Today is my wedding anniversary… 32 years!!!

imageAs I sit on this little porch in a lovely house in a village tucked up in the highlands of western Kenya, as I look over the tea fields, cluster of banana trees, crops of maize… all seemingly choreographed to the sounds of a perfect African morning…  Cows mooing, roosters crowing and that loud distinct African bird… I sit here among the peaceful sounds of Africa and I’m thinking THIRTY TWO YEARS???????

I knew I would marry Randy within days of our first date.  THIS was a good man!  I won’t say I was madly in love, gushing with stars or even feeling I couldn’t live without…  I just knew… he was kind, gentle, and thoughtful, loved his family… and somehow, at the naïve – think you know it all – age of 18…  I knew this was a good man.

Within 6 months of our “I do’s” – we found out I was pregnant!!!!  I can close my eyes and recall every detail of emotion and excitement as I sat at the reception desk of my father’s office and received the call from my doctor’s.

Randy and I were thrilled and the day our first child was born, I felt a love for and from Randy I had not known before.

I wish I could write that I held on to that love and contentment all the way up to this morning.

But –

Let’s talk about “bliss”.  The dictionary defines it as supreme happiness, utter joy and contentment, complete happiness.  The second definition describes bliss as heavenly paradise.  Well, baby, you’re good, but you’re not THAT good!

Let’s see – 32 years, 2 or maybe 3 near divorces, a good amount of silent days and nights, we’ve had money, we’ve had NO money, we’ve experienced serious health issues and we’ve enjoyed being in great shape.  We’ve parented in harmony and we’ve been nose to nose in opposition.  We’ve wondered what we would do without each other and… we’ve daydreamed of ‘freedom’ apart.

I remember looking at each other one time – and both of us were done… ready to walk… and Randy says, “Well, we don’t have any choice”.  What he meant, was we didn’t have that choice – the choice to ‘walk’.  We were followers of Christ and HE had said, that THAT was not an option.  This was likely the wisest thing my husband has ever said. We were young and young in our walk with Christ but he knew that being obedient was the only option.

So – 32 years – wedded bliss????  I think not.  But – what I can say is that for most of that 32 years, the ones we’ve followed Christ, the ones we’ve trusted HIM, the ones we’ve purposed in our hearts to obey HIM, those years have been the foundation of where we are today.

Young marriages, even older marriages need to be reminded that it’s NOT easy.  But – it’s so so worth it!

As I think of this man who plays games with the children in this village, despite language barriers, connecting with them at a heart level that few can do….

As I think of this man whose gentle strength will grip the hand of a man walking down the dusty road in a village on a hill in east Africa and somehow communicate that he cares and he loves through a simple greeting….

As I think of this man who will sit in the other room and talk with his mom on the phone, miles and miles away, sharing with her all that God is doing, asking her about her days, loving her from so so far….

As I think of this man that loves his family, his children and grandchildren, Love that stirs a joy that literally flows out as he speaks of them.  This man who beams as he talks of and tells of this gift of family he has… who prays for and thanks God for them every day!  This man that, despite his never ending, deeper than deep, unmatched love for our children and grandchildren, would be willing to pursue a call so very far away….

As I think of this man who loves his God… As I recall looking out the kitchen window last night and listening to my husband share about Jesus with our little friend Derrick, this man that despite disappointments and frustrations has repeatedly stood on the fact God sent him here to share the Truth of God and disciple and that is what he will do.  When I think of this man who has a depth of understanding, wisdom and knowledge that only is God given…

When I think of this man I’ve been married to for 32 years and see who God has made him, when I remember where God has brought him, and me, from, when I think about the countless what ifs, what if we had.. if I had… given up any one of the many times I thought that was what I wanted… what if I had missed seeing the man I love today?  What if I had forfeited the blessing of seeing God’s faithfulness and workmanship in our lives?  What if???

So – this morning – 32 years after I said “I do”…  I thank God with all my heart for somehow impressing on a couple of young 20, 30 something’s – that pushing through, pressing on, obeying God, trusting God was worth it.  This morning, I can not imagine my life without this man I love and respect so very much.  This morning, as I sit on this porch over looking the beautiful African morning…  I’m thinking…

Happy Anniversary Baby – I’m so glad you are my man!

When God says “GO”

Its been a journey for sure!  A journey that really began in 2009 with my first visit to Africa.  Less than 4 years later…  I am living in Kenya and preparing to move out to a village west of Kisii Town & Ogembo.  Up a 30 minute drive on a red dirt road, deep mud in the rains, hard rough terrain in the dry weather – neither of which can be maneuvered easily without 4 wheel drive.

No electricity, no running water, no Saturday morning breakfasts with all my kids, no sleep overs with the most amazing grandkids EVER!  No visits with my parents. No home fellowship with the best HF leaders and mentors God has ever blessed anyone with.  No early Sunday morning prayer with a pastor the Spirit of God simply pours out of. No breakfast dates with God’s sweet blessing of friendship. No hugs and blessings with the most precious church family I have ever known.  And yet….

I find myself filled with anticipation, wonder, expectation, deep intercession and a faith in the God of the Universe – that HE – Who’s thoughts for me outnumber the grains of sand – that HE, Who inclines His ear, Who bends down to hear my prayers, that HE, Who directs my steps with His eye, that HE has a plan that He has chosen me — to be a part!

It’s taken me a bit to get here…  but just as God promises… He rewards those who seek HIM!!!  I don’t doubt I will need reminding – but today – this is where He’s brought me.

June 4th!  Exactly 5 months ago today we landed in Kenya.  I was exhausted from the flight on which I cried from a depth I had never known… sobbed at times uncontrollably as we traveled across the ocean.  I had hugged my mom 24 hours earlier and felt her restraining her heart.  I had turned then to hug my daughter, fighting to restrain my own.  I inhaled deeply the fragrance of sweet love as I held my grandkids and silently prayed with all I had that God would hold them tight.  I prayed with my best friends as we cried together saying so very little.  And with such pride, mixed with an indescribable pain, I looked at all 5 of my kids, my Johnny, Ruth & Levi, I glanced at the belly holding the grandbaby that would be born in a short six weeks, I looked around at my friends and family…  and I knew, I knew that God would remain faithful and that while I could hardly imagine how – that God would sustain, strengthen and equip me to do what He had asked me to do.

Ndiyo! – YES! – it has been harder than hard.  Kabisa! – Absolutely! – I have wanted to quit more than a few times.  Kweli!  –  Indeed! – I have clung to the One thing I KNOW to be certain.  Hapana, no, not my faith – lakini afadhali, but rather, the ONE in Whom my faith rests!

When God says, “GO”, no matter what that means, how do you say no?  Don’t get me wrong, I wanted to.  There has been many times He has said, “GO” and I have NOT wanted to…  “GO” tell her you are sorry…. “GO” tell him you were wrong…  “GO” give that man the five dollars in your pocket…  “GO” ask her if she knows me…  “GO” help them move on your day off…  “GO” fix that family a meal….  “GO” visit him at the hospital….  “GO” to the early prayer meeting…  “GO” sit quietly and read this chapter…  “GO”… share this verse with her…  the list goes on and on.  I can’t say I always went… oh… how I wish I could say that.  But what I can say… I’ve never been sorry when I did.  I may not have understood, I may not have seen the reason why, but I have never ever been sorry I obeyed when God has said, “GO”.

Somewhere along the line, God has opened my understanding that there is eternal purpose of which I do not know.  An eternal purpose, an eternal good, an eternal blessing…  and while I do not know the details – I KNOW the One from Whom that purpose, that good and that blessing will come!!!  I trust HIM and HE is worth far far more than I could ever offer up in my meager obedience to “GO”.

So – as we sit between finishing our time at Language School, resting some and preparing to take a few days to “GO” and rest and seek Him more, between this and heading up that dirt road and waiting for HIM to say “GO”…  I find myself scooting to the edge of my seat…  just HOW, Lord Jesus, are You going to show YOURSELF FAITHFUL????

If you are a follower of Christ – you TOO – are a “MISSIONARY” and – you TOO – are being told to “GO”.  Is it next door?  Is it to that table on the other side of the coffee shop?  Is it to that one you argued with last week?  Is it back to fellowship?

My prayer today is that you and I will be quick to respond when our GOD says “GO”!