Doug and I have just returned from a 2 week jaunt through Colorado. We volunteered for a week at a Christian adult retreat center in Lake City (helping with meals, washing dishes, cleaning rooms, watering flowers, doing laundry and talking to guests) and spent a bit of time on the front and back end of the trip enjoying Boulder (farmers market and Pearl St in particular) and Colorado Springs (looking at houses, driving shelf road trails and basking in the bright, bright sunshine).
People at his office seemed to think it odd that he has spent two weeks (one at Camp Peniel with me in June and this one) of vacation this summer volunteering. I guess it is in a way. But its what we love...its our passion.
Our personal time alone led to a lot of breakdowns and tears (from me) and deep, deep sharing. Some of the days, after we finished our work at the inn, were days spent talking through the depth of despair and loneliness that has been the path of our last 3+ years. Some of it was spent climbing very difficult (straight uphill) trails together in silence, with only the sound of each others breath and the tension between us to remind us the other was there. Some of it was spent kayaking still lakes which held the reflections of the mountains where we moved in perfect harmony - almost unable to see where one ended and one began. I couldnt help but feel the Lord with us every moment...providing the visual pictures of where we are in this critical and defining life season.
Doug and I know that our family has been grown immensely in these past three years. We know that our overall focus and desires have been refined, targeted and renewed. We also know that, like everything, in choosing to do things the way we have (homeschool, waiting on the Lord for direction in all areas, accepting the isolation the Lord has provided for all of us, not having ANY idea where we are headed but living (literally) with boxes packed) we have said no to other things (like being understood by others, being seen as stable, being overwhelmed with fear and feelings of abandonment at times).
And as fragile as our marriage and life seasons seem at times, there are moments when the solidity and strength of the Root of God shows itself in our marriage. Like when I tell Doug I just dont know how to continue...I'm exhausted and weary, lonely and fearful, and my spirit is crushed in every way...and he looks lovingly at me and says, "we will just keep trying." I know that I speak of the trials for both of us - though he never, ever complains... he just walks the trail ahead of me, holding back the branches when it gets more primitive and walks ahead a bit if it seems we have lost our way.
Not all couple time away is meant for laying by the beach. We have certainly had those times...years of them actually. But our desert "vacation" last fall and this time climbing the steep, steep trails and serving side by side to make sure that others have a place to rest and refresh in our God seem a perfect reflection of what is happening inside of us and our family.
I beg daily for the Lords guidance, as does Doug - unless I am too tired or weary to do anything more than let tears fall and hope He knows my heart. We have no idea what is happening in our lives right now and that is a difficult place to be... for many reasons. The world demands answers and we simply dont have them. Our children want answers and we simply do not have them. In certain moments I just want Doug to do something (anything) but he simply does not have them.
Over dinner during some of our recent time alone I said to him, "how can we be of any service to anyone, especially our children, if we dont know where we are going, how long we will be there or what in the world we will be doing?" As I stumbled through the words, the gospels came to mind. I saw in his eyes what he was kindly about to remind me. He said," you mean to tell me that you really believe that it takes a permanent residence and a plan for the future, with worldly stability to teach and train the love of Christ in an impactful way?"
"Follow Me", Jesus said.
For some, Follow Me, means living on one block your whole marriage and serving one group of people - maybe only your children and extended family. For others it doesnt. I am sure that each longs for what the other seemingly has.
How does one learn to live all facets of their life before the Glory of God? How does one cling to the Tree of Life ...it is a fullness, that Tree, which I do not currently know? Is there any part of me that I am withholding from my Lord? Am I, today, willing to go where He leads, but more importantly in THIS moment, stay seated and wait until He says, "Go!"?
We are becoming a new creation but it is gradual and it will not be rushed. We are learning each other in vastly deeper ways than every before - Doug, Savannah, Peyton and I. We are living it out before each other...the hard and the easy. We are speaking of endurance and perseverance in seemingly hourly conversation on some days. Its uphill.
But when I stop to write about it I can see that the view is beautiful. I have missed writing. It helps me see.