I am currently listening to my boys wrestle around on their bed after the 73682347923492657th time I have told them to not touch each other, look at each other, or breathe in each others general direction.
Obviously it's going well. *sips tenth cup of coffee*
We are on day three of dad being out of town and I would love nothing more than to run away to a tiny village somewhere, or at the very least a different room, as my boys figure out how to behave again but we currently live in one room (yes, all four of us in one room) above the church that we have been helping with these past few months and there is no where to go. This season, this one we now find ourselves in, is by far the most challenging one we have found ourselves in yet.
There have been moments in the flood of it all that I look around and think "how did we get here?"
And in those moments of frustration or confusion or pain I am reminded, we said "yes". We prayed that dangerous prayer of "whatever, whenever, wherever" and God asked us to do "this", "now" and "here".
I'll be honest, I said no at first. Without hesitation or deliberation. These two years have felt a little like we've been riding Mr. Toad's Wild Adventure and when my husband first moved to San Luis Obispo... into an RV trailer... after a couple months of working out of town and commuting home on weekends, I blessed him on his way. I couldn't, not in all of my strength, move into a trailer that sat on the church parking lot with two rambunctious boys that need ALL THE ROOM without one friend in sight. I just couldn't.
A few weeks after he moved I was gifted with a ticket for a Pastor's Wives Retreat and doing the whole single mom thing for awhile by then had me desperate for getting out so I gathered the village and took a three day trip back to Vegas. (Yes, the Pastor's Wives Retreat was in Vegas. Believe it or not there are churches there too.)
It was nice to get away. I felt like I had a name again, other than Rich's wife or Michael and Jacob's mom. I even used it fairly often when introducing myself (which I did quite frequently as I knew not one soul there) and when it came near the time to leave I felt a bit confused why God had opened so many doors to get me there to not give me some clarity for my season before I left. I was thankful for the time away, thankful for the speakers who shared their heart, thankful for all of the details that were covered to make everyone feel special, but I was still looking for something - I don't think I could have even told you what that something was, but I knew I hadn't found it.
Before hitting the road I agreed to have lunch with two new friends who coincidentally were from our old stomping grounds in Northern California and there at that table over some of the best Mexican food I have had in awhile, I got it.
I was sharing with the women about the many tragedies my family had endured in 2015, and how 2016 was supposed to be the Promised Land but has felt more like Death Valley than anything. How God impressed on our hearts to walk away from over a decade in youth ministry to pull our family in close as we would set out on a wild adventure that would include living off of our savings, wearing a few different hats to supplement with a partial income as best we could, losing Rich's younger brother and uncle, being a single mom for large stretches at a time, battling chronic pain and anxiety, and then came the cherry on top, Rich moving 2 and a half hours away. And unlike the previous months when living apart where he would come home on weekends to have a few days of sacred time to rest and breathe as a family, we would be coming to him... to stay in a trailer... in a church parking lot.
I got to the end of my pity party and shared how guilty I felt that Rich was carrying the weight of this new thing on his own, the first time we have ever done ministry separately, all the while still grieving two very recent losses and when they asked why I didn't just move in with him I exclaimed, without hesitation, "I just can't!"
I expected them to fully understand and while there was great compassion in their eyes I was met with a much different answer.
"Yes, you can."
Will it be hard, of course. Will it require more than you think you've got, you bet. Will it sound absurdly crazy to the many spectators that have gathered over the past month to watch what they think will be your probable demise, absolutely. But we choose what we can handle or not handle. We choose if what God is asking of us will break or make us. We choose to make it the worst experience of our life or a new adventure. I left lunch that day knowing what I needed to do. I shared with my husband over the phone as I was driving home how I intended to get back that day, pack the car with whatever I could fit, and leave the following day with the boys to move in. He might have cried. Happy tears of course.
We stayed in that RV for two weeks before making the slightly better move to where we are upstairs.
Most days it is hard. Most days it requires more than I think I've got. Most days it sounds absolutely bonkers to anyone who "figures it out" when one of the boys runs up and down the stairs talking about their "room". Most days I battle the thoughts of this being just one terrible experience to put my head down and get through (like when your boys won't stop fighting and there is no safe place to escape to in sight), but it is in those moments that I hear those three words. I believe they were spoken straight from the heart of God for me to hear.
Yes, you CAN.
This adventure we are on has given God a lot of material to work with as I trust that He is doing just what the Word says and working all of these things for our benefit (Romans 8:28) and will give us many memories to laugh about for years to come while growing our roots down deep as I often find myself shaking my head in disbelief that this is our life.
I don't regret it.
We meant it when we said whatever, whenever, wherever. And I don't think for a moment that we heard God wrong or have gotten the short end of the stick as God is Sovereign and Almighty and could ask us to live in a shack if He thought it right. Because He is God and He is good and our job is not to have a conversation about what we think is fair but to make ourselves available and to just simply say "Here I am. For whatever, whenever, and wherever."
I'm reminding myself tonight. And you will probably find me doing it again a few more times before the week is up. It isn't butterflies and rainbows but you can trust me when I say that despite my momentary weaknesses, I have loved every bit of our journey. I have seen God's faithfulness over and over again because I dared to believe I could do (and sacrifice) what He was asking of me.
It just took someone challenging me with those three little words. And because sharing is caring, I would like to challenge you with the same. What have you passed up because it would require too much (time, finances, sacrifice, etc)? Because I have a hunch that your next breakthrough is nestled somewhere inside those dreams you've tucked away with all of the reasons you can't.
It's time to be brave and say, "yes you can".
Romans 8:18-28 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently. In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God. And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.