I thought this blog had probably died, yet there has been one post that I’ve wanted to write and haven’t been able to word clearly. I’ve only wanted to write this if I could say it the way that I actually see it. So I hope that those who read this will hear my heart and read to the end where the best part is.
We’ve now been in the UK for over 3 months, and somewhere along the 3 month mark, we seemed to have adjusted. Like we went from the uncomfortable place of everyone homesick or missing something, did we make the right the decisions, this is nothing like we thought it would be, we miss our family and friends, etc. to just acceptance that this is now our life. I first noticed it with the kids in how they talk about America and then I noticed it within myself as it just seemed that one day we woke up and everything was at peace. So I’m in a good spot to write this as I feel none of the angst (my boys’ new word thanks to Spiderman), none of the questions, and very little of the frustration that I felt when we arrived here.
So let me back up . . . most of you know that our first two months in the UK weren’t super easy. We went from one sickness to the next. We had a super difficult time in finding a place to live in Scotland, and our banks in both the US and the UK tried to put us through the ringer. Mark’s job has had multiple things going on, and we just went from one stressful thing to the next. I had many nights of going to bed and thinking this is so HARD!! How is this costing us so much?! Could nothing have been simple and easy?! And I would lay awake most nights and talk to God about how much it hurt to leave behind so many people + our dog and how difficult it is to have nothing of any certainty in our lives. To know that immigration in both the US and the UK is changing so much, and yet Mark and I rely on having a visa to live with one another. And we need this amount of money to live here, we need this job, we need this living arrangement, we need all of this to happen to allow us to do what God has brought us here for. It just was too much. I couldn’t think through it all much less relax.
And yet God is so good as He gracefully parented me through so much.
The peak of my frustration hit right as we were preparing to move to this little village outside of Edinburgh and Ezra was passing blood and in the bathroom every thirty minutes. My heart just could not take anymore. We’d already said goodbye to our home in Colorado and all our family there and now we had to say goodbye to our family in Carlisle who we were just getting to see again. And my child had been sick day after day and then had to spend all day in the hospital. I had desperately wanted to avoid the National Health system here due to laws going into effect in Scotland, and yet I found myself sitting in a hospital and staring at my sick boy. And it just got overwhelming; fear became an ever present force to battle. We survived through that, got moved, and then the same illness hit me. I finally just went to bed and stayed in bed. I gave in to the misery and just told God that I was not understanding anything that was happening at all. It was too hard, it had cost us too much, and I couldn’t do it anymore. I couldn’t see straight anymore.
In the midst of this, we had been trying so many different churches and finding nothing that felt like home. We were out in the middle of a tiny, almost unearthly quiet village, and it felt so isolated. Like God brought us to a random place on the map and just set us here; yet He gave no explanation for why. Our choice was to either put one foot in front of the other and purpose to do what He’d asked us anyway. Or quit. Yet we’d still be stuck here because we were out of money!! Ha!! So now what?
So He sent friends and family to encourage us through emails, through short little words, or through notes that just said, “Hey, we’re praying for you!”. He sent neighbors to introduce themselves via Christmas cards and gifts to our children. He sent His Word to lift us up. He sent His Holy Spirit to quietly urge us to trust Him and not give up. He spoke to our hearts in random ways . . . He spoke to my heart when I would read the Old Testament to my son during his schooling or when I’d pick up a Christian fiction book and try to get lost in a different world. He spoke in so many different ways; none of them were loud, but they were loud enough.
When we would walk through the city of Edinburgh, I would think about all the history and all the people who have lived here before us. Stories about St. Patrick leaving England to take the Gospel to Ireland or St. Columba who left Ireland to bring the Gospel here to Scotland. I would think about all the stories I have read about the Apple of God’s eye, the millions of Jews, who died during the Holocaust, and I would wonder how many of them really knew Him. How many knew Jesus and suffered in those camps? How many knew that He was there with them? I would think about Brother Andrew and all the work He has done to take the Gospel to the countries who used to be in the Iron Curtain, and how much he does now in brining the Gospel to the Muslim world. I think about all these men and women through time and wonder about the cost they paid. I would wonder about what motivated them and what sustained them. I just finished reading Corrie Ten Boom’s story and I know what sustained her – her relationship with her Father, her love for Jesus, and her determination to hear and obey the Holy Spirit.
Through all of my questions and through all the encouragement we’ve received, He pierced my heart with the message that He just wants to know us. Forget why we came halfway across the world, forget how much it hurts to miss our family, forget how expensive it has been, forget how lonely it’s been, and instead focus on how good He is. Then He would tell me that He knew my pain. He would remind me that Jesus was lonely, Moses was super misunderstood, Corrie Ten Boom lost the two people she loved most dearly in this life, and He saw and knew all of their pain. He sees. He knows. He would ask me to get up on His lap and put my forehead on His and look at Him. See that He sees. See that He knows the cost of following Him. He knows it better and more than anyone. He hasn’t isolated us to forget us. He hasn’t lost the plot. He won’t let us go hungry. In fact, His provision is endless. His companionship is constant. His love is deeper than we imagine. He thinks about us every moment of every day, and He just wants us to know Him.
I have no idea what 2016 will bring us, and truthfully, I’ve stopped thinking beyond this week or this month. We have this time in this place, and I don’t know the reasons or the details. All I know is that we were to come here and we have put our whole hearts, our money, our time, and our everything into getting here. The rest is up to Him. We’re following; He’s leading. He hasn’t given us a plan. He’s just given us a step, so we took it. When He gives the next one, we’ll take it. We are clinging tighter to Him than we ever have. We know that nothing else matters but Him. And we know that He sees and He honors our hearts. My prayer for this year is that my children will come to understand the goodness of God and that Mark and I will continue to cling to Him so that we hear Him clearly. That’s all. We don’t want to miss hearing Him ever; we never want to forget His goodness. I have a new hunger for wanting to walk closely to my God. I want to be so close to Him that when He moves I move. When He speaks, I speak. When He says go, I go. When He says stay, I stay. I want to know His heart. And that’s all I know really.
I’m not sharing any of this for you to know how hard it’s been or to make someone think that our life is harder than theirs or anything remotely like that. I’m sharing it because it has been my journey; it’s something that I need others to understand if they want to know me. And it’s my testimony that God moved me through all of that to this place where I choose joy. I found myself speaking with the cashier in Costco yesterday while she shared with me the story of her son and his past weekend, and I didn’t think about her being Scottish and me being American. I didn’t think anything except how normal it was and how much I enjoy speaking with our neighbors, how comfortable I am in this village, how I took the bus home from the city by myself and sat comfortably for over an hour as I watched everyone get on and off, and life has just become something that I want to enjoy and savor every good moment we have here. My focus is on making the most of here and now and not analyzing it. I’m not fretting over our bills or the future of Mark’s job. I’m not worried about my children finding friends. I’m not stressed over the uncertainty of immigration. I have put my life in His hands. I have moments where I need to remind myself that I have done so, but I am in His hands. There is joy, peace, contentment, and so much good in this place of being in Him. He is so good. If my life’s theme becomes the goodness of God, then please let it be a glowing theme that no one can miss. Because I am learning that He is so much better than I ever imagined. Counting the cost means giving up the temporary for the eternal, and the eternal has a deep satisfaction that far outweighs the temporary. It’s a good choice. 🙂