Monday, July 29, 2013

Hurry up and wait

*For the super-short version, scroll to the end.*

Life is like a trip to the airport. You plan and prepare and pack and print things out and decide when you need to be in the car and then make sure you're ready a half hour before that. You make everyone go potty twice and pack more snacks and wear your sneakers because no matter how much you prepare, you're going to be late for something. You speed just a little to get to the airport, but not too much because you can afford to be a few minutes behind schedule but not I-got-pulled-over late to the airport.

You herd everyone in and calmly direct everyone to carry their own darn backpacks and wait patiently at the counter while the attendant loses you in the system and you smile politely at the people who stare you down for daring to fly on the same plane as them with your four kids.

You pray your way through a crowded security line and breathe a sigh of relief when Junior parts with his stuffy without a major temper tantrum. You refrain from hugging the TSA agents since kids don't have to take their shoes off anymore. You stuff everyone back into their sweatshirts, backpacks (still carry your own darn backpack!), etc and retrieve everyone's lovies and stuffies and headphones before you sneak a peek at the clock and silently curse yourself for not leaving 15 minutes earlier.

And then you speedwalk/sprint/drag your kids down to Terminal Very-End-of-the-Airport where there are no bathrooms or snacks or open seats or available electrical outlets for last-minute iPad charging.

And then you look up at the sign and see that your flight is delayed and you have all the time in the world. And you're left with the bare minimum because you only let the kids pack what they could carry in their own darn backpacks and juice boxes are too heavy to carry and the baby falls asleep, which means whenever the plane takes off, she won't be tired anymore and you can almost hear all your careful planning whooshing back through the terminal on the people-mover.

Hurry up and wait - that's the expression, right? It applies to travel. To adoption. To getting to just about any medical appointment.

It applies to us right now. Brazil is still in the works. We've garage saled, purged our home of every single happy meal toy, prepared, said goodbye, listed the house, filled out three bajillion forms that relate to human resources, started learning Portuguese. And now we wait.

We continue to mentally and emotionally move South, while being physically locked in to life here. That's not a complaint; it's just a status update.

It's actually been (for me) an emotionally exhausting journey. I can do the hurry up part, but I really stink at the waiting. I remember a year ago, when Ben first relieved himself of his leadership role at AIA, how incredibly hard that was for me. Because I loved his job. It was great for him, and he was great at it. Seeing him in that role felt like getting a window into the specific reflection of God's image that was created in Ben. It was hard for me for lots of other reasons too. But I remember saying to Ben and to our boss, as I finally came to accept Ben's decision as right and good, that "I just need to start the process of figuring out what's next. I want a goal, something to move forward towards, while my health is holding us back."

And we did start that process - gingerly, cautiously, prayerfully, but with purpose. And we were asked about a role that seemed like a good fit. And as we prepared to accept that, we were asked to "hit the pause button" on that plan. And that was sad for about a million reasons, but it led us to the place where we began to consider an international move to Brazil. And that felt joyous, victorious, and beautiful. Everything about that felt (and still feels) right to me.

And now, it's becoming clear through circumstances beyond our control that we need to wait for at least a few months before we can move to Brazil. And that feels sad for about a million reasons. Our enthusiasm for this calling, our belief in this mission, our love for our Brazilian co-workers, our desire for a family adventure, the peace we've found in the process of surrender have all combined to put our hearts and minds on an express jet to Brazil. But, there are a few elusive documents that we need before we can apply for our visas. And the visa process itself takes 3-6 months.

So, just like in the adoption process, we've come to a hard time of waiting.

We're not giving up or changing course. While we were hoping to arrive in Brazil this Fall, we are acknowledging that this process is going to be longer than we thought, and that when God says "it's time," He will walk us back down the path of purging, packing, and real estate.

This morning we had a call with someone who was helping us process the delay, and he said some things that were helpful. He described how when people do team-building exercises where they have to walk blindfolded, they tend to veer right or left. And, unless someone points this out, the walker doesn't know to correct it. It took him about 20 minutes to realize that Ben and I - when exercising our faith - tend to veer towards action, while some people veer towards waiting. Neither is right or wrong, and both often take discipline. For us, who want to turn our obedience directly into plane tickets, it's going to take some discipline to wait on God for his timing on our departure.

And that's the update on Brazil. We continue to lean on your prayers.

Life in Ohio will look much like it did this past year - kids in school, Ben working on his doctorate and our support, me keeping up with them all and helping however I can. But this year does NOT include chemo or radiation, so for that I'm excited!

*Sometimes I use so many words that I get confusing. Here's the super-short version: We are still planning on moving to Brazil. We wish we could go next week, but we don't have our visa yet, and we probably won't for a while yet. So, we're waiting on that, and that makes us sad, but we still trust our Jesus.*

Friday, July 19, 2013

CRU Staff Conference

This past week, we were able to be with our CRU and Athletes in Action family.  Over 5,000 staff from around the US and some friends from around the world gathered in Ft. Collins, Colorado. 

We enjoyed a great time of being together, seeking The Lord, worshipping and praying together.  Susie and I had the treat of being out there sans kids and were able to enjoy meaningful times with several of our friends.

Tonight July 19th, you can watch the main session of the conference live, which will start at 6:30 Mountain Time at Tonight they are looking at the theme of Courageous Faith.  They interviewed Susie and me and will be on around 7:15 Mountain Time.  We are so humbled that they chose to interview us.  We pray God's love and grace are on display.

We came home a day early from the conference so we could be with Annie as we celebrate her first birthday today!  We are so thankful for how God protected her and blessed us with her.  Every time I look at her, I'm reminded of God's overwhelming love.  

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Some time away

We always enjoy time away, especially at Lake George.  Not only is it beautiful, but it's where Susie's grandparents live and most if not all of her mom's side of the family comes to each year.  This year, though we were up there before the Lake was warmed up, it did not disappoint us. 

The kids loved the water, even at 65 degrees.  We spent at least 2-3 hours swimming, testing out their new boogie boards in preparation for Brasil, canoeing or kayaking.  The kids loved exploring the point, they loved time with their grandparents and uncles, aunts and cousins.  They loved going to Great Grandma and Big-Pop's house everyday to play checkers, cars, trains, paint, etc.  They even slept in every day and Susie and I loved that!

I made a pact to myself, that I would not indulge in any treats while I was up there, except of course the soft serve ice cream at the Wind Chill and S'mores by the camp fire.  It worked out well for the whole family as there was never a stretch of more than 1 day before we made a Wind Chill run!  

Being at the Lake is always a special gift.  This year seemed especially so.  To see the kids run around, swim, and enjoy all the Lake had to offer.  To be there, knowing that there was not another treatment that Susie had to endure when we got back made it even more special.   

After 10 days at the Lake, we are back home.  We are trying to make progress with our house, our visa and an overseas training that we will need to complete before we can fully transition to Brazil.  Susie has been hard at work preparing for our bi-annual staff conference.  She is on the conference team and using many of her creative juices to make it a memorable time.  Please continue to keep us in prayer as we navigate some of these details and travel again in a few days for the conference.  Thanks for continuing to pray for us and care for us.  We truly appreciate it.  

For those of who you think I'm talking up Lake George, here is a quote that might put this Lake into perspective:

"Lake George is without comparison, the most beautiful water I ever saw; formed by a contour of mountains into a basin... finely interspersed with islands, its water limpid as crystal, and the mountain sides covered with rich groves... down to the water-edge: here and there precipices of rock to checker the scene and save it from monotony."
-- Thomas Jefferson, May 31, 1791