I have this picture on my mantle that says, “The journey is the destination.” As I sit in my chair next to the fire place each morning, sipping my coffee and reading my bible or writing in my journal, before the craziness of the day begins, I often look at that picture and remind myself of the truth of that statement. So much of life is not about achieving, its about being. Now, I am a task oriented person. I love a “To Do” list because it gives me goals to focus on for the day and when I can cross something off the list I feel so much satisfaction! I have even been known to write something on my list that I have already done because crossing it off gives me the drive to tackle the rest (just ask Mark). It’s psychological I’m sure. The ongoing life lesson that God seem to be teaching me is to enjoy the ride! Don’t be so caught up in the details of life that I miss the actual lesson and/or experience He has for me. Just when I think, “Man I did great learning to trust him more this time around! I think I’ve got this down,” another opportunity to learn trust comes back around to me. Even in trusting Him, I want to be able to cross it off of my “To Do” list. I trust God….check. Tasks can be checked off on a list, but anything that has to do with relationship, simply can not, not ever, because relationships are always growing, always deepening, always changing. Uh oh there’s that word….CHANGE. Sometimes I think it must be a four letter word, you know the ones that make you cringe when you hear them, or make you think in your head, “Uh oh did I say that out loud for my kids to hear?” Change is on the horizon for the Van Denend’s!
We have been settled in Redding now for almost 2 years. We have found our groove in a lot of ways. We love our church, our home, our kids school, Mark’s job, our friendships that seem to finally be developing. Life was starting to feel “comfortable” and then the curve balls started to fly at us. I mean one after another! With those curve balls meant change was going to happen. AHHHH, but I hate change! I’m tired of change! I want some stability in life!
Our life has been constantly changing for the last 5 years! Change…God haven’t I already crossed this off of my to do list? Have I not mastered this yet? “The journey is the destination” rings through my mind. Let’s recap the change of the last 5 years….Missions school in Mozambique for 3 months, back home to America, pack up 7 months later move to Mozambique, 6 months later go back to America, 2 months later go back to Mozambique, 6 months later go back to America, 9 months in America with multiple moves and 6 weeks of living on the road to California and back, 3 months in Tahoe, move to Redding (6 weeks in one house, then move again to our current house). All the while caring for my family, being a homeschool mom, speaking at churches and women’s events, preaching with Mark, fundraising, Mark studying and taking exams, directing a school of leadership, trying to find places to live since our current spot was no longer available, yet again, finding vehicles to use since we gave our van away when we moved to Mozambique, OH wait! Yes I need to remember to actually ENJOY my husband and children, not just survive the day to day because hello I am called to thrive in life, not just survive! But there’s too much change, so how do I thrive in this? When I look back at all that we have walked through in the last 5 years, I think, I am exhausted, BUT God! Truly I know that He was in all of this craziness because NEVER EVER would I have signed up for it on my own! I would never do the things He has asked of us because I couldn’t control the outcome. I literally had zero control over how a lot of situations would turn out for us. The only thing I could always turn to that would never fail me, was to get on my knees and say, “I trust you Jesus,” sometimes over and over and over again with tears streaming down my face, until my mind would align with that truth. Then I could get back up again and keep going on the journey.
Here I find myself again with opportunities to trust my Jesus. Change is coming for us. Things are shifting, the ground feels shaky at times, but when I stop trying to stand in my own strength and drop to my knees, somehow it becomes easier. It’s in that place that I stop striving, that I stop trying to make things happen and as I am still before him I can hear what I need to do.
We have been waiting on God for the right time to start a non-profit organization. I felt God told me we would be doing this down the road when we had first returned from Mozambique in 2014. Since arriving in Redding in 2015 the word I kept getting as I would pray about what I should be “doing” here was, “You need to rest.” REST? My kids are in school ALL day for the first time in their lives. I literally have an entire day to myself, 5 days a week, for the first time in 15 years and you want me to do what? “You need to rest.” I’ll save you all the details, but simply put, I didn’t listen to God’s advice. I plowed ahead and began to find my way in Redding! I need to be productive! I need to contribute! I need to show everyone how valuable I am! Striving to the point of having a complete emotional breakdown. So after 7 months of fighting God, I finally gave in and chose to obey him. The rest season I would be in from them until the end of 2016 was painful and beautiful all at the same time. And yet, I don’t think it needed to be that painful if I would have listened from the beginning.
By the end of 2016 Mark and I felt it was time to begin pursuing the establishment of our non-profit. Since then we have been waiting on direction and vision for what it will be. We feel like we have something to start with and would like to begin the legal process of getting all the paperwork in order! We feel an urgency to begin and finish before the end of 2017, which at this point would be a miracle. But we’ve seen God do those from time to time for us, so we are going to jump and trust that He will catch us. In order to complete this we have legal fees to cover (around $6,000) so if you feel led to partner with us in this way we would be happy to talk with you and give you all the details.
We also found out that we have to move out of our house by July 31st so if you would be praying that we would find the perfect house for our family to rent we would be so grateful. Ideally we would love to find a home with a rent to own option so we don’t have to move our family yet again next year when we are eligible to buy. Lots of BIG change is on the horizon for us, so please send us any words of encouragement you have! We could really use it right about now. We are somewhat discouraged, but hopeful that God has something better for us. We simply need to trust Him, one step at a time.
Mark & Sarah