The past few months have been emotional for me in this journey of life. Having my children enter a new phase of life has caused me to grieve, as I remember so many great times from the past six years or so. For a little while, I have not known how to come through that grieving to embrace what is next. It feels strange that our children are seeming so much older to me, while at the same time we are about to welcome a brand new little person into our lives. It’s difficult to tell whether we are coming or going. At the same time, I have felt a great deal of uncertainty about our future path. Josh and I made the decision to move to Reba Place (about 4 years ago), thinking we would only stay for a year or two. Our plan was to learn from Reba Place Fellowship and then help to begin a new Christian community in the Southwest – in a place we could stay for a long time, perhaps for the rest of our lives. Definitely, we would move on before Jedidiah started kindergarten. We wanted to be settled in our new place in time for our kids to go through school in one location. And yet, we are still waiting…
We have felt God’s leading toward New Mexico over the past couple of years, and we have begun to explore that possibility. Yet, we still have many questions. And, we are waiting on peace and direction as to how to move forward. It’s easy to feel an urgency to simply make a decision and move along with this thing. But, any wisdom we have gained over the last years keeps us from taking such an impulsive approach. We wade through our feelings, our hopes, our misguided expectations, our personalized understandings of God’s desires for us, our own personalities & triggers… We know two things: we want to hear from God, and we want to be together as a couple in our decision.
As we linger here, years longer than we imagined we might, we are still learning, finding healing, benefitting from mentors and peers. Even more than ever, we are coming into our place here, as members of this community for this time. The experience is invaluable, and we are seeing that in concrete ways. When subjects of community come up, we have more to offer, in practical ways and in deeper understanding. God is beautifully faithful to us in these days and months and years.
Yet, our hearts still long to be closer to family…to have our children know their beloved grandparents and to be known by them. Time seems to be slipping by so quickly, and the options for close proximity to family are complicated.
How can we bring all these things together? How can we, how can I, move forward? Swimming in these questions while awaiting the imminent arrival of a newborn has left me somewhat despondent and confused. I feel certain that I do not see the path forward from here, and yet I have felt more confident than ever that God is with us. He is bringing new life and new direction, even now. I can trust him. I can keep walking forward, knowing that He sees us, knows us, and has good plans for us.
It is usually in the middle of the night that the revelations and assurances come. He has comforted my heart with the knowledge that I have been present and fully alive in these years with my children. Although I may grieve the passing of a season, I need not regret one moment of it. He has reminded me that He was with me through our New Mexico visit, despite my physical weakness and sickness. He has shown me that in that sickness, there was a gift. He has centered my attention on things I needed to remember or pray for. He is with me. He is with our family. I can be sad, but I do not have to despair.
Most recently, I have felt grateful for a shift that I have felt in the way our family interacts with one another. On the other side of my grief about my children not being so little anymore, I have found new life in the phases they are entering. They are less like needy little (albeit adorable) creatures anymore, they are more like regular people who can interact in a more balanced way. I love just sitting around talking with them, laughing with them, or interacting about real life situations. We have great conversations, we see each other more as people, and we enjoy being together. This new phase is bringing back lots of happy memories from my own childhood. It reminds me of why I love my family of origin so much. I’ve spent so much time giving and giving and giving and feeling pleased with the “return” of sweet smiles, cute chubby faces, warm cuddles, and adorable kid quotes. All I could see was that some of those joys were ending. But, now I’m beginning to see that the joy of family continues in new and different ways. Oh, I’m a lover of the sappy blogs that remind you to enjoy every second and make you tear up when you think about how quickly your little ones are growing. But, I felt stuck there. I have needed to remember that there is more, that the beauty and the journey does not end here.
Tonight, I sat in a Reba Place Fellowship meeting with my 8-month pregnant belly and one child on each of my legs. The kids have recently become interested in singing the songs with the group (I know, they’re late bloomers on this one). Anyhow, they like to hold the hymnal/song book open and try to sing along. I cued them through each song with the line they’d need to sing next. And, they both sang just about every word. I loved seeing them truly participate in something that is meaningful to me. I loved having them so near to me. Soon, Lilia convinced Josh (who had been helping coordinate some technology-thing) to come sit with us. She bounded into his lap with a big smile. I am just so thankful for all the joy in our family. And, at long last, I am feeling some peace about the rate this journey moves. I can enjoy the moment and not be too sad that it’s going to end. There is lots more good to come. I can trust in this God who has walked with us this far. He is with us now, and He’ll be with us tomorrow.