Thursday, September 29, 2011

only God

last sunday morning i stood on the stage of new charlotte church and listened as our pastor and friend, kenny, introduced me as the new elementary director.  


it's still amazing to me.  


it's hard to believe that 9 months ago i stood on that same stage with tears in my eyes as i said goodbye to my job and my faith community in charlotte.  i didn't want to go.  we had almost everything we needed in charlotte - family, friends, a church home, my job as the preschool director at the church,  a great school for our kids, a house in the picture-perfect setting of my family's farm...  
but there was one thing that was missing.  
it was a big thing.  
the career that my husband had felt God calling him into appeared to be calling us to leave.  there are not a lot of college golf coach positions in the country.  there are only 2 programs in the charlotte area and a year ago the coaches at those programs did not appear to be going anywhere.  joey knew he would have to move in order to be obedient to this path he was called to.  i knew that i would have to follow and support him if i were to be obedient in my role as his wife.  
so we opened up our hands and held out our lives and offered them up to a God we trust.
we agreed to leave a life we love for a life he was calling us to.  


here's where i get brutally honest with you - there was a lot of excitement about this decision but there was also a lot of fear and grief.  and if i thought there was fear surrounding the decision to leave, i had no idea how much more fear would shroud our family once we actually did.  


joey took a job in eastern tennessee and our family headed to johnson city...a community that we wound up loving.  the only catch was that the job wasn't what we thought it would be.  if you've been following our journey over the past few months you have read words on my blog that spoke of depression and an overwhelming darkness that surrounded me.  the circumstances surrounding joey's job were the original source of  this very difficult chapter of life.  panic attacks, sleepless nights, emotions all over the place...it wasn't pretty.  this is the 'backstory' that i have referred to and that i still haven't edited enough for a public blog post.


our church is in the middle of a series entitled 'only God'...i'm actually wearing a t-shirt with those words right now.  i have had those same words whispered to my heart and spoken by my lips countless times over the past several tumultuous months.  there are moments in life...sometimes entire seasons of life...that carry such weight that you feel you are being crushed and you are quickly reminded that you still need a Savior, a Redeemer, a Comforter, a King that rules over you in love.


so here's the amazing part...
as i look back over the past year this is what i see.
only God could call our family to leave what we love and give us the strength and courage to actually do it.  
only God could take us to a place where we often felt like the exiles in Babylon yet still fulfill a great purpose through us there.  
only God could ask us again to step out in faith and leave trusting that in His faithfulness he would protect and provide for us.  
only God could sell the house that we had just bought in only 9 days.  
only God could enter into our fear and darkness to shine his light of hope through the tender care of family and friends who loved and housed us for 2 months while we were homeless.
only God could open a door right back where we started for joey to coach in charlotte alongside a Godly man whose priorities of faith and family are the same as his own.  
only God could be working behind the scenes as we made seemingly arbitrary decisions about preschool and a new home to place us in the same school and neighborhood as some of our dear friends.  
only God could open back up a place for me to do ministry work with the church family we had to leave behind only a short time ago.
only God could show up in such BIG ways in our small lives.


my husband said it well - God asked us to give up so much and step away for a season so that he could turn around and give us so much more than we could have ever hoped or imagined. and in the process he has bound our lives more tightly to one another and to Himself.


that is the kind of ephesians 3:20 work that only God can do...


what's your only God story?



Tuesday, September 6, 2011

bye bye baby

allow me to introduce you to 'baby'...


...she has been lucy's best bud since she was a 'baby' herself.  baby isn't always treated the way a best friend should be treated {i.e. thrown out of grocery carts, rolled over by wagons, bitten in fits of rage} but she and my preschooler have been nearly inseparable for 3 years.


we had an episode with baby last week.
let me explain.


imagine a crazy post-nap rush with 3 kids {my 2 plus my friend heather's 1}.  rousing grumpy toddlers, quickly taking care of everyone's toileting needs...everyone dressed?  everyone have a pair of shoes?  ok...we've got places to be at very specific times and we need to be out of the door 5 minutes ago!  buckle carseats.  got my purse? keys?  ok...heading out...
rolling down the driveway the 'episode' begins...


no baby.


ugggghhhh...
must i keep up with myself, my 2 kids, all of our stuff, AND that stinkin' baby???  i make one last mad dash through the house but baby is no where to be seen so we are going to have to leave without her.  i knew it would be difficult but i had no idea that i was in for the mac daddy of all meltdowns.


when i return empty handed, apologizing, and reassuring that we will get baby as soon as we return i am met with what could only be described as an irate, inconsolable demon child.  there is screaming and crying and yelling and kicking and red-faced rage...for t-h-i-r-t-y minutes {that seemed like an eternity}.  somehow i remain calm as God begins to reveal to me just how dysfunctional this relationship between my girl and her baby has become.
i started thinking that maybe this needed to happen.  had to happen some time, right?  at least at this particular moment my friend is in the car to help keep me calm and ensure the accountability i need to not pull over the car and turn into demon mommy.


i start praying.  


God - give me peace and patience and understanding.  console lucy.  she thinks she needs that ratty old baby but all she really needs is You.  i want her to know that.  i want her to discover that baby only provides false security.  seriously...what is a 2 pound ball of fabric with a plastic face going to do to protect her?  to help her?  to comfort her?  to give her true peace?  God - i pray for true peace for her...not the temporary, artificial kind that doll has been providing her with for 3 years.


despite my prayers, the kicking and screaming continues but i feel a peace...a real peace...that God is going to answer my prayers.


after running a couple of errands we reach our final destination - the Y.  our plan was to take the kids to childcare and exercise for a bit.  hmmmm...not sure how that is going to work out considering lucy has only been there one other time and she was clinching baby walking in and out.  i feel this nudging to give it a try.  if i am confident she will be confident.  right?


i walk the hysterical child inside explaining that she has 2 choices - 
#1  go on into the classroom with her brother and friends and have a great time {without baby}
OR
#2  sit outside on a bench with me and do nothing...let the opportunity to play and have fun pass her by {also without baby}


she chooses the bench...of course.


a couple of minutes pass and then the miracle begins to unfold...
me:  well - there goes addison and baylor.  i know they wish that you would go play with them.  sure would be fun.
lucy:  ok


what???  'ok'??  that's it??
she stands up, takes my hand, and walks right inside with her friends.  
i'm still not convinced it could be that easy.  for my entire hour long work-out i keep waiting for one of the childcare workers to come get me.  to tell me that she couldn't make it.  never happened.  i walked back to pick her up with joy in my heart but i had no idea what awaited me.
do you ever have a moment that you wish your memory would catch and hold onto tightly forever?  this was one of those moments.  as they called lucy out for pick-up i saw my sweet girl round the corner with the biggest ear-to-ear grin...running...bounding...curls flying...and her face said it all...


i did it!


freedom...
from false security.


what i realized was that false security never completely satisfies us.  for lucy her false security was found in a doll but for us it can take the form of money or power or drugs or a relationship or being 'good'.  somehow these things never really gives us what we need.  


every other time i have picked my girl up from anywhere she has walked out just as she has walked in - clinching that baby.  seemingly 'ok' but in her heart still unsure.  still without true peace.  that day i witnessed my girl sit her false security aside and step out in faith.  it was scary but she did it...and i was so proud.  
i know it won't be the last time in her life that she will pick up something completely inadequate and hope that it will fulfill her but i pray that when it happens again she will quickly learn to set it aside and step instead into Jesus' arms of grace to find true peace...and freedom...

today lucy started preschool.  


when she walked through the door she left baby behind...thank you God for tiny miracles that make such a huge difference...
thank you for giving us strength to let go of the things that keep us from You...


whatever is providing you with false security right now i am praying that God will instead fill you with his completely satisfying joy and peace and give you the courage to set your 'baby' down...


i pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit. 
romans 15:13