The weather in PA this Feb/March has been either sunny, rainy, or snowy.

I remember when the big Atlantic trips were exciting, full of nerves, a little last minute panic, and Walmart runs. As we age, and traveled so much, it’s quite chill in the Crowe house. Suitcases are out days before departure, Deb is the consummate packing professional so I just try to stay out of her way. We’re a tag team, as most marriages become. I’m fixing lamps, painting rooms, installing some security cameras at our house in Pennsylvania.

We know what’s important to pack. I laughed at this suitcase.

Deb has the final loads of laundry running, and organizing closets for cleaners and prepping the house for renters this year. Our house has been such an amazing, providential blessing, bought just two months before the war broke out in Ukraine, online, without ever seeing it. How we ever qualified for a mortgage without having any credit left in the US and without enough US income, it surely one for our book one day.

God has blessed us, we feel it, we are humbled by it, and now as we leave to venture back to Romania and a world that functions much different than North America. We somberly pack, hearts both heavy at the reality of Ukraine still, and the groaning of our bodies, aching a bit more and contesting the travel ahead. It’s an odd season, our motivations have changed a lot, we’re not missionaries saving the world, we never really were. We’re just available, asking, seeking, knocking. W want Creator’s joy to be our strength. So much transformation needs to happen for that to be genuine. Lord have mercy, help us (me) to be like our kids in that regard.

That’s not to say we’re not anticipating good things. We are excited to be with Broderic and Kristen, to come alongside them as their family explores and grows. We have friends to see, to listen to, to hug and love spending time with. We have community in both Romania and Ukraine. We have borders to cross, and people to serve, teams coming in this Spring, and friends planning visits to Romania this summer.

I have been wrestling the past month, for sure. Wrestling with a vocation, a calling that has seemed to go completely sideways. God moved on us as young adults to live toward the East, and Russia specifically. Even in Ukraine, all these years, we never looked West, always East, curious as to what Lighthouse, what our widows ministry, or business ventures might mean for Eastward movement of both our family and the movement of the Spirit. Now I find myself laying my own narrative down, my identity, my sense of belonging and purpose in the kingdom. I am free, I feel this, like a wagon unhitched from the horse, but the horse (I’m the horse in this odd metaphor) isn’t moving from the wagon too far. I may be free, I may be able to live into new spaces of influence and relationships, and even enter a new phase of life as an older man, but I can’t help but sense God redeems, He renews, He doesn’t just give another plow after your entire life was grooving the handles of one vision. I like my wagon, I feel God’s heart towards the East. Yet, is it time for us to refocus on new? Can this horse walk away from an old wagon if there’s a new one God has prepared? Maybe we can connect them all like the old tomato wagons pulled by our tractors on the farm. Sometimes they’d have even 3 wagons back to back, as I kid I thought it was the most amazing thing ever.

I receive no life from geopolitical history on it’s own, or current events either good or bad. The life I live is rooted in the Creator behind the freedoms given to all of humanity. His life is good, pure, and I can see it coming through the contours, the edges, persisting through the shadowy corruption of humanities actions, words, and way. We are living out either God’s reality, His vibrant loving way, or we’re so absorbed in this world that we fight within it, we fight over worldly words, meanings, ideologies.

I have this sneaky suspicion that for many Christians, we’re so de-tuned from the beauty of Jesus Kingdom, and His vision for humanity, that the best we can do is fight for outward preservation, for outward behaviors, for morality of the past, and not the underlying beauty of the present that’s so yearning to break through. Maybe I’m not making sense?

Claire and Abbey have their own cute girls room, and Deb found this cheap used mirror so we posed by it. There are so many things people sell online for so cheap in this country, it blows our mind. Truly America consumes way too much stuff – Claire bought 10 barbies for $20 from our neighbor, it’s a kids dreamland.

I guess what I’m trying to say, is that returning back over to Romania, nearer the war and Ukrainians that are suffering from it, I can’t get sucked into the reverberations of the physical, material when it’s the spiritual, the principalities and powers behind the scene marring and destroying the good of this world. The battle is there, and the battle is already won. Jesus, our redeemer and King, with a robe dipped in His own blood, riding on a horse, our sacrificing God who would rather be slaughtered on a Cross then coerce humanity into puppetry obedience: This God is worthy of our lives, my life. His loving, divesting way, is the way to victory for the believer. The way of the lamb, the sacrifice of God in Christ, is our resurrection victory over death and all this world might bring to us. Without this experienced reality of God’s conquering love, I’m quickly buried in a sea of apathy, and sucked into battling physical fights, unkind words, and exchanging the mystery of God’s love for the certainty of feeling smart, right.

We’re packing up, not really moving home, nor leaving home. We’re sojourners at the moment. Truly, we all are, all the time. This world is not our home, yet our hearts hope for home and enjoy the brief tastings of belonging. I’m ready to see what God has for us. We are open, positioning ourselves for several possibilities beyond this year. Not far from our mind the reality that we’re aging, we’re dying, yet coming alive to the best things in this world. It will continue fighting, will we surrender to love? It will entice and deceive, will we find our hiding place in the safety of Christ’s power, the gift of sharing in His holiness?