part 2: the view from their side (guest post)

This is a guest post by my sending home group. I asked them what it is like to send someone out from the group. Several people contributed to the conversation here and I am so grateful for their thoughts. You’ll hear from me one more time. I want to talk a little about how I view my responsibility to my senders.

Two years before Stephanie moved to Kenya, there was just the thought that she might end up working overseas. We committed to praying for her and asking the Lord to open a door for that to happen. Once she decided to go, we continued to support her in prayer, committed to give financially and provided encouragement and other help where she needed it.

As Stephanie stepped into this calling from the Lord, to go to a place that was not her home, to learn a language that was not her own and to do her job as an audiologist our home group continued to partner with her. We were not the ones going but we needed to attempt to understand what her needs were as she encountered multiple new challenges. This looked like text messages, emails, Skype dates; any opportunity we could take to get a glimpse at what she was experiencing so we at least could be praying with her and sometimes simply listening. The first year seemed to be the hardest for everyone; this was a new relationship, what was it supposed to look like? This took effort and continues to take effort, purpose, a choice to love and serve in a way that is not common to every day life. As a home group, different people would have various ideas of ways we could love her from afar. Planning well in advance for a birthday or a holiday in order to send a package of goodies and treats from the States. Those of us who did family Christmas cards or birth announcements sent them to Kenya. (a note from Stephanie – when they say they planned for birthdays in advance, these were no small celebrations. My first birthday in Kenya, they sent me 3 boxes of gifts. I was in language school, which was an exceptionally lonely season of life for me, and I was going to be by myself the entire day. I had arranged to FaceTime with one friend and when she called, my entire home group was there. They had all taken the morning off work and had a party with me. They won’t brag about that, but I’ll do it for them.)

Over the course of three years, we were blessed to have Stephanie home for short visits. They were kept very personal, always respecting Stephanie’s wishes for what she hoped to do each visit. We learned that it was not simple to jump from the pace of life in Kenya back into the pace of Dallas. As a home group, we made time to see her, talk to her, fill her in on our lives and just simply be around her. We realized there was a line between the level of busy-ness that gave her joy and that left her feeling exhausted. This was another new component to our relationship that we needed to be empathetic and responsive to. We provided her a home to stay in while she was here, loaned vehicles and provided meals so she was able to come and just be. Stephanie would come to home group while home and we would lay hands on her and pray over her. This was also an awesome opportunity for her to share all that God was doing in Kenya.

Steph would send updates out via email which helped to keep us updated but the ongoing text messages, personal emails, planned Skype dates (most times with whole families, chaos and all) and care packages kept the connection alive. Almost every time we changed topics in home group we would spend one evening of group praying for the Stephanie’s requests she had highlighted in her most recent email. If one of us had spoken to her recently or if Stephanie had reached out specifically to our group for prayer that was made a priority just as if she was present in that particular home group.

As her return to the states approached, we helped her pray and think through the question of will she return to Kenya, what is life going to look like, is the Lord closing this chapter or asking her to keep going. We began praying with her specifically for answers to many of these questions at least 6 months before she came. And just as when she was sent, the Lord heard the cries of his saints and answered prayer. Before Stephanie got back to Dallas she had 3 families offering her a home to stay in while she was on home assignment. Once home and given the opportunity to share all the Lord had done in Kenya over the past three years to our home group, the Lord made it clear to us that He was not finished with her yet and she decided she would return to Kenya for as second term. During her home assignment, we both worked to enter back into life together as normally as possible. Stephanie was, in many ways, back to her normal place in our home group – from watching kids, eating dinner with families and just being part of day to day activities. Stephanie reached out to serve us, love us and develop relationships with our children and new members of the home group while she was home.

(Stephanie again – these last few sentences demonstrate why I think I have felt so supported. Is it any wonder I love these people so, so much?) All of the logistics are important for any home group sending out one of its members, but that all flows out of our love for our friend and a commitment that we have made together. This is not a one-sided relationship. This is not a normal or easy relationship. This is a choice by each member of the group.  She is a part of our home group, she is our person, our friend, our sister and we choose to make this relationship a priority for our joy, her joy and the glory of our King who has called us to follow Him.

 

 

 

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satisfied

I apologize for the crickets that have taken up residence around here lately. For a while there was nothing new to share and when there was, I didn’t have a lot of time to share it. You may notice I finally have a title. Just an explanation of that here and then I have several posts in line after this to give some history about how I got here, tell a little about my most recent trip to Kenya and then to let you know where I’m headed in the next few months. Check in over the next few weeks.

I have spent the last few months reading the Old Testament. Oddly enough, some of my favorite sections happen when authors are describing characters at their deaths. Some people die badly in the Bible (like sword stuck in your gut and the smell is so bad your servants think you’re using the restroom – badly). Those are not the scenes I am talking about. The eulogies that stir me are of men who are known and loved deeply by the Lord, screw up in some of the worst ways imaginable or walk through terrible tragedies and yet continue to find refuge in His faithfulness and unfailing love in all of those circumstances. Abraham, Isaac, David and Job (among others) reach the end of their lives and are described as “old and full of days.” I do not know if there is any significance to this phrase in the Hebrew beyond an indicator of age or if it’s just a quirk that it was translated that way in the ESV, but it catches my attention every time. After reading the stories of these lives, I have to think that “full of days” carries some weight. It makes me think of the feeling you have after a really good meal – having tasted good food and being satisfied, left wanting nothing more (think Psalm 63:5). These men could recount hundreds of stories of God’s faithfulness during their days. Of course, their satisfaction was made complete in their death as they met the One they hungered for face to face, but they knew enough of Him in this life to proclaim, like David, that their souls were satisfied even here. I want my life to be described like that when I die, even if “old” is not a part of the equation.

Psalm 139 says that my days were numbered and written long before I was even born. I trust that no matter if I live to be 40 or 95 or do not see my next birthday that my life can never be cut short. It will be exactly as long as the Lord says it will be. The number of days I will have is not for me to decide, but I want to know Jesus in such a way that when I come to die, my soul will be satisfied, full of days, because I have taken every chance to know Him that He puts in front of me.

Right now, my pursuit of knowing Him looks like the obedience of taking a step He’s been preparing me for for who knows how long. The reaction I have heard most often when people find out I’m moving to Kenya has been “Wow! That’s great. I could never do that.” My response is usually “Yes, you can,” because – I’ll let you in on a little secret – there’s absolutely, positively nothing special about me. God did not look down one day and decide that I have the kind of faith and off-the-charts skill that He needs in Kenya. God does not need me. His call to me in this season is not based on the fact that I have something that He could not get somewhere else. This call is about His Kingdom and His name being known to the ends of the earth. It is about the whole point of everything – that He would be shown, honored and enjoyed as the most valuable thing ever in the history of ever. So does He need me? No. But, is He willing to use a weak, broken, busted up vessel to show how great and worthy and powerful He is? YES! Praise the Lord, yes! This is a gift. Next to my salvation, it is the best gift I have ever been given. Jesus is letting me play a part. He could do this without any help from me, but has determined that He gets more glory and I get more joy by my jumping in. I do not deserve this and, if I’m honest, it has been far too easy to complain about what I think I lack lately. But when I really get to the bottom of this, I can see Him working out what is best for me. And here’s the great part – this is His gift to every single one of His children (meaning YOU if you love and trust Jesus). Not everyone moves from their home, but everyone has the chance and call to be a part. Have you ever asked the Lord where your part is to play? I choose to receive this gift (joyfully, giddy and in a you’re-really-letting-me-in-on-this? kind of way) and I am confident that when I am full of days I will be able to say, along with David, that the Lord is faithful and I am satisfied.