These are Transitional Years

tran·si·tion

noun: the process or a period of changing from one state or condition to another.


The beginning of a yearning…
…a yearning that burns, leaps at the thought of the World Race.
Oh to be there again.

Memories of ages past. No, not ages, just years…but it feels like ages.
Ages gone; ages home.
Time flies, yet inches along.

When I returned from the World Race, I thought I’d never want to go again.

I was tired. No, exhausted. Longing for the embrace of family and all familiar things.

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Family is beautiful, and I’m so grateful.
Memory tricks us, lures us back to comfort.

But little did I know I would jump right back home into the familiar, but soon into transition. Changes came quickly, and I was swept along in the current. A beautiful, fast-moving, white-water rapids current, splashing me rudely in the face one minute and rushing over me and calming my fears in another.

I was left with little time to process. Or maybe I am a terrible processor. It takes me forever to figure out what I learned from something. Maybe this is a good thing. Maybe this is normal.

I’m still processing the World Race and feel like I will continue to do so for a very long time. I think, that this is ok.

Change comes for all of us. Transition is inevitable.

>>Fast forward to a year after I returned home, and I’m longing for it all over again. The World Race.

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This must be what mothers experience after giving birth to their child…they say they will never do it again, then time forgets the pain and you remember only the joy and long for it again.

Pain is what grows us, challenges us, changes us.

P1100017 - Version 3(the day my Thai pants were eaten by termites…)

Pressure cooker, that was the World Race. We hate it and we love it.
Oh…to be that close to the Lord again. Oh to feel His presence with every breath, every step.

He is still here. Oh so close. Right here.
Just, He feels different.
Grown closer, yet feels farther.
As if that is possible.

I have thought and thought about how these past 2 years have gone since I left for the World Race.

I began a life of transition that has never stopped. Oh how my life has sped through many twists and turns since September 2012.

I should be used to transition by now, but the thing about transition is that each new one brings new challenges. You can get used to moving but constant change brings uncertainty. It requires great trust in the Lord.


 These are transitional years, but these are defining years.
I am learning who I am–who He has made me to be. This is EXCITING, AMAZING, THRILLING, TERRIFYING, WONDERFUL.

Life as I know it now, is not how I thought it would be.
This is okay.
I trust the Lord. He is faithful.
He provided an amazing job and a place to live.
He is making a way for my family.
He will lead us and guide us.
He hears the longing of my heart. He knows it better than I even do.

cropped-cropped-copy-Cambodia2.jpgAnd so I trust Him with my future and the future transitions.

All of the growth and challenge and pain, that will bring more growth and challenges and delights and failures and laughter and hugs and tears and struggles and LIFE, which causes me to go back onto my knees in prayer, giving thanks to my Father for His GOOD gifts, He has given me life and breath and these struggles are momentary.

Our lives are meant to be lived for our King.

I will keep lifting my eyes to Him. Transition means stepping closer to Him.
Focusing my eyes on the Giver of Life.

I trust in the most Trustworthy One. He is my Faithful Guide.


I see these transitions continuing, and though I know it won’t be easy, I’m not worried or afraid.
Instead I am confident in what my Savior will do, in the plans He has for my life.
Transitions require us to move, to take a step, to ACT, to obey.

Transitions move us closer to Him, because they shake us from comfort.

He didn’t say it would be easy, but He said He’d be right here with us. That’s a promise I’m holding onto.


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So do not fear, for I am with you;
    do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
    I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
-Isaiah 41:10

———-

The Lord makes firm the steps
    of the one who delights in him;
though he may stumble, he will not fall,

    for the Lord upholds him with his hand.
I was young and now I am old,

    yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken
    or their children begging bread.
They are always generous and lend freely;
    their children will be a blessing.
Turn from evil and do good;

    then you will dwell in the land forever.
For the Lord loves the just
    and will not forsake his faithful ones.
-Psalm 37:22-28

The staircase of faith

The countdown to home begins.
It doesn’t seem real.
In 84 days (12 weeks) I will be landing in the United States.
My feet will touch U.S. soil again.
I honestly can’t wait…
…but then again, I can.

My heart is so torn.
I can’t believe I’m on month 9 already.
Since the beginning of the Race, I’ve been looking forward to coming home.
Homesickness hit me extremely hard at Launch.
Which is crazy, because at that point, I hadn’t even left America yet.
I think it was the fact that I knew I was leaving home for so long, knowing I wouldn’t have the chance to return for 11 months.

Ever since I’ve left, I’ve had to fight to be present.
The feelings of homesickness have come and gone, and come and gone again.
It’s normal.
I knew from the beginning that the Lord had called me to this.
I knew I was supposed to go.
But the knowing doesn’t always help the feelings to go away :).

As my pastor said in his sermon that I was able to live-stream on Sunday,

Faith is taking that first step onto the staircase,
without knowing where the staircase goes.”

Faith honestly sucks sometimes.
It requires you to step out when you desperately don’t want to.
It means speaking up when you just want to be quiet.
It means going when you have no idea where you’re going to end up and you have no idea what’s going to happen.
It’s relying on that still, small voice inside of you that says, “Go.”
It’s trusting that even when it hurts—because God says it’s going to be okay and that He’ll be with us—that it really will turn out alright.

There are many reasons God calls us to go.
He wants to show us new things.
He wants to teach us.
He doesn’t want us to stay immature in our faith.

 

I’ve realized something lately—the devil wants to stop us from ever stepping out.
He wants to keep our faith immature.

The Bible says in 1 Peter 2,
Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation…”

And it hit me the other day.
So many people from home have been commenting on how mature we all look.
And it’s not because I’m getting older…even though that’s true, haha.
You can look at the pictures of us before the Race and compare them with the ones just recently taken…and maybe you’ll see it.

Month 1 – Dominican Republic
From jesseischens.theworldrace.org

Month 3 – Thailand
From jesseischens.theworldrace.org

From jesseischens.theworldrace.org

Month 5 – Cambodia
From jesseischens.theworldrace.org

From jesseischens.theworldrace.org

Month 6 – Tanzania
From jesseischens.theworldrace.org

From jesseischens.theworldrace.org

Maybe we only look more tired.
But we’ve started noticing it in each other, and it’s not to float our own boats or toot our own horns.
It’s just taking note of something that has slowly become obvious.

There is a literal, physical change in every single one of our faces.
There’s a new maturity there that was absent before the Race.

Month 7 – Malawi
From jesseischens.theworldrace.org

Month 8 – Swaziland
From jesseischens.theworldrace.org

And do you know what I just realized?
It’s because we’ve stepped out in faith. We went. We’ve been constantly stepping out in faith for 9 months now, and it’s changed us.
We’re not the same.
The reason is simpler than Oh, they’ve just traveled the world.
It’s because God called, and we went.
We stepped out in faith.
We left all we knew.
We got really uncomfortable.
And it was awesome and horrible and exciting and terrifying and amazing and challenging and perfect.

I’m still growing every day. I still have so much to learn.

But I feel the need to urge you:
Please, please step out in faith.
Don’t stay immature.
Don’t let satan keep you where you are.
Don’t ever stop seeking after more and more and more of the Lord and asking Him what He has for you.

I wasn’t looking to change. I’m honestly a bit scared to find out how much I’ve changed when I’m home, out of the community I’ve been immersed in for almost a year…I wonder what it will look like.

But there’s something about stepping out. There’s something about faith that slowly changes you. It’s not a bad thing. It’s the wildest ride you’ll ever find yourself on. But you must be willing to take that first step.

I promise that though it’s sure to be hard, it’s the most worth it thing you’ll ever do.

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