I’ve been waiting for this… Waiting for that overwhelming feeling that I get when God stirs something up inside of me. It’s the answer to the prayer, “Lord, what do you want me to write about? Give me something.” It’s that prompting from the Holy Spirit that basically tells me, “Here it comes!”
Finally, I got it! Direction, clarity, and something to work with! I know this isn’t the first time God has been trying to talk to me. It’s just that those moments of quiet and stillness where He has my undivided attention are few and far between. Oftentimes it’s on a long ride in the car, or in the wee hours of the morning, or like right now, flying home on a plane where I have no other obligations — no one to drive around, no household duties, no one to feed and no toddler’s butt to wipe. It’s just me, sitting in the quiet where hearing God is just that much clearer.
It’s also been so long that I actually felt anxiety and nervousness about starting up again. I put so much pressure on myself that I froze and just stayed away. No doubt it’s also having to fight off the voice of the enemy tempting me to second guess myself and believe his lies, “No big deal, no one cares anyway, just do something else.”
Outside of those circumstances, I do believe there are other good reasons for being on hiatus for this long. In a year’s time, almost to the date, a gamut of change has taken place. The quick timeline goes like this:
November – Jokingly attempted online dating again and actually met someone. (Refer to blog entry Battlecry. It’s exactly what happened!)
April – Got married. (Yes, that’s what I said.)
May – Moved to a new home and celebrated my oldest son’s high school graduation.
July – My 9 year-old got hit by a car while riding his bike and was rushed by helicopter to Children’s Hospital in Milwaukee because of a brain bleed. (Thankfully, he’s ALL GOOD!)
August – My two oldest boys moved to the East Coast to attend prep school together.
September – Sold old home.
Since then the other kids are back at school, making the transition from fall sports to the long winter ones.The new husband and I continue to adjust to married life, our blended families, and learning the nuances and quirks of one another. All of this, on top of renovating the new house to make it home as well as just day to day living in a household of 10. …That’s the short version.
Looking at it “on paper” may not seem like much, but going through it in real time has been almost more than I can handle. It kind of reminds me of stories in the Bible — how you’re given a general overview of what happened without any day to day details. Take for instance, the story of how Mary was told she would deliver baby Jesus, give birth to Him in Bethlehem, and take off to Nazareth to escape King Herod. The next thing we read is about Jesus at the age of 12 hanging out at the Temple. Not only that, we’re left to wonder what happened between ages 12 to 30, before He started his official ministry. Not much detail at all, just a lot of unknowns regarding their everyday lives, the emotions they felt, and the struggles they endured. Go back to when Adam & Eve lived and how their son, Cain killed their other son, Abel. How old were they? How was their relationship prior to the murder? How can any parent endure that? Then there’s Noah in the ark with only his family in a floating house for forty days. Did anyone get seasick? How did they get rid of the poop? Where did they go when they wanted a little downtime? Or the story of David… Can you imagine being the runt of your family, then being told that you’re going to be the next king of Israel? How in the world do you go about “normal” living after hearing something like that? All these stories are fascinating as we read them, but there’s so much that we just don’t know.
So as I start writing my own stories, I feel like I’m in the same boat. (No pun intended.) So many amazing, miraculous and unbelievable things, have happened this past year that are cause for celebration yet intertwined with the stress of the day to day that others don’t see. For example, the excitement of the dating process, getting to know someone and relating in ways where you know it’s just a God thing. Enjoying the newfound companionship while also having to go through the understandable scrutiny and “interviewing process” of caring, protective friends and family. There’s also the adjustment of 8 children to mom getting married again, the hard reality of mom and dad never getting back together, the process of having someone they never knew become the father figure in their lives — the excitement of some and the fear of others. Mind you, I’m only mentioning my side of the family dynamics. There’s his side as well.
I could also go on about the process of not only saying bye to one graduating from high school but to unexpectedly let go of two? Especially with all that they had been through, I wanted so badly to just shield them from any more hurt, harm or danger. As much as I didn’t want to, it was time to allow my babies (who aren’t babies anymore) to spread their wings. Moms, I’m sure you get it… the random crying at any moment; at a stop light, while watching tv, while cooking, even right now just talking about it.
Or hearing that your son flew off his bike, landing at least 30 feet ahead then having to fly out to a neurosurgeon to check the bleeding in his brain — being hours away getting the news from crying siblings and a shaken up husband and having no clue of how good or bad things are. Imagine the helplessness of not being there and the agony in the waiting. Thankfully, there’s also the relief in hearing that after all that, he was able to walk away almost unscathed. What an emotional roller coaster that was!
Then there’s moving. Need I say more??
New beginnings, transition, and just change — so much of it. I wish I could say I’ve handled all of it well but I can’t. I allowed lots of it to overwhelm me, to cause me to fear, to doubt, to complain, to take my frustrations out on others. The crazy thing is I was here before. Over four years ago I had to go through a whirlwind of similar change. Many of those events are described in previous blogs, and so many stories I’ve yet to tell. The rundown goes like this:
July – Escaped the cult involvement.
August – Moved out of a 15,000+ sq. ft home to a 3 bedroom duplex.
September – Found out I’m 4 months pregnant.
November – Filed for legal separation.
March 18 – Closed on a new home.
March 22 – (7:00 am) Received a text from Kabeer that he’s filing for divorce.
March 22 – (2:30 pm) Gave birth to baby #8.
April – Moved into the new home.
July – Divorce finalized.
Even without the details of these events, it doesn’t take much to imagine how intense and crazy all of that was. Yet, looking back, I recall how I handled things. I wasn’t shaken. I wasn’t moved by the constant change. I wasn’t intimidated by the unimaginable events that hit us in the face. I wasn’t discouraged even as things were seemingly falling apart around me. Through all of that, for the most part, I was joyful. Sure I wept, my heart ached, and I had many sleepless nights wondering what in the world happened but it was different. Even during those moments, my trust in God was unwavering. What was the distinguishing factor? I was completely prayed up, I positioned myself to hear God, I chose to thank God through the trials, I chose to forgive and not be bitter. I chose to stay in His presence and focus on Him rather than my circumstances.
Isaiah 26:3 made all the difference in the world. “You will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is steadfast, because they trust in you.” Another translation says, “You will guard him and keep him in perfect and constant peace whose mind [both its inclination and its character] is stayed on You, because he commits himself to You, leans on You, and hopes confidently in You.” Isaiah 26:3 AMPC
I’m sure I’ve mentioned this scripture in a previous blog but really this is my go-to verse. Where my focus lies makes or breaks me and just like Peter, it is the difference between walking on water or drowning in it. Back then, I knew I was in very rough terrain. I knew there was that urgency of spiritual warfare so I was prepared. I was intentional in praising God no matter what, to let thanks come out of my mouth versus worry or complaints. I gave my burdens to the Lord, and cast my cares upon Him knowing that He cares for me. (1 Peter 5:7.) I took His yoke and gave Him my heavy one. (Matthew 11:29.) In a way it was easier back then because of the obvious storm, the trials, and the whole negative situation we encountered. As we all know but hate to go through, trials do develop us and keep us closer to God.
This time around, all these precious and joyous moments were gradually overshadowed by my focus on the “not quite rights” the “not yets,” and the “if only.” I found my joy fading, my stress and anxiety increasing, and my mind over-analyzing EVERYTHING. My prayer time slipped, my praise turned into complaints, and the meditations of my heart were focused on circumstances rather than on God. That sly devil, who never takes a break, was trying to rob me of my joy and I let him — all because of my focus.
Thank God, He knows us. He knows when this happens. He knows how to get our attention and snaps us out of the downward spiral we put ourselves in. This last time, it happened during my visit to see my two big boys. Such a precious time with them but also much needed downtime away from my normal everyday life. On the plane, at the hotel, and in the car driving to pick them up, I was able to slow down, hear His quiet voice, and finally “be still” [and just] “know that He is God.” (Psalm 46:10)
As the Holy Spirit ministered to me in the quietness and through the words of a worship song, the sense of His presence filled me. That’s when things came into proper perspective. I was reminded that I am the daughter of a loving, all-powerful, all-knowing God, who knows me intimately, who loves me deeply, who sees what I don’t. He’s the one that works all things out for the good of those who love Him; who uses what Satan means for evil, for good; who completes the good works He started in us. When that flooding of who He is overtook me, everything else that took center stage faded to the background where it belonged.
It’s only when I turn my eyes back on Him that I can hear the guidance of the Holy Spirit, feel His comfort and rest in His peace that passes all understanding. That sweet spot, which really is always there for the taking, is a prayer away and a shift in my mindset. God says to meditate on “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” (Philippians 4:8.) Then verse 9 continues, “What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—PRACTICE these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” (Philippians 4:9.) Now more than ever, with all the noise around, I know I have to pursue Him daily and diligently. I need to put into practice what I used to do before. That’s where the perfect peace is.
I recall our trip to Orange Beach, Alabama this past summer. Such a beautiful beach where the current wasn’t too strong nor the waves too high. They were just enough for the whole family to enjoy – fun enough for the big ones to tube in or boogie board and safe enough for my little ones to not get totally toppled over. I remember watching my 7 year-old daughter as the waves came toward her; initially laughing, singing and having fun with each jump over the rolling waves. As the day went on and the winds picked up, the waves came quickly and from different directions. The laughter and singing faded and I could tell she was tiring out. She would jump up over them and sometimes drop under to avoid the crashing white wash, only to get hit right in the face with another wave. Recognizing that panicky cry for “Mommy,” I waded through toward her, grabbed her close and reassured her, “I’ve got you!” At that moment, all the panic left her face, all the energy she exerted was relieved and all her joy returned once again. At that moment, even in the very same circumstances; because she was clinging to her mom, all was well, safe and secure. It was her trust in me and her focus off of her fears that allowed her to rest and be at perfect peace, just like Isaiah 26:3, just like us in the arms of our Daddy.
Lord, how thankful I am to know that I can be that way with You. All I have to do is cry out to You and You hear me. The beauty about You though, is that You’ve been with me the whole time, not a distance away. You never left me and You never will.
Help me to keep my eyes always on You and not on the things around me, for You and You alone are my firm foundation. In the good and the bad, in sun or in the rain, in whatever season I’m in, help me to choose to praise You, rejoice always, pray without ceasing and give thanks in all circumstances. In Jesus’ name, Amen!