This post has been in the works for while, meaning it has been in my head for a while. A lot of my thoughts and reflections have been stirring in my heart for a while now and I hope to get a few down here to record them.
A while back I shared this image on my intagram feed:
This verse is our families going theme for the next while. To give my readers a bit of a back story, our families life has been on the overdrive the last 10+ years. Before my husband and I were married in July 2004, my husband overcame some great obstacles in his life and through this journey and God’s grace and faithfulness he felt called to ministry. Like many other wives whose husbands felt a call to the ministry, I felt terrified.
We went and so began the busy season in our lives. We (and I say we because even though my husband went to school; it truly was a family commitment!) completed 4 years of undergrad college, then we had our first daughter. We moved to the US to complete 3 years of graduate studies, then we had our second child, our son. We moved back to Canada to complete a 10 week internship; which turned into a half year, and then a year internship. During this time Roelof was also completing his Master’s degree. After that year, the church we were interning at decided to extend a call to Roelof to become their full-time pastor. We were very thankful for the provision that God had given us in a home, a church family and a friendly town and so we joyfully accepted the call and were excited to dive right in. We are coming up to 4 years now in Alliston, Ontario and for us this is the longest place we have ever lived in, in the almost 11 years we have been married.
Our last 11 years of life have been a whirlwind. We have had some incredible things happen to us but have also faced a number of challenges. We have let our unhealthy rhythms in life control us and have placed priorities in places they shouldn’t be. This past year has been exceptionally hard. It has been incredibly hard to watch the person you love, who normally loves what he does, not love what he does; to be so physically and mentally tired that even getting through the day required great effort. It has been hard to communicate, to let others in and to be a people of community. We are tired. We are empty. We need to be still. In January, we begun the conversation with our church about where our minds and hearts were at. I know our God is good all the time, and all the time He is good! We love where we are at, I don’t think it has ever been a question about that. It’s just that our gifts were not being able to be used because we have not given ourselves time to be still or even to know who we are anymore. In response to many conversations, our church has graciously given our family a time of sabbatical, a time of rest.
The past four week or so have healed us in so many ways. We begin our time of rest to Kerith Pines in Manitoba. What I have most appreciated about the time at Kerith is that it really focused on us as a couple. What they don’t teach in seminary is how to do ministry as a couple or even how ministry impacts your marriage. This is stuff you just figure out by trial and error while in ministry. And this isn’t always a good thing. Kerith Pines helped us discover our personalities– who we are and how that looks when we are together and how that looks in identifying our giftings. Kerith gave us rest! It helped us disconnect (literally!) from the outside world. We learned that we need to make room for God in our life as a first fruit. We learned that we were meant to do community– to love people and to love each other. I learned that grace only sticks to my imperfections (Scary Close by Donald Miller– read it if you haven’t already!). I also learned that I truly desire to be the same person on the outside as I am on the inside. We came there and found our rest. We have connected again as husband and wife. We had many ah-ha moments and felt that were were able to have conversations that we should have had a long time ago!
But we’ve been back now for a few weeks. The rubber has hit the road– we’ve had flu’s, regular schedules, packing for trips and regular every day things. It’s hard to implement new things into old routines. But we are finding out that we need to be intentional. Not just a ah well when we get to it attitude. It takes being intentional and purposeful. With each other but also in relationships. No more entitlement– just servitude with Jesus hearts. I loved this quote from Scary Close by Donald Miller (read it!) –
Love is like farming – most of it is just getting up early and tilling the soil and then praying for rain. But if we do the work we just might wake up one day to find an endless field of crops rolling into the horizon.
Hard work. Being intentional. Getting up early. Tilling the soil. These are all action phrases. Do something! I’m tired of letting expectations and entitlement control our lives. And I think this is the theme we are going forward with into the next number of weeks of our sabbatical. Being intentionally still.