Have you ever wondered why books have blank margins on the edges of the paper? What would it be like to read a book without margins? I think it would drive my eyes crazy, and I would quickly toss it aside. Margins provide breathing room.
Although it was great to be in the U.S. for June & July, we had very little margin. There was virtually no wiggle-room, no breathing space. I thoroughly enjoyed my visits with family, friends, and churches, but my schedule was just too jam-packed. Whose fault? Mostly my own, trying to do too much.
One Sunday morning, I spoke in three services at two different churches within a span of three hours. While I was sitting in the pew, waiting to be introduced at the second church, I felt so weak. I just prayed, "Lord, I can't do this on my own power. Please help me to stand up and speak." It was, by far, the best talk out of 25 this summer. I was able to really connect with the congregation. Hmmm, that sounds like 2 Cor. 12:9 "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."
In our 60 days in the U.S., we drove 7500 miles and slept in 27 different places. I have to tell you, the boys were real troopers! They travelled amazingly well. Of course, the DVD player in Grandma & Grandpa's van probably had something to do with that!
Our time was roughly split between staying in hotels and homes. We thoroughly enjoyed both. Sometimes we just needed to be our own little family unit with no conversational or behavioral demands. But on the other hand, when we stay with the same families over the years, we really develop some good friendships.
Now that we're back home, and have some margin, I am even more aware of the imbalance in our lives in June & July. When I'm in Nigeria, I check my three email accounts with some degree of regularity. One is checked daily and the other two every week or so. When I was in the U.S., I completely forgot about the two accounts that I check periodically. Now I'm wading through months of emails (mostly junk) and finding a few that really needed answers weeks ago. So I've just finished writing about 10 emails that all began with an apology.
I'm reading consistently to the kids every night now, and I even find time to read a book myself. I still feel like that is a luxury right now because I had to go without. Let's face it: if you can't find time to read for 15-30 min. a day, then your day is just too full!
Since this was my 7th furlough, you would think I would have had a wealth of experience from which to draw. But my two major hindrances were that Bayo was not with me and all of my visits were condensed into two months instead of the usual three.
When Bayo is along we share the driving (he drives on the interstate; I drive in the cities), the child care, and all the set-up, presentation, and take-down of our programs. While he's driving, I can read a book or make contacts for our upcoming visits.
One Sunday morning, I was speaking at a church and Tobi was running the powerpoint on the computer. The boys were sitting in the pew just 12 inches in front of me, and they started to push each other with their hands and legs. What to do? How could I communicate to my boys while standing in front of the church speaking? The evil eye and tight face would be seen by all. To make matters worse, the mic I was using was bringing in a faint country music station. I thought I was going to lose my mind. In the end, I just decided to block out all the distractions and concentrate on what I was saying. It was hard being a single parent.
I'm reminded of a missionary who was preaching from the pulpit while on home assignment in the U.S. and he saw his five children in the front pew start misbehaving. He calmly said to the congregation, "I'd like to read some Arabic so you can hear what the language sounds like." Then he said in Arabic, "You kids better sit down and behave right now." Instantly the children became angels. It's too bad my children and I don't share a language apart from English!
We temporarily divided our family in order to provide stability for Lily. Even though the summer schedule was demanding, I have to admit that we achieved our goal. I have not noticed any negative residual effects in Lily due to the absence of three family members. And I am very confident that all of our adoption issues will be resolved before we travel again!