Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Day 7 - our story continues

This is Day 7 of my 31 days of writing series called "Confessions of a Road Kill Christian" If you haven't read Day 1 you can click here first. I am linking up with #write31days. I hope you will stick around for the whole thing... while the message of one post might feel incomplete my hope is that by the end we'll be encouraged by who God is and who He says we are to Him. 


Yesterday I started sharing my story of how God brought me through the highs and lows to where I am today, so I'll pick up today where I left off.

Our first year of marriage was marked by a lot of job changes and financial stress but our next year would have a lot of spiritual transition as well as a move across the country.

April2002

We left our church.

In those four little words are wrapped up months of conversations and major heartache. It was a huge step for us. I had been in that church since I was about eleven, I had joined the church as a teenager. It was family. It was home. There were really kind, wonderful families in the church who loved us well but we had questions (and concerns) about the teaching in the church and there was simply no room for our questions there, so we left.

We attended a home church for a couple months, (ugh, that is a long awful story) and then spent a long time asking God what next? Daniel's back injury had flared up again and he was looking for work that would allow him to not be on his feet all day in the car showroom. We were praying that God would move us dramatically, we spent a lot of time online looking at ministry opportunities  (that didn't require a seminary education) and finally we stumbled upon something that seemed like a perfect match and in the space of just a few weeks God provided a way that moved us all the way from Georgia to Eureka, Montana. From a place near both of our families to a town where we knew no one.  

While we were praying over the decision God spoke to me again. He gave me a verse "I went away full, and the Lord has brought me back empty." I knew that we would pack up our moving van full of everything we owned and that eventually, when the time came for us to move back home, we would have to sell all of our stuff and come home empty-handed. I appreciate that God gave me this heads-up for how this season would end, I just had no idea that our time in the Northwest would be so short.

Looking at the horses

We arrived in Montana in October 2002 and Daniel dug into the work right away, meeting with the other leaders, writing course materials and preparing to open the campus of a one year Bible camp for graduating high schoolers who were taking a break between high school and college to study the Bible intensively. We arrived with maybe $20 of monthly pledged support. We believed that since God had called us to this work then He would provide for us, we would just take things week by week. 

  Love
God did provide for us in every way. We always had everything that we needed. It stretched my faith and I learned to believe the truth of Romans 8:32 "He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?" He provided a good church home for us, a small group to plug into and a few good friends. In the middle of a bunch of tough circumstances we still had some sweet moments. Fifty cent movie rental night at the tiny little place in town. The first time I made fudge for Daniel's birthday, which is something that has become a tradition in our family.

There was this one time in Montana I don't ever want to forget: we were coming up on our weekly trip into town for groceries, but we had only five dollars in our bank account. Daniel said "make your list for the week. We're going into town tomorrow." I said "I can't make a list of a weeks worth of groceries for $5. I'm not even going to try. God is going to provide for us." The next morning we woke up to a check that has just arrived in the mail which covered all of our expenses for the week, plus a little. It is a huge reminder to me that God was taking care of us, and He was our provider even when our circumstances were crazy.

Another time I took my weekly trip to the local food pantry.  I was thankful for the food, but sometimes it was odds and ends of stuff I didn't know what to do with. I sat in my car and prayed "God, I just need cereal and juice." And then I walked in, right away they handed me a box and it has my favorite kind of wheat-free cereal and high quality grape juice. I am pretty sure I cried all the way home.

Christmas family self-portrait
This was Christmas in Montana. We were slowly begining to realize that this Bible school was more of a dream than a reality and struggling with what to do. Daniel had applied to work at one of the car dealerships in town (almost an hour away). I was two months pregnant with Emma. It was a terrible pregnancy for me emotionally/hormonally. I couldn't stand to be touched, I was angry at Daniel for getting me pregnant again when I didn't want to be and could not communicate clearly enough to him how much I was struggling with this pregnancy. There were moments when I wanted to have an abortion. I just did not think I could handle another baby, at least not yet. Our marriage was seriously struggling, we were fighting regularly for the first time in our marriage.

Beth had just turned two and I was having a lot of difficulty with her. She was strong-willed, and more attached to her daddy than to me. It was heartbreaking for me. I thought having a baby would be more fulfilling. Instead it was just cleaning up her mess and dealing with her tantrums only to have her run to her daddy as soon as he walked in the door. She didn't want me to put on her shoes, she would even pitch a fit if I tried to change her diaper while he daddy was home. To me, I took this as a sign that I was obviously a failure at this whole motherhood thing.

We sold everything we could and moved back to Georgia in February with no money whatsoever. We moved in with family and Daniel went back to school. We also went back to my home church. 

I had experienced depression before the birth of my first but with my second I walked around thinking about killing myself almost all day long. I wanted to leave Daniel & Beth. I felt like I'd failed as their wife & mother. I felt like they didn't need me or want me and would be happier without me. But I also thought about how there are some things you can't undo. I wondered what Beth would think about this when she got older. I wanted to see her grow up. I wanted to one day get to be a grandma to her kids. So I stayed. One day at a time. Finally Emma was born and I started feeling better. Emma is the sweetest little girl ever - she has such an amazing heart and I am so thankful that God protected her through this difficult season.

We left my home church again. It was hard to leave again, but Daniel put it to me something like this: "you need to choose - either this church or me. You can't have both." That was a huge moment for me. I had to think carefully about something I had never had to think about before.

I had always put God & church in the same basket. You serve God by serving the church. You give to God by giving to the church, and I'd always heard about the importance of putting God first. It was the first (of many) times I came to this crossroads where it felt like I had to choose between God and my husband. What was the right thing to do? In that moment I learned something that became so very important to me a few years later. I learned to begin to separate obedience to God (and my relationship with Him) from my tradition. I learned how to still serve God, obey Him, keep Him first, and also honor my husband.

This time it turned out that it was the best move ever. All of the things that I couldn't see about the church I'd grown up in became clearer with distance, and while I still love the people, I wouldn't go back.

Summer 2003

Almost immediately God provided a wonderful church home for us, and we felt it in our marriage right away. All of the tension melted away and we began heading in a more positive direction. We got plugged in right away and Daniel became recognized as a leader after a very short time. Soon he began assisting with a small group ministry. We served in our church's Wednesday night classes, I assisted the nursery coordinator and served on our church's MOPs leadership team. Daniel was eventually asked to lead a ministry to the young married group and it was the coolest thing we have ever been a part of. We made amazing friends, we had older couples in our group to provide mentoring but they let us hold the reigns and we took off running. 
Easter 05

When I look back at this season of life I remember being overwhelmed. I remember yelling. This was a season when I would wake up an hour early to have a quiet time and it didn't matter how early it was or how quiet I was or where I sat, as soon as I opened my Bible my little early bird would be awake.

I remember wishing we could get rid of our old furniture (that turned out to be spectacular for jumping on) and counting the days till we could move out of our tiny duplex (which happened to be super close to our best friends). I remember feeling guilty all of the time because it was so hard to get anything done (I wish I could tell my younger self just don't even go there). I spent a few months with almost debilitating depression, day after day just laying on the floor, letting my kids play around me, trying to get through the day.

I also remember this season being beautiful. It was so simple. It was so sweet. We went to the library around the corner every week, we got a dog. I spent a lot of my time doing the same things over and over. But looking back I love the simplicity of that season. I finally had a best friend. We met weekly and prayed for and with each other and talked about spiritual disciplines. Daniel was friends with her husband and we would get together pretty regularly to just hang out with our kids. As a 20 year old mother of two, this friendship meant the world to me.

DSCF0124

This was an awesome season of life... more about it tomorrow, and how it all began to fall apart.

7 comments:

  1. I've just spent time catching up on all of your posts. Wow! You have really been through the ringer. I can't wait to see the rest of the story.

    Hugs,
    Melinda

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  2. Faith, I know I said this earlier, but now that I've read more, it means more. This series, the way you are sharing your heart, it's just so beautiful. There will be so many women moved by your story. Thank you for telling it.

    xo*t

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  3. I just read all of your posts from Day 1 to 7, and I'm almost wishing I had discovered you on Day 31 so I could read ALL OF IT AT ONCE! I don't want to wait for tomorrow! This is such an incredible story and I'm eager to see how it unfolds. I can't keep track of the FB page to save my life, but I think you had mentioned this was really draining you to write about, so I want to say THANK YOU for putting the time and energy into it, because it is really blessing me and I'm sure many others.

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  4. What a beautiful family!! What a beautiful story - and I've ONLY read Day 7...you can bet I'll be back when I have more time to read 1 - 6 - read 7 again before reading Day 8!!!!! Thank you so much for sharing your heart and your life with us!!!

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  5. I looked forward to reading this all day. So blessed by your story-telling.

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  6. No pressure here! Lots of great comments and I agree. I love the story, the pics and your family. God bless you for sharing, for being real and vulnerable and giving God the glory!

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  7. Following your bittersweet story. - A fellow 31 Dayer :)

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