Tuesday, September 28, 2010

A Tale of Two Cities

When I was little I would always hear someone on the radio or t.v. say, "We're gonna take a trip down Memory Lane," and I would smile thinking to myself, "Well we'll leave the light on for you." If you haven't figured that out yet we LIVED on Memory Lane. I always thought for those taking that "trip" it would be a short one as we lived at a dead end street. I have a lot of memories myself of that yellow house, the last one on the left with the wooden 663 numbers that I made in shop class adorning the top of the garage. Ok so they were really two 9's upside down, but I thought that gave our house "character."

Today I am the one taking that same trip.

I am going to take you on a trip. Our map will be Psalm 77, and I will act as your tour guide making you stop along the way to explain how God has been working in our family's life.

Much has happened since I saw you all last. Not to mention that I had a hard time getting onto my OWN blog today since I could not remember the blog address OR the password!!!!

My Bible was given to me by my Father in Law in 2005 upon arriving home from Mongolia. Both Joel and I's Bibles were stolen, yes stolen, and we had been months without one. My only consolation is that if someone knew English (a stretch) and decided to READ my Bible (another stretch) they could get saved and it would be worth losing my favorite book. Someday we'll see. When my Father in Law gave me my new Bible as a gift I asked him to write in it and then waited for the one other person I wanted to write in it. One of my favoritest people in all of this whole world, the good Dr. M. Today as I flip through my Bible and all the many notes I have penned, the notes of encouragement from these two men mean the world to me.

Over Psalm 77 I have written "Waiting on God for a house 12/2/06"

I have read this passage more times than I can recall. I have read it angrily, frustrated, sad, lonely, hope full and the like. Today I share it with you as a huge mile marker in my life.God has, in the last 4 years, cultivated the fallow ground of my heart many many times thorough these verses. Of all the people I am thankful for in the Bible, David is hight on my list. I like to peel him back like an onion, and he begins this chapter for us:

"I cried unto God with my voice, even unto God with my voice; and he gave hear unto me. In the day of my trouble I sought the Lord: my sore ran in the night, and ceased not: my soul refused to be comforted." (Psalm 77:1-2)

Have you ever "refused" to be comforted? Had something that just burdened you, frustrated you, depressed you and you REFUSED to be comforted????? Our house sweet and tiny as it is in all it's glory on Haywood became such a source of frustration for me and sometimes I refused to be comforted by the fact that God WAS working, planning, preparing a new place for us as we burst at the seams on a daily basis. On one of those "Where are you God?" moments in my life I remember a sweet lady from our church who obviously felt our plight giving me a stained glass wall hanging that read, "Our home is just a little place, but God knows where we live." I would only add to this statement somedays with...."and that we are out of peanut butter." Little does she know how many times I hung what little faith I had left on this wall hanging. On one of those occasions, God led me again to Psalm 77 right before a date with my husband. This time verses 3 and 4 hit me where it hurt.

"I remembered God, and was troubled: I complained, and my spirit was overwhelmed. Selah Thou beholdest mine eyes waking: I am so troubled that I cannot speak."

Next to these verses I have my occasional exclamation point indicating that this really made an impression on me or made me change the way I think, along with a cross reference. Matthew 8:20.

Ah Matthew 8:20. I have to sigh remembering this verse.

As I mentioned Joel and I were heading out for a date night. Usually a source of great anticipation and joy, but not that day. I was feeling forgotten by God. I was feeling like I "deserved" a house. A NICE BIG house. Didn't he see that we NEEDED one? While standing in line at a restaurant the Holy Spirit rebuked me for my selfishness and pride and then it came. Matthew 8:20.

"And Jesus saith unto him, The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head."

Immediately I looked around the restaurant as if everyone knew what was transpiring in my heart, and hung my head in shame. Before I could even explain to Joel why I was being reduced to a literal puddle of tears, the accusation came, "Who am I to demand a house when the Lord of all didn't even have a place to lay his head?" My heart condemned me and I was just as Psalm 77:4 describes. I was "so troubled that I (could not) speak." If I remember correctly we had to go and sit somewhere and I had to just weep and try to tell Joel what God was doing in my heart as we waited for our table to open up and them I cried most of the way through dinner at the sinfulness of my heart.

so Matthew 8:20 has a special place in my heart and is written in the margin of this chapter we are walking through.

We now skip down to verses 7,8 and 9. Not because the other verses aren't chock full of wisdom and worth reading, but because you all have much more to do today than sit on here and read my life's story!

These verses bring us to a rainy day physically and spiritually in my life. A month or so before this time I had gone through a house with a real estate agent by myself which is not normally our practice. Joel must have been busy, I cannot recall now, but here I was going through a house that meant a lot to our family. It was a house that had been in several of our church families possession at one time or another and frankly I had picked it out as my "Promised Land." I tell you if you can just WILL something to happen, I would be typing this right now in that house! I am ashamed and embarrassed to tell you that I even stooped so low as to drive by that house with my arm out the window praying over that house. (ok now forget that you just read that and think of me as a normal person again....) I just thought I KNEW what was best for our family and could not understand why God was dragging his feet on giving it to us. I had come so far that I thought, I really thought that God would somehow just give it to us free as can be. It was on that day that I went thought the house with the agent I told you about. When she drew me in for the "catch" and through out the inflated price for a house that had been vacant for some time I took a deep breath and told her flat out that this house was NOT in any way shape or form in our meager budget, but if God wanted us to have this house HE would give it to us. I then waited for her to somehow hear from heaven as Saul did and upon her knees beg me to sign the papers for our free house.

Well that did not happen as you know, and when I rode home in the rain, the bucket of tears fell as the rain upon my windshield. These tears however were not tears of repentance, but burned with anger in my heart.

In a fit I through myself in the blue chair and as I read this chapter once again, verses 7, 8 and nine could have been written by my own hand.

"Will the Lord cast off for ever? and will he be favorable no more? Is his mercy clean gone for ever? doth his promise fail for evermore? Hath God forgotten to be gracious? hath he in anger shut up his tender mercies? Selah"

Have you ever felt forgotten? I have. Next to these verses I have penned Philippians 4:19- "But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus." By FAITH I gave this over to God and said, "YOU know what we NEED. I am going to rest in the fact that you know better, a LOT better than me." and I thanked him for all that he HAD provided for our growing family.

The following verses began to echo in my heart, "And I said, This is my infirmity: but I will remember the years of the right hand of the most high. I will remember the works of the Lord: surely I will remember thy wonders of old. I will meditate also of all thy work, and talk of thy doings." (Psalm 77:10-12)

Today I look back on this chapter of my life and can now recount what God has done and rejoice in verse 14 which before I claimed by faith only:

"Thou art the God that doest wonders: thou hast declared thy strength among the people."
I did alright in this area for a while, even grew to downright love my tiny piece of home sweet home and the old worn blue chair to boot! And then right when I was getting right cozy and preparing to stay squeezed in there on Haywood until the Lord's returnin', now what do you think happened?? I'll give you a hint. What happened is what usually happens when we finally let go and let GOD BE GOD to us.


I will pause a moment so that you have time to recover from the fall you took out of your chair......

Seriously. IT.SOLD.

Not on the market, No sign in the yard. Someone heard we might want to move and was interested enough to get things movin' and one thing after another and we were signing papers with a temporary place to go.

Deep down I always wondered if God did not want to move us to keep us from putting permanent roots down here in Youngstown.

I was right.

When the house sold, we both overwhelmingly knew something was coming. I pressed the last of the Johhy Jump-ups in the pages of my Bible and could not wait to see what God would do. It was during this time that the Lord brought to mind a verse in the very next chapter, Psalm 78: 19- "Yea, they spake against God; they said, Can God furnish a table in the wilderness?"

It may seem like a weird verse to you, but when you have just sold the only house you have known in your 11 years of married life, the apartment you were supposed to move into fell through at the LAST MINUTE and you are taking up residency in the prophet's chamber of your sweet friend's basement.......

Well, you begin to think a little.

God did all this.......BUT CAN HE.........?

And then I read how the children of Israel saw all of God's miraculous doings and STILL questioned. They doubted his goodness to them.


It seemed like days that God brought this verse to my mind....... over and over and over until finally out loud once I said, "I BELIEVE YOU!"

And yet in my heart I hesitated.

"Can GOD?" he replied.

I finally said in desperation, "Lord, help my unbelief."

And He did, and we then found out that there was a church in NY that was looking for a Pastor. They came looking for us, we did no searching or prying. We had learned to wait on God and let HIM be HIM. And He sure was.

To make my longer story even shorter, Friday we say "Goodbye" to all we have known as a family and hitch our wagons to a start headed for a new city that puts the "R" in Rural. Or as we have begun to call it, "A little bit of heaven on earth." :-)

God has led us to a small country church where we can live simply as a family and love on these people until the Lord comes.

Just writing that gladdens my heart and mind.

Are we sad, yes, are we tickled pink that every detail, down to someone giving us lights to put in the windows of our new large four bedroom house, we have the desire of our hearts in more ways than we can express?????



Today I look back on this chapter of my life and can now recount what God has done and rejoice in verse 14 which before I claimed by faith only:

"Thou art the God that doest wonders: thou hast declared thy strength among the people."

I can think of no other way to close this account of God's undeserved favor to us by this verse:

Psalm 118:23 "This is the LORD‘S doing; it is marvellous in our eyes."


(To all those of you whom have so fervently prayed God would bless us with a bigger house, He has answered your prayers above and beyond what we could ever ask or think! Thank you.)