It’s been a stellar day at Shady Acres. It all began with footsteps on the stairs at 6:45. I was in the kitchen, making Certain Man his breakfast, and looked up to see the long tanned legs of Youngest Daughter come around the corner (the rest of her was attached — I just didn’t see it because of the overhead bar cabinet in our kitchen).
To say I was shocked is an understatement. Certain Man, in cahoots with Eldest Daughter and Beloved Son in Law, had managed to get her into the house at 1:30 AM after I was asleep. Sneaky Hobitses!!! I lifted up my voice and wept!!! Honestly! I have been so homesick for her, and wished so much that we could be together as a family this weekend, but it didn’t look possible! The story is a very long story as to how she got here, and how my husband arranged for this surprise, and I don’t think I will tell it at this point. It has enough drama to be a CM/CMW story, so it just might happen someday.
Some of you are aware of the direction that our life as a family has taken over the last few weeks. But some of you don’t, so I guess now is as good a time as any to clue you in. Our Oldest Son, Raph, and his Ohio Heart Throb, Regina, are moving to Ohio next week. The path that brought them to this decision has been covered in prayer at almost every turn, and Daniel and I are at peace with the decision. We believe that this is what God has for them at this point, and we are in support of them and this decision that they have wrestled with pretty much ever since their marriage almost two years ago.
In these last few tumultuous weeks, I have been reminded so often of the time when Daniel and I moved to Delaware from Ohio. I didn’t want to move to Delaware, and it was the most difficult thing I ever did. Looking back, I know that it was part of God’s plans for us as a family, and I’m glad that I believed that God wouldn’t make a mistake in my life if my attitude was right towards my husband, but I thought that Daniel was making a terrible mistake.
I remember talking to our pastor, Walter Beachy, one evening and trying to sort things out. “I just don’t understand,” I said, rather forcefully, as I recall, “How something can be God’s will, and I HATE IT SO MUCH!”
He didn’t cut me any slack. “Oh,” he said, matter of factly. “That happens all the time!” I suppose I suspected or even knew that, but I didn’t like it any better. And it is a little the way I feel in this situation, too, except that I’m a little wiser and a lot older now, and I know that how I feel about doing something really has very little to do with whether I should do it or not. (Except that sometimes the harder it is for me to do it, the “righter” it is.)
I am so proud of my tall son and his wife. I believe that they will be used by God where ever He leads them. I don’t know what is ahead, but I know them well enough to know that God will bring ministry opportunities to them that they will welcome and be involved in. I know that it isn’t easy for them to pull up and leave, and it isn’t easy for Daniel and I either. I’ve shed lots and lots of tears, and there have been times when it has been easy for me to ask hard questions of The Father.
“Would it have been so hard,” I asked Him the other morning, “to answer some of their most desperate prayers? You, who made the world and everything in it, couldn’t you have sent a soul friend for Gina to ease the loneliness? Couldn’t you have sent a job for Raph that was fulfilling and something he could have had a sense of future in? Couldn’t you have given them both creative ideas for investing in the things that answers to prayer are made of?” And I sobbed myself amost sick as I sat in my chair with my prayer journal and my faithful pen, scribbling page after page through hot, copious tears.
I do not ever hear an audible voice in those times when I wrestle with God and the prayers I want Him to answer (in my time and in my way, no less!). But He speaks peace to me through His Word, and in a persistent inner voice that speaks truth to me over and over again, and that was one morning when I felt to the depths of my being that God had some things for me to do in this situation and sitting on my chair and weeping wasn’t one of them. Just as I felt those long ago days, that the best thing for me to do was to get on with the business at hand, so I have felt strongly that the things for me to do NOW are to be as optimistic and upbeat as possible, to help where ever I can, and whenever I can. To bless and encourage and be happy and to believe in my heart that God has a plan in their lives for good that He is, even now, working out. Step by step. Moment by moment. As the days have passed, I’ve become more and more convinced that this plan for them, though I do not like it especially, also is part of His Plan for Daniel and I as parents, too.
And I don’t want to miss the best part. What is the best part? The best part is finding what God wants me to do in a given situation and then doing it with all my might. Even when I don’t like it. I’ve found that when I do what I’m supposed to do, even when the only thing that may be motivating me at that particular moment is the fact that I know it is the right thing to do, makes for true joy.
And do you know what else? I don’t want to miss the lesson. Over the years. another thing I’ve learned is that when things come into my life that I truly think I cannot bear, there is an extra special lesson there somewhere, just waiting for me to discover it. And the discovery is something that makes it not only bearable, but exciting.
So I look at this family that God has given to Daniel and I, and these next few weeks are fraught with change and uncertainty. Youngest Son, Lem, graduates with his Masters on May 16th. He has already started his new job in Philadelphia. His wife, Jessica is beginning her graduate school while continuing her job at the Veterans Administration. Raph and Gina leave for Ohio on May 13th. Rachel finishes Rosedale May 22nd, and about ten days later, she and Deborah are taking a short trip to Guatemala to visit Lupé, her husband, Ervin, and their little girl, Kimberly Nichole. And there are weddings and receptions and reunions and church events and newly bereaved neighbors and neighbors who are seriously ill, and the list goes on. But even as the list goes on with its overwhelming properties, the Heavenly Father says that His Strength and His Grace are not only available, but have been scarcely tapped.
Jeremiah 29:11 (New International Version)
11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
And these words are not just for Raph and Gina.
They are for Daniel.
And Jesse and Christina and Charis.
They are for Deborah.
And (yes!) for Raph and Gina.
They are for Lem and Jessica
And for Rachel.
They are for Me.
. . . and I give grateful praise.