Gift from a Friend

I spoke with a dear Seattle friend a few weeks ago.  She gave me the gift of a book recommendation.  May not be your kind of gift but I’m a reader.  I love books!  And not the digital kind.  I need to touch the book, flip the pages, underline, and dog ear my favorite pages.  She has read this particular book several times herself and said it would be a perfect read for me right now.  I took note of the book title to add it to my Amazon wish list.  The next morning at our homeschool tutoring program the family doing the family presentation recommended the exact same book!  I had to get this book.  Derek made a rule that I cannot buy a new book until I finish the ones I have.  So I decided to wait.  However, as I browsed the Barnes and Noble bookshelves a few days before a road trip to Florida I found it.  Hinds’ Feet on High Places by Hannah Hurnard.  I didn’t even have to think about it.

I didn’t start the book until our ride home on Sunday.  In fact, I started and finished it.  Habakkuk 3:19 (ESV) says, “God, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like the deer’s; he makes me tread on my high places.” Hurnard’s allegory takes the reader on the journey of Much-Afraid with her companions Sorrow and Suffering to the High Places.  I found myself identifying with her throughout the book.  One particular section resonated with me so much so that I stared the page and have re-read it several times.

“Shepherd,” she said despairingly, “I can’t understand this.  The guides you gave me say that we must go down there into that desert, turning right away from the High Places altogether.  You don’t mean that, do you?  You can’t contradict yourself.  Tell them we are not to go there, and show us another way.  Make a way for us, Shepherd, as you promised.”

He looked at her and answered very gently, “That is the path, Much-Afraid, and you are to go down there.”

“Oh, no,” she cried.  “You can’t mean it.  You said if I would trust, you would bring me to the High Places, and that path leads right away from them.  It contradicts all that you promised.”

“No,” said the Shepherd, “it is not contradiction, only postponement for the best to become possible.”

Much-Afraid felt as though he had stabbed her to the heart.  “You mean,” she said incredulously, “you really mean that I am to follow that path down and down into that wilderness and then over that desert, away from the mountains indefinitely?  Why?” (and there was a sob of anguish in her voice) “it may be months, even years, before that path leads back to the mountains again.  O Shepherd, do you mean it is indefinite postponement?”

….

As she looked out over what seemed an endless desert, the only path she could see led farther and farther away from the High Places, and it was all desert.

Then he answered very quietly, “Much-Afraid, do you love me enough to accept the postponement and the apparent contradiction of the promise, and to go down there with me into the desert?”  (Hinds’ Feet on High Places, Tyndale House, pp. 69-70)

We seemed to be in an endless desert.  We seem to be going farther and farther away from what our hearts desire.  The past 6 months have been spent hitting road block after road block.  We’ve seen light at the end of the tunnel a few times but quickly a shadow is cast and there’s no more light.  I was encouraged by this beautiful, classic, fiction allegory.  Will I, do I, love Christ enough to accept this postponement and continue in the desert with Him?  {I won’t give you the storyline in case you want to read it yourself.}  I know through the Word of God that He will use this desert.  This time will not be in vain.  It’s a season of beautiful, painful refinement.  “When he has tried me, I shall come out as gold.”  (Job 23:10b)

Thanks again to my sweet friend for introducing me to this book.

Advertisements

For the Love

tumblr_m77x0aAqMC1rb3q0vo1_500

Photo credit to Pinterest

I woke up early Valentine’s morning.  I prepared a full course breakfast for my boys:  heart shaped pancakes, bacon, scrambled eggs, and fresh orange juice.  I decorated for the holiday with a Valentine’s themed tablecloth, balloons, and confetti.  My Pinterest boards came to life!  Connor and Graham woke up excited and appreciative of all my hard work.  After our fun Valentine’s breakfast we checked off a few things on our school list before heading to Barnes & Noble for story time.  They both sat completely still during story time.  Graham didn’t even try to run off!  Lunch was lovely.  We went on a double-date, just me & my two boys.  We didn’t eat at our usual Chick-fil-a.  We ate a full meal at Whole Foods Market and had full, meaningful conversation.

At least this is how I had envisioned it…

None of that is true except we did go to Barnes & Noble story time.  And we did end up at Whole Foods for lunch.  The rest is fantasy.

Our morning started alright.  No, I didn’t prepare a beautiful Valentine’s spread but my boys are easily pleased.  Oatmeal with brown sugar and cinnamon hit the spot for them.  {Well, maybe they had cereal…}  We didn’t have time to get any school done before going to Barnes & Noble for story time.  I gave a Barnes & Noble Prep speech in the parking lot and was convinced we’d have a problem-free, dis-obedience-free time at one of my favorite spots.  I treated us all to our favorite Starbucks drinks:  vanilla latte for myself, vanilla milk for Connor, chocolate milk for Graham.  Story time itself went as it usually does.  But something happened towards the end.  They started to no longer fit into my perfect behavior cookie cutter.  It’s all a blur now.  I just know I was stressed, frustrated, and down right mad.  As I tried to herd them out of Barnes & Noble, the chocolate milk carton that I thought was empty began leaking chocolate milk  on my new cream colored shirt.  (I know, trivial.  But come on, you’ve been there!)  After 1,000 “Come on, Graham”s, “Connor, I said it’s time to go”s, and “Graham, stay with me”s, we made it to the counter.  I had ordered a Bible for Connor.  It was his Valentine’s gift and I was told it’d be in by Thursday (Valentine’s Day).  Guess what?  They didn’t have it.  The lady behind the counter said it wasn’t set to come in until the 18th.  Not cool Barnes & Noble!  By the time we were in the car I had had it!  We were going back to my parents to eat, we were absolutely not going out for a special Valentine’s lunch!  It just so happened that Derek was in the area and he met up with us.  Yes, I called in reinforcement.  After a little pow wow I took back what I said about lunch and apologized for my outburst.  We went to Whole Foods for pizza, everyone stayed with me, and we even had cookies.  However, a whole cup of lemonade was spilled, some even made it on my shirt (it went well with the chocolate milk).  And while we’re at it, why not add pizza sauce and chocolate chip cookie to my shirt as well!

It was time to go home.

Seemed safe.  And it was for a little while.  As I was back in our room taking care of some laundry, bills, and the such, I heard a loud crash, glass shattering, followed by the sound of a 3 year old cry.  I ran down the hall to find Graham pinned under the fireplace cover (the decorative kind).  A candle stand with a glass globe laid shattered next to him.  Thankfully Graham was fine.  Scared but not hurt.  Just as I was cleaning it all up Derek walked in the door.  Just in time.  

I was ready for bed.  Ready for a do-over.

The next day as I thought about how horrible our day before had been I realized that much of my bad day was due to my ownunmet expectations.  Sure, there were frustrating things about my day (i.e. disobedient kids, more food on my clothes than we ate, shattered glass) but these things are really just part of life with children.  But it was Valentine’s Day!  It’s suppose to be all about love.  It’s suppose to be fun and cute.  But it wasn’t.  It was real.  And I had the opportunity to really love my boys.  Like love them when they weren’t quite  lovable.  Love them because they are mine not because they make my life easy or because they allow me to make life about me.  I had the opportunity to show them how God loves.  He loves me in Christ despite my failures.  Despite the fact that I was impatient with my kids, despite the fact that I was selfish towards them, despite the fact that I wallowed in self-pity because my day didn’t g0 how I wanted it to.

I’m learning so much through my parenting.  Not because I’m a great parent.  Quite the opposite!  I’m learning so much as a parent because my Heavenly Father is a good father and shows me grace and mercy through my failed parenting.  I see my need for Him.  I see His love for me.

Where we’ve been. Where we are. Where we’re going.

Where We’ve Been

South Carolina.  Washington.  South Carolina.  All within 2 years.

Whew!

You can read all about our journey on my first blog.  We lived in my hometown in the Upstate of SC for the first 6 years of our marriage.  In the summer of 2011 we packed up and moved across the country to the beautiful Northwest.  Derek did an internship at Mars Hill Church in Seattle, WA.  Our year in Seattle was the best year of our lives thus far.  I could leave you sitting at your computer for hours reading all about our time in Seattle but I’ll spare you.  {If you do have a ton of free time and want to read all about our year in Seattle you can do so on my previous blog.}

The internship came to a close and we had to make a decision.  Stay in WA or move back to SC?  We chose option 2.

Where We Are

When we decided to move back east we thought that was what we wanted.  We  had plans.  We knew what it would look like.  We knew we were coming back very different people yet we inevitably believed we’d pick up where we left off.  Our friendships would be exactly the same, a good job would open right away, and before we knew it we’d be living in a 3 bedroom home complete with a figurative white picket fence.  Leaving Seattle proved harder than we anticipated.  Initially making our decision to move back brought excitement and anticipation.  The closer the moving date got the less excitement we felt.  Seattle had become home.  Our decision was made.  The sadness would wear off shortly after landing on Southern soil.  It didn’t.  Two weeks later we missed Seattle & Mars Hill more and more each day.  Fast forward 6 months {present day}:  we’re still living at my parents house.  Still missing Seattle.  Derek finally began a job but we know it’s not a long term career, nor does he desire it to be, but for now it’s a job.  We are grateful for any and all provision!  We’re certainly not where we had hoped to be at this point.  We’re in limbo, so to speak, but trying to figure out how not to live in limbo.

Where We’re Going

We have desires, dreams, and even a sense of calling yet we don’t know how to get there.  There have been times of hope but something happens, or doesn’t, and it all crumbles leaving us back at square one.  I wish I could answer the “what’s next?” question.  I wish I could write you a whole paragraph on the topic of where we’re going.  I can’t.  Goodness!  I wish I could even write one sentence.  Truth is, we simply don’t know.  I say we “simply” don’t know but there’s nothing simple about it.  It’s chaotic and complicated.  It’s downright frustrating and exhausting.  So where are we going?  I can’t tell you.  I know that while it feels as though we’re going nowhere, we’re going somewhere.  I also know I can plan, I can lay out course options, but it is the Lord’s plan that will stand.  {Proverbs 19:21}