In the Middle

Last October, I took a trip with TEAM, the missions organization I work for, to Spain and Portugal. On the trip, we explored the culture of each city and learned about the religious implications Spanish and Portuguese history have on sharing the Gospel today. This post is a long time coming…this trip had a profound effect on my heart and mind, but I wanted to process internally before putting it out there.

 

The beginning of a story is exciting, full of possibilities.

The end of a story is typically full of gratitude, thanksgiving, and excitement for the next steps.

But the middle of the story—that’s the everyday, one foot in front of the other part. It’s the drudgery, the hard work, the repetitiveness. The middle can be simple and even boring. But it’s also where the faithfulness is born.

One of my favorite things of my trip to Spain and Portugal was walking the journey of a church plant just outside of Porto, Portugal. I read this story from TEAM about this church’s journey and their difficulties finding a place to meet and grow as a body of believers. Communities in Porto are really suspicious of evangelical organizations. Some people might even compare them to a cult. But the Holy Spirit moved and this body of believers continued to grow—building or not.

This church got kicked out of the missionary’s living room, then moved to a space next to a bar. They were kicked out of there, and moved into a restaurant, only to quickly outgrow the space. They made another move to a larger building. They put so much sweat and tears into this next location to make it welcoming for visitors, but they outgrew this building, too, and knew they wouldn’t be able to find a building for rent that was big enough to hold them. Through more sweat, tears, and prayer, they eventually were able to purchase their own three story building and even build a beautiful sanctuary.

Porto Cathedral
Porto Cathedral

That evening, we celebrated the 20th anniversary of this church with the body of Portuguese believers there. There were young people leading worship as we sang, “Greater things are yet to come in this city.” It was surreal, this beautiful redemptive story wrapped in a bow. God provided the church with a building, where they are now thriving!

Looking back, it is so easy to forget all the doubts and questioning and the beginning and middle of this story. People came and went from this church throughout the years. Missionaries were lonely as they made a home away from what they knew. There were probably many nights wondering where there congregation could meet that week.  Yet, all the while, God was moving them closer to this moment of celebration, inch by inch.

Bom Jesus in Braga, Portugal
Bom Jesus in Braga, Portugal

Here’s the thing: we all have a middle to our stories. We all have the moments where we are so unsure we are where we are supposed to be that we want to quit. When things are so difficult that it’s easier to pack up and go home. But sometimes God asks us to show up in the middle and do the hard work and if we refuse, our stories don’t get the victorious endings they deserve. They don’t express the faithfulness of showing up every day to the thing you’re called to and doing it without glamor or fanfare.

A view of Porto from Porto Cathedral
A view of Porto from Porto Cathedral

It reminds me of one of my very favorite verses, “Let us hold unswervingly to this faith we profess, for He who promised is faithful.” Let us show up in the middle, let us keep doing the work God puts before us. Let us keep showing up, day in and day out. Let us hold unswervingly to our faith, even when it’s plain and simple and boring. I love the beginnings and the endings, but I hope I get better at the glorious, faithful middle.

Advertisements

2015 Recap

In January God laid the word dwell on my heart, and it really set the tone for the year.

In February we invested in this space and bought a domain, and I volunteered at IF: Gathering in Austin.

In March we celebrated 4 years together.

In April I saw the most beautiful city in America.

In May I got to meet some amazing missionaries in Prague, Vienna, Trieste, Bologna, and Venice.

In June we celebrated 2 years of marriage laughing at the worst resort ever.

In July we relaxed and just enjoyed one another and a break in the travel schedule.

In August we celebrated birthdays in San Antonio and hung out at Jen Hatmaker’s farmhouse.

In September we lost someone we love.

We love and miss you, Derek. Thank you for being an amazing friend, truly the very best, to Chris.
We love and miss you, Derek. Thank you for being an amazing friend, truly the very best, to Chris.

In October I headed to Spain and Portugal and Chris began a new job. 

In November we fell in love with our new church and community, and I got to hang out with my high school best friends at Disney World.

In December we celebrated another year in love, a new house, living in our callings, and, most importantly, we’ve started The Office at episode 1.

San Antonio Weekend Trip!

Hey y’all! This weekend my family took Chris and I took a weekend trip down to New Braunfels and San Antonio for a fun birthday weekend! I wish I had more pictures, but…I kind of got my phone wet and it spent most of the weekend in a bag of rice. It ended up being nice to let go of my phone for a bit, but I am very glad it is working again (so far…).

New Braunfels is about 3.5 hours south of Dallas. My mom grabbed a Groupon for Chuck’s Tubes down Comal River. Comal River was BEAUTIFUL. It’s a spring-fed river, so it’s a gorgeous blue-green color and the temperature is perfect—right around 70 degrees. Since it was 105 degrees outside, the river was perfect, and it was so relaxing to just float down the river and relax.

Photo Cred: texastraveler.com
Photo Cred: texastraveler.com

If you want to go, definitely check out Groupon for deals on tubing—there are several companies that offer them. I’d also tie your tube together with anyone else in your group—there were a few times we got separated that weren’t that fun.  Also, make sure to go in the morning.  We got there at 11, andit was kinda crowded when we went, but it wasn’t too bad. By the time we got back, though, it was sooo crowded and the lines were super long. It took us about 3 hours altogether, and it is definitely something I want to do again!

We headed to San Antonio to check into our hotel (Doubletree by Hilton San Antonio Airport—super friendly staff and really pretty rooms!) before heading to Market Square downtown for dinner at Mi Tierra.  Mi Tierra is a super cute bakery, bar, and restaurant. It is super festive-looking, and Market Square is a cool area with vendors and souvenirs.  Mi Tierra was just okay, though. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it, but it wasn’t bad!

From Market Square, we walked over the Riverwalk and took a boat ride down the beautiful river. It was so fun to hear the history from Jimmy. There is something like 57 restaurants on the Riverwalk, and I kind of wish we had done that instead. 

Mi Tierra in San Antonio, Texas
Mi Tierra in San Antonio, Texas

The next morning we used another Groupon for hop on hop off bus tour. I usually shy away from stuff like that, but it really was a fun way to hear about the city. Also, it was literally the hottest day of the year in Texas, so we totally skipped out on actually walking to any of the places. On the bus, we got to see everything and get the nice breeze on the top of the double decker.

It was a little hot outside :)
It was a little hot outside :)
San Antonio Hop On Hop Off Tour
San Antonio Hop On Hop Off Tour

Overall, it was a really fun weekend. Something I love about Texas are all the fun places for a weekend trips, and living close to family so that we can take them.

I’ve linked up with This is Wherever Wednesday on Texifornia’s blog (don’t you love that name?) Check out her blog here!