16 Oct NEVER FORGET- GODS PROVISION THROUGH THE MESS
We hear that a lot. Especially around 9/11. But we do forget. Often. And quickly. Personally, I forget a lot, and I’m pretty sure I’m not alone. Hello, Israelites grumbling about manna and desiring to be back in Egypt! We all forget how far the Lord has brought us and instead focus on the pain of our current circumstances. This can leave us feeling alone. As though God is distant and doesn’t hear our pleas for help. Lost and in despair.
After years of “forgetting,” my husband and I determined to put a stop to this reckless pattern. We committed to remembering that God is NOT distant. He is an ever-present help in times of trouble. (Psalm 46:1) He hears the cries of our heart and collects our tears. And so, we started an Ebenezer journal. In hopes of “never forgetting.”
Our very first entry in that journal was of God providing for us in great and miraculous ways as we were in our very own, self-made desert. But one made with the best of intentions. My husband is a photographer. After years of renting a studio space miles from our house, it was time for him to work from home. It was a good plan with a God-centered focus – be more available for family, be a good steward of our finances, and not be alone and isolated on days he wasn’t shooting. All good things right?
We looked into adding studio space onto our current home. The city said no due to zoning and the hunt for a home we could add onto began. We found THE perfect, mid-century modern house (MCM) and made an offer immediately. And when I say immediately, I mean like, before walking out the door of our first and only visit. Our offer was accepted and we were quickly under contract. Bam. Just like that. We were now facing the challenges of selling our current house, packing it up, and the necessary remodeling & construction on the new house. Oh, did I forget to mention that our “new house” hadn’t been touched since it was built in 1958? And that part of our plan included ripping off the roof in the back half of the house to add a second floor?
I walked into our new house for the second time and burst into tears. It was a dump! Flea ridden and filthy. What were we thinking? How had we let the excitement of living in a MCM home cloud our better judgement? On June 7th, our 10th wedding anniversary, my husband demoed our “new” kitchen in order to “get the ball rolling.” We were going to save time, work efficiently, and live in our new house as we remodeled it. Everything was going to be just fine. Until it wasn’t.
As with most projects, things move along much faster and smoother in your head. Am I right? During the gutting process of the master bathroom, a leak was found. This led to gutting the hall bathroom as well. Which ultimately led to my husband telling me there was no way we would be able to live in our new home during the construction. He chose to share this information the week we needed to move out of our old house and into the new. God’s timing is perfect…but man’s timing? Not so much. I was devastated. Balling, cursing, blaming my husband for everything that had gone wrong. It was not my finest moment. Where were we going to live? What were we going to do? We had two boys to care for and could not afford an apartment while renovating. BUT GOD.
“He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.” (Ecclesiastes 3:11) God is so good and so faithful. In the midst of my rants, a dear friend called and said that her mentor was going on sabbatical for the summer and “felt like God was telling her that someone needed their home while they were gone and that she had been clearing out space in the closets and fridge.” One thing led to another, and the next thing I knew, we were living in the amazing home of a sweet, Christ-focused couple we had never met. Not only that, we lived there for 6 weeks. Yes, six weeks! Annnnnd, the home came complete with an amazing backyard, media room, and playroom. To say it was a blessing is an understatement. We celebrated birthdays for both boys in this precious home, ate our weight in Blue Bell Key Lime Pie ice cream, and watched amazing fireworks on the 4th of July in the town’s square. And if the story had ended there and all the blessings ceased, I would point to those times and exclaim God’s goodness.
Weeks went by and new problems arose, bringing more challenges and a lot more tears. Despite our contractor’s best efforts, there was no way we would be in our home any time soon. Weeks turned into months, and by God’s grace, it was summer. Friends went on vacations and, knowing we were in need of a place to stay, offered their homes to us while they were away. This happened not once, but three times! Just when everything would seem dark and without hope, another friend would call us out of the blue and offer up their home. We got really good at living out of suitcases, and God never stopped providing. Not once. “And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19)
After seven moves in three months, we were finally able to move into our new home. And while there was still work to be completed, God showed up time and time again. “But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” (Isaiah 40:31) We were determined to “never forget,” writing each blessing and provision down in our Ebenezer journal. It became a way to honor God and remember His goodness. As a result of this process, our home has been dedicated to the Lord and we now effort to use the space He has provided to bless our family, friends, and neighborhood community. Whether it’s hosting kids after school and sporting events, or hosting bible studies and recovery groups in our upstairs addition – this is God’s space.
To this day, when things get hard, we open our journal and look back at God’s hand in our lives. We continue to journal and encourage our boys to do the same. I don’t want to be like Israel roaming the wilderness for 40 years, longing for slavery again despite God’s visible, tangible, presence and provision (Exodus, Numbers, Joshua 5:6). I want to remember all of the ways God has richly blessed us and dance in the streets while praising the goodness of our Lord, just like David in 2 Samuel 6. He is such a good, good Father. I hope our story encourages others to sing of the Lord’s goodness, write down His provisions and answered prayers, and trust in the Lord for all things. Because in all honesty, despite our best efforts, we do forget.