We got back Sunday afternoon from our yearly friend vacation. It always blesses me more than I think I need it. It’s 4 days to unwind, enjoy nature, swim in a river, and play with our kids. Eric and I sway on the bench swing in the tree and talk about the future, the kids, life. Or I steal away a moment with each child individually and try to speak blessings over them while we rock and talk.
I always learn so much observing nature that this year I took notes and hope to share some things God was whispering to me in the quiet. I love to observe His creation and listen as He speaks through the wind and the birds.
Two and a half years ago, I sat on my closest friend’s couch and we dreamed up a vacation. We wanted to be together and relax, and do it inexpensively; there wasn’t much more to our thought process. We knew we wanted our other friend to come, and so we needed space, as then, I was the only one not fostering, and we had many children to find a bed for.
We searched and searched online. We were torn: Beach? Hill Country? Hotel with pool? We settled on outdoorsy because our kids love it and we thought, as they grow, there will be more to teach them and do together. I don’t know how we happened upon this particular rental site, but we both immediately knew this was the one!
We planned and packed and food prepped and headed out in June of 2012. That year was exactly what I needed, exactly when I needed it, even if I didn’t know it then. I was heading out on July 4th, 2012 to Uganda for 10 days on a trip that would change my life. I got back from this retreat on July 2nd. That year we stayed longer, so on each of those 4 or 5 mornings, I made it a point to wake before the kids (which was hard to do), and sit outside and journal and pray. God was able to do much for my heart in that time, as then, I knew I was supposed to go, but had much trepidation about leaving my babies for that long.
Last year, July 4th weekend 2013, we were able to take a different third couple and their kiddos. This trip was a ‘goodbye’ trip, as they were moving back to Louisiana after seven years in our area. We played, prayed and watched Steel Magnolias and cried like little babies. My close friend had just lost her foster daughters after 14 months of pouring into them and we all needed to grieve a little bit together. Even through the pain, God always shows up, and in this place, speaks so loudly to me.
So this year was different, as years tend to be. We were back to our original three couples. This year we had more experience, so we planned better as far as food prep and who brought what. My friends seriously picked up my slack, as I was working leading into this trip, so I didn’t make all the muffins and treats I thought I would have time for, especially after our freezer went out the night before we left and I had to do a lot of meat cooking (think 2 crock pots and an oven full) so we wouldn’t lose it all.
What wasn’t different is how loudly God shows up when I invite Him in. That’s my goal each year in this place: for reconnection with Eric and my children out of our busy lifestyle, and for God to give me clear vision for something. This year, it was a specific blog post and word pictures, and a vision for what this blog can be as a part of our “Places.”
I’m currently hosting the Jennie Allen bible study, Restless in my home. I had read the book, Restless: Because You Were Made for More and knew God wanted me to host this study in my home. I have 3-4 women in my home each Sunday night and I LOVE IT. They speak such truth into me, as does the study.
This week I was praying about my places. This was focused on submitting my all to Him, and glorifying Him in my current places. Maybe He is calling me to a different place. But right now, today, He has me where He does, for a reason. And so many of us are missing our places, looking ahead to the next one. I know I’ve been guilty of that.
Two years ago in Uganda, we had already been in the adoption process for a year, and I was seeking ‘what’s next God’ while I was there. I remember the day so clearly. I was up early, it was my first morning to wake in Uganda and jet lag had not captured me yet. I was sitting on the porch, praying through some Psalms, and He revealed part of my calling: to see my home as my mission field, and every person that passes in it.
I believe He was showing me that my husband and my kids are deserving of my service first. Then others whom we invite into our home and life. Our children are as big a sinner as all of us (Romans 3:23), and Eric and I were put on this earth to love them to their savior. To pray for them, to live out Christ-like faith, to apologize when we don’t, to serve others, to have a giving spirit, and a spirit of humility (Philippians 2) and to honor God with our faith, family and finances.
I came home rejuvenated to do just that. But somewhere along the past two years, I felt like my calling got pushed to the side for the next big service project, or the next need I could meet, or the next meeting that was always more important than putting my kids to bed. And sometimes our callings feel small, and we fear they’re of little worth, so we search out other people’s callings and try to do them in our own strength. And that never works out for my good.
So in praying over my places this week while doing this study, God spoke through deer, fish, birds, still waters and the Sermon on the Mount….and I can’t wait to share it with you, soon. Today however, I have three littles-turning-big who are up, wanting breakfast and cuddle time. So I will submit to my calling today.
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