June 16, 2017

Flying Home Today

It is a cloudy day in Bluffton. I woke up early this morning, sometime around 5:30, apprehensive about my trip home. I didn't get up, but fell back to sleep until I heard my Dad knock on the door around 8:30. I finally pulled myself out of bed, and I was so stiff and sore that I could barely walk. I am still sore -- midway in my back -- so I am not looking forward to the long ride to Indy and then the 3 hour fly home. Still, I am ready to get back to my own bed, my routine, and my life. I have enjoyed visiting with family, and I have enjoyed getting to share some of their lifestyle. It is always interesting to visit another part of the country, and to sit and listen to stories about family connections, old homesteads, and just life.

My parents are ready to get home as well. I asked my Dad if he was ready to head back, considering this is HIS hometown. He said yes. I think he has had a great time here, but after four days of hotel living, he is ready for the relaxed routine he and my Mom share. Mom is ready, for sure. She has done really well. I thought she might be more confused than normal, but really she has been such a great trooper. In all, our time here in farm country has been blessed. Now, though, it is time to return to the heat and the desert sky.
Back on Track

I've spent the better part of the week thinking about life in the country. You know -- I am a midwestern farm girl at heart -- but I've never lived in farm country. I grew up in the city, and I moved all over the USA as a child. Now, as an adult, I've lived in Phoenix for almost 22 years, the longest of any place, and it has become my home base. Granted, it is not my home. I don't really have a home anymore. I used to say that San Jose was my home since I had lived there from high school into my early adult years. Further back, I would say that Hazel Crest was my home, simply because it was the home for most of my childhood. Now, though, I am a desert rat. I have become accustomed to the desert heat and clear skies, and while I long for white picket fences and red barns, I simply have grown comfortable living in the wild west and the sunny and hot desert places. I guess I have become a westerner without really thinking about it much. I am where I am because this is the place I chose to set down roots, and while it is not perfect, it is what I know.

My heart longs for something different, a different way of life, but as I have come to terms with everything, I realize that I am less inclined to move now that I have the opportunity and choice to do it. I mean, I can now move wherever I like, but every time I think about it, I find myself setting back down  right where I am now. It is funny, really. I look at these beautiful houses -- many Victorian or Georgian -- and I think, "Oh, that is the house I want to live in someday." But, then I wonder about Internet, my life, what I would do each day, and while having a beautiful old house sounds lovely, it makes me wonder if I would be happy in it -- long after the first blush is past -- know what I mean?

It is like that first kiss. I mean, you look so forward to it. You dream about it. You wonder what it will feel like, and then bam! You get a wet kisser, and well, YUCK! It just ruins the whole fantasy for you!

I was thinking how might really love the change of scenery for a while. Then, when reality sets in, I would come to regret the move. Would true love remain? Would I feel sad about my decision?

I know I am overthinking this whole thing, but I guess it is hard to leave a place you have lived in for so long unless you are really sure you must or you have no choice (as in job move). At this point in time, I have no reason to move. I am set where I am for the time being, and I have a good life. I could choose to move, but there is no calling to move, if that makes sense. The Lord hasn't opened a door for me, and until He does, I need to find my joy, my pleasure, in what He has already provided for me. I need to be content -- joyfully, happy, and blissfully -- in what He has already made possible. I need to stop looking for love in other places, and start seeing the love right in front of my own eyes.

This means that while I want to go, if He says I am to go (physically move), but I also want to stay. I am torn between going and staying, and while that not knowing has been a killer for me, I have recently come to see it has His will. He has me right where He wants me -- dependent -- and that means that I am to enjoy the process of His plan. I am to stop trying to make everything into neat little packages and simply let go and enjoy each day. I am to know that He has the power and authority to move me, should He choose to do so, and He has the will and the way to make me stay put for the exact same reasons. I am in His hand. I am living His way, and as such, I go and I do what is asked of me. If He wants to move me, He will do it. If He wants to provide a way for me to stay in Phoenix, then He will open doors, and He will make it so.

The secret of contentment is learning to accept whatever lot you have at the moment. It means to let go and to live in the moment. I think many people see contentment as a resignation, but that is not what God wants us to do. He doesn't want us to resign ourselves as in, "Oh, this is my lot! Oh, I have to accept it." Rather, He wants us to see the possibility in every moment, and to turn our eyes out toward the sea of humanity and think, "How can I bless someone, love someone, show someone the love of Jesus today?" We are to be outward focused human beings, and that means to not think too much on our outward circumstances. God provides for us. He shelters us. He gives us our manna, but we must not just sit in our tents and dream about Egypt. We need to be active and open to the world around us, and to do that, we simply have to take our eyes off of ourself for a moment and start looking at the people the Lord brings into our life.

I realized this today. I focused on my aunts and cousins this week. I listened to their stories, and I found I really enjoyed myself so much more. I tried not to look at my phone, but to listen, to laugh, and to really let them share their life with me. It was wonderful, and in that way, I gained a finer appreciation for this part of my family tree. I saw the hard work, the sorrow, the pain, and the challenges that they have had to overcome and it made me thankful that I am part of a family of people who love the Lord. I mean, they love the Lord. They are not evangelizing the world, but they are steady, and they are living out their faith with quiet dignity. They give, they volunteer, they serve, and they take great pride in helping to meet the needs of the people they know and love.

I guess you could say that this little trip has helped with my perspective. I have come to see the needs of people living here and through this experience, I have come to see that there are people just like this living in my neighborhood. There are people in my church, in my community, and in my school who need to see the love of Jesus. They need to see Jesus in me, I should say. I need to stop hiding myself from the world, and I need to get out and meet people, live with people, and enjoy people.


Loving Others and Loving God

In all of this realization, it has come back around to me that our calling and our ministry is to love people and to love God. We love God, and through our love relationship, He loves others through us. It is a beautiful picture of God's love when we extend ourselves toward others with the same desire we have for Him. In this way, we show the world that we are different, called differently, and that we live differently. I have come to see that no matter where the Lord plants me for work or for ministry, I am to love people. I am to demonstrate that love in tangible ways. I am not to live in my room, work in a solitary confinement, but I am to get out doors, outside, and to really engage people in life.

I often retreat indoors, but this week, has been filled with business and busyness that has kept me outside. I have walked, talked, and shared slices of life with waitresses in little diners, with janitors and maids in the hotel. I have had polite conversation with strangers, and in doing so, I have come to see the blessing of slowing down, taking the time to chat.

The good news is that I am ready to head home. I am ready to regain my life, and to really take hold of it. I am ready to make my life the best it can be (financially), but more so, I am ready to open my hands to the life the Lord has for me. I am ready to really embrace His future plan, and to do that, I had to let go of my desires -- my fantasies of what I thought I wanted -- so that I could really accept the gift He had ready to give me. I had to say, "Goodbye to a farm," and "Hello to a Phoenix house," if that was the Lord's will. You see, I couldn't accept His best, if my idea of best was some childhood wish, dream or desire. I had to accept that I will always love barns, farms, and trees -- oh my yes -- in order to be ready to accept the good the Lord wanted to give me. I had to let my best go. Now I am ready to accept His very best, and in this way, I am ready to accept His plan, His path, and His provision for my life.

In closing, this time in the midwest has really helped me see how much of my inner world was dominated by childhood memories. I was stuck in a dream, and I needed to be awakened so I could start to see more of what the Lord wanted for me. I had to open up my eyes to His plans, and in doing so, I had to let the old go so I could make room for the new. He is good to me, so very good to me.

This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! (2 Thess. 5:17 NLT)

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