I have felt the prompting of the Holy Spirit for some time now encouraging me to write down the events of this past year and share them as an encouragement to others. I hope that it might be so for you as you read all that God has done in our lives over the last year.
In the beginning of last year my husband was working about 70-80 hours a week at a job that was difficult and demanding, I struggled with being home alone with the boys for days on end as we only have one car. I also desperately missed my husband and his companionship, support, and help. We had been praying about this circumstance for many months seeking the Lord and hoping for some reprieve from the hectic schedule and hopefully putting priorities in the right place. As we approached April we both strongly felt the Lord’s leading for Dan to leave his job. We were so excited and felt such a peace about this choice, we knew that this was what God wanted even though Dan didn’t have another job lined up yet, we felt that God was asking us to trust Him. So as we neared June, when Dan would be leaving his job, we looked forward to it with anticipation. Dan did not look for another job, we trusted and felt God leading us to wait on His timing. About a week after he left his job he had an interview for a great management position, we just knew that this was what God had been planning for him and we were so excited. He, however, did not get the job and we were both quite upset, really questioning what we had both felt that God had led Dan to do in leaving his job. But we prayed that God would help us to trust, and He did.
Later on in the summer Dan had another very promising job interview that also did not result in the job we were hoping for. This was devastating to me, it really brought me to my knees, I was so angry, so hurt that God would lead us here and then leave us. I begged God to be close to me, to let me worship Him and find joy even in this hardship. All that He said was: “Go lower.” I knew that what He was saying was a hard pill to swallow, He wanted me to humble myself, He was basically saying what He said to Job in the storm: “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?” Essentially who are you to question my sovereignty and plans? So through tears, and heart broken in my hands I wept and sang, I worshiped my Father, because after all He is still worthy of our praise, even in the storm.
We were starting to get discouraged, and starting to run out of resources. I don’t think a day passed by where I didn’t literally cry out to my Father, bringing my weeping brokenness before Him. I was so afraid we would lose our house, not be able to feed our children, where would we go? Did He really lead us here? I wanted faith that was unshakable, I wanted to be filled with Him, I wanted a humble heart, I had prayed for these things, but did it have to come this way? Wasn’t there some easier way?
There was some beauty amidst the struggle, we found out we were pregnant with our third son, which was such a wonderful anniversary present. And Dan was able to pick up a few odd jobs doing janitorial work and mowing lawns. As October rolled around and we continued to pray we felt God leading Dan back to his old job, the one he had left more than 4 months before. We didn’t know if his boss would even take him back, or if it was something we felt up for, but we trusted and followed God’s leading. We felt very much like the Israelites in the desert, not moving unless the cloud moves, and when it does you better go! Dan’s boss let him come back and agreed to less hours so that Dan could be home with us more often. What a blessing! We now know that God used that precious bittersweet time to draw us deeply into His presence, as much as I begged God to provide a job for Dan I knew I would miss that desperate, fully dependent relationship with God. Lean times lend themselves to a depth of relationship that in full times it is a struggle to experience. God graciously carried us through the next few months while Dan was still working 3 jobs because of commitments he had made. I learned that I didn’t mind if my husband worked many hours, I was thankful that he had a job and that he was loving us so sacrificially.
As I was nearing the end of my pregnancy Dan woke me up around 2am telling me that there was a fire in the house. There was smoke pouring out of our heating exchange. We quickly gathered the children up and sat out in our van in front of our house in the very cold night air as 4 fire trucks filled with firemen unloaded and trudged through our home to inspect and extinguish the fire. We had a fire in our heating/cooling system that by the grace of God (and Dan’s procrastination) was caught early enough that there was no damage done to the house. Thankfully that night we could sleep at our house, although restlessly. But the next few nights we had to stay at a friend’s house because it was so cold and our heater was damaged enough that it could not be operated. We had someone come out and inspect the damage of the heater, it was extensive, but there were so many things wrong with it, and all of them saved our lives. The vents leading into and out of the home were not installed correctly which forced the smoke into the home so we caught the fire quite early. The system was actually pumping CO into our house that we had no idea about and it could have been very dangerous for our baby if it had continued to go on. And the system itself was old and in need of replacing anyway, it was such a blessing that it happened this way because we would not have been able to afford to replace it. At this time it was close enough to my due date that we needed to get back into the house with heat as soon as possible as I was planning a homebirth. Thankfully through some adjustments and very kind people we were able to get our heating system replaced within a few days, not the few weeks we had been quoted.
Our son, Ari, was born several weeks later at home and because it happened so quickly only my husband was present for the birth. (that is a whole other story) Unfortunately after he was born he was struggling to breath correctly and we chose to take him into the hospital where they admitted him and put him on a breathing machine. He was in the hospital for 7 days receiving hard core antibiotics for a suspected infection. It was hard seeing our son in that place, Dan and I took shifts so that he wasn’t alone for more than a few hours. We were at the hospital for hours everyday and even overnight sometimes, but it allowed us to have special time with him that we might not have had otherwise. Being the youngest of three doesn’t get you as much attention, so I suppose he needed to do whatever he could to get ours. It was wonderful seeing our family really come together and help out, we will forever be grateful for their sacrifices so we could be with Ari. God had us in this too, He overwhelmed us with His joy, strength, and peace. After the full week was over he came home and we were so pleased to have our whole family together again. But he was in the hospital again about a week later after a very scary choking incident, I was so afraid that we were going to lose him. I was so overcome with emotion as I held him on the way to the hospital in the ambulance that I could not even remember my birthday. Once again God was gracious and comforting, holding me as I held my little son. Thankfully we went home that night, but all I could think about was God’s grace. I was overwhelmed with it, I could not understand why He would be so gracious to me to allow me to keep my son. Our God is good and He gives good gifts, even when they might not look that way from the outside.
Things were simple for a few months up until several weeks ago when once again we had to call 911 for our oldest son, Eli. (I have called 911 more in these last 4 months than I have in my entire life!) Eli was playing outside with Dan and Liam when he fell against a 3 foot long 4×4 that had a nail in it. The nail had been hammered to the board so did not seem to be a cause for concern but some how Eli got his leg caught on it. Between the fire department and the paramedics they could not figure out how to remove it, so they just took Eli with the whole 3 foot long 4×4 attached to the hospital. I was so overwhelmed with emotions that I could not even stay outside with him for fear that I would upset him more. Dan thankfully was with him and rode with him to the hospital. I had a friend come watch the little boys and headed to the hospital as fast as I could. All the while praying that God would be a comfort to Eli and that his body would not be in pain. When I arrived at the hospital they had just got done doing X-rays and he was smiling and happy to see me, 4×4 still attached. I thought for sure they had given him something for the pain because he was acting so normal, but they hadn’t yet. God had heard my prayer and was so present with Eli. They were able to remove the nail without having to do any stitches and there was not damage to muscle or bone. God was so gracious to him, although I worry that Eli will never get the chance to tell his truly epic story because there probably won’t be any scarring. We did stay the night at the hospital to make sure no infections came on but the next day they let us go home. After that the hardest part was getting him to not run around and play!
After such an exciting year I am looking forward to everything else God has prepared for us. I always wanted to live a life of adventure, I just never pictured it looking like this. I am so thankful for all that God has taught me over this past year about who He is, who I am in Him, and how much He loves us. I feel humbled that God would love me so much to allow me to walk through these things with Him so that I might come to know Him more deeply. Who am I that He would choose to allow me to know Him in such an intimate way? That He would love me and carry me through all these things? All I know is I am so thankful that He tore the veil and there is no longer separation between us. May He take you into His refiners fire and remove all the dross, He does it ever so gently…