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!

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