Heavenward Praises for an Earthly Home

EarthlyHomeMy husband lost his job at our home church, last November. He applied for a number of positions, mostly in TX, and one in WA. It was, and is, one of the more difficult seasons of life that we’ve walked through. Months of hanging on to the Lord in what felt like a swirling vortex.

It was rough. And God was good.

The church in WA (that ultimately hired Doug) flew us up for a ten-day interview/”trial” period, so that we could get to know the church and they could get to know us, and all of us could be much more clear (at the end of that time) on who/what we were getting into, before we or they “committed.” I loved the approach– so different from what I’ve often seen in pastoral search situations: a whirlwind weekend of flurried activities & little-to-none authentic relational connection.

After we came back, we had to pack up our house while waiting to hear back about whether or not he’d be offered the position. Either way, whether we got the offer or not, we knew we’d have to move (either to WA, or to a downsized place in Dallas).

To be honest, I had mixed feelings.

I loved that house— near family, useful to the Body, with so much built-in fun for us as a family. It was such a perfect expression of God’s grace toward us.

I’ve shared before how I think feelings about earthly homes translate to what our longing for and joy in Heaven should be like.

Let me share with you the first prayer written in my journal, after our return to TX after that 10-day interview process (and parts of it are just my raw heart but I want you to see the truth about where I was, and not mask the ugly parts). I forced my hand to begin listing out thanks when I really wanted to grump & throw a fit:

“Father, I am still such an easily-angered, headachy mess. Thank You for this house.

  • all 4 bedrooms
  • all 3 bathrooms
  • the office
  • the sunroom
  • the large living & dining areas
  • the beautiful kitchen with the corner window box
  • the large laundry room
  • his & hers closets
  • the pool & cabana area– pleasant in all seasons (even in the winter sun!)
  • the yard & firepit– the tire swing Doug built and the jungle gym that was Mike’s [Doug’s dad]
  • the workshop where so much fun has been had & the chicken coop built
  • the “junkyard” where the chickens have resided
  • the attic that has held our children’s clothes
  • the care groups we’ve hosted
  • the friends who’ve come to swim
  • the football games enjoyed in the front yard
  • the kids’ enjoyment of the yard, the fort with the spiral stairs, the junkyard, the “secret”-cut-through behind the fence
  • the front garden beds

There is so much I love about this home. I trust You. I *know* You know best. You’ve given us everything good– always what is best for every season.

You are good & I trust You. I trust You to give us the best WA home– and that ultimately in Heaven I will be delighted by You alone,
— having been stripped of earthly idols.

I feel Your stripping away now- of the idols & earthly ties. And I need it and value it, even though it is immensely painful.”

God is so good to strip away the cravings of our flesh & our love for earthly things— even when they are pried from our grasp, or it feels like the rug has been pulled out from under us. His heart for us is GOOD, and we can rest in that, even when everything else is swirling & uncertain.

One of the things I have prayed for our family and our children is that we would value people over things, and that we would hold our “things” loosely (including homes). So then, I have to welcome even the difficulty of “losing” a house that we loved.

[And with that, permit me a brief rabbit trail: DO I THINK GOD “OWED” US A NICE HOUSE? Not at all. In fact, for the whole time we lived there, even right up to the last moments I spent there, I felt like it was ALL GRACE. I remember my sweet believing friends in Turkmenistan who are under constant threat of persecution. I remember Chinese believers meeting quietly in small apartments and baptizing new believers in tiny tubs in crowded bathrooms. I remember the poor and the rich and the well-provided for and the financially-struggling friends and family members that I’ve had and call to mind that God is good amidst it all.]

He is GOOD IN EVERY circumstance. 

So then, I can praise Him and be content with “much” when He provides it.

WHICH brings me to today.

After about a week here, our realtor drove in front of a beautiful house near the church and said she thought it would be perfect and was about to go on the market. I told her it was excessively out of our price range. So that was that. Or so I thought.

A week later, when we upped our budget by quite a bit (it takes a while to get used to WA prices after being in TX) I asked to see it.

A short walking distance to our church, with a double city lot, it is precious and enjoyable in every way (and more) that I could have asked for. Like each of our previous homes, it is a picture of GRACE. 

We signed the papers for it this last weekend.

God has just done it again. Blown my mind with His goodness and care for us.

He would still be GOOD if she hadn’t accepted our offer. He would still be GOOD if we had ended up in the smaller home a 15-minute-drive away that we thought we’d be getting less than a week before we made an offer on this one. He would still be GOOD if we’d had to pause our house search and ended up renting an apartment. He’d still be GOOD if we had ended up on food stamps in a downsized house in Dallas. He’d still be GOOD if Doug was still looking for work and we were still hanging out on a limb in limbo. He will be GOOD if somehow this contract fails and we don’t get this house.

But today, from my vantage spot– the place where His sovereign hand has brought us– I am utterly overwhelmed by His grace. I want to praise Him for His good gift to us. My praises are flying heavenward for all that He has done to teach me through these (relatively) temporary, earthly homes. My home is in Heaven, and until then, I get to learn about “home” through these earthly provisions He gives.

This weekend, in the midst of Easter thoughts, it was so very clear to me:

God shines brilliant through the muckiest muck. Crucifixion, then Resurrection. What looks bleak is made beautiful in His time.

 

LET ME ENCOURAGE YOU:

  • PRAISE GOD IN THE MIDST OF THE MUCK.-– Force your heart, your lips, and/or your pen to list out the good things of your hard time. I know it’s not easy. OH, I know it. You saw the journal entry– I was migrainey and frustrated and heartbroken. But as I began to list out all of the good things, my heart began changing and praising Him became easier.
  • WHEN YOU ARE HURTING, TAKE HOPE FROM OUR REDEEMING GOD.–  At the Cross, in Jesus, we can find real & lasting hope. What seemed final and senseless– Christ’s DEATH– was redeemed by the Father. Our hope is in the resurrecting God who redeems the things that seems most tragic, most confusing, most hurtful, most jarring. When no man could make good out of a situation, God can.

Image courtesy of: Evgeni Dinev/freedigitalphotos.net

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Jess Connell

Jesus-follower, Happy wife, Mom of 8 neat people. Former world-traveler, now settled in Washington. Host of Mom On Purpose podcast (momonpurpose.com). I write and wrangle kids.

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9 Responses

  1. Madelyn Lang says:

    This brought tears to my eyes. I forget so quickly HOW he loves me (us). Then something like this happens, something on a much smaller scale than a new house, which shows me the quality of his love…boundless, overflowing…He is so HAPPY to love me with no reserve.
    I’m happy for you!

  2. sandra says:

    Hey Jess. What a beautiful post. Let me know where you guys end up in WA. We generally spend a lot of time in ID, WA and OR when we are in the states. hugs.

  3. Jen says:

    I have a deep appreciation for your words here. We have moved so much and trials and tough times just don’t seem to cease long enough for us to settle or take a deep breath. Sometimes putting words to what we have experienced just seems cheap – or at least the words fall short at expressing the deep waters we have been treading. I’ve found myself silent lately. No words. Grateful that Christ knows and understands and that my husband is right here with me experiencing it together. Yes, I wish for friends and someone to spill it all out to but that hasn’t happened yet. Or maybe a few times when I have tried to communicate it kind of feels like I’m surrounded by Job’s friends…either way…it’s tough and lonely and just the present reality right now.

    On the housing front of things we are long term renters. We are 9 years into marriage and have never owned a home. We are beyond weary of dealing with landlords. We’re frustrated with putting up with them! All of what we have experienced though has given me a deeper understanding that ultimately we are all renters and this house (and the string of others behind it) are not our HOME. It isn’t time for us to buy. We are striving towards being debt free and then getting my husband towards seminary or ministry. We hope to rent this current home until at least we are debt-free (another year or so?) and then…I have no idea what comes next. My flesh just wants roots and to settle and to be done with the unknown but I know that Christ is the solid rock and I’m secure regardless of the question marks. So I feel the emotion and the pain and the weariness but I’m also (by grace alone) confident that come what may JESUS IS ENOUGH.

    I’m so glad to hear that a home may be on the horizon for you and that you may be able to settle again. With baby #5 I’m becoming increasingly aware how much it takes to keep things running with a larger family and moving creates an even more interesting dynamic than the usual day to day crazy normal.

  4. Wendy says:

    I praise God for you & Doug & everyone of your precious, cute, cute, cute (oops, I’ll work on that) kids! I am SO excited to see how God will use you to stir us all up to love and good deeds & vice versa! Welcome new friends & FAMILY!

  5. An excellent post. I was able to witness some of your sadness and unsure situation. There were times when we were all in shock, but pressed forward with God’s help.
    I heard something today on the radio that goes right along with this, and it’s really something that just today I heard it. When a ship is at sea and drops it’s anchor, if a storm comes, the ship will always turn and face the storm. There is never a time when the ship turns away from the storm. What a picture that is for us. It’s important for us to face whatever storm comes our way knowing that God is going to guide us, but more important than that, teaches many lessons along the way. I am praising the Lord for the way you let God lead you through the storm.

  6. Catherine says:

    Hey Jess, Hope you guys are getting settled and enjoying the fresh excitement that comes with a new place, new people, new church, etc! I could not agree more that stopping to remove your vexation over whatever the current situation, and refocusing on gratitude to the Lord, is not only reviving, but glorifying to Him. I tell my kids the same thing when they are troubled over something that from my perspective is relatively small. For example, when they don’t get to see a friend they were hoping to visit that day, I ask them to look at the wonderful things they have to be thankful for…their family, their healthy body, their home, the food we ate for breakfast, the list is endless. I share this quote often that one of my kids’ teachers sent home a few years ago:
    “Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.” by Melody Beattle
    I am enjoying your posts. Love you guys!

  7. Miranda says:

    Thank you for sharing…THIS is what I’ve missed about this new space at times – your raw, personal experiences and hearing about your real life walking through things with Jesus. I am spurred on and challenged as I see how you are laying that gospel lens over various areas of life. Appreciate your opening up! Blessings on your new home and ministry!

    • Jess Connell says:

      Thanks for the encouragement, and the feedback, Miranda. I think I’ve been too bone-weary lately, and had gone through so much over the last year, that I couldn’t quite put the fingers to the keyboard about my own hurts aside from the lessons learned. Sometimes the reality of things isn’t something that can be shared at large in such a public spot.

      But I’ll continue writing and I’m sure over time, I’ll return to a good amount of the more raw, from-the-heart posts alongside the devotional types.

  8. Christiaan says:

    Hey Jess, besides your amazing gift with words your true to life honesty and Godly encouragement is truly inspirational. May God continue to bless you and your family.

    A little testimony of my own…

    The house we were renting last year got sold and we where so sad because we really loved living there. Before that in the time living up to that I often prayed, while driving to work past some beautiful pieces of land, that God would someday bless us with a house on a bigger plot. Even if it was a second or third house and small, I would appreciate it to be closer to nature and on a bit of a bigger piece of land. Shortly after the house was sold from under us and we panicked when we realised our budget could only give us a much smaller place somewhere in a townhouse complex. (Enter God’s mighty hand) One morning early while preparing for the day at work I quickly browsed the internet just to see what is available (my wife was doing the house hunting since my workschedule was just insane) the first place that came up was listed the night before, not viewed by anyone else yet, and it was perfect! I emailed the agent (and my wife since she was still sleeping). My wife later phoned the agent. Arranged a viewing the same afternoon and we signed the contract the same day. It was a second (though larger than the main) house on a plot, closer to nature with a lovely view over some open land, with lots of animally noises around. A little piece of heaven, much larger than our previous place and priced a little bit less than what we where paying before. (Almost) unbelievable. God provided even better than what I prayed for! We serve an amazing God! All glory to Him!! Our faith has been stirred and we are now trusting Him to provide the finances for us to be able to move out of debt to a position of overflow so we could maybe actually own our own place and bless others as we are being blessed right now.

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