Surprisingly, I find myself in transition this fall. Some will look at the upcoming milestones in our lives (David turns 50 this Friday, I turn 50 in May) and say that we are right on time for a "midlife crisis." I guess there must be some truth to that, but I must say that this season of transition has taken me by surprise.
July brought 77 MKs into our lives during the MK Transition Seminars in SoCal. These seminars demand a tremendous amount of physical and emotional energy - they are, at once, exhilarating and exhausting! The rest of July and August are a blur - filled with people and travel and ending in late August with welcoming a work team of 10 from a WA state church. They helped prepare Gatehouse the last week before GH reopened and the MKs returned.
Additional, intangible stresses were also present - some disappointments weighed on our hearts, the pressures of our parents' stage of life also burdened us, the A/C here at GH was producing nothing but warm (hot!) air, and I was trying to process and integrate some of the transformational materials presented during my first Parent Coaching class.
On the morning of August 23, my heart woke me up around 5 am. I had been suffering from a tweaked nerve in my back for about 3 weeks, but figured if I could get up every morning and go about my day, that whatever it is would "work itself out." When I woke up on that Wednesday with racing heart and couldn't find my pulse, I rolled over onto my back and contemplated what was happening. Was I having a heart attack? I wasn't in any pain and didn't even feel particularly scared, but knew that my heart seemed to be pounding out of my chest and that something was "wrong" with this picture.
Three hours later (after 911, EMTs, ambulance ride, ER, EKG, and blood enzymes) I was home, eating breakfast with the work team. The explanation? The tweaked nerve in my back had set my heart racing. Other than making up for a little lost sleep that Wednesday, I "rebounded nicely" and finished the week with the work team. The MKs moved in Friday evening, the work team left on Saturday morning. By Sunday afternoon I was pleading with David saying, "We have to talk about this. What does this mean?"
While my life wasn't in jeopardy, as I had possibly imagined it to be that morning, nevertheless I knew my body was telling me SOMETHING! In the silence, listening to my heartbeat, my world narrowed and the silence shouted, "Too much!"
Too much what, you might ask? That's the question begging to be answered! I have to admit to living in a sea of ambiguity about my presence, role and contribution at GH this fall. There isn't a day that goes by when some aspect of living in community with 8 college-age MKs doesn't bring me profound joy. On the other hand, I am realizing that there is a deeper fatigue than ever as I go into the fall and that I am feeling the cumulative effect of community living over these last 7 years. As an introvert, I need time and quiet to process life - something I've had little opportunity for during this most recent season of life. My introversion is now screaming at me, "Too much!"
Looking back, I can't imagine eliminating anyone, any year, any venue, anything. Yet, looking ahead, I know that my life MUST be different or I will, quite simply, burn out. I've been the speed boat rudder, shuddering along under the water, trying to go deep, while being dragged along on the race course of our lives.
Bebo Norman sings, "...tonight I want a life where the faces are the same most every day.... We will make a home... where the trees stand still."
What can I possibly omit from my life? WHO would I omit - especially if I "want a life where the faces are the same most every day?" Remember we have lived with 41 different young people over the last 7 years.
If anything, as we approached this fall, we've anticipated expanding ministry with my Parent Coach training, a possible trip to Russia in the spring, and continuing contact with MKs from this summer's transition seminars during their freshmen year of college, as we remain committed to providing a place of refuge, a place of belonging for globally nomadic young people. Our hearts remain fixed on the goal of member care for missionary families worldwide.
The flip side of this dream is that our family has had no home for the past 7 years. While GH has been a home for MKs, it hasn't been our home - there is no room to welcome Matthew, Jeremy & Jenae for a visit. There has been an element of "home," an element of stability, which has been missing from our family's life. This is wearing on all of us, but particularly me.
We wonder at what God is doing in this season of change in our lives. I have only questions - no answers.
We have made a commitment to this year's GH family and we will finish this year in the house, but then???? I have reached my limit. What does that mean for GH? We do not know...
Mary, the mother of Jesus, set a precedent for contemplating the inscrutable things in life; she "pondered" things in her heart.
Rather than rush forward with answers, we are embracing a season of waiting and listening. It is a season of more questions than answers. I am praying... and pondering...