We boarded the plane with the first team from our church. The second team would join us in the second week. I'm going to get real honest here. At this point, we were almost eight months behind on our mortgage. The snowball effect from the canceled contract was raging into a full-on avalanche.
"Keep your eyes on Me," He constantly reminded me.
Being in N. Ireland, serving as missionaries after a ten-year hiatus, began to slowly stir some very still waters in my soul. Those years were not only quiet but like I said before, very hard. I know people often talk about the wilderness time of life. They like to say, "The wilderness prepares you for what God is calling you to, have faith!" Those same "theys" say, "Moses had to be in the wilderness before God called him through the burning bush. Jesus even spent time in the wilderness before His Father released Him for His time of ministry." I get the principle but what most people leave out is just how hard that wilderness season can be. It is dry. For us, it wasn't just dry financially, but feeling God's Presence felt dry. It's weird. I never doubted He was with me, but He was very quiet. I knew He was there, but I was still beginning to shrivel up. I was losing my hope and my ability to dream. Now if you know me, you know that I am visionary by nature. I operate with creativity as my natural switch. My husband and I are entrepreneurial, and always ready to help others brainstorm their dreams. But, by the time that year, when everything looked and felt hopeless and I had tucked all my dreams on the shelf, not even having the strength to acknowledge that they existed, we went to N. Ireland and a little seed began to break. I ignored it at first.
"Hope deferred makes the heart sick," I often reminded God, as if He needed reminding.
We had only been in the country for two days when one of the leaders asked me to preach at their Monday night service.
"Me? Really?" I quietly asked God. The seed cracked just a bit more. I agreed to do it and found a quiet place to prepare, wondering what I had to share. How do you encourage people when your wellspring is dry?
God turned on a faucet that afternoon. In a quiet upper room looking over a beautiful loch, He took me through my life and showed me the "Mixed Media Story" He had been piecing together. He showed me that not one scrap or piece was out of place. That each, what seemed, unrelated event, was purposeful and connected with what He had already glued together. He pointed out each snippet, and as He did so, the picture began to get a little clearer. He reminded me that He was the Creator of this work. He knew what He was doing and even if at the moment it didn't make sense, if I trusted Him, He was working out something unique and custom designed.
That night I shared my Mixed Media story and found myself declaring that none of it would be wasted. I found a shred of God-given confidence to believe He was still at work and here I was, having been given a platform from which to declare His goodness, even when it didn't make sense. That night, that little seed that had been planted in my heart as a little girl, began to sprout. On that stage, sharing my story, I knew I had just stepped into a whisper from long ago.
At the end of that night, a young woman came up to me. "Would you come back next March and teach week one of our Arts + Media DTS (Discipleship Training School)?"
"Yes," I said without hesitation as the water began to feed that little seed.