Matthew 5:41 “If a soldier demands that you carry his gear for a mile, carry it two miles.”
When the Bible was written the people of Israel were living under Roman rule. During that time it was not only law, but required that if a soldier was walking on a road and needed/wanted help he could require you to carry his pack and walk with him one mile. In this passage Jesus is referencing this law when he says, “If a soldier demands that you carry his gear for a mile, carry it two miles.” Jesus was such renegade and taught so many upside down principles. The last will be first and such. The heart of Jesus in this passage puts a fire in my belly. I want to be an extra mile walker. With my family, my friends, my calling. Evidently many of you do as well!
I got the sweetest email this week. It was from a precious couple who have supported us since day 1. They have given faithfully every month. They have prayed, read our updates, and been quietly, prayerfully, faithfully in our corner. In their email this week they hated to inform us that because of their recent retirement they could no longer financially support our ministry. They mentioned in the note that they understand this must be difficult for us to hear but that they will always support us in prayer and will take any opportunity near them to participate in fundraisers on our behalf. Their email meant so much to me. I completely understand that circumstances change for people and I expect that people will leave our giving team and God will bring others. It was in their loving note that my heart was ministered. They took the time to love us as people. They knew we would notice and they wanted more than anything to be sure that our hearts were not discouraged. What beautiful people. They didn’t have to be so considerate, but they were. They really didn’t have to, but they did. It was an extra mile after they have walked many for and with us.
This past month the 5 of us set out to spend some time in the states. Family, like always, went overboard making our trip a success for us and the kids. This was important trip home for all of us. Kris and I were truly exhausted and needed rest. Real deep soul rest. The kids needed it too. We set up this trip to meet the needs of our champion kids who were in need of different things as well. I prayed specifically for each of my children that God would direct the trip this summer to minister to them. In the midst of this praying God planted in me this idea of a trip for our family that was really just about our children. Anna would head to Phoenix to be with friends. The kind of friends that fill your soul and simultaneously make your snarf soda out of your nose. Levi wanted nothing more than to camp with his Dad and grandpa. He wanted to be one of the guys and really settle into that place with some family. Lydia and I were going to stay put here in Haiti to save money, but when my mama heard this she offered to pay our way home. So Lydia left Haiti for the 1st time in 18 months and we went East to see my sister and parents. My family truly never stops going the extra mile to serve us while we serve here. My mom drove 51.5 hours over the three weeks to shuttle Lydia and I around and get us back to our flight. 51.5 hours!!! She didn’t have to but she did. My sister spent most days creating moments for Lydia to enjoy her cousins. She and Wes, My brother in law, took her to the pool and many other things so I could rest. My dad and Sue paid for counseling to help me address some anxiety and my processing of life in general here. Side note: Please pray for your missionaries mental health. I had no idea what an issue this is for virtually all missionaries until we moved here. They paid for me to see a counselor and then arranged my days so that nearly everyday with them I could run 3 miles and spend time in prayer and writing. They didn’t have to but they did.
Kris’ parents arranged their summer to minster to Levi and Kris. They set up fishing, camping, shooting, 4 wheeling, laser tag and other things to love on Levi. Kris was able to sleep in most days and give his body a MUCH NEEDED break. They didn’t have to but they did. The extra miles folks, seriously.
Finally, Here is our ode to the non-blood related family who carried our packs a LONG WAY.
When this whole trip was just a glimmer of an idea in my spirit I sent a message to dear friends in AZ to see if this was even feasible. Anna would need a ton of extra mile walking for this to happen so I started with a question. “If by some chance I could get Anna out to AZ for church camp could you and your family host her for a few days before camp and a week after?” The response still brings me to tears. My friends said, “Yes, only if you let us pay for camp!” I am not joking when I say the tears are coming so hard now I can hardly see to type. They welcomed my tired baby with open arms and hands full of Starbucks. They did the airport runs, took her to Starbucks, bought her donuts, brought her to stores so she could walk around unsupervised with friends like a normal teen, took her for mani/pedis, and on her last night with them they ran her to Subway late at night because they realized she hadn’t eaten her favorite food yet. Anna came home so light and saying, how she hadn’t realized how much she needed that. I cannot even articulate the extra miles they walked and what it meant to this mama. I am currently ugly crying and blubbering because writing it all overwhelms my heart. They really didn’t have to but they did! This family walked so many extra miles that I worried it would weigh them down, but they never let on if it did.
When it came to Lydia, I really wanted her to be with her closest cousin, Emme. They have been tight since they were babies and they have given up so much time together.
My sister and family has recently moved from Los Angeles, CA to GA and were living with my sister’s in-laws while they bought a home near Atlanta. So, to be clear they were staying with my brother-in-law’s parents. So, let me see, that makes them my…nothing. We are just not related. That made no difference to them, nor has it ever, as they welcomed Lydia, I and my mama into their home so that we could be together with my sis for a week. They bought food, cooked, cleaned and lived in a general state of overwhelm as my sisters family of 5 grew to 8. They opened up their lives and home as if it was the most natural thing in the world. Can we all agree it was not the natural choice? They walked the extra mile, over and over again. They arranged for me to speaks at a friends church one evening and I was a bit of a nervous wreck. Kris does most of the speaking and here I was exhausted, depleted and given an hour service. I was so grateful to be able to share but I was nervous at the same. I spent days preparing and after it was done I truly had no idea if I had strung even one coherent thought together. We got back to the house and my sister’s Father-in law squeezed me around the shoulders, kissed my head, and told me what a great job I had done. The tender kindness of that moment…and the tears are back. He didn’t have to, but he did. They didn’t have to, but they did.
I cannot contain the overwhelming gratitude I feel. So many extra miles walked and by so many people. Many of you have been walking these miles with us since this journey began and I just want you to know that it has never gone unnoticed. From a friends and family discount at Columbia clothing store, to the school supplies being sent in for our kids. From 84 shares of my curriculum need post on Facebook, to the English major teaching my child to write. From the limes squeezed nightly for limeade, to the supplies from our Amazon wish list. We can feel the lighter load and we can sense your companionship. You extra mile walkers are the reason we keep moving forward. God never intended any of us to walk alone and you have never let us walk alone.
I have never cried so much writing a blog. Good grief.
We are back in Haiti and back to work. We are back to gate opening, hand holding, feeding, praying with and loving the beautiful people God has called us to. We are full of God’s love because you poured it into us. God gently restored our tired souls as we walked. The Body of Christ spoke life into us and we are energized to continue in this work. We say it all the time, but you have to know that your presence in our ministry is critical. Thanks for going the extra mile friends. Thank you monthly givers for quietly, faithfully standing in our corner. Every goat path we walk, every tiny body we hold and every hope restored is done while you hold us.
May God’s richest blessing overflow in your hearts and restore your soul as you have been used by God to restore ours.
Ephesians 1:23 “And the church is his body; it is made full and complete by Christ, who fills all things everywhere with himself.”