Tuesday, April 16, 2013
My little Jamesy woke up with a low grade fever this morning, so we are keeping it calm today and cancelling his therapies. I am just starting to feel better after an intense tummy bug, and since Habi can now commute with Jim most mornings and afternoons, my afternoon is open, so I can afford to have a gentle morning. I used to take these so for granted. Not anymore.
I was sitting here, being still and recounting the ways that God has mercifully sustained our family through the craziest year of our life. We thought we had known crazy before; we were so wrong. We have never been so busy, so tired, or so spent - emotionally, physically, spiritually. I did some calculations and realized that since September, we have spent approximately $7200 on GAS for our minivan for Habi's transportation for school. That money has been nowhere in our budget, and being transparent, there is no way we could budget it in a way to afford it ....but God can and did, and He provided. On top of that our family has had some burdening medical bills and have added in lawyer fees, with more on the horizon. We have spent approximately 420 hours in our van, on the road, (that is 2.5 weeks!) not to mention the hours of therapies, the hours of homeschooling, ministry, dreaming and planning our new church, and then the hours of "life" squeezed in between. Although to be honest, I have felt pretty lifeless, and as if I was just being dragged through these days. We have been stretched until there has been nothing left to give, and sadly some relationships have been severed, because at this point in our lives, we truly had nothing left to give. Jim and I both broke down about that many times this past year, just sobbing saying we had nothing left to pour out. It was all being poured out to survive one day at a time, there were no leftovers. I have learned that although we have signed on to this crazy, nobody else signed on with us, and they have the freedom to enter in or walk away. We have seen a lot of the latter, but it has been exactly what we have needed to see. Although, it did not always feel that way, it was a grace gift, and I am accepting it and moving forward with no bitterness. I think it will allow us to be more compassionate in the future about really entering inside the pain and crazy of others. We know what it is to walk it alone. It also brought us to the breaking point in knowing God was calling us to something new, and knowing us, if we had been any more comfortable, if we had had more people wrap around us, we may not have been willing to hear His calling. We may have stayed, when clearly we shouldn't.
I am finally seeing a light at the end of the tunnel. I am finally sleeping more than a few hours at a time again. And I can joyfully look back and see grace and mercy poured out on our family by the One Who never left our side, by the One who on many days dragged us over the finish line. We've known for a long time that something had to change, that this was not how God intended us to be living life - because truly we were not living.
I am dreaming again.
I am dreaming of the church of our dreams - as Jen Hatmaker, a fellow adoptive Mama and church-planting wife, encouraged us with recently, Build the church you're dreaming of, the one you would actually attend. It's the best thing I can tell you. Throw out someone else's model or matrix and dream up the church you're craving.
And that's what we are doing - we are dreaming and building. We are dreaming of a simple church stripped down from programs. legalism, and traditions; a church that functions like family. A church as bare as the church in Acts. I am dreaming of finally finding and being surrounded by my people. It is something we all crave, because it is how we were created - to know and be known, and love and be loved, and accept and be accepted, and just be a part of a people. People that I can just be me with, and invest and be invested in in such a way that out of our overflow we are all able to invest in our city and our world. We all desire people to link arms with us and dive in the messiness of life with us. And Jim and I are finally to a point in our life, where we are willing to fight against culture for these relationships. We are stripping away so much of our life in order to make this possible, and I have never been more excited - yes, me - even as an introvert - needs this.
I am dreaming of a church that Jesus would attend. A church that extends mercy to the poor, the needy, the marginalized, as well as the polished, wealthy, and worldly. A church that goes to the least as well as extends an invitation to them. A church that is known by it's posture, because it has a posture like Jesus. A church that understands that part of the gospel is the incarnation of Jesus, and part of being a disciple of Jesus is incarnating like Jesus.
I am dreaming of a simpler life, knowing that does not mean that the road ahead will be easy, but it has to be simpler than this. And with that simplicity has come some sacrifices and some tears, and God has ripped down ideals I had specifically about schooling. He has opened my eyes, and shown me how tight-fisted and proudly certain I have been about our prior choices. He has shown us how those choices do not fit into the life God is leading us on any longer. How those choices do not fit into the mission he is laying out for our family. God is closing the door on a part of our life that at one time I found a part of my identity in, and in doing that it is also something that I built up to be an idol. It made me self-righteous, indignant and altogether merciless. Exactly who I do not want to be. So God is stripping away priorities we had in our life, in order to realign our life with His mission. It has taken me months to fully accept this and surrender, but I have.
And now I am dreaming again. And it feels so beautiful and right.
If you want to understand more of what we are dreaming about, and how to better pray for us, please check out our Mercy Branch Church website. And if you are curious about our name, you can read about it here. This website is a work-in-progress, and so is our church - so are we. Please give us grace. We would love to have you follow us on twitter and facebook as well.
I am dreaming again about being more disciplined in my writing, so I hope to connect with so many of you again in my little corner of the web. Until then - what are you dreaming?