We spent the next twenty months praying for clarity, timing and direction, all the while watching as God blessed and raised finances for our move. (The church came behind us in full force and we left for our return journey to Romania on July 5, 2011.)
During the remainder of our time in Southern California my relationship with my aunt continued to be on her terms. We were never invited to family gatherings (Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter, etc.). I continued to send invitations to the whole family for my kids’ birthdays, but only my uncle and aunt would make appearances. We were invited to a couple of birthday parties for their grandchildren, but were clearly given the cold shoulder when there, so that wasn’t going to be resolved. God has His purpose in, and uses, ALL things…ALL. (Romans 8:28)
God continued to remind me of JeJe’s sharing the story of Joseph with me. The LORD told me to weep in private, not to communicate with them. I destroyed many drafted emails outlining how hurt and upset I was. He wanted me to trust Him and allow Him to deal with everyone and everything in His time (Joseph never sought out his brothers, even when he was second in command in Egypt).
When we arrived in Romania we faced much opposition as we began to plant a church. Ezra, Nehemiah and Esther were (and continue to be) greatly used.
I was now “the Pastor’s wife.” Oh Dread! (PLEASE NEVER, EVER, call me that…I struggled with that designation the first two years we were here.) I am just “coleen” (with a small “c”); this works perfectly because JeJe just wants to be known as “JeJe.” Anyway, I found myself in isolation (no friends or extended family support) which brought on a lot of tears; but the isolation also brought with it good changes and a closeness with my Lord. It was through this isolation that I learned…”Don’t despise the very thing that drives you to the presence of God.” I actually have a tendency to be too introverted at times. I know…, you who know me are thinking, “What? She has such a BIG personality!” As a child I grew up alone with my thoughts and imagination, hiding from life in my room. That can be a habit which is easy to revert to. However, I do highly value “alone time”, especially with Jesus.
He has taught me many things these past four years. The biggest: Forgiveness. I always wanted to forgive, especially my aunt, but I didn’t know how to do it in a way that would completely free me from the stronghold our relationship had over me. I have learned the kind of forgiveness Jesus had when He washed Judas’ feet and no one in the room knew it was he that Jesus was referring to as His betrayer. Jesus had the perfect “poker face,” because His heart was right.
God brought an American woman into our church who had gone through a big healing process in her own life. Her ministry was helping people get rid of hurts…bitterness…strongholds…and defensive walls built as protection…by getting into the presence of God, seeking His truth and giving it all to Him. Sometimes the enemy still rises to toss it back at me, but I just say, “Thank You Jesus that You enabled me to forgive that and You died on the cross for that.” The LORD showed me that all these years I wanted so badly for my aunt to be my “mom” and she couldn’t be. I had to ask God for forgiveness for wanting my aunt to fill a void only He could fill, and for expecting my aunt to be someone she couldn’t be.
I visited my aunt when the children and I were in the U.S. in January of 2014. I could sense something was amiss, but didn’t know exactly what. I knew she had health issues (and ongoing cancer treatment) and we met with her and her family. Unfortunately, some of the family members had done a lot of hurt that I had not yet dealt with and I wasn’t ready to meet with them. My aunt insisted we all get together. In an attempt to “do the right thing,” the children and I attended the gathering. We couldn’t help but be “cautious,” with walls built up around us. This upset my aunt; however, I did ask to pray with her and her husband before we left. As I walked out the door, my spirit told me that it was the last time we would see one another….
She didn’t communicate with me very much in the months following our return to Romania. In mid-November, 2014, I received an email notification that she had passed away. The email was sent to “All” and stated she spent her last weeks “surrounded by her family.” No one called me to tell me…no one told me about the memorial service…until after it had taken place. When one of her sons called at 5:00 am the day after the service, JeJe was gracious and kind in speaking with him.
When I first opened that email, I sobbed. My son and daughter were sitting close by and knew what it probably was about. James said to me, “Let them go, Mom; you have us.” God often uses my children to speak to me.
I spent the next couple of hours sobbing and praying “in my private chamber.” I was comforted by Isaiah 61:3
“…To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that He might be glorified.”
God also reminded me to be like Joseph and forgive, and allow Him to deal with everything. He has a purpose in allowing things to happen the way they have; and I can emphatically tell you now, “It is Well With My Soul.”
As I close this letter of testimony, I am overjoyed in the goodness and faithfulness of the LORD…for blessing JeJe and me with this time together, as a family, serving the LORD. I have watched each of us grow spiritually (my family says I have grown the most, which is the best compliment EVER). I know this would not be true were it not for Him bringing us here…for such a time as this….
It is the deepest cry of my heart for people to know and love Jesus…to find healing and forgiveness at the Cross. There is not one ounce of rejection, hurt, pain, or sin that He did not experience Himself on our behalf. My heart especially aches for healing and forgiveness for the people of my husband’s homeland, Romania. They have truly “become my people,” Ruth 1:16. May He continue to use us as His vessels to preach this GOOD NEWS in such a time as this.
Each day, I am living out my Happily Ever After, in a land Far-Far-Away, having a “ball” with my Prince Charing…a man I never even dreamed I would be blessed to have as my husband…and two incredible children. God’s purposes and plans for us are truly best. Why, oh why, do we often tell Him we know “better?”
Now, I plow and serve for Him as I await for my King to take me one day on His chariot to His Kingdom that awaits….
To God Be The Glory; Great Things He Has Done (and continues to do).
(You can follow Coleen on Facebook at savioricomeblogspot.com )