Quiet Rain

A night of goodbyes.

The children running around the gym.

Squeals.

Shared hearts.

Orientation seen in pictures.

Our new lives on the horizon.

As the old stands before us.

Limbo.

Beautiful goodbyes.

Wonderful hugs.

Our world all blended.

Then coffee with a favorite.

Or more like “coffee”.

Mmmm, warm sugar.

A goodbye without the bye.

She’s always near, no matter the distance.

“Home” to bed.

Home’s definition hanging on delightful faces.

Everyone sleeps in.

Heavy hearts healing.

Deep breaths.

Peace.

A morning of rain.

Gentle pattering on the nearby tin roof.

A slow morning.

Bacon sizzles.

It’s like the whole world is sighing.

Gratitude for a time well spent.

A quiet after goodbyes.

Before the next ones begin.

The View Back Up

I’m really thankful that they’re beginning to see better. The dust is settling.

We were visiting one of our sponsor churches this past Sunday now that we’re back in Ohio for a couple weeks before departure. 

There’s such a flood of emotions all balled up in that statement above. Here for a couple of weeks. Before our departure. So much excitement. And beautiful chaos. And heartache. And utter joy. It’s all so surreal.

As we sat in the pew our oldest recognized someone in the video played: Our association’s missionary. “Hey, we’ve seen him before!” And as we were in the line to leave, our four year old looked up and said “Mommy, I know that guy,” when spotting the pastor. 

I love that they’re beginning to see better. They’re beginning to see how God has orchestrated these dear brothers to hold the rope for us. 

William Carey likened gospel missions work to descending into a deep mine. “I will go down,” he said to a church crowd, “but remember that you must hold the rope.”

We are merely the sent out ones. 

Thank you, dear brothers and sisters for holding the rope. 

It is not going unnoticed.

Even by the smallest among us.

– Thankful, grateful and beyond blessed.

Remember When

Remember when we sang in different languages at the same time, spread out all over the room? All lifting our voices in the chorus of the Revelation song?

Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty.

Who was and is and is to come.

With all creation I sing, praise to the King of Kings,

You are my everything and I will adore You.

Remember when all the friends and family flooded the auditorium of the commissioning, packing in that place until you nearly couldn’t breathe because it was so claustrophobic?

Remember when they all cheered as we left because they couldn’t wait to see God’s hand working through us on the field and Abi was holding her ears because it was so loud?

Remember when Jessy came over to our house and just sat in the kitchen like she had nowhere to be. And we just carried on like old friends at a coffee shop, cause she just fits like a cozy blanket on a cold fall day?

Remember when Hannah and Maris were in the back room “accidentally” painting the time-out crib with a bottle of glue while we were all packing?

Remember when the Wilkins kids threw toilet paper rolls all over the living room, like streamers, and Jenna had to stand on the table risking her life to knock a roll off of the hanging light fixture?

Remember when Jenna, Brandi, Rebecca, Matt and I just sat out on the couch slap happy cause it was too late and Angela wasn’t there to tell us to be responsible and go to bed?

Remember when Eden helped wash the dishes?


Remember when the girls entertained themselves with 4 books and some creativity while we cleaned? 


(And yes, [Aunt] Jes, one of those books was Arrietty.)
That was all in the past 24 hours. Is it possible for 24 hours to hold so much?

And then there comes this morning for a last few hugs, goodbyes, cleaning, breakfast and a road trip back to Ohio.

It’s weird driving out the gate and waving to Lyle one more time, but then this peace  falls. A peace of His presence.

His sending.

His going before us and behind us.

We may be leaving without completed visas. And without a departure itinerary yet. But we leave on His promise.

It’s the same promise that brought us in through those gates a mere 9 weeks ago.

His promise is strong. But what trumps His promise in our hearts and minds?

Him.

In He alone is our delight.

Thank You, Lord, for this peace.

Thank You, Lord, for all the “remember when’s”.

– On to the new memories to be made.

Your People

It’s hard to put into words what it feels like to say goodbye to a whole host of brothers and sisters that you know you will probably never see again. Like not EVER until our Faith becomes sight. It’s hard to wrestle with the reality of leaving such beautifully dear people in Jesus’ more than capable hands. …But in all that hope, there’s still a deep hurt. 

It’s like that pinch of a shot. You know it’s good, but you’re still trying to convince your arm. And then you choke back the tears because you’re still trying to convince yourself that the burn of the vaccine is good for you. Surely this has to be good for you…  You know it’s good for you, but your heart just needs convincing. 

It’s really hard to love others so deeply. So purely. So sincerely. And then just let go. It feels wrong. Like abandonment. And you just go back “home” like you didn’t just see a glimpse of the foot of the throne room of Christ. 

So much of you fights to want to put it in words. To just communicate what can’t possibly be constricted by vocabulary. They are not just friends. They are instant family. 
Oh why do the nations have to be so far away? 

Why does the horizon have to stretch so desperately far when it feels so close on a map? So close that you can just touch… right across that huge ocean. 

Why can’t I just take my Jenna and Angela and Wilkins and Troy and Alice and Jay-and-Elise and Ms. Jessy and Daniel and Lara and Daniel#2 and Andrea and… 

…And then in the quiet of a deserted campus, 

the windows all dark,

the dog laying out on the lawn. Lara, tell the girls that the dog is still sitting outside near your quad.  …He knows how I feel.

I walk by the fountain. A fountain with a globe in the middle. The lights are turned off. It’s all dark. 

And I hear His words in my heart, 

“they’re not yours.”

They’re not yours.

Forgive me if I walk home a little slow. I miss them like they were mine.

Such beautifully dear people.

So many conversations I wish I could just continue.

So many dark windows.

I’m leaving it in Jesus’ hands. His more than capable hands.

The nations need you desperately. They need Your Light.

A deep sigh comes over me. 

Lord, thank You for Your people.

Hold them ever so close.

My arms are not as far-reaching.

My time has run dry of words.
– yielding my heart.

Our Troy and Alice

So I got the opportunity to share about sweet Alice’s birthday. Remember?

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Yep. That’s our Alice.

Her humor. Her investment. Her consistent love.

Her patience. Her investment.

We don’t deserve our Alice.

And then there’s our Troy.

His quiet. His thoughtfulness. His gentle ways.

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His investment in others. His humble heart. His willingness to serve others without fanfare. Without anyone noticing. He just gently gives

…that others would be better.

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Thank you, Alice and Troy, for sharing a wall with us in the quad and still coming out smiling every morning. Thank you for your grace during Eden’s night struggles amidst transitions. Thank you that you chose to pray for her in the nights when she woke us both.

Thank you for stopping to include the girls in vacuuming, recognizing the opportunity to be a grandma and a grandpa and embracing it with love. Thank you for taking six and sometimes seven rambunctious kids to the cafeteria so Rebecca, Chris, Matt and I could have a quiet five minute walk there. Thank you for your willingness to share in your lives and your invaluable wisdom shared during Bible Study. Thank you for laughing through stress and being so wonderfully you.

But most importantly, thank you for choosing to spend two years pouring yourselves out on the mission field, even funding your own way, when so many around you choose instead to embrace retirement. Thank you for seeing God’s heart for the nations and daring to rise to His Calling. Your sacrifice is absolutely beautiful.

 

We are better because of you and your example.

Troy and Alice, I am better because of Christ in you both.

Thank you, Jesus, for our Troy and Alice.

 

*And thanks Jenna, for letting me steal some of these pictures of Troy and Alice.😉 *

Our Jenna

Jenna, I don’t even know where to start this post. It just hurts to think of our mornings not starting with my kids running to you and Angela.

img_6616I love how you’d walk through our quad on the way from the parking lot only to find yourself still here twenty minutes later, covered in kids. And you’d just laugh and have nowhere to be but right here in the middle of your seven nieces and nephews.

img_6617Jenna, you are so incredibly precious to us.

You’re the prefect balance of wild fun and such beautiful heart.

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You have this wonderful ability to attract delight like a magnet.

img_0060We all know why the kids all run to you. You’re just our Jenna!img_0058

Sweet sister, thank you for being willing to just sit and hold my toddler while she works through vaccination discomforts by trying to stand on your lap. She was the happiest she was all day when she was in your arms.

Thank you for your words of affirmation for my little ladies as they can’t wait to share with you their school work from the week.

Thank you for seeking out real conversations as Rachael sorts through the loss of leaving.

Thank you for dancing down the sidewalks, spontaneously breaking into song, and willingly sharing nutella at the kid table. Jenna, they all just know they are treasured in your arms. Thank you for being a safe comfort to them amidst all this change.

And oh, Jenna, how we all smile more when you’re around. You have a way of bringing the kid out of everyone.

And then there’s the quiet times when you just pour over Jesus, inviting us all to marvel in His wonder.

 

Dear Jenna, I’m going to miss you like crazy. I find myself fighting back denial because I don’t want to face the reality that this is the last week of face-to-face Jenna.

 

But then I remember how you lit up in that NY restaurant speaking Wolof. My heart leaps at your glowing face and Skype feels like a wonderful exchange for you to live in that delight again. I know you’re not ours to keep, even if we’d keep you in a heartbeat, but I am so thankful to have gotten to witness His fire stirring within you for the people He is sending you to. I am tickled pink at His story of bringing you back to the people He has had you fall in love with.

And while I know it hurts, I am thanking my God that you are dancing off to Western Africa again.

We are forever better because of our Jenna.

Through tears and with a lump in my throat I am saying,

Thank you, Jesus, for our Jenna.”

 

 

Our Jay-and-Elise

J: “What’s on your bucket list, Eden?” The question arises from the front seat on our team commute.

E: Staring and inaudible mumbling.

J: “Oh yeah? How about your bucket list, Hannah?” Jay moves on to the four year old.

H: “I don’t have any buckets.”

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Hannah used to ask Elise “Where is your person?” when referring to Jay. Then somewhere in the mix Jay actually got a name. I love how Elise just played along and was sad once Jay actually had a name. Hehe.

 

Eden adores Jay and Elise. She always runs to hug their legs. And because Jay and Elise are so amazing, they also run to tickle and scoop up Eden.

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Jay and Elise just fit in our family. They’re the fun Aunt and Uncle. They happily engage the kids in everyday deep pondering questions. Just because we all love to hear their answers. And I love that they come celebrate Disney movies and just enjoy spending time together. They’re just invested in all of us, encouraging us to enjoy life and laugh together.

And while you just never know what the next playful fun may be, it just makes you smile knowing that when Jay and Elise are around you’re bound to have a great time.

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Elise has such a wonderful fire for Jesus that is so inspiring. And Jay is her perfect match of sarcasm and fun. They both just bring life and fun along with them, making even the most tedious of tasks enjoyable.

And of course, they have such big hearts.

 

Jay and Elise, we are better because of you. We love you both so.

Thank you, Jesus, for Jay and Elise.

Our Wilkins

From day 1 they have just fit. I remember walking around the quad, nervously reading the names far before anyone else had gotten in. And through deductive reasoning of space occupation we discovered that the Wilkins had some kids. When I met them all nerves immediately dissolved.

Our Wilkins fit right into our family right off the bat. The way Rebecca takes motherhood with grace and honesty, yes I immediately found in her a kindred spirit. Oh the kiddos may be exhausting, but she just delights in them so. And her heart for Jesus is just beautiful. I have become a better follower of Jesus through Rebecca’s steadfast example.

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Chris’ jokes and playfulness radiate in his kids’ smiles. And I have just loved waking into a room to find Matt and Chris deep in conversation, marveling over Jesus.

And let me tell you what has been just plain beautiful to watch?

These precious friendships.

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From singing “We are BFFs!” on the streets of New York City

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to skipping two-by-two to breakfasts, lunches and dinners together. These little friends have just delighted in each other. You’d think they’d get sick of each other after spending all day in classes together, but oh how they can’t wait to run out and see our Wilkins in the living room each morning. It’s so beautifully precious how they love each other and care for each other. Everyone is included. Everyone is a playmate.

We have made some wonderful memories with our Wilkins. Wonderful memories that will last a lifetime. And we’re sure hopeful to make memories on the other side of the ocean too since our dear Wilkins are only a country away. =)

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I can’t possible put into words how thankful I am for this dear family. And our goodbye hugs will be really, really hard.

But I am so incredibly thankful that we are sending them off into all that God has prepared for them.

There are no words for the imprints they have made on our hearts.

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Thank you, Jesus, for our Wilkins.

Our Angela

Her heart.

Her peace.

Her gentleness.

Her smile.

Her offered hand.

How she stoops down to their world.

How she tickles.

How she catches crushed ice cubes in her mouth on the walk home.

How she prays so deeply.

How she radiates His Light.

How deeply she gives of herself for the edification of others.

How naturally and quickly she became Auntie.


How we are going to miss


Our Angela.

In All Her Beauty

A week from today we will be commissioned by our sending agent. It will be the last step of orientation before we all spread out all over the world to share the Gospel.

Next week will be a week of goodbyes, celebrating our time here. There will be an open house at Rachael and Abi’s school, allowing them a chance to rejoice in all their hard work and share the fruit of some of the greatest social studies lessons they have ever received. How their worldview has expanded. How their hearts have grown. It’s quite beautiful to witness.

Then there’s goodbyes to the teachers who have become family. There’s goodbyes to the affinity mates who are family. I can tell you right now that there will be a lot of tears. Happy tears and “I miss you already tears”. Hugs we hope to carry for years.

…and then we will just drive away.

I can’t predict how that will feel. We are such different people than the family who first drove in through the gate. Different and yet the same.

I don’t think I can be prepared for all the emotions that are just beginning to hit about saying goodbye. We are walking into that new season of goodbyes. See, coming here it was a season of “see you in a few months” and now it is a season of “see you in years”. But it is also a bittersweet reality that our family is about to walk into a really intense and hard setting, and we cannot take our dearest confidants with us.

I am so thankful we don’t walk alone, for the Greatest Confidant holds our hand through all these goodbyes. He holds our hands and our hearts. As He reveals this plan He has laid before us. Open us, Jesus. Open us to Your plans.

 

And then we will get on a plane and fly 17 hours across the incredibly big ocean, stepping off the plane into the great unknown…

But I can tell you one thing: in the midst of all the goodbyes that hurt so deeply there will be one hello. And then another hello. Followed by a team of hellos as we step into the Moz family. No, they won’t replace anyone here on this side of the ocean, our hearts will still ache for our friends and family. We’re told we’ll get used to the ache until it becomes our new normal and we will cherish the times we share with our friends and family all the more.

But I am thankful to know that after this season of goodbyes there will be a season of hellos.

 

This is the Body of Christ.

In all her beauty.