Wait for the Lord;
Be strong and let your heart take courage;
Yes, wait for the Lord.
It’s not early, but it’s still dark upstairs when I sit down on the floor, in front of the open, ashy mouth of the wood stove, to build a fire. It’s a new task for me. Except for an unfortunate youth-leading adventure, many years ago, this is only my third fire. Usually one of my parents builds the fire, or Timmy does. But my father is away, teaching the Bible to college students in Canada, and Timmy, by 8:30 AM, has likely walked miles already through the Veterans’ Hospital down in Seattle, since his chaplain’s shift started at six. And Mom had thumb surgery earlier this week, leaving me, thirty-year-old pyro-novice, to build the fire.
I crumple newspaper, tear up cardboard, carefully select variously-sized kindling and logs from the woodbox on the back deck. It’s just started to grow cold on this mountain pass, with mornings in the forties and the halfhearted Northwest drizzle that lingers lazily all day long. I’m told that snow could come next month. We’re hoping it waits–at least that the real snow waits–for Luci’s arrival in November. We’re starting to call this place home.
Last week, I trimmed pottery in the garage while thinking of the whirl of activity going on around me, near and far. Timmy and Mom worked in the backyard, cutting boards to the firewood storage against the predicted ten feet of snow that will fall once winter comes. Dad held meetings at Bethany Community Church, one after another, all day long. Down in Seattle, my former coworkers marched up and down the streets, picketing for a fair contract for Seattle School District employees. Holly sold coffee and smiles at her Danish bakery, Noah and Lindsey at their espresso bar in Leavenworth. And far away, across the world, a new teacher worked with eleventh graders in Room 22 at Black Forest Academy. For the first time in a while, I’m not busy. So used to the standard reply to the ubiquitous “How’s life?” I almost don’t know what to do with its opposite. I’m not busy. I’m… what?
I’m resting. Though Timmy is working half the week, this is somewhat true for both of us, as this year gives us the time and space to reflect on the last five (six, in Timmy’s case) that we spent in ministry in Germany. These were full years, rich in relationship and the beauty of worthy busyness, years that have left us both needing rest and eager to return. The space to step back, quite literally, from the teaching, mentoring and community that we’ve been investing in and simply rest, dwelling in Christ’s goodness and provision, is an incredible gift.
I’m available. I’ve found that these unfilled days are seldom truly empty, as long as I’m paying attention. This means I’m free to mentor a college student this year through our church, or to join a book club with my neighbors. On a daily basis it means learning to build the fire, or making breakfast for my family, simply dwelling in this expanded family He’s surrounded us with for this season. Sometimes it takes us further afield, to celebrations with our neighbors or seeing friends from near and far. Already in the months since we’ve lived in Washington, I’ve been surprised with the marvelous opportunities we’ve had to meet friends, old and new, in this area. We’ve had visitors from Germany, Canada, Oregon and Minnesota, and have marveled at the joy of reconnecting across great time and distances.
I’m waiting. A few years ago, my women’s Bible study in Kandern discussed the “joyful in hope” phrase of Romans 12, wondering how this hope was different than others. We concluded that it was an expectant hope, joyful in anticipation, like “waiting for Saturday.” As we draw nearer to our daughter’s arrival (She’s due two months from tomorrow!), this how I feel. Waiting expectantly for life to change in a big way. I’m learning as I wait, because I wait, learning again that no time is wasted, because it belongs first to Christ.
It’s always been easy to fill my day with titles: missionary, teacher, mentor, class sponsor, small group leader, writer, dorm sub, coach, friend, wife. Some of these will always apply, but others are necessarily seasonal, and I’m lighter on titles than I’ve been in a few years. I recently filled out a survey which asked me not what my occupation was, for which I’d likely still have written “teacher,” but “How do you spend your days?” Such an important question. (I hesitated, then wrote “Stay at home mom.” It’s a new season.)
How will I spend today? In gratitude and rest, listening and learning. Thank You, Lord, for this time.