So, HERE is the link to the first blog post with this title. When I wrote this, I had no idea the craziness that was about to happen in my home. I had no idea how true that blog post would turn out to be. Our home was soon to feel like a war zone and I had two choices, give up and walk away, or fight for the family God has given me. I won't lie, many times, I wanted to just give up. It would have been so much easier, but I knew that wasn't what God wanted. Following God is hard. It's costly. It's uncomfortable. But, it's always the best option, no matter what the earthly outcome is.
The past month and a half has been the hardest of my life. BUT GOD. God was there each step of the way. He led and guided and directed and loved and gave grace like I have never seen or felt before. He provided family and friends to love us in our mess (if you haven't read Jen Hatmaker's newest blog, please do. I apologize for the small amount of language that is there, but it's all so true!). He provided meals, money, places to sleep, clothes to wear, fun times to distract us, a safe place to cry, and the courage to wake up each morning and do it all again. He reigned in the crazy, gave clarity when needed, even provided some laughs along the way. He reminded me that no matter how bad things seemed at the time, it was still so much better than it could be. He gave me compassion for others when I didn't think I had any compassion left. He opened my eyes to a new group of people who desperately need His love, mercy, grace and Truth. He dramatically increased my prayer life and proved to me His faithfulness in answering prayer in ways I never even dreamed were possible.
I know I posted this song about a gazillion times over the last several weeks, but listen to it again. Already All I Need by Chirsty Nockels was on constant repeat on my phone and in the car. It was a reminder of so many things: He's always there, I just have to look; not a thing happens without passing first through His hand; He cares for the lilies that neither toil or spin, so He'll take care of me, too; I serve a God who IS all I need, He doesn't have to BECOME what I need; every gift that comes my way comes first through His hand and is designed perfectly just for me (and if I believe all His gives and does is for my good, that means all my trials are also designed perfectly just for me); I love the promise that He has overcome, but He also promises that in this world we will have trouble--this promise is what makes the other promise so beautiful; He alone offers forgiveness and true freedom.
We're all back home and under one roof. There is so much more I could say, but most of it isn't my story to share. Some day, Kevin and I will share together all that the Lord has done in our family in the last 6 weeks or so. Today is not that day, but we do rejoice that we are all together and God is healing hearts and minds. You may see us and not know what to say. That's OK. A simple "We've missed you" or "How are you today" is enough. But please know, we may not be ready to just bust out our whole story for you, so please be OK with an answer of nothing more than "Ok" or "I've had better days" or "It's been rough, but we're making it" without any other explanation. (If you read the Jen Hatmaker blog, then you understand the ring idea and if you aren't in those first few closest rings, it may be awhile before you hear the whole story, but one day...one day.)
If you need some new music to listen to, I have 4 CDs that I have been playing non-stop. Check out this awesome music: The Art of Celebration by The Rend Collective Experiment, Let It Be Jesus by Christy Nockels, Welcome to the New by Mercy Me, and Into the Glorious by Christy Nockels. These songs were declaring my heart for much of the last 2 months. I wish I could just sing them all to you all day long (but, trust me, nobody wants that!)
Just wanted to leave you with some things I've learned during this time of walking where we had to live by faith alone:
-Prayer works. Prayer is the work. Prayer changes you. Prayer changes others. Don't stop praying. Pray hard. Pray long. Pray all day. Write down those prayers so that you can hold them up as a remembrance of what God has done. Share those prayers with others so they can see what God has done. (Oh, how I cannot wait to share our amazing prayer story with you!)
-Remember: BUT GOD. Things may seem impossible, BUT GOD. Things may seem hopeless, BUT GOD. Life may seem over, BUT GOD.
-Let others in. We were not made to live this life alone. I know that it's hard to admit that you need help, but DO IT! Some days you just have to be honest and say, "I just can't do this today." Call a friend. Send a text. Drop an email. Ask for prayer. Get someone to take the kids. It will bless you, bless others, and all of you will grow in Christ if you will let others serve you in your time of need.
-Sometimes God answers our prayers in the craziest of ways (in our eyes), but His answers are perfect. For over a year now my heart has been restless, aching for more of God, a stronger faith, and a closer walk. Boy, did God answer that prayer! I wanted it answered with a trip to serve orphans in South Africa, He answered it right in my own home.
-Cry. It's good for you. But, cry out to God. Be honest with Him. Tell Him what you are really thinking and feeling (He already knows, anyway, so way lie!?) Get real with God and I promise you'll be amazed with how much He will work in your heart and life to draw you closer to Him.
-When we let Him "pry our fingers from the earthly" (totally words from another awesome Christy Nockels song), He will fill our hands with things that are so much better: His hope, His peace, His mercy, His compassion, His grace, His rest, His love.
-If you're still breathing, He's not finished with you, yet! He who began a good work in you will carry it out to completion. Hallelujah!