Struggle. It’s been a struggle. Married to an American in 2007. A Floridian American. Three thousand miles away from my homeland.
It’s been an insane sort of clawing- Leopard’s tracks in frenzied zigzag pattern through the jungle. Singular in quest to reach her cubs.
And in blessed visit we landed finally at Kelowna, British Columbia. Babies gathered to breast at last. Divine intervention prevented me from crossing the border to travel back to the USA and down long sky to Florida. And my husband’s holy sacrifice led to a whole eighteen months of rich relationship building between a generous and compassionate step father and curious, brave, and courageous step children.
He sacrificed at the border when they turned me away. Prevented me from going back with him.
“Her paper work needs to be complete. She will not get into country without Visa in hand.” (!!!)
So he left it all.
-rich, life-long friendships
“I can’t tell you how many marriages end right here at the border” the border guard said later. “This is where they part. Husband goes back to his life in the USA and wife remains in Canada. Marriage dissolved right here. End of story.”
Not this marriage. Not this hero. Not this time, Mr. Border Patrol- Mr.” I am immigration!”
It was a hard year, but siblings and their families opened homes and hearts to us. And my children? I couldn’t have been more proud. How generously they made room for this new man in their life. How willingly they gave their hearts and their trust. Purposefully sharing their homes and spouses.
Our story -theirs and mine- had been a heart-wrenching one. The harmony in our home had been shattered five years earlier. This stay-at-home Mom who nursed every ill and championed every event was no longer in the home. Ripped away too early. Their raising incomplete- final chapters left unwritten and unresolved. Questions. Rumors. The reasons- the answers- didn’t matter. Only emptiness and ache remained.
And so the Lord, the Great Sovereign Lord- in His divine wisdom- gave us these eighteen months. And in this time he brought a healing salve to the wound. His name was Timothy and they adored him. They, too, traveled above and beyond, sharing with him a kind of unconditional love that he had never known before. They taught him so much. and for him, they filled a void.
“God sets the lonely in families.” Psalms 68:6
In watching them with him, I often felt like an outsider- a spectator at best. So enthralling was the entertainment in the ring. But I longed to be in their presence every second, these amazing children of mine along with their steadfast spouses.
Eventually they fell back into their good-humored treatment of me. Finally able to let go of their fear of losing me again- they laughed at my slowness to comprehend punch lines and respected, again, my lofty opinions that supersede everything else they’ve learned. One by one, all four of them, with courageous hearts, honored me with priceless gifts laid at my feet. Generous giftings of love and respect.
Eventually I was called up for the green card appointment and admitted into the United States. And what did we do? Promptly got a home five miles from the Canadian border and two hours from their homes. What a joy it has been to visit often with them for the past three years. How they have enriched our lives! God has been beyond gracious. He finished chapters, furnished answers, healed wounds, and matured every single one of us in the process.
And so it seems particularly cruel, that He would lead me away from them a second time. Because, as much as we love being next to them, it has become clear that this is not the place God has for us. This town. This ministry.
And so, after ten long years of separation and heartbreak, restoration and healing, I can only hope that we are all healed enough to give our lives fully and sacrificially to each one’s individual mission work in service to our Lord. Yes, they have been my precious family here on earth on kind loan from the father. But they were mine, only on loan.
Slowly, and at a pace that I am capable of absorbing, He is teaching me that my true family is my family of heaven- all of those thousands of souls who meet together around His throne.
I am finally able to hold babies that are not biologically my own and provide as much love and nurturing as I did to my own children all those years ago. Every time I hold a girl child, I see Jannah. Every time I hold a boy child, I see Jordan. And my arms are long and wide. My love runs deep. Every time I see somebody without proper clothing, I want to throw a jacket around them and make sure they zip it up, and I see my own children heading off to school, heads against the wind. Truly I do. For the first time in my life, I am loving others as though they were all my children. My own flesh and blood.
It is a funny thing about Mommys. This is why empty nest syndrome is so hard to deal with. LOVE NEEDS SOMEWHERE TO GO. God is showing me that if I show love to other people, it will fill the void of my own vacant children. Our family, our kin, our brothers and sisters, are the children of God. We are family.
Matthew 25: 37-40
Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”
Maybe I had to go through such incredible pain, loss, reconciliation, and restoration in my own family before I could have a true missionary’s heart. Before I could become a missionary indeed.
I welcome his His call on my life. For the first time in ten years, I am beginning to see a tiny glimpse of what everything that has gone before has been all about.
Life is a training ground. A training ground full of grueling obstacles. But every rocky course, behind us, positions us on a level higher than the last. And most times it is nigh impossible to make any sense of the madness in our lives while we are in the thick of it. But sometimes- just every now and then- He sets us high upon a hill where we can see everything behind us, and gaze into everything that lies ahead. Oh sure, we can’t tell exactly what is in the peaks and valleys that lay before us. We don’t yet know them like the back of our hand- like we know the terrain behind us- the terrain we’ve already covered. But we get an idea of what it’s going to look like. And for that we are grateful as we begin to pick our way carefully down the trail.
And yet, for all of that revelation, I am still not fully grown.
I can’t tell you how many times, since coming to the realization, that God is calling us elsewhere, I have wavered- stubbornly, fearfully, wanting to plant my feet firmly in the ground. Not move an inch. Not get torn from my children- my comfort, my joy, my network, my support system.
What about the coming economic collapse? What if things go horribly wrong in the world, we get separated and I can’t get back? What if Jannah gets pregnant and I can’t make it to the delivery room in time? What if Jordan needs to talk and he can’t just skip down for the weekend?
And then I hear His voice.
And what if I’d taken them both at birth? Weren’t they both destined for death before they made it out of the womb? Didn’t I acquiesce? And didn’t I give you a miracle not once, but twice? Haven’t I given you 27 amazing years with them?
And what if I were to take YOU home tomorrow? What then? Anything can happen, Kathleen. Trust me for today and every day. Walk where I lead. I will never leave you or forsake you. I will never leave of forsake them. Let that be enough.
And trust and believe, that one day we will all meet again, in our heavenly home. We will all dwell together- and never be separated again. On this earth you will always find trouble. But be of good cheer. This is merely your training ground. This is not your home. Your life on earth determines your position in heaven. Heaven is your forever home.
It is Jannah’s home.
It is Jordan’s home.
It is a place where families never divide and I am Father to all. I am eternally good and beautiful toward my children. I will gather you all like chicks under my wing- and I will sing for all of my children a never ending lullaby- and you will rest.
Remember I, too, have sacrificed a child for the kingdom.
Lift up your head. Look to Me. Keep your eyes on Me. Experience the wonder! For I am going to show you great things!