Stones. They are everywhere. Stumbling stones, stepping stones, stones for throwing, stones for piling. In the bible, stones are used for remembering. This is a place for me to pile my own rough stones of remembering along the road I am traveling, one post at a time. They are more than mere words thrown out into the wake of my path. They are a concrete testament of God's faithfulness, provision and goodness along the way.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Whither Then? I Cannot Say.

When I first began blogging about our faith and ministry journey over four years ago, I was reading the Hobbit to my boys. So many parallels gripped me that I called this blog "The Road to Middle Earth"; Middle Earth being the English transliteration of "Mediterranean". The picture on my blog header was a backdrop for the Tolkien quote I chose as my heading:

My blogging changed themes shortly after we arrived on the field and it became Stones in the Road, based on a favorite Steve Bell song of mine. Its purpose has been to testify to God's goodness and faithfulness along the way. He has been so good. He has been so faithful. And we have no doubt that good and faithful He will be.

At the time of choosing the Tolkien quote early on in our journey, it was the first part that really resonated with me. Now, it is the last line. The last line really says it all when it comes to our current reality. Wither then? I cannot say.

In just under one month we will be shipping our belongings to Canada. We know the province. That is about all we know. A few months ago we thought we had a pretty good idea of how to work this all out in a way that made sense to us. Since Pietro wants to take preaching, leadership and counseling classes at seminary, and our oldest daughter is beginning college on the same campus this fall, we could help cut living expenses for her by moving there for the next four years, be part of a small christian community where our younger kids could attend christian school and Pietro could find work in nearby Moose Jaw (we had a few leads at that time) while fitting studies around work. We could picture this nice, neat package that seemed a wonderful fit for all of our family's needs.

The job possibilities were closed doors. Housing has been CLEAR closed doors. Caronport High School is actually a private school and therefore any expenses we could have helped reduce for Shailey would be eaten up by private school tuition for our other kids. And so we are left questioning our nice, neat, four year plan and learning to say, "If not this, wither then....?" and learning to drift on the current of "I cannot say".

We feel like this is another big "Wait For It" moment in our lives and this time I am really trying to do better, to not wrestle through it like a caterpillar trying to break from the cocoon before its time. I still find myself wriggling at times, but I catch myself and still myself, and find my rest in the flow of the current better than I have in the past.

One open door we have seen is the provision of a  pre-approved mortgage despite the fact that we have no job security (yet). Not only that, it provides us with maximum flexibility (pay as often as you can and as much as you want, or don't pay at all and they will collect interest from our church building project investments at the end of the year). This has been a miraculous answer to prayer, because the honest truth is that with the largest portion of our money from the sale of the farm tied up in our home church building project until 2030, with no job prospects and no income, we definitely don't fit ANY of the standard criteria for a mortgage! But God opened that door so wide for us, in a way that was far beyond anything we would have ever dreamed or asked. So when God does reveal the "whither then", we will be able to move expediently to secure housing!

Until then, He has provided us with a place to stay in our home town of Waldheim until the first week of August (barring the 14-24th of June, if you know of a place we could crash during that period that would be another answer to prayer) and He has given us more confidence in being able to say the words (and be content in saying them): "I cannot say." Where will you be living? I cannot say. What will you be doing? I cannot say. Where will your kids be going to school? I cannot say. What are your plans for the future? I cannot say. The one thing we can say with complete confidence is that although we do not know WHAT the future holds, we know WHO holds the future.

We have had a lot of questions about Pietro's plans for seminary, and what our long term plans are and even those have become increasingly "we cannot say". We do feel increasingly that it is a time in life where we must show care and concern for our kids emotional, educational and social needs, and we do see providing stability and opportunity for them as a large priority for the next ten years until the youngest one comes of age. Since financially it will not be saving us money to live in Caronport, and since doors are not opening in Caronport area for employment and since employment is going to be the important clincher for location, we feel that once the other details of our lives fall together, we will see if, how and when Pietro can fit a class or two a year around holidays and in his spare time through the modular courses offered at Briercrest.

And what about Italy, you ask? We cannot say. Although the dream and the willingness is there if and when God were to open the door in the future for us to return, we have been cautioned and have come to a feeling of conviction we are NOT to put any timeline, or even a definitive stamp of self assurance on our return to Italy at this point. By no longer trying to force a timeline of our own devising, we can focus on living fully in the next chapter of life to continue serving, growing, learning and living out our mission wherever (and for however long) God deems fit to plant us.

Please pray with us that we would continue to have absolute confidence in God's plan and provision for our family, when it comes to our community, our home, our employment, our continued formation and "place in His plan". We might not be able to say "wither then" but we can confidently say, "wherever and whatever lies ahead of us, we know Who goes before us, we know Who stands behind: the God of angel armies is always by our side!