The sting of hope

Lovely Facebook reminded me last week of a picture I took with my wife two years earlier while waiting in the Vancouver airport to board our plane to Nepal. And, surprisingly, it stung.

I didn’t see it coming. But two years after moving to — and leaving so shortly thereafter — Nepal, there are still parts of my heart that clearly need healing.

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There were no oversized packets delivered, no “You’re In!!!” screaming from our mailbox. Even without the Facebook-worthy reveal, the result was the same: she’s in. Babita has a school. Now she just needs a year’s tuition up front and a visa.

Neither is a small task, but God has more than shown Himself faithful. We pray, we petition, we wait.

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If I knew then

This week, we’re all struggling.

Much of it is just the accumulated transition of now. Mary Hannah has been gone nearly a month, and we have settled into a “she’s not here” routine that feels normal to us in the day to day, but is still always looking for her smile, her laugh, and her cheerful enthusiasm for life. Birdie just had her birthday, and Christopher’s is barreling towards us in a handful of days. There’s the new-to-us experience of a weekly co-op for some of the kids, an intense focus on Phineas’ schooling, an infant who is seconds away from being a baby (and all that entails), prayers for a visa for Babita, and Christopher’s upcoming trip to bring relief funds and assistance directly to Christians in Nepal.

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A two-way street

The other day, we received an email from one of our favorite supporting churches. Now, truth is, we would have been happy to hear from them no matter what (they’re just that kind of congregation), but on this day, the contents of the message kind of blew me away.

Turns out, that by being our utterly raw, probably too honest selves, by putting our hurt out there for the world to see, by admitting that we had no clue what God was doing, but that we were willing to be His servants no matter the cost… they were encouraged.

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From ashes

We came back from Nepal with next to nothing, and in quick order were blessed right back into a world with enough towels to handle baths and coats for our kids and a set of knives with which to cut our food. Just like that, we were average Americans again– warm clothes, ample food, a roof over our heads. And because we had stared into the face of lack (only for the briefest moment) we were able to sit in a circle on the carpeted floor in our empty living room in our rented house, look into one another’s eyes and sing praises that were more genuine than we had ever offered before.

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Starting over

We knew that when we came back, we’d be starting from scratch. Knew it, accepted it, embraced it. Part of the call, part of the “all in,” is stepping out in faith to shed what you no longer need, leaving your hands open for the new  that will become part of your necessary.

So we sold it all. Beds, dishes, books, towels. We sold it or gave it away and set off thinking, “In two or three years, maybe I’ll need another set of mixing bowls, but not now.”

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