I have not, once again, forgotten this little blog. I really want to keep up with this for my own benefit so I can see how God works through this crazy time. We have been out of town on a LONG vacation, so I have been MIA.
This year is our 20th anniversary, so Chris surprised me with a cruise to Alaska! We headed out on June 10 for the three day drive to SLC, to leave the kids with my mom and dad. After dropping off the kids, we caught a plane to Seattle and spent a day seeing the sights before boarding the boat on Sunday. We have never cruised before, so everything was a new experience. I was a little worried that the stress of all that is going on in our life would affect our enjoyment of the trip...but I am telling you, I have never in my life, ever, been able to just forget everything and just enjoy myself like we did on that cruise...maybe too much because by Friday, Chris and I both admitted to one another that we had so gotten into the relaxation and getting away of the cruise, that we had not even prayed about all that was going on...oops!
The cruise was really the trip of a lifetime and we had and amazing time...but we did have to come back. We got to spend four days in SLC with my family before heading back and that was such a blessing. In fact, one of my big prayers was answered during that time. One of the things that has stressed me the most about all of these changes, is that our 15 year old was TOTALLY against it. We had prayed about this, felt he would be okay, still felt God leading us to do this and just started praying for him. While we were on the cruise, he got LOTS of time with his cousins, one of whom he just absolutely adores. They have so much fun together and have really similar senses of humor. She actually lives in Boise, about 5 1/2 hours from Salt Lake, but much closer than we are in TN. He also has another cousin in SLC that he is the same age as and they have a great time together. So, by the time we got back from the cruise, his spirits were already higher. On the first day back, my husband had some things he needed to do for his new ministry, including taking pictures of the area that he will be working in. So, while I was catching up on MOUNTAINS of laundry, he took my 15 year old and they went exploring. As it turns out, they looked at all the high schools in the area and our son found one he was really interested in. I called the school and we ended up going the next day to tour it. It was AMAZING...people, I think I would go back to high school if I could go here. It has so many cool classes and so many opportunities, my son was fired up! He grabbed his phone and said he was about to text all his friends in TN and tell them....he was moving! I took an opportunity later that day just to check on how he was really doing and he said that as soon as he had seen his cousin he adores so much, he knew everything would be okay and he was ready to move. Y'all, I cannot even tell you what a blessing those words were. So much stress lifted off my shoulders and I knew that our God that loves us passionately had worked a miracle in the life of my boy! How precious to see Him working...and how glad I am that my friend advised me to document it so when things aren't going so smoothly, I can look back and be reminded.
I would like to say that I have been soaring on cloud 9 since, but that would be untrue. Just as God's people have done through the ages, as time goes on (and, clearly not much time), we tend to forget the blessings and dwell on the tough. As soon as we got home, the reality of what we were doing smacked us in the face again and the stress began piling up. We are slowly packing up the house and trying to get things out of the way so we can start getting it ready to put on the market. A realtor has come by to look at it and was very gracious in his recommendations of what we should fix so we are trying to get done what we can. The biggest stress there is just our time frame. We are planning on packing up the moving van on Aug. 1 and heading out Aug. 2...that is not a lot of time to pack up a house we have been in for 11 years with 5 kids! OY at all the STUFF! I am trying to be ruthless as I go through the process and purge, purge, purge...some of it is easy, but I also realize that I may be slightly over sentimental...I saved every piece of paper my firstborn touched for awhile...I have BOXES of art projects and notes and papers...I know I need to purge, but I feel so guilty throwing them out, especially now that those tiny little hands are grown up hands that we are about to leave behind (sniff).
Just before getting this opportunity, I was reading Interrupted by Jen Hatmaker (by the way, you should totally read this book...if you are willing to have your world rocked). She was talking about making a radical life change and how scary it was. She talked about her husband leaving his job and going 12 days without any idea of how they were going to survive. So, as we began this process, I kept remembering that story and how, on the twelfth day, they got a call, out of the blue, from a total stranger that began answering some of the questions. So, each day, as I was having my panic attack, I would cling to that story and remember, just 12 days...we can survive, just like the Hatmaker's did...for 12 days. Well, it has been over a month and, while some things have become clear, we still have a lot more trusting to do than answers. We know where two out of our 5 will be going to school (we hope, if the high school will give permission for our son to attend), but I am not sure whether I will be getting a job immediately or home schooling the littles for one more year. We still have not been cleared to begin fundraising, so we have no support yet, we have a house we have to sell and no way of buying or renting there until we do...and the questions continue.
I lean towards panicking on a daily basis, but a few days ago, in my quiet time, I read a very familiar story. It is from 1 Kings 17 and it is about Elijah and the Widow at Zarephath. It is one of those favorite childhood stories that used to come around about once a year in the children's curriculum and I have heard a million times. One of those that you start to read and then just kind of skim over because, please...I know this one already! But this time, it really struck me, this story. So, the CliffsNotes version is this...there hadn't been any rain for a long time and the brook that Elijah was using for water dried up so the Lord directed him to go into Zarephath and find this widow who was going to supply him with food. So, being a good prophet, he went and sure enough, he saw this widow out gathering sticks and asked her to bring him some water and a piece of bread. The widow replies that she has no bread and is, in fact, on her way to use her very last bit of oil and flour to make a final meal for herself and her son and then they will die...because the food is gone. So Elijah, being the sensitive guy that he is, tells her go ahead and go home like she planned but before she makes that last meal for her son and herself, make him a little bread first because the Lord has told him that the flour will not be used up and the oil won't run dry until it rains again.
Y'all, she did it! I mean, I like to think of myself as super christian, but I'm gonna be honest, as a momma, I think I would have looked at that man and said, "You have got to be kidding, you have some nerve asking me to give you the very last food I have for my son...You are crazy!" But she did it. She trusted and believed that God would take care of her and do exactly what He said He would do. She didn't ask for a guarantee. She didn't ask for proof. She put her life...and the life of her son, on the line because she trusted God's word! She must have been so scared. I wonder, as she was going through the process of making that bread, was she talking to herself, was she telling herself she was crazy, were tears running down her face because she was terrified that her trust was misplaced? Did her son know that she was possibly sacrificing his last meal? Did she balk at the last moment and wonder if she should just sneak the bread to her little boy? She must have been so full of worry and fear, but she was obedient, and, of course, He was faithful! I really wish there was a "where are they now" update on that story...I would love to know what happened to that widow and that you boy after the rain came. I wonder, did she have a faith that was just unstoppable, or did she eventually forget? I cannot imagine ever forgetting something like that, and yet I know that is my tendency...to see God work in amazing ways and then when the going gets tough, to feel defeated all over again. But for now, every time I feel that wave of discouragement, that panic trying to overwhelm me again, I remember that widow...I remember her actions, she didn't just SAY she believed, she radically acted on that belief and I want to do the same.
So, that is where we are today. Today, there will be more packing, more purging, and probably more crying. I will have moments of victory where I pat myself on the back because I am making so much progress and moments of utter defeat as I look at all that is left to do. I will feel guilty for neglecting my kids and will roll my eyes when Chris gets home from work just as stressed out as me. But through it all, I will know that every single moment of stress and fear and struggle is worth it, because He is refining me and even though I may not be able to see the end right now, He does and He is faithful and loves us with a ridiculous, unfathomable love that it is a privilege to get to share!