When John and I accepted the call to serve alongside Hellenic Ministries in Athens, Greece, we began seeking wisdom and advice from current missionaries. We wanted to know the best process for getting to the field. Each missionary told us the same thing:
There is no process.
They said instead of process we needed three things: faith, to listen and follow as the Lord leads, and a lot of flexibility.
Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you…”
So Abram went, as the Lord had told him…
~Genesis 12:1 & 4a (ESV)
For a girl who likes process, this was a lot to take in. I mean, there are thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of contemporary missionaries. There must be some sort of process! So, I researched. I googled (mind you, googling is not research). I interviewed missionaries. I asked a thousand questions. I discovered the hard truth:
There is no process.
There is no process because each person’s process– even within a single organization– is unique.
So, I adapted, and John and I instituted what we lovingly call A Post-It Note Life.
Let me explain how this Post-It Note Life got started:
As I mentioned, I like process. That also means, I like a plan (preferably a color-coded plan). So, in order to give John and I direction and a system to follow, I made a list of everything that needed to happen for us to move to Greece. Then I wrote each of those items on a Post-It note.
Eventually, John and I placed each Post-It note on one of twelve pieces of card stock I pinned to the wall of our guest room. It was our Post-It Note Calendar for how to get to Greece.
And it worked!
When something didn’t go as planned, we simply rearranged the Post-It notes. No cross-outs. No mess. No stress. This was flexibility at its finest. We could track our progress; make certain we were managing our priorities, and see where we were headed. It was brilliant!
Brilliant, with one fundamental flaw.
You see, I assumed there were certain dates and items above the Post-It note standard. Things like Christmas, my birthday, our anniversary. Those dates were not going to change. “Our Lease Expires” also stood out as an item above the standard.
March 19, the date our lease expires, loomed large for months. John and I knew we did not want to take on another year-long lease. That would not be wise stewardship of our resources. So, we planned to move. The where was a little ify, but we had options. In fact, we had great options.
Then, like all well laid plans (especially plans written in sharpie), everything changed.
Things John and I weren’t expecting to need at this point in our journey suddenly became high priorities. This raised questions about how to balance our needs with the best way to steward our financial resources.
We began listening to God and seeking wisdom from godly counsel. In the process, I laid down my sharpie and realized everything about this process was out of my hands– even the best Post-It note plans.
So, plans have changed:
John and I are NOT moving out of our house on March 19.
Unexpectedly, we were given the opportunity to stay in our home a little bit longer (longer is a yet to be determined time frame) at no additional cost. This not only meets our financial needs, it also meets the other needs that rose to the surface. God provided in a most unexpected and perfect way!
This change in plans, also means that our live estate sale is on hold. So, stay tuned and keep shopping our online estate sale. We continue to add new items almost daily.
(click here for more information about the online estate sale.)
Living a Post-It note Life isn’t always easy, but it has taught us that we do not have to be in control of all the details. Instead, we get the privilege of managing the details as the Lord leads. As Deon Vanstaden, a wise friend, often says: “Blessed are the flexible, for they shall not be bent out of shape.”
Thanks for being a part of our journey. It is a joy to know that while our plans may exist on Post-It notes, our relationships are written on our hearts.
With Joy and Expectation,
John & Amy Patton
*Where mentioned names have been changed to honor each person’s story. Photos have been blurred intentionally. Photos are the sole property of John and Amy Patton and cannot be saved or used for any purpose without our permission.