Not Home Yet

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Last Thursday Dan called at around 6:00 in the evening to let me know that we’d be moving that night. I had nothing packed except for a bag of the girls’ clothes. Sometimes life feels to crazy to be for real.

Yes, this is our fourth move in a year. And, no, we don’t particularly enjoy the moving process. That’s not why we do it. Each and every one of our moves was for a perfectly good and logical reason, but that doesn’t necessarily make it easy. This time we had to move because our apartment building was filled with lots of smokers and the various forms of smoke were filling our apartment and making us sick. The real concern, though, was for little Abby. As an early preemie, Abby is already considered high-risk to have chronic lung problems and second-hand smoke was only adding to her risk factors. After seeking some advice from our family and doctor, we decided it wasn’t worth the risk to stay out our lease.

It took a while, but eventually our apartment management released us. We thought we had another place lined up for the move, but once we got out of our lease and gave the landlord a call we realized it wasn’t going to work out after all. With two weeks left to be out of our apartment we still didn’t have a place to go.

Sometimes I look back at the things that have happened to us in the past year and I can’t believe it. There have been so many unexpected emergencies, changes, and a lot of waiting too. I can’t help but wonder what will happen next.

So, with two weeks to homelessness, a generous family from church welcomed us into their basement for as long as we need to stay. In a flurry of an evening we packed up everything we thought we might need for the next couple of days and drove off through the night to our new temporary home.

I never did get to that laundry room.

As we’ve adjusted to our new situation and discussed where to go from here, it has struck me over and over again how not in control we are. It doesn’t matter how much planning we do, what security nets we lay out, what advice we seek, God can change our lives in an instant. It would be scary, except that we are His children.

For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are the sons of God.
Romans 8:14

In church this Sunday we sang a lot of songs that were quite fitting to our current situation. One that I especially liked is called “Behold Our God”.  It makes me think of the last chapters of Job.  Job’s life had completely fallen apart but God came in and reminded Job of how small Job was and how big God is.  God is on the throne.  God created the world.  He is above all things.  Again, it would be scary if Job wasn’t God’s child too.  So, this song reminded me of those chapters in Job and the message they contain:  God is the one seated on the throne, making decisions, leading His children, doing the impossible.

Dan and I had a lot of plans last year. I think God changed all of them. And, by His grace, I’m ok with that. I know His plans our better. So now we’re pressing on, seeking His guidance again, and letting Him lead.

Who has held the oceans in His hand?
Who has numbered every grain of sand?
Kings and nations tremble at His voice
All creation rises to rejoice

Who has given counsel to the Lord?
Who can question any of His Words?
Who can teach the One who knows all things?
Who can fathom all His wondrous deeds?

Who has felt the nails upon His hands
Bearing all the guilt of sinful man?
God eternal humbled to the grave
Jesus, Savior risen now to reign!

Behold our God seated on His throne
Come let us adore Him
Behold our King nothing can compare
Come let us adore Him!

Meijer Meltdown

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A couple of days ago I decided it would be nice to get out of the house. So I packed up my girls and we headed out for a morning walk to Meijer. I’ve had a couple of small projects in mind for a while now and wanted to check out some prices. So begins my story, but first allow me to fill you in on some necessary background details.

A couple weeks ago, during another Meijer trip, I introduced Lydia to Sandy. Sandy is the brown horse ride every Meijer seems to have that only costs one penny. I told Lydia that, if we found a penny on the ground, we could use it to ride Sandy. We did not find a penny. We found a nickel. So you all know what that means, right? Five rides on Sandy. No, not all in the same day. I don’t know how it is at every Meijer, but the Sandy we know and love is in very high demand and it would be inconsiderate to take more than one ride in a row. Anyway, Sandy was a hit and has since become an almost necessary part of every Meijer trip. Lydia loves her, and for only a penny, how could we say no?

The second thing you need to know to thoroughly appreciate this story is that I have been pondering two small projects for a while now. The first is a “Bible Memory Book” for Lydia. She has done so well learning her verses (she’s up to five now), that I thought it would be fun to document her work. I was looking, on this particular trip, for a sturdy blank notebook. Whenever Lydia learns a new verse, I plan to record the verse and the date she learned it, then let her draw a picture. Just think how much fun she’ll have looking back at that ten or twenty years from now.

The second project I’ve been thinking about is a “Mommy Book”. I wanted a pretty journal to start recording special moments with my kiddos, birth pictures, inspiring notes and verses, that sort of thing. When I get stressed out or frustrated, or am just having a hard time doing my job, I can pull out the book and be reminded of how much I love my job and my munchkins. While Lydia won’t enjoy the project directly, I think she’ll benefit from its fruit.

So, back to my story. We headed to Meijer and all was going well. The air was cool and fresh and it felt good to be outside. As soon as we got to Meijer, Abby started crying. She cried through the aisles and all the way to the notebooks. Lydia wandered off to the end of the aisle where there was a collection of children’s books, while I priced out notebooks and journals and tried to keep the stroller moving so Abby would quiet down.

Then a lady asked, “Is that your baby screaming?”

“Uh, yeah…” I started to feel uncomfortable.

After she left, more and more people began to walk by. Maybe it was just my self-conscious imagination, but I was sure they were all annoyed at the crying baby and thinking me an incompetent mother. So I decided, sadly, it was time to leave without the notebook or journal. I grabbed Lydia’s hand and moved out of the aisle only to find myself with two very upset children. Lydia didn’t want to go home. So I decided it was really time to go and turned around to return the children’s books that Lydia has snuck into my basket. Then she really lost it. She wanted those books!

We hurried through the store, me pushing crying Abby and holding screaming Lydia. Oh dear. When we got to the doors the ruckus got even louder because Lydia realized she wasn’t going to get to ride Sandy. The rest of the morning was an absolute nightmare. Lydia wouldn’t put on her coat without riding Sandy. I wasn’t going to reward her outbursts with a Sandy ride. So I tried to get Lydia’s coat on, while the girls cried in harmony. Every time I put an arm in, Lydia took the other one out. Then she tried to unbutton it. And I’m sure every one within hearing distance thought I was just a monster for refusing to let my child ride the one cent pony.

The amazing part of the story was that I never lost it. By God’s grace I made it home completely unflustered.

After we were home again and the shoes and coats were put away, I started to think a little more about that trip and God showed me a lesson for my own life.

I am Lydia. I want those children’s books and I want to ride that pony. I don’t want to walk any farther and I don’t understand why God is taking me down a boring aisle to look at notebooks. I want what I want and I certainly can’t imagine that whatever He is doing is something I could possibly appreciate any more than that pony ride and those children’s books.

Let me break it down a bit more.

Lately God has taken Dan and I through changes we never wanted. Job changes. Housing changes. NICU changes. And we follow Him and I think of all the nice things I want. A nice house that we get to live in for more than a few months. A job where Dan can be home all of the time and love working at more than he loves playing baseball. A baby that makes it to a full 40 weeks and only spends two days in the hospital. And, as God takes me where He wants me to go, I look at all these other things and think how lovely they are, and I ask God for them. Meanwhile God is elsewhere working on something else that I don’t understand at all. But, like my projects for Lydia, I know that God’s plans are better, longer lasting, and for my own good. Someday I will look back and appreciate the trip we took and the gifts He was preparing. Someday I will be grateful that He didn’t do what I wanted and just give me a kid book and a 30 second ride on a pony.

I’ve been continuing my project: one year of thankful, but I’ve realized something more. While noticing blessings along the way will make the trip more enjoyable, the thing that makes the real difference is trusting that God has something good planned, something better than my own plans. Good for me. Good for my family. Good for Him. Good for His kingdom.

Kids have meltdowns in Meijer. It happens. And I’ve totally learned not to look down on a parent when their kid is crying because he didn’t get to ride Sandy. But grown-ups have meltdowns too. Sandy will always be a reminder to me, to trust God’s plans. They are better than the 30 second pony ride I think I want.

Romans 8:28
And we know that God causes all thing to work together for good to those who love God,
to those who are called according to His purpose.

Easter According to Lydia

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We had a wonderful Easter spending time together as a family and with friends, celebrating the resurrection of our Savior. There were new and pretty dresses. There was a potluck breakfast. There was a joyous Easter service. There were lots and lots of pictures. It was, indeed, a celebration. And on Monday, when all the festivities were over, Lydia agreed to share with you all what she has learned about Easter.

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