How Moving to Another Country Redefines Surrender

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Carrot sticks. It turns out that’s what I’ll eat when I don’t have to cook for other people.

Or maybe I eat them because the refrigerator is mostly empty or because they tend to be my snack of choice when I’m writing the book.  I spent the last four days home by myself. Can you tell? I’m blogging about carrots.

For four blessed days, I’m the captain of my own life. Watching movies that make me cry until my eyes are red rimmed and puffy because I can, and why not. I read books, write thousands of words, pack boxes, sit on the beach, walk in the rain and don’t wear makeup. I go to the grocery store once in two weeks.

While I’m relishing the glorious pace I’ve found in solitude, suddenly my world tilts. Everything lopsided, hollow, one hyphenated sigh that doesn’t satisfy the curious, unnamed spot in my soul that longs to be satiated, no matter how much I feed it.

Me. It’s the first two letters in the word meaningful.

But too much of me leads to a meaningless existence.

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If you are a regular reader here on the blog, you know I’m in a season of packing twenty-five years of memorabilia in preparation for a move to England. But I was blindsided, as one usually is, about God’s intention beyond cardboard, tape and stuff. This has become a new level of surrender.

It turns out surrendering possessions is the easy part.

There is a soul stripping that coincides with giving your possessions away and saying an emphatic yes to Jesus. Oh, we can sing “I surrender all” until our throats hurt but when we actually follow through, it’s surprisingly, well, insightful. As if you’ve been looking at life through a divine looking glass with sudden magnification. Acutely aware of your assumptions, harsh judgments, self-protection and mediocrity; you feel exposed, vulnerable and desperately repentant for the selfishness.

This isn’t self-deprecating surrender, the kind heaped in guilt for the ways you haven’t measured up to some ethereal, unreachable spiritual mountaintop. No, not that. God knows we don’t need more Christians feeling like failures in discipleship.

It is a Psalmist’s surrender. A turning of the head from the ways in which you’ve created spiritual scaffolding that has nothing to do with laying down your life but instead keeps you comfortably guarded. An epiphany of sorts about God’s love for you, how He has been loving you all along, even when you weren’t paying attention. Most of all, when you don’t deserve it.

Redemption looks beautiful on everyone, it’s my tag line for email followers. I didn’t fully understand the full meaning until recently.

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I cooked dinner for the first time in two weeks last night, munching on carrot sticks and checking Facebook while rice simmered in the pot. Fielding all the typical questions of how long until dinner? And what are we having? And waited patiently for the last person to saunter slowly to the dinner table, salivating as steam curls from Chicken Marbella canopied our plates.

We bowed our heads, gave thanks and then engaged in a heated discussion bordering on anger.  And that empty, uncomfortable place seemed satisfied, full of meaning somehow.

The first two letters in meaningful, they aren’t pointing fingers to our chest. Me, it’s the answer from a loving Father to our questions and doubts.

As we sort, pack, consign, discard and entertain potential buyers for our cars and house, I’ll be posting less frequently here this month. However, I will continue communicating through my weekly epistle to the Sabbath Society community, which has turned into a beautiful conversation, a co-mingling of faith, life and resting in His goodness. Sign up here if you are interested, you are always welcome.

What Every Person Needs to Know When Searching for Purpose

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Three days. I didn’t expect it to take that long.

H and Harrison flew to London on Thursday. I made goals for myself to avoid over-thinking in their absence. I would drive myself to the beach and walk daily, write toward the book deadline in the morning and pack boxes at night.

The first evening, I smiled in deep satisfaction standing beside several full garbage bags and taped boxes with UK imprinted in bold black letters. Two rooms nearly finished. And then I moved into my office. I’ve been stuck there ever since.

Oh, I can hear you in my head. “So, what is the big deal? Sometimes these things take time.”

My office is the spare bedroom with the closet converted into my writing space. The only items I have to make decisions about reside in two small-ish file boxes. It’s the contents in those boxes that have become an obstacle to finishing with swiftness.

Excavating pages of notes in my handwriting from twenty-five+ years ago, I’m revisiting a season when idealism fueled hope toward the future. I wasn’t prepared to read my younger self hanging on to every thread of spiritual conviction like a rip cord, ready to jump into whatever God had for me while at the same time afraid of falling into the unknowns without a parachute.

And then realize things haven’t changed that much.

When you find a historical archive revealing the ways in which God has shaped you, how do you decide what is worth keeping? What if I throw away a piece of truth that is the revelation I’m seeking? That one hint toward ultimate purpose may now be mingling with a melon rind rotting next to an egg carton soaked with coffee grounds at the dump.

I’m depleted; attempting to piece my life together in a way that makes sense when puzzle pieces I haven’t lived yet are still missing.

And this is the dissonance between faith that is static and faith that is moving. We sort through the clutter of our lives, keep priceless trinkets from significant seasons and trust God with the mystery of the not yet.

In the end, all those notes I wrote to myself were love letters to God asking the same question. Do you love me?

And every single time he answered. Yes, I love you.

He is near even when we are immersed in the minutiae.

The common theme in our humanity is the longing to see the complete picture of our purpose in high definition – before we live it. But it is only in brave surrender that we can look in the rear view mirror and comprehend the words of Jeremiah 29:11.

I’ll show up and take care of you as I promised and bring you back home. I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for. (MSG)

Most of those notes are in the trash bin. I don’t need them because they’re already written in the Book of Life.

It took me three days to figure that out.

Three days for resurrection.

Three days to hear Jesus say, Yes, I love you.

 

As we sort, pack, consign, discard and entertain potential buyers for our cars and house, I’ll be posting less frequently here this month. Did I mention a writing deadline for my book? However, I will continue communicating through my weekly epistle to the Sabbath Societycommunity, which has turned into a beautiful conversation, a co-mingling of faith, life and resting in His goodness. Sign up here if you are interested, you are always welcome.

 

Linking with Laura, Jennifer, Kelli, Holley and Emily.

 

On Letting Go of Our Children

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Gravity pulls sweat dripping off the end of my nose into the cardboard box holding a collection of toy cars, airplanes and motorcycles. Hunching over, hands pushed into my thighs, I stare into what represents a decade of my son’s childhood, frozen by a question circling my thoughts. How do you begin to determine the value of a memory?

How will I remember each era of their lives if I discard the items that awaken what time forgot?

The sweat of my brow turns into salty tears and instead of the fortitude of a soldier on mission; I am a mother remembering her children. Standing in the midst of a victorious battlefield of memories I grasp for remnants of His faithfulness.

Trust is painfully beautiful like a mother watching her children journey into adulthood. This is what God is teaching me as I prepare to move to England.

“Hey Mom,” she calls to me from a crack in the door bringing a gust of cool air with her into the concrete cavern. “I was wondering if you might want to go shopping with me. I know you are in the middle of all this, so we can go tomorrow if that works better.”

My brave beautiful girl who rarely asks anything of me throws out a simple request in the midst of my silent questioning, in the middle of my mess, in a moment of longing. I respond in the way any mother might envision while on the cusp of letting go of her only daughter to the sacred passage of maturity.

“Sure honey, I would love to go with you.”

Isn’t shopping the answer to exactly one million things asking for your attention? Because, of course.

And when sweat drips down my collarbone and pools over my heart, collecting in the middle place where her dimpled hands once clutched my chest, I hear these words push their way passed stress and speak truth into my self-doubt.

You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. (Isaiah 26:3)

I am a soldier cleaning up a beautiful battlefield strewn with markers of God’s faithfulness. Of spiritual wars fought on behalf of my children who were entrusted to my leadership for such a time as this. The heavenlies will be my attic; the mind of Christ, the divine holding place for memories. Eternal significance cannot be contained or measured, only discovered in glimpses through the sacrament of presence.

“What time do you want to plan on leaving,” I inquire as I wash my hands over the kitchen sink.

“Whenever it’s good for you Mom,” she answers from her bedroom.

“I’ll be ready in about an hour.”

 As we sort, pack, consign, discard and entertain potential buyers for our cars and house, I’ll be posting less frequently here this month. Did I mention a writing deadline for my book? However, I will continue communicating through my weekly epistle to the Sabbath Society community, which has turned into a beautiful conversation, a co-mingling of faith, life and resting in His goodness. Sign up here if you are interested, you are always welcome.

Celeste is the winner of last week’s giveaway of Atlas Girl by Emily Wierenga. Congrats!!

In community with Laura, Holley, Kelli, Jennifer and Emily.