I promised you in the welcome page of this blog to be honest about life but sometimes I wonder if it would be better to just write what I want to in a way that makes me look better. Then I wouldn't have to share the ugly truth. But that would not challenge or encourage you and it would be lying on my part. I like to believe that after 35 years of following the Lord that I might have some things together. I want to believe that maybe I'm more right than wrong. In fact, without actually saying it or even consciously thinking it, maybe if certain people would be more like me then the world would be a better place. Isn't that a proud thing to think?
I recently came across a picture from our house in Bettsville. The picture was of our garden. It was even prettier than I remembered. But it took all summer, all day, everyday to get it that way. I worked on my hands and knees pulling out weeds and hauling them to the compost. I loosened the soil around the plants to allow the water to nourish them. I planted the seeds and watched them emerge. I picked out the seeds and determined where each thing would be planted. Let me rephrase that we (my husband and I) did all that and more. There are so many lessons to be discovered in the dirt, if you just put your mind on God and let him open your eyes as you work.
One major thing that sticks in my memory though, is the weeds. We hauled over 70 large wheel barrels full, so I guess they made an impact. I imagined my heart to be God's garden where he plants seeds to bring forth a bountiful harvest but in that garden are weeds. Some weeds are huge and obvious. Some are tiny and even look, for awhile, like they might be a seedling that I planted. When I see the big ones, I go straight to them and get them out of there. I am always amazed at how shallow their roots are and how fairly easy they are to pull. Even when you have to use a shovel and work a little the roots are still gone when your done. But not so with the little ones. You have to work carefully and with a scrutinizing eye to find them and get their amazingly large roots system out; even though usually, the roots remain, long after the green shoot has broken off.
It got me thinking about the big sins. You know the ones: stealing, killing, drugs, illicit sex...These are things that we recognize quickly and usually these are the testimonies we hear. Testimonies of how God delivered people from obvious sins. Sins that are hard to hide. But we don't talk about or even sometimes recognize the more subtle ones. In fact, if not carefully scrutinized they could even look like good fruit. These are things that run much deeper within us. These are sins with a root system that permeates every area of our lives: lying, cheating, gossip, selfishness, greed, superiority, grudges, bitterness, pride, self sufficiency... When we go through storms it waters both the weeds and the seeds. Both grow noticeably and we had better be ready to pull the weeds while the soil is still soft or they will take over as it hardens. I could end on that note and you would have plenty to think about but that is just my preparing the soil for what I want to share today.
In Aug. 2008, Marty and I were going for a walk. I had been pulling weeds just before that and praying. I told God that I was tired of storms. I'm glad to learn lessons but I just didn't think I could stomach the idea of living the rest of my life dancing in the rain. I needed some sunshine, so please teach us whatever Your trying to teach us so we can get out of this storm. That's when I realized that storms soften the dirt to make pulling the weeds easier. So I asked Him, what weeds do we need to pull. I won't go into all the details but in a nutshell while we were on our walk we discussed some things and I promised Marty that if he wanted to go back to school to get a higher degree or pursue a different career, I would support his decision. Before I knew it, all sorts of things fell into place and I was working while Marty was going to school to become a teacher.
Now fast forward to Aug. 2010. I am sitting in the bleachers beaming as I watch my husband walk across the stage wearing his graduation gown and the cord signifying his honor of being Magna Cum Laud. He not only got his Bachelor's with honors, he did it in only 2 years while also juggling the roll of stay at home dad with seven children. We had a party and celebrated! All he had to do was a little student teaching and he could teach, maybe he could even start full time with his own class by fall of 2011. He would sub until then.
Then the bottom of our party fell out. When he went to find out the exact specifications to get his license we found out that either we were misinformed or we misunderstood or both, but he had at least another 2 years of full time school to be able to have a classroom. For a lot of reasons, this meant he would have to work and go to school which would take even longer. His fabulous sprint to the end was for nothing, it seemed. I was livid. This was not what I signed up for. A couple years working was hard enough but I only ever wanted to be a homemaker. I saw no greater calling than to raise up the next generation of Christians and open my home to others. Working full time had not only consumed all my time, but also, my energy to put into anyone, let alone my own family. I was just as done working as he was schooling but that didn't matter so we continued on with both of us discouraged and exhausted. His grades suffered and my family suffered as I didn't have the energy for anything else in my own little world of self pity and frustration. This wasn't the way we planned it. This wasn't what we thought God directed us to. This was just too hard. I wanted a way to give up but I couldn't find the off switch.
November 27, 2011, while visiting Marty's Mom and Aunt Pete I spotted a devotional and read the daily thought. It made me angry and I told God I was done with all this mess. I wanted Him to show me where we went so wrong that life was so much disappointing chaos. I felt hurt and confused because as far as we could tell, we did everything we understood Him to direct but yet every area of our lives felt like utter chaos and unrest. Where was the peace?
November 29, 2011, we received a phone call about 11:30 pm that would change our lives forever. Aunt Pete had been whisked to Heaven by a car accident and would we take the family home that was two hours away. School for Marty came to a halt, as we tried to sort through it all.
June 22, 2012, was my last day at work because we no longer lived close enough. I would focus on making the house back into a home, with all the repairs that were needed it would be a full time job and then some. I put my whole self into it and did my absolute best. Marty did the same while also working in a factory because it was the quickest job available. Life should get better now, right? Wrong. I don't know a thing about house projects and Marty needs to work with people not machines. That is who God made us. Both of us were extremely frustrated as we tried to be hammers when we were created to be hands.
Soon after we moved, Marty would ask if I might want to look into this job or that and I absolutely refused. I was not going back to work. I'd been there, done that and I wasn't going back. He tried to suggest different help wanted ads and I just got hurt and angry that he would even dare suggest such a thing. Didn't he think all I was doing at home was enough? At the same time we were watching our expenses pile up while our income wasn't. The pressure was on him to fix it somehow. He couldn't see any answer except to get a different job or a 2nd job or something. But no matter what he did, it didn't include any time to even try to become a teacher or use his degree in any way. Seeing no alternative, he silently went to work at a job he doesn't like, to provide for a family he loves, rather than cause a major fight, with the wife he is committed to. And I complained to God because Marty seemed so distant and slow to help when I needed it. I worried about how to make life work the way I wanted it to and grew angry that Marty wasn't taking enough initiative to fix it. Finally, out of total frustration I asked God how to help Marty become all that I know he can be.
Two days later while doing my homework for a Bible study on the book of James God answered my plea but not the way I wanted. It was a much much better answer. We read, James 1:2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. 4 Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. We were asked to write down some of our trials and the options we have concerning them including considering it joy. When I did that I realized how wrong I had been. God took a mirror and held it up in front of my face so I saw just how ugly I was being. I had promised my husband that I would support him. Then when things got tough I bailed. I gave up and went back on my word. When things didn't go the way I wanted I stomped my feet and refused to keep moving. Here I was grumbling to God about why won't my husband do this or that. Why is he so distant? Why doesn't he support me in this or that when all along I was the one who left him hanging. I was the selfish brat. I had to ask God to forgive me right then and there.
It took me 3 full days, but I finally got the courage to tell Marty that I had been deeply wrong toward him and that I would do whatever it takes to support him again. Whatever it takes to help him pursue God's purpose for our lives. My understanding husband offered forgiveness and words that put life back into my spirit. He didn't think it would be good for our family if I went back to work full time but maybe part time. We agreed to pray about it and see where God led but for now at least our hearts were beating to the same tune again. A much happier tune, I might add.
Less than an hour later we discovered a part time help wanted ad for a business right here in town looking for my qualifications! And it was less than a block from our house. I put together a resume. After 2 interviews and an assessment that nearly exploded my brain, I was offered the job. We are hoping to trade my time doing things that I have no idea how to do, for time doing something I do know how to do in order to earn some money. Then we can use that money to give to someone who knows how to fix this house. It seems like a win win situation and the house burden is lifted off Marty's shoulders to free him up to seek God for the direction we need.
So...if you want to stay exactly as you are and believe your fine then don't pray. Because God loves us so much that when we ask Him, He will show us where we need to change. And what's really awesome is that He will help us to do it, too. It won't be easy. It won't always be fun. It won't even always feel good but...
James 1:12 Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.
P.S. In another answer to prayer, we finally got a puppy on Sunday. We promised the kids over a year ago that we would get one when we moved. We are all just absolutely in love with him. He fits right in with us though we still can't agree on a name. He is a mutt with some petite black lab and tri-color border collie for sure. He's very smart but my, oh my, does he ever cry at night. I hope I can stay awake for training at my new job. :)