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Counting the Cost of Full Time Missions

There's a song by Rend Collective called the Cost, and sometimes I listen to it on repeat.

"I'm saying 'yes' to you and 'no' to my desires, I'll leave myself behind and follow You... 
I've counted up the cost, and You are worth it. 
I do not need safety as much as I need you. You're dangerous but Lord, you're beautiful. 
I'll chase you through the pain, I'll carry my cross. Because real love is not afraid to bleed...
I've counted up the cost, and You are worth it."


I'm riding in my parents car right now down to Atlanta, Georgia for launch and then to fly out to South Africa and I've just said goodbye to (almost) everyone in my immediate family.

In this moment, I'm hyper aware of everything I'm giving up for a year of missions. My 4 year old niece who is the sweetest person I know waved at me from her booster seat until she and my sister drove out of sight. Last night, there was a letter from her (dictated by my sister) waiting for me on the nightstand. I've pointed out all of the countries where I'm going on a map (she loves maps), and she says she wants to go with me to Madagascar. I have a feeling Disney had something to do with this. She's a sweet, smart, feisty, adorable 4 year old and when I get back she'll be a 5 year old kindergartner.

My 1 year old (about to be 2) nephew Max hugged me tighter than he ever has before when I went to see him at daycare. He's a good snuggler. He's getting so much personality. He's learning to say new words (his latest favorite when I'm around is "Brock"). He's sensitive, sweet, and wants to do everything his big sister does. When I left him at daycare he bawled, big tears streaming down his baby blue eyes. I think he cries anytime someone leaves him at daycare, but I knew exactly how he felt.

Yesterday I said goodbye to my grandmother Mimi (on my mom's side). She hasn't been doing well for a while now and dementia has caused her to not remember much, but yesterday she was in a great mood. She was smiling and was generously handing out compliments to everyone around her. I told her I would see her in 11 months.

Two months ago one of my best friends invited me to go to a Louisville basketball game and my seat happened to be right next to the greatest guy I've ever met. We didn't stop talking the whole game. Brock grew up a county over from me in Western Kentucky, and it feels like we've known each other our whole lives. I'm leaving the country with the expectation and hope that he'll be there for me when I get back.

I've said goodbye to my sweet sister who has helped me get all of my things together, even on a day when she was sick. I got the feeling when I said goodbye that maybe I don't want to do this, that maybe I can't leave everyone I know and love for almost a whole year.

My family has put up with me packing and unpacking my backpack no less than 7 times, each time hoping to weed out some things but never being very successful. My parents and grandmother (Kirtley) are taking time out of their lives to be with me at launch in Atlanta. I don't want to think about saying goodbye to them yet but I know it's coming soon.

Sometimes thinking about this journey makes me sick to my stomach, knowing the dangers and the cost of giving up a comfortable, American life for a life of missions. But other times I think of the sweet faces, the orphans- the widows, the people living in mud huts wearing the same dirty clothes day after day who need help- or just a helping of hope. I know God has designated us as His hands and feet for this mission and there are specific people God already has planned for us to meet and be part of their story, and I can't let Him down. And when I think of that, although the cost is high, I know it is worth it.

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