This morning marks two years since we left our home in the Midwest we had lived in for sixteen years. This morning marks, for some, the day we left everything and everyone we knew and just left them behind. This morning marks for me, the day we dared to believe God for more. Today marks the day we believed that as long as we were together and God was with us there wasn't anything we couldn't do, any place we couldn't go, any new experience we couldn't go through. Sometimes leaving isn't about walking away but about walking toward something....more. It's not about a place or a people not being enough but about a place or a people needing you more even if you don't realize it or know it at the time. You see to me today doesn't mark the day we got into the cars and drove over a thousand miles away from our friends and family because we took all of them with us in our hearts. No today marks the day when we got into the cars and drove the thousand miles or so to the place that God had set for us, to the place that God had things for us to do, the place God had people who needed to be part of our lives we never would have met if we had stayed.
Here's the thing I know about God, He doesn't need our permission to do the works He is going to do. He isn't going to take a poll. He isn't going to ask around to see if He has a good idea because his ideas are always for our good. He doesn't even have to ask you, when you are the one being sent. God will accomplish what He wants one way or another and you, having the gift or the curse (depending on how you choose to look at it) of free will, can get on board and head to the blessing or not. I've been here for two years and I'm still not sure of the plan here. You see, he didn't come to me and say, "OK Heather, here is what we're going to do. You are going to go to this promised land in the south and you are going to get a job HERE, and you are going to meet THESE people, and you are going to do THESE things, and you are going to go to church HERE, and your kids are going to be blessed by this here." No, I didn't have that kind of conversation. He didn't come to me with charts and grafts and pictures.
In fact, when we arrived there was a moment as I stood inside my empty house and as I realized we were actually not going to automatically have friends and people we could count on that I thought, "Uh Oh what did we do?" As we tried to find a Walmart and find an air mattress and a toaster and something to eat and we didn't know what road led where and how to get from point a to point b and everything was so foreign and unfamiliar that maybe this was a mistake, and I questioned what we were doing here, and I thought maybe I heard God wrong or maybe it wasn't even God who sent us or put the desire in our hearts to come here, especially as my son walked around and said, "Nope. This is not going to work." Are you with me? Have you ever had those thoughts about anything in your life?
Fear and confusion and isolation are not our story though. If you were to take a snap shot at any point in our first year here you would find that picture, but that picture is not the story. Our stress and our confusion is not our story it is a byproduct of our lack of belief in things we cannot see. Our crying and our fear over things that we feel may not come are not our story, they are a byproduct of incapacity to believe God for who he says he is. It is a byproduct of our lack of believing God for what he can do. Stay with me here because you need to hear this. Someone needs to know this...even if I'm just reminding myself here. If I gave up every time I had doubts, every time I couldn't see where things were leading, when I was sure that God had picked the wrong girl, that I knew I was unworthy, God should have killed me and taken me away when I was a teenager. If he didn't want to do it then, He should have definitely taken me when my mother died and after I felt his presence at the foot of her bed and know he took her home himself and I fell into the pit after they lowered her into the ground anyway. When I went from being surrounded by people to never feeling so alone and isolated in my life. He should have taken me then. I'm not exactly sure of how much proof of God's existence you need when you've actually experienced feeling his presence in your own home but I did and I fell anyway. But that is a picture of my life it isn't the whole story.
Two years later my daughters have met people and made friends through school. My son is making friends with the entire varsity basketball team and talks to more girls than guys on his phone. I don't know whether to be scared or not by that. Two years later and my husband comes home and talks about one of the guys at work and laughs. Two years later and I am just as busy as I've ever been and I have adopted some of the kids I work with and have decided I don't care if they like it or not they are just our extra kids. One gal at work calls me mom and shows me pictures of her son who she calls my grandson. I've only ever seen him in pictures but he is so stinking cute I can hardly stand it.
Two years later a house is a house and anywhere we are together is home. This place where we were lost and couldn't find the airport, where we went to a random Walmart and didn't know our way home in those first two days, we now drive all over. We know our way around and if we leave to go somewhere to visit we know when we are getting close to home because this too has now become familiar.
Let me tell you something, this writing thing isn't familiar. Some of you may or may not know that in school I didn't do a lot of reading. In junior high and high school it was my best friend who read a lot of books and did some writing. I preferred English to literature. It was faster. I didn't have time to read books I was too busy reading people. I was too busy looking at boys. I was too busy trying to find anywhere I could go to get away from my home life because home was not where I wanted to be and if I had just picked up a book I could have escaped from the safety of my room with my door locked so the horrors of my house couldn't come and get me. I didn't read in school aside from what I had to read. I didn't go to college and study English and literature. I didn't major in creative writing. I didn't major in anything I've ever used. My degrees are in Medical Assisting and Marketing and I couldn't market anything over and above a garage sale to save my life. I didn't intend to write, I just talk a lot and found I had things to share that couldn't possibly be from me because I was a stay at home mom and I'm not exactly Chaucer over here.
My mom died and while I was in the pit God started talking to me and I found things to write about to find my blessings in the middle of my heartache. I found humor in my daily life. I found God had a message he wanted to share and I had to write it down because while I can talk to you one on one all day long whether I know you or you are just trying to check out my groceries I can't talk to a group of people and share what God is telling me. I'm not even qualified to share it anyway. I'm just a girl who has jumped from one pit to another and stayed at home and raised kids and doesn't hold the degrees or the education to share it anyway. I didn't intend to become a writer (I'm not even sure if you could call me a writer except that I keep typing things out and here you are reading it.) but when I started writing I couldn't stop writing. I couldn't not share what I felt needed to be shared. I have two books and only about a thousand people read them and I only really thought that my best friend and my grandma were going to read them anyway. They were a 'what if' experiment that I didn't know where God was going to go with it and I am still unsure where God is taking me on this journey anyway. I don't have to know because if I know then I can see and then I can take credit and I can't take credit because I don't know what I'm doing to begin with. I don't need to know the plan because if I know the plan I can say no and stay on my couch where it's safe, where it's home, and I never learn anything new. If I know the plan then do I really have faith? I have to have faith because I don't know why I started this writing thing to begin with. I wanted to be a fashion designer. I wanted to be a fashion buyer. I wanted to do something in fashion because clothes and shoes I understand (or at least I did before the world went crazy), don't ask me to explain the ways of God to you, don't ask me to explain poetry to you, don't ask me to explain why Nicholas Sparks books always have a death or a sadness in them because I don't know.
Listen, we drove away two years ago and I may live a thousand miles away from everyone I ever knew but I know what is happening. I know how God is working in our lives and in the lives of my friends. I pray and I see God at work. My best friend's mom just moved away from the home she lived in for well over forty years and yesterday I was told about how God showed her mom how this was the right place for her to be, closer to her daughter. One of my other dear friends has a daughter who is battling a brain tumor and yesterday I was told that the doctor was pretty sure he got it all with the second surgery. She still has a long road ahead but God is showing that this is only part of her story and I'm believing God that there is more for her. I have other friends that have had a hard year. Some things have worked out and some haven't but I'm praying for all of them. My own daughters have had some struggles this year but sometimes we have to walk through the fire to get to the promise. God doesn't leave you when things get hard, he gets to work and we have to get to work too. I don't know what that looks like for you. I don't know your story. I just want to remind you that whatever you are going through isn't and doesn't have to be your story. It's just a snapshot, a picture that is going into a larger picture. Don't get stuck. Put on your armor of faith and get to believing God has more.