As with any job, the life-work balance for someone in vocational mission work is a constant journey. In my experience, the ability to remain light, carefree and available is specifically hard for those dealing with heavy areas like sex trafficking. We spend most of our days trying to uplift and restore the broken lives of women we love dearly, and while I’d always choose them, it is hard and it is tiring. It’s important to say that they are not hard or tiring, merely the consistent out-pour of our own spirituality, wisdom, time and resources.
I’ve spent the last year as a Resident Advisor at Redeemed’s safe house; rotating week long shifts in and out with the other RAs. As you can imagine, working week shifts on and off can create a pretty sporadic and inconsistent home life. In the past year I spent most of my off weeks rationing my time with friends, substitute teaching to supplement being a missionary, attempting (albeit unsuccessfully) to date, and savoring every moment I could with my nephews and family. Friends and family never quite knew where I was or what I was doing and schedules were a thing to be molded. It wasn’t easy cramming “real life” into the moments I had between “mission life.” But as I look back, with this year commitment coming to an end, I wouldn’t change a thing. God has been an evident and loving teacher.
Transitions are always a process, as with any change, so the last couple of weeks I’ve had so much on my mind as I reminisce the year that was spent in the safe house, and the time that’s to come in Redeemed’s new transition home. Starting in May I will live there full time. There’s a lot that goes into this change and yet again my personal life will mold to my mission. However chaotic life’s been, I wasn’t ready to leave my girls and I’m so excited for our future in this new safe haven.
During my own transitional period I’ve been thinking a lot about who I want to be for the girls and what they will need from me in this new life they’re starting. I struggle to know if I’m worthy of loving them in this transition, if I’m going to be enough for them, or if they even want me to try. But, while I was all self focused and internal I was reminded again of how fragile life is. There is no work and home life compartmentalization. Life is life, and all areas constantly cross over. The Lord is the Lord of all of my life, and his lessons seep into every boarder I create between personal and professional. And that’s a good thing.
Last week my mom lost one of her best friends, Toni Peeler. She was one of my mother’s trusted “Porch Ladies.” My mom and a small group of phenomenal women cultivated a close knit community that I call a “little church.” Each woman holds different roles and gifts. They do nothing but laugh with and love on one another in Christ’s name. I cannot believe that one of this sacred group has departed to the Heavens so soon, and neither can they. It’s like the pew to their “church” just vanished from existence.
You might laugh that out of all the things in a church building I would call her the pew. But bear with me for a moment. I’m sure all of you, at some point, have been to a church with a long pew probably covered in velveteen fabric in either a deep shade of blue, green or red. And I hope that every one of you at some point in your life has gone to church, sat on a pew and been exactly where you needed to be; sitting still, listening, in the presence of the Lord. Toni was the safe place where the beat of your heart could be felt and the pure Word of God would be heard.
One of my reoccurring memories of Toni was when I attended yet another wedding full of couples with no date. I’m sure many of you can relate to that not so pleasant feeling of being a part, but separate. I went to stand in this beautiful little courtyard area and Toni sought me out (in total Toni fashion) and immediately spoke into my exact ache at that moment. I couldn’t tell you exactly what she said, but I can tell you that she intentionally affirmed me and somehow turned me into the insider and the rest of the wedding party into the outsiders. She was a piercing sweet and soft arrow to my heart, and then we ended with a laugh (again, true to Toni form).
As I sat at Toni’s funeral service yesterday, the ponderings of the last few weeks all came to fruition. The question of who I want to be, not only to my Sparrow’s in the transition house, but to everyone I encounter, washed over me with a kind and not so subtle answer. “Be a person who turns people’s circumstances inside out.” I want to be so in tune with the Father that when my girls encounter resistance in their new lives, I can name it, claim it, and declare wisdom over it; that I can turn these so called outsiders into Kingdom insiders. I want to be a woman who is so spirit filled that without recognizing, or recognition, I make others know how much they’re worth in every moment I have available. Because that’s what Toni did; because that’s what Jesus did.
Jesus was a circumstance destroyer, and his tool of destruction was insight bathed in love. At the transition house I declare that my goal is to turn brokenness, broke-ness, tiredness, grumpiness, loneliness, resentfulness, regret and anger inside out. I pray (and ask you to pray alongside me) that by God and God alone I can help turn the manifestations of their ache into love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23)
I pray that I may be a pew in the living room of our home.
Photo Credit: St. John Lutheran Plymoth