I apologize for the gap in posting. I’ve been busy at work, as well as in my off-work time, and I’ve been working on this post for several days wherever I have been able to grab time.
This is all about my kids, so there definitely will be some shameless bragging going on. I’ll tell some stories, but none that would make my kids change their names, shave their heads, and move to another country… they may move to another country, but that was inevitable anyway. I’m pretty sure they’ll keep their names and their hair, however.
Recently, my kids have been given opportunities to realize some of their very important and long-held dreams.
Jimmy and Jeanice have often talked about traveling for fun—just taking off and exploring the world. The first time I learned that God has His hands on my kids, that I could trust Him more than my own ability to protect them, was almost 22 years ago. In July, 1998, Jim and I took our one-year-old son, Jimmy, with us on a short-term missions trip to Guatemala. One day, we went to the garbage dump to work with the people who lived there. After we presented the drama, as I spoke to a group of women, one of them reached out and took Jimmy from me, and the other women surrounded her so that I lost sight of him. I had a split-second to make a decision. I could have pushed my way in, taken my baby back into my arms, … and lost an opportunity to speak into these women’s lives. And don’t think my mommy-instincts didn’t scream long and hard at me to charge in and protect my own. Instead, I worked my way through, put my hand on Jimmy, and talked to those women about the love of Jesus and how He wanted to be a part of their lives. As a result of this learned trust in God to protect my children better than I ever could, I have had peace as Jimmy and Jeanice have collectively been on 22 trips to 18 countries. This summer, they get to experience their first overseas adventure together since they were preschoolers. Jimmy is heading to Germany for a missions trip at the end of this month. On the last day of his trip, Jeanice will fly to Berlin to meet him and begin their adventures. They’ll spend a couple weeks “backpacking Europe.” Jimmy has been blogging about their preparations, and he’ll continue at least through the course of their trip.
Johnny has had a heart for Africa and for babies since he was very young. The first time I saw it was when Johnny was about two years old. I was reading to him the story of Hannah, Samuel’s mother. Hannah (for those of you who are unfamiliar with the story) desperately wanted a baby, but she couldn’t conceive. Every year, she would travel to the temple weeping and imploring God to give her a baby. As I read the story, Johnny himself began to cry. It just broke his heart that Hannah couldn’t have children. He couldn’t fathom pain that deep. A couple years later, Johnny was in the room as I was teaching early American history to Jimmy. (Free side-note tip for soon-to-be and young parents: kids are listening, no matter how unlikely it seems that they would be doing so.) When he heard slavery explained, he became very upset: “You can’t *own* a person! Why would they do that??” Later, we read a story about a missionary family in Africa. These and other events began to compile a world-view in Johnny’s developing little mind. When he was about 4 or 5, I heard him in his room and went to investigate (as any good mother would! 🙂 ). The only way to describe what I saw is to say that my little man was travailing. He was on his knees, rocking back and forth, crying, and praying, “God, please! You have to send someone to Africa. Mommy says I’m too young to go, and the people there will die before she’ll say I’m old enough to go. Please, God!!” Yes, deep beyond his years! Well, I’m thrilled to say that Johnny may have the opportunity to work in an orphanage there. I’m so excited for him. We don’t know what God will have Johnny do with his life, but we know that it won’t involve sitting still somewhere.
Many of you know that my kids have lived only with their dad for years. The two main reasons for this were: he was in a better financial position to house and feed them, and my mental health didn’t leave me room to care for anyone but myself for a while… and then I went through a very selfish period… and, well, anyway… Life has held some regrets over the years, but I’m moving on and making some good choices. Now, on to happier thoughts. J Julia and I are buying a house together! We are very excited. Julia has been living with her dad and her brothers for quite some time and is, as she puts it, “done with testosterone” for a while. I have been renting a room in somebody else’s house for the last seven years. We are each ready to have our own bathroom, to run a kitchen and keep a house as we like, and to just have mom-daughter time whenever we want to. I could (and even want to) write pages and pages about the house we’ve found, but instead I’ll be keeping you posted on that in updates. Ok, here’s one little sneak peek:
In Him, Joni