Don’t Take A Vacation From God
by Cara Putman
This summer my family is in the middle of a crazy adventure. For awhile the longing for a shared adventure had grown in my heart. Because my husband spent seven of his growing up years in the Far East, I’ve harbored a desire for our children to share a similar experience. The more I thought and prayed about it, the crazier it seemed. Yet the longing never left. So I tucked it close to my heart and prayed.
Let’s face it – this was one of those crazy ideas. Children can have wonderful lives without spending weeks in a foreign country. Still…I clung to the idea and prayed.
God sometimes smiles on those crazy dreams we have for our kids that we hardly dare to articulate. This summer through a miraculous series of events, we’re in Germany for eight weeks. Yes, eight weeks! Just because God loves to delight His kids – while we’re in Germany my daughter, a competitive gymnast, is training with a gymnastics team – one training future German Olympians.
I can hear what you’re thinking. That’s great for you, but what about me? What about my dreams for my family and children that seem mired in the grime of impossibility?
I honestly don’t know why God decided to grant this desire…but I have a few ideas. My life verse has been Psalm 37:4: delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart. Sometimes, we latch on to the idea we’ll get our desires while ignoring the first part of the verse. First, we’re to delight in the Lord. I believe as we delight in Him, He changes our hearts so that they mirror His. We are moved by what moves Him, and we delight in what delights Him. He also promises in Matthew 6:33, that if we seek Him first, He will add everything else to us. Again, in the process of seeking Him, we are changed.
As we journeyed along the road to deciding whether to take a crazy step and journey to Germany for the summer, I was careful to let the kids see the process from my side. I’ve taught a class at Purdue University for six summers…periodically, they’d ask if I’d consider teaching the same class in Germany. Each time my reaction was sure I’d consider it. Then they asked a year ago if I would actually do it.
Examine your heart behind the dream. I want my children to understand that the world is much bigger than the corner they live in. I long for them to see other people through God’s eyes. And I want them to experience what it’s like to be the outsider so they’re hearts will be open to those they meet.
Be willing to be uncomfortable. We knew klein Deutsch before our plane left the States. Even going to the grocery store can be exhausting. I didn’t know zucker was the word for sugar…or that there are about twelve words that go in front of zucker to change the type of sugar. I’ve had to humble myself often to ask for help. My children are there watching and learning.
We’re living in a two-bedroom apartment instead of a two-story home. We’ve given up our friends and schedules for the chance to meet new people and stretch our experiences. My four-year-old asks often if the swimming pool will still be open when we get home as we add yet another layer of jackets before heading outside.
Yet even with the stretching, it’s clear God orchestrated the timing of this adventure perfectly…my husband had exactly the right number of vacation days banked so he could join us. His team met their annual goals early. I had a writing break and my 2012 releases came out in January, April and May providing another window to teach and then enjoy the experience. Even when there were bumps in the road to Germany, we took it as an opportunity to see God’s hand guiding us.
Recognizing God’s provision is only half the process…then my husband and I had to peel back the curtain so the kids could see the ways God has provided. We even developed a phrase for it: “God just killed another cow for us.” (Making reference to Psalm 50:10). For example, that gym here in Germany? Before we arrived I couldn’t get an answer on the cost, so I grit my teeth and prayed it would be something we could afford. Then when we got the bill, it was only dollars more than we would have paid at our usual gym. And God in His goodness provided a student to slide into my daughter’s slot, so our home gym wasn’t affected by our absence.
He also blessed us with a neighbor who has family in Germany. Family that has welcomed us into their homes and become friends as they shuttled us around parts of Germany. Our experience has been so much richer as we’ve spent time in their homes and gotten to know their hearts and thoughts.
As I write this, we’re halfway through our European adventure. It’s one I would seriously consider undertaking again. Yes, it’s inconvenient to leave our busy lives for eight weeks. But it’s also been a huge blessing. While immersed in a country where we understand every 20th word, we’ve learned to depend on each other. We’ve spent oodles of time together…something that even in a homeschooling family can feel rushed. And we’ve experienced God providing for us in so many ways. Experiences that I pray each child will remember for a lifetime…even if the 18 month old remembers them from pictures.
Cara C. Putman usually lives in Indiana with her husband and four children though this summer you’ll find her in Hanover, Germany, teaching a class for a Big Ten university. She’s an attorney, teacher at her church, and contract lecturer or adjunct faculty at a local community college and Big Ten university. She has loved reading and writing from a young age and now realizes it was all training for writing books. An honors graduate of the University of Nebraska and George Mason University School of Law, Cara loves bringing history and romance to life. You can learn more about Cara and her novels on her website, Facebook, twitter, and pinterest.