What a difference a year makes! Part Two

In my time with the Lord one January 2011 morning, I had received confirmation that He would sell our Gantt Road house and that I needed to be still and let Him fight for us (2 Chronicles 20).  I also came upon Isaiah 30.  In the margin of my Bible where Isaiah 30 is located, I wrote:  “House-NO-2008.”  Clearly, the Lord had let me know not to build the house and not to move.  YET, the pressure of “Well, we are paying interest on the land…we have always wanted this…surely now is the time….let’s just go ahead…”  was real and strong, and we caved to it.  As I read back over Isaiah 30 during the months of “trouble” at home, the Lord used it amazingly to remind me that He warned me, to remind me that He is compassionate and gracious and will not stay angry  forever (Isaiah 30:18 “Therefore the Lord longs to be gracious to you, He waits on high to have compassion on you.  For the Lord is a God justice, How blessed are all those who long for Him.”), and that when I turn to Him, He will be there to shed light on my steps( Isaiah 30:26 “The light of the moon will be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun will be seven time brighter, like the light of seven days, on the day the Lord binds up the fracture of His people and heals the bruise He has inflicted.”).  I longed for the day that clarity would once again be a part of my journey…for some sort of light that would show me it has all been worth it and, indeed, all from God.

That summer of putting our house on the market, I was leading a study on INHERITANCE by Beth Moore at my house.  She starts off the study saying that, “Maybe this is the year…..” that turns your life around and you really see the purpose—really begin to live out why you are here.

At the same season, I read a devotion entitled, “Maybe this is the Year.”  Elisabeth Elliott talks about how we sometimes think “This is the year that_______________.”  And we fill in the blank with a desire we have.  We think the Lord is just holding back on us because we still have the perfectly good desire (ie. to have a house you live in all your earthly days and make sweet memories there forever and ever)….so surely He wants us to have it if we desire it.  However, the devotion challenged that maybe, just maybe this is the year of desire CHANGED.  When we get to the point of saying, like Joseph Eliot, “I need everything God gives me, and I want (or feel the lack of) nothing He denies me.”  Woa.

Elisabeth Elliott also has a devotion that spoke so clearly to me.  In Acts 27 Paul is being held as a prisoner on a boat/ship.  The waves are rocky and rough.  An angel speaks to him and tells him to tell the people on the boat with him that  they must run aground and lose the boat, but their lives will be saved.  At first they didn’t believe him and kept going…the waves got worse.  Finally, they ran aground, but were all brought “safely to land.”  I could so relate to this episode.  I mean, not literally, but very much figuratively.  Our boat of life was a rockin’.  EE says, “If we were given all we wanted here, our hearts would settle for this world rather than the next.  ‘Running aground,’ then, is not the end of the world.  But it helps to make the world a bit less appealing.  It may even be God’s answer to ‘Lead us not into temptation’–the temptation to complacently settle for visible things.”

I apologize for being all over the place, but I am telling you…there is SO much.

Beth Moore had a few quotes that have stuck with me from the INHERITANCE study:

“It is only a wild ride if someone else is driving.”  (The Christian life is NOT boring.  If I am bored with it, there’s a problem.)

“Repentance is always earmarked with humility.”

“Maybe it’s time to let go of some dreams so we can embrace some amazing realities.”

“Walk every step of the land He has given me and claim it for Jesus.”

“Don’t stifle God’s compassion with pouting.”

“If you’re living with defeat, something is WRONG.”

And this last one was learned in another one of her videos and planted even deeper and more personal a few weeks ago:

“Sow the seed of God’s Word into the soil that is your reality.”

It’s this above quote that has come to mean the most over these past months.  I really think I have seen this happen in my  life.  There were days I felt abandoned by God.  Days I didn’t want to praise Him.  Days I thought His timing was just off.  BUT, I would bring all of these crazy thoughts to Him and His Word, and He was always so patient and kind and would show Himself to me so personally over and over again.  His Word is what I would say in my mind.  I posted it in my kitchen.  I prayed it.  I read it.  I cried with The Word.  I smiled with the Word…and every emotion in between.  The harvest has not disappointed. (Psalm 126:5-6 “Those who sow in tears shall reap with joyful shouting, He who goes to and fro carrying his bag of seed, shall indeed come again with a shout of joy, bringing his sheaves with him.”)  I tried to take the reality of where we were and apply God’s Word to it and live in that Truth.  It wasn’t always done, that is for sure, but the Lord has been patient and kind and helped me learn how to do it more effectively through the tough times.

I could seriously go on for days with time after time the Maker of Heaven and earth spoke to me.  I am not going to even start of the study of Ruth right in the middle of all of this and how rich His Word was in my life.  Ruth had sustained obedience as she followed Naomi.  I needed lots and lots of sustained obedience (still do!).  She went where God wanted her to go, despite fears or hardships.  She was a hard worker and didn’t count any task as too menial.  She never left Boaz’s presence without her arms full of provision.  I feel like it has been that way with the Lord and me…I am sure it is intended to be that way all the time.  We never have to leave His presence empty-handed.  He is a giver.

So the very end of February 2011 brought some encouraging news….we had someone who wanted to look at the house a second time.  They were also in a bit of a rush, or so they thought.  Sure enough, they came to the house and later that night made an offer.  We were amazed.  It was such an incredible feeling….this was it.  We had to be out by the 15th because they had buyers that were needing to move into their house by then.  We got our ducks in a row and packed up. (Insert total God-story about marriage retreat that I simply cannot go into right now.) We waited on the appraisal.  We waited on the inspection.  Whew…all was good.  Then, drama ensued when their buyers had some financing issues, but were working them out.  They said there is no need to worry…it will all work out.  We packed, we moved and we waited.  Waited for many days.  The Lord gave me peace, and I can say that I truly didn’t worry about it.

THEN, just like God, He set the closing date for March 29th, 2011.   The last day of my 33rd year that was supposed to be “so boring” or “hum-drum.”

Do you think that is coincidence?   No way.  No how.

Psalm 130:7

“O, Kristy, hope in the Lord; For with the Lord there is lovingkindness, and with Him is ABUNDANT REDEMPTION.”

He redeems the land we squander, the time we squander, the opportunities we squander, the money we squander.  He redeems it all, abundantly, when we lay the broken pieces at His feet.  That is my God.

I will be eternally grateful for how the Lord, the Maker of Heaven and earth, the Peace that passes understanding, the abundant Redeemer, the Fountain of life has flooded my soul with Himself.  He had much more to give me than a quick house-sale or profit.

He wanted to give me more of Himself.

I pray that I will sense His activity in my life this year as a 34 year old woman….it surely won’t be boring.

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….

Happy Birthday to Mack!

Four years ago today little Mack Joshua was born at 3:54 am, weighing 8 lbs, 9 oz.  He is so much fun to have in our family.

Despite the fact that I have been in a perpetual state of exhausted ever since that March morning, I am still thrilled that he is my sweet little boy.  🙂  As a matter of fact, I was awake this very morning at the very time that Mack was born…this time it was because Ruby needed me though.

We had a fabulous weekend in Augusta with our family.  Mack had a cousin party.  A visit to see my parents and sisters is a built in party anyway, so why not go ahead and celebrate the birthday?!  Plus, my dad does the cooking…a nice bonus, indeed.

We went and visited MeMe.  She seemed to be doing well.

We ate bugles and squirt cheese in honor of MeMe.

This is Ruby with the two kiddos who had their tonsils/adenoids removed last week.

Ruby (6), Molly(5), Jud (5), Vance (4), Mack (4), Kaybeth, (3), Renn (2)

Everyone turned their attention to Mack, the birthday boy!

Marcy, me, Mama, and Cacy

Mack gave PawPaw a sweet hug even before he got a new bike from them!!

Mack loved his new bike.  The girls were walking behind him on his first trip playing their harmonicas!

Dear Mack, We are so glad you are the baby of our family.  You have added so much laughter to our house!!  And so many trucks and tractors.  You have done well so far enduring two older sisters—one that bosses you and one that mothers you to death.  You are so smart and fun-loving.  I love how you point out every “big A” you see.  I see signs that we are moving on to new letters.  You are so fun to hang out with while the girls are in school.  I don’t know what I will do without a grocery shopping partner or car wash friend.  And I always enjoy your one-way conversations as I do the housework.  I hope you have many more years of life!!!!  You have added much to joy to all of ours.

 

 

I love when my kids are 8 months old or so…so sweet!!

Mack used to always stop and lay like this…cracked us up.

I suppose I wasn’t paying enough attention on his first birthday because he ate most of the large football cake all on his own…and then threw up during the night in his crib.  Lovely.

He slobbered the first two years of his life.

He is so squishy and squeezable.  I know at 4 years old he probably seems like a little boy to most who see him, but to me he is still that squishy baby!  I just can’t seem to not squeeze him if he is within arms reach.  He has even learned to the return the squeezes and tells me, as he squeezes my upper arm….”Chubby arms….chubby arms.”  He didn’t understand why I didn’t like it because he said, “You tell me I have chubby arms!!”

And I will end this birthday post with a funny picture….at first glance it might look normal, but in reality, Mack had just had a diaper blow-out on Josh’s shorts right as we were trying to take some family pictures.  We laughed our heads off….well, everyone but Josh.

S-P-E-L-L-I-N-G B-E-E

We are so proud of Ruby!  She came in 2nd place in the First and Second Grade School Spelling Bee.  Josh and I were just hoping that she made a few rounds so that she wasn’t too upset with herself, so when she kept going…we were pleasantly surprised!

This is the group at the very beginning of the spelling bee.

These were the last three up there.  This isn’t just any three kids in the spelling bee either.   Annie and Maggie’s parents are in our Sunday School class and have been friends of ours for several years now.  It was quite funny to see these three up there.

Chazden, Ruby, Maggie  and Annie

I wish I had taken a picture of Molly every time Ruby got a word right.  She would do the cutest little silent cheer all to herself!  She was one proud little sister, and I just love seeing that.  Mack was into it for as long as the Scooby snacks and cheese and cracker packs held out.  I had a pile of trash piled around my feet at the end of the hour and a half!  That boy is a mess.

And lest we forget to mention Josh in all of this….he thought Ruby was out a couple of times when, indeed, she was not.  He isn’t a super speller.  He says his mom always told him that being a good speller wasn’t an indicator of intelligence.  Bless his heart.  Seriously, though, I can see where it isn’t an indicator of intelligence, but I am still proud of R-U-B-Y.

Forever

It seems like forever since I have logged on and done any blogging.  Packing and unpacking and keeping up with all of life’s regular responsibilities will suck the life out of you take up most of your day, it seems.

We are back at our other house, and we like it.  I am enjoying the 7 minute commute to the girls school and the 5 minute drive to church.  You just can’t beat that!  The 4 minute drive the grocery store, Wal-Mart, and the car wash don’t hurt either.

I am really not on here to talk about our move though.  I just thought I should record this conversation from this morning:

Mack:    I had a dream about Daddy.  He was hunting and shooting birds that were eating peanuts.

Me:  Oh, really?  The birds were eating peanuts?

Mack:  No, actually, Daddy was shooting the birds and then he’d shoot the peanuts and the peanuts would fly at the  birds belly.  He shooted the peanuts back at the birds.

ME: Why did he shoot the peanuts back?

Mack:  He didn’t want the peanuts to go in his gun because then his gun wouldn’t work. (Pause) You know I was in the dream, too?

Me:  You were?!

Mack:  Um…I was saying, “Go, Daddy!  Go, Daddy!”

Me: Why?

Mack:  Ah-cuz I didn’t want the birds to shoot him.

 

Clarification

For fear I may have given the impression that I am packing clothes for a surprise trip to the Cayman Islands, let me give  a little clarification….that ain’t happenin’!!!  We are, however, packing to move back to our old house.  Our first house.  Looks like it wasn’t JUST a “starter home,” after all.

I have not been blogging about much of the experience because it has really been a faith walk like never before.  I want to start sharing in pieces, as I digest what the last 9+ months have been like.

I will say that I have grown closer to Jesus and hope I look more like Him now that this part of our journey is turning the corner….time will tell.

This is what the Cayman Islands look like though…thought I would take a look just in case I ever get to go there.

Out of need

I am only posting because I am sure I need to since it has been almost a week since a post.  I will just quickly say that we are very busy these days, and I will be posting some time in the near future about what we are busy with, but for now—we are in a little waiting, cleaning, waiting, packing and waiting some more mode.  Fun times!

Ruby got her Bible from Pastor!

Every first grader gets a new Bible presented to them by Pastor Johnny and last Sunday was Ruby’s turn!  It was an exciting night.  We love God’s Word and desire to teach it to Ruby, Molly and Mack.  I love how they put such an emphasis on the importance of this night.  The kids are all thrilled to get a Bible that is signed by and presented to them by Pastor.  He even goes a step further.  After the sermon, of which he talks directly to the 1st graders as they open up their new Bible, he goes to a pizza fellowship and takes his picture with each of the kids.  This is particularly amazing, considering there are 200 first graders.  Two hundred.  Wow.

 

None of my pictures can upload bc they are too many mgb.  Ugh.

Anyway, they are cute pictures….and there are funny ones of Ruby being embarrassed of her brother and sister.  Those are great, too.

Maybe another day.