I have a routine every morning. I get out of bed, come downstairs, and make coffee. I do it the same way every morning with what I find the perfect blend of decaf and flavored regular grinds, going through the motions like a coffee-making robot. I pour my cup, sweeten it up, and sit in my green chair and read. Every. single. morning.
I’ve realized another predictable pattern in my life. With the work we do in China and the trips we lead there, it seems like we’re always in preparation for another trip across the world. As soon as we’re home from one, we’re planning for the next one. Right now, preparations to lead a team of 15 to serve at an orphanage there in October are in full swing. We’re reading a book together, signing our names on all kinds of paperwork, making lists and gathering supplies, raising funds, dreaming up gifts to take. Last night, we had one of our team conference calls. And, afterwards, I thought…
Why am I doing this?
I’m totally predictable. Every. single. call. Before. every. single. trip.
The mute button on conference calls is deadly, yes. But, it’s not just that. It’s me. It’s me overthinking…
You know…I could just do life as usual and not do this trip at all. This is kinda crazy, you know? I mean…the plane trip alone? It’s 24 hours of traveling door to door. That’s crazy. And, all the preparations? I have four kids! We have so much going on. Mark should lead these teams. Why am I doing this?
[insert crickets here.]
[and some more for good measure.]
Then, I look to my left from my desk. And, I see her.
I step away from the mess on my desk and go closer. And, I hear her.
She’s whispering. The little Chinese girl is whispering to the Chinese grandma. And, the little American girl is whispering to the Chinese boy. And, they are riding bikes together, and they are eating noodles together, and they are thanking the man who made them.
And, I take some pictures because that’s what mamas often do.
Just watching her for a few minutes playing with wooden toys, in her whispers, I hear His whispers and I’m reminded.
Relationship. That’s why I go. It’s why I work everyday for a long time leading up to 11 days in October. It’s why I leave the children I’m called to mother to go play with children who are not mine. It’s why my husband left the career he had for more than 18 years to do something new. It’s for eating noodles together and blowing bubbles together and uniting our efforts together to do something that means something. Relationship. Relationships, my friends, are not easy.
Given my predictability, I know I’ll think it all again—next conference call, next to-do list, next time I ask someone to give or help and hear a no in reply, when I start packing my bags, when I’m watching the third movie in a row on the plane, when I’m in the van headed to the orphanage for our first day. Yeah, I’ll think it again because I’m predictably weak and fickle and so easily swayed by hard things to a place of doubt and second guessing. But, when I find myself there again as I know I will, I’m going to picture her here, my daughter, with little wooden people in her hands whispering and then I’ll hear His voice whispering, “Press on, good and faithful servant. It’s not easy, but it’s right.”