Since Chelsea and I met we knew that God had plans for us to step out.  Years ago, we used to dream big of moving to China to teach English.  Our favorite authors and thinkers challenged the status quo and echoed God's call to "leave your nets and follow".  We were full of excitement and enthusiasm!  In fact, we were on our third missions trip as a couple with Urban Promise in Vancouver, B.C., leading a summer camp program for under-privileged kids as we imagined a future of international travel, foreign language learning, and ministry.  Then it happened!  I should say, she happened--Eliana that is!  Just days into our camp director's preparations we discovered that Chelsea was pregnant!  What!  We instantly felt the weight of caring for a child overtake the anticipation of nurturing of our own global dreams and plans.


We had a hard time transitioning into parenthood, nevertheless we learned quickly to enjoy it.  For the past 12 years we have been in what seems like an eternal cycle of pregnancy, nursing, sleeplessness, diapers, laughing, time outs, chasing curious toddlers, little conversations, then PREGNANCY again, and again, and again.  It wasn't always easy to see clearly but, one day Chelsea said, "I thought that at this point in life I would be a professor and an author, working and contributing, using my passions, gifts and skills everyday, but right now God has called us to be parents and we need to be the best parents we can be."  So we embraced the call to be right where we were, and to be parents to our five amazing children.  God knew exactly what we needed.  Now, I wouldn't have it any other way.


You could say we settled in.  We moved back to my home town, connected more and more with my home church.  Chelsea taught at my old high school.  I got a job as the youth pastor of my old youth group!  We lived near family and friends.  Kids were in dance and going to preschool.  We got the minivan and the car seats and all the other stuff that comes with a predictable life.  Don't get me wrong, thing weren't easy--money was tight and the days seemed too short, but we were building a family and a life.  Then, after 14 years of marriage, 5 kids, a handful of jobs, and 10 years of ministry, I felt that little push from the Lord.  "It's time to step out.  It's time to be available for something new."  Sometimes the clearest moments are the scariest.  There was no new direction, no new opportunity, no better job, nothing, just a still, small invitation to step out, to let God lead us as a family--to trust Him in a real way.


It took me a few months, but I resigned from both my jobs, and began to explore the horizon.  There were a hundred different directions Chelsea and I thought about going.  "Let start this..."  "What if we just moved there and did that!"  "What about taking a deeper step in that direction?"  "We've always wanted to..."  But nothing seemed right, except for when we talked about Gleanings For The Hungry.  We were finishing each others sentence again like we did when we first met.  We were dreaming again and this time it was a little more scary.  "How will we make it?"  "Is this best for the kids?"  "How does this help our careers?" and so on.  But, that strange and great peace settled in our hearts.  Gleanings was the direction that required the most surrender and the most trust, yet it delivered the most peace during a very tough time.  So, we said yes.  In October 2016 we called our good friends and directors of Gleanings, Fritz and Cindy Meier and told them the Rotunnos are coming to Gleanings!


Here we are again thinking about other countries, serving the world's poor, and being on mission.  We  are learning to see the bigger story, that this is not about dreams, or trips, or babies, or minivans, or living here or there.  This is about Jesus and us surrendering to his leading wherever we are.  This not even about our family's story.  The Lord is inviting us to know Him and worship Him in a new way.  Our hope is that we'd dare to say yes to everything He has for us.

"Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go."  John 21:18



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