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MISSION UPDATE: Independence Day

It was an especially frigid winter on the mountain and, once again, our sloped driveway was a slick of ice. It was the kind of evening I can barely imagine now after living in this heat for almost four years, but this particular night has stuck with me.

I had to take my oldest son somewhere and I'm a timid driver even in good weather. But I also don't love driving at night so there were all sorts of reasons I didn't want to make this trip. I gulped back my nerves, whispered a prayer and told myself it would be fine. We bundled up and stepped out the front door onto the old, creaky porch.

A blast of cold air hit my face and it took a few seconds to be able to breathe. The warmth of the wood stove was only a few steps behind me but I knew I couldn't go back. I pulled my hood a little tighter and looped my hand through Micah's arm.

We were in it together only he was cheerier than I. I decided to let him lead.

He kept me upright as we made our way down the porch steps and then we started to slide down the driveway to the van. The roads had been treated but our hill had not. I made it less than a quarter of the way to the van when suddenly my feet shot out from under me and I knew I was going down. The problem was, I was still holding onto Micah which meant he was going down, too.

We landed side by side and slid a bit further before stopping. And then we just sat there on that cold, wet ground laughing hysterically. I'm the sort that struggles to pull it together once I get the giggles and I think my ridiculous laughter is probably what kept Micah laughing.

We finally made our way to our feet, and I once again latched onto my tall teenager so we could start again. We slipped and slid, but stayed upright, the rest of the way and finally made it breathlessly into the van. What I remember best, however, is that my whole attitude changed for the better after everything that could go wrong seemed to have gone wrong.

Odd, right?

What I realize now, looking back, is that I wasn't alone. I was with my child, who I love with everything in me. The person he is, the lightness of his mood, the way he tried to protect me, and then the way he stayed with me even when I landed on my backside ... it turned something stressful into an experience I remember almost a decade later.

Together is just better.

I've craved quiet for years thinking it was my ticket to peace. My life is just always so full and so noisy and so very, very fluid that I sometimes think, "If only I had a good stretch of time to myself, I'd feel more peaceful." And so I sneak off to my room or to the raft on the water and try to soak up a little quiet. Only they always find me.

It's like they're programmed to just know, you know?

But sometimes I'm tuned in enough to hear God's gentle voice calling to me: They're seeking you out like I want you to seek me.

There it is. It's so plain and yet so easy to miss. My kids, biological or otherwise, pursue me. They want to be with me. They're happiest when I'm nearby. They crave my company and they love my attention. They want me to know everything about their everything. They're rarely trying to get away from me but are always chasing me down.

Why am I not in pursuit of God like that? Clearly it's instinctual in children, and I'm His child so what exactly is it that I'm missing?

If I were to answer my own question I'd have to say I think it's largely that I forget how much better all the stressful moments are when I link arms with Him and let Him protect me. When I let the sweetness of who He is spill over onto me until I find myself laughing through the hard times like I did that night with Micah. The situation on that icy hill wasn't made easier or more comfortable, the company simply made it better.

Sometimes I seek so hard after my own company, thinking quiet is what I want, when really I'm craving God and I don't even know it. My independent spirit gets in my own way.

The sun has just set on July 4, 2023 (Thai time) and we celebrated America's independence half a world away in Southeast Asia. We splurged a little and bought the fixings for a picnic meal, American-style, and it just tasted a little bit like joy. I'm thankful to be from the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave although I'm sad to see what's happening to it as its citizens fight so hard to give up their dependence on God. I cringe when I see how far we've collectively turned from the One who makes the journey sweeter.

The impossible task of raising two and a half dozen+ children, from a culture different from our own, seems to grow harder as we watch the east take its cues from the west. How do we explain things that don't make sense in a language we can't fully utilize? How do we make sense of the senseless?

We can't.

But we can teach them to seek their independence from sin and to chase after God like their lives depend on the success of the seeking. Because it does.

So we'll just be over here learning to relentlessly pursue God like our kids pursue us. Because it's only when they see us actually walking that pursuit out that they'll realize all independence is not created equal and that the best kind doesn't look like independence at all.

It's the kind that puts us fully dependent on the best Companion ... and completely delighted about it.


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