Tuesday, December 28, 2010

2010: The Year of "What the____________?"

We've been in the United States for nine days.  We've been sick for eight of those days.  To say that's not exactly how I expected our time back with family and friends to have rolled out would be an understatement of epic proportion.

Completely and utterly not what we were expecting and certainly not what we were planning.

And yet as I sit here click clacking away on this keyboard I'm forced to smile as I think of how perfectly a "quirky," "life-of-its-own" Christmas break sums up 2010.

As I think back to this time last year, I have to laugh, dig my fingers through my wild curly mane, find my head and scratch it.

I'm sure I was busy making plans, looking ahead, and dreaming of all the "new" and "good" 2010 would hold.

It's only now that I see the humor and can laugh at myself.

It's fun sometimes to sit indian style, knee to knee with the truth and look it right in the face.

The truth whose knees I touch has told me this...on the eve of 2010 I had no way of knowing that we'd stick a for sale sign in the yard of our dream house.  This was the home we were going to grow old in.  The house we had bought with sweat and hard work as we flipped house after house, moved several times with small children (nightmare!) to finally attain the perfect home in the perfect neighborhood.

Who would have known that 2010 would be the year God pried my death grip off my dreams?

At the starting line of 2010 I had no idea that I'd have to put my stuff in boxes, stuff I loved.  My favorite hand painted furniture, the rocking chairs I nursed every one of my babies in, the school table where my boys colored, painted, and sat learning about molecules and Martin Luther King Jr.

Who knew that 2010 was going to be the year the Lord stood over me and declared "freedom" as I cried and cried and cried while I packed up my wooden crates, my beloved quilts, not knowing when I'd ever see them again or have a home that felt like home.

On December 31st I was not aware that we'd have to kiss the faces of the ones we love...sob...and say good-bye to our tight, ever so tightly knit community.

Right after Christmas last year I could have never known that what 2010 had hiding behind the curtain was a move to another country.  If we had played "Are you Smarter than a Fifth Grader" on New Year's Eve and the question was, "Haiti sits nearest to what continent?" I would have probably said, "Africa" proving that fifth graders are indeed smarter than I am.

I had no way of knowing about the mountains of fear I would face this year.  Fear that my kids would die.  Fear of earthquakes, malaria, all the multiple opportunities Haiti generously offers a family to kick the bucket.  That fear woke me up sweaty in the middle of the night, causing my sheets to smell like Doritos.  I would pant out the "What if this"..."What if thats..."  This time last year I was completely oblivious to the hard cold truth...I did not trust that God was God.  I did not trust Him at all.

As I was putting away the Christmas tree last year I could have never imagined, nope...not in a hundred years that 2010 would give us the label "missionary family."  I had never contemplated moving to another country.  Not ever.  Not once.  To be a missionary you have to have clear skin, enjoy camping, never complain, never worry, be care-free...easy-going, and trust and know Jesus in ways that the rest of the world only wishes they did.  I'm thirty four years old, have six...count them....six zits on my face right this second, hate camping, am a control freak, am not at all go with the flow and doubt Jesus is real some times on a weekly basis. 

I'm realizing that I could have planned all I wanted, and those plans would have never included one fraction of the beauty, pain, and joy that this year actually brought.

2010 seemed to bring a surprise every other day.

I sit here today a recovering planner, admitting that God is weird yet holds all of our days in His capable hands.  He writes words like "Haiti", "Heartline,"  "Freedom," "Healing," and "Faith" into our story when we're too cowardly and faithless to do it ourselves.  He upholds friendships.  He maintains them.  He weaves new people into our souls and makes beautiful additions.

I have nothing to say for 2011.  I confess that I can't predict what this year will bring.

As I say good-bye to 2010 I will hug it hard...that slow, stand there for awhile, let it linger and allow our eyes to fill up with tears kind of hug.  Not because I will miss it.  I won't.  But because 2010 brought so much healing.  It was hard and kind at the same time.  It patiently and gently taught me the most meaningful lesson.

God already has a plan for this new year. He had a plan for last year too.  His plan for 2010 was way better than mine...and not because it was easier or more comfortable than what I was busy planning.  It was better for reasons that words can't describe.  Just cries and groans and smiles can speak to the struggles and strength that were handed to our family this year.

I sit here with a baby napping, big kids roaming this farm, my hot tea and this computer in my lap...waiting with expectation as I think about what God has on His agenda for 2011.  Surprisingly I feel eager to open each one of those gifts knowing some will be lovely and some will  surely be wrapped in painfully ugly paper...but 2010 has taught me that even those are blessings.  Each one...a gracious gift.

Because I love you...each one of you...the lurkers, the dear friends, the people God has lovingly wrapped up in our story...my wish for your 2011 is this one...

May it be unexpected.  Richly and wildly unexpected.  May God write fantastic words into your story this year.  Words that would terrify you if you heard them today...words He is powerful enough to speak into existence and powerful enough to sustain.


Katherine said...

Blessings from a very grateful and unexpected reader. You continually expand my heart.

Shelli said...

"have clear skin, enjoy camping" - I must confess these things have been on my mental list of criteria for missionaries, too. So I think my skin and hatred of camping exempts me from missionary work. ;)

Ah, but I know there are no real exemptions. To follow Christ is to follow wherever He leads. Even places we'd never thought we'd go. While my life is different from yours, it is very much the same in that I am at a place I never dreamed I'd be a year ago.

Thank you for sharing Proverbs 19:21 and for your wishes. I wish the same for you!

Ruth said...

Another fantastic post, Heather.

Kristin said...

Oh, amen and amen. Beautiful. You made me laugh outloud and feel assured. Bless you! No doubt our Father is so pleased with his girl! Keep on, keep'n on!

Flower Patch Farmgirl said...

Oh holy moley. I had no idea that we shared the "stick a for sale sign in the yard of the dream home" thing. I mean, I guess I could have sorta guessed it, but I didn't really know. I have started the mental-draft of a very similar post, only mine doesn't end in Haiti. Who knows where the heck it ends, because we're still here in this house.

Also - I'm not sure that this will help, but I have always looked at your photos and thought, "She's such a pretty missionary. Her hair works very well on the mission field." I have the hair that has to be washed daily to abate an oil slick.


Shauna said...

Ummm... the first part of this post just freaked me out a little. We have a for sale sign on a home I thought we would die in with plans to take our family 7 to Uganda. How it all fits together, I do not know. I, like you, am a control freak but each step with God is refining that out.

Thanks for sharing. I think we would be friends. I sit with 5 zits. :p

Nina said...

I am a lurker who is so glad to have discovered your blog this year, and followed your journey these past few months. So glad you have shared your story and allowed it to become part of *our* stories. Thank you!

Amanda said...

enjoyed this post immensely. you are a brave Jesus girl. i would have thrown a tantrum leaving that adorable yellow home. i always wanted a yellow home.


Cassondra Bailey-Harig said...

I'm also a lurker, and have only been reading your blog for the last month or so.

You didn't know it, but in that short time you've been ministering to me too. I especially love the verse you posted today, it pretty much sums up my whole life. Plans are made and goals are set, but God always takes me in a different direction. Thank you for sharing with us all, and for reminding me about my many blessings.

Ashley said...

I am also one of those lurkers, but I must say you have inspired and challenged me with each post. I also hope 2011 is a year of the unexpected for us. I pray that we are open to God and what He would have us do, rather than sit quietly, comfortably in our home (although not our dream home...).

Jewel said...

Even though I am struck dumb. I find I cannot let this post go by without saying something. So here it is... silence...because my jaw is on the floor. I pray for you and your family daily and for the teen moms by name. Thank you for pouring your heart out so that we can be a part of your journey.

We Are Family said...

Yep, I love it. I can totally identify with every word you wrote...even the zit part and I am 38!

Anonymous said...

Thank you. Our Lord has not stretched me as far as you but I have quit my job. And am trusting God for what happens next. This is not my strong suit and appreciate your honest and transparent posts. God is still using you I'm the states. I pray safety , health and blessings for you and your beautiful family. I have also been surprised this year as I am raising a three and five year old. I know God isn't surprised. You are truly a gifted author thanks for sharing. I hope to see you soon
Much love sally ryan

Noelle Gonzalez said...

I'm glad that I'm not the only one! I'm moving to Haiti in 8 days and I am breaking out, have never been on a camping trip longer than 2 days, and I'm far from a super Christain, and my specialty is complaining.

I'm so glad God uses the unexpected people! And I'm glad I'm not the only missionary with zits!

love you guys!

Anonymous said...

Another lurker here! Thank you for your new year wishes to me and all your other followers on this blog. I will remember your words because they have deep meaning. I think you are a wonderful person and I love reading this blog.
Joan from Australia

Terry said...

Dear Heather, Your post, as usual, touches my heart. I can't imagine what it would be like to move my young family to a third world country and begin a ministry. You and Aaron are truly examples of living faith. As one who is old enough to be your mom, I identify more with your parents as they pray for your safety and protection so do I. May God continue to richly bless you and Aaron and the boys in 2011. Love from Meadowbrook.

Cheryl said...

Hi Heather. I have only been reading your blog a short while. I am telling you that God ordained I come across your site. You have ministered to my soul so much in this short time. I feel like you could be writing my very life. Thank you so much for being so vulnerable and bearing it all so you could bless my life. God does have wonderful plans for your family. He sure has a way of grabbing our attention and showing us that He is believable. Amen? :) He is the I am....and He is perfect! May God richly bless you this year!

Kari said...

oh my sweet friend. i cried as i read your wish for my new year. i pray that as well for you! i miss you but am so thankful for technology that allows us to "keep in touch" know that i think of you so very often and have been and will continue to pray for you and the boys! i love you and your testimony!

Grace, Hope and Joy said...

Thank you for your honesty.

from a lurker. ;)

Stephanie Tillery said...

I didn't expect to stumble upon your blog and become one of those "lurkers" this year, but am so thankful that I did. I have learned so much from your incredible journey!

Stacey said...

I receive every word! May 2011 bring the unexpected for all of us! Thanks for this gift! It was wrapped in transparency.

Stephanie said...

"I sit here today a recovering planner, admitting that God is weird yet holds all of our days in His capable hands."

I struggle being a control freak and wanting every detail of my life to work out.
But Matthew 6:30-34 says we don't need to worry about what we're going to wear, eat, or what tomorrow's going to bring. God is faithful.

Thank you for your blog.

lisasmith said...

Sweet Heather,
Although I didn't have Haiti waiting behind 2010's curtain, I had cancer, I get this. My year took a crazy dip and turn too and I am looking forward to 2011 and all God has... bow on the package or not.

And I sit here at 40 with "clear skin" still on my wishlist. Zits and wrinkles. hmmmmm.....

Happy New Year!!

Susan, wife of 1, mother of 4 said...

How beautifully eloquent you are, Heather. It's in the hardest times that we feel God the most, and it's just wonderful. Happy New Year! I hope you feel better soon! Keep up the GREAT blogging! Isn't it neat to see how many God has touched through you?

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your honesty.
We are planning to start the process to adopt 2 children from foster care this year. Over the years planning to do this, preparing ourselves, waiting for the right time, I have also had to learn that life is not about having it all planned out, but listening to God. I really needed to read this post today, to remind me that even someone like you has fears, did not go easily into this path that God led you to, but cried to pack up your belongings, sell your dream house, and go to a place where you and your family were at risk. It is inspiring, and knowing you don't regret it, reminds me that we have to keep our faith, and follow God's path.
Happy New Year, and thank you again for sharing your story, in full honesty.
Melissa in Durham

Canada to China and back! said...

I just stumbled across your blog, and love the posts I have been able to read thus far. Love this post, as I was thinking the same thing...if you would have told me in 2008 we would adopt a sweet 2yr old from China I would have told you that was crazy! Yet that is where God has lead us, and I am so darn thankful we chose to obey! Also excited to see where He will take our family next!
Happy New Year!


thecheerios said...

Thank you for sharing. 2011 will be my equivalent to your 2010, as we (me, my husband, my 3-year-old daughter and my 1-year-old son) move overseas to seek and serve the lost in the Arab Lands. As a fellow type-A uber-planner, I hope to look back a year from now with the same sentiments.

Marla Taviano said...

I loooooove this post, and that last paragraph freaking rocks. Praying for you, friend, and sending some of my Christmas $ to Heartline.

Gretchen said...

I can understand this post 100%. Our 2009 was just like your 2010. He picked us up and moved us to Asia and it rocked my world. 2010 was stretching beyond what I could have imagined. I had thought he would give us an easy year after the craziness of 2009, but thankfully He always knows better and He stretched us again and again, but as you I look back on the beauty of His crazy plan. I am a major planner and had always wished that I could see the future. I wish that no longer. He truly gives the grace just for each day as He brings it. But I wouldn't give up the ride either. His plans are amazing.

The Kramer Family said...

i love you my precious girl. you have no idea.

Jamie @ Six Bricks High said...

This totally made me cry. You so inspire!

Corrin said...

I'm a lurker who has been sharing your posts with friends like crazy. Thanks for writing. It has been a strange, hard year for my family as well.

By the way, just saw the link to your family's organic farm in TX. We might be moving there. If we are, I'm so excited, we'll be placing many orders.

I thought you might be interested in participating in January Reflections '11 on my blog.

Here is more info. http://thegloriousimpossible.com/pages/january-reflections

kfsullivan said...

Thank you so for all the words you share with us all. Especially, these.

Sharon and Manuel said...

Another awesome post...as usual. Thanks for being sooooo honest and real!! I have loved the post before this one too! I linked it to my FB and so did my daugher in law.

Walking to China said...

That spoke powerfully into my life. Thank you.

Lisa said...

Like many others.... I'm a lurker! Not long though, only the past couple of weeks.
"What the ______?" is what we have thought and all our friends and family too as we brought our 1 year old, and 3 suitcases to Iraq 5 months ago.
Your writing speaks a language that I get. Transparent realness.
I hope you don't mind: I'm going to share this link on my blog?!? :)
Excited to keep following where God will take you this year!

mamamargie said...

Thank you so much for this. We're only one week into 2011 and MY plans have already been nixed. Ohhhh, this is going to be an interesting year! But, if I allow God to lead, it will be a blessed one. Thanks for the reminder.

Alison said...

haha, i meant to comment on this a while back but haven't been able to till now. I, as well, am a lurker. :) Reading your blog has been such a blessing and such an encouragement. Thank you for being such a faithful sister and family to our God. I pray for you guys when I can. Love.