Two weeks ago, almost to the day, I spent thirty or so emotion filled minutes standing hands-upon-glass at the doorway of a Dallas home where we once lived - the home we lived in just before moving to Minnesota. Perhaps it was my favorite of our homes all in all. Its for sale now, and empty, so that house and I, we figuratively sat for coffee and remembered.
This morning I sit on my best friends back porch. Its a breathtaking space they built partially by hand and partially with professional help. Actually, their home overall is that kind of a mix. When they bought the home 6 someodd years ago I still had my interior design business in Dallas. They hired me to choose flooring and paint options along with some room design and custom furniture. It was a satisfying project because I already knew them so well and it felt a way to gift my best friend with the space her motherheart envisioned. But my favorite thing about being a part of that design process with them is coming back year after year now to see how it has endured. Does the paint seem dated? Did the furniture withstand the test of family, home discipleship groups, dogs and a 7 ft husband? Did the neverending handscraped wood floors age with grace or did they become plasticy in appearance? Im happy to report, so far so good...I wouldnt change a thing today, its beautiful. It actually, in my opinion, looks better than ever. All the choices have stood the test of time.
I guess that feeling of "the choices standing the test of time" has been the overarching message of my time back in Texas this summer.
Winding Hollow was our street name. Sheets of glass lined the front and back of the house, providing full view straight through to the cerulian waters of the Roman pool area where we spent most all of our time. Multiple fountains poured day and night into that pool, singing a song of luxury and relaxation. That life of comfort and rest almost sang me to spiritual sleep, intentional mothering sleep, focused lifework sleep. Almost.
It was the height of my design career, both girls were in private school (which I LOVED), and my previously seminary graduated, recently MBA graduated executive husband was restless and seeking. I was seeking as well. We knew something was off; change was coming. We didnt talk much about it then, not sure we even would have known what exactly to say, but bursts of the frustrations/confusions came out at certain times. In retrospect it is easy to see that we were both being called to leave the life we knew, but we didnt quite know how. Since each of our conversions we have both had ministry in our hearts. At that time though, we didnt quite understand, or at least I didnt fully understand, that all hell breaks loose before all heaven does. According to Revelation and other Scriptures (Mark 13, for example), thats the shape of history. Before it gets spectacularly good, its going to get spectacularly bad. Its similar to when people begin to pursue health after years of pursuing gluttony, there is a violent adjustment; the body revolts. For a season they seem healthier being sick than getting well. Thats definitely been true for us. Each movement toward healing, redirection of our marriage, parenting, lifeministry has held a reeling blow. Its been like trying to walk after spending a week on a whirligig: the world has seemed to spin precisely because we stopped spinning.
I sat my iced latte in the now empty black iron window box where hydrangeas once greeted our guests, just left of the double 15 ft front doors. I traced the interior saltillo tile, my eyes outlining where each sofa, chair and table had once sat. Hands upon glass, I stared long and hard at the spot where our Parisian lionshead daybed once sat smack mid room, the place where I sat and prayed, cried and pleaded (I would say more than anything in that house, my time on that daybed will be what I always remember most about living there). Day after day, it was as if I were on a boat in the middle of the sea on that daybed calling to my Lord in desperate voice and posture for safety, guidance, redirection of our family. But truly I had no idea what I was praying for; I simply knew we were somehow lost. We were a church going, Christian school attending, all the right box checking kind of family. But we knew we were somehow off course. Oh but we were comfortable.
As I stood there the tangible pains of the comforts left there stabbed me.
As I stood there the tangible pains of that disruption stabbed me.
Egypt looks really good when the deserts been hot for so long and the menu hasnt changed in awhile.
I took a walk around back of our house to see if the gates were unlocked. They werent. While meandering the gardens in route I reminisced the path between that house and where we live now, and how it has been unpleasant, to put it mildly. Its been messy and costly and dangerous and hard. What God needed to do in our family to birth new life has not been pretty. There have been moments when we have each wanted to run, but we havent. There have been moments when we have each wanted to hide, but we havent. There have been moments when we have each wanted to push pause and delay more upheaval, but we havent. We have wanted to return to what is familiar and safe, even if it took us in the direction away from what is good and holy for our marriage and children, but we havent. Because we somehow knew that by trying to avoid catastrophe, maybe all we were really avoiding was the Kingdom. And thus somehow foreclosing on our own personal summer.
We deeply wanted what we prayed for in that house. We meant the relinquishments we made there. We mean them more today. The choices have held the test of time.
Im headed back to Colorado tomorrow. Dougs contract at Compassion has ended and another job has been offered (actually created for him there) but he knows it is not the right one. So contrary to most peoples opinions regarding safety, he has declined it. We still have little in the way of direction regarding much. But oh so clear as day I can see that the leaves removed have given more sun to the fruit of our lives and it is growing, growing growing. Its not ready for harvest but its there and so is the promise of Gods faithfulness. Before this trip I wasnt able to see that fruit so much, but now I can.
So Ill pack the trunks back up from the laundry Ive done here and rally my girls to take all theyve been watered with in our time away, and we will begin our journey back to the front lines. I hope that I will join hands with my husband there in a new way with a new perspective. Were not lost, were just mid battle in a war worth fighting. Its the war of what we will leave behind (our legacy) and what we will take with us (the eternal investments we have made). Its a war to seek our Lord in every area of our lives.
If this is what it takes for the Kingdom to come in our marriage, our family, our personal lives and ministry, let it come.
"Make up your mind not to worry beforehand how you will defend yourselves. For I will give you words and wisdom...Not a hair of your head will perish...When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near." - Jesus (Luke 21:14 - 15, 18, 28)