I grabbed a whole row because my sweethearts were coming in behind me. I laid down my jacket, my purse, my Bible, my journal, and a few bulletins throughout the row to make sure I had enough seats. As they all filed in, I felt my smile grow bigger and bigger. These beautiful young people are my dearest blessings and I could barely contain my joy. They would have been embarrassed if I’d shown all the emotion I was feeling as we stood worshiping God. All I could think was how incredibly loving God is and how thankful I am for what He has done in our family.
“Let the redeemed of the LORD tell their story – those he redeemed from the hand of the foe” Psalm 107:2
Last year could be described as the quintessential dumpster fire year. And I’ve had some real doozy years so that’s saying a lot. It was emotionally-draining, exceptionally disappointing, heartbreaking, foundation-shaking, and I think I’d go as far as saying a bit soul-crushing…well, you get the idea. Not a stellar year.
BUT oh how God has redeemed it! I’m in awe.
At the end of the summer, after a lot of drama and even more prayer, I felt strongly that God was leading me to quit my job and home-school my youngest daughters for one year. It made absolutely no sense on every single level except that both God and I knew that something needed to change. And this was a huge change for us.
This hasn’t been without its bumps and bruises, but I’ve learned that even when I follow His leading it doesn’t necessarily mean smooth sailing. There are rocks on every path, even the good ones, and sometimes it can get rather narrow and dark.
God has worked mightily in our family not just through happy home-school days on the porch, but through down in the dirt difficult days, hurts, lies, and betrayals, exhaustion and sickness, smart and dumb decisions, tight budgets, unexpected issues, challenges, and circumstances, and hard conversations. He has changed our hearts, opened our eyes, strengthened our relationships and our faith, and given us time to reevaluate our direction as individuals and a family.
“Put your hope in the LORD, for with the LORD is unfailing love and with him is full redemption” Psalm 130:7
This home-school plan seemed crazy, but I knew that it was what I was supposed to do. And, for once, I obeyed without hesitation. Desperate times called for desperate faith.
It’s been filled with wonderfully deep and faith-filled conversations, tears and laughter, great literature and that awful math stuff, sitting by the river and just a lot of blessings that sometimes, at first, don’t even look like blessings..
This calling meant I turned down two jobs last year that would have been great all the way around, but I knew that I was supposed to do this. I knew I was supposed to trust and obey. I needed to trust like I did the year my husband left. I hadn’t really done that in a while. I’ve been so busy trying to control the details of life that I haven’t really leaned on Jesus. Maybe a little shoulder lean like when you lean over and whisper in someone’s ear, “Hey Lord, can you help me get this done?” Now I’m climbing into His lap saying, “Jesus, I’m exhausted by trying to figure all of this out on my own. May I just sit with you for a while until you show me what to do next?”
It reminds me of climbing into my dad’s lap on Sunday evenings when he was watching football. Even when I was far too big, he would just let me rest there, close my eyes, and listen. The sound of a TV football game is still so comforting to me. Every once in a while I would open my eyes and ask how much longer. He would say something about “5 minutes left in the quarter” and, of course, 5 minutes in a quarter is not an actual five minutes. An early lesson in patience! But it was absolutely okay because it was peaceful there with him.
Maybe it’s a little like that when we wait on God. I so desperately want God to tell me what is going on…when is this going to end? Instead of being my squirmy and impatient toddler self, I want to close my eyes and lean into His strong arms. I imagine I can hear His heartbeat, like my dad’s, calm and steady. I doubt he would smell like pipe tobacco like my dad, but maybe, for me, He would.
“As for God, His way is perfect; the word of the LORD is flawless. He is a shield to all who take refuge in Him.” Psalm 18:30
I find myself seeking the shelter of His arms more and more as I learn to let Him lead. As I lean into Him with questions and concerns, fears and anxious thoughts, sorrow and joy…He has become my True Love. This past year of stepping out in faith when common sense and logic shouted something completely different was life-changing.
I’ve seen God provide in ways I haven’t since the first years of single parenting. Not that He hasn’t constantly provided but in my feeble efforts to make things happen and take care of everything, I’ve missed experiencing it. I have often taken my eyes off of Jesus and looked for my help from other sources, mainly myself.
I’m beginning to understand that God has a plan even when I can’t see it. Sometimes life is so busy I miss that God is working around me. I can get so overwhelmed by how poorly things seem to be going and not realize the good that God is doing even through the hard stuff. I think “the plan” should be one thing and God knows it has to be another. It is amazingly difficult to surrender to God, but If I would just remember how gracious He is to provide, how lovingly He looks after us, and how kind He is to make a way even when there seems to be no way, I could just close my eyes, lean into His strength, and rest.
“Rest in the LORD and wait patiently for him…” Psalm 37:17