I wasn’t really mad at God or anything. I just pouted a lot. You know …that poochy, pouty face a kid makes when they reluctantly obey but really, really would rather do what they want to do!
God had nudged my husband to pack up and move from a rural area in the northeast to an under-resourced neighborhood in a southern city that I affectionately call, “the hood.”
But a nudge to one can sometimes feel like a shove off the faith cliff to another. It meant leaving 3 of our kids, 2 grands (at that time), dear friends, a church family I loved, and a soil close enough to the ocean that allowed my heart-roots to dig in deeply and breathe fresh air.
On the flip side, the move south meant being able to live closer to our oldest son and his family and also gave us the opportunity to visit our extended family in the south more often. This made a softer landing at the bottom of the cliff.
Then our one kid and his sweet little family up and moved off to “outer Mongolia” — a.k.a. Montana — but it might as well have been on the other side of the world. All good reasons and all… but seriously! Then after spending a lot of devoted, precious time with my mama, she left for heaven. My nest was empty, I was away from the home I loved, and now I was orphaned.
Nothing prepares you for this. There’s never an exact date on the life-calendar that you’ve circled and marked with a Sharpie to remind you of this event in life…no automated reminder call from the future or anything. “Uhhh, by the way, by July, 2012, you’ll be on the road without your kids in tow for the first time in over 25 years. You’ll also lose both your parents before 2016 ends. Securities and friendships will feel ripped away like a band-aid that’s been on way too long and you’ll find yourself in a menopausal, emotional, hormonal hot mess. Drink lots of coffee, take your vitamins and enjoy the ride. Be sure to fill out the survey at the end of the season and have a great day!”
I love God. I’m still humbled that He loves me and in some crazy, grace-filled-miraculous-kind-of-way, chose me to be His very own child. I want to do what’s right and obey Him out of the deep love I have for Him but it doesn’t mean I’ve loved every minute of these last few years. I didn’t jump with joy at the excruciating changes that were going on in my life and for the life of me, couldn’t figure out the rhyme or reason as to why I had to move back to the heat and humidity of the south. I could barely breathe for lack of oxygen to the soul.
But I was that child …that compliant one.
I marched along to the beat of someone else’s drum and made the best of the music that was playing. When asked if I was happy to move back south, I could never honestly say, “Yes.” I would often say I was grateful for what God was doing in my heart (and that was the truth) but I couldn’t lie …I wasn’t necessarily grateful for the geographical location that housed my heart and body. The south wasn’t really my pick and I had a hard time actually thanking God for splitting our family across thousands of miles.
But something very strange happened the other day as I sat with our youngest grand — sweet little Hannah Jane — while waiting on her parents to finish packing and loading up to head to the airport after a beautiful week together as a family…
In a rare and precious moment in time, God graced our family — me and Roger, all 4 of our kids, their spouses, and 7 grands — with a family vacation … all together under the same roof of a gorgeous log cabin in Alabama! I watched –as any mama would– and marveled at the grace of God in our lives and how incredible these kids have turned out …in spite of their parents. They’re smart, funny, good-lookin’, and love Jesus in an authentic way. They’re way beyond me in their maturity and outlook on life. I’m learning from them now and it’s really good stuff!
And I had a moment of realization sitting beside Hannah Jane in the high chair as she ate her gluten-free, peanut-free Cheerios that morning …
These kids — now adults — wouldn’t be who they are today had our lives not been separated by miles on the road. Without us being close by, they’ve forged their own path with God and with their own families and friends. They’ve learned to trust God more with their finances, diabetes, anxieties, life-stresses, illnesses, allergies, raising their own kids, moving to new cities and towns …adjusting to life in their own places of work and church and society.
I know I’ve said those words above before but this time …this time, I could finally say, “Thank you” to God for what He has done. I was finally able to “see the gift”–as my friend, Michele, so often gently reminds me to do. I could see the beauty in the lives of our kids, their spouses and our grands and I was genuinely thankful that we lived where we all lived! While it seemed as if God had slung us — I mean, scattered us– from one side of the U.S. to the other, He had also been scattering seeds in our hearts that were rooting, sprouting and producing some amazing fruit that could only grow in a climate best suited to each one of us individually.
So my prayers have changed…
I would still love for all of us to live within at least a day’s drive of each other and I pray that God will grant us the favor of more family vacations like the one we just had but more than anything else …I simply pray that God will direct their next step–our next step– and that His glory and loving heart will be seen in our lives…wherever we are.
And in the powerful words of God through Paul …
When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth. I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.
Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen.
And in case you’re looking for great spot for your family to gather that feels like home but has enough room to hold all of your bigs and littles under one roof, be sure to call Karen Tillery and book one of the beautiful log cabins at Restoration Log Cabins in Scottboro, Alabama.