Throughout my life, I’ve experienced God’s kindness.
- Parents– I was raised by a dad and mom who knew God and taught me about Him, did the best they could with what they had, loved me well, and entrusted me to the big God that they themselves trusted.
- Teaching– teachers and professors who taught me to speak, think, analyze, and learn. A pastor in young adult years taught me by the Scriptures, and by the example of His life. Godly couples and individuals have mentored us along the way.
- The husband I have– By God’s mercy, He gave me a man who had a heart for Him. The first clear memory I have of Doug is him sitting on a bench, memorizing Scripture. And He’s still like that– growing in quiet, deliberate ways, except now He does it with 10 other people in tow 🙂 (me and our 9 kiddos).
- The children we have– ages 17 & 1/2, down to 18 months… 8 boys & 1 girl… they bless me with their affection and forgiveness, push me to my limits, cause me to seek the Lord for wisdom and grace, and are becoming dear co-travelers on this path toward Heaven.
- The sufferings of our lives– death of a parent, unexplained sickness, job loss, miscarriages, medical emergencies, the loss of people we love, disappointment in people we’ve looked up to, and lies spoken– all these (and more) have driven us deeper into seeing and understanding the mercies of our kind Father. Through sorrows, God cares for us, uses them to make us more like Jesus, and is– even in all these things– working good.
- And –oh my!!– we’ve seen the world together. The Ozarks, DC, Xinjiang, Thailand, Hong Kong, Turkey, Egypt, Maine, the beautiful Pacific Northwest, and a lot of National Parks. Phew! That list makes me tired. And now we’re back to living in North Texas. God’s creation is magnificent, and the diversity among the humans He’s created is stunning– we know these things full well.
But the biggest thing we’ve seen, again and again, is God’s kindness.
God’s kindness has, perhaps, been most stunning this last year– which was, for us, a Year of Survival. After a long season of prayerful perseverance through difficulties, and a few very painful disappointments, it was clear to us both that that season was done.
2019 was, mostly, the Year of Survival Mode.
Many years ago, a friend gave me a mild rebuke for not writing much when I’m in survival mode. She thought it would be good for me, and others, for me to write and share when I’m in that vulnerable place of uncertainty, numbness, and pain. And I do write, some… but most of my writing about survival mode is done in hindsight.
When in survival mode, there’s not much, if any, margin, for evaluation and writing, because almost all the energy goes to simple survival.
In 2019, survival looked like:
- Getting word that the job that seemed like a done deal, could not be funded.
- Seeking counsel & deciding about next steps.
- Packing stuff into two categories: short-term, and long-term.
- Saying goodbye to so very many dear friends.
- Sharing a fridge, then multiple large coolers when that fridge went out, then a 2nd fridge 🙂 with our very-gracious friends who had invited us to live with them.
- Living out of suitcases and tubs for 5 months with all our short-term stuff.
- Making flexible meal plans.
- Seeking more wise counsel as we made more difficult decisions.
- Keeping kids going with everyday things like naps and snuggles and learning to read and spankings and cars and phones and baths and potty training and schooling decisions and life decisions.
- Following job leads as God brought them to our attention.
- Making time with extended family when we could.
- Learning the ropes of a new job.
- Moving in & unpacking the long-term stuff that had been packed so long we forgot we had some of it.
It is easy, when in survival mode, to miss the beauty of the place where you are surviving.
Maybe because your head is down. Maybe because the last place was so beautiful and you’re grumpily refusing to look. Maybe because the tears make it all blurry. Maybe because it’s all you can do to just get through it.
But looking back on our survival year, 2019, when our lives took a turn we did not expect, God showed Himself utterly generous.
God gave us:
- friends who shared 4 bedrooms and 3 bathrooms of their home with our very-large, very-boy-heavy brood.
- SO MUCH sunshine
- extended family (on both sides of our family) nearby
- a pool to enjoy (at our friends’ house)
- a job for my husband and oldest sons almost immediately after we moved
- a pastor and church family during our first few months of transition, that faithfully preached about the BIG God of the Bible & encouraged our hearts again and again with the Gospel
- fun memories with our kids
- wise counselors that helped us step carefully and prayerfully through very painful & complex circumstances
- new times of making memories with old friends
- job offers out of nowhere that completely supplied our needs
- a fun life of ministry that includes our whole family at a Christian camp
- a home where we are surrounded by trees, vivid sunsets, wheaten fields, bright stars, and fresh air.
God supplied and provided for all of our needs, plopping us down in the exact right place that we never could have chosen for ourselves, cause we didn’t even know about it!
He has even graciously given a great many things that are beyond needs. A few random evidences of God’s lavish kindness to us:
- A barnyard where we’ve gotten to watch tiny furball chicks become a rainbow of fluffy-bottomed egg-laying lovelies.
- A church family we’ve joined where we’ve been able to be Nobodies. Nobodies who have been lovingly welcomed in, built up in the Word, given room to cry, and worship, and encouraged to keep hoping in God.
- When we lived in the PNW, we used to drive 60-75 minutes each way to participate in a weekly homeschool speech & debate club. God moved us to a rural town in Texas where a speech & debate club with the same organization is only 13 minutes from our house! And with a scholarship to participate this year, our older kids have had a wonderful source of “constant” during a year of change.
Now that I look back, it’s hitting me:
Our Year of Survival was actually a Year of Kindness.
As I look around now, and let my eyes linger, my heart echoes the Psalmist:
“The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.” ~Psalm 16:6
I’ve long marveled at the ways God writes His adventures. He fills His stories (our lives!) with twists and turns that we could not plan and do not expect. And I’ve long told myself that His adventures are the best adventures. But this last year I struggled to see the good in the chapter He was writing. It was a year that twisted in ways I did not foresee and would not have chosen.
But I am learning to be thankful for it, and tonight I am thankful to be in a place where I have *just* enough margin to pause and assess all that God has done.
For He has done much. That doesn’t mean it hasn’t been excruciating. But when I look in the rearview mirror, I can see God’s kindness. Though it has been very painful, it has also been very good. I praise God for His kindness, and wanted to share these things with any and all who care to read it.
Grace & Peace,
- LIMBO ISN’T LIMBO (April 2019)
- GOD IS GOODER THAN THE HARD (May 2019)
- 5 Thoughts Before I’m 40 + A Life Update (October 2019)