It will be four years ago in January that the pirate and I started an almost three months journey to not only a deeper understanding of ourselves but also a deeper understanding of what God was calling us to do; how he was calling us to be.
We were living a three-month domestic mission here, participating and serving in mission life with Sr. Darlene Presley, a member of the Glenmary Missionary order. We left here in late March 2014. In that time we gained an increased and richer prayer life, greater knowledge of the truth of the Bible, and a deeper awareness of what we were personally reluctant to face and embrace. Mission life is often not pretty but the joy of serving is always present
It was also the first step I would take in acknowledging the possibility of life away from California, away from everything familiar along with everyone I knew and loved. Like the story of the rich young man in Mark 10: 17-31, we sensed that God was expecting us to give up a lot.
Materially, it seems like no matter how much I got rid of, it was not ever enough but the people and attachments to places, when left behind, are well and truly gone. It was painful for me for a long time. However, moving here permanently opened up opportunities we never imagined doing back home. We are now close to both of our children and our grands. The relatively short drives to Indianapolis or Nashville keep them very present in our life.
Don has fulfilled a dream of returning home and is living out the dream in his dream home on his dream street.He has embraced the volunteer life and is avidly interested in the politics of this small town. Front-burner passions have been moved to the back burner as priorities have reshuffled themselves. His book has taken a back seat and working in the community has taken on greater importance.
I resisted the idea of living here and between my parents, now passed, raising children, and working, there was much to keep us away. However, when our daughter told us she, her husband, and our precious grands were leaving to move to Tennessee to build a better life, I could not pack fast enough and arrange for our move here. God gave me the push I needed.
My husband yearned to be here and separation from my grands was unthinkable. I saw the challenge and I took it. In a way, He was asking me to give up everything and everyone I knew, just like the rich young man. As much as I loved my California friends, moving was as necessary as breathing. And now, the life we are building here is so unexpectedly rich that I want them to have that too. You see, I know something of their hopes and dreams and if I can find contentment in a small town with so many challenges, I know that following their dreams would be equally rewarding for them.
In this Christmas season, such a wonderful time of hope and joy, my wish for all of you is to identify your dreams; retrieve your dreams if they have been set aside. Step out and do the thing that will put you on the road or even farther down the road you may already be on to making yourself the best person you can be while serving others. Take those dreams into the future and practice perfecting them throughout the year. You will be amazed at where the road may lead you.
Thank you to the many who have welcomed me so warmly. I've taken a few stumbles but life has a learning curve, even at my age. So, at this time, I want to wish everyone the happiest of Christmases, a bright New Year, and lots of loving each other far into the upcoming year and into the far off distant future.
Taken outside of Wellington Station in Turlock, CA
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