I’m sitting in the middle of boxes and packing tape and chaos. Life has been too busy for thinking lately. But today, I took some time and looked around … and I remembered how …
… fourteen years ago, we moved into this house up on a hill. My girls were 7 and 11.
Honestly? I didn’t want to move from North Carolina to the Detroit area. The moving and stress all took a toll and I remember how one day, I was unpacking tons of stuff, missing friends, realizing furniture didn’t fit as I had planned, and dragging huge garment boxes to the garage. Mostly I was feeling loss. And I started complaining to God. “I didn’t want this, Lord.” It was almost bitter, that phrase that I kept saying out loud. “I didn’t want this.”
We loved North Carolina. We left behind wonderful friends and a beautiful place because of changes in my husband’s job. I had trusted God throughout the process and I knew He was leading us here. But that didn’t make it easy or wanted. I remember telling Him I didn’t want to leave all the beauty in North Carolina. And hearing His response: “I’ll show you the beauty where you’re going.”
I couldn’t have dreamed of all the beauty God had planned for me here in Michigan. There are some things you can see with the eye and some for which I have no pictures.
I’ve lived here now the longest I’ve lived anywhere other than my childhood home in Ohio. When we were house-hunting here, we named our favorite contenders. There was The Lodge and The Great Fireplace and this house … the Family Home.
My girls have grown up here. And the evergreens in our yard have grown up, too — into my giant Backyard Ladies. I’m gonna miss those Ladies. We’ve driven down our dirt road thousands of times, surfing potholes, sliding on ice, and willing the golden autumn canopy above to linger longer. “Trees, hold onto your leaves!” But they didn’t.
For years, we started our homeschool day with devotions and then reading great literature out loud together — some of my best memories. Regan held our dog, Jane, who was talented at acting out parts. We made science projects in the backyard (Gillian was the bug-catcher) and traveled to Detroit to the art museum or shows or, later, good coffee shops or operas. Sat by the light of the Christmas tree and fireplace on cold nights. We were given wonderful friends by the carload and the houseful.
For the girls, sledding down the steep Big Mama with friends in the winter was a must in our neighborhood. And in the summer, they wheeled around on neighbors’ golf carts and then our riding mower. And then our cars. There were dark fall nights by a bonfire listening to the cricket choir. Birthday celebrations in the dining room. And music … our house was always full of all kinds of music, and friends and students came to sing or practice or learn.
We’ve named squirrels and watched rabbits, chipmunks, cranes, snakes, and herds of deer in our yard, and tried not to hear the eerie coyotes howl at night. Every July brought our county fair — just a walk down the dirt road — with pig races, fireworks, elephant ears, newborn calves, and a rodeo.
And somehow now my girls are 21 and 25.
Reading this back, I wonder if it sounds idyllic. It wasn’t. We are human and there were mistakes and very hard things and painful days. But today, I’m looking back … because I’m going forward. I need to remember and acknowledge the great and abundant gifts God gave us when He brought us here. He could see what I could not. He gives such good gifts. Better than I could ever have chosen. And I am so very, very thankful.
When God did something great for the Israelites, they left stones as markers: reminders of His goodness and faithfulness. So I guess this blog post is my Marker as I leave a major season of life and go on, ready and trusting Him with an unknown path. I want to plant this marker deep, leave the words where they won’t be forgotten: God is faithful and good. He goes behind and before me.
Maybe you’re going forward, too? Or leaving something or someone behind? A home. A treasured season of life. Your dreams. A loved one. Maybe it’s very hard … and you’re saying, “I didn’t want this, God.” And you’re not able to understand the Why of it. I can’t tell you the reason. I don’t know. But I know something more important. I know Him.
Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup; you make my lot secure.
The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance.
It’s okay to leave. To go forward when He walks with you. There will be good things ahead. Broken pieces repaired. Pruned plants that grow. New buds on trees. Dead things brought to life.
I have a delightful inheritance. Where ever I go, He’ll show me the beauty. It might not be the easy beauty of snapping pictures of His creation. It might be the beauty of sacrifice, or forgiveness, or the growth that comes from discomfort. And that will be good. I’ll take what matters with me.
“I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through Him who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:12-13 (Paul, written in prison)
Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?” John 11:40