is so much I cannot even share, except with my closest prayer warriors. So when I don’t write here as often as I would like, now you know that sometimes, sometimes the “nice words” just don’t want to come. Sometimes there is just silence. Or tears. Or weariness. Or heartache. The fear of sharing too much and coming across as a grumbler, when I know it could be so much worse. It could be SO much worse.

I do know, deep down, especially on the good days, that someday we will look back and see how all the pieces fit together. We will have our “aha” moments and our story to share with others to encourage them during their difficult seasons. We will have days coming, I pray, when we can really feel God’s presence on a daily basis and see Him working in our lives in big ways. We will have purpose again. We will.

But for now, will you pray for us? For encouragement, especially for Ben. For hope. Direction and purpose and clarity.

This is our season, the good and the difficult, the joy and the pain. Waiting…

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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.