We have found ourselves in a place of what feels like almost constant demand for the past several weeks:
- We are working with three pre-marital couples right now - doing their pre-marriage counseling, building into them as young couples and investing time in their relationships on a regular basis. One week recently, that meant we had a couple in our home every other day... we try not to schedule like that but occasionally it happens that way. We recently re-defined our boundaries in taking on additional couples but are always stretched in this as we support our church as the overseers of the pre-marital ministry. We find ourselves in high demand and constantly have to wisely delegate and carefully consider our limitations.
- We had the opportunity this week to support/love on a young man who has entered our lives recently who is walking through the birth of his first child... he will be a single father and has a rocky relationship with the mother of the baby. He was at our house when she went into labor and nervously paced our living room for hours like a father in the waiting room of a 1960's hospital. It was this surreal experience for me and I am continually amazed at how God provides us with these chances to support (what feels like) random people in really personal and unusual ways. Being married to Asia (a man who makes a new best friend everywhere he goes) continually stretches my world to include people I otherwise would never have met. It's a crazy juxtaposition of 'extroverted husband marries hospitality-gifted introvert' and never ceases to fascinate me.
- Our relationships with couples we have invested in over the years continue to pull on our heartstrings and give us opportunities to continue our support... this often looks like crisis situations where we're called in to walk through messy situations ranging from depression to binge drinking to all-out 'someone left in a rage' brawls. It is a tremendous privilege to be trusted in these situations to enter into people's struggles and vulnerabilities and find ways to encourage/love/challenge in a way that's appropriate to each situation. I cannot count the number of times we've relied on God's promise to be Strength in our weakness when faced with these tough situations. He always comes through. What an honor it is to be part of this... but honestly, it can be extremely draining and exhausting. We are trying to be intentional in finding ways to recharge and support each other as a team after each of these episodes... but find ourselves sometimes literally collapsing in a heap of relief once things are diffused. It's a crazy ride sometimes.
- We were able to host/provide for our friend Jay who was in Spokane for 10 days recently on a vacation/furlough from his service on Mercy Ships... it was a whirlwind of watching him come and go, feeding/providing him with all his favorite, most missed foods, building into/encouraging him, listening to and loving him. 10 days of hosting anyone is incredibly fun and strangely exhausting - even for someone who thrives on hospitality.
- My work schedule continues to be a day-by-day adjustment. I currently lead nine meetings a week, as well as doing 3 hours a week as a store Location Coordinator, 3 hours a week as our territory At Work Specialist, 4 hours a week as a Leader Coach and 1 to 2 hours a week of random additional assignments. This for a woman who really has never wanted to work very much. It's a strange place for me to be working at something I enjoy SO much but feeling overwhelmed by the ways it pulls at my heart to be NOT home so many hours each week. I struggle with not really identifying with my reality. Not sure if that makes sense to anyone but me... but it's a real issue for me right now. I often find myself focusing on the mantra "just get through today..."
- My heart is still (ever and always to be) pulled around the world to Sierra Leone... we recently got letters from our three boys that we sponsor as well as some other dear, sweet kids there. I am currently saving a large portion of my pay for a return trip for Asia and I in 2013. It is always in the back of my mind to keep Sierra Leone and all the things God placed on our hearts during our time there fresh and real and part of our priorities. I wish our families/friends could all meet/know/hear about Tejan, Idrissa and Alhassan and understand our affection for them but there is always a bit of awkwardness in sharing their stories. It's hard to impart the impact we feel in being privileged to support/build into these three amazing boys a world away. Our lives are forever changed by their presence in our hearts. I cannot wait to go back and anticipate pretty much being a person who goes to Sierra Leone every two or three years for the rest of my life. How crazy is that? Who ever in their wildest imagination would expect to live that out? Again - overwhelmed with gratitude to be able to be that person but quite honestly, sometimes overcome by the responsibility/burden that places on us financially/emotionally. There are days I would trade the opportunity/honor for ignorance/apathy just for a short break from the extra strain I feel from it. (Keeping it real here...)
- Asia's transition into private practice/consulting continues at what feels like a snail's pace. I'm thankful for the careful way he's approaching this - but it's another place where we feel stretched as he is essentially working in three different jobs right now - full time at the State, monthly in a contract as a consultant for the State of Wisconsin and slowly building a clientele of paying therapy patients. It's a huge time commitment on top of all the other directions he's pulled...
- My commitment to good health/well-being ebbs and flows. Recently I've really struggled in this area. While the Vegan/Lent adventure continues, my activity level has been the thing I've almost completely let slide. People keep asking me if I'm still running and honestly, I just want to go hide in the corner when they inquire about it. I've run several times... but nowhere near the amazing (almost unbelievable/surreal) level of fitness I attained while I trained for my half-marathon. It feels ridiculous/impossible to consider taking on that level of fitness/commitment right now. I.just.can't.take.on.one.more.thing.right.now. And so I try to get out in the sunshine whenever it pokes through the crazy spring weather pattern we find ourselves in. Sometimes that looks like a short run, sometimes it's a walk with the dog, sometimes it's a chance to breathe in the beauty of the Spokane River flowing through the heart of this town I love so much... I try not to be so hard on myself in this arena but frankly, it's frustrating that I went from such a pinnacle of personal accomplishment to such an embarrassingly pathetic low in priority setting in terms of my own wellness. I want to be flexible/forgiving with myself here but I'm frustrated/discouraged by this reality.
- I find myself in this really strange hamster-wheel of drivenness right now. I feel pretty strongly that all of these things are/have been ordained for this season of life we're in. It's nutso and exhausting and yet also strangely empowering and exciting. I'm overwhelmed and a little fearful of the dreaded burn-out potential but somehow also believing I'm exactly where God wants me. In the midst of all of this, God continues to give us amazing interaction/blessing as a family - our kids continue to thrive, grow, mature in the midst of the craziness. But I also humbly ask for God's mercy/provision/grace as we are stretched so far right now.
I have full confidence in God's ability to carry us.
But a little prayer can't hurt in reminding everyone of how much we need His strength right now.
Thank you so much for joining with me in this.
Smooch you. You are a blessing to me.