When you look at this photo, what do you see first?
Do you see the sunset? The light reflecting on the patch of grass, perhaps. For me, I see the fence.
I was taking a walk around our neighborhood the other day. As I passed this particular spot, the sun’s rays began to set on the fence and the apartment complex behind it. I couldn’t help but stop and watch. The thought racing through my head was, “Wow, you finally arrived on the other side of the fence.”
See, we stayed in those apartments just 4 months ago. 4 months ago we broke pandemic logic and flew our family of 5 to Florida. We left NY for 10 days so that we could FINALLY get our son his much needed cochlear implant evaluation. I say finally because 5 months prior to that visit, we did the “hurry up and wait” dance. 5 months prior, we responded to the only information that God was giving us at the time, with a quick and obedient reroute to the U.S.
Our 3 month/3 country, Visa-forced departure from India had us travel worn and discouraged. Although weary, the Lord guided us with wisdom and mercy to recognize Jackson’s rapidly declining hearing loss and his need for intervention. In a small amount of time, HE rerouted us from a planned month-long trip to Nepal, to an unplanned, unhosted, and undetermined length of time trip to Malaysia. In the span of one week HE paved the way for us to book a too early, unexpected return trip to India (with only 4 remaining in country days left on our visa) and enabled us to sell our entire house of furniture and book flights to the U.S.
Adam and I have always said, when God works, HE works fast.
HE worked fast back in 2015 when he revealed that our family was moving to Florida. The news gave us 6 weeks to raise full financial support for a new position Adam was receiving. 6 weeks to find a home in Florida, and oh yea, get there before my 8 month pregnant self was ready to burst. As impossible as it felt, The Lord provided.
HE always worked fast, when the time was right. But those quick moves were often preluded by seasons of wait. Long, heavy-hearted wait. For my husband, he waited roughly 10 years to move overseas. The desire, the will and the readiness was placed on his heart by the Lord early. But he trusted and waited patiently for the same tug on my heart.
When we moved to India, it was not without obstacles. For many on the outside looking in, it could have appeared as if there was enough roadblocks deterring us from moving, we should have gotten the hint. Like a survey trip to India that was rescheduled twice, first for a visa issue and second for a major family car accident hours before the flight. And heart-breaking changes to the location we intended to move to, major health diagnoses revealed for the boys and of course, one week before moving day receiving the news that Jackson’s hearing loss is the result of a genetic disorder known as Usher’s Syndrome.
Yes. MANY have felt as if we refused to the see the detour signs. But to this day, after all of the heartache, after all the let down we have no regrets. Despite the anticipated 3-year move to India turned to 6 months, and the exhausting forced 3- month travel. Despite the overwhelming attempts to receive medical care for Jackson in foreign cultures, and the hurry up and get to the US for treatment only to be greeted by a pandemic/holding pattern for 8 months, we have no regrets.
No regrets does not mean that we have not had doubts. Oh, we have had doubts. We have spent endless nights these past years praying and hashing out details. We have spent hours clarifying what we know to be true, asking the Lord to reveal any sin in our hearts that may keeping us from HIS good and perfect will, seeking counsel and waiting. Even so, we have no regrets. Every step of the way, we promised to discern what The Lord has asked of our family, and prayed for the strength and wisdom to be obedient. We have walked through the doors that he has lead us through. Even after all we have been through, we believe we have done what the Lord asked of us. One day, in heaven, I am anxious to see the whole picture and how it all worked together for HIS good. Because that’s what HE promises us right? “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28
So now, here we are back in the same townhome we lived in before we left for India. Sometimes when I take the same familiar walk through our neighborhood, I have to remind myself that we actually went, that it all actually happened. As I look at this fence, I remember exactly what it felt like to be back on the other side. I remember how hopeful we were to finally be there and preparing for Jackson to have the cochlear evaluation by his original audiologist. I remember how mentally exhausted we were waiting for that trip to Florida that was rescheduled twice due to COVID-19. In December 2019, when we arrived in NY from India, we had hoped to receive the care that Jackson needed by January. We chose NY over returning to Florida because it was not just Jackson that needed care. Our family unit needed respite and we sought out family for help. Disappointed that after 6 months of trying, we could not find a cochlear team for Jackson in NY, we were so eager to receive a plan for him going forward. We were thirsty for movement, momentum, something! The waiting can be SO HARD.
There are some seasons of life where all you can do is go off the information that you DO have, what you know to be true in that moment in time, in that season. The tricky part about knowing what to be true, is that as humans, we are emotional beings. Our minds can be swayed easily by our feelings. Feelings are a gift, but they change….sometimes in an instant.
God does not change. He is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. So when we seek what we know to be true, we attempt to do so by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Moving to NY from India was an easy short term decision, but a difficult long term one. NY for us meant, help. We felt that HE was leading us to get support from family. Doing so meant releasing a dream. Confusing, humbling, sad and aimless were emotions we wrestled with. Grateful to be surrounded by family during such a challenging season, they carried us when we we didn’t know which way was up. In putting the needs of our family first, we were realizing the possibility that leaving ministry might become a reality.
Adam and I have been serving in vocational ministry since the beginning of our marriage. We joined staff for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) just 3 short months after getting married. We were blessed to be able to serve with FCA for 6 years. The pull to serve overseas became a reality when we received a position with an International Agency in Orlando, FL in 2015 where we served on the mobilization team for 3 years. At that time we were finally ready to move overseas and what felt like a 20 year experience happened in one short year.
And now here we are, on the other side of that fence.
But where do we go from here? This is a question that many people have been asking themselves during this pandemic. Back in March, I do not think anyone expected that life would still be so impacted, so deterred, so on hold as it is today. Lucky us, we were feeling these emotions far before the pandemic so you can imagine how long we have felt “on hold.”
I do not know when we as a country will feel like we are on the “other side” of the COVID-19 fence. I do not know when we as a family will feel like we are on the “other side” of this unanswered question of “Lord, what do you want for us? What do you want us to do now?” What I know to be true, is that HE is good. HE has held us in the palm of his hand this whole time. He see the bigger picture. We will continue to wait on HIM.
Until then, His grace is sufficient. By His love, HE has continued to allow us to serve here in Orlando. He is continuing to use us right where we are. He is providing for us. He will let us know what to do next. In the meantime, we pray for ears to hear and eyes to see. This prayer is not just for us to be hard-workers and good stewards in the waiting, but to be willing and ready for His next move. This prayer is also for our son Jackson. His syndrome causes loss of both hearing and vision. But God is bigger than any syndrome, and any pandemic. And when the waiting is over, when we make it to the other side of the fence, we can only hope we did it with honor, love, integrity and faith.
“All glory to him who alone is God, our Savior through Jesus Christ our Lord. All glory, majesty, power and authority are his before all time, and in the present and beyond all time!” Jude 1:25