The last few weeks, our family traveled from Portland, OR to Portland, ME.
Yep, West Coast to East.
Next week, our family will be in our 50th U.S. state together.
Wow… What a ride.
We had several strategic stops on this last trip. There are deeply encouraging stories about people encountering Jesus.
For now, I wanted to share something more personal…
I lived here in Maine briefly as a teen.
Some memories were great.
Some were traumatic and changed my life forever.
One autumn day when I was fourteen, I walked home from school to find my father had left. No note. No explanation. No warning. The subsequent divorce was pretty traumatic for our family.
I learned a lot of great values from my dad. Leaving wasn’t one of them. Brokenhearted and disillusioned, I went into a tailspin through the rest of my teen years.
25 years later, the journey back here was healing for me.
Jen and I celebrated our 15th Anniversary here together at Lake Sebago. It was so fun!
I shared stories with my kids about my time here. Kids, like all of us, I guess, process through the lens of their experiences. One day my 10 year old asked me,
Dad, is your dad still alive?”
“I think so, son.”
“Do I know him?”
“No, son, you don’t.”
“Why did he leave? Didn’t he like you?”
“Yes, son, he liked me. I don’t know why. It was very sad. But God has become a Father to me and I’m so thankful for you and the family He has given me.”
That night, as I was tucking in my kids, my 14 year old spontaneously asked if he could pray for me. Others joined.
“God, thank you for our dad. Thank you that we get to be his kids. While he is here in Maine, I pray you would heal the bad memories and give him new good memories here with us.”
God answered their prayers.
God is able to gently take us to places of pain and release joy, hope, and comfort there.
Sometimes people think our family is supernaturally courageous and adventurous because of the lifestyle we lead. Others think we’re a little unbalanced. Both may have some truth in them!
Really, we’re just a family trying to follow Jesus. Trying to follow Jesus with partial information….
“For now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror. But then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely. Three things will last forever – faith, hope, and love. And the greatest of these is love.” (I Corinthians 13:12-13)
Experiencing great triumphs and joy and laughter. Navigating times of sadness and setback. Trying to raise kids who love God and find a deep place of security in their identity in Him with their unique personality and giftings.
I constantly learn, and relearn what it means to follow Jesus through my life. Not just in theological ways, but in highly practical ways.
Be gentle. Be kind. Speak tenderly. Forgive. Have courage.
Face your pain; take responsibility to grow as a person.
Never let vocational success or failure stop me from pursuing intimacy with my spouse.
Model for my kids what it looks like to trust Jesus even as I blunder along sometimes.
God is a good Father.
May you find his comfort and redemption in every area of hurt. May you find Him smiling with you and celebrating with you in every moment of joy.