Monday, December 4, 2017

With Two Weeks Left

November slipped rather quickly into our memories, fading into the stories of life and ushering in a new season marked by wreaths and boughs and red ribbons. The last leaves that bravely clung to the tree are also being blown away by the winds of change, echoing unknowingly the very thoughts swirling past my mind as well. 

Last week I said goodbye to the kids I have had the privilege of praying with every week for the past ten months at a church in Wheaton. We have gathered weekly for a time of play, worship and prayer and it has been a highlight of every week to see the Lord at work here. Proclaiming alongside these kids that, "We're like stars burning with love so bright, blazing with hope and life, bringing him glory, showing the world that we love Jesus," never gets old!

These kids and the children's ministry director at the church had a mini-commissioning (sending out to Czech) service for me on Wednesday, and my heart burst with gratitude to the Lord for these kids. He is working in their hearts in such a way that the presence of Christ in them blesses me so greatly too. I am humbled by their prayers and their faith. And I will miss these kids greatly.

A few other bittersweet goodbyes happened this past week too. These goodbyes bring great hope for the future, great rejoicing in what the Lord has already done, and great thankfulness for the blessing of relationships and the body of Christ. They also bring sadness. I lacked words this past week to express all of that paradox, yet moving forward always involves leaving something behind. And it's ok to grieve those losses.

The Lord is near. Great things are yet to come.

And for now, as autumn fades, so does my time here in the United States for the time being. Two more weeks. I look forward expectantly, look back gratefully, and look at the present with joy and sadness wrapped up together in one.

Monday, November 27, 2017

At the Door and Between Worlds

Three weeks from tomorrow, I will be moving to the Czech Republic. 

This picture sums up about how that feels. 

Anticipation. Change. And also loss. The future is unknown (I can't say I've ever lived in Czech as an adult, nor as a missionary!), yet familiar at the same time.

In some ways, my heart mirrors some of the stories of Narnia (this photo actually reminds me of the wardrobe in C.S. Lewis' books). It's as though I am stepping into another world, yet that involves leaving this one for a time. Just as when the Pevensie children left England to enter Narnia though, I am not truly "leaving" the U.S. The relationships and "home" that have been built here will continue, though I may not be physically present in them soon. Just like Narnia. And when I return to the U.S. to visit, it may feel as though so much time passed, and no time passed at all.

I am excited for all that the Lord has ahead, and also fully aware of the sadness and loss that comes along with moving too.

Three weeks does not feel like enough time to soak in the joys of fellowship with my church, friendships, the home that the Lord has built here, and to leave and say goodbyes well and care for those I love in the process. Yet, in his perfect timing, this is exactly when he has planned for me to go. Even in the tension, I rest in that, knowing that what awaits me on the other side of this move is still God's presence. More than that, there is a job and role ahead, and I can hardly believe I'll be with the JV Kids soon!

I met with my pastor and his wife back in August, right before I headed to JV Kids' Camp, to gain their wisdom on a few questions I had. I'll always remember a quote my pastor said along the way, as we talked about transition and change.

His words resonated deep within as he said, "It's always hard to leave a place where you have seen God work." 

Yes, the Lord has been faithful thus far. And he will be the same Lord both now and forevermore, both here in Warrenville and in Eastern Europe.

Great is Thy faithfulness,” O God my Father,

There is no shadow of turning with Thee;
Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not
As Thou hast been Thou forever wilt be.
“Great is Thy faithfulness!” “Great is Thy faithfulness!”
Morning by morning new mercies I see;
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided—
“Great is Thy faithfulness,” Lord, unto me!
(Great is Thy Faithfulness, 1925)

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Judah is Two!

Judah, my oldest nephew, is now two years old!! Getting to see him, Tyler, Lara and Asher a couple of weeks ago was such an unexpected gift. We only had a few hours together on a Sunday afternoon in Chicago, but in this season of life, where we all live in different places, family time (regardless of how long or short) with them is a gift.

One day soon we will all live in Czech together, which is hard to believe sometimes! The Lord never ceases to surprise me. I can't wait to continue to see this little curious, courageous, determined and relational kid grow up. Judah, you are so loved! 

Sunday, October 1, 2017

These Are The Days

This may not be the season for regular everyday-style blogging and photography, but it is the season for...

Crisp air.

The best Sunday school class of 4-6 year-olds.

Jobs in the city (remember the food demos?).

Testimonies of God's work and the JV Kids.


"Krtek" (Little Mole) key-chains shared with friends.

"Deep Dive" research with the JV Kids.

Church family.

The Lord's grace and power.

It is a season to grow in faith and trust in the Lord, and also one to soak in and breathe deeply into. These are the transition days before moving to Czech in not very long -- these are the months in between. And I am learning to lean in.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

When My Brother Became a Dad

If you have been an aunt, uncle, or grandparent, then you know how sweet it is to see someone in your family take on a whole new role: father or mother. I can't even begin to say how special it is to see my brother Caleb be a dad, and how beautiful Haley is as a mom. 

And then there's Charlie. 

Dear Charlie Salem, you are deeply loved, cherished and adored! You're handsome too. I echo the prayers of your mom and dad: I pray that the Lord raises you up as a strong man of peace, one who leads confidently with kindness and love, and with full assurance of Christ's truth and grace. 

There is much life to catch up on, but amidst support raising travels, one of the sweetest gifts was getting to meet Charlie and see Caleb and Haley. Mom and I spent a few days with them in Colorado when Charlie was still in his first three weeks of life. 

I love all three of you, Caleb, Haley and Charlie!