November 5th, 2005 is my anniversary, the day Mark and I set out on a new journey. We thought we had it all planned out and new exactly where we were going. If you have ever heard the phrase "if you want to hear God laugh, tell him your plans". Well that would pretty much describe us. We were only going back to Minnesota for a year, two years at the longest. Just long enough for us to spend time with my family and then hit the road again. We had no plans for were we would go next, but anywhere but Minnesota. Like I said; "tell God your plans". I don't think God laughed but he definately threw us on a different path. I say threw, not placed or suggested, but threw. Because six months after we were married we found out I was pregnant. Getting pregnant six months after we got married was not part of our plan. I neither wanted to be pregnant and I certainly did not want the responsiblity of having to get up at all hours and loose complete independance to a kid. But along came Madeline Grace Russell December 15th, 2006. I was pregnant when we celebrated our 1st anniversary. Maddies first year was the roughest year I had ever had. Post Partum hit me like a ton of bricks and on top of it Maddie was colicky. Looking back now I'm pretty sure her tummy problems were environmental and from the stress of me struggling to want my child. I remember holding Madeline and crying because while I loved my daughter, I also struggled wanting my daughter. I honestly have loved Madeline from the moment I knew I was pregnant. As freaked out as I was and as much as I didn't want to be a mommy I thank God that he gave me a love for my daughter. In the middle of my pregnancy God told me that I was going to have a girl. I knew without a doubt that God had indeed told me it was a girl. So I started buying girl clothes and everyone whispered, what if it's a boy. I said it's not and her name is Madeline Grace and we'll call her Maddie for a nick name. God was right it is a girl and her name is indeed Madeline Grace! I believe God told me it was a girl so that I would begin bonding that moment with my daughter. Someone once asked me if I loved being a mom and I said no I don't. I didn't because I knew exactly what I would do if I didn't have my daughter. I knew where and what I would be doing. For one I would be sleeping! Two I would be off on some wild and exciting adventure, not rocking a crying baby that wouldn't stop crying. I would be on some awesome incredible mission serving God, not waking up at 6am because my daughter was awake. But I have to tell you and I often wonder if this was God's way of waking Mark and I both up and saying grow up. Not only making us grow up but deepening my relationship with my family and deepening my relationship with God. Because I have had to lean on the everlasting arms of my God and my saviour! I remember holding Maddie while feeding her in the middle of the night and crying because that was NOT what I wanted to be doing. I would also cry because I knew there were moms all over the world who would love and whos arms were aching to have the blessing I was holding. I felt guilty for not wanting to be a mommy, for not wanting to comfort my crying baby. There were literally times when I didn't care if Maddie cried. There were times I cried because I did care she was crying but I didn't want to do anything about it. That first year of Maddie's life was wonderful and awful at the sametime.
Four years. Maddie turned four December 15th. The twins turned 1 year old today (Jan. 13th) and I almost cried. I cried because for the first time in four years I could honestly say I couldn't imagine life without my kids. For the first time I am excited to be a mommy. There are many days when the thought of getting up is oh man I have to do this again. There are many days when my laundry piles up and I wonder if I will see the haul way floor again. But that is ok, because God has slowly, ever so slowly given me a love for my mission field.
I have to tell you that God knew EXACTLY what he was doing when he moved us to Minnesota. He knew the support we would need from my family. When we moved back from Oregon again God knew we would need to be here so we could have the support of my family when we got pregnant with the twins. Life is nothing like I thought it would be but it's everything I want.
The mission field I talked about and the adventures I wanted to take. My mission field is now Mark, Maddie, Naomi, and Titus. Now I get to take them on the adventures I want to go on. Raising my family, giving up and dying to myself to serve Mark is my africa, it is my mission field. In some ways this is me taking up my cross and following him. The life that I have is not the life that I wanted or dreamed about. There are aren't stables and ranch hands around. Instead I live in an apartment, in Albert Lea, while my husband finishes school and while we wait on the Lord to provide the rent and the gas for our car. Leaning, leaning, leaning on the everlasting arms.
I have been given a glimps today from a dear friend who reminded me what life was life four years ago and I have been able to glance and see how far Mark and I have come. There have been so many times he and I have wanted to throw in the towel and say see ya. But I am so thankful that early in our marriage by the grace of God we learned to forgive each other quickly. We learned to bit our tongues and to be submitted to the holy spirit and humble ourselves to each other.
Mark and I's love is so different than when we first said I do. Our love then was a romantic, wild, adventuresome love. Our love now is a committed love. The kind that says I don't care how mad I am at you, I'm sticking around. The kind of love that only comes from Jesus. It's amazing how romance is now Mark getting up with the kids and letting me sleep. Romance is coming home and finding Mark put the laundry away and put supper away and did the supper dishes. Nothing is sexier than Mark coming home filthy from head to toe from a long day at work. I have never been able to be so angry with someone to the point where it literally feels like someone is ripping my heart and soul out of my body than Mark can and no human can love me and comfort me like Mark can.
I am so thankful for the road and path God has lead me on. It's still not easy and there are times I look back and wonder what might have been, what might have been different. But I know God is in the midst of all things that happen to me. The question is not why God. The answer is God I trust you no matter what! I trust you even though I don't understand you!
Life still isn't easy and Mark and I still aren't "settled". Mark is finishing school and looking for jobs. But God has always taken care of us. He has deepened my relationship with him. He has deepened the relationship I have with my family. He has restored relationships that were broken. Mark and I are not on the path that we thought we would take or a path we thought we would like and love. But we are on a path none the less. A path I can assure you that we are not on alone. For my saviour walks everywhere we walk and he never leaves us alone. I am not far from his grasp and he catches me and loves me. He is so patient when I get frustrated at not wanting to die to myself and when I'm feeling selfish. He restores my soul and brings me help. Sometimes literally and sometimes it's simply a peace within myself. I cry and wonder how I will get anything done and then some how all the house work is done, supper is on the table, and our house is peaceful. Our house is peaceful because God is peaceful!
It may not be the way I would have choosen, you lead me through a world that's not my home. But you never said it would be easy. You only said I'd never go it alone. When the whole world turns against me and I'm all by myself and I can't hear you answer my cry for help. I'll remember your suffering that your love put you through and I will walk through the fire if you want me to. I will cross over jordan, I'm gonna sing, gonna shout, I'm going to look into your eyes and see you never let me down. So take me on the pathway that leads me home to you. I will walk through the fire if you want me to.
Jesus I will go were you ask. Even being a mommy!