Entering Free Fall

Two years ago I had the opportunity to jump off of a 15-foot cliff into a Guatemalan river pool.  Knees all trembly, I didn’t let myself linger up there on the edge.  It was heave-ho and go.  The free fall was glorious.  And terrifying.  Then the water caught me, and I was reoriented with gravity, with the beautiful normality of swimming to shore.  Security feels sweet after the risks have paid off and fear has been conquered.

Today is Matt’s last day of work with ProCare3, the therapy company that hired him out of grad school and never looked back.  For 14 years he has healed patients, cracking jokes as he encouraged them to tough out exercises that made their lives better.  He’s learned to smooth feathers, to finesse situations, to call out the greatness in those around him, and unleash his own.  For 14 years the Lord has used this work to provide our roof, our daily bread, and our dreams.  And today we say a “Thank you” that doesn’t come close to expressing the blessings we’ve received, and a “Goodbye” that feels like leaving behind half of yourself.  Today our feet leave the ledge and we enter free fall.

In five weeks we fly literally.  An airplane will carry us to Costa Rica, to the beginning of 5 years spent serving children who weren’t safe living with their families, and hosting teams of people who want to make a difference.  Until then, we press through a melee of packing, planning, document gathering, house selling (please, Lord), friend raising, and praying.  This is a true leap of faith.  Our roof, bread, and dreams are now in the hands of the Lord who put those brown eyes on our hearts.  He is able.

Window Framing

At some point, the river of “normal” will catch us again.  We will learn the walk to the language school, park, and grocery store.  I’ll organize our rented kitchen and fill the freezer with meals.  The fragrance of baking cinnamon rolls will waft through a new house and embellish the laughter we’ll share with new friends.  In the hang time, we’ll keep our eyes fixed on His light and continue to pray through the veil:

Let us, your servants, see you work again;
    let our children see your glory.
And may the Lord our God show us his approval
    and make our efforts successful.
    Yes, make our efforts successful!  Psalm 90:16-17

Sorting Priorities

Today started out with a trip down memory lane and a bit of jealousy.  Rolling up Elijah’s outgrown 4T clothes (thankful that some survived him relatively unscathed) for Ezekiel to wear down in Costa Rica, I marveled that a 4-year-old’s entire wardrobe could fit in four 2.5 gallon bags.  My first four bags are causing a crisis discussion of want versus need.  Size discrimination, you get me every time.  My desire for “just in case” surplus works against me here, too.  But what if I fall into one of those uncovered man-holes in San Jose and tear these?  I’ll only have 7 others left.  We are sorting priorities as we distill our life down into portable size.

Really, we are beyond blessed.  A team from our church is flying down to the Home of Life this Friday and pack-muling a bunch of stuff for us.  Four 23-gallon totes are filled with the best of our kitchen & bedding, and 3 rolling duffels of clothes & toiletries are standing by.  Someone will soon be on their way to buy more 2.5 gallon bags because it is a beautiful thing to see all those rolls lined up side by side, grouped by wearer, mostly inoculated from TSA rummaging and in-transit dousing (Dear person whose fish juice leaked all over and into Matt’s suitcase on the way home from Florida, God forgives you, and He’s helping me to come around, too).

We have also been pelting questions upon in contact with the saintly Big Brother family helping us to find a rental house and get acclimated in San Jose for language school.  Two houses are jockeying to be our new nest and we’ve even been able to see some pictures.  In the process of selling our house and obsessively staging for each showing, it’s amusing to compare the expectations of American buyers with Costa Rican renters.  Without square footage numbers, hot water in one of the showers, or even a complete assurance of a refrigerator, we are leaning toward the house in the quieter neighborhood, and praying over the rent and availability timeline.

And so, as we debate whether to use our luggage real estate on  measuring cups or peanut butter to reach the magic 49.9 lbs, we give thanks for the abundance that we are picking and choosing from, for the necessity of paring down that gives us the freedom to let go of what we don’t need (and to realize that we don’t need it).

Packing Perfection

Packing Perfection

We trust the Lord to guide us and provide what He decides is “every good thing” for our family.  Perhaps not all we might want, but definitely all we need.  He’s already doing it.  The space Ezekiel’s clothes don’t need is a perfect fit for chocolate chips.

Fear the Lord, you his godly people,
for those who fear him will have all they need.
Even strong young lions sometimes go hungry,
but those who trust in the Lord will lack no good thing.  Psalm 34: 9, 10

Fairy Slippers Along the Way

I spotted it just off the trail by chance, and did a double take.  It was one of those things in my wildflower book so unusual that you remember its name.  Fairy Slipper.  I forget many of the yellow blossoms cheerfully dotting the path, but no grown up pretend-princess could forget a name like that.  I made the most of the moment and photographed the floral gem in all of its 4″ inches of root-to-tip glory.  We looked around for more, but came up empty.  Usually when you see one flower of a kind, more are sure to follow as you trek through the micro-climate on the slope.  This was a single, unique blessing.  When I got down the mountain, my book told me just how privileged I was to have seen one.

“Fairy Slipper is a very rare wildflower… in fact its endangered. One could look for years and never find this fascinating Orchid.”–DenverPlant.com 

Fairy SlipperIt’s the same way with our launch to serve at the Home of Life in Costa Rica.  As we are climbing the mountain of tasks that will move us from our home in the prairie to serving in a new country/culture/language, we have been a part of some incredible moments of blessing.  Loving words from the Lord delivered to us after worship.  Prayer ministry that lightens heaviness into peace.  Coming out of the bathroom stall at the movie theater to meet an old acquaintance who stopped right there between stall and sink to speak provision and grace over me.  Extravagant gifts of support and affection.  Our church’s homeschool community circling up around us in anointed prayer, doing battle on behalf of our family.  Each one is unique.  Each one a special encouragement.  We could look for years and never find more exactly like them.  The Lord is decorating this trek with different glimpses of His magnificent presence through the kindness of His people around us.  And when we get off of this mountain, I will already know just how privileged we have been.

Coming Out of the Nest

My Lovely Girl Watching my daughter’s ballet recital has a way of bringing my considerable emotion to the top of my throat.  Every year I enter the state of jumbled tears and delight that gave Webster the definition of poignant.  She is beautiful.  They all are.  And for these few hours a year we take the time to really appreciate it.

One dance especially spoke to my heart.  A mama-bird ballerina flew tenderly around a nest of sweet young chicks, encouraging them into the adventure beyond the safe wall of twigs they had known.  One by one, they tried their wings and popped out of the nest to soar along with her.  Finally, only one baby bird was left lingering in her comfort zone, half-covering her eyes as she watched her family joyfully flying.

Baby Bird in the Nest

How I know the heart of that tiny fledgling.  Watching in wonder at the strong wings dancing around her, longing to join them, yet afraid to let go of the ground that has held her steady since birth.

In just over two months, our wings will launch us to serve the Lord in Costa Rica.  Each day seems to unveil a new item to be accomplished before we go.  We need official, certified documents, and we need apostille documents to prove that those documents are indeed officially certified.  We need the Lord to sell our house and to provide the funding to support our ministry.  Our baby beaks are open wide, cheeping to the heavenly Father, and sometimes our feather-tips feel more comfortable covering our eyes than they do preparing for flight.

Flying Free!

But the beauty of the family of God serving fully—at home and out in the nations—calls to us.  The Holy Spirit lifts our wings, encouraging us to join Him in the adventure of living by faith.  The little chick eventually made her way out into the dance.  Carried by our Lord, partnered by a host of people with a heart for at-risk children and mission teams, so will we.

He will cover you with his feathers,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.  Psalm 91:4 NIV

Lopping Off Heads

They probably meant well.  They must have been feeling pretty good about themselves, coming to David in the wilderness with what seemed like great tidings.  O King, your enemies are dead!  We’ve killed them for you!  One pair even had the head of Saul’s son to present him as a trophy.  Reading through the account the last few days, one thought has struck me:

They didn’t know David very well.

What they did to please him was the last thing he wanted.  Their news set off a wave of grief, instead of rejoicing.  In the end, they received death sentences for their actions against the Lord’s anointed leaders, rather than the riches or reward they expected.

And so I wonder, how is it with me?  I’ve been lopping off my share of heads lately, with respect to our launch to-do list.  A new update letter prayed over, composed, and sent out with affection.  Cleaning, sorting, chucking, donating, and staging our house onto the market last week.  More events to share what the Lord is doing with our family put on the calendar.  Another round of language school apps completed.  Learning my camera’s instruction manual and photography tutorials to capture the beauty of life around us and share with others.  I’m caught up on my bible reading, but have been running short on peace.  Honestly, “be still and know” isn’t usually my best suit.

The restlessness is a gift, a reminder that my efforts alone do not satisfy.  Yes, they have good value as we walk out this calling that the Lord has for our family.  Like David at Araunah’s threshing floor, I will not offer the Lord a sacrifice that has cost me nothing.  I am glad to give my talents and time to serve Him, thankful that He would want them.

Let my soul be at rest again.

But sometimes His dearest wish—and my deepest need—is for me to release the curly tress of the task I’m wrestling with and come rest in His presence, to open up my heart and hear His words for me.  I want to bring offerings sanctified by relationship.  I want to know my Lord well.

Let my soul be at rest again, for the Lord has been good to me.  Psalm 116:7