I went to the meeting. The announcement had stirred me – not many things stir me like that, you know? The way your heart leaps and your soul leans in because you know what they’re saying matters. So I asked my man if he’d like to go with me to the interest meeting. He was less than ecstatic because the logistics – financially and in this season of our life – of me going on a two week long trip across the world are just a little daunting. I told him that God can do whatever He wants.
And He does.
It turns out that as I sat in that meeting, longing to leave my normalcy and embark upon an adventure, God said to me: This is your adventure right now, Emily. You cannot leave your girls for two weeks. You will be a part of this trip, but I am asking you to stay here in the trenches.
A few days later we found out that Josh WOULD probably be going as part of his job. For two weeks – during which he would find a refreshed passion and I would turn 30 – in the trenches.
I struggled with this, understanding fully what God had whispered at the meeting. My role was to stay behind and be the mama so that Josh could go and lead to the fullest of ability. I’m not very good at staying behind. And in my head I decided that I would not – that we would be plunking down the enormous amount of money to fly to Louisiana – or drive – if that’s what it took. I was NOT staying here in crazy-ville – alone.
As we began to crunch the numbers, my heart looked toward the possibility of doing this alone for two weeks. I felt nauseated. Then Josh came home and mentioned that he’d be sending out support letters – that everyone going was responsible for paying/raising the funds for their own way – even the pastors. So, could I really, in good conscience, say, “We need you to help us send Josh on this trip, but we can totally shell out $500+ to get me and the girls to Louisiana?”
In the shower – AKA my prayer closet – God said “No.” And I accepted His answer. I didn’t like it, but I accepted it. And then this happened…
This is an excerpt from a little something my sister and I are doing together. This was originally written directly to her. Some of the language has been edited for safety purposes and because I talk different to the woman who has been my best friend all my life.
But I am pressing onward – learning to flex and release – because He makes it clear that this is all there is. To bend and let go of everything I want, to release it all to Him and trust Him enough to let Him do as He pleases with the tenderest corners of my heart.
Last night I took the girls to a Night of Worship at the church that was in support of Josh’s trip. I knew it would be crazy trying to corral the girls in the back while Josh did his job and everyone else worshiped. I knew I would be flying solo because in everything about this trip, I will be flying solo. Hairy, it was. The girls were active at best, cranky at worst. I started to get that anxiety feeling in the pit of my stomach, knowing that this is what I had to face in a month. For two weeks, this “hanging on to self control by a tiny thread” feeling was what there was.
I want to make it about me. I want Josh to know how hard it will be. I want him to feel sorry for me and maybe a little bit guilty about going. Well, part of me does. The other part of me is annoyed with that part of me. Because really I want to be humble and serve my family graciously. I want to be unafraid and selfless because my heart truly breaks for the people this team is going to serve. They know loneliness I cannot even fathom. I want Josh to know that we are going to be fine. That I am capable, not crazy. I want him to be free to love those people entirely, unconcerned about whether or not his wife is yelling at his kids everyday – or whether he’s going to come back to a full-fledged nut job. I want him to be excited about going.
And then they started in on You Revive Me. God said, “This is your anthem. I can do this through you. Let me carry you. I will be your River of Joy in the desert. I know you feel empty and poor. That’s good – Emily – so good. I’m the treasure you can’t afford. What you are doing here, with these girls IS kingdom work. You are their first picture of Jesus. How you respond to your husband doing ministry will affect them for the rest of their lives. What you are doing here – oh yes, it is a monumental, exhausting task. I will revive you. Even though no one sees. Even though they will all pat Josh on the back and share their stories of watching others be revived. Even though you feel the vastness of solitude pressing in on you. I see you. Your work matters. I love your little girls as much as I love those Josh is going to serve – you be my instrument of revival in their little hearts. I see you.”
And so, here I go. I know my God – I know Him in the dark and in the light. He will protect me and keep me. He will revive me at the last hour if I will not work so hard to numb His touch with country music, television, and even novels. None of those are bad, but they are when I use them to numb. Pray for me, sister. I know the enemy is prowling around the perimeter of this house, waiting for an opportunity to slip in and wreak havoc.
If he does try anything, pray that I have the strength and soundness of mind to go all ninja southern mama on his hiney.
What I want to say to you is that two weeks later, Josh came in from a very long day of work – which meant that it had also been a very long day for me – and informed me that a family that we go to church with wanted to pay for me and the girls to go back to Louisiana while Josh was gone. And also, my Mama and Daddy who have always worked so hard to make sure I am taken care of, offered to do the same.
We leave on Sunday to go to the place that revives my spirit and fills my heart with joy – to be with the people who bring me great comfort and love my girls like I do.
God did not have to give me this gift. All kinds of women all over the world do what I do by themselves AND they work every.single.day. This is not lost on me. I am forever in awe of what they do. I could have stayed here. It would have been hard, but we would have managed. But this gift – it leaves me humbled and speechless.
He is a God who sees. He makes room for me and mine. He makes room for you and yours, too.