Wednesday, July 23

Not Just an Adventure

My resignation was made public at work on Monday. Since then my cube has been flooded with visitors inquiring about this crazy story they keep hearing about myself, Germany, Christian boarding school, no salary, and raising support. Most of my conversations tend to go in a similar direction. The individual I'm speaking to says one of two or three things. They are:

  1. Well, now's the time to do it! You're young, no kids yet, no house. Now's the time.
  2. If I could go back and do something like that I'd do it in a heartbeat.
  3. Sounds like an incredible adventure.

All of these responses make a lot of sense, right? In fact, I start gearing myself up based on these conversations. I'm excited for the adventure this is going to be. I'm excited for the experiences I'm going to have. I like the way people are impressed with my ability to see through the rat race and pursue an opportunity that would be more fulfilling. I feel more and more confident because people around me are affirming my decision. After these conversations end however I've noticed a reoccurring feeling. Its the feeling of being overwhelmed. After people leave, I return to the real challenges of what we're trying to do. I return to the logistical challenges we're facing. I return to goodbyes that will inevitably take place and the funds that still need to come in. I look at this and I'm overwhelmed. Its strange and the reason I'm writing this right now is because feeling overwhelmed hasn't been a huge issue for us thus far. I mean, we've had waves of it come and go, but it hasn't had a significant impact on our attitudes. Why is it now all of a sudden in the midst of what appears to be enthusiasm and support? After thinking about it I've come to, what I feel to be, a reasonable conclusion.

Yes, what Stephanie and I are doing is a tremendous adventure. Yes, now is a great time in life to take this on and we feel fortunate God has chosen this moment to call us. Yes, we're absolutely looking forward to the experiences we'll have and the places we'll see. Hardly a day goes by when we don't talk about these things. However, I realized in the midst of all these positive conversations I'm having with co-workers that I tend to offer a very vanilla, politically correct explanation for why we're going on this journey. I get into the process. I discuss the faith based aspect of what we're doing. I discuss the fund raising aspect. People know I'm a Christian (at least most do) and see it's correlation with what we're about to do. The thing is, I rarely get into the meat and potatoes why this is the life we're choosing.

We're making this move because God has called us to make it and we must be obedient to his call. We're doing this because we're deciding an existence in his will is far better then any we've ever known or ever would know. We're allowing the spirit to drive our decisions, in a way trading our freedom for the only true freedom. With this obedience has come faith. With it has come peace. Its allowed us to walk though the challenges and be strengthened. Its allowed us to handle this concept of the unknown with more grace then I, myself, am capable of. It's coming to the simple, but radical conclusion that what God has for us is better and finally taking the appropriate physical steps to acknowledge that fact with our lives.

Every interaction I allow to motivate me, which does not take into consideration the facts stated above is built on a premise of instability. Its a premise that states, "this ""adventure" is about me." This "adventure" is about my sacrifice and my justified priorities. In reality, this "adventure" would chew me up and spit me out if it were not for the wonderful beautiful grace of God. It's a humbling point to come to, but a necessary reality to face. This "adventure" isn't about me or my sacrifice. Its not about celebrating my step of faith. Not about me at all. God didn't slap me on the back when I told him I would him. He offered me a life line. He said follow me if you want to be free. Trace my footsteps if you want to live a life more abundantly. He gave me my life back. The only life worth living. He called and I answered. That's it. Its expected. It is the authority of an all might, all powerful, all consuming God. The options are few and the direction is clear.


Thursday, July 17

Two Weeks Notice

Just put in my two weeks notice at my job. Literally, 9 minutes ago. As one might imagine, having a tough time focusing. Its amazing how a step like that changes things. Right? Topics tend to surface that weren't there 10 minutes before the conversation. They scroll across your brain like a news ticker at the bottom of the TV giving updates on the hurricane ravaging the eastern seaboard. The, "what the heck did I just do?" came and went. "You're only at 30% support raised, idiot!" was another highlight. The problem with the news ticker is it works on a loop so the words are destined to come back for a second round and then a third and so on and so forth. One thing to mention, just like the news ticker, there always comes a snippet of good news, "the coast guard rescues family of five off roof trapped by flood waters." For me that came in form of a tremendous burden being lifted off my shoulders. The pending conversation with my manager was weighing on me like like an anvil. In your mind you picture it like the perfect storm. In reality you realize the other person is also human and understands our desires to find our calling. Even if the faith aspect isn't there. The basic human desire to find purpose is shared by everyone. I'm sure the news ticker will continue to roll on for awhile. Eventually tapering off as I allow the hurricane of fears and emotions to be covered by God's reassuring faithfulness. Even in the midst of all of this I feel a calm presence. The facts of the story haven't changed. I've been called by God to take this step. My humanly faith will waiver based on my emotions and circumstances, but God's calling to obedience will not. Through obedience I'll finally place myself in a position where I'm capable of believing. Placing myself in a place where God will ignite the faith I've allowed to live dormant in my heart for a long time.


Wednesday, July 16

Love and Hate Relationship

I have grown to love the New Balance commercial that depicts the love/hate relationship between a runner and their run. I know there are a million youth leader sports scenarios of how sports and races relate to our faith, but as I was running yesterday I was overcome with all the symbolism as it relates to my current journey. About two weeks ago Luke and I started to attempt the long road back to getting in shape. We turned in our gym membership for the fresh outdoor air and I had many disillusions as to trail running and the open road. Luke leads our runs every time to set a pace for the both of us, I know it's a tough job but I am incredibly less disciplined than he is, so better him than me. The problem is that he has long legs that act like eagles wings and I feel like he glides along while I run double the amount of steps to keep up! As we were getting into this routine I was able to start thinking about other things rather than just not passing out. Yesterday we started out the same as always and I noticed a few things that have been paralleling my faith throughout this process to the mission field:
1. When I run I have a tendency to think all the way to the end point where I know I get to stop running and start walking. I even get so worked up about the length of the run sometimes that I don't want to start in the first place! I do this daily when thinking about getting to BFA. I tend to look to the end and wonder how in the world we are actually going to get there instead of looking straight in front of me to the steps ahead. Like running, when I focus on either Luke's back or my actual steps I forget about the end of the trail and start focusing on each step counting towards getting me to the end.
2. I have to focus on breathing evenly every inhale and exhale. The other day we were on a trail in the woods and I had been breathing steadily the whole run, then BAM out of nowhere a HUGE black bug flew into me from the trees. It deterred my steady breathing and it took me 5x as long to catch up with Luke again because of it. The thing I noticed with this is that this is exactly how I have been feeling with my faith towards God getting us to BFA. Most days I have steady faith that He will provide and conquer all the obstacles, but then a critical word is spoken or our financial update isn't as much as I wanted and my faith in God's ultimate victory plummets. It takes me longer to recover than it does to remain steady in His promises.
These little running lessons have spoken to me about the importance of my faith remaining consistent throughout the next few weeks before arriving in Germany. I know myself and I get bogged down with details and big picture hows and whys. It makes it all the more important for me to remain rooted in God's Word and His promises to finish what He has begun. We have been so blessed by our group times and our individual times spent on the phone with many of you. We couldn't walk this path without the faith and prayers of all of you along the way. Just like I couldn't run without Luke guiding and setting the pace:-)
I know this is a little more silly than my normal posts, but it's just a good reminder to me that we NEED all of you! Please keep us in your prayers as the days get smaller for our departure.
In His Grace,

Friday, July 11

Looking Forward to Growth

For all of you who have been following this journey you know that I have not been 100% sure of what my job will be once we get to Black Forest Academy. Today, I was officially offered the position of Resource Room Teacher! I had a informative and encouraging phone conversation with the current head of the Special Service Department at BFA. From the job description she gave me the role will be extremely challenging for me but I think it will also partner with some strengths I have. BFA is excellent academically and has a reputation for challenging their students. I will be working with students on the other end of the spectrum who need some extra attention and encouragement to pinpoint their strengths and weaknesses in the learning process. Part of my job will be to partner with parents, teachers and other staff to refer the students who could benefit from this resource. The other piece will be assessing the students learning styles and working with them to develop study skills, test taking skills, memory strategies...etc. My favorite part is that I get to work with students one on one and to pray for them while encouraging them throughout the school year! In all honesty the position was very intimidating to me at first and then I remembered that this is not about me, but about Christ working through me. I know I will need to immerse myself in the capable team already in place and have a teachable spirit. If you have any words of wisdom or resources to pass my way- I can use everything I can get!!!
In His Grace,