On the couch, coffee table, chair and floor of the hotel room there are six open suitcases in preparation for travelling to London. It’s three o’clock in the afternoon. A warm breeze blows through the sliding glass door cracked open, harnessing the sound of crashing waves. As I look up from a stack of sweaters I am folding, my eyes linger over a wide expanse of the Atlantic Ocean and down eleven floors to a crowd of bikini clad college girls sunbathing on the beach.
My coat and scarf lay on the unmade bed. Everything I’ve known as familiar will change in twelve hours. I envision myself living on the other side of that ocean the same way I have every day for more than a year.
How do you know a waiting season is over?
The same way foliage tells you spring is coming. One day you wake up from deafening silence to bird song; from barren branches to leaves unfurling and buds blushing with promise.
All at once the quiet bleakness of spiritual winter becomes a harmony sung from the heavens. Suddenly you are in a whirlwind of answered prayers, swept up in the joy of birth. An amnesiac to the pain you just suffered.
Last week, we loaded a container with our possessions and moved out of the home that has been a sanctuary for our lengthy wilderness season. The place where our children grew into adulthood; where our beloved dog passed and we tasted the fruit of Sabbath rhythms.
After nearly seven years, we closed the door on carpet, paint and nail holes where I have lived longer than any other place in my entire life.
And then we said goodbye to the van holding twelve years of family memories when our longtime friend from Nashville met us at the hotel in Myrtle Beach to drive it back to his family.
We signed papers for the sale of our house, disconnected the cable, sent mail to a forwarding address and hugged our first-born back to college. We parted with neighbors and gave instructions to take out the the trash one last time for us.
I watched my son receive a goodbye hug from each of his best friends on the front lawn of their house while wiping tears from the corners of my eyes, underneath sunglasses.
I won’t even begin to tell you how my H has taken care of a bevy of details like international phone numbers, navigating public transportation and bank accounts because my head swims when I think about the amount of new information his brain can hold without confusion.
What I can tell you with confidence is this. What is hidden in the wilderness of waiting becomes a cherished kindness of God’s intimate grace when you look back. That is the truth about redemption.
Spring reminds us that God’s promises are worth the wait. In Christ we are never forgotten, abandoned or overlooked.
No matter how bleak the situation, resurrection is coming.
Four days ago, we landed in London blurry eyed from a lack of sleep, weary from the details of moving but expectant about what awaits. Our suitcases lie partially emptied on the floors of a temporary house with high ceilings, big windows and small sinks.
We wear boots, carry umbrellas and use Oyster cards on buses and trains instead of filling up a gas tank.
My first grocery trip was a three hour instruction on shopping English thanks to my new friend Jan. The language is the same and then it’s not. Can I tell you how excited choices make me about all the recipes I can blow the dust off?
Trees around London look as though branches are sprinkled with white and pink confetti. Metaphors are all around us declaring a new season. Everything and nothing changes. Are you noticing the messages He is sending to you daily?
Last night, during our third worship service at St. Barnabas, the entire group of people that gathered for worship circled around us. Ages and ethnic backgrounds converged into the communion of saints, bowing heads and praying heartfelt, humble prayers over our family.
We were strangers and yet we were not because our names were familiar to them, that was obvious.
Prophetic, life giving, intimate words of hope and future were spoken but it wasn’t the first time they uttered H and Shelly and Harrison and Murielle. God was preparing them for our arrival all those months we were waiting in South Carolina.
Waiting isn’t only about you and your unique scenario but all the people and places God is preparing with divine purpose.
Jesus is the same today, yesterday and tomorrow, even when everything around us is a whirlwind.
When you are tempted to force providence remember that a life that trusts deeply in Jesus despite circumstance will eventually bloom in abundance. The beauty is in God’s timing. Waiting, it turns out, is a privilege.
While everything has changed for me lately and I am finding a new writing rhythm during our transition to England, nothing will change regarding the blog and communication with you here and on social media. I look forward to sharing more about what it means to be an ex-pat living in the heart of London throughout the coming weeks.