2016 was a year of tremendous change for our family. Our life looks completely different as we welcome 2017 than it did this time last year, and I can't wait any longer to share what God has done for us!
It started in October 2014 when I just all of a sudden became utterly fed up with the way we were living. We were struggling financially with no breakthrough in sight, we were spoiled in Birmingham and had everything at our fingertips that I thought was essential to a fulfilled life—we were spoiled at our church with the free coffee, comfy seats, deluxe childcare and smiling familiar faces everywhere we turned. We were spoiled with all of our favorite stores and attractions for endless entertainment. And we were headed toward bankruptcy, our bank account reflecting how much we had tried to keep up with the Joneses.
So I got fed up, and I started pacing around the exterior perimeter of our home during naptime—literally praying circles around our home, our family, our future—pleading with God to completely change our lives. I wanted Him to take us waaaaay out of our comfort zone and do something new. This couldn't be His script for our life, and I was eager to read His version.
Well, He took the opportunity to shake things up for us. I found out quickly after that our church was opening a campus in my hometown. I felt immediately drawn to it, but I'd never wanted to move back there and wondered what our involvement might be. Then, in April, the Mr. accepted a new job in a new field (banking instead of insurance). At the end of May, I had been looking at houses that we might be able to better afford, and I found what seemed like my DREAM HOME in a pretty bad neighborhood, in the very town I'd sworn I'd never move back to. And I saw a vision of us living in that neighborhood, reaching out to the needy in that area, and leveraging every square inch of that house to minister to the needs of our neighbors. I found a realtor, and Kelley and I went to look at it the next day. It was so perfect, I just fell in love with that house! It had been on the market for almost three years and was a foreclosure, so I knew we could get it in our price range. But we agreed that if this was a move we needed to make, the Lord would have to make it all come together.
The next day, I felt the Lord prompting me to put a For Sale sign in our yard.
We didn't think we were really in any position to sell our house. It had been somewhat updated when we bought it, but the kitchen and bathrooms needed to be redone, there were some repairs and maintenance that needed to be done, and then the curb appeal—well, we had a list of things we thought would have to happen before we could list it. And yet, I felt so strongly that we were to put it up for sale.
So we did. I got so overwhelmed by ALL THE CALLS and showings that started within hours that I decided we needed to list with an agent. Once we listed, it sold IN EIGHT DAYS FOR ASKING PRICE. Y'all, I can't even. We didn't update a thing, we asked WAY more than what we paid for it, and within about a week, it sold. I knew this was the Lord's hand. And every step since then to get us to Gadsden has been a last-minute miracle. The whole way, we just took our hands off of the process and asked the Lord to lead us like innocent, blind sheep. We were able to pay off our consumer debt, we sold about half of our stuff, and moved into a house half the size of our older one. We are renting without a lease or a time frame, and just living simply moment by moment until God shows us our next step. It has been so freeing!
I really thought that once we moved here, God would move further and we would get the dream house I found. But we honestly just haven't felt peace about buying a house again. It is like time has stopped, and while I worry that we're losing momentum, I'm learning that God has us in a season of rest and preparation, and I'm purposing to make the best of it. Our family experienced major transition: a new job, selling our very first home where all three of our kids had their first birthday parties, a move away from close friends to a town I swore I'd never return to call home again, a new church campus, a longer commute for the Mr., coming out from the weight of burdensome debt...Phew. I need a nap just talking about it!
Is it easy now? Not at all. In a lot of ways, life has gotten a lot tougher. We are in close quarters here with about half the space, I am homeschooling our oldest, we don't get to see Kelley much at all, and we are still trying to find exactly where we fit here. I struggle to have patience when I don't see the pieces falling into place. But following God is not without risks or challenges. It IS hard, but it is also a very rich life. I can feel pieces of myself getting stronger, brighter, more resilient. I can sense inner storms beginning to calm. I can feel the growth.
The thing about growth is that the process is usually one filled with tension. Think about a seed planted deep within the soil, in isolation and darkness before it ever sprouts into life. Or a baby being developed deep inside its mother, in darkness and quiet. They can't see where they are headed, so they sit and wait. And trust. Trust not the process, because things can happen that interfere with the process, but they trust the God of the process. Trust that His heart is good, and His way is sovereign. Nothing catches Him by surprise, and no plan of His can be thwarted.
With all of that, I have a full, expectant heart entering into this new year. I have NO IDEA where all of this is headed, but I just want to keep my eyes on Jesus, the Author and Finisher of my faith.