The Final Stretch

“Do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promises as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should be destroyed, but that all should reach repentance.”
2 Peter 3:8-9

As I sit down to write this afternoon I’m staring out the windows from my 5th home in 8 months. It’s hard to believe I’m experiencing round two in the States of all the seasons and holidays – something that hasn’t happened since 2011. I could fill up pages and journals detailing all the efforts and hoops The Rising has jumped through trying to secure the only visa that can get me back into a closed country during a pandemic, but I’ll spare you the details of that roller coaster ride. Here’s a brief summary of the past few months instead:

October- After over a year+ of trying, I was finally granted an exemption to be able to apply for a work visa in the Philippines.

November- The ministry applied on my behalf for my Alien Employment Permit. (This Filipino process has involved meeting hilarious requirements along the way including a tree planting ceremony and a brief stint in the local newspaper!)

December- Employment permit granted. Currently my passport is somewhere over the Pacific Ocean headed to the Philippines to meet up with 8,743 other important documents for what will hopefully make for a quick and easy visa issuance.

There is no guarantee how long this last part could take, but it is the final step in a long and complicated process. I am cautiously optimistic at the thought of being “home” by the beginning of the new year but I know better than to put my hope in any government or system.

I keep going back to a basic truth I probably learned first in Sunday school…that God is the author of my days and his promise to me is nothing he allows to happen is ever wasted. My heart knows this fully well, even as I long to be across the world. And though I often feel deeply the urgency of time – time passing and time lost – God does not. He is not bound by time or space, His plans for me are not lost, He’s not in a hurry. So I can trust that I don’t need to be either.

When I can get still enough and quiet all the noise, I think about these words from Elisabeth Elliot and they wrestle me into a comforting peace – “The secret is Christ in me, not me in a different set of circumstances…”

The question everyone asks the most is – how’s Nicole? 

I love to talk about her! So I love it when people ask. If I focus too much on my feelings, or her feelings, I can easily be frustrated by our separation. Being apart from her is maybe like being inside your home, but someone has stolen all your stuff. You want to walk in the door, settle in and take a deep breath, but you can’t because something isn’t right. The things that make the house your home are all missing. I miss Nicole’s presence in my life It doesn’t feel right to settle in anywhere without her. But when I settle in my heart to look intentionally for God even here in this, I can see Him. 

So, how is she?  Well, she’s happy, she’s safe and she’s healing. She’s in the very best therapy we have available, she is extremely loved on and protected by her 10 older sisters at House of Hope, she’s outgrowing all the girls at a miraculously fast pace (!!), and she’s had the sweetest 1 on 1 care from a TRIM staff member since the day I left. She remains, even on the hard days, the greatest light and joy of our home.

Her and I call each other often but the ache is still there as a good reminder that she was never “mine” to begin with… only His. 

In case you’re in a place like me this season where you need to hear this let me be the voice that reminds us both – God isn’t running late on any of his promises.

Christmas, I think, is actually the ultimate reminder of that for all of us in Jesus. That at just the right moment, and in just the way he always said it would happen, the Savior came to our rescue us from ourselves and all our tiny self made kingdoms and give us the ultimate gift in himself.

So whatever it is that has you waiting right now – or maybe it’s the opposite and this month has you spinning in circles so quickly that you can’t keep up – I hope this Christmas season you and I can remember together that God wants for us to be with him more than he wants any of us to be in any certain place or doing any certain thing.

It IS entirely why he came after all… to be Emmanuel, God with us.

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