Saturday, November 23, 2013

Sweet Anticipation



I am currently somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean sated with surprisingly good airline food, two movies and a trip to a somewhat funky lavatory.

I've put off this blog post long enough.

Or rather, maybe it's one that needed a bit more marinating before putting fingers to keyboard. I cannot deny that it has been a crazy couple of days/weeks as we have prepared to go to Tanzania. There were many things on my check list to be done that simply just didn't get marked off. There were not enough hours in the day. (Although I had to laugh at the car wash that I waited 30 minutes to get yesterday (the day we left) that lasted for all of two hours before the skies opened up and a deluge poured forth.) At least the interior is clean for my mom as she rejoins the "soccer mom" period of life for the next 12 days.

I am tired.

But I cannot sleep.

Anticipation will do that.

It can keep you wired late at night (along with a good cappuccino) for your three and a half hour drive from your home to a bigger city with a large international airport in the pouring rain with semi truck's splashing up ocean waves upon your dashboard while rental car wipers furiously try to keep up.

It can motivate you to ignore your husband's rackety snores while you log on to the wi-fi to check in for the next morning's flight at the hotel your parent's sprang for because they love you and can't seem to ever find the bottom of their giving hearts.

And even though the time you spent driving created more time to sleep in and catch up on the gaping holes in your recent sleep cycles -- and even though you set your alarm for plenty of time to shower, breakfast and head to the airport -- anticipation will wake you up when the sun breaks through the small gap in the hotel curtains.

And it won't let you sleep.

Africa. Africa. Africa.

My heart beats it out in staccato rhythm.

My soul whispers, "You are on your way. You are actually on the plane. When your feet next touch earth, they will touch the soil of Tanzania."

And it takes my breath away.

It's been quite the challenge to find myself actually occupying seat 41J.

Granted, it was very easy to type in my passenger info, push the button and tuck the email confirmation away in the proper folder.

It was actually amazingly simple to put together the village that is taking care of our four children while we are gone. Everyone who could say yes, said yes. Everyone.

Even though I wavered and waffled about sending out a letter about our trip and asking for the financial support from friends and family, once I sent it out, the money we needed flowed in.

However, what was so much harder than I ever anticipated had nothing to do with itineraries, child care schedules, financial provision, immunizations, visas and TSA check-points.

It had everything to do with my mind.

When we were presented with this chance to go to Tanzania, it seemed like a no-brainer. Of course, we prayed about it. We talked about the logistics. It was a natural continuation of what Rylie and the team started last year with their work in the public schools of Arusha with African Moons and Character 101.

It was...until it wasn't.

Booking that ticket was easy.

But over the next few weeks as prospective team members had to bow out of the trip and I slowly realized that it was a very real possibility that this year's "team" consisted of just Rylie and me, I freaked out.

And not a little.

Is it even a "team" if there is only two of us going? Would people who gave money be disappointed that instead of a full van of people driving down to the airport, there would only be a sub-compact rental car carrying a husband and wife?

If there was no team, was there any "team work" to be done? I'm not a teacher. If the team member who was going to work with the kids in the classrooms wasn't going, would I need to step in? I never wanted to be a teacher! (Insert the irony of me being a homeschool parent here).

To be honest, I struggled.

And, I struggled with the awful realization that these kids were going to be awaiting a team, and what they were going to get was.....me.

Don't get me wrong. I know who I am. I do know and feel my value as a person and as a child of the King. But, yet...it still felt....not enough.

I took all of these gunky feelings up with me on a spiritual pilgrimage of sorts to Bethel Church in Redding, CA almost two weekends ago. The trip had been booked and planned for months -- even before the thought of going to Tanzania had entered the picture.

What happened there is a watershed moment in my life. It was a Divine Appointment in many different ways for me. And that's another blog post for another day.

But specifically, God spoke into my heart so sweetly on a Saturday morning. We visited the church for their "Healing Rooms" and somehow made it onto the tail end of a prayer time that should have technically ended half an hour before.

At other times in my life, I have asked God to speak into a specific part of my life. To speak life and breath into things that I have been struggling with. However, even though I had been literally consumed and heart-sick with these feelings of inadequacy, I think perhaps it went too deep for me to even examine, let alone express. I had just felt such incredible anxiety.

A team of three approached me and asked if they could pray for me and as they did, one of the two women in the team started praying first.

As she began, she said, "I can't stop thinking about the what the necklace you are wearing says, 'the joy is in the journey.' As I walked over to you, I saw a painting of a closed door with beautiful flowering vines over it. And by the bottom of the door, the key was waiting - a literal key was affixed to the painting. God is taking you on a journey. It's an incredible journey. But you are afraid because you don't know what's on the other side of the door because it's closed. And you don't have the key with you to open it.

(Insert tears and snot here.)

She continued, "But sometimes God asks us to go someplace where we don't have the key. We don't have it all planned out. And we have to trust Him that the key will be there when we arrive. You don't have to have it all figured out. You just have to go and the key will be waiting."

(Cue more tears and many, many tissues.)

Then the other woman in the group started to pray. "I look at you and I keep seeing the Olympic symbol. I believe that God wants you to know that you are world class. The way he made you and the giftings and talents He has given to you, are world class. You may look at your ability and question what you can offer the world. But God sees you as His prize. His champion. He made you the way He did for a reason and He loves those things about you."

(Total composure lost here.)

After I cried off the rest of my make-up and gummed up my contact lenses, I went looking for the painting the first woman had described. I found it and I even found a print of it that I bought to remind myself of something so profound.

And in case I didn't get the message, a sweet friend we met for lunch afterwards also prayed over me and said, "I know that you want to go to be a blessing, but you are the blessing."

Who me?

All my insecurities cried out within, "are you kidding? You're talking about me? Soccer mom, yoga pants-wearing, suburbia me? What is that compared to someone with a vocation?"

"You are the blessing."

And it all came together in that moment for me. Although it is still hard for me to wrap my brain around my value not being tied to work and performance, I know that is what God wanted and wants to remind me.

He doesn't love me because of what I do and what I can do for Him.

He just loves me.

I don't have to justify to Him or others of why I should be allowed to go, do, speak, and be based on a list of credentials or resume I think I should possess.

I don't have to apologize for not being a teacher.

I don't have to feel bad about having great organizational skills, the ability to create flow charts, and hug children and rock babies.

I don't have to question my usefulness on a trip around the world.

And that is exactly what I had been doing. I felt somehow that all that I am was not enough. The space I would be occupying would be wasted. That I couldn't justify my going to friends and family who had sacrificed so much.

That day changed me forever. My anxiety stopped. I got excited again about the trip and the unknown possibilities of what God would do.

I was still soaking in that knowledge when we stopped at Cost Plus for some items. So I wasn't completely surprised when I happened upon a simple wooden frame with a metal key attached.




There was no question of whether to buy it. Somewhere in Tanzania there is a door with my name on it and a photo of me in front of that door will go in that frame.

It will happen.

I know it with every fiber of my being.

I'm still flying over the Atlantic. Sleep is still miles away. Because when you are in love with someone or something or even a country, sleep bows out to butterflies of glorious anticipation. 

PostScript:

After I wrote this post, I walked off the plane in Amsterdam down to another concourse and directly onto the next flight to Kilimanjaro. As we walked back to our seats, this is what I saw on the seat headrest. Continuing the journey theme....




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