Running Barefoot

 Nine summers have come and gone since we pulled onto Kaderly Ave. with a moving truck...Hindsight leaves nothing hidden. It fills in the blanks of our stories. It stretches the kinks out of question marks that hover over us. It marries beginnings to ends. Ten years have taught me the mechanics of trust, and they have taught me how to live in wonder of what God is doing, to raise my hand and say: “me.” ...Please, let me be a part of it.

I gave it the name “uprooting”—-the first cache of feelings that stirred in me, moving to a new town and State. It was the metaphor that we embodied as we settled into unfamiliar places. My first year away felt like free-falling into an empty grave, dirt covering over me, filling my lungs--Thirsty, dangling roots had to reach past the side-way glances and confusion about our last name. I cried tears into the burly carpet and smiled bravely as I picked the boys up from school. As we reached and reached for the community we had left, we found ourselves in the company of those who carried us on their strong backs for a while. They gave me just enough hope to drive a stake into the ground and stop looking back over my shoulder. And while I sang to my kids, they sang me back to life— Even with my heart caving in, I was learning to reach deep into the earth and anchor myself.

Our little Hannah (her name meaning “grace”)came from grace, from the dark and hollowed out, she brought joy to us. We brought her home, to OUR home that we had spent a year and a half making with our tribe of five. Now there were six of us, and by our third summer here, she was a chubby, little muffin with a toothy grin, mostly attached to her mama’s hip, watching her brothers run around the baseball diamond. 

We left our shoes behind and had begun to run barefoot--to feel this new terrain, to memorize it, to know it by heart, to call it our own. 

We would carry the marks of being broken, healed--broken, healed again and again, but the field beside us was like a companion that would always remind us, * “unless a seed falls to the ground...”  We surrendered our will so many times that it wore lines into our skin, but we said yes, and yes, and yes, because of the traditions that we came from, the cords inside, ones that made us His when we decided to follow. The work of ministry and forging beginnings of a church is work that most people run from, yet we were crazy enough to sign up anyway, and the handful of families that linked arms with us became the purest expression of that early church in Acts...authentic in every vein and beautifully hemmed together.

After five summers, we looked down the road to see another door cracked open. Hesitancy held us back as we wrestled with whether to walk through. But as we came closer, there was laughter from within, the great, belly laughter of men and women. Their warm invitations tamed our fears and pulled us into another family, one tempered with tradition, but learning how to bend and grow, to stay the course even when drenching waters flood the plains. We are pulling each other up out of the mud, and learning how to walk together in this world of tangles and snares.

Three more summers have come and gone. Two of our boys stretched into young men before our eyes, slowly inching their way towards adulthood. The third boy is pressed into the middle, trying to lean into the wind while it pushes and bites back. And our young girl is weaving sparks in and out of the mundane. We are in the throes of parenting-- we are trenched into the soil and learning how to thrive even as the seasons change. We see the hand of God holding us steady, holding us up, and preserving us in the howling storms. In ten years, I have caught on to the redemptive rhythms of God, how he takes what lies in the deep, dark earth and brings it to life, how he carefully mends and repairs what is broken and damaged..and how he even breathes His breath into our shriveled, useless lungs until we finally find that we are living and breathing on our own, ready to follow Him again and again.. and again. 

*reference to John 20:24- Unless a Kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed, but if it dies, it produces many seeds.


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