We have lived in Florida for over 8 years, all 3 kids were born here, after experiencing our first hurricane last year we feel we can our selves Floridians. We have lived her for 8 straight years, except for that 1 year, technically 10 months. That one year of Mother's Day portraits that is missing on the wall, because it was the day we left Florida. That one year that gives our life in Florida a pause. There are the before Illinois years and there are the after Illinois years. Before Illinois we were a picture perfect little family of 4 chasing after big plans of serving God overseas. Perfect toddler and baby, and parents ready for adventure and sacrifice. After the Illinois year we put down roots, bought a house, and became a special needs family, that holds loosely to our plans.
What happen during that year was painful, it shook us to the core, it made us stronger. It grew our faith as we saw God show up. And we saw God's faithfulness as he gave us peeks into the next chapter of our life.
God was FAITHFUL- We thought moving to our hometowns would make fundraising for the mission field easy. What we discovered was it wasn't home anymore and it wasn't easy. We lived on the money that was coming in for us and prayed for the rest. We lived with cheap rent on the edge of town with one set of parents and watched God give us things we needed from furniture for our temporary house, to winter clothes for all of us as the kids had never seen snow at that point. I realized I didn't know how to plan a birthday party in January when it was too cold to go to the park! (Thankfully God helped me out and it was 60 that day and we did go to the park!) One of my favorite stories of his provision is When he gave us a Nigerian hat! We watched God repeatedly care about the little things in our life.
He was PREPARING us- During that year we had 2 perfect little kids so we thought. Caleb turned 1 that year and we started watching him closely on the growth charts. I quit nursing and we switched to formula so we knew he was getting enough, and he was almost a late walker but walked just in time no big deal. As we reconnected with friends and met new ones I was struck that in this small town we seemed to be meeting an abnormal number of families that dealt with special needs. Growing up I was around some peers and had compassion and helped those who were mainstreamed in my classes. But I found it odd, those we connected with the most had extra challenges. We had no idea that within 2 years of returning to Florida we would begin our own special journey with Caleb but also a short term journey with Andrew who was not in the picture yet. Those friendships and conversations gave me hope that we too would have a full family life in spite of the challenges that we were facing.
God was GRACIOUS- Bob and I had both grown up close to grandparents. And living in Florida while they all lived in Illinois meant a very different relationship for our kids. During that year we were able to make many, many memories with all the grandparents and also 2 sets of great-grandparents. Memories of sharing everyday moments, not just special holidays. This meant that later when 3/4 of of the great grandparents passed away, our children, the great grandchildren had memories of their own. And we had the memories of sharing our children with our grandparents. Which we will have forever.
God was building MATURITY in us. What a strange way to take us to the end ourselves. Let us go sell everything (which we did) and go be missionaries. But i can honestly say, its the only way he would really have us listening to him. The missionary dream was always part of our family from the marriage proposal. OUR 5 year goal was to start a family and go overseas to serve in support roles, we celebrated our 5th anniversary in Illinois. If God had not killed that dream I know we would still be wondering When? With that dream being killed we have slowly been able to refocus and really be open to God using us in our place and being committed to this place. In the Pre-Illinois years we would tell you we are from Illinois and just here in Florida until God sends us somewhere else. We wouldn't let ourselves buy a house or commit to any long term plans. With 6 months of being back in FLorida we both looked at each other and said "It feels funny but I feel like we should look at buying a house" Something we agreed before was not something we were interested in, we wanted to be free and not tied down, and now we needed roots.
We still get to SERVE. Within two months of resigning from being missionaries Bob was able to return to his position at the Orlando Mobilization Center and continues to support the equipping and sending of missionaries around the world. We have also been able to partner with several of our training classmates who did go on to serve around the world and who we get to encourage when they come back for training and visits.
God holds the master plan and we need to be patient for him to share our part with us. I once heard it said, If you think you calling is to do what someone else is doing, its probably not your calling, your calling is unique to you!