Sunday, May 20

Happy Anniversary!

I'm so thankful that God is able to take the absolute worst of situations and turn them into miraculous life events. I'm so grateful that He's not only able.... He's absolutely willing! It's His great pleasure to love on His own during life's toughest moments.

That's what this year has been. It's included some of the worst moments I ever thought I'd have to live through. Life has consisted of a number of events, circumstances and feelings that I wouldn't wish on ANYONE!

But, THROUGH those events and situations, God has blessed me in a variety of ways. I have been very vague about some of those blessings for a couple of reasons. First of all, I didn't want people to think that I am bragging. I know that the positive experiences we are having are the result of a MIGHTY God at work in and around us. But, I have feared that to speak specifically about His work in our life and marriage would cause people to think of me as prideful and arrogant. Over the past couple of days, I've been struck by two lessons.

First, we are called to "boast".

"Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord." 1 Corinthians 1: 31

A large part of the way in which we lead others to our gracious Heavenly Father is by showing them WHO He is in our lives. All throughout New Testament scripture, Jesus positively touches the life of an individual and the natural response is that person RUNNING to tell others about HIM.

And, secondly, without going into ANY detail.... there WILL be those that choose to think of me as prideful and arrogant regardless of how careful I attempt to be.

So, it's because of those two reasons that I want to "boast" in an effort to make so much of God that it causes anyone reading this post to rest in the comfort that if God would so abundantly bless Scotty and me in this mess that we created, He would certainly do the same for you. My absolute prayer in choosing to share publicly in this experience has been that our story would mark EVERYONE that hears it in a way that calls them to a more complete trust in a faithful God.

Scotty and I celebrated this faithfulness on Thursday in a small ceremony where we renewed our vows in celebration of 15 years of marriage. There were only 5 people (including us) in attendance. But, it was so very sweet and extremely memorable.

On May 17th, 1997, Scotty and I recited vows to one another that I know we both intended to keep. However, neither one of us kept those vows. Scotty's failures in faithfulness have been recorded for the public. Mine, however, haven't been as publicized. But, I'll assure you, I've failed in this marriage thing as well.  Sometimes, we've known exactly what we were doing as we've made decisions that would hurt the other. On occasion, though, we've made hurtful decisions simply because we are broken people that had NO CLUE how to respond in a healthy marriage.

On May 17th, 2012, I was overcome with awe that God used a tragedy of infidelity to show us what He intended for our marriage. The only thing I ever wanted in a husband was a spiritual leader. I desired to have a husband that would love the Lord with all of his heart, soul, mind and strength. I KNEW that would be mandatory to him loving me appropriately. It will be hard for many to believe considering Scotty's choices over the past few years (and that is fine). But, I've witnessed God do such a work in his life. And, he is truly on a road that will lead him to be more of a Godly husband and father than I ever dreamed he could be. 

I have no shame, and I don't want to make this road seem more simplistic than it has been, so I'll just confess that we've got a long way to go. We have a therapist! And, we'll continue that journey for a while. We each have mentors and Godly people we lean on for decision making and encouragement. We've got much to overcome, and we are choosing to face the difficulties head on now so that they don't creep back in again later in life. Certainly, God calls us cooperate and participate WITH Him as we journey through life, and we are begging Him daily to show us how to do that.  But, ultimately, He is the author and originator of all good things.

I confessed to Scotty on Thursday that there is the temptation to look back over our 15 years together and grieve a lot of wasted years. But, I can't do that. We've experienced too many great times. But, I know that we can do better. God has shown me that we can do better. And, He's brought about change in each of us personally, in our marriage together, and in the way we relate as a family so quickly that it's allowed us to get a glimpse of how truly wonderful His plans are for us IF we are simply willing to TRUST Him.

In fact, a little later in our 1 Corinthians reading, Paul says...

"No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no heart can imagine, what God has prepared for those who love Him."

I'm counting on THAT! I'm hoping in THAT!

The events of the past few years have been used by God to bring us to a place where we can experience life in HIM even more abundantly for the next 15 years of marriage... if He chooses to leave us here that long. And, that's a realization I find worthy of a little boasting. That realization points to a God who's worthy of a LOT of boasting.

Tuesday, May 8

Where You GO, I'll GO...

I'm totally frustrated with myself! It's been entirely too long since my last post. And, not only that, I've written regularly asking you for prayers and encouragement. You've been so faithful! So. Faithful!

Over the past couple of weeks, Scotty and I have received direction as to WHERE we should go and what we should do, and I let the busyness that this revelation has brought keep me from updating the very people that have spurred me on throughout this very long year of waiting.

I'm sorry! And, let me go ahead and apologize ahead of time, because it's going to be very difficult to give the details of our direction succinctly. But, here goes...

Our house has sold! Yippee! We have wonderful buyers wanting our home, and all that is left to complete is the appraisal. The sale of this house has been perfectly orchestrated in timing and in details. The closing date is May 31st. So, by the time we move out of this house, our children will have finished the school year. At the beginning of this year, one of my greatest concerns was that we'd have to uproot them in the middle of a year. I was afraid we wouldn't have an easy transition. I know better than to worry. We will transition out of this house AFTER our school year is over, and it will be the perfect time to transition. Now, a second part of God's graciousness in the matter of our house is that we have just paid our last house note WITHOUT Scotty having a full time job. I can tell you that we have worried along the way that we wouldn't be able to make the note if it didn't sell quickly. God provided EVERY month.

Now, with the sale of the house (and we were THRILLED), we were faced with a little anxiety again. I guess I should really pause and confess the sin of lying, because "a little anxiety" isn't even a little white lie, it is a monumental understatement. On several occasions, I let myself get completely overtaken with worry. At one point, we had 5 weeks before we'd be moving out of our house, and we had NO idea where to go.

Scary! But, one of the verses we've had the children memorize and recite during family times of prayer over our situation is Proverbs 3:5.

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding."

I had to keep saying this and other scriptures over and over. I KNEW there was a plan. But, our ability to find it had me anxious.

Out of the blue, a friend of mine called with a job opportunity in the Mobile area. She actually lives in Spanish Fort. But, the job would allow Scotty to work as a therapist within schools. He never went to interview. However, the timing of everything made us think that THIS was God's plan for us. For about a week, it appeared that we were headed to Alabama when the school year ended.

One Friday morning, I was having my quiet time, and I prayed that God would give us ONE answer that day... before the weekend.Within the hour, my friend called and the job wasn't going to work out.

Now, that was disappointing news. Sure! But, honestly, I was so relieved to have an answer. And, I was so grateful that God was, on again, demonstrating GRACE to me IN my anxiety. Let me tell you, my anxiety and lack of faith during the past two months has been used by God to show me how very sinful I am. In my natural state, I'm prone to worry and not trust the God that has demonstrated NOTHING buy trustworthiness to me over and over again. But, He showed me the sin and responded to me in grace and love. Oh, how I wish the WORLD would take a look at the goodness of this God!

Well, that weekend, Scotty and I talked about several different options. We discussed the vision that he has of what he'd like to do with the rest of his life. And, he passionately desires to SOMEDAY enter back into the counseling field and work with couples, families, individuals who are struggling with infidelity and the insecurities that lead to it. At this point, we don't know if that will ever be in a professional setting again or if he will do it as a lay person. But, it's honestly the first time I've listened to him talk about vocational direction with passion and joy.

On Monday morning, Scotty spoke with a friend from the Tupelo area. He and his wife have a counseling/psychiatry clinic and want Scotty to consider moving back into that setting with them. Now, there are things that Scotty will have to do in order to consider doing this again. We want to take all of this slowly, so that he/we can recover and heal completely first. But, as we talked about this option, it was the missing piece of the puzzle. And, we feel very led to make the move and pursue this path.

Many of you know that Scotty spent the fall in Tupelo working with his dad. He will work with him as well once we get moved. And... the BIG news. I am purchasing a TOT franchise so that I can continue teaching AND offer TOT to preschools in North MS.

So, as you can see, BIG things have been going on. As I'm typing this, I am surrounded by boxes! Even with all of the boxes, I'm also surrounded by LOTS of stuff that NEEDS to be in boxes. Time for blogging may continue to be scarce over the next couple of months. But, I wanted to leave you with this little story.

When Chris Tomlin's song, Where You Go, first came out, Claire fell in love with it. She heard it on the radio A LOT. And, we sang it at church A LOT! So, she would sing it ALL of the time. She sang it perfectly... only she always added a line.

Where you go, I'll go.
Where you stay, I'll stay.
When you move, I'll move.
When you STOP, I'll stop.
I will follow you.

When she first began to sing it this way, it would always make me laugh. I'd try to correct her, but she always went back to it. The weekend that the first offer came on the house, we were away on a ball trip. I was sitting in the hotel thinking through all of the possibilities and "what ifs", and Claire began to sing this song. I'm pretty slow, so she sang it SEVERAL times before I realized what I was hearing. I'm sure, now, that was God's way of preparing me for the "GO" that was coming. And, considering the year that we've had, I am very ready for the "go".

 I love Clinton so much, but it is time for us to move on. I truly feel that it is a gift that God is allowing us to move on and start over. We had come to terms with staying here in Clinton if God chose that for us. We were growing more comfortable in this new life and felt good about being a demonstration of God's redeeming power over our failures. So, we can now move on without feeling that we're running away but running towards His plan for us.

As a year that's consisted of lots of waiting comes to an end, though, I'm so glad that Claire rewrote Chris Tomlin's song for me. When He says "STOP", I suggest you stop. There's SO MUCH to gain at life's stop signs. I can't even begin to list all that this waiting (stopping) year has brought for me. God did MUCH business with me. And, as we gently put the vehicle in gear to MOVE forward now, we're just following. It was a hard lesson, but one thing is for sure.... leading isn't for us! HE does a much better job.