Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Hello, Goodbye!

We said "goodbye" to our first home as a married couple on Friday. For me, it was a little over 5 months of bonding with the good ol' Harney household, but Jeff had to bid farewell to his home of 10 years.

I have never been a good packer. As a young twenty-something who has not lived in the same room for more than 3 years at a time (since high school) my mind is always blown when I realize how much stuff I carry along with me. What's worse is that I can't bear to throw any of it away. Somehow every little ridiculous item is directly linked to my survival in the civilized world. Now, I am very much aware of this weakness of perspective, and have made up for this handicap by packing up to four weeks before an estimated departure time. :) It definitely helps.

                                                      good memories at our first home

Amidst this packing up, planning, scheduling we have said a lot of goodbyes. Friends and family in El Paso, Laramie, and even here in Douglas have shared well wishes and have expressed hope in our safety & happiness. But... I haven't really dwelt on any of these farewells. Instead, I feel like I am saying a series of "hellos" to all the new experiences I am awaiting. I can't help but hear the Beatles song running through my head as I give long "until next time" hugs, "take care" kisses, and "thanks for everything" handshakes:

I don't know why you say goodbye I say hello...

A week from today we will be on our way to Denver to board a plane to Africa. It has been an incredible journey full of relationships that I cherish and hope to nurture; relationships I would not have otherwise made if I was not working overseas for the next two years.

I can't wait to say hello to all the new challenges, friends, hopes, inspirations, and experiences. I don't think I will be saying goodbye to the old ones either. After all, the more crayons you have, the more ways you can color your world.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Ordinary Failures

"During those many days the king of Egypt died, and the people of Israel groaned because of their slavery and cried out for help. Their cry for rescue from slavery came up to God. And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. God saw the people of Israel—and God knew." ~Exodus 2:23-25

This morning's sermon was about God working through the ordinary. The biblical illustration of this truth was the story of Moses, who lived 40 years in the desert as a shepherd when he first saw the burning bush. I didn't know it when the pastor started speaking... but I really needed to hear that sermon.

We are leaving for Africa in about two weeks. We have been packing, collecting papers (birth certificates, transcripts, etc.), visiting family, cleaning. When I wake up and see a mess of suitcases mostly full, random object strewn about still needing to be packed, a list of calls to make, meals to cook, dishes to clean... life feels pretty ordinary. I know in two weeks it will take on new excitement & adventure but today, yesterday, two months ago.... it feels absolutely mundane.

This last week I have felt the exhaustion of ordinary life heavy on my shoulders. I felt bored, emotionally tired, physically achy, spiritually lethargic. Two nights ago I was at my limit. I was in pain, lonely, restless, desperate. I felt ashamed at my own weakness. In the midst of it I thought with desperate tears, "oh God... where are you? Why have you forgotten me???"

Sometimes I forget to realize that God remembers me in my ordinary life with my quiet groans. I am sure the Israelites felt the same: being forgotten by God after generations and generations of slavery. But God doesn't forget his promises.  God doesn't lack understanding of our sorrows, whether they be God-sized or not. God recognizes our need for relief, be it from a huge weight we carry or the days/weeks/years of carrying a not-so-huge weight. 

Brown recluses are some of the scariest spiders I have ever encountered. The potential damage they leave behind is horrendous. They are about the size of a quarter. If you've never heard about these guys, I dare you to google "brown recluse bite" and check out the images! *caution: it's graphic* Small problems, like the brown recluse, can have a detrimental erosion on our person. 

As a person with a driving sense of responsibility (and pride in that drive) it's hard to admit that the little things can wear me down so much. It's doubly hard to beg God for relief when I still think I can carry on a little longer. I feel irresponsible not to work harder, stand firmer, find more strength. But, God knows. That's my favorite part of the Exodus passage at the beginning of this post. He sees.... and He knows. He knows in a deeply intimate way exactly what we feel and think when we are tired, burdened, heavy in our hearts, confused, lost, lonely, frustrated, unhappy. 

If you ever come to the point of loneliness and frustration at things that shouldn't have unraveled you the way they did, or maybe if you don't even know why you feel the way you are feeling or think the way you are thinking; I invite you to let God in on it. He sees. He knows.