photos by: Melissa Michaels
I have always looked forward to autumn. I love putting away the summer decor and bringing out the warm fluffy blankets and fall pillows. I daydream about cold evenings with my family nestled together by the fire. I picture a cozy life of comfort and void of stress. Yes, I know. I am a dreamer.
Contrary to my dreams, my real life involves a little more stress than I’d like. More than once over the past couple of years I’ve wanted to hide under my warm cozy sheets in the morning and not peek my head out at all. Not even to bake brownies.
Next month will mark two years since our life felt “comfortable.” In the fall of 2007, my husband found out his job was going to be outsourced. I remember the day he told me our world was going to change. I felt my heart sink to my knees and my stomach do flip flops.
While the news of the loss of income was a blow, we both knew this change was just what we needed in order to step out of our comfort zone and do what God was calling us to do. Sometimes we have to experience something uncomfortable to grow.
We spent twelve long months in 2008 with no steady paycheck. I don’t know what timetable I was expecting, but a YEAR without his paycheck wasn’t really something I envisioned. Winter turned to spring, spring, turned to summer and then it was fall once again.
In January of 2009, we finally embarked on the opportunity we knew God had prepared for us. We were heading to Washington to start a brand new church. We were excited and humbled by what God had done during those long seemingly silent months. He was at work even when we could not see it.
We packed up most of our belongings, put our Portland house on the market and headed out the door full of hope for our new life!
As we took off in our mini-van to make the drive up to Washington that cold and wintry morning, we encountered some of the worst driving conditions we had ever experienced. We had no chains or snow tires or four wheel drive. Our son cried from the backseat as we watched cars spin out all around us, colliding and landing in ditches. But God brought us through the storm safely.
Little did we know on that cold, icy drive would not be the last of the storms we’d face this year.
In spite of the difficult real estate market, we received an offer on our home. I thought for sure that signaled the end of our struggles and we could buy the home we had been renting. I was so excited about the answered prayers and again felt hopeful.
But in the spring, our home buyers walked away from the purchase the day before closing. I hung up the phone after hearing the news and cried. I had to call off our home purchase in Washington and sink back into the season of unknowns. Had God forgotten us? What happened to that answered prayer? This was not what I hoped for.
We picked ourselves up from that disappointment and put our house back on the market. Certainly God could bring good from this — the kind of good I wanted. Yet, spring turned to summer without a new sale. We found ourselves in a season of confusion.
While we were praising God for the amazing things we saw Him doing through the beginnings of the new church, we were still paying for a house back in Portland. We were sure God brought us to Washington, we just didn’t want two houses. It was hard to keep hopeful and encouraged.
I am not sure if I should have a sense of humor about this next incident or not, but I allow myself to chuckle about it. While making what was supposed to be an uneventful trip back to Portland in July, I had to be taken to the ER for for emergency surgery. I ended up recuperating for three weeks, stuck in the home that wouldn’t sell. At least I had a familiar place to stay, right?
Summer has now given way to back to school sales and cooler nights. As I write this, our house remains unsold. We’ve done everything we can humanly think of to sell that house and prayed a million prayers. At this point, we don’t even know where we will live at the end of September as our rental agreement in Washington is due to expire since we didn’t buy the house as planned. The leap of faith to move up here has required even more trust in God than I ever imagined.
Do I wake up every day and praise Him even in the storms, simply because He is God? I’ll admit there are days I have to resist questioning God’s wisdom in us being stuck with a house in Portland. It doesn’t make sense to me. But I know God will use this experience for our good even if the outcome is different from what I had hoped for.
There are many who suffer more difficult circumstances and seasons of life. My trials are small by comparison to so many. I’m well aware of how blessed I really am. In spite of my human frailty and fatigue from the past two years of change, disappointments and hard work, I know God is near. His purposes are beyond what I can see or feel sometimes.
Every day I try to look for the hope that comes in small doses and put my faith in the bigger picture of what God is doing around us. The church we came to start officially begins this month. God has done amazing things in the past two years and has provided in ways I would have never dreamed possible. God IS at work.
He knows my heart. He hears. He cares. He gives hope.
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