Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Blooms in the desert

One of the most amazing lessons I have learned, on this journey through dry loneliness, is that I am not alone. That, and the realization that what I have been looking for is right in my own back yard.

My dreams have always included far away places and people in need. Motherhood was not a dream or desire. Even getting married was more about having a partner to change the world with than settling down and raising a family. God has gifted me, burdened me, and called me to full-time Christian service. But the service I thought I wanted didn't require diaper pails, laundry baskets, and nursery rhymes. How wonderful that God knows what we need even when e don't recognize it.

My children are my most precious disciples. Sharing life together, in a community others only dream about, is priceless. Our life isn't perfect (especially when it comes to birthdays; I'm really terrible at birthdays), but we do have fun. And as I embrace God's plan, my desert is becoming a much more beautiful place.

Monday, January 09, 2012

Rain drops in the desert

Rain doesn't usually fall in a desert. By definition a desert receives less than ten inches of rain a year. Deserts are dry and dusty places, void of life and beauty (at least to the casual observer). But, deserts hold their own unique beauty. And when rains fall, deserts spring to life; flowers bloom, grasses grow, cacti swell to unimaginable sizes. Desert dwellers know how to make the most of rain drops in the desert.

Because deserts are arid places, the natural flora and fauna are prepared for dry times. They must be, or they will die. Some plants sink roots down (sometimes several feet) to tap into deeply buried underground aquifers. Other plants have adapted in more creative and resourceful ways. Peoples native to arid lands know all the tricks for finding water in less-than-obvious places. The desert is, for them, a comfortable and welcoming home.

Christians tend to be surprised by deserts. To store up water in anticipation of days without rain or long periods of dryness does not come naturally. Instead of sinking roots down deep, or learning how to find water in unexpected places, discouragement, even frustration marks our journey. How easy it is to miss out on the blessings and beauty such an experience can provide.

As my sojourn in the desert continues, God is beginning to open my eyes to some of the treasures in this seemingly barren land. Like a plant who has learned to store water in anticipation of long periods without rain, I am learning to embrace my sandy home. It is not what I have chosen (or even desired), but it is where I have been "planted." Now we'll see if I can bloom.

Friday, January 06, 2012

Journey through the desert

The last year has been long and difficult. It started with sickness; it ended with sickness. Isolation; journeying alone in the darkness of fatigue, disappointment, and discouragement. Failure, or perceived failure, perseverance, footprints in the sand.

Not every day has been filled with sand and dust. Simple pleasures and small successes; redefining success. Lowering expectations. Again. Seeing God's hand amidst the dunes, finding a quiet oasis of rest and refreshment.

Mothering was never my dream. Africa, medicine, evangelism, saving lives. Those were my aspirations. All sacrificed on the altar of obedience, though not willingly or completely. Taking up my cross daily, by changing diapers, wiping noses, teaching (unsuccessfully, it seems) reading, writing, arithmetic; teaching my children God's laws as we rise up, and when we fall down. Battling to focus on what is truly important instead of what the world values; helping my children do the same.

Finding gifts where they've never been before. Choosing to embrace gifts never expected or desired. Celebrating through tears.

Jesus spent time in the desert. He understands this journey, even if I don't. The lesson I am learning: trust. The gift; leaning on the everlasting arms, rediscovering true success and ultimate joy.

This journey is not over. I've only taken the first step. But if a journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step, at least I'm on my way.