Marching to Our Own Drum

Over the past several months while living in America it has become evident that our family marches to the beat of a different drum. Our pace is less hurried and more relaxed than most. Being in constant motion is not enjoyable to us and quite honestly has been a difficult adjustment. Unlike many, we don’t need nor want to fill our time with endless activities. We cherish the unstructured, unhurried moments we have at home…together. Someone recently commented, “The girls “hang out” well.” And they do! There is a contentment, a quiet peacefulness in being able to just BE. NO activities, NO rush, NO detailed plan, NO running from house to house, NO driving across country, NO hours of meal preparation, NO endless clean-up.

The realization that we march to the beat of a different drum was exaggerated during Christmas. When others asked about our Christmas plans and heard that we were going to stay home as a family. Their response was always the same. (Insert “poor baby” tone here) “Oh , so your aren’t doing anything for Christmas!” After hearing this comment several times in the weeks leading up to Christmas our daughter walked in the kitchen and frustratingly exclaimed, “Why does everyone think we AREN’T DOING ANYTHING for Christmas!?!”

I guess here in the states people are accustomed to endless activities. Calendars are packed to the brim. Each weeknight, a commitment and weekends are booked months in advance. Most people travel to spend Christmas Eve or Day with extended family. We even know one couple who spends Christmas Eve with his family in Memphis and then rises early Christmas morning to drive 9 hours across Tennessee to spend Christmas Day with her family in Knoxville. Why is this considered “doing something”? Why is this considered “normal”?

Perhaps it’s our years of living in Mexico or maybe it came from my up bringing. Growing up in a divorced family, I always felt pulled during the holidays. I made a vow then, that when I grew up, I didn’t want my holidays to be filled with endless travel and activity. At any rate, no matter the reason, this year, like every other year, we planned to stay home and just hang out. In the weeks leading up to Christmas we shared meals and activities with extended family, but the 24th, 25th & 26th were spent at home, just Rodney, me and the girls.

Days later when one of our daughters was asked what she enjoyed most about Christmas. She quickly replied, “Staying home together, just our immediate family…we didn’t have to go anywhere, we just hung out and enjoyed being together!”

Her response was interesting, because to many, our Christmas plans seemed less than impressive. and yet to each of us, staying home together was the highlight of the season.

I am not suggesting that our family’s Christmas plans should be the norm. As I said, we march to the beat of a different drum. However, in this hurried world, I do think it is important to plan family moments in your schedule. Time where you plan to stay home, sharing meals together, playing games, singing, cooking, decorating, crafting, reading…connecting.

The Point

“I feel like there is something left undone!”

That’s the whole point of a sabbatical. Doing nothing, learning to rest in His presence. But like most people, I’m not good at doing that. So far I’ve been busy with administrative work for the ministry. Things that have gone undone because we were so busy meeting needs and putting out fires that we never got around to them. Then there is the day to day practical side of ministry. Is there enough money to feed the boys, pay the staff? How do we get money efficiently to Hope House without us in Mexico? Will people continue to support Hope House if we aren’t there? Will people continue to support our family if we aren’t in Mexico? What about the outreach teams we have scheduled for this summer, how will that workout with me in the States? There are endless questions that need resolution… so I work.

But work is not the point of sabbath! Rest instead of business, peace over worry and frustration, refreshment rather than exhaustion, that is what should characterize this time.

As we prepared for this sabbatical I went through a sabbatical preperation guide that compared taking a sabbatical to getting off a major interstate. It suggested that we needed an off ramp before beginning sabbatical and an acceleration lane at the end. These lanes will help the transition from full-time ministry to rest and then back again to full-time ministry.

I’ve found that even if we had not planned it, the off ramp found its way into our daily routine. There has been so much to do upon arrival in the states. We’re a few months in and we’re just starting to get to a place where we can rest.

I’ve been pondering sabbath rest when I read a blog by fellow missionary and friend Isaiah Cory entitled, “Rest Like It’s Your Job”

(http://www.shepherds-heart-ministries.org/single-post/2018/05/19/Rest-Like-Its-Your-Job)

Isaiah’s words encouraged me that this sabbatical is not only important, but needed as part of my job. Sabbatical is necessary to rest securely in the Lord’s protective care and to be refreshed and alert to give our best to the Lird’s work. It reminds me that Psalm 23 is the embodiment of sabbatical.

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever. – Psalms 23

Prayer:

Lord as I set aside sabbath time, help me to learn to rest in You. Help me to see this sabbatical as a necessary part of my work. Help me to “rest like it’s my job!” Thank you for taking care of all of the ministry details and thank you for taking care of us.

Being Stretched

Seems like God is always stretching us, asking us to do what seems impossible. Today I am sitting in Tennessee, in a clean house. I went to church and then ate brunch at Cracker Barrel. I took an afternoon nap and spent time with my family. It was a picture perfect day and yet I am restless. This move has taken more faith than anything I’ve ever done. (Yes, more faith than even moving to Mexico in the first place!)

You know it is easy to work, to stay busy for God’s kingdom, but learning to rest, now that is a different type of work. “Take a sabbatical”, God said! And here we are, trying to rest and all the while feeling like a locomotive derailed. We have run so fast and hard for so long it’s difficult to know how to rest in God’s presence. I thought I would write, but writing has not come easy. It’s not that I don’t have feelings to process, it’s just that sharing leaves you vulnerable and I’m already emotionally exhausted. I’m not ready to hear a barrage of well intended opinions about what others think we should be doing. Mexico, missions, Hope House, Honduras, living in another country with different customs and language, I am left emotionally spent. Those in aid work call it compassion fatigue; and I know I suffer from it. I’ve seen and experienced vicarious trama. The poverty, the pain, the suffering that exists in the world has taken its toll. Now God encourages us to rest, recuperate, rejuvenate, refresh, relax and be revived. But I don’t know how to do that. And so we begin a new phase of this journey called life and I’m being stretched once again by the hand of the almighty.