What a difference a year makes!
This is Part ONE of a series…maybe just two parts, but I really don’t know yet. I don’t want to type too much so that no one will read it, but then again, this is probably mostly for me. Though I do think I should share it, and I do think it’s worth reading. 🙂
Do you ever wish you could just push pause on life? I really do wish that I could push pause on life right now so that I can process and write down what this past year has been like. I talk to the Lord about it all the time.
This time last year I was turning 33 years old. I thought and even said outloud, “How much more boring of an age can you be??? 3-3. Thirty-three. So hum-drum.” It makes me laugh to think that those words passed through my mind and came out of my mouth.
I turned 33, had a whirlwind of an April and May as tensions and restlessness built up in my heart and soul on where we were as a family–finances came into play, but even more than that was the tugging on my heart through my time with the Lord that there is something more for us and that change was on the horizon. Well, that is all it takes for me to perk up and want to know when, where, how, why, and how will this affect ME. That is the most important thing, right? How this will affect ME. Of course, I know it isn’t the most important thing REALLY, but I act like it is.
On June 6th, 2010 Josh and I sat together in church listening to the sermon, having just had quite a serious conversation on Friday night and on Saturday about all the things going on in our heart and soul. See, we talk about work, kids, finances, etc and it always ties into the Lord’s plan…what is HE trying to show us/teach us/change in us/ encourage in us? Well, that Sunday morning Pastor Johnny spoke so strongly and right towards us. I remember distinctly feeling like all the lights were out except for a spotlight on me and Josh. Josh wouldn’t move. I wanted to slide under the pew, but how weird would that have been?
We came home in an awkward silence….talked about what to eat for lunch, ate, got the kids settled for a Sunday afternoon nap and then we went to our bedroom knowing we needed to talk about what just happened. It would have been ludicrous to act like things were normal. We decided that we should put our house on the market. Not just any house, but the “dream” house we built just the year before. We hadn’t even lived there a year! It just made sense to put it on the market—there were practical reasons–but over and above was the prompting of the Holy Spirit. Otherwise, we would have pressed through and made adjustments where necessary to hold on to our beloved house. The weeks and months that passed were painful and difficult and sometimes heart-wrenching. There’s this whole other story that goes with this story…….it helps connect the dots.
I grew up with my dad being a home-builder. We moved a lot—like, a whole lot. No house was really all ours. It was usually for sale. We lived in super-nice houses and very humble apartments. We always had a roof over our head, food on the table and even a car to drive as a 16 year old
brat. I thought many times that when I got married, the thing to do was to buy a house, start a family and then move “up” to a home that you want to raise your kids in, a place to settle down and make tons of memories, a place the kids can drive home to with great affection and fond memories. A home where every room was special in some way because of the years spent in that house. It all sounds so dramatic as I write it out, and I would have called myself not making THAT big of a deal of it…just planning ahead and dreaming of making a certain kind of life….all with God as the center, mind you. Yet, how does that dream really allow for God to do what He wants to do? I didn’t realize it, but I was making plans and asking God to bless them….instead of asking God to show me His plan so that I can bless Him.
As Josh and I enjoyed our first home and had three really full years of having Ruby, then Molly and then Mack, we both just got a bit distracted from God’s best. We still served in our church, had people over, witnessed, loved our kids and taught them God’s Word, and more. BUT, I would venture to say that, for me, I struggled with depending totally on God for all I needed for life and godliness. In fact, it wasn’t a struggle….I was completely failing at it. In the year of 2008, I was having some trouble coping with life. Ruby was 4, Molly was 3 and Mack 18 months, and I was near crazy. I would cry for no reason. I would be exhausted at the sheer thought of opening my eyes to start a new day. I felt sometimes like the character on the movie, GROUNDHOG DAY. Each morning I was awakened by kids. Hungry kids. Then they were needy for attention of all sorts…diapers needing changed, potty training to master, toys to play with and then put away…..and more. Then there was the house….cleaning the kitchen, laundry, making beds. And the errands….grocery store, drycleaners, etc, etc. It just all seemed like too much. I even went to the doctor to make sure I wasn’t totally losing all my good sense. He helped me by encouraging Vitamins, exercise and a good diet. He also encouraged me to let go of some responsibilities. Say no to more things. All easier said than done, but I took his advice, hired a house cleaner and started walking more—all for mental sanity.
In January 2009 I attended a Travis Cottrell worship concert/recording at my church. I loved it. I was enthralled with the worship. It was clear from the very beginning that this was true worship. I participated, yet I felt like I was watching others worship rather than being a true, genuine worshiper. I knew I was missing intimacy with the Lord. And I wanted it back. That Monday morning I woke up before my kids, went downstairs and fixed some coffee. This began my intimacy with the Lord AND with coffee!!! Seriously, I do mark in my mind this date and know that the Lord used the praise of Himself, the glory that is His presence, to put me on a new road. I used my i-pod full of praise music to start the morning and then I would open His Word and He would meet with me. It was the best way to start a morning. Nothing crazy-dramatic happened, from just regular-old man’s perspective, but as I look back over the past two and a half years, it was the beginning of something grand.
3 John 2 says, “I pray you will prosper and be of good health, just as your soul prospers.” On the morning I read this, I thought, “Oh dear goodness, please don’t pray that for me! I might end up poor, in a gutter somewhere with a life-threatening disease.” I wasn’t at a point where I would have said my soul was prospering…but I wanted to get there. I stopped walking in the morning because I felt like I usually cut my time short with the Lord due to the “need” to walk. I decided I would put the emphasis on my soul and ask the Lord to help me with the physical health part.
One morning turned into months of mornings (one container of coffee turned into way too many). And then years of mornings. Without that time of sowing God’s Word into my soul, I would not have been ready to hear Him when He spoke to me on June 6th 2010. He prepared the way because He knew was what coming. I shutter to think of what life would be like if I had put off making my time with the Lord a priority any longer. He is so faithful that I am sure He would have waited on me and wooed me back….but what damage could there be?
So back to the whole turning 33 story and deciding to put our house on the market and then waiting…….
In April I knew God wanted me to go to Central Asia on a special trip to see a friend and encourage other believers. May was a whirlwind with all the end-of-the-year stuff, June was when we put the house on the market…July flew by…August the girls were both back in school, with me homeschooling a Kindergartener and 1st grader. September was my 11 day out of country trip. Josh’s mom, Gran/Deb, was getting worse. She and Irv had planned to come up and help with the kids during that time, but she just did not have the energy and her treatment plan was changing to try and get her cancer counts down and under control. It was evident that I was a different person from my trip. The Lord used that time away to really mold me. Again, if I hadn’t been in His Word the months of mornings before-hand, I am not sure I would have gone on the trip or been “moldable” and teachable through the whole experience. October included a visit to see Gran and PawPaw, and she was actually doing well. We went to a Fall Festival, and she only used the wheelchair because Irv insisted that she not walk all that way. In her heart, she was walking. 🙂 She enjoyed the kids and good conversation was had between all of us. Ruby broke her arm in October, too. November was a disappointment because a huge family gathering was planned in Albany, and we wanted to be there and enjoy family and spend time with Gran. Instead, Ruby got the flu. Then Mack go the flu. And Molly finished Thanksgiving week off with the flu and strep. We missed the Thanksgiving Gathering. December brought Christmas hustle-bustle. Deb was not doing well at all. Phone conversations didn’t go smoothly. We went down there for Christmas and saw that she was not doing well. It was difficult and heavy, yet we were so glad to be there with them. She mustered up strength to play Mrs. Claus on Christmas Eve when PawPaw put on his Santa outfit. January and a New Year was ushered in with hopes of being an uplifting year. January 17th, Deb went to be with the Lord. Not the way we wanted it to be. Josh was able to spend time with her in her last days, and we are forever grateful for that time. February came and with it came heaviness of life and death, along with slow-moving deals at Josh’s work, and the looming unknown question….Will our house ever sell? Is this ever going to be over? Should we try to rent out our old house? How much longer can this go on?
Let me make this point clear. We did not approach to above questions with haughtiness or feelings that the Lord just needs to hurry up. No…indeed, I prayed many times from Daniel 9:18 “O my God, incline your ear and hear! Open Your eyes and see our desolations and the city which is called by YOur name; for we are not presenting our supplications before You on account of any merits of our own, but on account of Your great compassion.” We knew full-well that our disobedience and idolatrous hearts had led us to where we were standing and led us to the frustrations we were facing.
To be continued….