Mother Nature enjoys a good April Fool’s joke as much as anyone, I guess, and after days of springtime warmth we got hit with another big snowstrom on April 1st that shut down a part of the state. However, it was nice to have a snow day for our last day at home.
Today we leave to begin a new adventure: The Spring tour with Shawn McDonald and Downhere. It’s shaped up to be a full schedule of 27 dates in 34 days from Florida to Washington with a only a four day break for Gospel Music Week in Nashville. We are grateful to be a part of such a tour, to be sure, but today we are also feeling a little sad as we prepare to say goodbye to our boys. Taya will be back home for about a week in mid-April, but other than a planned visit during our stop in Minneapolis, I won’t see them for the better part of 6 weeks. This is the hardest part of what I do.
Knowing this day was coming, we have tried to make the most of our time together. We had a sweet Easter time as a family and I’ve tried to keep shorter work days the last few weeks. I’ve been especially attentive to Gus, our 4 year old. He’s changing so much these days and I’m afraid of what I’ll miss of his development in this time. He’s my last little boy and he will be a different boy when I get home.
And yet we believe that we are on the path that God has for us and that in the grand scheme of things, this is really just a short time apart. We are grateful, too, to have a sense that though there are sacrifices, we have purpose and that there is meaning to our work. I daily pray this is true.
We really do have the best of both worlds. The boys will stay with their grandparents, which they are actually excited about. It’s a pretty painless transition for them and we know they’ll have fun. It’s more myself that I feel sorry for. The older I get the more I’m aware of how much I need my family. Can you believe that sometimes I’m actually grateful to be woken in the middle of the night by a scared little boy who needs only a word from dad to help him find the courage to sleep in the dark? Maybe I’m clinging to these days in their lives when I still have the power to make everything alright.
One of my most cherished memories is the time that Taya and the boys drove me to Rochester, MN for me to join my first official tour in Spring of 2002 with Sara Groves. Afterward on the drive home that snowy February night, Jacob (then 5 years old) was a little choked up and having difficulty with the idea that they had just dropped me off and wouldn’t see me for several weeks. In his effort to cope with it, he said to Taya: “Mom, can we pretend that we’re driving to pick dad up instead of going home without him?” “Sure, Jacob,” Taya said, “we can pretend that we’re driving to pick dad up and that you’ll see him in just a little bit…” And that little thought was all he needed to help him drift off to sleep for the rest of the drive. It’s these partings that give the time we have together such weight.
I’m afraid as I share such personal feelings that there are those who may be tempted to judge our lifestyle and wonder if we sacrifice too much for our ministry. Sometimes I wonder myself, to be honest, though I know in this regard that the times I am home I get to be more present to my boys than many parents, so I think it all evens out. I hope so, anyway. The trick is to be balanced and to jealously guard the time that you do have.
These times away are a sacrifice for me, but I pray that God will keep us all and bless our work, and help us to do work that is worthy of blessing. I guess in sharing all this, I’m asking: would you remember us in your prayers? Remember our boys. Remember Taya and I. Pray that our work will have meaning and will be worthy of the sacrifices. Pray that we will be true and faithful to all we are called to do in our ministry both at home and on the road.