Monthly Archives: August 2014

Here’s Your Sign

“The steps of the godly are directed by the Lord. He delights in every detail of their lives.” ~Psalm 37:23

We had already been driving six hours when the sky turned black and the wind whipped so hard it started to make our minivan feel like it was going to veer right off the road. Before long, the skies let loose in rain so heavy that the road was barely visible. I heard my oldest son praying for our safety in the backseat and the other kids were actually quiet, sensing our tension. My knuckles gripped the steering wheel until they were white, and my husband started searching for local hotels in case we needed to call it a day. But, I truly didn’t want to stop driving – I wanted to go “home.” But, it didn’t really feel like we were going home. God, I prayed, will You help us? Will You please keep us safe? Will You show us wisdom? Should we keep going or pull off? What is the right way?

Backing up a bit, we had left our Michigan apartment two weeks ago to head back to PA for a week so we could be there while the movers packed all our belongings. It was a stressful couple of days as the truck was late and then one of the movers was sick (and touching all my stuff!). And then there was a large amount of things they wouldn’t take. Anything that resembled liquid or perishable couldn’t go on the truck, which included cleaning supplies, kiddo paints, pantry items like olive oil and even lotions and extra bottles of shampoo & conditioner in our linen closet. Our minivan was already full of things we needed to take with us (like coats!) and we carried out half a dozen or more large boxes of stuff we weren’t planning on taking with us but hated to just throw away since they were costly to replace. I prayed and asked God to help us make it all fit.

IMG_20140812_143104Originally my husband had been planning on going back to MI on Tuesday and Wednesday while the movers were at our house in PA, but at the last minute decided to stay back with me. God knew I couldn’t have handled these days without him there! On Wednesday the movers weren’t done until after 7 pm, and Shawn grabbed a pizza for us as I went to borrow a broom and a vacuum from my sister to finish cleaning up the last of the dust bunnies that also weren’t moving with us. We ate in our empty house, thankful for the pizza box that doubled as our plates. The boys played with the neighbor kiddos as we finished loading the minivan, which was filled to the brim! I could never have fit it all in myself. My husband has some mad skills in that area!!! We got back to the hotel where we were sleeping that night after 10 pm with two of us working. I couldn’t imagine what would have happened if Shawn had left. It was a sign to me that God cared about every detail and provided for me emotionally and physically when I needed it.

The following Saturday we headed to the beach with my family. My mom rents a house each summer, and my sister plans all the meals. This year we arrived to our beds already made (since we didn’t have any sheets left to bring!) and the house already set up. The boys squealed with delight at spending time with their cousins. They loved the beach – sand and all! Ryan dumped bucket after bucket of water and stayed right at the edge of where it would come onto the beach. Caleb and Joshua adventured out into the waves, staying close enough that we could catch them when they went under (which happened a few times). By the third day, Joshua was even brave enough to try boogie boarding! He was frustrated and in love all at the same time. Shawn & I took turns taking the older boys out further into the ocean, Caleb holding onto us for dear life! It was a blast! And God answered my prayer for safety in the water; we were all alive and well. And it was nice that my sister and her husband cooked all the meals. I much prefer clean-up duty! We had a great time. (And I didn’t even mention our adventures on the boardwalk!) Joshua said, “This is paradise,” which was a good summation of how we were all feeling. Shawn called our vacation “epic” as we left.

While I was tired of living out of a suitcase, I wasn’t quite ready to leave. This was my family – people who I could call and say “HELP!” and know that they would be there if they could be. These were people I enjoyed seeing and being with, and my kids love them too. My family helps me have a ‘comfort zone.’ But, Shawn had an important meeting we couldn’t miss, so we held back our tears as we said thanks for the incredible time and packed our minivan to head back to Michigan. We paid to ship two boxes (of boots & gloves that we’ll need come winter if we don’t have a house yet) and then put the back row of seats down, keeping the boys three across in the middle seat. My mom was amazed we fit everything in (me too!). I thought for sure we’d be making a large donation instead, but my husband packed it like a champ! It was such a relief to me that everything fit. I knew without a doubt it was God answering my prayer that nothing be left behind. Every detail was taken care of!

I drove most of the way home. It kept my mind on the road and not on what I was leaving behind. Our house was gone. Praise the Lord, within three days of us listing it on the market, there was a bidding war and we sold it for more than our original asking price. This was another sign to me that God’s hand was in our moving. There are several houses in our neighborhood currently for sale and while we had spent a small fortune in updates to our house, I seriously wasn’t sure it would sell. I was more than nervous about it, and I remember fervently praying that it would sell as we were preparing to put it on the market. God answered in a big way! Settlement happened Tuesday of the beach week, and we saw the money in our account. We praised God for His faithfulness!

As tears were spilling down my cheeks from leaving my family and our vacation, the GPS told us to go a different way than I was expecting. I had driven home from the beach a bazillion times and never taken this route. Shawn reminded me that we were going to Michigan, not PA. He said with a highly upbeat voice, “Hey, each road we take from here is a new one!” Or something like that. I honestly wish I could remember exactly what he said because it seemed so profound in that moment, like the exact words I needed to hear. Basically, this was a new adventure, a new path, a new journey. We weren’t stuck in the same old rut. We were creating a new path. Through the tears I smiled and thanked him for being truly wonderful. God has blessed me with an amazing man to be my life partner!

The kids did great even though we were all packed in. Near Pittsburgh, we noticed that the truck in front of us was a “North American” truck that looked identical to the one we had waved goodbye to at our house, filled with our belongings that we won’t see again until we settle on a new home. I joked that we were following our stuff home. Shawn said our stuff was in Grand Rapids already, but I insisted “let’s see if it’s the same truck.” So we pulled up beside it, but it wasn’t. It was just the same company. We passed it and kept going, stopping for drinks along the way and then to relieve ourselves from those drinks and then to buy more drinks. It was quite the cycle!

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In Ohio, the sky got pitch black and we started seeing lightning. Like I mentioned earlier, I could barely see the road and I was terrified. Which way should I go, Lord? I realized in that moment that I was praying that prayer a lot lately. Which way should I go? What’s the right path? Which house is right for us? Why oh why didn’t we have a home yet so our stuff didn’t have to go into storage where we couldn’t access it? Would you please, please, please give us wisdom, God?

So many cars had pulled off the road, but I saw a big truck up ahead that had lights all over it. I told Shawn that while I was struggling to see the road, I could see the lights on the truck and I was going to try to stay right behind it. So, I did. We weren’t going terribly fast, but the truck was so enormous that I knew I’d be able to stop faster than him, even with all the stuff in our minivan. The rain kept going, the lightning kept crashing, the wind kept pushing our minivan, but I could see those lights and kept driving. As I continued to drive, the rain let up just enough to show me what truck I was following… It was a NORTH AMERICAN!!! I don’t know if it was the same one from earlier in the day or another, but it was a huge sign to me. I praised God! We were “following our stuff” again. Following our home and memories. Following what we knew to be right. We were going home in a sense. I knew at that moment it was okay to keep driving. God was right there with us, protecting us, answering our prayers for guidance. It was a sign! I told Shawn and he smiled and agreed.

The rain eventually let up before we reached Toledo. We passed the truck and kept going home. We made it safely the entire way to our apartment. I was so tired at the end that Shawn drove the last half hour. I had wanted to push through, but I was glad for the break at the end.

I have asked God for signs on which way was the right way to go. Should we move to Michigan? Is this the way? And time after time I have seen that this is what is in the cards for our family at this time. Do I know the details? No, unfortunately. Do we have a house yet? No, and I’ll be honest in that this detail is driving me crazy! But, do I trust that God cares even about the minor details? Absolutely! Our house had sold, my husband was there when I truly needed him, and we were lead safely out of the storm by a “random” truck that wasn’t so random. My reading the following morning included the verse from above: “The steps of the godly are directed by the Lord. He delights in every detail of their lives” Psalm 37:23. Every detail matters to God! If you see things and think “coincidence” I think you’re missing that God delights in the details!

If you’re praying for something today, know that God is in the details and will direct your steps if you trust Him. He is my only hope and what gets me through some of these tougher days. He is the reason I’m excited to be on this new adventure. So, I’ll end this post with a verse from this morning’s readings:

“O Lord my God, You have done many miracles for us. Your plans for us are too numerous to list. If I tried to recite all your wonderful deeds, I would never come to the end of them” Psalm 40:5.

Father God, all I can say is THANK YOU! Thank You for keeping us safe, for showing us the way, for giving us wisdom, for being Lord over all and every detail of our lives. We praise You today for being YOU! In Jesus’ Name, AMEN!

Where Are You Going?

“Show me the path where I should walk, O Lord; point out the right road for me to follow.” Psalm 25:4

Recently on Facebook, one of my friends posted a story of a woman who was running on a trail and got attacked and was so badly beaten that her husband didn’t recognize her face. I was horrified! Since moving, I’ve done a lot of running alone on a trail that is wooded in lots of areas. As I’ve been running lately, I’ve been praying for safety, for God to protect me, for wisdom of when and where to be, etc. My neck has actually hurt after running lately because I’ve been looking around so much to be aware of who might be behind or beside me! I know that I can’t live in fear, or I’d never go outside. I also don’t know anyone in this area who is available to run with me, and I need the exercise (both physically and mentally!).

This morning as I was reading my Bible, I saw a common theme running through the chapters, and they were so calming to my fears in so many areas that I felt compelled to share them. My reading started with Psalm 23, which many of us know well (although I’m reading from the New Living Translation, so it may be slightly different than what you’re used to):  “The Lord is my shepherd; I have everything I need. He lets me rest in green meadows; He leads me beside peaceful streams. He renews my strength. He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to His name. Even when I walk through the dark valley of death, I will not be afraid, for You are close beside me. Your rod and Your staff protect and comfort me.” 

God leads us along right paths! He is with us and He protects us! I had to remember the verse in Psalm 139 that said each one of our days is ordained by God before one of them came to be. He knows us and He knows the future. If we are to endure hardship like Job, it’s not a surprise to Him. He knows what’s coming! He is our guide and we can trust Him!

I continued reading in Psalms and came to Psalm 25:4-5: “Show me the path where I should walk, O Lord; point out the right road for me to follow. Lead me by Your truth and teach me, for You are the God who saves me. All day long I put my hope in You.” 

It was at this very verse that I realized that God wasn’t just speaking to me about physically running on the right path. He is the One who is directing our very steps to be in this state. We are actively house hunting, and I have been all-but panicking about which school our boys are going to start at because we don’t have a house yet. But, God knows the timing! He has been faithful! As the worship song that I posted previously says in its lyrics, “You’ve never failed, and You won’t start now!” God is leading us through each decision. If we’re listening to Him and following Him, can we trust that He’ll “point out the right road for [us] to follow” as the verse says above? Is God faithful? Absolutely! So, why am I so worried?

So often I need to see things over and over again for them to sink in. Today was one of those days where I was underlining the same verses and saying “YES, God, I hear You!” Psalm 25:8-10 says “The Lord is good and does what is right; He shows the proper path to those who go astray. He leads the humble in what is right, teaching them His way. The Lord leads with unfailing love and faithfulness all those who keep His covenant and obey His decrees.” 

Let me pause here. The Lord is GOOD. He shows the proper path even to those who go astray. Even if we start heading the wrong direction, God shows us the path for us. If we’re humble and willing to learn, He will teach us His way! The Lord leads with unfailing love and faithfulness – will He fail? No! Is He faithful? YES! But, who does He do these things for? The verse says all those who keep His covenant and obey His decrees. Yikes! If you’re like me, you know that you’ve sinned. You may look at your past mistakes and say “well, I’m out!” But, the Psalm continues “For the honor of Your name, O Lord, forgive my many, many sins” (Psalm 25:11). None of us is perfect! No one is without sin! The difference between the righteous and unrighteous is the blood of Jesus. It’s confessing with your mouth that you have screwed up and allowing God to cover you with His grace, then making the conscious choice to be faithful to God!

Finally, Psalm 25:12 says “Who are those who fear the Lord? He will show them the path they should choose.”

I needed these words today – God will show us the path to choose! He will show me where it’s safe to run! And He will show us which house is right for our family. He will show us the path that He has for us. There are so many choices that we make in life – forks in the road where we could turn right or left and we’re not sure which is the best to take. In John it says that God’s sheep know His voice. If we’re really listening and seeking Him, we’ll know in our spirits what is right. And we can trust Him and His faithfulness and not be consumed with worry and fear.

Do you feel relieved? I hope so! If not, let’s pray together!

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for Your words. Thank You that You repeat themes in the Bible so that if we miss it the first time, we will get it when we read it over and over again. Thank You that You lead us. We are Your sheep and You’ve created us to know Your voice. Our days were ordained before even one of them came to be. You know our future and You know the path that You have for us. You lead us into good places. And even when we walk in scary situations, You are there to comfort us and protect us. You show us the proper way if we’re willing to humble ourselves before You. God, just like David said in Psalm 25:11 we cry out “Forgive my many, many sins!” We are far from perfect, but we long to obey You and stay in covenant with You. We do fear You, and we ask right now that You show us the path to choose. I specifically pray for the safety of all my running mama friends (and even those who I don’t know!). Please show us the right path and help us not fear. I also pray for our family in finding a house where we belong. Please guide us! And finally, I pray for anyone praying with me right now as they read. Guide them, God. Show them the way that You want them to go – direct us all, Lord God! We need You! And we trust You. Thank You for being faithful! Thank You for Your UNFAILING love. We trust that You’ve never failed and won’t start today. We honor and praise You for who You are – You are faithful even when we haven’t been. Help us and guide us as Your beloved children. In Jesus’ Name, AMEN!