The One About Community

One year.

As much as I think about it, it’s still difficult to put into words just how much we’ve been blessed, stretched, and refined over the last 365 days. A year ago today, we touched ground in the U.K. – where we’d spend the next six months. Our family relocated, our possessions sold, our faith put into action. From day one it was an adventure – one where we knew where we were supposed to be, but not at all what we supposed to be doing.

For six months, we walked in faith, made new friends, served a local church, grew as a family (and Yvette and I as a couple) exponentially, and generally doubted nothing. We were exactly in the path God had laid out for us. God gave us the means and the circumstances in which we could remove the daily distractions of our lives and focus in on growth. Adjusting is always a challenge, but truth be told, we shifted to life in England quite easily (much of which is due to the amazing reception we had there), and we found ourselves soaking in everything we could from these amazing people that instantly opened not only their country, but their lives and homes to us. I could go on and on about our experience there, but words won’t do it justice. (To those who shared their lives with us in Watford, we’re eternally grateful for you. We think of you constantly, and hope to see you all again very soon. And all your new babies!)

Then much too soon, the day came when we had to say goodbye. It was surreal and sad. Our visa was expiring and we had to return to the States.

Then suddenly, without warning, the bottom dropped out.

We lost another pregnancy. It had become heartbreakingly common in our lives and even still, this one broke us. In the midst of what was already an emotional moment of saying goodbye to friends, we found ourselves in the living room surrounded by people who mourned with us, prayed with us, and bonded themselves to our hearts in a way that we will never forget.

Here we were in the path and the calling of God, with our stress and worry gloriously supplanted by peace and hope – drinking in from a wellspring of life – and now thrust into doubt and heartache and sadness. And in a few short hours would have to get on a plane, return home, and share the joy we’d experienced.

The following six months, leading up to today, have been a challenge. One big shakeup after another. The transition in coming home proved to be the more difficult adjustment of the last year. Slowly, we found our footing, began to catch up on relationships, and jumped back in to serving our church home here in Texas. We stumbled through a disorienting sense of “home” and found a renewed sense of the importance of community.

And ultimately, that’s what we’ve learned from the past year. It may be a tad cliché or seem a touch obvious, but it doesn’t matter where you are, so much as the community you surround yourself with. In that department, we’ve been extremely blessed. Our time in England resulted in relationships that we’ll cherish the rest of our lives. And here at home, we’re equally fortunate. Our family and friends have supported us through through the peaks and valleys of not only this year, but in countless seasons.

Ultimately, the greatest thing we know about community is also one of the most difficult to achieve — and that is vulnerability always trumps the facade. Because who are we if we mask ourselves behind the social media highlights, and share nothing of the dichotomy that life really is? At best we are but half of ourselves, where no one truly knows us at all. And at worst…we are a false image of what it means to live and rely on Christ in the good and the bad – a source of discouragement to those we had hoped to uplift.

We created this blog for that purpose…and honestly, we’ve been failing to reach that ambition. To avoid sounding depressing, we’ve avoided telling the stories of sadness, and to avoid the appearance of vanity, we’ve avoided telling the stories of joy. I hope with this post, we can begin to put an end to both.

So the truth is…a week ago we were joyful, and today we’re sad. Without going into too much detail, we found out this week that our family isn’t going to look like we’d imagined it. With one email and three sentences, we found out that our adoption plans have been dashed, and six months later, we’re reeling again from a sense of loss. (I can go into details at another time, but suffice it to say our situation is not about any skeletons hiding in our closet, but rather the woes of self-employed financial schtuff — read: the income tax complexities of owning your own business. What makes us a great candidate also hurts us.)

We know God has a plan, and we have a peace about that. And we have a miracle child Baron, in whom we’re extremely grateful and blessed. We’re also acutely aware of the hardships of fertility issues (because we’ve been there)…so we’re in no position to complain. But it’s sad. It’s difficult to explain to friends and family — and most importantly our son who wants a baby “brover” — that the family photos we envisioned may never be developed.

Psalm 30:5 says, “Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning.” We believe that. We also believe that by sharing the journey with our community, we not only become more whole, but may find connection with someone and be able to walk with and encourage them. We can cry together tonight — and we will laugh together tomorrow.

After all, that is what living in community is all about.

Here’s to a beautiful Fall. Through the shedding of leaves, we find ourselves growing in our walk with the Divine in anticipation of the Spring.

Love and grace to you all.

(Also, we’ve been watching Friends…so the title is a small homage. We thought it fitting.)

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