Years ago, Marty was teaching an adult Sunday school class on David and we were discussing a time that David went to the Philistines for help. (This was after he killed Goliath, a Philistine) His lack of dependence on God didn't go over so well with God and it got David into trouble. As we were talking I felt a very strong sense that God was not happy with us either. We would pray for direction and then when God didn't provide in the manner we thought he should we would use credit to go forward with what we believed we needed, instead of seeking God for His direction and realizing that maybe He didn't provide in that direction because that wasn't the direction He wanted us to go. Ouch! Marty and I discussed it and decided we wanted to put our hope and trust in God and allow Him to direct our paths so we stopped using credit. It felt good to be doing what we believed to be right even though sometimes it was tempting to want to use credit again.
Not long after that, Josh was asking me about what different characters in the Old Testament did. He was trying to squeeze in some last minute work for a Boys Club badge. He got to Elijah and I had to admit that was a tough one because Elijah and Elisha did so many similar things that I couldn't remember which stories went with which man. I told him about how God miraculously provided oil for a widow to set her free from debt protecting her son from prison. As I was walking in for Bible study, I felt strongly in my heart that God was saying that He would set us free from debt and slavery to it. I acted like Abraham's Sarah and chuckled to myself as the enormity of that seemed crazy, especially since we were currently in a situation where Marty's work load had increased while his income has decreased by 2/3.
Bible study was about the Israelite's being in slavery. God told them through Moses that He had heard their cries and he was going to set them free. They didn't believe either, especially when Pharaoh became angry with Moses and removed their supplies to make bricks but still demanded that they produce as much as before. Since I don't believe in coincidence, I started to wonder if maybe God was getting ready to free us from the slavery to debt just as he freed His children from Egypt. I anticipated that somewhere there would be a great increase so we could pay it off.
Instead, Marty's job went away and we had zero income. I will keep a very long story short by saying we endured heartache and disappointment greater than I ever imagined. We lost everything and had to move 2 hours away from everyone we knew when I was only a month shy of delivering our 7th baby. Words can't even describe the loss we felt. We had a strong church family and biological family who supported us with more love and prayer than any one family can ever deserve but we were leaving them. To make matters worse without our van there wasn't even a way to come back and visit. The home we moved to only brought more trials and I was faced with my greatest fear in all the world. YET, God remained a constant and faithful guide. He got us through the minefields and brought miraculous events to our lives just when we were about to give up all hope. Our song was "Praise You in the Storm" by Casting Crowns, but there were times I remember crying out to Jesus and saying, "I just don't want to praise You in this storm. It hurts too much!" But he was faithful and never left us, just as He promised. I won't even try to mention all the names of people He sent to help us through but if you were one of them please know we are forever grateful for your obedience to Him.
At one point, we could have tried to come back but everyone was pretty much settled in and I began to feel more like Lot's wife, who longed too much for her past life and never got to have a future. Life wasn't anything like I ever imagined or wanted but it was good. I could see how God had used this for much good in the hearts and lives of my family and I determined to settle in and find the joy in where we were. Then we received a phone call that would change our lives yet again. We were going to move back home and with that came many obstacles and heartaches again because we had finally connected away from home. Just after moving is when I started this blog so you know the rest of the story so far.
Over the last few months we have been working very hard to get out of survival mode financially and actually be proactive with our income. By God's grace we are making progress toward that goal. We have also done some research and had people out to the house to get some estimates on things. Finally we talked to a bank loan manager who gave us hope that we could actually be approved for a loan. I began to let myself dream about what the house could look and feel like. I pictured real walls in my dining room and a fireplace in the living room. I could feel the smooth surface of the kitchen and dining room floor on my bare feet. The idea of walking on carpet with just socks was so soft. I imagined pulling into my driveway and looking with pleasure at my pretty house and oh how wonderful it would be to simply open the windows when it was nice out instead of messing with having to change storm windows and screens. I wondered what would be the perfect color roof and where would I put flowers. I was almost giddy with the thrill of having a house that wasn't full of holes and plaster dust. But I was also afraid of what it would be mean to go back into debt. Even though it has been 7 years, I remember ever so clearly the dread of seeing the due date approaching and the knot it would create in my being, knowing that I had no way of repaying what I owed. In order to get a loan we had a to have insurance as well but could we afford both? The idea of losing another home terrified me and thinking of losing a home that had been in the family for so long nearly paralyzed me. I prayed that God in His knowledge and wisdom would not let the loan go through if it wasn't the best thing for our family. We waited and they needed more paperwork and we waited again. It felt like forever.
Finally, I talked to the bank and they told us that they regretted to inform us that are unable to finance us at this time. Time stopped and so did my heart. We spoke a little longer but I had to get off the phone before the flood of emotions broke through my walls. I went to the bathroom because it was the only place I could close and lock the door. I just needed to cry. I wanted to scream, but little Eli, oblivious to his mother's pain came to the door asking me if I knew what color a tornado was. Try as I might to get him to leave he stayed there asking question after question wanting nothing more than the presence of his mommy. I dried my tears and exited to answer his questions and get his lunch. I couldn't wait for him to leave for school so he wouldn't see the hot tears as they burned down my cheeks in disobedience to my will.
Finally, a very rare hour came and the house was silent. I cried and so began my battle. On one hand, I was extremely relieved, God closed the door and I don't have to dread a loan again. Yet, we have a lot of repairs that are needed on this house. How will we ever...? These are not a little at a time expenses that you can spend 5 years saving for and expect the house to still be standing when your ready to give it a roof. But God knows that. He isn't in Heaven calling a gathering of angels to see if they have any ideas on how to fix this major roadblock that He didn't know was coming. He caused the Israelite's shoes to not wear out while they wandered in the wilderness for 40 years! If it be His will, our roof could last as long as He wants it to last and in that I can rest and take comfort and find hope. I serve a BIG God and He loves me so I do not need to fear.
However, I keep wanting to go back to Egypt where I knew what to expect. Where I have become settled in and where I can tangibly see what I want. I hear comments and conversations and a dart of discouragement or doubt gets through my shield of faith. I feel the heaviness of loss and I don't want to trust for the future. One day one of the kids had a couple friends over and they are young enough to have no filters. They kept going on and on about how we needed to fix this broken house. My son, unaware told them about his hope to one day have a room that is painted with sports on the walls and glow in the dark stars on the ceiling. I had to go in the other room so they wouldn't see the pain as it grabbed my heart and began to wrestle me to the ground. Later that same day another child had some friends over and they couldn't say enough about how welcomed they felt here in this awesome house with character. I was encouraged to see that we can welcome and love people no matter what our walls look like.
Then, I hear some ladies talking about getting new floors or a pool and envy shoots past my shield and whispers in my ear longing and desire for what is not mine to have. We took the storm windows out this weekend and thank God that while Marty was trying to fix our mower Jared put in the screens. I don't think I could have done it without breaking down. We were supposed to replace the windows not put in the screens! Suddenly cleaning up the garage became a monumental task because my mind was all tangled up. At one point he couldn't get the screen in so I looked from the outside and saw the reason. The wooden frame holding the glass on the top of the window was disintegrating. We worked together and managed to get the screen to hold up the glass but at one point when the glass nearly crashed down on our fingers a word I don't normally use escaped from my lips and I was embarrassed. It only proved to me yet again how short I come when it comes to fully relying on God.
But the good news is this. God knows already and He still gave me trials to learn from. He didn't allow them so he could point His finger and shame me. He allowed them so I could see just how desperately I need Him and how apart from Him I can do nothing. This trial wasn't meant for my destruction but for my perfection and because of that I can consider it pure joy (James 2) to go through knowing that it is for my good. I want to be like Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego who said that they believed God could save them from the fiery furnace but even if He didn't they would still worship Him alone. (Daniel 3) I want to be like Job who said that the Lord gives and the Lord takes away, blessed be the name of the Lord. (Job 1) I want to be like Joshua and Caleb who spied out the land God had promised them and said that our God can handle whatever we must face there. (Numbers 14) But I will not grow into that strong faith if I don't face trials of many kinds. (John 16)
I don't share this because I want you to feel sorry for me but I wanted to be transparent about how hard it is to struggle through disappointment and loss. There is no shame in hurting but we must also seek God continually to help us get the right perspective. We are in His hands. He is not in ours. Everyone of us face trials and heartache, I hope you find courage to fight and trust knowing you are not alone. Some moments you will feel strong and believe you are winning, other times you will wonder why you even bothered to wake up that morning but hang on to Jesus and He will get you through and if you let him He will get you closer to perfection.
P.S. I finished writing this yesterday but wanted to add the picture and song so I decided to wait to post since I was falling asleep. Today, Victoria was opening her window and the glass exploded all over. Thank God she only has a small cut on her finger. It's the inside window so we will be fine with plastic through the summer then when it gets cold we will put the storm window back in. It could be much worse so I am grateful, however, it allowed another dart to penetrate my shield and hopelessness wants to settle in. Matthew told me last summer that this house is not more than we can handle because God gave it to us and He doesn't give us more than we can handle. Thank God for wisdom from the mouths of babes. I cling to the truth of it but I would ask that when we come to your mind, you would offer a prayer that we would be able to keep our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith.
Hebrews 11:1-2 Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. 2 This is what the ancients were commended for.