Time – it’s always such a fleeting commodity in this life, especially when it isn’t managed well. Now, that mine is slowing down for a short time, I can look back and see that more clearly. Excuses are always abounding, I started working as the Pastoral Secretary at our church, it just kind of happened one day while I was filling in while our staff went through some changes. Then, after a while it became a permanent thing. It’s a blessing, and the timing was right, but being the part time secretary is a bit of an oxymoron at a bustling church like ours. We have one of the busiest calendars in the land. With that comes the people work, which usually is the heap of the time spent. Paired with continuing to home school my kids and those same kids getting older and busier themselves, can lead to a full-on anxiety attack on any given day. Don’t get me wrong, I love the work, I mean, love it! I get to sit in an office across from my husband’s office every day. We have five ministers on staff, and I love every one of them! I love their wives and the other part time staffers as well. I mean, we have THE best staff in the land. I would vacation with them all! We work well together and even get frustrated well with each other. The humor is never lacking in our office. Even when I have a bad day, these guys know how to make me smile. However, I still fall prey to mismanaging my time – often. It’s a gift, or maybe a curse that I have. My personality is bent towards spontaneity, which can be good when fun is to be had or I get a creative spurt that needs to be followed. But day to day, it can get out of hand and that’s exactly where I’ve been this past year. Anxiety city. And then God….
He knows what we need, and he knows what we want, and he cares about them both! Oh I’m not saying that we always get those things that we want, nor should we, but like any good parent (even better!) he allows for those wants when it works within his will. That is exactly what he’s done for this family.
Our time-out started back in July 2018. Pastor walked in one day and stopped by at my desk. “What do you think your husband would say if I asked your family to go to Germany for several months to fill in for our missionaries who need a furlough?” he asked. “Yes! We’re there!” was my immediate response. Of course I thought he was only joking at the time until he assured me, he was serious. He went on to explain that the Clark family needed to come back to the states for several months. They have one daughter graduating from Bible College over here, another who is ready to graduate her home school and is preparing to start college next year and he also needs to visit some supporting churches and new churches too while he’s here. However, he doesn’t have anyone who can take over the work he is in while he is gone. Being the wanderlust side of this family I kind of figured that my spontaneous response would be met with a more practical view by my husband and there would probably be some reason why this would not be a good idea. Not that he is a downer, it just seemed like a possibility that was far too awesome to actually happen. Imagine how pleasantly surprised I was when his initial reaction was an excited “Yes!” as well! Of course, we still took time to pray about it, and there were plenty of excuses that would prevent this from happening, but here are the awesome reasons why both Lynn and I were on board so quickly:
- Friends in Need: We came to Central 21 years ago when the Clark family was just starting their internship. We were both young couples excited about new ministry. This led to a friendship that would span continents and time. Dalene and I became fast friends. They already had two girls, but we were pregnant at the same time with my now oldest, Katie and their third, Kyndall, (who are both going off to college this next year! Sniff sniff). I still remember us with our babies at the airport seeing them off when they initially left for Germany. We’ve always picked up where we left off, whenever they’ve been able to come back on furloughs. Now, there was a legitimate need at this work they are in and we would be able, as friends and colleagues to be a help to them. How awesome is that?!
- Answer to prayer for our son: Just last summer, while our girls were away at camp and we had only our son at home, we had an emotional discussion with him about his sisters. He was feeling a pressure and desire to be closer to our oldest but felt like he just didn’t connect with her due to the age difference among other things. He was in tears just thinking about her going off to college in only one year and not getting that chance. Just as we, as parents, were absorbing the idea that our family was on the brink of change with our kids growing up and leaving, Jarod, too, was rolling around these thoughts. We encouraged him to pray about opportunity over this next year to grow closer as a family while we had the time. Then, along comes an offer of just the 5 of us in Germany for three months! What better way to grow closer as a family than through stepping out of all of our comfort zones together with no peers along for the ride or crazy work, school, youth group schedules to contend with?
- Opportunity for life decisions: Our middle daughter, Megan, has wanted to be a missionary since she was a little girl. Her hero as a child was Amy Carmichael, she even dressed like her one year for our fall festival. However, last year, she read a book. It was a good book, that was challenging teens to consider their futures. Sounds good doesn’t it? However, she seemed burdened by a statement by the author who challenged readers to reconsider their own desires and make sure it was God’s will – also, a good thing to do. She seemed to be confused and burdened by this, though, wondering if she was just in love with the romantic idea of going to far off places as a missionary or if it was really God’s will for her. Again, what better way to get a taste than to actually go on a mission trip, not for a week but for three months. Getting to feel what it is like to be away from home, comfort zones, and all things familiar. Yet, she gets a chance to do this with, at least, the comfort of her family with her and the knowledge that this is just a short-term commitment. We’re praying that God will show her His desire for her during this time.
- Time with our oldest: Just as our son was wrestling with the fact that our family dynamic is about to change, we have been wrestling too. I absolutely love where we are right now with the ages of our kiddos. We embarked on this parenting adventure knowing that we were raising them to send them out. However, the fact of that time coming soon, weighs heavy on this momma’s heart. I’m a bundle of conflicted emotions. Excited to see where God will lead her and how He will use her and also heartbroken at the thought of missing her. Not seeing her face daily, hearing her laughter, seeing what cool pictures she has drawn recently sitting on her bed listening to music, or even just enjoying a movie together or dinner time conversations. It’s natural, it’s good…it’s heart achingly coming too soon! I treasure the thought of 12 weeks to just huddle in close with my babies and absolutely absorbing each moment with them.
- My desires: I have long wanted to be able to take my kids to see things in this world! We’ve done the Disneyworld fun trips, but I have expressed multiple times how I’ve wanted to take them on a mission trip so that their eyes may affect their hearts. We just haven’t had the opportunity. The trips that Second Man and I have been blessed to go on were when it just wouldn’t be feasible to take our little ones along. Not only missions work, but also, seeing some of the wonderful things in this great big world that God has created, has been my desire for my kids. Well, here it is just plopped in our laps. It isn’t the sole reason for accepting the call, but it sure was a fabulous extra! What a blessing the leadership of our church has been as well. When Pastor first posed this to the deacons of our church, one of the first questions was, “Will they get to do some traveling?” This is so important. Second Man is an extraordinarily hard worker and even hard on himself to be busy about God’s work. He’s not a workaholic, but he is exceptionally careful with the stewardship of the ministry in which God has put him. The assurance of our deacons and Pastor being behind the idea of us getting to use some time to travel while in Europe freed up his conscience to be able to do so.
- Reward: This is a personal matter and small on the whole scale, but special to us, nonetheless. We truly are hoping that we can consider it a reward for something personal to us, that I don’t even want to give detail about here. However, we, as a family gave something up recently that was both enjoyable and a desire of ours. We felt led out of conviction to give it up and it hasn’t been easy, both socially and personally. I don’t give details, because it truly isn’t something that I would want others to think I am imposing on them or judging them about. But I do believe in a God of rewards and can’t help but consider that maybe that would play a part in this. I won’t truly know that until I reach Heaven and get to ask Him about it, but for now, I know that this is a blessing in our lives!
- Time: The mere logistics of this trip lend a look at time. Though Second Man will be preaching each week, leading a Bible study and discipling an individual who is a shut in, his schedule and mine are both extremely lightened while we are in Germany. We need this. We both need it physically, as stress due to schedules, extended family issues, and other life pressures has taken a small toll on the both of us. I was diagnosed this past year with Rheumatoid Arthritis and am still trying to navigate my way in this new journey. He has suffered from heart palpitations among other physical ailments that all tend to come from stress and…well…getting older. We can’t deny that little tidbit, now can we? We both plan to use this time to work on our physical, spiritual and mental health. This is such a luxury that everyday normal life doesn’t always give us. How blessed we are!
- Opportunity to be used: How honoring the thought that God can use us to help a missionary and to get minister to people in a foreign land. How honoring the thought to do that even at home! I never want to miss the opportunity to be used by God! There is no great feeling in this world!
God’s just so good! I can’t wait to see what He’s gonna do!