Sunday, August 5, 2007
As I continue to pray and consider God's leading in my life, the puzzle pieces that seemed so disconnected and unable to "fit" have begun to come together and make a bit clearer the picture of my life that God has ordained in this "season".
The last ten years of my life have been some of the most glorious, the most exciting, the most exhausting, the most traumatic, the most joyful, and the most despairing. It has truly been a whirlwind. I got married ten years ago after just coming home from living overseas for 2 years and we lived in about 7 different places our first year of marriage. We were in the midst of raising financial support for full-time ministry and lived wherever and with whoever we could in order to continue with our vision. In that time, we got unexpectedly pregnant. Although a blessing, it was also a complete shift of vision for me, my future, and also scary because we hadn't even lived in our own place yet!
At 7 months pregnant with our first baby, we moved to a new state far away from family and friends. A U-Haul filled with our stuff, my big belly, and two dogs made it there to our small rental duplex to begin our new life. Our firstborn came when my husband was starting this new "job" and it was the busiest time of the school year in working with college students. It was so hard to become a new mommy with his being so busy (we had never been apart as long as we had known each other), no friends, and clueless as to what I was doing. It was a hard time of disillusionment for me and took me a year to get through my dark feelings towards it all and the sense of guilt I felt for bad feelings/anger since we were in full-time ministry.
And in that year, we took Sam with us overseas to Eastern Europe for a summer and moved around every week for 6 weeks. From train to train and dorm to dorm, it was an exciting yet thoroughly exhausting time. That difficult summer which was racked with multiple sicknesses and exhaustion brought me to my knees to a point of complete surrender and trust in the Lord for my life, my future, my friendships, and my mothering.
Two years and a baby girl later, we left that state and job to move with our littles to another state far away for a one-year program. Packing and moving were exciting as we headed off to this new adventure to live in a wonderful apartment in Florida. We lived out of suitcases for the summer in a hotel at a beach summer missions project with college students and then set up our new and temporary life.
After that year, we spent several weeks living with family and traveling the country to finally settle down in yet another state. I was in my first trimester with baby #3 and it was a difficult time of feeling very sick, finding a new rental home, financial strains, moving, unpacking, setting up, and knowing just a few in this new place. During this time we made one of the gravest mistakes of our lives by getting involved in a home church situation with others whom we respected deeply and believed to be wonderful Christians. We felt as if we had found many answers to so many questions in our walks with the Lord, our identities, a greater vision/purpose in ministry. It seemed as if life finally made sense.
Without going into a million details, we spent 4 years of our lives invested deeply in these people only to wake up one day realizing that this indeed had become a cult and that it was time to leave. My husband and I had been influenced to separate for 8 months and everything in our lives was being destroyed. After painfully choosing to walk away, I had horrible accusations said to me by those I had trusted and loved deeply. The betrayal and shock and pain was so deep that I wondered if I could ever become whole again. I became a terrified, panicked shell of myself but was determined to heal and be free again. We gathered up our little ones (and now I was pregnant with our fourth!) and moved to a new life in a new state near family to mend and find Jesus' love once again. We found a beautiful home, a safe church, a wonderful community, a new job, an old friend, and a new one.
The last two years have been beautiful and terrifying. Dealing with the lies and condemnation has been a daily battle. The fear and anxiety have been immobilizing at times. But oh the glory of finding grace. Oh the amazing love of Jesus that blows away all fear. Oh the gentleness. Oh the understanding. To begin to break free from control, manipulation, and legalism, and breathe of the glorious freedom in Christ is breathtaking! I am humbled and amazed. I am brought to such worship. I am changed. It has all been worth it.
As I have been dealing with all of this, I have been lovingly homeschooling my dear little ones and giving them all of me. My fourth baby has been "high need" and has demanded of me non-stop for the past 15 months. I have sought to be a serving wife and mother during these uncertain times and have loved every single minute of it. It wasn't until this summer that one day I realized the tremendous strain and stress of the last 10 years, and in particular, the last five. God allowed a surge of panic attacks, anxiety, and depression to hit without warning and I couldn't even understand what was happening. I realize now that He was allowing me to see even more of my need for Him, of healing, of rest, and of friendships. The only way that I knew that I could really pursue taking care of myself is if my children entered a season of going to school. That option brought up even more fear, anxiety and panic because of so much teaching I had in my head about how wrong that choice would be. God used the book "Grace Based Parenting" by Tim Kimmel to show me even more of His care and freedom for me and my children and not to be enslaved to fear in my schooling choices. God is so much bigger than the narrow constraining ways we entrap Him and ourselves in.
Since I made the decision to put them in the local school, I have seen just how much I love homeschooling and can't wait to do it again! I just love having my children with me and our learning together side by side. I am not "burned out" of homeschooling, but the cumulative stress of life has taken a tremendous toll on my body, soul, and spirit. God is calling me to a season of trust and rest. I need more freedom this year in my schedule to rest, get counseling, pursue friendships, enjoy hobbies, date my husband, and laugh a whole lot. And to think that this was God's idea and that I would have NEVER chosen this path on my own. He truly cares for me more than I can imagine and His gift to me is a glorious sabbatical. A year to His glory.
I so want to be more of a nurturing mother who is gentle and kind. I had no idea that I have a Father who wants to nurture ME this year with kindness and gentleness. He wants to parent me in all the ways that I want to parent! As I receive these unexpected blessings, I am able to so freely pour them out to my husband, children, and friends.
I woke up this morning almost giddy. My joy was sky-high in the relishing of how profound and personal His love is. Would You really give me a year with more open time for myself? Even when I don't think that I should need it or feel like I want it? I would gladly continue the path I have been walking and know that His power would be there for me. He gently says "No" every time I think that I will just continue to live as I have been. He seems to firmly be wooing me in this direction and asking me to trust and obey.
So from here on out I will be sharing my view from my sabbatical. I believe that I will resume homeschooling next year (but who really knows the plans of the Lord? I don't!) and that this is a year of greater growth, wholeness, healing, rest, and joy in the Lord.
What a journey this will be.