I remember the day like it was yesterday. Almost fifteen years ago Anthony and I stood before each other in front of our friends and families and said our vows. I smile now as I recall sealing it with a much-anticipated kiss–our very first!
“Where you go, I will go, and where you stay, I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God.” Ruth 1:16
Little did I know then the significance of adding that Scripture to our vows. God, in his infinite wisdom, only gives us the grand plan for our lives one little baby step at a time. Thank goodness! Had I of known back then what was to come, I probably would have chickened out and said, “Thanks, but no thanks. I’m staying put!”
But God… He is so gracious and so patient with us, isn’t He? As I reflect on the last years of my life I can honestly say that with every step, at every turn, with every move (there have been many–across continents and across states), and in every life-changing decision we have had to make, He has stretched and strengthened my faith big time. He has used every situation to show Himself faithful. He has shown me time and time again that He is dependable and trustworthy–no matter how things turn out. With all my heart I can say that my God has never let me down. Not once. That’s not to say that things have always gone my way. On the contrary, things never really seem to go according to my master plan. And it’s probably just as well. My magnificent plans have always ended up a complete disaster. Forget the five-year plan–my God tells me not to worry about tomorrow!
I have a God in whom I can trust. Explicitly.
So in May 2010 we arrived home with our two angelic treasures from Ukraine. I know that many of you have journeyed with me here for a very long time and are familiar with our story. You will remember that Hailee weighed just fifteen pounds at five years of age. She was malnourished, frail, weak, had a hole in her heart, and was painfully tiny. We knew from the outset that, in the condition she was in, she would struggle living at the high altitude where we lived. We were advised to give her the best start possible by bringing her down to sea level. The Lord was good to us. Years earlier, we had bought an investment property and at this stage in our lives, it had just happened to be becoming vacant at that very time.
As any parent in our situation would do, we heeded the advice. Ten days after arriving home, Anthony resigned from his job and ministry base, we packed our Penske rental truck with all our belongings, and we headed down to a lower altitude–with Hailee screaming in the backseat all the way. Fun times.
For Hailee, the move was a huge answer to prayer. As you all know, she has blossomed! Talk about a life transformed. Hailee started gaining weight instantly. She filled out, learned that she was not required to spin around in circles in a tiny space (from living in a crib), stopped biting her fingers until they bled, began to explore her surroundings, and eventually found her walking legs. Today, she is radiant and glowing and it is impossible to keep her still for a second. She is a girl constantly on the move. Hailee is a new creation in every way imaginable. For that we are so, so thankful.
But the journey (any journey) was never meant to be easy, was it?
Anthony and I arrived in this place with big dreams. We longed to settle our family and make this home. We love it here and set out on a mission to see our dreams and desires fulfilled. We had two new angels in our home and all we wanted was to put roots down deep and make this home…forever. We walked through all the doors that had any possibility of opening, giving us a way to settle. We needed to find a way to settle! Each time we tried to move forward we found ourselves stuck–literally unable to move. It soon became clear that the Lord was keeping us in a holding pattern–a time of learning to wait on Him.
God has taught us so many lessons over the past 17 months. The Israelites have been one of our greatest examples. We learned from their experiences that taking matters into our own hands and rushing ahead of the Lord simply was not an option. As the Lord was good to the Israelites by providing the pillar of fire by night and the cloud by day, we knew that He would show us the way too–He always lights our path. We have learned some painful lessons in the past about rushing full steam ahead of the Lord and telling Him to follow us. It simply doesn’t work that way.
“Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him.” Psalm 37:7
We have learned to wait in this season. Sometimes patiently. Sometimes not. Sometimes with contentment. Other times with grumbling and anxiety.
Recently, through a series of many events, wise counsel from those we respect, and following that still, small voice which leads us on, we have finally been given a very clear directive from the Lord. We know now with absolute certainty that this was never meant to be our Promised Land–the place where we put our roots down and settle. No, this has just been a temporary holding place for our family. A place where the Lord has allowed us to get Hailee to this point. Recent detailed heart scans have shown that Hailee’s heart is stronger and doing very well. The hole has gotten smaller as she has gained weight (she has almost doubled in size) and grown more and more healthy.
Hailee is finally healthy enough for us to return to our home.
As we reflect on all the Lord has done and our journey over the last seventeen months, we see the fingerprints of the Almighty Father all over our lives. Has it been easy? Heck, no! It has been the hardest season we have ever walked through as a family. We have had many days where we have longed to have Him come and sit right next to us and spell out His will for our lives. But in those moments we have held onto just one promise which we know to be truth…
He is a faithful God! He always delivers His people.
Sometimes [most times] the outcome looks so very different to the way we thought it would.
And so we are in the process of packing up our belongings. In a few weeks time we will, once again, be heading across the country–back to the place from where we came. Never did we see things panning out this way. But you know what? We trust HIM with all our hearts. We know that our mission to get Hailee growing has been accomplished. God has done a miracle in her life. The time has come to move forward and into a new season in our lives–with hope, with anticipation in our hearts, and with our gracious Father who adores us.
I don’t understand the ways of my God. I don’t have the foggiest idea why in the world the Lord is taking us full circle. If it were up to us, and what WE wanted, we would be staying right here, in the place we love. But God is God…and we are not (whew!). Following Him with everything we have is what we live for–no matter where that takes us or what He calls us to do in this life. We told the Lord a very long time ago that we want to lose control of our lives so that He can have full control. Less of us and so much more of Him. It’s so easy to speak those words when times are good and things are going my way. Yeah, I can totally do that. But when God’s will is so different to mine? When the outcome is not what I wanted it to be? That’s the Refiner’s Fire.
Someone asked me the other day if I would ever do it again? Would I move my family for the sake of one of my children?
Yes! Absolutely. Without any hesitation. We would do it all over again if it meant one of our children had a need. That’s just what a parent does–we are willing to go to the ends of the earth and back again in order to take care of a child. Hailee is so, so worth it!
Following our Jesus with absolute abandon….come what may!