We are moving. Before the summer is over, our plan is to move about 20 miles north, out of the suburbs and into the heart of the thriving and revived Oklahoma City. We are packing up our home of 7 years, the home I never saw us leaving and pictured future grandchildren visiting. If you had asked me a year ago, I would have said, “Of course we are moving. It’s only a matter of time.”
But a lot can change in a year.
A year ago, our church had just bought our building in the heart of midtown. That was the answer to an impossible prayer. I was on staff, so I was actively involved in many details and spent many hours at the church getting it ready. My family helped vacuum, place and straighten chairs, clean, organize nursery toys, and my husband helped design and implement most of the landscaping surrounding the building. We were driving a lot to be involved, and moving closer to the church made perfect sense. We were both on board.
And then my husband’s business ended unexpectedly. It was devastating, to be sure, but we saw it as God’s timing to move us closer to my husband’s dream of living, working, and church-ing in the same city. He started to look for ways to start his business over again in OKC. We quickly realized, however, that wasn’t going to happen any time soon and in the meantime, we needed to survive.
So he took a job that required him to drive well over an hour to the southwest part of our state. Now he was living in one city, churching in another, and working in and serving a community that he had no ties to whatsoever. He was confused and hurt.
There were good things about his new job. Yes, his commute was long and he spent more hours of the day driving (he was doing home health) than he did practicing physical therapy, but the pay was great. He had a job that was providing. For me, the positives far outweighed the negatives. While his stress and frustrations mounted, mine were eased by the security of knowing our bills were paid and our fridge was stocked.
So I was surprised when, about a month into his new job he said to me, “I understand that your stress and fear has lessened with this new job. I would also never compare what I’m feeling now to what you feel having lost your mom, but I need you to understand that I’m grieving here, and I feel like I’m doing it all alone.”
And so we became two wounded people doing life together. We entered into the sadness and the hurt and the confusion. Sometimes we were together and sometimes we were two lonely people just trying to survive each day.
My grieving husband became a person that I didn’t recognize. While I wanted to be sensitive and to walk with him graciously and patiently, more than anything I just wanted him to be the person I knew. I wanted him to stay constant so that I was comfortable. I wanted him to be the man I married. So instead of being sensitive and gracious, I became selfish and turned inward and we both entered that all too dangerous “survival mode.”
For us, survival mode looks like this- our kids are cared for. They are fed, interacted with, loved. Their basic needs are met. Beyond that, however, we are on our own. I take care of me, he takes care of him. We talk as roommates about schedules and money and grocery lists, instead of as lovers and best friends about our hearts and our cares and our struggles. Important things are left unsaid and we just move through our days. We coast.
We had been coasting all throughout last summer when we hit the breaking point. We were in the middle of a fight when we realized, “This isn’t working anymore.” No, not our marriage- we were not at all admitting defeat. Our coping mechanisms, our coasting, our survival mode- they weren’t cutting it. In addition to that, the things we usually used to pull us out of that place were failing us. He was deeply hurting and so was I. We couldn’t seem to help each other.
So we saw a counselor. We told him where we were. We told him that we didn’t seem to be on the same page anymore. We told him that nothing seemed to be working anymore and we didn’t know what to do. We attended our first session together and then started seeing him individually each week. As we individually began exploring our pasts with him, we opened up to one another. While we were having painful conversations about the hurt of our past, and as a result we were crying and hurting and working through things, it all came as a relief compared to the awkwardness and sadness of the summer.
Our boys started third grade and Kindergarten, and that added a new level of stress to our family. Our Kindergartener had a hard time transitioning from me to his (utterly amazing, loving, gracious, kind, and patient) teacher on school days. Our boys only go to school two days a week, and I home school them the other three days. There were tears every day at drop off. Not just tears, but sobbing-and-grabbing-onto-mom’s-legs-and-having-to-be-pulled-away kind of tears. This stress, along with the stress of figuring out how to teach two different boys at two different grade levels with two different temperaments while also trying to corral their 3-year-old sister on home days led me to realize I needed to free up some mental space.
It was time to step away from my job at the church.
Not to sound like an episode of Friends, but I only wanted a break. I didn’t know how long the break would be, but I really thought I only wanted a break from my job at the church. Unfortunately, under the umbrella of “Administrative Assistant” fall a lot of things that still needed to be taken care of, so for my pastor/boss to find someone to cover those things while I took a break for an indefinite amount of time wasn’t really an option. It took a series of messy conversations for he and I to determine that it wasn’t a good idea for me to continue working. There was a lot going on in my marriage and family and I had told my pastor that I was beginning to resent my job. The last thing any workplace, but especially any church, needs is an employee who resents what they are doing.
But not working for the church really threw me for a loop. I felt like I lost a part of my identity. I felt like I was disappointing people, including myself. I felt like when I initially took on my responsibilities at the church, I was signing up for life. No one made me feel that way, that was just the expectation I carried with me. I felt like working for my church earned me something in the eyes of God and without that, I was less worthy. That’s some bad theology, folks, but that was my heart. So while not working did indeed free up some mental space (more than I even anticipated), it also led me down a path of rediscovered legalism planted deep within my heart.
This stress and this change in my relationship with my pastor led to a dark few months for me. I was really struggling with this loss of role and didn’t know if I would still be wanted, accepted, and loved at my church. Again, no one was causing me to feel this way, these were just my own deep insecurities and false perceptions of who I am and where my value lies. It was around this time that my husband started talking again more seriously about moving out of our home and closer to our church.
One day it hit me that while our current city held a lot of hurt for him- this was the city that had “rejected” him and caused his business to fail- Oklahoma City represented a lot of new-found hurt for me. I was placing all of the pain of my lost identity on my church and the city at large. My husband wanted to escape. I wanted to stay where I was comfortable.
I made it pretty clear to my husband that I wasn’t in a place to discuss or even contemplate a move to the city, so he stopped bringing it up. In no way, however, did he stop thinking about it. He was constantly checking houses on Zillow, constantly job-hunting, constantly seeking out conversations with people at our church. He was respecting my wishes and not talking to me about it, but that resulted in me feeling left out of the majority of conversations and not sharing in his excitement. It was what I wanted and also not. (Just try being married to me for a day, folks. It’s not for the faint of heart.)
When the year began, we started hosting our weekly small group in our home. I was thankful to be serving the church in a new way, thankful to open our home each week to our friends, and thankful to feel surrounded by community in our current city. My husband felt it, too. There were families nearby who were also making the drive to church each week. We weren’t alone.
On more than one occasion, during our group prayer time, my husband shared feeling unsettled. When his business ended, he felt a strong desire to live, work, and go to church in the same community. At this point in his life, he was living in one city, working in another (about 2 hours away), and churching in a third. He was confused and frustrated by this. I knew this was his desire and his heart, but still ached at the thought of moving.
I really started to ponder my hesitations about moving.
Change is hard.
I love our home. Two of our children were born within its walls.
I’m still hurting after quitting my job.
They don’t have SuperTarget in the city (do NOT discount this, y’all).
My sister and other closest friends are nearby.
I don’t have to get on the highway to get the kids to school.
I hate change.
I hate change.
I want control, and the unknown reminds me that I don’t have it.
All of those reasons are legitimate. All of those reasons are real and true and honest. I needed to share those reasons with my husband, let him hear my heart, let him speak and then actually listen- not just shut him down and say, “I’m not on the same page.” When we started having those conversations, I learned that moving to the city was no longer just a pipe-dream of his (he’s prone to those). He wasn’t looking to move into the (utterly impossible) million dollar homes that initially caught his eye and piqued his interest. He wasn’t looking to move into the city because that’s what everyone else was doing. He was slowly but surely initiating and building relationships with men in the church and longing for more and deeper friendships.
Once again, he was growing and changing into someone I barely recognized, and while these changes were good changes- he needs friends! He needs men in his life! He needs to hang out with people other than his (utterly awesome and amazing) wife! The changes left me feeling anxious and territorial and reeling at my lack of control.
As we pack up, throw (A LOT of) stuff out, and prepare to move, I’ve been thinking about this house that we’ve called home for over 7 years now.
I love this house. It is the first house my husband and I bought together and the place that grew our family. Three of us arrived in 2008, straight from PT school in Kansas City and 5 of us will leave in 2015. The two we’ve added to our number were born within these walls. We’ve celebrated birthdays, hosted bible studies, wedding and baby showers, a Thanksgiving dinner, a few overnight guests, and countless coffee and play dates over the years. I look around me and see a home that has really served our family well. And while it will be difficult to move, it feels right to move.
This next step feels right for our family. We have our eye on a home that isn’t ours yet, isn’t even completed yet, but that serves as a symbol of some huge changes for all of us. Not only a change in physical location, but an external sign of internal changes for both my husband and myself.
As I mentioned in my last post, my husband was changing. He was seeking out relationships in our church. He was waking up early and driving to Men’s Breakfast every other week. He was the chatty one keeping us at church long after the service had ended. He was the one sharing the most personal details during our CityGroup’s prayer time. My self-proclaimed loner of a husband was letting people in in a new way. His heart continued to be tugged and pulled towards a move closer to this community he was finding.
He was also sensitive to where I was- content to stay, content to grieve my job, content to not talk about moving anytime soon, if at all. He wasn’t pushing me to have conversations or even to listen to where he was, but I knew he was talking to anyone with ears about his own desire to move. I started to feel really…wrong about that. If his heart’s desire and his calling is to a particular city, shouldn’t I respect that and, at the very least, listen to him?
I knew he was waiting until he knew that God had my heart on the same page as his. This wasn’t a bad plan, and it even seemed like the advice of wise counsel from the marriage conference we attended last year. But as I shared with my counselor, it wasn’t what I felt was best. I told him that I wanted my husband to say to me, “This is where I feel that God is leading us. This is what I feel is best for our family. This is what we are going to do.” I wanted him to lead our family boldly and faithfully in the direction he felt called. Even if that meant I was angry with him or just plain sad for a while, that was the man I wanted to follow. I asked if I should share that with my husband, and my counselor advised me to. He said we have the tools in our bag to handle a conversation like that. So later that day, we sat down and I told him all of that.
He was surprised. This request didn’t sound like the woman he knew. His face registered the turmoil of emotions he felt- surprise, freedom, pressure, fear, excitement.
Little did I know, when I gave my husband the freedom to lead our family to a new city, that he already has his eye on a place. I should have known; the man loves research. He shops for cars online for months before finding just the right one. I refer to it as “car porn.” Well, houses replaced cars and Zillow replaced AutoTrader. He had his sights set on a particular house in a particular neighborhood within walking distance of our church and a park, shops, and restaurants.
I asked him to protect me from falling in love with any particular house too quickly. I didn’t want to become invested emotionally only to see a house bought out from under us. He showed me a few houses in a few neighborhoods on Zillow, just to show me what was out there. I can’t remember now how long it was before he showed me “THE HOUSE.”
It turns out (and again, I shouldn’t have been surprised) that my husband had already walked through the house, already spoken to the owner/builder. He was already in love with the little white house with the bright green door.
My husband has a man crush on Edd China from “Wheeler Dealers.” Edd takes old cars and, with pain-staking attention to detail, restores them to their best possible versions. I’ve seen my husband approach our own car repairs with Edd China in mind. My husband had found the Edd China of home restoration in John. John bought the “green door house” two years ago and has been slowly gutting it and restoring it, using as much of the original pieces of the 100-year-old home as possible. Everything inside of this 100-year-old shell is brand new.
I liked the sound of it. I wanted to see it. So one day, while the boys were in school, my daughter and I joined my husband in the city after men’s breakfast and we toured the house. John walked us through the 1300 square foot home with the newly added vaulted ceilings and the open concept kitchen, dining, living room and it happened. I fell for the house.
I didn’t even try to show a poker face. As we shook hands and thanked John for the tour, I said to him, “So now that I’ve seen this house and we love it, you’re going to hang on to it for us and let us live here, right?” He laughed, but I was serious. I wanted the house.
The trouble was, we were really in no position whatsoever to make a serious offer. We had thousands of dollars of repairs and unfinished projects at our home. And besides that, I was only very recently semi-on-board with the idea of moving, right?
For many reasons, it was not the time to leap on the green door house. Besides the projects at our own home, my husband’s job was no longer providing for us as it once was. He was averaging 3 days of work a week, and often less. While that gave us plenty of time together as a family and allowed him the freedom to attend events at the boys’ school and to join us on trips to the zoo or museum, we both knew that this style of life couldn’t continue. While the freedom of his schedule was amazing, he was no where close to his ideal situation of living, working, and churching in the same city.
Through various connections, he heard about a non-profit clinic near our church that serves the community by providing healthcare services. They were looking to start a physical therapy clinic and needed someone to create it and run it. One of our pastors immediately thought of my husband and put him in touch with the clinical director. They chatted, they met, and my husband shared his heart for loving Oklahoma City in this way. He told him that his prayer with his own business had always been to love and serve our community. He said that he felt as if all of the confusion of losing the business and working home health in a different city were all part of the path God was leading him on to this job in this place at this time.
We prayed that this was the case. We prayed that God intended for him to work at this clinic, helping and serving a sector of the community who so desperately needed the help but couldn’t afford it. Our pastors prayed. Our CityGroup prayed. Our families prayed. And we waited. He continued to drive to Lawton a few times a week, but his heart was already moving on to the next phase; this phase that seemed so obvious to be the next part of God’s plan.
So when we finally got the call that the clinic was not able to get the funding they needed in order to make a hire, and we were told that it could be another year before they could even revisit the idea, we were pretty devastated. Confused. Hurt. Fearful.
And then Springtime arrived with a vengeance, and our state, our city, and our neighborhood were hit hard by the Oklahoma storms.
“Tornadoes never hit Norman. They always hit Moore.” -my husband
Famous last words.
For Oklahoma, May was a crazy roller-coaster of damaging storms and tornadoes. We spent more than one evening at our friends’ house, ready to retreat to their storm shelter if needed. And more than once, as we sat in our friends’ living room glued to the weather map on the screen, we saw storms head straight for our neighborhood. It was unbelievable.
There were flash flood warnings every other day. The rain was torrential and unlike anything I had ever seen before. It.just.kept.coming. One night the hail was so loud we just knew major damage was being done. We lost power and spent two days trapped inside our neighborhood, thanks to intense straight line winds that knocked down power lines all along our street.
We prayed for a break. Not just for ourselves, but for our city and our state.
It’s hard to be thankful for something as damaging and deadly as massive storms, but they turned out to be an amazing blessing and God’s provision for us. Our home sustained significant damage to the roof, gutters, windows, patio cover, and fence. Insurance covered the replacement of all of those things. Our calico colored home, that my husband had started to repaint, was finished for us. We were able to replace damaged carpet and freshen up the paint in areas where water had leaked in.
There was still plenty of work to be done, but we were that much closer to having our home ready to sell. My husband started using his precious days off to work on the house. When you decide to sell, all of the “little” projects are overwhelming. We had spent the last 7 years living in our home; just living, not working on it.
Although it was in no way ours, we used the green house door as motivation as we worked. We painted and repaired and cleaned and scrubbed, looking forward that much more to moving into a “brand new” place that wouldn’t require any work from us. We could almost taste it.
Of course…my husband still needed a new job.
Even before he heard back from the clinic, my husband had already sent his resumé to a few other places that were looking for PT’s. He had an interview with a clinic affiliated with a large hospital just north of the city and it went really well. One of the women who interviewed him actually graduated from the same small, private PT school in Kansas City that my husband attended. Once again, our hopes were high for this job.
My husband was initially less excited about the idea of this hospital job because the area and demographic was much different from the non-profit. He spoke to a guest speaker at our church and came away very encouraged that “those” people need Jesus (and physical therapy!) just as much as the poorer demographic that he thought he would be serving. The more he thought about the job, the more excited he got.
So when the clinic made an inside hire and he was turned down, it was back to confused, hurt feelings. What on earth was God doing?
He was preparing him for a better place.
The same woman that he had clicked with in the first interview called him about a position that had opened up in a clinic at another hospital, about 20 minutes closer to the THE HOUSE. She wanted him to interview for the position.
There have been very few, if any, times in my life that I have prayed fervently for something so specific. When my husband got this interview, I began to ask God specifically that this would be the job. I prayed that this was the place for him, and I asked everyone I knew (on Facebook) to join me in praying the same prayer. We both felt that this job was the key to the green door house becoming a real possibility.
When his interview began, the texts from friends and family were rolling in and I was overcome with gratitude at the community surrounding us in prayer. I was on my face in tears, begging God to bless my husband and his time with the clinic directors. I poured out my heart and asked God earnestly to give him the job. As I prayed, I also thought of every person behind every text, every friend behind every Facebook and Instagram like and I prayed that our story would become an amazing testimony of God’s grace and faithfulness to each one of them.
So when the news came that he got the job, it was even more thrilling to share, because I knew there were even more people waiting to rejoice with us. And since it had worked so well, I asked for specific prayers again. This time I asked everyone to join us in praying for the green door house to be ours.
Ok, I’ll put you out of your misery.
The green door house isn’t ours…
I was confident that by this point, with school starting up this week, we would already be settled into our new place. I was confident that our house would sell quickly. I was confident in John’s original timeline of finishing the green door house by the end of July. I was confident that because God has placed the same strong desire in my heart and my husband’s that everything was working out as we imagined and hoped it would. And while it all still may, it hasn’t yet; and that’s been hard.
We have spent all summer pouring ourselves into our home. We painted every inch of trim, every window sill, every wall, every cabinet face. We scrubbed floors, cleaned carpets, took a magic eraser to every rouge streak and stain. We sold a large amount of furniture, anticipating a reduction in square footage. Our house was bright and shiny and looked better than it ever had in the seven years since we’ve owned it. The vast majority of our belongings were packed away and stored in the garage. We became guests in our own home and asked our children to start living as though it already belonged to someone else.
The house was listed.
And we waited.
We’ve had some showings, we’ve dropped the price, we’ve unpacked a few necessary boxes. But we are still waiting. And though we hadn’t acknowledged it out loud until just yesterday, my husband and I were both starting to rethink it all. Maybe this wasn’t God’s plan. Maybe this isn’t God’s timing. Maybe we rushed into something hastily.
But yesterday we sat in church and heard the gospel and felt convicted to seek out opportunities to mingle with those different from us. We both left feeling like we’d heard a rejuvenating pep-talk, and a gentle reminder of the real reasons we want to move. It’s not the fanciness of the neighborhood, the newness of the house, or even the park and entertainment nearby. It’s a new lifestyle. It’s a call to serve and reach people who don’t look like us, didn’t grow up where we did, don’t eat the same food or wear the same clothes. It’s the chance to be stretched and pushed. It’s the chance for our kids (and us as well) to see that the world is a lot bigger than our four walls. It’s the chance to be even more involved in the work and mission of our church: to love God, love people, and love Oklahoma City.
As we spent a few precious hours alone together yesterday, my husband and I admitted that we’ve stopped praying diligently for the green door house. We’ve let worry, doubt, fear, stress, anger, sadness, and impatience reign in our hearts.
Yesterday God sent Team Steger a loud and clear message, and today we face the same unknown future with a bit more confidence that God knows what’s ahead for us.
Of all the helpful things I say as a mother, this isn’t one of them: “Change your face.”
Granted, I often say it in jest, but truly, it’s not helpful. It certainly doesn’t get at heart issues when I’m literally asking a child to change their outward appearance.
I was convicted recently about my need to “change my face.” I’m surrounded by a wonderful community of people who have been following along with this story of our move to OKC and so I am constantly being asked, “What’s the latest on the house? How’s the house selling going?” And my response 99% of the time has been a severe eye roll, a deep sigh, or a scrunched up face of disappointment.
I might need to change my face, but truly, I need God to change my heart.
My sweet four-year-old daughter prays often that she would have “a heart for Jesus.” This desire comes from her own little mind and heart and it is one of the most amazing prayers I’ve ever heard. We got a chance to talk about what that means this weekend, after she got in trouble for the third time in a short span for being mean to her brother. We talked about how having a heart for Jesus means we think of others more than we think of ourselves. It means showing love to our family. It means sacrifice.
It means trusting that God’s plan and God’s timing is best. It means not giving up hope that this is ever going to happen simply because it hasn’t happened yet.
It means remembering that we feel that God is calling us to OKC. It’s not just another of my husband’s dreams and schemes. If it is God asking us to do this, then God will make a way.
We are called to wait and to trust.
A conversation with John, around the middle of May: “I’m calling to tell you that I got an offer on the house. He’s offering me $5,000 over my asking price, but he’s asking me to do a lot more work than I’m willing to do for $5,000. Besides, every time I think about this house, I think about your family.”
My husband, around the middle of July: “Our house hasn’t sold, so I’m just touching base to see what your timeline looks like. Originally you thought you’d be finished around mid-July, and I understand that once it’s finished, you will want/need to sell it. We’d like to enter into a contingency agreement with you if we can.”
John: “As far as I’m concerned, this house is yours. My wife feels the same way. We really want your family there.”
Nothing about buying a home in OKC has gone how we expected. Just a year ago, houses in the areas we were looking were barely even on the market before being snatched up. We heard incredible stories from friends who “just happened” to meet someone who “just happened” to be selling a home and they were able to get into an incredible area.
The green door house sits on the outer edge of this same popular, beautiful area of OKC. Houses go pretty quickly. John was always upfront with us about how many requests he gets about the house. He shows it multiple times a week and fields phone calls regularly. And yet…besides that one offer…nothing.
As I kept recounting those conversations to friends at church, my confidence grew that this is just God’s plan. That’s the only explanation for why this beautiful home in this beautiful area hasn’t been bought up from under us.
Multiple people have asked me what we will do if our house sells quickly and the green door house isn’t ready yet. While we would almost prefer that dilemma, the stress of that situation hasn’t had to enter our minds even once. God’s timing is perfect. I don’t doubt that we will understand that in an even deeper way when all is said and done.
Just this week, my husband checked in with John for a timeline update. For various reasons, the new finish date of October 1 isn’t going to happen. So while that means I might have to locate our fall/winter clothing in the boxes in the garage, that also means that we still don’t to have to stress, worry, or fret about our situation. Our home will sell. It will. To the right people at the right time. And we have confidence that when it does, the green door house will be ours.
So we wait. We pray, and we are surrounded by others who are praying on our behalf. When we despair, when we doubt, when we fear that it’s never going to happen, we call one another to faith. We ask for patience.
I really can’t wait for the day I get to share the next chapter of this story with you. I hope I’m typing it from my red desk in a sun-filled front room in a little house with a bright green door.
His timing is not always perfect, but on Tuesday my husband said something that clicked something into place for me.
For the past few days I’ve been asking him to help me focus on what’s good about our current situation, because I’m struggling to see the good. We are in between places right now. We are not fully here, in our current home, but we are certainly not yet in our new home. (It’s still not even our home!) We are about a third of the way through Financial Peace University but have just begun working on our budget and trying to stick to it. We are bumping up against the way we’ve always done things and this new, wiser, better way of doing things.
So Tuesday, after a long day that left me weary and drained of hope, I asked him to help me see the good in this waiting period. After saying something about the beautiful fall weather we’re having, and the three healthy kids we have, and the food we were enjoying for dinner (and enduring my eye rolling), he replied, “I’m really glad we’re not living in the time before Jesus was born.”
I felt like that came out of left field a bit, so I asked him to explain what he meant. He said it must have been incredibly difficult to live with the promise of a Savior and a Messiah and not to know when He was coming. It must have been awful to live expectantly but die before He came. It must have been similar to the Israelites, freed from their slavery and looking forward to the promised land, stuck wandering in the desert for 40 years.
He’s right. Living through this in between time with our homes really pales in comparison, and there are plenty of good things about it. We are praying more. We are sharing our story and our situation more freely, and are therefore being prayed for more, as well. We are less tied down to all of our stuff, because it’s all housed in boxes in the garage, so we are learning how to be minimalists almost by accident. It’s easier to clean up the house. Because of the Financial Peace classes, we’ve already implemented some changes that will impact not only the home-buying process, but our future as well.
We are living expectantly, and not without hope. And while we may not know if it’s the green door house he’s ultimately calling us to, we believe and trust that God’s plan is best. We are calling one another to remember those truths.
I’ll be honest; not much has changed since I wrote about needing to look on the bright side of this in between time. It’s still a constant struggle, and it’s only made worse every weekend, when, whether for church or just a trip to the city, we eventually have to leave.
I drove home from church yesterday listening to Sandra singing that “Whatever my God ordains is right, to Him, I leave it all,” (“Sweet Comfort,” song 5) and with tears streaming down my face. My husband and I are so tired of leaving the city. We are tired of feeling cut off from the church and the community surrounding it. We feel like our motives for moving are good. We truly feel called to be there. When I got home, I texted my pastor: “Why hasn’t God moved us yet?” He replied, “I wish I knew.”
Remember last year when I changed my prayer, and God answered in a major way? I think it’s time to change my prayer. I won’t stop praying for our house to sell. I won’t stop praying for the green door house. I won’t ask you to stop praying. But more than our house to sell and the green door house to be ours, we need to pray for contentment.
In my bible study, my leader shared a story of a girl with alopecia who, instead of only praying for God to restore her hair, started praying for God to give her peace in the midst of her circumstance. He answered that prayer. That struck me right in the gut. I won’t stop praying for God to take away my son’s diabetes. It will be my impossible prayer every year, until it happens. But I also won’t stop praying for God to use diabetes to increase my faith. I have often said that diabetes has changed my prayer life for the better. It’s so true. There’s not much in life that makes you feel more helpless than watching your child suffer and not be able to change it.
In college I had a friend undergo brain surgery. I remember praying so hard for her and learning so much about prayer and faith and helplessness. I remember feeling a bit guilty that something good was coming into my life while something so awful and difficult was happening to her. It felt selfish to feel thankful for how God was working in my life because Rachel was suffering. But as God spoke and my first grader recently memorized, “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:9
So why hasn’t God moved us yet? “I wish I knew” as well. But this is a fruitful time. This is a time of learning, and trusting, and praying, and sharing, and crying, and asking, and searching, and waiting. It is God at work in his mysterious ways and I trust that it will all make sense someday.
Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!
Our soul waits for the Lord; he is our help and our shield.
But for you, O Lord, do I wait; it is you, O Lord my God, who will answer.
I waited patiently for the Lord; he inclined to me and heard my cry.
For God alone my soul waits in silence; from him comes my salvation.
I wait for the Lord, my soul waits,
and in his word I hope;
my soul waits for the Lord
more than watchmen for the morning,
more than watchmen for the morning.
It’s all over the Psalms, this call to wait. We wait because there’s something on the horizon. We wait because the answer is unknown. We wait because we have no choice; we are not in control.
Yet there is a difference between waiting and pressing pause.
There’s a difference between waiting in faith and putting your life on hold.
As I reflect back on 2015, it seems as if that’s exactly what I’ve done for the last half of the year. I pushed pause back in July and I’ve been stuck there ever since. Believing that God is calling us to the city, we put our house on the market. We packed up our home and we entered into a season of rooms off-limits, possessions unavailable, and unexpected showings. We stressed over fingerprints on walls, shoes on carpets, and smudged windows.
We stopped living in our home. We fixed our eyes on what we believed was just ahead and we closed our eyes to where God still had us.
Paused. On hold.
I stopped writing. I used the excuse of needing to keep my desk clear and my office clean. I had packed away most of my books. I thought it was temporary. As time has gone on, it has become easier and easier not to write, not to reflect, not to dive into scripture, not to pray.
Paused. On hold.
We’ve gone the past 4 months without a small group and without real community. We believed we would be moving quickly and didn’t want to invest in a group we would inevitably be leaving soon. As time went on, even though the desire was there, it became easier to not be involved.
Paused. On hold.
I’m not sure when it became sinful, this paused lifestyle, though perhaps it was all long. I do know it was only yesterday that I was convicted of it. I’ve clenched my teeth, I’ve rolled my eyes, I’ve formed fists, and I’ve lived as though God has forgotten me. Has he been teasing us all along? Has he not called us to move?
“God is at work, even in the silence,” a wise friend said to me yesterday.
“When your Father’s hand isn’t readily apparent, it’s only because He’s readying gifts. Gifts always come out of the unseen and hidden places.” -Ann Voskamp
Today, I’m clinging to those words. Today, I’m recognizing and repenting. Today, I’m looking back on 2015, and looking ahead to 2016. I’m setting goals and dreaming dreams and praying prayers, including the “impossible” ones.
Today, I’m asking God to help me un-pause, and instead, to live.
As I mentioned already, I’ve been coasting through life with the pause button pushed. Every single area of my life has been affected: relationships, motivation, prayer, exercise…everything.
I’ve never done it before, but one word seems to be popping into my head to serve as a reminder/motivation/goal for the new year.
That word is MOVE.
I’ve been reflecting on all the different meanings of the word and the different areas of life that it touches.
May this be the year we MOVE to OKC.
May the Green Door House become our new home.
May Oklahoma City become our city, our community, our home.
May this be the year I commit to MOVING every day. Exercise has never been a priority, but I know how important it is. I’ve been thinking about how much my personality and tendency to want to please means I might benefit from a personal trainer.
- Feelings (be MOVED)-
May this be the year I attend more theater productions, hear more live music, and surrender more fully during worship.
May I read more stories and more memoirs and more compelling non-fiction.
- Relationships (MOVE toward others)-
May this be the year I practice true hospitality.
May I initiate conversations and relationships.
May 2016 be a year marked by MOVEMENT.
Happy New Year, friends!