2016 has been an exciting and challenging year for our family. We welcomed Caden, our 5th child in January. He has been an amazing addition to our family, and we are so grateful to have had his smiles to enjoy over the last 7 months.
But 2016 has also been one of the most difficult years for our family. At the start of this year, God made it clear that it was time for the ministry that we had been serving to end. After spending close to five years working hard on something that God is calling you to do, it is hard to let go. It is hard to stop. And it is hard to talk about and hard to know what to say, especially online. So we haven’t said much in these spaces. But as I have been thinking about what to say, in the way of an update, I read this from Jonathan Martin’s “How to Survive a Shipwreck” today.
You watched dreams you cradled in your arms with the strength of all your tenderness descend into the sea. All that animated you, all that moved you before, could move you forward in the world no longer. The water filled your mouth and your nostrils, and you choked at the taste of it. But when the grief or the guilt or the loss recedes into the night and your soul sets sail again, you still dream-despite yourself. There is still a kind of music you will hear that stirs within you an unspeakable longing. There is still an ache, not just for all you lost, but to see and know and be seen and known still, to explore and imagine and create… There is still a part of you that yearns for something outside yourself. You felt yourself out to sea, and yet some kind of desire, for something or another, bears you along, and you find yourself still somehow here–almost against your own wishes. And even in the moments when anything that felt like conscious desire went out with the tide, there is still some kind of near morbid curiosity of how your life and story are going to turn out.
We watched what was left of what we had been doing the past five years pass out of sight, sometimes wondering why, sometimes wondering “what if…?” As time passed, we also knew that as hard as it was to watch the ship go down, we weren’t going down with it. There was still something there. Something God still wants to do in us and through us. That ache that he describes was still alive. Even though having to say good bye to what we had spent so much time and energy and prayers was hard, it didn’t change the call that God had placed on me. It didn’t change our desire to share Jesus with others. It didn’t change our desire to live life on mission with God’s people.
I would walk past the computer where Jana would be working and she would have Gungor’s “This is not the end” on repeat.
And we waited. Knowing God had something for us. This part of the process is always slow, and always long. And we waited. And churches said “no.” And we prayed. And we waited some more.
But after months of waiting and praying, we have found where the next part of our story is going to be set. In German Valley, Illinois.
I have accepted a call to be the Associate Pastor of Outreach and Assimilation at Grace Valley CRC. We moved in last week, and I will officially start tomorrow, August 1.
The scenery is different, but our call remains the same. To do our best to love God, love others, and make disciples who make disciples. We hope it will be a place where we can use many of the things that we learned at Planted Communities, and help a new community be salt and light in Northwest Illinois.