Tuesday, September 10, 2013

What happened this summer...in our hearts

The Lord has been so gracious to us this summer.  Last year was really a year of trial and error.  We enrolled the kids at a classical, Christian school an hour away from the farm.  And I went back to teaching, after being at home with the children full-time for 12 years.  It was an amazing, busy, stretching, and at times, difficult year.  But in the end, we knew we had made a good and right decision for our family.

The hardest thing about last year was the commute.  We are up at 5:00 and out the door with the kids by 6:15.  The children really could not be involved in much after school because we had the hour drive back home.  Once we realized that his learning community was excellent for our family and we were committed to it, I began to ask Andy to consider moving closer.  The children were missing so many aspects of school life.  We couldn't go to football games or many birthday parties.  The children were not asked over for play dates.  And Jackson couldn't be involved in many school activities because we had to make the long trip home.  There was very little free time and that was hard.

As we began to discuss and I began to pray, God provided an opportunity for us to live in this house.  It was financially a God-send.  We are currently renting this house for truly next to nothing.  And it is a very nice, roomy house.  We are on top of a mountain with trees surrounding our house.  I am on pins and needles waiting for fall to come so that I can see this yard in all of its glory.  I know it will be amazing.  We are about 20 minutes from school.  The boys each have a best friend within a few minutes from our house.  And Lydia Joy, well she has friends in abundance.

Love this baby girl!
Because of our location, the kids get to each be involved in two extra-curricular activities.  Our Jackson has finally found a sport that he seems to enjoy, cross-country.  And he is auditioning for the school play on Saturday.  Joshua has chosen piano and basketball this year, just like last year.  And Lydie is enrolled in gymnastics at a wonderful gym with friends from school, as well as on a soccer team.  They are going to have so much fun this year!  Another wonderful opportunity we have here is for Jackson to be involved in youth group with his friends.  I know that will be a blessing for him this year and in the years to come!

The children have been to play dates, sleepovers, football games, and birthday parties already.  We spent the last weeks of summer swimming with friends.  They have had birthday parties here at our new house, along with back-to-school parties.  Oh, we have enjoyed living here more than I could have imagined! 

Lydie's class has recess with my class this year!  I snapped this photo of her and her little friend.
It has been a wonderful blessing.  Just before we moved I began to doubt if I could go through with it.  It has been terribly difficult for Andy and I during the months before the move.  We have struggled through the reasons behind God's leading in our life.  We have asked God to give us the same hearts' desires, but he did not.  It seems like the past two years we have desired the exact opposite for our family.  Not feeling the same on so many issues has been so very difficult and I have often felt overwhelmed with sadness.  We have always agreed on every major decision, with unified desires, until it came to moving to the farm.  So it has been really hard to discern God's will.  One Sunday, just before we moved, even though I was so relieved to be moving from the rural area where we lived, I began to question it all.  Even though Andy was willing to move away from the farm, I knew he was disappointed and it was breaking my heart.  I was praying at church, and I felt like the Lord was telling me that the move away from the farm was right, and to let Andy make the sacrifice.  Honestly, the first two weeks after the move I think there was a real spiritual war going on in Andy's heart.  In fact, I packed almost every box, painted the new house myself, and unpacked all the boxes.  I just couldn't handle asking him to help me with this move.  There were days when I think he wanted to go back to the farm and leave us here.  I know he wouldn't do that, but I could tell he wanted to.  I just kept praying and asking God to draw us close together.  But at first, he just seemed angry and distant.  And I completely understand how he was feeling.  But there was nothing I could do but pray.

As the weeks passed, God softened his heart.  He told me one day that he was so thankful to be living here in the town where I grew up.  He said it was a great town and it felt like home!  I think the distance allowed him to see just how strange and isolated the town is where we have the farm.  He began to be able to joke about it and understand my point of view.  God began to give him more experiences to spend time with the people we know and love as we visited churches and went to more social outings together.  He began to see why this community is so special to the kids and me.  I think he will have some deep friendships here before long.  Andy went to pick up Jackson from football games and dances, cross country practices and birthday parties, and he began to see how special these times were for making memories and forging friendships.  And slowly, I think we have finally come to a place where our desires are for the same things again.  I think we are both committed to this school, city, and community.  There are no words for the amount of praise and tears I have shed over the work that God has done after a long, hard 2 years.  I love my husband and want him to experience every good thing.  It has been so difficult to not have the same vision.  Even though we have both been committed one another and to obedience to Jesus, there has been a rift.  And I am thankful that we came through that season, not without sin completely, but having seen the Lord's faithfulness and steadfast love for us.  And our love for one another abounds, because of Him.  I am so thankful that our marriage is not just about a relationship with each other, but it's tightly woven into our relationship with Christ- with that strong cord often holding together what might have otherwise unraveled.  He is faithful!

Sweet friends at Josh's party!
A few weeks ago Andy came home from the farm and said he has decided to sell the majority of the farm.  He wants to keep a portion of it for our family.  But he will sell most of it and he will not be farming any more.  There were several reasons that he made such a decision.  The main one is that his back has been a daily source of pain, anguish really, and farming is just not possible for him.  This sweet man is in pain 100% of the time.  His surgery in December went well.  The x-rays look like he is healing perfectly.  But the pain is excruciating, often running into his hips and legs.  He has a doctor's appointment tomorrow to get a CAT scan.  We are praying for answers.  But either way, farming is just not the type of work he can continue.  I think six months ago he simply would not have been able to surrender the farm.  But the Lord has been gracious to slowly transition him away from it, and Andy has been able to step back and see that it is not going to be able to work.  He is still sad, but also he is at peace and hopeful.  God has already dropped an opportunity for him into his lap, as he always has when Andy was looking for a new job.  He has an interview next week.  The farm went on the market last week.  Things are moving along.

Lydie cheering at an Auburn game.  Love those last minute trips to our alma mater!
So here we are.  Just waiting on the Lord and looking forward to all that he has for us up ahead.  I am in charge of the faculty prayer meeting this year.  And on Monday I read an excerpt from one of Spurgeon's sermons and wept like a baby.  It spoke of the Lord's kindness in having a personal relationship with us...inclining his ear towards us, knowing the amount of hairs on our heads, ordering our steps.  Psalm 40 says he "thinks of us".  We are on his heart and mind always.  He inhabits our praises.  And the JOY of knowing that he walks with me and guides me in such a personal way was just more than I could contain! 

Lydie at junior cheer camp with a few of the JV cheerleaders.  What a fun day!
Today I feel closer to my husband than I have in a long while.  We have not have been like-minded these past two years.  But we have sacrificed for one another, loved one another in spite of obvious differences, and held tight to one another when things were extremely difficult.  It has made me so thankful for my husband's faithfulness.  This depth of love can not be found without trials and hardships.  So praise God for all that he has ordained for us, even those rough times.  We are looking forward, in expectation.  We are loving this town, the place where I grew up.  We are loving our school community and being right close to all of our family.  We are loving having a Target down the street again. (Ha!)  We are loving this lavish, three-story brick home that gives us so much space and such beautiful views.  And I am overwhelmed with love for these sweet people that I get to walk through each day with, along with my precious Lord who never leaves me or forsakes me.  What an adventure!

Jack sporting the bow tie just for a fun change. :)
"For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him." II Chronicles 16:9 
Flowers that Andy sent me to school last week.  Sweet, sweet.

1 comment:

Bloom Where You Are Planted said...

Precious friend. Wow.

Reading this story -- God's story -- woven through the past few years of your lives reminds me so much of Psalms written by David. Pain, yes, but God's faithfulness and goodness is so clear as you recount this time -- you indeed praise Him and give Him all the glory.

You have been so much on my heart over the past few weeks. And now, after reading this, I can truly see why.

C decided over the summer that it was time to leave his job. He felt the Lord lead to go to a different company (Faith based). We have been truly excited together about this new opportunity but that's where the unity of excitement stops.

He started on Friday...with a 4 hour commute (round trip). We have decided to be creative about this school year so the boys don't have to move once they just started. With the commute, however, it looks like a move is only a matter of time.

I will be honest, I am not super excited about another move. I love where we live. I love our church, the boys' school, our neighborhood -- our life here in the breathtaking foothills of the mountains.

C is really looking forward to relocating to his new work.

It helps that the little town looks like it's right out of a magazine -- charming beyond words -- but I also know the loneliness of starting over and not knowing a soul and being far from family is hard to swallow. As you know, we've been there and done that.

Reading this sweet and amazing account of God's faithfulness with your family and marriage is truly something that I will tuck in my heart and pull out when I feel discouraged about being on a different page as C and also facing the unknown.

Thank you for pointing once again to God's mercy and grace. Well done, good and faithful servant.

Hang in there, dear friend. Sending much love to you. :)