Sunday, December 28, 2014

The Suitcase

If I had to choose an ornament from my tree to represent 2014, I suppose I would choose this one. A suitcase. Which is ironic because one of the things I hate most in life is packing a bag. I love to travel. I hate to pack. I put it off to the very last minute, and it is about the only time EVER that I actually resort to whining. But I'm learning to accept packing and suitcases as a regular part of life these days. 

In 2014 I:
  • crossed the Atlantic 6 times
  • took over 20 trains
  • set foot in 4 countries
Compared to those who travel for business, my miles are fairly conservative. But compared to my life ten years ago, where I rarely left Spokane, my miles are significant. I can't even count the number of times I've packed my suitcase, as the above numbers don't take road trips into account. But I do know that there were only three months out of the year (Feb, Mar, Jul) that I didn't use my suitcase, and there were many months (May, Jun, Aug, Oct, Nov) when I used it multiple times. 

And mostly I like the activity. I love the things that I get to do, the ministies with which I am involved, and the people I get to meet and serve. It all comes at a lovely season in life, as my boys are becoming more independent and I have been able to begin seminary and make greater investments outside of the home. The travel itself can be exhausting, but the reasons for the travel are extremely After four and half years in France, I am finally finding my sweet spot. 

The Lord gave me the word, "fly" for 2014, and apparently it had both literal and figurative meaning. Being married to a pilot, I have many tiny airplanes hanging on my tree. So why did I choose the suitcase instead of un avion? I think it's because the flights represent the changes and transitions, but the suitcase stays the same. In the suitcase, I have my essentials. No matter where I go, the clothes I bring are pretty much the same. I pack my necessities, and while I don't have much, I always have enough. Seasoned travelers--of which I am becoming one--travel light. They quickly learn that having too much is not an asset, it's a liability. 

This has been a year of learning what is essential. Of clinging tightly to the things that matter, and releasing freely everything else.  

There is already a decent bit of travel on the calendar for 2015, not to mention a move. We will be relocating--still in France--to plant a church in another village. I suppose the suitcase may be a lasting icon for my life. In some ways, I was made to be a vagabond. In other ways, my feet long for a place to root. A nest that feels like home. A place to belong. Suitcase people belong everywhere and nowhere all at once. I need to let my heart find its continual rest in Jesus while my body practices perpetual motion. And I'm learning to lean into the comfort of the few brave souls that God has given me as refuges--they are like spiritual docking stations located around the globe. These people carry me with their prayers, sustain me by their encouragement, and bless me with their love. They know how a kind word spoken at the right moment can traverse any distance. They help me stay connected to my source. 

So as the year draws to a close, and I replay with wonder the joys and the sorrows that have graced 2014, I'm thankful. Thankful for suitcases and docking stations. For meetings and partings. For God's kingdom work around the globe, and the tiny role I get to play in his redemptive drama. 

And now, I kid you not, I need to go pack. 

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