I’m in Europe.
Me. Little, old Stacey from the Grove. I feel small. You know how when you find yourself in the midst of a big thing or a big place or big people, and you just feel small? That’s me right now sitting in this airport cafe. I just bought the most expensive cup of non-mocha coffee I’ve ever purchased and snagged a few Godiva chocolate samples to pair with it. The girls are crashed because ambien didn’t do the job on the last flight, and here I am all small, just settling into a lovely 6 hour layover all to myself. Shoes off, indian style I go…. I shall write… oh yummy, yes, I shall write! … and read… and sip… and be. Mmmmmm, I don’t remember the last time I’ve had this much time and space and air all to myself. It’s quite amazing.
The 3 flight thing is bomb. I could fly like that everywhere. The first flight you knock out the anxious, excited energy and chatter, the 2nd flight you can get caught up on sleep – if your ambien works, or you had wine on the last layover, and the last flight you’re bonded and rested leaving time for just productivity that I never usually get around to on flights. I always take books, rarely do I pull them out. Travel is great for sleeping. And for bonding.
This long journey to Africa has been about connecting, building a relational foundation for the days to come that we will share and serve together. It’s been about sharing and coming to know each other’s stories… the good and the bad, the blessings and the ugly sins, stripping down to nothing so God can do a new thing in us.
“Where 2 or 3 are gathered in My Name, there am I with them… ”
My 2 travel buddies are Shanna and Summer. Shanna and I used to sit a couple rows down from each other at the same church and Summer and I had never met before yesterday. On flight #1, Shanna asked me how Chris and I met. An hour later, my story is in the trip books. The next hour that followed was Shanna’s life story-time. And the D.C. layover lunch, complete with an amazing last American meal – black bean burger, red wine and creme brulee cheesecake – that hour was for Summer’s story. And now we all know and are known.
Everything is different once you know someone’s story. You get them. First impressions and whatever you don’t “get” about them initially, starts to fade as pieces of their story puzzle come together to give you a better glimpse of the whole person picture.
For example, if you follow Shanna on facebook, you might wonder why the heck she feels the need praise and talk directly to Jesus in a gazillion statuses a day – because that’s all you see. You know she homeschools and goes to Africa and clearly loves Jesus. But did you know at one time Shanna was a stripper? And completely fried on crack? Yes, SHANNA CRAWFORD, people. By 18, Shanna was living a life of hell on earth, and just a few years and grace moments later she’s a foster mom, wife of a Godly Chris-like creature, missionary, bible teacher, facebook Jesus praiser and former stripper. That fills in some puzzle pieces doesn’t it? She GETS redemption, she GETS salvation, she GETS what it is to be rescued by a Savior, and that’s what makes her who she is, that’s what motivates her life, that’s Shanna’s story.
Then there’s Summer. Summer is precious, she’s single, she’s funny, she’s been to Hawaii, has two brothers, and she recently got laid off. And with that, she now has time to finally make that trip to Africa. God provided and here she is. There is so much more to Summer’s story that is not mine to share, but suffice to say God is healing her, growing her in faith and in the freedom and grace that He delights to give us, and I love her. I love them both so much more for the broken pieces of their puzzles they have courageously shared, I am tied to them with a bond of grace that we each so desperately survive on, and inspired by not only their passion, but also their pain. I knew 2 weeks with 2 Godly women such as them would be great – I looked forward to that coming on this trip – and I am amazed at the kindred connection that has already begun. Of everyone of the bazillion people in the world, it is THESE 2 anointed women that God has purposed me to spend this sacred trip with, to do life with, to travel and love and learn and experience and bear witness with. No doubt, these are his other baby girls. They are my friends, my sisters in Christ, my fellow Africa lovers, and I am beyond excited to glean and grown together with them on this dream journey.
So, yeah, Europe. How cool is that? Just passing through, but still – that’s big. I’m so close to standing on Africa soil… so close… it feels a little more real by the hour. Real, and yet also like a dream. There’s a dialectic for ya. The only dream I’ve ever had bigger than Africa was Jacey. Three years ago, God said no to Africa – well, wait – He said wait. Of course at the time I was devastated and heartbroken – BUT, in those three years, God completely transformed my life, my heart, my plans, and yes, my dreams. He gave me new dreams, and one after another they moved in to my heart and my home. He has taught me so much and brought me so far. I’m a different person than I was 3 years ago. And now, 3 years, 1 master’s degree, 1 husband, and 6 kids later, God has finally whispered to me, “Now. Baby girl, it’s time.”
Tears began to stream down as that plane lifted away from Oklahoma ground.
I couldn’t keep from smiling.
Now, finally, it is time. 🙂