Saturday, August 29, 2015

Beginnings are usually scary... and other thoughts on moving.

I took this photograph of my daughter, against her will, as she sat on the steps of what would become our new home on the first day we viewed it.  

The offer on our former home had come in unexpectedly, just days after we had been discussing pulling it from the market and staying put a while longer.  

We had stopped looking at other homes, knowing what we needed/desired in terms of space and location and just trusting that when/if our house sold,  there would be a place for us - and a clear path to it.  

And as it turns out, that's exactly what happened.  

But it still feels incredibly scary - and leaving feels incredibly sad. 

"I feel like I grew up in this house," she says.  

Yes, but you still have a lot of growing to do.  

We are only moving a few miles away, but it may as well be a few hundred.  

A blogger I follow is also moving from a home she loves and she took the words right out of my fingertips when she wrote:
"Even though I know I will miss this home we currently live in, I’m preparing my heart to be open to adventure and creating a new place to call home.
I keep daydreaming about how it will feel to start over again, for the right reasons, and make someone else’s house into our home. It’s really a mix of feeling hopeful, fearful, sad, excited, while feeling kind of tired but strangely invigorated to move and start over again."
All of those feelings tossing and tumbling about in your heart.  For me, they come pouring out in words.  But when you're 11, they come pouring out in tears and our daughter wept as we walked through our new home with the realtor. 

By that evening, she was more optimistic - drawing sketches of a mural she wants to put on the wall of her new room. 

I was reminded of a conversation we had a few years ago, during the time that Chris & I were divorced.  I sat on the edge of her bed, recounting the move we made when I was ten.  My mom had remarried and we moved from a cute little house on cul-de-sac to a log cabin in {what felt like} the middle of nowhere.  It was traumatic.  In the span of a couple of years, I had a new father figure, a new house, a new school...   I don't remember much of the actual move or the time leading up to the move other than it happening and dread and fear associated with it all, knawing at the edges of my stomach.   

As I'm retelling this all to my own daughter, I begin to remember what I felt inside during that time in my life:  Loss.  Sadness.  Fear.  Confusion.  Anger.  Oh, the unfairness of it all!   Why didn't my parents ever think about what was best for me?  Why didn't they think of me at all?  Trying not to delve too much into the misery of it all, I reassure her that, "Oh, it turned out alright... eventually." I went to the new school, made new friends, tolerated life in a cabin.  I grew up to have life-long friendships and a nostalgic love for the cabin where our family spends all of our holidays. 

"But, Chloe, that's not the best part", I had told her, "all the while, God was moving all those pieces and people and things together for my good, and for His glory, to give me a perfect gift that was better than anything I could've dreamt!"  Her big brown eyes open even wider and she looks into mine, "Ooh, what was it?" she asked, very seriously.

"You," I answer, "it was you."  

"Because, you see Chloe, if Nana had never remarried and if together they hadn't had a dream of a cabin in the woods, we would have never moved into that home and I would have never went to that school and that school is where I met your daddy.  Through all of those years, God was planning and orchestrating to bring you into this world - and I never even knew it." 

Nearly thirty years later, I can see so clearly His hand moving through every moment.  Every disappointment.  Every failure.  Every heartache.  He was working in all things, in every year of my childhood, and of my life.

I realized that what I had just spoken to her was the same thing God was speaking to me.  During the darkest seasons of our life, in the midst of chaos, confusion, despair - He is there - and He is working all things together.

Thinking about that night, that conversation, who could've known that even in that moment, God was already working to restore our marriage and our family.  I had prayed for it, yes.  But sitting here, in the reality of it all these years later sometimes takes my breath away.

And it reminds me of that cheesy, super-quotable quote from Hope Floats - that yes, beginnings are scary and endings are sad, but if you give hope a chance...

And our hope is not a feeling, our hope isn't found in self-derived optimism, but in our selfless Savior.

He alone is our hope.

"We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure." ~ Hebrews 6:19 

And because of Him,  I have this hope - that someday, my daughter will recount her own stories of His faithfulness to her children.  That, Lord willing, thirty years from now -she will talk about even this move of just a few miles and see God's hand in it and say, "Look what He has done".  That she will read these words, and see that photograph and remember those feelings - and know in her heart, God was moving all those feelings, and all those pieces of our lives together for her good - and for His glory.  

"For I know the plans I have for you,” 
declares the LORD, 
“plans to prosper you and not to harm you, 
plans to give you hope and a future." 
- Jeremiah 29:11

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Every little thing ...

Written: July 2015 - St. George Island

I couldn't sleep last night.  I tossed and turned and did the worst possible thing: I reached for my phone and scrolled through my social media feeds.

Yesterday repeated like a montage from a film:  images from the beautiful birth of my baby nephew, above haunting images from the tragedy in Chattanooga.  The feed becomes fragments amidst a sea of the chaos that comprise all of this life, of beauty and pain, happiness and sorrow, trivial and tragic. 

I see the prosperity memes shared about God's favor and blessing, right above images of the starving children in the Sudan.  

I cannot accept something as truth for myself if not also true for them. 

lay awake trying to reconcile my faith - and the weight of my feelings of gratitude for my life in that moment against the guilt, against the helplessness, against the reality that the worst thing that had happened in my life yesterday was that I had broken the perfect little sand dollar my son found for me on the beach.  

In those moments, it's as though I can literally feel the planet spinning on its axis too fast, out of control, chaotic, ushering in a crisis of faith all over again. 

"I want to believe.  Help my unbelief" (Mark 9:24).  

I turn the screen off and close my eyes.  

This morning, I stood on the ocean's edge.  The place where I feel so small, where He feels so big and the earth, as far as my eyes can see stands still, and beautiful, and peaceful.  

It is a glimpse of eternity.  The place where every tragedy and atrocity will become untrue; where He will wipe away every tear.  

I used to think I loved the beach for entirely different reasons.  And perhaps, in the naiveté of my youth I did... But I love it here because I can see Him so clearly here, away from the chaos that is our world, away from the distractions that fill my life.

I sat out on the porch overlooking the ocean with my 9 year old son who was humming and singing the lyrics to Bob Marley's every little thing.  

Can we listen to the song he asked. 

I played it on my phone and we smiled and sang along.  

And the world stood still.  

And the spirit nudged me in that moment, whispering as it always does, the truth of His word.  

"It's true you know", I tell him.  Scripture tells us countless times not to worry, not to fear...

And that yes, in the end, every little thing is gonna be alright.

Every. little. thing.

Every big thing, too.

Every sad thing will become untrue (Tolkien).  

And when the world is spinning out of control, we have the immovable word of an unchanging God.  In the midst of the crashing waves, an anchor for our souls.

Who was.  Who is.  Who is to come.  

And I want to hold fast to this moment, on this porch, filled with peace and joy and happiness.  

But this, too, shall pass.

And God willing, my son will grow up and I will grow old and together, we will face the hardships and heartaches that this life will inevitably bring.

But we will face the joys and the triumphs, too.  We will share these moments of joy and peace and contentment, tucked away in these corners far from the chaos of the world and we will know, yes, that in the end...

Every little thing is gonna be alright.

"In this world, you will have trouble.  But take heart, I have overcome the world." ~  Jesus (John 16:33)

"When we've been there ten thousand years
bright shining as the sun
we've no less days to sing God's praise
than when we first begun."