We've been doing a family newsletter ever since Dennis resigned from his position as youth minister and we left Louisiana. It's a good way to keep up with people, and we had no idea then just how much moving around we would do. I had a feeling that we might be walking into a "wilderness" of sorts. You know, like in the Bible when God makes a promise to the Israelites in the Old Testament of the Bible and then they spend the next 40 years wandering in the wilderness.
Well, I'm being over dramatic because it's been less than six months since we left Ponchatoula, but it has definitely felt like one big long walk in the woods with no map and no compass. I will say that God has been a pillar of fire for us to walk by in the night, just like he was in the Old Testament. I guess that is all we need, isn't it? We don't have to know the destination, we just need the Holy Spirit to affirm that it is with us and that we are headed in the right direction. I've never known God as intimately as I do right now, and I wouldn't trade anything in the world for it. Anything.
Huh, that was kind of the first time I'd thought of it like that. As in, I was typing it and thinking it for the first time all at once. So, if it doesn't make any sense, think of it as a work in progress. Hey, this is a blog, not a NYT bestseller. Whadya expect? Proper grammar and clear wording? Sorry...
At any rate, we lived in Hattiesburg for about three months and things just didn't work out there, to make it brief. It really went up in flames, to be honest. We ended up needing to find a new place to stay, and fast. I had just started the application process for graduate school in Texas and we were waiting to see how all of that would pan out. Therefore, we couldn't commit to a new job or sign a new lease on a rental, seeing how we'd probably be moving in a few months, anyway.
Thankfully, my mom had told me just a few days before everything fell apart that we were welcome to stay with my family if there was any time in between our internship in Hattiesburg and our move to grad school.
Had things worked out the way we planned, there wouldn't have been any time in between, but they didn't. At the end of February, we got rid of almost all of our belongings, packed up a small U-Haul, and moved in with my parents. Kind of a blow to the ego, and an adjustment for all of us, but it has been such a huge blessing to our family. The kids have thrived, I've loved having the help and the company, and we've all enjoyed getting tons of quality time. There have been lots of times that I have really pined to buy a house and settle down here, but I know that this is not the destination God is leading us to. We have not arrived yet.
Staying with my parents and younger sister has been healing to our family in more ways than one. We had several weeks that neither Dennis nor I were working. Dennis is working for my Dad's company now. We got to spend more time together as a family, and we've had a break from ministry, too. We miss getting to be involved in so many people's lives, but there is something sweet and simple about getting to draw a smaller circle and be part of fewer lives, but in a bigger way. Mostly, we've spent time with family and neighbors, and it's been refreshing.
Also, now that I have around the clock help with my kids, we decided to go through with a surgery that I've been needing for about a year now. I've had pelvic organ prolapse pretty severely since Evie was born. You can Google it, if you want, the symptoms involve a lot of unmentionable words about body parts I don't want to subject you to, but I'm happy to discuss it with anyone who has questions. After having three kids, there're really no shame here. :) The main procedure was a hysterectomy.
That's been an emotional roller coaster. I knew that my body didn't need to have any more babies, I also knew that we wanted to grow our family through adoption from here on out. It is still hard to know at 27 that my womb will never hold another baby. I'll never feel those little kicks from the inside. I'll never get to experience labor and delivery again. (Yes, I actually treasure those memories right up there with my wedding day. Having a baby is amazing. It also destroys your body in ways you cannot imagine...) I'll never breastfeed again. It feels like I would imagine a miscarriage might. On the other hand, I think it makes me appreciate my three more, knowing that there will never be another one like them, another little combination of me and Dennis into a whole new person. My kids are kind of an endangered species, or something.
Anyways, that was a little over 2 weeks ago, and recovery has really taken up almost all of my brain space. It took so many different procedures to put all of my organs back in place that my recovery has been somewhat of an adventure. Each day bring about a new...surprise. In fact, I'm only writing this long overshare of a post because my poor lil bladder is spasming like nobody's business, so I know I won't be sleeping for a while.
I just need you to know that hysterectomies, although very common, are also kind of a big deal. I had no idea recovery would be this hard.
Gosh, I just remembered that I took a heavy painkiller a little over an hour ago, Note to self: do not hit "publish" until you've sobered up and proofread this post...
So, here we are, living in North Mississippi in my parents "loft apartment" (because I refuse to call it an attic). Dennis is working construction for my Dad, and I'm laid up recovering from a hysterectomy.
I have been accepted into the graduate program at the Baylor School of Social Work in Waco, Texas. Our time working with the ladies in Hattiesburg really helped me solidify my calling to that field and grew my desire to seek more education. I'm very excited and nervous about going back to school.
Last week we were offered a job working for the team at Mission Waco, and we are very excited about this opportunity. Dennis and I will be working together ministering to the city of Waco and Leading ministry teams. One of our mains jobs will be to lead teams of people through something called a poverty simulator. This is a weekend designed to help people experience firsthand what it is like to live in poverty. I'm excited to learn more about this ministry. Another ministry of Mission Waco is their church plant, The Church Under the Bridge. This church is specifically geared toward the homeless community in Waco.
Tonight, we finished our final interview to live at an intentional community in Waco that was started by Mission Waco. We have been praying, studying, and seeking to learn more about the intentional community for over a year now, so we are very excited for this opportunity. We will know if we are accepted into the community sometime in the next 24 hours. I'm sure most of you are not familiar with the term "intentional community", and I'll hopefully write more about that someday, but I'll try to sum it up in a few words:
Intentional communities are groups of people who choose to live life together. This means living in close proximity (we will all share the same apartment complex), sharing meals together, having events together, and pooling our resources. Gosh, there's so much more to it than that. I really havent done it justice. Basically, if you've ever read the last part of Acts chapter 2 in the Bible and thought "Man, I wish I could find me a church like that", you were thinking of intentional community.
And that is all. I think I'd better get back to work. All these episodes of "30 Rock" are not going to rewatch themselves, you know.
Oh, here are some links to some of the topics/ministries I've discussed:
Mission Waco is the ministry that we'll be working for.
The Church Under the Bridge is the church that they planted. You know why it's called that? 'Cause they meet under a bridge. Nifty. Here's a video, too, if you like. (Shane Claiborne mentions it in his book, which you know is a big deal to me.)
Poverty simulator. I couldn't find a good video to sum it up quickly, but this video was the best I could find. Can't wait to see this firsthand.
Intentional community. I would say that the community we hope to join fall under collective, or cohousing community. The word commune really does apply, but that word really has a lot of negative connotations, thanks to the 60's, so it's avoided these days. :)