A prayer

I’m feeling the waves, the wind, the sea all around me – the fundraising, the packing, the moving, the emotions. I’m losing my focus on Jesus and focusing instead on the storm.

Lord Jesus, you are sovereign. You have called us to Chad. You have provided the way. But somehow in the midst of all my preparation, my mind has lost sight of that.

I feel like Peter when he walked on water and then began to sink. I was cruising along on the waves with you, and then I looked at the storm around me and became scared.

Take my hand, Lord. Lift me up. Give me strength. Reignite your calling in me.

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Not today, honey!

I’m having a hard day. I don’t feel sad or sleepy or angry. I just feel down…exhausted…weary. Depressed.

This has been a hard week. We moved out of our house and signed the closing papers. This is a huge change for us and every emotion is knocking on our doors.

I feel like I’ve been carrying a heavy load all week. And now I just want to go to bed and stay there.

I’m fully aware of my mental illness today. She’s sitting a little too close to me right now. Thankfully, I recognize how close she’s getting and I have my tool box ready to prevent her from sitting on my lap and taking control over me.

I took my meds this morning. I got out of bed, put on my clothes, and took the kids to Chick-fil-A. We ate inside so I had to interact with strangers. I had to be seen and heard. Then we went to Target for some groceries – checked something off my list – and even though I did use the self-checkout, I still had to leave the comfort of my bed and car and be around people. Then when we got back to the apartment, I played on the play ground with my kids. I laid in the grass, basked in the sun, and even asked Weslee to push me on the swing. I sat on my bed, inhaled some essential oils (bergamot, lemon, and patchouli), and wrote in my journal. People, these are HUGE wins for me on a day like today!

To some these tools of mine may seem silly, but to me they are major successes. Today, I stood up to my mental illness and said, “Not today, honey!”

In Between Chapters

This is the part before my new beginning.

I’m not enjoying it very much and that makes me sad.

I thought my time of preparing for Chad would be exciting and thought provoking.

But now, I just want it to to be over. I want to be finished packing, finished fundraising, and have already said my goodbyes. I’m ready to wake up to my new life in Chad.

I know Chad will be here before I know it, so I don’t want to rush and skip the importance of the preparation part.

I think I’ve just been so busy sorting, organizing, de-cluttering, down-sizing, and trying to fit my family’s next year into 15 pieces of luggage, that I haven’t stopped to reflect on the emotional side of it all.

I went through boxes of my late dad’s and brother’s things, and I did it all so quickly and robotically that I honestly didn’t allow myself to really feel the weight of what I was doing.

My mom asked me the other day if I have any regrets of things I’ve sold, donated, or thrown away. Thankfully, my answer is no even though I’ve been moving through everything so quickly.

I feel it’s time to stop for a moment. To pause and let this all soak in. To put all my preparation on hold and breathe in my past and present.

My talented neighbor and friend painted this portrait of our home as a perfect going away gift. Looking at it is helping me slow down and reflect on my time here. I truly have learned and grown so much here in this old house.

722Palace

 

No More Dumpster Diving

We have a huge dumpster in our driveway that we’ve been tossing all sorts of junk into. Everything that’s not garage sale or Goodwill worthy is meeting it’s demise in this dumpster – from broken bricks to an old beat up couch.

The other day, I threw away a couple of old diaries that I was tired of keeping up with. I doubted this decision later. I remembered the fun memories recorded on those pages, and I remembered the not so good memories. I thought that maybe I should keep the diaries to remind myself where I’ve been and what I’ve come through. I went back to the trash and pulled them out.

After reading through them, I decided to return them to the trash. I decided that having the memories from that time is better than having my actual words on a page. I would rather remember what I learned and how I grew in those moments than to have every little detail I documented during the moment.

Not sure if that makes sense, but that’s where my mind is right now.

I’m trying to simplify my possessions. I’m trying to not be sentimental with things unless they’re irreplaceable or trigger a memory I never want to forget. I want to hold on to the things that truly mean love and life to me than have a bunch of stuff just cluttering up my little world.

I guess you could say that I’m seeking a bit of minimalism. The idea of not holding on to things that really don’t add to my life is what I’m after. I only want to keep the items that evoke deep emotion in me as keepsakes. I would rather leave a couple of boxes of meaningful items for my kids to sort through when I’m gone than a whole house filled with things they really don’t care or know about.

My goal is to not pull things out of the trash if my first instinct was not to keep it. If I have to think too hard about something, it’s probably not worth keeping.

**Edited to add: I do have 2 journals that I did keep. There was no doubt in my mind of whether I would keep them or not. They are not just little details about my life, but they contain thoughts and feelings that I want to pass down to my children. Please don’t think I’m trying to be an insensitive jerk. Ha!

A New Purpose

This quote from Rebekah Lyons “Freefall to Fly” hits me right between the eyes:

“…we walk the streets of our cities with appointments and responsibilities but lack a sense that God intended purpose for our days.”

I knew my purpose and destiny in life was in missions/humanitarian work since I was 15 years old. God confirmed that calling multiple times throughout high school and college. Because of that desire and pull on my life, I traveled quite a bit. I signed up for every mission trip I could. I raised support from family, friends, and churches. I remember living in Sweden for 3 months after college and knowing that my purpose in life was to leave the US and show God’s love around the world.

Even when Robert and I got married, we talked about traveling together and raising our family overseas. We satisfied this desire for a while through Robert’s travels with TEAM. I even accompanied him on a trip to Guatemala once. Then God called us to Chad.

We visited Chad for one month in 2014 and fell in love with the people and the mission. After that trip, we knew we were supposed to go back at some point. Our whole family was excited to plan a year-long excursion as missionaries in Chad. We began praying about when and how.

God had a slight detour for us though. He opened doors for both us to start new jobs here in Chicagoland. This seemed to take us away from missionary life. We walked through those doors and did well. We put the kids in a great school, got a cat and a dog, began to fix up our old home and develop deep friendships. We were becoming settled and comfortable and not really thinking much about life as missionaries.

Then God brought along a Facebook post that changed everything.

I saw that TEAM was looking for a teacher for a homeschool kindergarten class in Chad. I immediately emailed Robert saying, “I can do this.” The wheels started turning. We sent emails, Facetimed friends in Chad, and prayed continually about this opportunity. Every door we knocked on opened. It was like God was flashing a neon sign saying, “Now is the time for the Johnsons to return to Chad!”

So here we are in the middle of packing up our home, raising a budget, and planning on leaving in September for a mission that calls us to fulfill the purpose for our days. The plan right now is to go for a year, but I know if God opens the door for us to stay longer, we will walk through it. We’re nervous but excited to see what this next step in our faith will bring.

You can connect with us and hear more about what we will be doing in Chad at www.wearethejohnsons.com. You can contribute to our mission by clicking here.

 

Turn. Set your journey. Go.

Deut 1:6-7

The Israelites camped in the wilderness for 38 years. They didn’t know God’s where, what, or why. They had so many questions and doubts during this time.

Finally, after they grew and learned a lot about themselves and God, he gave them a direction. Turn, set your journey, and go toward the promise land.

I feel like I’ve been wandering the wilderness for the last 7 years. Although, the last couple of years have been a peaceful wandering – my peace pocket. Now, I feel the Lord shaking things up again. I’m not sure what’s in store.

Door 1 – I see the Lord growing Robert and me in our current jobs and the kids’ school. I see the opportunities for us to be settled here, growing in our work and ministries. Challenging but comfortable.

Door 2 – I see the same as door 1, but Robert and I digging into our writing and being challenged by it. Exciting but nerve-racking.

Door 3 – I see the opportunity to go back to Chad, which would require giving up our comfortable life in the suburbs and immersing ourselves into Chadian culture. Scary but exciting.

I honestly can say that I don’t know which of the 3 lies ahead. There’s a part of me that wants each option.

I’m praying over them and trusting God will guide us into the right path.