“So when are you guys leaving? It’s mid-August… Shouldn’t you be gone by now?”
Yeah, about that… Let me try to put into words the crazy journey we’ve been on these last few months.
You may remember that our plan was to move to Thailand this summer. Notice the word “was.”
We were so sure, so confident that this was God’s leading for us. It felt “meant to be.” All of the pieces just fit. That is, until they didn’t. Until one by one all of the pieces began unraveling.
Family and close friends journeyed with us through weeks of confusion. They prayed with us while we wondered, “God, what in the world is happening?”
When you feel so sure of something, when you’ve dreamed about it, and done hours of paperwork for it, when you’ve told literally everyone you know that this is what you’re doing, it’s a painful process when that plan starts coming apart.
I remember the moment I knew. The moment I realized this dream of ours was probably not going to happen. I went to my room alone, and closed the door. In an all-out honest moment with God, I prayed through tears and said, “I feel like I’m losing this dream! This dream that YOU gave us.”
There are very few times in my life where I feel like God has given me a specific “word” from him. But in that moment, that Holy Spirit sense gave me this question:
Will you let me prune your dreams?
Will you let me prune your dreams?
To prune – to cut away at good branches so that more life, more fruit will come?
But God, the cutting away, it hurts!
Do you trust me?
Do I? Do I know him to be anything other than a Good Gardener? Do I truly trust that he will be that for me? For my family?
That was my moment of surrender. That was the beginning of letting go of our Thailand dream, (for this year anyway).
It’s funny. All during this unraveling time, there were amazing doors opening. Again and again we were shown the needs and the opportunity that were right in front of us. Both Aaron and I felt incredibly blessed in our ministries this past year. Aaron continued our work in Asia by serving and training teachers in his director position for our organization, and he taught at the local Bible college. I continued to lead Velvet Ashes, which is flourishing in large part due to connections God has provided here in the States.
Our kids are thriving here. Our whole family feels a sense of belonging and community here thanks to precious friends who have said, “We don’t care how long you’re here, we’re going to do life with you.” I get a big thankful lump in my throat when I think about it.
Aaron and I both love pouring into the college students here, and when those students first started asking us if there was anyway we’d stay, we said, “Sorry, we’ve got this PLAN.”
But when that plan didn’t come together, when we surrendered it to Him and stopped trying to force it to happen, we realized we were already exactly where we needed to be for right now.
Then came the big shocker. A positive pregnancy test. WHAAAAT???
As our daughter said when we told her the news, "But I thought you were done having babies!" Yeah, so did we. But apparently we’re not done yet. Clearly, God wants to gift us with another child. The fourth little Wheeler will be arriving in December. (You can read more about that whole story over here).
Suddenly it became even more clear we need to stay put for the coming year. So that is the plan. In ways we never expected, God is pruning our dreams, bringing new life and fruit through it all.
Wait a minute, that’s a nice story and all, but what about the practical side? Family of five with a baby on the way… We kind of need a place to live. We had to move out of the campus house we were in. But then what? Rent? But we don’t own any furniture. We have a $12 lamp. That’s it. We quickly learned that furnished rentals are not a thing in this area.
I’ll spare you the details of all the twists and turns, and just say that after weeks of one housing possibility after another not working out, God connected us to a family who is going overseas for a year and needs someone to housesit their house for them.
Yeah, pretty amazing.
I haven’t been able to articulate these last few months until now. I wanted to share, to take you along on this ride, but so much of it has been complex and deeply personal. And I needed to be more concerned with living the story than with sharing it. But I believe more than ever in the power of sharing your story, and I have a sense that I’ll be writing out the layers of this season for a long time.
There are still questions about what comes after this next year. We’ll let you know when we know. Honestly, there are days when it's really hard, when we want plans and permanence, but it's pretty clear that's not our story right now. Instead God is simply asking for daily steps of surrender, trusting in the hands and purposes of the Good Gardener.
Thanks for all your love and prayers along the way.