Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Chronicles of OM Part 1

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. 
So to understand this moment it has to be known about how my reluctant and rebellious heart finally (begrudgingly) came to Orange Mound.  I'll give the short version to keep this from taking on the form of volumes. In short, we visited Memphis in our second year of residency.  We heard Rick Donlon speak at the Global Medical Missions conference and he urged students and residents to come spend sometime in Memphis at Christ Community especially if feeling a call to foreign missions.  We made plans and packed up for a 10 day trip with our little 2 year old girl.  We had no intentions of coming to Memphis other than just to see the work God was doing here through these medical clinics.  Our plan was to head straight to the mission field.  We roll into Memphis coming from the south end (Lamar Ave) and ,at best, it ain't pretty.  We head towards the guest house in Binghampton and accidently make a wrong turn into Orange Mound.  Mind you it is May in Memphis and about dusk at this point and the Mound is out in full force.  I remember feeling so uneasy and like the street was tiny and closing in on us.  I hear a little voice from the back seat say, "I not like Menfus. I want to go home".  About the time I start panicking a policeman turns on his blue lights and pulls us over.  He says, "You must be lost." In which we reply, "Yes.  How'd you know?"  As he escorts us out of Orange Mound I jokingly turn to Joey and say, " I will go anywhere God asks, but if he says "Go There" I will never do it!" Bold statement that proves God's humor and his power to move even the most stubborn and fearful heart. 
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? 
The list goes on and on and on.  I was paralyzed with fear and worry.   I prayed a very specific prayer and had an answer so direct and so forward from God that I knew this was his plan and I couldn't ignore it.  At times I was mad because I just wanted to be the person who could ignore it and go about doing life how I saw planned.  Peaceless I came to Orange Mound.

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.

          Matthew 18:12-13
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.


Anonymous said...

I am thankful that you continue to write down your thoughts here, I have been reading your blog since the beginning, soon after your Bethany was born. I found you through BabyCenter. Your blog is so genuine and even when you post randomly, your words speak volumes...to me, I learn so much from you.
Thank you, whether it's 10 posts in a month, or one post in ten months. I look so forward to everything you offer.

Tia said...

Thank you for reading. Your comment means so much. I hope you continue to find encouragement from my honest words :) Keep stopping by and don't hesitate to comment b/c I enjoy reading your thoughts too!