A Wife Loved Like The Church

Wednesday I started my first paying job since Julia was born.

The story is one that has been woven together by God. Truly and completely. I have pieced together how it all happened, seeing the story through different eyes. It’s all quite amazing when you hear it and realize how God orchestrated every little detail.

In December, I contacted the director of Hannah and Joseph’s preschool to ask about any job opportunities teaching. She wasn’t aware of anything but promised to keep me updated if something became available. At the same time in December, Sharon, Hannah’s co-teacher from last year, felt the Lord tugging at her heart to step down from teaching to focus on her family’s new ministry at church.

In January, the director emailed asking if I would be interested in subbing. At the same time in January, Sharon informed the school of her decision to focus on her family’s ministry. While sad (because Sharon is an amazing teacher with a warm, loving heart), everyone knew Sharon was doing what was best.

When I went in for my interview for subbing, I had been praying that a teaching position would be open. So when I was informed one had opened, I was thrilled. I wasn’t given much information, just the age range of the students. When I got home, I told Jonathan that while I had no idea of which classroom I might be in, I really hoped it was with Hannah’s other teacher from last year, Pam. I had gotten to know Pam well during Hannah’s time in her class and had just fallen in love with her. 

The next week I met with the director. She told me a bit more about the role and the classroom. I jokingly shared my hope of working with Pam, when she told me… The co-teacher position was indeed with Pam.

Funny, how something that seems so insignificant in the “big world” means so much to me. How God, even in the small things, is providing, is comforting, is showing how deeply He cares. How He laid it on Sharon’s heart to move in a different direction. How Sharon’s obedience to God opened up a position for me, with the teacher I hoped to lead alongside. How the classroom I’m in, already feels like home.

There are times when you get to see a glimpse of your story unfolding. How each step lead you to where you are. How each detail has been covered, each loose end tied up.

While this new job may seem small to others, it is ever so big to me.

I mentioned in my last post, we are selling our home. We spent the last few weeks cleaning, purging and getting the house ready for the market. This past Thursday {1/9} we listed on MLS.

As of last night, after only three days, we have two offers. 

I’m speechless. When the second offer came in, I’m certain I experienced some shock. I seriously cannot believe how amazingly God has worked to orchestrate this sell. How He answered prayers about the price, about the time, and about giving us peace.

But I haven’t always had peace. Or at least I haven’t always been worry-free.

Saturday morning I woke up feeling anxious and overwhelmed. A feeling I had had since we listed the house Thursday afternoon. I got ready for my morning run and drove to meet my running buddies. During that drive I poured out my heart in prayer. Despite all my worries, all my fears, above all else, I just want my life to be used to glorify God. But sometimes, in the hardship, my heart doesn’t match up with my mind. My heart tells me God doesn’t love me, doesn’t care for me, even though my mind is screaming the truth.

As I waited at the running trail, I decided to read for a bit. I opened Romans 5 and read ::

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

I cried as I read those words. Suffering produces endurance. Endurance produces character. Character produces hope. Hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit.

In that moment, in the quiet, dark morning, God showed me that this time of suffering, this time of hardship, only serves to produce hope in me. Hope that He has given me, through His love He has poured out onto me.

As we enter 2014, we are unemployed and {almost} homeless. That seems like a strange and worrisome sentence to type, but it’s not. We are moving in with our friends, Sam and Adriane, this month. Jonathan is still interviewing with different companies and I myself had an interview at the kids’ school. None of this is at all what I  planned or expected. Yet it is better than what I could have asked for, and in many ways we are excited for what God has in store. Because, through our suffering, God has produced endurance in us. That endurance has produced character. That character has produced hope.

And Hope will never put us to shame.  

Thank you all for your comments, messages/emails, texts/phone calls. Your out pouring of love and support is truly amazing and I will never be able to fully express my gratitude. Having each of you in my life shows me even more how God comforts us through our community.

Now, for the next big news :: We are selling our house.

Last spring we felt like we should consider moving. At the time we thought about building a new home, but as summer came we felt the Lord telling us to wait. Then my brothers decided they wanted to move out by year’s end to be closer to their friends and own community. Now, living in a 4 bedroom house with just the kids seems huge. In October, I felt the Lord tugging on my heart to downsize. In November, I jokingly told Jonathan “We should just sell the house and move into a two bedroom apartment.” We both laughed, yet we realized, it wasn’t really a joke. That night we decided to sell our house.

We contacted our realtor. We started looking for rentals to move into. We evaluated what we needed and purged the rest. It has been a very healing and freeing experience. To let go of everything, to see the differences between wants and needs.

When the job offer fell through, we realized how merciful God had been in preparing our hearts to let go of everything. Selling the house is no longer just a good idea, it has become what we really need to do.

Lately I have challenged myself to see God’s provision even when it doesn’t look like He is providing {at least the way I expected}. These four points keep coming to mind every.single.day ::

1. God kept us from building a new home He knew we would not be able to afford.

2. God placed it on our hearts to let go. Let go of our stuff, let go of our house, let go of our preconceived notions of what “life” should look like.

3. We chose to sell our house weeks before we realized we had to sell our house. Honestly, this is huge for me. I can’t begin to tell you how thankful I am that God prepared my heart for this time. How He allowed me the time I needed to make the decision “myself” rather than it being made for me. Now selling my house is exciting and adventurous. I’m not sure I’d feel the same way if He hadn’t prepared my heart before hand.

4. Ironically, our church did a series on generosity right after Jonathan lost his job. Nothing like learning about generosity when you don’t have a job. That series hit Jonathan and I. Hard. It was the fuel that lead us through points 2 and 3.

At times it can be hard to see how God is working, when the way He works looks differently than we expected. But, as I have reflected that He is working, I can see that what He is doing is bigger than what I ever expected. The road will get bumpy, times will be hard, but God will continue to provide. He will never leave, He will never forsake.

*** And have no fear! While we don’t know what God has planned for 2014, we have friends who are as crazy as we are and have asked us to live with them. Very soon we could have two families of 5 living in a 4 bedroom house. #communitylivingforthewin ***

Jonathan lost his job in October. Just like that, with no warning, he was fired.

While shockwaves went through our house, we were certain he would find something quickly. When he left his last job, it took only two weeks before finding a new one. He was bound to find something. And soon.

October rolled into November. Then November rolled into December. Finally, he received a verbal offer for a position. We waited for the official paperwork. And waited. His soon-to-be new boss called and said the paperwork was in the final stages and would be arriving anytime. Wednesday night, Jonathan got a phone call. There was a hiring freeze. The job wasn’t going through.

I can’t put into words how my heart sank. As though a load of bricks were just placed across my shoulders. Heavy, so heavy. My immediate reaction was to panic. Run. Hide. But, as I stood there, I realized that my only reaction was to say “In this I trust You Lord.”

The past three months have been hard. I’m not gonna lie. I’m not gonna act like I’ve handle it with grace and ease. God has stripped away so many of my safety nets, so many of my “anything but that”. I have worried, I have cried. I have been angry and mad. But in this loss, I have found reasons to rejoice. I have seen how God proves Himself faithful even when everything else seems to be failing. How He uses job loss to draw Jonathan and I closer together than we have been in a very long time. How He uses job loss to show me that my heart needs to only be with Him. How He uses heartache and pain to show me how valuable, loving, and amazing my friends are. How He shows me time and again that I am not alone, I am never alone, I am surrounded by love.

When we are pushed beyond what we think we can handle, when we want to crawl away, hide and never see the light again, He proves Himself faithful. He proves Himself good.

As the world around us crushes in, so hard, so heavy it feels we can’t even breath, that is when we need to push into Him that much harder. It’s not easy. Oh no. It takes every ounce of faith to push closer to Him when everything in me wants to flee. Yet when I do, when I lean just the smallest bit, He gives comfort, He soothes. The situation doesn’t change, things don’t get easier, but He gives peace, He gives comfort, He gives a soulful joy.

We don’t know how God will provide, but He will. We don’t know what God is doing, but He’s doing something. I’m not delusional to think the road we are on is easy. In fact, I’m fully expecting more hardship, more heartache. But, I will keep leaning. I will keep leaning into my Savior, my God, my Father. Because right now, all He is asking is that I, that we, just lean – lean into Him just a little bit more.

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What’s that? Christmas is less than a week away and I still haven’t finished getting/making all our gifts? Me falling behind on tasks? Puh-lease, that never happens. Except pretty much all.the.time.

The day after Thanksgiving, I spent about an hour looking through endless cards websites, trying to craft the perfect Christmas card. Our pictures this year were cute and hilarious {not that I’m biased}, but I couldn’t decide on a single card I liked. In a moment of frustration, I announced “That’s it! I’ve had it with this dump!” and vowed to not send out cards this year out of sheer stubbornness. Way to go with the grinchy attitude, am I right?!

Fast forward a few weeks and we start having Christmas cards arriving in our mailbox. Oh stars. I have some sweet, beautiful friends and family.  It warms my heart to see all those faces and relive some amazing memories. It simply makes this time of year even sweeter.

And then it hit me – I haven’t ordered a single Christmas card. By this point, it really is too late {unless we call them New Year cards – or if we’re really honest, Memorial Day cards}. Which means, I’m missing out on sending cute little cards, with cute little festive stamps, to all my sweet friends and family. Le sigh.

But, I’d hate to deprive you of the great pictures my friend Erika took, so I thought I’d share them with you all the same ::

Family Picture

 

Kids

 

Jonathan and Sarah

 

Kids - Joe Joe Crying

Merry Christmas y’all!

Today has been a hard day. I’ve felt anxious and overwhelmed. There isn’t any specific reason for it, just a tugging at my heart of heavier things.

I want to curl up and sleep, block out the low feelings for a little while until my cheery self returns.

He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. Colossians 1:13-14

I read those verses today. Delivered from the domain of darkness. Transferred to His kingdom. Redeemed. Forgiven.

There is such comfort there. Comfort that this darkness can’t hold me. I am redeemed from it.

I may still feel like curling up, resting from the world a bit. But in that feeling, I can cling to the hope that this world is not my world, this darkness does not have dominion over me. I am redeemed. I am forgiven. I am His.

I’m starting to think that perhaps the most divisive issues among Christians aren’t theological issues but holidays. Celebrate Halloween? “Shameful! Pharisee!” Tell your children about Santa or that dreaded Elf? “You should tie a stone about your neck! Jesus is the reason for the season!”

Listen, I’m not knocking celebrating Christ’s birth. If Jesus wasn’t born all hope would be lost. We would be in utter darkness. In him was life, and the life was the light of men (John 1:4). Without the pivotal moment of Christ’s birth, everything would be for nothing.

Here’s what I am saying – lighten up. Celebrating Christmas isn’t a command. Nowhere does God tell us to celebrate Jesus’s birth with a holiday. Nowhere does God say that Jesus is the reason for the season. Actually, if we want to become pedantic, Jesus is the reason for ALL seasons. Perhaps {and this is a super radical thought} rather than harping about celebrating Jesus at Christmas, we could, I don’t know, celebrate Him all the time? Whoa. Mind-blown.

Honestly, our family doesn’t do Santa. Or that elf {which I harbor really negative feelings toward. But that’s a whole other post. Ha!}. While we decorate, things are kept low key. Our kids get just a few presents. We use December as one more chance to talk a lot about Advent. But, we also blare secular Christmas songs, watch Elf and Charlie Brown’s Christmas, bake dozens of cookies and bask in the beauty that is this time of year.

Ultimately, Christmas is just one more chance to talk about Jesus. It shouldn’t be seen as the only time we celebrate Christ’s birth. It’s just one more chance to celebrate it. Putting Christ in Christmas is ridiculous, because Christ is already in Christmas. Just like He is in Memorial Day or Grandparents Day. He’s there because He is always there, in everything. Because in Him and through Him all things have been made. We don’t need Christmas time to celebrate Jesus. We celebrate Jesus all the time because He is worthy of our praise.

This Christmas let’s make a truce. Let’s not shoot arrows at one another for our personal Christmas celebrations. Let’s not grumble when a parent lavishes their children with gifts {“spoiled brats!”} or roll our eyes when someone doesn’t “do Santa” {“ohh… so high and mighty! Pish.”}. Instead, let’s realize that Christmas is one more chance to talk about Jesus, not the only chance to talk about Him.

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