Sometimes the situations we need to experience to bring us closer to Christ are painful.
I have to say, I was not sorry to see 2011 go. The year seemed full of struggles, predominately financial. Josh and I no longer had the security of knowing payday would bring enough money to meet bills and give us the ability to buy food. The pressing weight of financial need is heavy and sometimes all-consuming. Recently I have been challenged to look past it's burden to reflect on what great things God has done for me in 2011, despite the struggles.
For one, he gave us a bigger house to live in (with a pool, how cool is that?!). In 2010 after welcoming our first child into the world, our teeny tiny house became a whole lot teenier and a whole lot tinier. There were many times throughout my pregnancy where we thought we had something worked out, buying a house here or finding a great place to rent there. Every situation ended in disappointment and left me in tears feeling crushed and defeated. Out of no where in February of 2011 we inquired about the house our pastor was moving out of and the next thing we knew, we were moving. All those months of trying, and suddenly God dropped the blessing on our lap.
Second, God did a work in our marriage. Something about year five of marriage...it was a rough one! It felt like our make or break moment...the year where we decide we are either going to die to ourselves and live as one, or let our marriage die instead. With the work of the Holy Spirit in our hearts, the help of some godly resources, and prayer and support from some people who love us our marriage was totally transformed. It felt as though we fell in love almost for the first time. I can honestly say there is nothing I desire more than to spend the rest of my life with Josh. And though I know we are not perfect and we will weather the ebb and flow of life and some days we like each other more than other days, we are united. Josh, you are my best friend and I thank God for you.
Third, God released me from my job. I have shared on my blog before what a struggle it was to work full time. I felt like I was missing out on my calling as a mother and a wife. Waiting patiently for the Lord to move in our circumstances was all that I could do. And after what felt like forever, God brought a very unique opportunity for me to do something else that I love and that allows me to be a mom. In August I began working as the Youth Director at Zion Church. It wasn't necessarily an easy decision, as it meant losing over 50% of my salary at a time when we were already struggling financially. In fact, it didn't make any sense. But God doesn't always make sense, and we covered the decision in prayer. I can confidently say that I had a moment of clarification where I felt the Holy Spirit giving me peace of mind that we were doing the right thing. And the moment I accepted the position, I felt as if I stepped into a calling that I never knew I had. I cannot regret the decision.
Fourth, we found out we are having another baby. On November 8, 2011, two years to the day that we found out we were pregnant with Jezze, we got the news. Though it mostly just felt like I had the flu for awhile, the miracle of life is truly amazing. As I now begin to feel the early movements of that life inside me, I feel so blessed to have the opportunity to be a mother again and look forward with excitement and anticipation to July 5 when we are to meet this new baby.
I don't think it is wrong to want financial security. To know that we will be able pay our rent, put gas in our car so we can get to work, go to the grocery store and buy stuff for tacos if that's what we are hungry for. We don't have the security of knowing any of those things right now. I have to laugh at thinking of Josh and me digging through our jeep looking for enough coins to get one gallon of gas to hopefully make it to church! (Note: We did make it that day, praise God!). I've been putting off blogging for a long time thinking I will wait to post something AFTER God brings us through all this. I thought that is where the blessing would be found, in the resolution of the situation. In the ending of the pain. But I am learning that God has been blessing us all along. I just couldn't see it because I was too focused on the circumstances.
The last blessings I would like to share have come at different times all along the way from different people. We have been needy, and that is a humbling place to be. Though most of the time there has been a heavy sense of not having enough, when I really look at our situation I see that God has been our constant provision. Through the generosity of others he continues to meet our needs. Here is what I can remember...one time we got an unmarked envelope on our doorstep with $400 in it. At the time weren't sure how we were going to pay our rent. Another month our landlords notified us that someone anonymously paid our rent for us. Once we received $1,000 from a family friend that again paid rent, health insurance, etc. Countless times family brought groceries, or left $10 or $20 that we'd find around the house. A dear friend that works at a local agency would occasionally bring surplus food-fresh spinach, boxes of yogurt, bananas, etc. Just this past month on the very day we were going to have to call our landlords to let them know we didn't have money for rent we received a Christmas card from dear friends with $500 in it. I had just prayed a few days prior to this that God would show me that he hadn't forgotten us.
Sometimes the situations we need to experience to bring us closer to Christ are painful. I have spent too much time resenting the pain and the circumstances we are in. God has convicted me to let go of my mistrust and to see His glory at work in my life. And I do see. And I do trust. And I am clinging to the promises of God that He will never leave me (Hebrews 13:5), that He is constantly concerned for me (1 Peter 5:7), and that He is working in these circumstances to make me more like Christ (Romans 8:28-29). And as our pastor recently said, what a blessing it is to be poor and to see the constant work of Christ in our life. Though I look forward with anticipation when we can be the on the giving end of generosity rather than the receiving end, it is a blessing to be living on miracles.
Praise be to God!