Three years ago today we arrived in Germany. Twenty suitcases (including our carry-ons), 4 kids (ages 3, 4, 12, 13), and 2 soon-to-be-dear friends squeezing us all into a van and bringing us to the home we’d been praying over for a year and a half. The home that so many people dreamed of along with us. It was finally here!
And now it’s been THREE years!
In some ways it feels so much longer… and in others ways, like it was only yesterday that we hopped off the plane all jet-lagged and eyes full of wonder.
Looking back, I remember the anticipation I had… the hope for our family that this time of “incubation” for our relatively new family as six (legally, anyway), excitement to see the visions we’d had become reality.
Indeed, when God brought us here, it was for far more than our neighbors and missionary kids.
It was for us, too.
These three years have been filled with some of the greatest challenges I’ve experienced in my adult life. Yet, I can’t imagine a better setting, context, and situation in which to have dealt (and to still deal) with those challenges. With the bright eyes of hindsight, I catch glimpses of the detail in which God, as He was weaving our family together, orchestrated in such detail all of the provision we would need to carry on in His glory.
Because it’s easy to quit. Easy to pack it up and call it a day. Marriage is hard. Parenting is hard. Parenting children of trauma is ridiculously hard. Learning a new language when your work is in English: hard. It’s all hard. And some days I want to stay in bed.
But His glory draws me out.
The glory of the beauty of nature ALL. AROUND. US.
The glory of the woman seeking us out on our doorstep because she needs a friend… even though I’m so inadequate in my suffering. Then she says, “But oh, you have hope in your suffering and I don’t. That’s what I need.”
The glory of it all. The glory of the way God uses us in our MESSY.
Facebook doesn’t show the messy. Neither does twitter. LinkedIn. Instagram. Even this blog… it shows the moments when we sorta had it together enough, had eyes open wide enough, ears attuned enough, that we could ride the river of what God was doing anyway.
The glory of working through the tough spots in marriage, the way He works out our tough spots with Him. The glory of pressing in, digging deep, not sending that kid BACK when it’s not what you signed up for… because He doesn’t send me back. The love, oh the love, that doesn’t belong to me but flows when I least expect it… because He first loved me. The glory of showing up when you have nothing to give… and God pouring out your sweet nothing and transforming it into a beautiful something. Like, when He breathed life into dirt and called it “Good.”
Three years of faithfulness… not ours, but His.
Because He is faithful, even when we’re not. Even when we give up and stay in bed. Or yell at the kids. Or bury our faces n our pillows and yell. Or are short with our spouse… when it’s really our fault. When the neighbor is in the yard and you just don’t have it in you to go be Salty and Bright.
He’s still faithful.
And you, so many of you, have faithfully prayed, faithfully given your finances, faithfully offered us home, food, clothing, vehicles, PLANE TICKETS from your own need. Your own pain. Your own messiness showing up in glory.
How we love you!
On today, the day of our 3rd anniversary in Germany, we are brought to tears. In the truest sense of the word… this experiences is awesome.
We hope and pray that God will give us three more years here. Three more years of glory-chasing in the classroom, in the small groups, in the art studio, in the counseling office, in Awana, in our neighborhoods. Three more years of building and healing and showing up.
This gives our older two kids a chance to graduate high school without a big cross-world move. Three years to send off into their own glory-chases with the community they know and love and have built around them. Three years for us to pour into the European relationships we’ve begun and love.
Three more years.
Then, by German and U.S. law, we have a full year furlough.
It’s three years away. That’s a long time. But these three years have flown. And the next three will as well.
Please, please continue to invest your prayers, your encouragement, and your finances into the glory-work here. It means so much to us. We can’t finish what’s begun without it.
Lord willing and finances permitting, I will be back toward the end of January, beginning of February, to meet with people, thank people, and raise the additional 15% we need to continue here the next three years. I’m so excited by the prospect of seeing you!
Thank you for the last three years. Thank you JESUS for the glory that shows up in the least expected places and ways. We pray this truth into your lives as well… seek first His kingdom and His righteousness and all these things shall be added as well! Don’t worry about tomorrow… He’s got it. (Matthew 6:32-33)