6.08.2017

a story of renewed faith



At the end of 2016, we had just lost out on a beautiful house, our neighbor was smoking pot every day and we still didn't know who it was, and we were waiting for test results to see if my mom had cancer. Two completely different types of cancer from scares one week apart.

The winter and early spring rolled on. I went through three months of wicked insomnia, I had some weird health issues that zapped my strength, it rained every day, and I was cooped up with a teething toddler. This is pretty much how the past three years of our lives have gone. They have been grueling. Bad news on top of bad news, endless strings of bad days, and a lot of grief and sadness. For the first time, I've struggled to trust God, to have faith, and to believe in His goodness. I've been through hard things before, but my faith has never wavered. I began to question things I've never questioned before. I've always known and believed we should never let our outward circumstances and feelings dictate our faith, but it is so hard to hold onto that hope when there is no light at the end of the tunnel of difficulties. I'm ashamed to say how weak my faith really was. I never would've thought that before. I thought a lot about the parable of the sower. When the seeds were sprinkled on rocky ground, they grew, but they were quickly scorched by the sun. I read it a few weeks ago, and I was horrified that I was turning into that person that runs when life gets hard. Every Christian goes through a period of having their faith tested, and this was mine. I'm sure there will be more to come, but this was a refining fire I almost didn't endure. 

All of a sudden, things started to change last week. I heard some banging around downstairs, looked outside, and our pot smoking neighbor was MOVING OUT. He's gone. FOR GOOD. I cheered on my balcony. That same day, my mom had two retests done to check on her possible cancer, and both came back with excellent news.

A few weeks before that, James was contacted by a recruiter. Just for kicks, he agreed to a phone interview. It's for a great company that he's been wanting to work for, but we both didn't get our hopes up. For the past few years he's applied to jobs in other states, we've house hunted here, but nothing has panned out. People talk about changing aspects of your life you don't like, but it's not always that simple. Sometimes God makes you stay where you are, even when your neighbors are filling your living room with marijuana smoke and your rent continues to skyrocket along with your health insurance, and paying your bills makes you want to rip your hair out. If things were always easy, we wouldn't need God. It's easy to say those things, but hard to really hold onto those truths when you're in the midst of it.

That phone interview turned into another phone interview. Still, we didn't want to get our hopes up. The job was a huge step up. He hadn't even applied for it--the whole situation just fell into his lap. The second phone interview turned into an in-person interview that lasted an entire afternoon. I finally let myself think about what it would be like for him to work only one job. Once I let the thought in, I wasn't sure if I could go back to normal after being so close to tasting freedom. We spent an agonizing four days waiting to hear the verdict. I nearly made myself sick with anxiety. I couldn't think about anything else. One minute we were sure he had gotten it, the next we were sure it wouldn't work out since that's how things tend to go.

Finally, on Monday morning, they called and offered him the position. The starting salary is even more than we were expecting. It will be almost as if we got my old income back. Not quite, but almost. By the end of the month, he'll be working one job again. We'll be in a better place financially. Other than some occasional business trips, he'll be home in the evenings again and on weekends. I WILL GET SOME OF MY SANITY BACK. He has worked so hard for this. For the past three years he's been working two jobs, and I've been pregnant and parenting by myself. It has nearly killed us both.  This is a huge step up in his career. The job is very specific and his experience from both jobs was vital in him getting this one. Here we thought those two jobs were to help pay our bills, when in reality they were grooming him for this one.

This job isn't the answer to all our problems, and I'm sure it will have its own set of issues, but I think the tide may finally be changing. I feel hopeful again. And not because we got something we wanted, but because it's proof that God ordains everything. He was faithful when I wasn't. I desperately needed that reminder. I haven't been able to see past a lot of frustrations for the past few years. I started to wonder if there was a plan for all of this struggle. I've been holding myself back from getting too invested in friendships because I kept wondering if we would wind up moving somewhere else. We've been sitting on the fence between house-hunting here and looking for jobs in other states. I can finally feel settled here and know it's our home for now. I'm so proud of James for how hard he's worked to get to this point. I'm so thankful God provided this opportunity for him and for our friends and family who have supported us over the past several years.

Tuesday night, James got in his car to go to his second job, and his car wouldn't start. I grabbed Gracie and we drove to his office to jump his car. It still wouldn't start. We did it over and over. It would run for a few minutes and then die. It finally ran long enough that he drove away, but I followed him because I just had a hunch. The car died while he was about to drive out of the parking lot. He had to push it into a parking spot. The whole ordeal was incredibly stressful, to the point that we may have yelled at each other in the parking lot. I felt sick to my stomach, because we knew it was more than a dead battery (sure enough, it's going to cost us almost $1000--they kept finding more and more things wrong, but isn't that how it goes?). James dropped us off at home so he could take my car to work. I was frazzled and stressed, but Gracie was running around playing, just happy to have been on an adventure. She knew there had been a problem but was confident mommy and daddy would fix it. Ah, that childlike faith. That's exactly what I've been missing these past few years. It reminded me of this quote by Spurgeon that's been saved in my phone for awhile:

"O child of suffering, be thou patient; God has not passed thee over in his providence. He who is the feeder of sparrows, will also furnish you with what you need. Sit not down in despair; hope on, hope ever. Take up the arms of faith against a sea of trouble, and your opposition shall yet end your distresses. There is One who careth for you. His eye is fixed on you, his heart beats with pity for your woe, and his hand omnipotent shall yet bring you the needed help. The darkest cloud shall scatter itself in showers of mercy. The blackest gloom shall give place to the morning. He, if thou art one of his family, will bind up thy wounds, and heal thy broken heart. Doubt not his grace because of thy tribulation, but believe that he loveth thee as much in seasons of trouble as in times of happiness. What a serene and quiet life might you lead if you would leave providing to the God of providence! With a little oil in the cruse, and a handful of meal in the barrel, Elijah outlived the famine, and you will do the same. If God cares for you, why need you care too? Can you trust him for your soul, and not for your body? He has never refused to bear your burdens, he has never fainted under their weight. Come, then, soul! have done with fretful care, and leave all thy concerns in the hand of a gracious God."

So good, right? We have the money to fix the car, but we've spent so much in car repairs already this year. My knee-jerk reaction is to worry that we'll never buy a house if our money keeps going to car repairs, but it will always be something. I'm going to work on this childlike faith. Obviously, we don't usually get what we want when we want it, but I think the past week makes it clear that God's ways are not our own, and He is able to do far more abundantly than we could ever ask or think. The job we weren't even looking for came, and so will the house and anything else we need. The victory is His, and I will rest in that.

20 comments:

  1. Oh dear friend- life can be so full of struggles! I'm beyond ecstatic for the new job God provided for James. I think it will be the thing to give you both your sanity back.
    It's so hard to trust in God! Especially when it seems like nothing is going the way you planned. He is faithful, even when we lose sight. I know just like He articulated a job for James He is going to give you the home you've always dreamed of(and more!). Sometimes it's hard to pray for your desires especially when you feel like even thinking about the thing brings on discontent- but keep on praying while enjoying today! That's one of the biggest things I learned from Tim Keller's book on prayer. If earthly fathers provide nice things for their children, how much more does the Heavenly Father want to provide us with our deepest desires? Sometimes I get caught up in feeling like a Christian life is so full of sacrifice that you are almost expected to be miserable- but that just isn't true!
    I think He is always wanting a good balance of molding our joy and identity in Him alone and wanting to pour out His love in extra special blessings, even when (especially when) we finally feel like we are undeserving!
    I have witnessed you grow into a strong woman of God and I know He has great things in store for you!!! 💖

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  2. Well this whole thing brought tears to my eyes. I am so happy for your family. "If things were always easy, we wouldn't need God." This is so true and something I need to remember. I hope James loves his new job, that you feel like you can finally put down some roots, and that you enjoy all that family time!! :) I've loved seeing the photos of your plants on instagram. There's something so special about new life and new growth!!

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  3. I'm so happy for you, Michelle! It really feels like the wheels are in motion and moving toward something so, so good for your family! I hope the car situation resolves itself as quickly and as inexpensively as possible! And fingers crossed for a house someday soon!!

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  4. Congratulations on the job! I've heard of things like that happening where a job is kind of just dropped into your lap, but I never think it could happen to me. That is so exciting! And hurrah for the pot smoker leaving! That is something to celebrate for sure :)

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  5. Finally things are starting to turn around for you guys! I'm so happy for you!

    It's so hard to always trust that God is there when things get tough, especially when they don't turn around and keep getting worse. When we went through some stuff last year it was hard but all worked out relatively quickly and neatly. I'm not sure why you guys had to just have it keep piling up, but I'm glad there's finally some relief. Thank God for God.

    They were talking in church this week about how God won't always keep us safe and happy and comfortable. Through all you've been through just know that you've been a great witness to me and others I'm sure.

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  6. Oh, I'm so glad to hear that he got a new job that will be easier on you! It is so hard not to have your husband around - Derek used to travel for work during the week for up to four months at a time, and it was awful. I definitely felt delivered too when the Lord moved him on from that job.

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  7. this post brought absolute tears of joy to my eyes. for so many reasons. i am so happy for you guys and the change this will bring for you. God is so good and faithful.

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  8. I am really having to reign myself in, because as I read each paragraph of this post, I wanted to jump up and scream for joy, but Peter is asleep in bed, and I don't want to wreck that. I am SO HAPPY FOR YOU GUYS!!!!!!!!!!!!! For everything (well, except for the car problems. I despise having to take the car into the shop, because they always find more problems-and things that might be problems that they want to fix so they can charge us more money-and it drives me bonkers). Praise God from Whom all blessings flow! I know it can be so easy to worry; we're closing on our first house tomorrow evening (!!!!!) but as I keep looking at all the repairs we need to do ourselves, the car problems that we've been having, and all the random costs for starting utilities and that kind of thing, I've been having to try REALLY hard not to worry about finances. I just keep telling myself what my wonderful neighbor has continually been reminding me-that God is in control.

    Also, kind of on the topic of making it through our difficult struggles...I was talking with this guy yesterday morning and he mentioned to me that it can be so eye-opening to read and meditate on the biblical book Acts of the Apostles, because seeing everything that the members of the early Church went through puts our problems in perspective, and it can give us reassurance that God is taking care of us. And on a kind of related (but kind of random) note, have you read the book Quo Vadis? I just finished reading it a few weeks ago, and it was so amazing-a story all about Christians during the persecutions after the death and Resurrection of Christ, and it really hit me with the courage, faith, and trust in God that all the martyrs in the early Church had.

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  9. I had no idea you were going through all of this. I knew some of it but I either missed it on the blog or you didn't share about everything, which is understandable. That is a lot to go through and I am so thankful that God has blessed your husband with a great job. Trials are hard but I know God will use that hard time to teach you life long lessons. I'm also glad your Mom's health is good. That's alway so so scary.

    I'm glad God has shown Himself faithful to you guys and I'm rejoicing with you!

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  10. SO thrilled for you guys, Michelle!! I know how hard James works and how hard that has been on all of you for the last few years. Can't wait to see what this new opportunity brings for your family!! xoxo

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    1. Thank you so much, Kels!! One of these days I'll have a guest room for you to crash in again :)

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  11. I don't think it's realistic to go through dark times without ever feeling dark inside. At the time it may seem like weakness, but I think once you get through it and look back you realize that you grew as a result of what happened even though it didn't seem like it at the time. So glad things are looking up.

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  12. I cried reading this. I know things have been so hard on you guys lately and I can only imagine how encouraging these steps forward have been. My own faith has been more of the "Though He slay me yet will I trust Him" and "The God we serve is able...but even if He does not..." variety in recent times. In the past month I've even noticed Angel getting discouraged because he feels that every path we try to go down...the door gets shut in our faces.--which considering it's almost impossible to discourage that man, is very surprising to me. But, God is faithful. He is faithful He is faithful He is faithful. I still see faithfulness everywhere and I pray that my eyes will always be opened to see it. I also hope that some of those big doors will start to open up in the right directions...but in the meantime, He is our loving Father who won't forsake us.

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  13. Congratulations you guys! I'm so happy for you and for the news about your mom! I feel like I have had such similar moments myself with my faith and then something happens and I feel so lame for ever having doubted it. Cheers and hugs to all of you!

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  14. Whoop whoop! That is just so great for y'all. We obviously haven't met, but I've followed your blog for a while now. I knew y'all had experienced some challenges but didn't know the magnitude of those. I have always admired your family's dedication to doing whatever is necessary and best for your family. I have some family members who are in debt up to their eyeballs but live in oblivion as if it will all magically disappear. Kudos for y'all for making the best of the circumstances you've dealt with and doing such a great job of it all! :)

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    1. Thank you so much!! This means so much to me <3

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  15. Congrats to James on the job!! So exciting. Loved your perspective on this and the quote! Can't wait to keep hearing about your updates. And also soooo happy the pot smoker moved out. PTL!!!

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  16. This made me cry. I feel like we've had similar years and because of that I FEEL exactly what I want to say to you but I don't exactly know what words to use. I am overjoyed for you that you're going to have a co-parent again!

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