We are home from our whirlwind trip to Georgia! It was so wonderful visiting with family and friends, and as hard as it was to leave everyone (more tears...), I am so thankful to sleep in my own bed and beyond thankful that God answered our prayers for an uneventful trip back! As a matter-of-fact, my specific prayer was for a "very boring" trip back. God answered that prayer in such a huge way that at one point, Jeff said he should have given me some Benadryl.
It's true. I can be worse at traveling than the girls.
We certainly had a full two weeks, with a trip to the ER, three trips to the doctor's office, bowling, swimming, grilling (or, should I say, watching my Dad grill hamburgers and smoke the best ribs EVER!), fabulous visits with people we love, disappointment and sadness over friends and family we were unable to see due to their schedules and ours, a trip to Funopolis, belated birthday celebrations, fireworks, and the list goes on and on. I will fill you in on all of that in a few days when I have had time to get my thoughts and pictures together.
One of the greatest parts of our visit this time was the opportunity to not only go to our beloved BeechHaven Baptist Church three times, but we were also allowed to be a part of the orchestra and choir while we were there for Sunday services and the 4th of July Freedom Celebration. I have missed my church family so very much, and when I am there, it feels like all is right with the world.
Anytime I get away from things, I, like most people, am able to get a better perspective on life, and it is often in those times that God does something big in my life. This time was no exception. I realized while I was there that the reason I am having a hard time settling in Michigan is because I am hanging on to what I had in Georgia.
For almost five years, we excitedly prepared to join Life Action Ministries, raising support and tying up loose ends at home. While we were not happy to leave everyone, we were excited to follow God's call. Little did we know it would be so hard. I have attended BeechHaven for nearly one third of my life. My family and I have loved deeply and been loved in return. There has not been one hospitalization or surgery that we went through without our church family. I have served in many capacities and never had a hard time feeling like I belonged or was needed. I have been fed spiritually every single Sunday by a pastor that preaches God's Word, and in Bible Study and Sunday school. I have had the pleasure of serving with a wonderful, godly music minister. I have worshiped with magnificent music and I have worshiped in silence. I have made some of the best friends of my life in that church. God has used that church and its people to grow me and my family significantly over the years. For twelve years, God put me in a nice, comfortable place, where I was fed, where it was easy to serve, and where my family and I were known and loved so deeply...and we reciprocated that love.
The last Sunday we were in Georgia was the 30th Anniversary of our pastor at BeechHaven, Dr. Stewart Simms. One of his Seminary friends preached that day, but I could not focus on what he was saying. God had his own message to preach to me, and the only thing I could think about was this.....
We did not choose to move to Michigan. God called us to Michigan and we chose to obey. This calling on my life is not a punishment. Quite the opposite. I am humbled that He would choose my family, the crazy bunch of sinners that we are, to go to another place and do the work He has for us...proof that God does not call the equipped, but equips the called. He did not rip me out of my church, He gave me the gift of a church to love deeply and grow in for twelve years! He put me there in His "holy incubator" for 12 precious years to prepare us to do what He would call us to do. The pain I felt upon leaving there was not a betrayal by God, but instead, a gift to me and my family, and a testament to the loving church He has built up in Athens, GA that equips its believers and supports missionaries endlessly.
It is time to stop "wallerin'" around in the mire and murk of self-pity, grief, and homesickness and pull up my big girl panties and embrace this calling God has on my life. It is time to focus on all that was given to me and not all that was taken away. When I think back on the last 9 months, I am blown away at the ways he has provided for us. We have everything we need, we have the transportation and the means to get Clara to the best doctors in Michigan, He has given us some wonderful friends here (that I am ashamed to say I didn't fully appreciate until we were in GA for three weeks and I MISSED them!), we have a house to live in that fits right into our budget, and even in the midst of our tears, God has given us so much joy and laughter. The list goes on.
More than anything, I need to quit focusing on ME and focus on GOD and what HE wants me to do, trusting that everything else will fall into place, trusting that He will heal my heart, in time.
So, I will press on with a renewed passion for God and his church, working to see a Revival come to this great nation! I will still love my family and friends in Georgia, but I will open my heart to the church where God has put us here in Michigan. I will build friendships. I will show my girls what it means to follow God's calling, not only in action, but with my whole heart.
I am so thankful that God revealed the condition of my heart, and that He did it now and not 10 years from now when I would have missed out on so much. I don't know if I will ever stop missing my family and my friends in Michigan, but I do know I will never stop loving them....and it is okay! I can love people in two states.
If you are one of the people we didn't see, please accept my sincerest apology and know that I am heart-broken. We really tried our best to see everyone. For those I did get to see, I loved every minute of our time together....even if it was only a short time. Thank you to everyone who hugged us, loved us, fed us, housed us, wrote sweet notes, and for every other loving gesture you gave. Please know that you are all loved deeply from 800 miles away!!