Well, transitions are never easy. I am finally starting to show signs of stress related to all the things I may or may not have processed that have been going on—strange dreams, nibbling my nails, mouth sores. I think the whole ‘preparing the house to sell’ thing was the final straw for me. But it always points me to the fact that perhaps I am not remembering to preach the Gospel to myself daily…since my tendency is to carry the weight of everything on my shoulders instead of rejoicing in the fact that I have a sovereign Lord who knows my thoughts and my needs before I speak them, and who will provide, even if through difficult circumstances.
Good-byes are hard. And there are far too many involved when you are leaving a place you have lived and loved and ministered in for seven years–The place we have raised our children so far, and where two of them were born. Many of those good-byes feel even more drawn out because it is the expectation of the good-bye yet to come.
There are also fears that go along with good-byes. Some of the thoughts that go through my mind include: Do they know how much they mean to me? Do they know how much I appreciate the impact they had on my life? Do they know how much I care? Did I do enough to love and serve and help that student grow? Or those foster kids? Did I both live out and speak the Gospel to that friend who does not yet know the joy of a personal relationship with Christ?
Some of the good-byes involved in this whole process are the following:
- One of the hardest good-byes was to the two Foster boys we had in our home for 3 months. I became very deeply attached to them, even over that short time, and it was hard to let them go, especially knowing that it was because of our move that they had to transition to a different home. I still think about them all the time, and they had a great impact on my life. I don’t know what their future holds, though I know it will not be easy. I also don’t know if I will ever see them again, though I have been writing letters to them, and left them with many pictures, hugs, memories, gifts and prayers. I am glad they are with another foster family that will take good care of them for now. And I am glad we had special times during our camping trip with them the weekend before they transitioned–I especially treasure the little hike and all the little explorations and mini-adventures accompanying it that I took with the two boys and Judah while Jeremiah took Isaiah, Bethany and all the students on a longer hike.
- I have also had to say good-bye to the hope of adopting an Arizona child in need of a forever family. That has been painful to let that go after having gone through the whole time of preparation. But we will begin again in California, and it certainly was not in vain—we were able to serve, and God used it to teach us even more about his heart for the broken and helpless, and about our own need for Him.
- Just two weeks after saying good-bye to the foster boys, we had our End of the Year BBQ for our Cru movement here at NAU where we said good-bye to many of the students we have been pouring into over these last 4 years since we started the more traditional Cru movement here (after having been with Lifelines for 3 years). It was very emotional knowing that we may not see some of them until heaven, but it was incredibly special sharing with one another what God has done this past year, and being specifically encouraged by many of them with stories of how God has used us to help them grow and desire to know Him and live their lives for Him. Many tears were shed—good tears.
- Saying good-bye to our church family is also difficult. We have spent more than 4 years in the church family of Flagstaff Christian Fellowship (FCF), and it is definitely home. It is home because we have so many dear friends there who know us, love us and challenge us; it is home because we know and love the staff and fellow volunteers, and deeply respect their love for the Lord and their examples of servant leadership and sacrifice; it is home because we enjoy serving there; it is home because our children have been growing up in the Lord there (Isaiah has gone from being bored to listening carefully to Pastor Cole’s sermons and is finally starting to sing songs during worship; Bethany loves Sunday School and talking about what she is learning). We do trust that God will provide a new body of believers to fellowship with in Davis, but we will always be so thankful for the impact FCF has had on us [Just as we are still impacted by our First EV Free church family from Sioux Falls, SD, and our time there].
- It is perhaps strange that a building would be hard to say good-bye to, but it is hard to leave our house too. It is the first and only home Jeremiah and I have ever owned. We moved in with a 1 year old and with prayers that it would be a place of love, welcome and ministry. We even prayed with our realtor that God would use it for His glory and protect us from harm. I am so thankful that it has been a place of safety and love for students (many have called it their home away from home—one of them said it will be so weird to see it and know we are no longer there). Our home has been the setting for so many late night conversations, sleep-overs, dinners, worship nights, leadership meetings, and even a few baptisms. It has also been a place of love and laughter for our children as well as for our foster kids this year. What a blessing—God is so good. He answered our prayer in a way that also refined, stretched, and deeply blessed us. We pray and trust that God will provide a great place to rent in Davis that will be able to be used in similar ways.
- We have so many dear friends in this beautiful town of Flagstaff, it makes me sad that I am not very good at keeping up long-distance friendships…I know I will not have regular personal communication with many, but I am so glad to have had them touch my life—so many in profound ways. And I look forward to keeping in touch however we can. I have learned much from my friends here—about parenting, generosity, sacrifice, servanthood, patience, endurance, love, and ‘green living.’ There is no way I could say thank you enough.
Although these good-byes, and more, are sad and cause my heart to ache, yet I rejoice. I am so thankful that God knows our paths and directs them. I would not change these years in Flagstaff—not even the anguish and tears that were involved in various steps along the journey here—because they have become part of who I am, and part of what God is going to use to help me minister to and love people I have yet to meet on the next stage of my journey, back in Northern California.
So we are excited for what is ahead, and we will fix our eyes on Jesus, and not on anxieties that might be tied to things past, present or future.