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Saturday, April 13, 2013

Church Outside the Walls

I'm in a weird spot right now.  Sometimes fantasizing about pushing the "pause" button but also wishing "fast forward" was an option.

Last Sunday, some friends hosted a picnic for our family to spend some time together before we go.
The weather was perfect. There were TONS of kids, lots of food, and I felt so contented just looking out at the people that God has put in our lives.  We have done nothing to deserve such supportive, precious friends.  He's just good like that!  I strive to BE as good of a friend to others as these faithful ones are to me.

Our house has been officially "on the market" for just over a week and we're preparing for our fifth showing in just a couple of hours.

Yesterday, our one and only public schooled son said "goodbye" to his friends and teachers. He will begin homeschooling on Monday. I have wanted this for a long time but had no real reason to force him to come home.  He was doing fine and he loves his friends.

I knew he was sad when he came in the door yesterday.  He didn't want to eat immediately after school like he usually does.  He was very quiet in the car as we had to vacate due to a showing.
We decided to go to Wendy's for a frosty,  the whole family.  When just he and I were at the table, I put my arm around him and asked
"Are you okay?".
He said "I might cry".   And he did.
It breaks my heart because he has suffered the most loss in his life of all of my children. I know it hits him hard that this chapter in his life is closed.
I assured him that we will get him together with his school friends very soon.
And I will.
This is a child for whom broken promises have characterized his early years. He still doubts, I think.
 But when I remind him that our move means he gets his Kuya, his big brother, full time, he perks up and eats a baconator, fries, frosty and part of my food.

I mentioned in an earlier post that we had to leave our church of three years (due to some serious integrity issues in leadership) and that whole ordeal comes back and washes over me every now and then.  We have a little of that vagabond feeling as we are terminal "visitors" at churches.
It's tiring and I'm just sad.  Sad and a little mad.

How much do we get involved? We're moving.
How much should we invest? We're burned and cynical.
Do we "join" somehwhere? Start going to a small group?
I think "no" and sometimes I think "never again".

I see why people gravitate to home churches with just a few families.  
But we are part of the People of God and we need to not forsake the assembling.
The Bible says that for a reason and that is the ONLY reason I am rising and going these days.
But it's reason enough.
He said it. We must do it.

I don't ever want to become one of those bitter old ladies who refuses to join a church because "someone said something that hurt my feelings 35 years ago".
But gosh, dangit . . . I'm starting to understand those old ladies a little better.  A lot better.

And that is why I have taken to calling my friends my "church outside the walls".  They minister to us and encourage.  They serve us and let us serve them. We talk about the things of God and what we are learning in our Bible studies and it feels more like "church" than "church" does.  

It's hard to imagine leaving the country like this.  But it's even harder to imagine staying.

So I want to thank my friends and family loud and proud . . .
our Church Outside the Walls.
I'm so thankful for that little catchphrase. It's a sweet reminder that we aren't wayfarers.
We are surrounded, protected, and we belong somewhere.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

This Side of the Water

Things are moving . . . really moving in terms of our relocation to The Philippines.

All home repairs have been accomplished and the house is on the market. Tomorrow, we will be listed on the MLS.  Oh, how I have waited for this day!
My cute little cottage on the beautiful piece of land that I waited years for will belong to someone
else and I am just fine with that.  My prayer is that the new family enjoys this home and fills it with love and memories.  I pray that the spirit of God is present here in the new owners and that they will take good care of my precious neighbor-friends we will leave behind.
But, dang, I have loved this house . . .  I brought home my three newest children to this home.
I prayed many prayers here and cried buckets of tears, both happy and sad. God healed one of my children from tremendous emotional scars within these walls.   We hosted countless friends and loved ones in these rooms and opened God's word with brothers and sisters at the table inside.
Lord, let the new owners, whoever they are, appreciate the beautiful things about this
cozy house . . .

We have given our one-and-only public schooled son his final date to be a student at his beloved school.  April 15th, his birthday, will be his last day there.  It is the day his group "tracks out" for a month and so we find it a practical, logical time for him to close that chapter in his life.
He is lamenting saying good-bye to some of the great friends he has made and I am
not-so-secretly looking forward to having him all to myself again. I have to admit, I sure do miss
that kid when he's gone so many hours each day.
Do missionaries let their children play with guns?  I'll have to check on that.

And it brings to mind some other questions bouncing around in this frenetic brain of mine.
Like, do missionaries have Pearl Jam and Indigo Girls on their ipods?
Do they have teens with tattoos and piercings?
Do they have children with special needs who divide their hearts and make them afraid they are taking too big a leap?
Do they drink wine with their dinner?  Do they dance to non-Christian music? 

Is there a dress, behavior and conduct code we don't understand that immediately disqualifies us from being taken seriously by our peers on the mission field?

I guess we'll find out.   And I don't really think so.

I've been blessed to spend time with other missionaries from The Philippines and found them to come in all shapes, sizes, ideologies and practices. Pentecostal, conservative, liberal, reformed, dresses-only, blues-guitar-playing, no-mixed-swimming, King-James-only-reading, still-deciding-on-some-stuff people who are working out their own salvations with fear and trembling.

Loving Jesus. Serving the poor and agreeing to disagree on some of the finer points.
I've been "sharpened" by them.

And that comforts me.
Because it's so important that we can carry the gospel message far away and keep being "us".
As long as the "us" we are is not in opposition to the CLEARLY WRITTEN mandates in scripture then I think we are on the right track.

The selling has started.
Oldest-son sold his piano  and only-daughter her drum kit and bass guitar.
They will re-purchase the instruments they miss when we arrive abroad and I am gunning for oldest son to replace that keyboard as soon as possible.  I miss hearing him play in the late evenings while I clean up the dinner dishes.
Only-daughter taught herself to play the ukulele yesterday and oldest-son is proficient on the melodica so, we still have plenty of music filling our home but there's nothing like a beautiful piano ballad to get me through that last scrubbing of the worst pot!

Hubby has dissolved his photography business and sold off a good bit of his equipment.

This is all so real and yet, it feels we have a ways to go.

Sometimes I dream we are already there in the heat and busyness of Manila.  I wake up a little disappointed and a tiny bit relieved that it was just a dream.  Because I know there will be some very hard parts.  And we have so much to learn!

Lord, teach us to lose!

 Matthew 16:24-27
Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done.