wheels on the bus

It’s hard to believe that we’re looking at another school in the rearview mirror. It feels like we just arrived in the States for this year of itineration, but the boxes and bins scattered across the apartment signal another transition is coming.

In the course of all our freewheeling American adventures, visiting the wide network of churches that sustain our work in Africa, we’ve been able to mark out special time with our kids. We walked in the cherry blossoms in DC and rode to the top of the Gateway Arch in St. Louis. We took silly pictures wearing top hats at a small shop in Indianapolis and booked it (ironically I might add) from a torrential rainstorm while we played at a waterpark with friends in downtown Oklahoma City.

My guess is, if you asked the kids, they’d say we've taken pictures in front of every mural in Richmond. They’d probably be right! This has been our year about time, 365 days of intentional time, a season made and lived with purpose.

Every parent wants their children to look back and think fondly of their childhood, but that’s easier said than done. The hours slip away into decades and we miss out on the moments that make things special.

Driving to Tennessee the other day we needed to tank up. The gas tank on our beloved minivan, Winston, was running low. More than that, the caffeine levels on the driver were running low too! Just off the highway was a chain coffee shop and a gas station too. But a few miles off Interstate 81 is the city of Bristol with her main street straddling the State line between Virginia and Tennessee. As if on a whim, we left the main road and took the road less traveled. We cruised main street. We walked back and forth between the States. We took pictures with a giant guitar and explored a few stores. We found great coffee and cheap gas and in less than an hour we were back on the road again, but we took with us a whole host of new memories.

I’ll let you in on a little secret. We didn’t stumble upon Bristol. Our side-trip was planned; our little diversions and odd possibilities all mapped out in my notebook. Sometimes we do accidentally trip into success, but often we find success only through intentional pursuit. I am pursuing to make great memories for my children, to remember our itinerate life fondly, but also to keep their eyes open to the incredible possibilities of lives well lived.

During this school year the kids did great. They achieved great grades, even with the uncomfortable task of transitioning into a public school, knowing that they wouldn’t be there next year. They made new friends. They rode the bus every day to school. Some of the stories from the bus were hard to hear (yes, drama still happens on the bus). But one of my favorite stories from this year happened on that bus too. Several immigrants lived in our apartment complex on the Southside of Richmond, many from Arabic-speaking countries. Henry became friends with a little boy I’ll call Amir. Every day Henry and Amir would talk and play on the bus on their way to and from school.

Day by day, Henry shared his life and his love with Amir. They shared the places they’d been and things they’d seen around the world. They shared stories and adventures. Henry shared Jesus with Amir.

Amir accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior in a public school bus with his friend. Henry gave him his Bible. After a while Amir’s parents made him give it back. Amir is on a journey now. It will be riddled with adventures and difficulties, challenges and beauty. I would like to ask you to pray for Amir, and his family. Would you take time to lift up every man, woman and child who has decided to make an intentional step toward Jesus today? Take that minute now, I’ll wait.

Life flies by fast, but the time we take and the witness we share will stay with us forever. Don’t miss the adventures off the wide paths. Don’t miss the Amirs waiting. The wheels on the bus go round and round. Make the most of the journey.