It's late, the boys are all sleeping and I should be as well. But that's typically how new blog posts happen. So I'll just run with it!
The seminary wives I know have a running joke that every time somebody asks them if they know what they'll be doing after graduation, they reply, "Oh we're going to be astronauts. We're going to Mars when sustainable life can be had and preach the Gospel to the folks up there. They need Jesus too!" It's ridiculous and hilarious. I can't count how many times we were asked in Andrew's fourth and final year of seminary if we had any idea of "what was next." Sometimes it's just easier to give a ridiculous answer and laugh it off instead of replying to your friends (who are already packed up ready to move on to their new, exciting ministry adventure), "Oh, we don't know. We're just waiting on the Lord!" Pause for awkward silence. "Oh, ok. Cool."
And so we are waiting. Not that there's anything wrong with that. The questions of "what's next?" still come, but they're slowly just trickling in every now and then as, "any news?" I'm ok with that. It's not like I hated people asking us that question. It's all out of love and excitement. God has called all the men who graduated in Andrew's cohort with different gifts and passions, and He's called them all to follow hard after Him, whenever and wherever that may be. And we are all excited to see how the Lord will use each of them and their families!
For now, the Lord has called us to a great neighborhood in Columbia Heights, MN while Andrew searches for a Pastoral position and while we wait. I admit, in some ways it's hard to watch many of our dear friends we have grown to love over the last 4 years move away to their new ministerial positions. Some have remained, and some are just now packing up to move on to the next thing. And here we are; hanging out, living a pretty "normal" life, day in and day out. I'm still homeschooling our boys. Andrew is working really hard at two jobs and well, he's exhausted. He burns the candle at both ends still, and I truly was hoping those days might be over. At least for a little while? *Sigh*
But here's a HUGE reason I love my husband: despite working two jobs and somehow finding time to search for ministry positions in between, Andrew continues to pour out a love and passion for Christ and the Gospel. He leads a small group on Sunday afternoons, and as I watch him lead our group in devotions, I see him come alive. He's exhausted and going on little sleep, but he loves God's Word and loves pointing others to Jesus. He smiles non-stop when teaching from the Bible and has a genuine delight in shepherding people that keeps him striving for their joy in Christ. Sometimes as I watch him, I think, "God, he is the most humble, genuine, people loving, Christ exalting man I have ever known! He yearns to shepherd your flock! Why is it so hard? Why so many closed doors?" But even as I wonder, I know the Lord knows it all. He's working and moving and His plans are beyond our comprehension. So we wait. Or so I thought that was just what we were doing: waiting.
Andrew has been helping me to see that even though He doesn't have an actual "Ministry position", we can still serve the Lord right where we are, here and now. We moved into a house in July. A 3 bedroom house!! For those of you who know us, you know we lived 5 years in a two bedroom apartment, 4 of those years with 3 wild little boys bouncing off the walls and sharing one tiny room. The Lord opened a door for us to move into a bigger space and this mama was REJOICING!!! But life isn't about houses and yards and space for boys to grow. These things are wonderful blessings (hallelujah, thank you Jesus!), but this move was so much more than that for us.
At the beginning of the Fall, we hosted a bonfire in our backyard. We set up a s'mores bar, had hot coco and hot apple cider and invited all our neighbors to join us. This was WAY out of my comfort zone. We were the new family on the block and I'm pretty introverted. Andrew, however, was determined to get to know our neighbors. He and the boys went door to door the week of our bonfire and invited our neighbors to join us. The boys had made many friends already, but I still didn't know the majority of the families on our street. I knew the kids, but not their parents. I figured all the kids would come once they heard about the s'more and coco, but I wasn't super convinced any parents would come out. I thought it would be lame. HA!
That night we sat around the bonfire with 4 other families, parents included. It was such a joy, and of course, I was so glad we (ahem, I) stepped out of our comfort zones to do it. The most amazing thing about that night was that 4 different nations were represented around our fire. A sweet older Serbian couple joined us and told us stories about their home country, Bosnia. An Indian family from across the street told us about some fun Indian traditions they celebrate during the winter and a Mexican family also came. By the end of the night the father was talking about his love for fishing with Andrew and trying to figure out if they could go fishing together sometime. The last couple was a sweet, Minnesota-born-and-raised older couple that have lived on our street for a long time. Most of us could barely understand each other through thick accents, but it was delightful.
It struck me that night. Here we are "waiting," and God has brought the nations to our BACKYARD. Literally, Serbians, Indians, Mexicans, and Americans sitting around a fire in our backyard. Andrew and I couldn't stop smiling that night. God, you knew this all along. You planted us here while we wait to do your work in some sort of "official" capacity... except we don't have to wait to do your work!! We don't know how long we'll be here, but we have resolved that while we are here, we will do all we can to reach out to these beautiful neighbors. We will build relationships with them, invite them over for dinner, hopefully grow to know their lives a little bit more and help share in their burdens, whatever they may be.
This Sunday, the sweet Serbian family will be joining our small group for a pot luck dinner. I'm beyond stoked. They will be bringing a traditional Serbian dish and I cannot wait to try it. I'm excited to learn more about them and how we can better love them and serve them. And, of course, we desire to share the best news of all with them, within the context of their lives. Sharing the Gospel will look so much different with them then it will look with the Mexican family down the street, and with the Indian family right across from us, and different from the true Minnesotan couple on the other side of the street. Oooh, you betcha. But they ALL need to hear. And God brought them all to the same street from faraway countries. And they sat in our yard, and they will hopefully spend evenings in our home, and I couldn't think of any better way to spend this season of "waiting." Except, we're not really waiting after all. We're doing exactly what He has called us to do right now: post-graduation, working for a dermatology clinic and Home Depot, homeschooling our boys, and striving for the joy of all peoples through Christ Jesus in our own backyard.
And now, for some pictures of our dear, sanctifying boys. :)
Micah, age 6
Isaac, age 4
Daniel, age 8