Blog Introduction

This blog is the story of how my husband and I faced the illness and death of two of our children. Each blog post is essentially a chapter in the story, so in order to truly understand it, you are going to benefit by starting at the beginning.
I hope you find our story touching, and in some way find comfort and hope through it as you face your own storms in life.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Our Return to Grand Rapids

Rob's new position as Director of Missions blew fresh wind in his sails.  It was greatly needed for both of us.  No longer did it seem like everything which had transpired over the previous year was for naught; instead, it began to feel more like an important stepping stone to our future. Rob was decidedly happier, and I was released from some of my guilt over our return from Slovenia. Redemption had come. 
We continued to live a couple of hours away from Grand Rapids in the town of St. Louis, MI; the town we had "holed up in" with Tim and Karen all those months. They had received a call to pastor a church and had moved away, so my umbilical cord of support with Karen was severed.  It was a good thing; it meant I was healing and recovering, and we were all thankful.

While we lived in St. Louis, we began attending a wonderful church there.  The pastors and congregation were all warm and welcoming from the moment we stepped foot in the building. Gradually the pastors came to understand why we were there versus back in Grand Rapids, and gratefully, they never spoke a word of condemnation or discouragement.  I remember telling them how grateful I was that they had let me find a place of refuge; a place to simply "be" in my brokenness.  There had been plenty of others willing to voice their opinions as to why we were wrong to have gone to Slovenia, or how their missions group would never have sent us to begin with. They were not the epitome of grace we needed. But the people at Resurrection Life- St. Louis embraced us when we needed it the most. They embodied the love of God to us, and we continue to have fond memories of those people.

This new position with IMF required continued support-raising, as none of the positions within the organization were paid. Even the founder and head of the organization raised his own support. So in spite of our connection to the church in St. Louis, it was logical for us to relocate to Grand Rapids; the center of our largest support base. We knew the move would mean new challenges, but it was time to go home.  We needed to reconnect with family and friends, and re-establish our presence in our home church.  It was something I looked forward to, yet feared.  We had changed in the time we had been gone, and I wondered how we would fit back in.  Plus, our explanation for being back would involve revealing my depression, and I was still hesitant to let that little black cat out of the bag.  I hoped we would be received with open arms and no questions asked, but that wasn't realistic.  People wanted and deserved to know why we were home. When they asked, our answers were vague, but at least we could say we had a new position.  It was like getting a promotion, yet the questions remained behind their inquisitive eyes.  We knew they still wondered what other reason brought us home.

We dutifully attended church every Sunday, but my heart was not in it.  The Pastor shouted from the platform, "Do you have the victory?" while the congregation jumped to their feet, cheering their affirmation. I cringed.  No, I did not have the "victory". While there had been vast improvements, I was still locked in my cave. Clearly, God and I had things to work out yet, and being in an exuberant environment full of people enthusiastic for Him, only served to stir up stones in my heart. Then the Pastor lightheartedly said, "So what's the matter with the rest of you?"  Condemnation, guilt, anger.  They all came rushing in to meet my wounded soul head on.  I had just been made to feel like a failure again. I could handle not feeling victorious, but the last comment was the killer.  I struggled to go back to church after that Sunday.  I was sure everyone knew I was one of "those" who didn't have the "victory", and it became easier to stay home.  There was definitely more work to be done. 

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