"For you shall go out in joy and be led forth in peace"

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

thoughts from seth

For the ease of deciphering who is the author of blog post, we will post Seth's blogposts in the color red. Ang's will tend to range in colors- but she won't post in the color red :). Here are some thoughts from the mind of seth this morning:

So, I’m feeling a little bit like Gideon this morning. Maybe most of you know the story, but if you don’t or if you need a refresher, check it out in Judges chapter 7. God clearly calls Gideon to save Israel from the Midianites and the Amalekites, by putting a dew on the fleece that Gideon had laid out and keeping all of the ground dry. Just to be safe, Gideon asked God to show him again by placing a dew on all of the ground, but keeping the fleece completely dry. God did this and Gideon knew that God would deliver Israel by his hand. So Gideon gathers together his army to go fight the Midianites and Amalekites and comes up with about 32,000 men. We are not told the exact number in the Midianite/Amalekite army but the passage does say that they lined the valley like locusts and their camels where without number. That’s a lot! God tells Gideon to get rid of everyone that is afraid. Bam, 22,000 soldiers go home. Still God wants to be sure that the victory to come is recognized as His doing and no one else’s. He tells Gideon to have all the soldiers drink from a pond and whoever does not lap the water with his hand while staying alert, should be sent home as well. To me, this shows a sign of weakness and it knocks out another 9,700 men. Gideon is left with 300 men. God allows Gideon a little more assurance if he is doubting the victory. Gideon takes it, and sneaks up to some Midianite guards to hear one of the recounting a dream that the Israelites will be victorious over them.  Time for battle! Armed each one with a trumpet and a glass jar with a torch, God and the 300 men defeat the enormous Midianite/Amalekite army.

This is how I am relating this morning and perhaps some of you feel the same. You are all called to different places, whether it is your current job, schooling, ministry, family, or maybe you are heading somewhere new soon. For Ang and I it happens to be Little Rock, AR. We started this journey well over a year and a half ago, and I’m looking back, knowing I was full of fears and weaknesses. In a strange way I seemed to find comfort in those. In the same way that I would have found comfort in 32,000 soldiers, I found that I would get reassurance in my fears and weaknesses; I think because I could use them as an excuse or something to fall back on when I failed. This last 18 months has been a long grueling process of purging those fears and weaknesses (don’t worry, Ang, the process isn’t over yet J). But, I’m realizing that all God wants left is me at the very core, with nothing of my own, just all of me, wanting to bring him glory. So, we’ve been down here 5 days and I still having purging to do. Fears about fitting in at our new job, and meeting expectations, and getting everything transferred to Little Rock. Weaknesses of selfishness and pride and not leading our marriage. We have all been given the reassurance that we will be victorious in this life if we choose to follow Jesus. So, if the odds seem like they are against you or you don’t feel like you can face the battle ahead, you may be right where God wants you with the opportunity to bring Him so much glory! 

Sunday, July 10, 2011

home sweet home?

The reality has been so much harder than I prepped myself for. I didn’t think saying goodbye would be so hard. So emotional. So heartbreaking. So scary. But it has been. I didn’t think I’d truly experience much of a culture shock. But I am. I didn’t really think it got that hot here. But it was still 100 degrees at 7:15pm. I didn’t know God would be so sweet to us. But He has been.
We took off Friday morning to move down south. My parents & my brother & sis-in-law (Jake & Jen) & their baby (Kylie Jo) & Seth’s parents came to help us move in. 5 vehicles, 2 trailers, 9 people, & 600 miles of road. We arrived around 4:15ish and after Seth & I practically signed our lives away to get the keys to our apartment, we walked into our new home. We started unloading the trailers & carrying in the boxes and boxes and boxes. Did I mention we chose to live on the third floor? We are beyond thankful for an amazingly hardworking & motivated family to help us unload & unpack!
The first night- that was easy. We had a full house full of family and slept very well due to pure exhaustion. The looming thought about everyone leaving us- not so easy. Saturday consisted of more unpacking & a tour of FamilyLife for our families. Then came the first hard part: my parents were going to leave for home. Wow. That was a lot harder than I thought. For both of us. Here they are- saying goodbye to their only grandbaby & son & daughter-in-law from Texas, & leaving their daughter & son-in-law in Arkansas. It was a quick & hard goodbye. Mom & I cried a lot.
Next came Jake & Jen & Kylie Jo. They were going to leave a few hours later. After a quick dinner and a few last minute things, we walked them out to the car to say goodbye. That was so hard. Lots more crying.
Thankfully Seth’s parents were going to stay one more night so we didn’t have to say goodbye to everyone at one time. We ran some errands with them. As we were pulling in the parking lot of Home Depot I found myself staring at the people like I was expecting them to look different or something- like I was in Africa instead of Arkansas. We went into the store & I was asking a sales clerk a question. As I was listening to him I realized I had no idea what he was saying because I was stuck on something. His accent. I forgot people have southern accents here & they actually do sound a lot different than Illinois people. Not a big deal, I know, but it hit me at that moment- I’m in a new land & it doesn’t feel very familiar to me.
Later that night I just laid there, sobbing.
Me: are you sure this is what we are supposed to do?
Seth: absolutely baby, without a doubt.
Me: I want to go back home
Seth: I know you do, but I know without a doubt we are supposed to be here.
Me: yeah. I know…I might cry a lot.
Seth: I know, I’m ready for it.
Me: are you scared?
Seth: no, not really, I’m excited
Me: oh. well I’m scared…are you sure we are supposed to do this?
(multiply this exact conversation about 10 times since).
I called my mom about 11:00pm & sobbed to her for a while. It felt good to cry and to release all the unknowns and worries. We both cried together at the stinging reality that we now lived 600 miles apart.
We went to church this morning with Seth’s parents at a nearby church. It was huge. Much larger than any church we have back home. Here in the south- that’s common. People are also very nice in the south- that’s common here too- courtesy. Church was good. It was so good for our hearts to be there. Refreshing & needed. We met a few other FamilyLife staff. That was good for me- it helped relieve some of my intimidation factor of that “first day of school” feeling.
After church we had to say goodbye to Seth’s parents. The third and final goodbye. That was so hard. I wanted to cry out, “Take me with you, don’t leave me here!” Momma B and I cried a lot and hugged a lot. It was so hard to let them go. Seth & I stood there crying as we watched them drive away. “We are all alone now”, I cried to Seth as we walked up to our empty apartment. So again, we cried (more me crying than Seth). The same conversation as above played out again with Seth comforting me as best he could. I collapsed in his arms, crying. Tears of fear, of loneliness, of uncomfortable/unfamiliar, of being plain overwhelmed.
Me: are you sad?
Seth: *looks at me for a while & almost opens his mouth to reply*
Me: *while sobbing* it’s okay if you are…No wait… If you lose it, then I’m going to lose it and then that means you may not be sure if this is right... But if you need to lose it, it’s okay.
Seth: I am sad, but I’m so excited, baby. I know this is right. (Sometimes I’m so thankful for his stability).
Tomorrow is our first day at FamilyLife. I’m nervous. I’m excited. I’m unsure. Seth is very excited. It feels like the first day of school. I told him we need to pick out our outfits for our first day J.
God opened me to a verse this morning & I have been clinging to it. He’s been so sweet to me. Isaiah 33:6 “and He will be the stability of your times, abundance of salvation, wisdom, and knowledge; the fear of the LORD is Zion's treasure”. I love that- He will be the stability of this time for us. He is the constant & unchanging foundation.
Thanks again for all your prayers & your love. Even though this is hard, we know God is in the center of this and this is exactly right. I just wish that made it all the easier J.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

goodbye & hello.

Bittersweet. Merriam-Webster’s definition: something that is bittersweet; especially: pleasure alloyed with pain. I’ve been calling everything bittersweet lately. If you’ve recently talked to me, you’ve probably heard me say it. My emotions have been on an ever-changing ride. Some moments I’m so excited for this thrilling & trailblazing journey ahead. Other times I’m like a 3 year old who is clinging to her mom’s leg because I don’t want to leave. Leaving is bitter. The journey that awaits us & the people we will meet & the things we will do- that’s sweet. But I’m in the leaving stage right now, so everything tastes pretty bitter. It tastes kinda like this: The other night I was in the garage going through some stuff & seth comes out holding a glass of what I thought was ice water. I grab for it before he has the chance to say otherwise & take a swig. NOT WATER!!!!! I immediately went from smiling to twisting my face in confusion at this bitter taste in my mouth. It was milk. Now imagine thinking you were going to taste water & instead you taste milk…yuck.
I’m horrible at goodbyes, in fact I dread them. Instead of saying “goodbye” I tend to end with something like “I’ll see you soon!” because that usually stops my tear ducts from breaking loose. And makes it easier. Who likes hard things? You might say Angela, it develops character & perseverance & is good for you. Well, whether I like “hard things” or not (which I don’t like them), they come, so I figure I might as well make them as easy as I can, right? I know, I know. But seriously, I’ve been leaving & saying “good-bye” to everything lately. I’ve said goodbye to our home in goodfield, friends, our bible study group, our potluck, our home church, the pregnancy resource center, OSF- my job, my co-workers, our family, town, community. I even found myself saying goodbye to my favorite restaurant the other day- may sound lame, but it’s my familiar.
On the other side of the coin- I love new things. I love dreaming & anticipating things. I love imagining and hoping and wondering. Moving is full of all new things. A new town, a new home, a new job, new skills, new friends, new church, new roads, new hobbies, new state, new everything.
In the word bittersweet, the bitter precedes the sweet. Such is life- the “bitter”/difficult precedes the “sweet”/exciting.
We move tomorrow morning. It’s pretty surreal & doesn’t seem to have hit me yet. We have been soaking in time with family and friends before we leave. This past month has flown by & it’s so hard to believe the time is already here!
Next time I post will probably be from our new home in Little Rock, Arkansas! Thanks for all your prayers and your love. Please keep praying as we make this transition and say goodbye to what we’ve known forever and hello to what’s ahead.