I’m just naive enough to not have seen it coming.
I knew he needed to leave. Either the timing or the calling wasn’t right for him. His heart wasn’t here and his mind was consumed with the challenges ahead of him once he returned to the US without us. At 18, there’s no telling what’s ahead.
But then again, is there ever?
He spent much of the past week packing and preparing. Seeing to details like making sure he has his birth certificate and social security card. Working out where he’d stay when he gets back and confirming he has some part-time work waiting for him while he looks for something full-time. It was a flurry and somehow in the midst of it, it almost escaped me that this was it.
He was launching. Eighteen years had passed and suddenly my time with him in my home was up. It feels like a punch to the gut because somehow I’ve been just busy enough to have not realised the full implications of his departure until the day he was leaving.
The grief of separation from my three oldest boys almost feels like too much.
But then I got a message from my husband’s aunt reminding me I’m not the only one suffering from this type of pain. Even when family members are living on the same continent, in the same country, the miles between them has the same effect.
My burden is no heavier than anyone else’s.
He’s been gone for two full days and his journey home still isn’t over. He’s currently sitting in Canada and has two more flights ahead of him. Life here feels strange now since he’s been with us since we moved to Sukhothai. Trying to establish a new flow that doesn’t include him hurts a little more than I’d like to admit but it’s clearly what we’ve been given to do.
Jesse’s been with us for 5 weeks now and he leaves to go back to the US in exactly 7 days. It’s getting harder and harder to imagine him not being here, either. This morning at breakfast we drew names again. We’re switching up names each week and then secretly setting off on the mission of showering that person with kindness. Wind and Sky LOVED the concept and were very excited about the person they each drew. This season is always fun with little ones, as it’s an extra opportunity to teach them about the selfless character of Christ. But it’s especially fun to share it with these kids who’ve never experienced any of the wonder.
Robbie and Abi spent last weekend in Chiang Mai. They visited a mountain church where Robbie was asked to share a brief testimony along with other missionaries who were helping with the service. Afterwards they got to enjoy a potluck that was a true culinary, and social, experience. All the pictures at the beginning of this post are from that visit.
Last night we did our first worship in the Thai language. It was simple, to be sure, but God gave just enough vocabulary words to get His message of love across. It was such a joy to watch their faces as we shared in their own tongue. And simple was likely better anyway, since all of this is new to them.
Sky has been sharing with us about how she’s talked to some of her school friends about God and how they’ve told her He isn’t real. She said it makes her cry because she’s so confused. She wants us to continually reassure her of His existence. Both she and Wind are increasingly asking us to pray at random times. Don’t get me wrong … these kids are still exhausting us of every ounce of our patience and resources, but to watch these first sparks of spiritual awakening happening right before us is such a gift.
Levi, Quinn and Zach got the idea of prayer walking through our village. And they wanted to do it alone. So we agreed to allow them and the plan was for them to begin this new practice yesterday morning.
Of course, Satan wasn’t just going to allow three little boys to go interfering in his work here. Wanna take a stab at what happened next?
Levi woke up yesterday morning and came downstairs. He sat at the table playing with a lego truck Jesse had made him the day before. I came down and he looked up and said, “I can’t walk without getting out of breath.” It’s how it almost always begins.
I picked him up and carried him back upstairs to where the oxygen tank was. We put him on a breathing treatment and prayed for him. He reached his hand out to me, indicating he wanted a hug so I leaned over and hugged him. His little arms had enough strength to wrap around my neck but they were essentially limp.
I went out of the room to pray. And during the course of the next hour, dear friends from home called and when I told them what was happening, they reminded us this had satan’s fingerprints all over it. They suggested we pray about if we should allow Levi to still go out prayer walking because they were inclined to believe that was exactly what we should do.
God convicted us of the same.
So not long later, three little boys gathered by our gate to pray before heading out. They then began walking down one side of the street and back up the other. They paused before each gate and huddled together to pray. They made their way to our neighbors house to pray FOUR times because “Eua lives there and we really want him and his family to know Jesus.”
We, of course, peeked out at their progress and there could have been nothing more beautiful for us to behold that morning. The Holy Spirit was being invited to bring love, joy and peace to this street of our village.
We know without doubt that He came and also that He pushed the threat of asthma aside. Levi has shown no more symptoms though we did everything “clinically” wrong by allowing him to go out walking in the heat when he’d been struggling.
(A brief intermission here to assure anyone concerned that we aren’t talking about playing around with asthma symptoms. We know firsthand how serious and life threatening it can be. But we’re finding that this is commonly what the devil uses to hold us back when God gives us an assignment. We’re determined to do what we can medically to care for and protect Levi, but ultimately we know obedience to God is our safest and smartest prescription and we knew God was asking us to let him go walk and pray.)
And because, in the words of Louie Gigio, prayer “shifts kingdom plans into gear” and “dispatches angels across continents” and that through prayer “darkness is weakened and the power of the enemy is destroyed,” we expect that even when we can’t see it, things are happening.
But then sometimes we CAN see it.
Like last night when a boy who lives a street over came and asked how much we’d charge him for English lessons. We assured we were happy to share our knowledge of English without charge and not long later his mother and another lady were at our house checking further into the idea. God is giving us an up-close and personal opportunity to get to breathe His love into the lives of the people He brings into our home.
Hannah, our irrationally shy and timid (says her mother who’s afflicted with the same disease) 16 year old, is the lead English teacher in our family. She could use prayer for boldness to do what God has given her to do, though it takes her WAY beyond her comfort zone.
So thankful that God doesn’t leave us to stagnate in our lukewarm, half-in and half-out, condition.
Because it’s like He keeps paddling us out to the middle of a large pond to toss us into the water before we know how to swim. But then He calls to us saying, “Fasten your eyes on me and the water will become solid ground you can walk on to do my work.”
It’s amazing how difficult we make something that’s so simple.