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Bruce and Kate Dahlman, serving with Africa Inland Mission
September 5, 2015 11:25 am
Published in: Ugali

We (Ryan and I) got me all packed up at the house, and I moved out on Friday last week.


  • Four weeks of packing up every closet, every drawer, every nook, every cranny;
  • Stuffing it all into the back storage room of the Taj (where it all fits, thankfully);
  • Cleaning, scrubbing, vacuuming, and chasing down every lacy spider web trail;
  • Canceling the DirecTV, the garbage pickup, the membership at the “Y”;
  • Draining, anti-freezing, and tarping the hot tub; (because the renters don’t want to maintain it)
  • Getting the top and bottom lawns mowed, all the weeds whacked (nicely done by Ryan)

And, on “the day”, making sure the lovely young family moving in had all the complete instructions they needed about each and every quirky little nuance of our house (the new heat tape plug for the Taj water pipes; the special instructions for the kitchen window roll shutter, etc etc)…

After all of that…there was nothing left to do, except to turn over the keys…and leave.

So now, I am officially “homeless” for the next eight weeks.

Only in a First World sense, of course. I have good friends and generous relatives who have kindly volunteered to “take me in”. Me, with TWO carloads of suitcases/trunks/boxes/jackets and this-and-that-miscellaneous-item-that-I-might-or-might-not-need-over-the-next-eight-weeks-and/or-to-take-to-Kenya

So….when Chloe threw up on the bed at first light a few days ago (while we were staying at a friend’s house)…because her doggie blanket, which normally should have been there to protect the bedspread, had been packed/forgotten/gone, somewhere…

And even though my friend, warm and understanding as she always is, took it calmly in stride …

I lost it.

Couldn’t stop the tears from slowly trickling down my face, even as I leaped out of bed to race for the water, soap, spot remover, whatever in the frantic rush to scrub/wash it out.

I thought I had been holding it all together quite well until then, thank you very much.

But it only took one small, unexpected bit of doggie burp-up to tip me over the edge.

Because, right at that moment…the reality, the enormity of this whole thing that has been going on for weeks and months (years in the planning, actually), this big-hairy-audacious-thing (as a friend of ours has named it) that we are doing once again…all came crashing in.

In one crystallized instant, I realized:

  • How much stress it is to pack up one’s current life to leave for another, even though both are equally loved and valued
  • How tied I am to a sense of place; and to want to “belong” somewhere, to not feel “rootless” and “extraneous”, like a vagabond, even for a very short amount of time
  • How much, in recent weeks, people’s kind-and-well-meaning-but-shot-through-the-heart comments had affected me (“TWO years??” “I could never leave my dog”; “How can you leave this beautiful place?”)
  • How fragile I truly am (perhaps it’s age-related…)

And how much in that instant, even though I know that what we’re doing is the right thing to do, which has been confirmed again and again through countless and faith-building events that continue to amaze (just this week we sold the car for the asking price, but can still keep using it till late October)…

In that instantI just wanted to go home.

Sometimes, reality bites. And it is not pleasant. Quite frankly, I would not be able to do any of this….except for one thing:

“If the LORD had not been on our side (let Israel now say),….[things] would have swallowed me alive…the flood would have engulfed us…the raging waters would have swept me away.” (Psalm 124: 1, 3-5).

I would not be able to pack up and leave my lovely home on a beautiful lake in northern Minnesota…..except that He is the one who has asked me to do it.

I could not leave my precious family (and faithful, stressed-out dog) to go to a new place, half-way around the world, where I will once again “start over” with making friends, finding my way, teaching and living…unless He was in it, guiding and leading and promising to “never leave or forsake me”.

“Because the Sovereign LORD helps me, I will not be disgraced. Therefore I have set my face like flint, and I know I will not be put to shame” (Isaiah 50:7).


To “set one’s face like flint” means to “decisively, resolutely, and whole-heartedly follow the LORD JESUS CHRIST regardless of what the world thinks or says about us” (Brazeal, 2012).

And this: “Setting your face like flint implies that you’re expecting some opposition, to stand strong in the face of adversity. To set your face like flint means to regard these difficulties as worthwhile when you consider what they will lead you to…” (Gyamathy, 2013).

It means having the resolve to surrender your whole life to Him.

Jesus, Jesus, take me over now, I surrender

Everything I have, I lay it down

All of me.*

For all the good things I have in my life, it’s Jesus, the ultimate Reality, that matters most.  He is the only One who can enable me to do the hard things that I need to do right now.

So, “Yes, Lord”.  Yes.  Once again I resolve to set my face like flint, so that I may follow hard after You.

(* Michael W. Smith, Wonder, 2010)





12 Responses to “Reality Bites”

  1. Beth Says:

    You write so beautifully, and I hope it was healing just to put pen to paper and share the emotions involved in such a heavy transition. I had a very, very similar discussion (complete with tears on both sides) with my brother just a few days ago, who is returning to China for five years. He said it gets harder as he gets older …. that the longing for stability and the temptation to hang it up is stronger than it was 10-20 years ago. I have no perfect words, except to say I love you and am praying for you. You are so clearly in God’s will. Thank you for your obedience and dedication to His call on your lives.

  2. Dave Harvey Says:

    “You have taken account of my wanderings; Put my tears in Your bottle. Are they not in Your book?… In God, whose word I praise, In the LORD, whose word I praise, In God I have put my trust, I shall not be afraid.” Ps 56

    Your trust in the Lord and its cost is not lost on Him. I promise to be praying for you over these next weeks “between the worlds.”

  3. Barbara Says:

    Beautifully shared, Kate.

  4. Janis Viren Says:

    I love you and ache for you! And I also thank you for your honesty and authenticity as a Christian who is truly seeking first the kingdom of God. Praying for you as you follow Him with your whole heart, my friend!

  5. gayle Says:

    HugS and thanks for writing this.We truly care and want toknow how you are doing and you have told us and now we will pray.

  6. Steven D H Rasmussen Says:

    Jan and I can certainly relate to that – leaving a MN home to come to an East African home (even if we don’t have a physical MN home). Having to do it all without Bruce makes it a lot harder? being apart would make it much harder for me. We will certainly be glad to have a good Northern MN/East African friend on this side, even if you will be living a few hours away. May Jesus be especially close to you in these weeks. And may you have more friends to welcome you into eternal homes (some place by a lake on the new earth) as a result of this move (Luke 16).

  7. dahlmandiary Says:

    Thanks, Steve. Yes it’s been a bit hard without Bruce here, but at least I had Ryan to help me do a lot of the “heavy lifting” and yard work the last week I was up there. We look forward to being in the same country with you and Jan as well!

  8. dahlmandiary Says:

    Thanks, Jan. Love you too!

  9. dahlmandiary Says:

    Thank you Pastor Dave and Gayle. I appreciate your prayers so much!

  10. dahlmandiary Says:

    Thanks, Barbara. So glad you’re in the cities now, too! We will have to get together sometime.

  11. dahlmandiary Says:

    Thanks, Beth. Yes I would agree with your brother: it does seem to get a bit harder the older we get! Thanks for your encouragement and thoughts and prayers for me.

  12. Deb Sherer Says:

    Beautiful to read. I can sure relate. I love your honesty. I have finally been in one house 9 years and in Montana 10 years. That’s a record for me. Packing up does get harder as we get older. Many Blessings & Prayers. We had a young family over for dinner recently, packing up their 4 kids and raising money for language school, homeschooling, and heading back to Peru to train Pastors. Long Term now. A beautiful family. Great hearts. Getting Visa’s. What beautiful commitments to the Lord, all of you !