Ahhh, the keyboard, I've had a dry spell with my blog pretty much since we've moved to Memphis 2 1/2 years ago. Not really knowing where to draw the line between privacy, boasting and the alike, I decided that it would be simpler to just keep away than tackle a spiritual, personal and privacy issue that plagued writing about our community and ministry. But lately God is releasing me of those issues as our life here has managed to deeply change all of us and the dynamic of our family. It is shaping our children, ridding us of sinful habits I never knew were there and opening our minds to encountering others as Christ would.
For me, I've begun to understand the urgency of the Hope I carry and I despair that I wasted many years just being complacent in my Faith. Proverbs says "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom" and I have a fear of my accountability to the Lord.
In this "back to the heart" post I've decided to share about an experience I had last week that God used to bring me clarity and peace and he gave me a glimpse into how he's shaping my Bethany.
After making plans to stay in Greenwood after residency and Joey accepting a nice bonus and a great position at clinic in town, God just wouldn't give us peace. We accepted an invitation from a friend to go to another medical missions conference in GA and low and behold, Rick Donlon was there with bells and whistles as a keynote speaker. During his speech I write a note to Joey that says, "Did we make the right decision?" That night we change the coarse of our lives and trust God to work out our adoption and move. Joey attends his first day of work and also turns in his notice of leave. JP is still in Ethiopia and there is no end in sight to when these unobtainable documents will be obtained and the government satisfied to let us bring our child home. If we move and change jobs before he's home we basically start at square one for a years worth of paperwork. Not to mention the emotions that plagued me daily.
Am I making the right decision for my children? How can I take them from this beautiful, loving community and put them in danger? Will they be able to play outside? Will they resent having to grow up in a community where they have bars on all their windows? What if something bad happens to them? What will happen at school when I'm not there? Will I be able to even leave the car door open while I unload groceries? Will I be scared to be home alone with the kids while Joey is at work? What if someone breaks in while I'm there with the kids?
Overall, God dispelled many of my fears soon after arriving. Life here has not been without incident but it's been abundant. I still wonder as we drive into our neighborhood each day when we are out in other more "normal" parts of town if my children notice that their community is different. If they notice the homes, trash, and stray animals that seem such an eye sore. Or the men that crowd on porches from sun up to sun down with beer in their hands. They've yet to say anything that leads me to believe they see a big difference. But it's really their hearts I'm most concerned about and last week God gave me a special sliver of Memphis' impact on the heart.
Bethany and I were laying in bed last Tuesday morning reading some school books and doing work when I suddenly remembered Daddy would probably be going into the correctional center at that moment to share with a neighbor who had recently been charged with 2 counts of first degree murder. I knew that Joey was nervous about this meeting because he was intending to share with this man for the first time. Guilt and anxiety were mixed in with the fear due to this burden that he had felt for a while but never obeyed when the man was living next to us. I told Bethany we needed to say a prayer for Daddy because he was going to share with a man who was in jail for some very bad things. I prayed first and she followed. Her prayer was genuine and expectant. Later we get a call from Dad saying how God had been working already with the man and he wanted to continue to know more and God was truly revealing himself. Bethany let out the biggest yell and jumped for joy and high fived like she had won the lottery! It was a treasure for me to see my 6 year old truly rejoice for a lost soul. God is shaping her and allowing her to have a different kind of childhood than me. She is being asked to carry some of the burdens of the world but also she is able to expectantly ask God for things and know that he is good.
12 “What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? 13 And if he finds it, truly I tell you, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off.