Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Softened Hearts Equal Sweet Times

Today I have a story to tell.  It is a long story of a specific time in our lives when God showed himself ever so faithful.  A time when He showed us that if we soften our hearts and follow Him great blessings will come.  It is the story of how we have come to this very day, really.  How God has worked in our lives over the last three years. 

And so it begins. . . .

Around this time of year, three years ago in Birmingham, Alabama lived our happy little family.  We lived a comfortable life there in a modest home.  Big Daddy had a job that provided well for our family and I had a job that allowed me to be home with our kiddos.  I also had some amazing friends at work.  One special friend was a true sister in Christ that God had provided at a time when I needed her the most.  So, our life there was not without blessings and was not uncomfortable but we did long for home. 

We had lived in Alabama for almost four years and we wanted so badly to see our family more often and have the grandparents more present in our lives.  We had been praying for God to return us home to Texas before our oldest began kindergarten.  In fact, I prayed daily, each morning while walking for God to return us home.  I had prayed this prayer for so long in fact, (at least a year) that at one time while walking I felt a powerful shift in my heart and God saying, "I will return you home when it is time.  I know when it is time.  And when it is time, it will be in an amazing way that you will not expect." 

After hearing this, when I prayed about moving back home I would get that same overwhelming feeling that our return home would be unexpected.  The job for my husband would be one that we would not have ever thought of and it would be quick.  I found great comfort in this and my waiting was not as tortuous as before.  But I did still feel unsettled.  I have talked to other believers who have said that God has given them a time of intense unrest before making big changes in their lives as well.  Maybe you have  had that experience as well. 

So fast forward to a day that December 2009.  I do not remember why that particular morning had been so stressful.  Maybe because it was the holiday season and the fact that we could not travel home due to my hubby's work commitments, maybe just the fact that we had two kids under the age of 4 that we cared for daily.  I don't remember.  But what I do remember is falling onto my knees in my bedroom floor and crying out to God.   I said something like, "God, I cannot do this anymore!  I am tired.  I am homesick.  I am lonely.  I can't go on!  Please, help me, today."  Then, I pulled myself together.  Got dressed for work, fed my crew breakfast and headed out the door. 

Later that morning, I was in my classroom and I got a text message from my husband with a job posting in his hometown.  At a place that truly was never on our radar. We never imagined we could move back to his hometown.  We did not think the job market there would have anything for us.  We had  hoped we could get into Texas again but thought it would be in a major city like Houston, Dallas, Austin or San Antonio.  I remember feeling warmth as I replied, "Yes, Lord, hear our prayer."  Then told him to go for it.  Feeling that it was the answer to many prayers we had prayed.  I mean just that morning I had cried out to my Lord. 

The next few weeks were a whirlwind of time as he applied for, interviewed for and accepted the job.  It was a crazy time filled with anticipation, hope for the future and nervous anxiety as we thought over the selling of our house in a down market and the fact that the new job would be a significant cut in pay but carried great benefits.  We also wrestled with the fact that we would have only one car as his current car was a company car and we had sold his old truck when we moved to Bama four years earlier.  We did not have the money to buy another vehicle and were worried we would drain what small bit we did have in savings trying to make the move on his new salary.  In many ways, we felt like David facing Goliath.  Saying yes to this move at this time made no logical or financial sense.  Every business man and Dave Ramsey follower would have said don't do this.  And several friends and family members asked very pointed questions about our decisions.  Yet, through every obstacle God was there continuing to whisper, "I will provide.  Trust in me.  Move forward."  I felt Him daily saying, "This is what I want for you." 

Enter my mother and her idea for us to live in an RV in the pasture behind her and my step-father's house during this transition time. I'm certain her idea was two fold: to help us and to get us right in her backyard. We were not thrilled with the idea that at this point in our lives that we would need to rely on our parents. We were independent parents with two children of our own and were not prepared to humble ourselves to accept the offer. We prayed about it and God continued to move. 

It is funny how God's plan for our lives is so much better than the plans we make in our own head.  For the next six months we lived in that RV.  Those six months were truly a sweet time of family togetherness, probably due to the fact that we were SO close together and due to the fact that we did not have any worldly items to distract us from each other.  We had packed a few of the kids toys to bring along but due to limited space they did not have much to play with.  The lack of stuff was such a blessing as we spent many hours talking, playing, riding around the pasture, feeding cows and tinkering with little things.  Every evening we would load up on the Rhino and ride through the pasture and watch the sun set.  The kitchen in the RV was so small that we cooked most of our meals at my mother's.  We ate a lot of meals with her, my brother and step-father during that time and shared a lot of stories and laughs.

 It was a sweet time made even sweeter now by her passing.  It was God's plan for her and for me.  It was a time of healing of our relationship and a time of closeness like never before.  It was a time for memories.  Lots and lots of memories. 

Things could have gone so differently.  If God had not crippled us financially to the point of needing to stay there.  Truly, I could have jumped into a full-time job.  The kids could have gone to daycare and we could have worked ourselves sick and crazy to pay for a rental but this option was so much better.  Had we chosen the work/daycare option we would not have spent every waking day with my mother.  Our kiddos would not have the treasured memories of their ShaSha and I would not have her smile so implanted in my mind.  I would not have her laugh so fresh in my ears.  I would not have the pictures of her snuggling my sweet boy or the picture of her flying through the pasture on the Rhino with both kids and Evie dog riding along side her. 

And I think back to it all and the fact that certainly, we chose, but God had already chosen this path for us.  It was hard to humble ourselves to say yes to the path he chose.  This is what He wanted for us. It was hard to have some of our comforts taken from us for that time.  Yet as I type this I realize it was also SO easy.  It was easy to say yes to what God had provided.  Once we softened our hearts to listen, we heard so often, "this is what I have provided, take it."  And why shouldn't we.  Why wouldn't He provide what was good. And why would we say no to His goodness because it was not what we thought we should get.  Had we said no we would have missed it all.  We would have missed the last three years with my mother.  We would have missed the gift He wanted to give us.  The time.  The memories.  The life. 

There is so much more to this story.  So much more in all the details that God worked out.  Each day He set out our path and more of the picture came into frame.  Maybe I will share more.  I have always wanted to write down the way that he had worked during that time in our lives.  It was so amazing and I have wanted to share it for a while.  The morning after my mother died I woke and it all hit me like a ton of bricks.  I had already come to appreciate the six months we lived in that RV in the pasture for many reasons but none of them did I appreciate like the one reason that mattered most; God gave me my mama almost daily for six whole months.  Her spunk and joy were are mine!

1 comment:

  1. Crystal,

    Thanks for sharing. As a friend that got to witness a lot of this, from the outside looking in, it's a pleasure to see it laid out in it entirety and to get a glimpse of how special it was to you, Brandon and the kids. The blog looks good! Hope to see you guys soon!