May 4 2013

Day 1484: Shabbat Shalom

by andrew

From blessing to blessing, the seasons have changed and with them we have followed the pillar of cloud and fire into a new plunge of our journey. It was very hard to leave the amazing house upon which YHWH’s favor rested to provide our home for the winter months. How we enjoyed that place: the sunrise view of the river, the adventures in the woods, the cozy fireplace, the room to host friends and spread out, the dedicated and quiet office space, the trampoline, the in-house washer and dryer :), the forests of driftwood that formed Fort Superior, the large kitchen, the big table we could all fit at, the budding relationship with dear neighbors, and so much more.

A big part of me didn’t want to leave at all… wanted to plant and take root and grow more comfortable and stay forever. But a blessing can turn to bitterness if we disobediently refuse to let go of it, and a few weeks ago Father provided clarity to the question about which we had been seeking Him through prayer for many months: what next? Even in asking the question we were torn. We wanted the answer to be to stay right there in PA; and we wanted the answer to be Denver where my family and company Never Settle are; and we wanted the answer to be Winnipegosis which has also felt like home to us in so many ways. And honestly, I think I wanted those answers in that order – not that I wanted any of them more or less than any other, but each successive option presented additional layers of logistical challenges and complexities. In fact, in the moment YHWH made the answer clear in my heart I started asking all the “but what abouts” and He just said, “I will take care of all those – don’t worry about them.” The answer was Winnipegosis and independently confirmed to Renee and I both.

That eventually launched us into the crazy blur that was this past week as the first step towards making our next northward voyage was to move out of the house and back into the trailer. Renee and the kids, especially the oldest, performed a lion’s share of the packing, carrying everything back into the trailer, and cleaning the house. I had a typical over-full work week and took care of all the dad-jobs related to moving. We had planned to pull away on Wed and were pretty much at the point where we could have, but the day was so beautiful and perfect for taking our neighbors up on their standing boat ride invitation. So we decided to have a break and spend a couple hours taking turns on the river. What a glorious decision and the kids had an absolute blast!

So, we finally pulled away Thurs and made the long and arduous 🙂 15 minute drive over to our dear friends’ farm where we have quickly settled in for a month or so of transition before hitting the road again come June: dewinterizing the trailer, testing everything out, learning how to live in 250 square feet again now with 9 of us, working from my bed office, preparing meals with almost no counter space, making hard decisions about what to keep or throw out in attempt to limit overall weight, and so on.

If any of those items on my list of adjustments sound at all like complaining please don’t take it that way. These are glorious challenges and merely the very small costs involved in gaining the far more massive rewards of adventuring with our King into all His plans for us. And in our opinion the challenges of this mobile lifestyle are far outweighed by the benefits: being so close to the night sounds and patter of the spring rains, being free to roam wherever with everything we own (which still often feels like too much), getting confronted with tests that stretch and teach and refine us, spending time in so many different environments, eating fresh produce from our friend’s gardens like the amazing asparagus we had today, catching frogs, making dandelion root coffee, basking in the outdoors, and on and on.

(clean zone decontamination sector before re-entry into the living quarters)

(dandelion root coffee)

Even so, we’ve been slowing down and have spent a lot longer in each place. In fact we have spent the last two years in primarily 3 places – the same places that were on our heart in our question about what (really where to) next. And it isn’t 100% certain as YHWH’s spirit is constantly flowing, but perhaps out next destination will usher in a much longer season of planting and growing and extending roots and contributing to an expression of our Messiah Yahushua’s Kingdom community in the beautiful north.

We will discover what He provides as we go and how He directs along the way.

I personally have come to terms with new profound glimpses of how Father uses and wants to use our large family. We are such unfit vessels but He seems to do amazing things around us when we just BE (doing our best to live in His ways and obey his loving instructions to us). It is humbling and sobering at the same time. A great example of this happened several weeks ago. On the sunday after Renee’s birthday we went out for a rare family celebration meal. Sitting down at a restaurant as a family can be an epic undertaking and we talked to the kids ahead of time about shining our lights and being a witness with our behavior. Well, they were all amazing and did a fantastic job, and several people came up in rounds to compliment our family as they were leaving, which led to a few neat micro conversations. These encounters were quite unexpected, and I wished we had better words in the moment for turning each one in the direction of bringing the direct honor to our King.

But the most incredibly humbling aspect of the experience was yet to unfold. After we were done we divided and conquered as we often do – Renee taking most of the kids on ahead to the truck while I handle the checkout. I went up to pay and the manager said, “sir, it’s already been taken care of. A gentlemen said he was really impressed with you and your family and wanted to cover your meal.” Wow. That was not a cheap meal. And a flood of emotions immediately penetrated my heart. I knew on one hand it was a wink from YHWH reminding us how effortless it is for Him to provide for us under any circumstances. It also cut deeply into my soul because because it was such a big blessing for what felt like such a small thing. We were just being what we think of as normal with the added element of being out for a special sunday meal.

What I realized in that moment by the generosity of that anonymous gift was that our “normal” – that ideal for which we aspire in Scriptural obedience to our Creator – has become very abnormal in the world at large. Where it once used to be much more common it is now so rare that it shines brightly with a deep impact on people who find it very strange and unusual because they are inundated daily with mostly opposite cultural influences and messages. The new normal is darkness, and Renee touched on this in her last post in a different context. Our mission is to be bearers of the Old Normal – the Original Normal – the Creator’s Normal; to invade darkness as vessels of the King’s Light. How eye-opening and thought provoking that the darkness in our society is so pervasive and encompassing that it can be noticeably cracked by a simple large family peacefully eating a meal together at Perkins.

We rejoiced in the gift while grieving for what is being lost all around us all the time. But it also renewed our hope in what will be completely restored when our Messiah returns to the earth and inspired us to do more to testify to that coming restoration with our daily lives. This is a big piece of what we hope to carry with us wherever we go, knowing we have so much more to learn to fully walk in it. And we rest in how that fits into our answer – even as we rest in the delights of Shabbat on the exact same farm that provided a transition point between our old life in DC and our new life on the road exactly 4 years ago.

(Our amazing Elie Poof Ball)

(Reayah’s evening knitting)