A New Beginning: My Daughter’s Move to West Virginia

Colton, Kaitlin, and Lincoln

Colton, Kaitlin, and Lincoln

Two years ago on July 4th, Mark and I packed up the U-Haul in Arkansas and moved to Texas, leaving children and grandchildren behind (the unthinkable!), because the Lord said we were to go.  The last two years have been wonderful but sometimes painful, full of blessings but also challenges.  And God has proved Himself faithful, as He always does.

This past weekend my daughter Susan and husband Chris packed up the U-Haul in Arkansas and moved with their children, Kaitlin, Colton, and Lincoln, to West Virginia, leaving family and everything familiar behind.  Chris, who works for an oil and gas company, had already been working on location in WV for 13 months, only able to come home a few days every so often.  He missed Christmas but made it home in time for the birth of their youngest son in February.

Why didn’t they just move up there together?  Well, if you know anything about the oil and gas industry, it fluctuates wildly, so jobs are unstable.  Susan had been working at her job for ten years, so it would be a hard decision to leave it, not knowing if it would work out in WV.  Plus, she was pregnant, which is definitely not the optimum time to go looking for a new job.  So they waited…and waited.

But God was working a bigger plan, one that is about faith and obedience, about knowing Him intimately.  James 1:2-3 says, “Consider it pure joy… when you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.  Let perseverance finish its work in you so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”  None of us says of trials, “Yes, Lord, bring it on!”  And yet they are for our good, so we will know Him, not just know about Him.

God has been speaking to my daughter’s heart this past year while she and Chris have lived apart.  I saw strength and courage rise up in her as she went through her pregnancy essentially alone.  I saw her grieve when she had to go back to work after maternity leave and put Lincoln in day care, wanting so much to stay home with him his first year.  When that wasn’t possible, she picked herself up and did what she had to do.  It was clear that status quo was not an alternative.  They had to get their family back together.  So she stepped out in faith and started applying for jobs in WV.

I would be amiss to not mention the sacrifice that Chris has made during this period of time.  The irony is that he left serving in the military with its yearly six-month deployments so he could be a full-time father to his children.  Later he went to school for oil and gas and landed his current job, fully expecting that his family would be able to follow.  But then gas prices dropped…and dropped… and dropped.  Layoffs have been frequent.  Chris and Susan didn’t know from one day to the next what would happen.

God’s timing is perfect, however, even when we don’t understand it.  Susan quickly got a job interview for a position that she was well-qualified for.  She was tentatively offered the job the same day of the interview, but she was to wait a week for confirmation.  Now the struggle truly began.  What if she quit her job, moved her children to a state far away where they knew no one, and Chris was sent somewhere else to work, or worse, if he was laid off and didn’t have a job, period?

Susan awoke one morning the next week, still wrestling with what she should do.  Even if everything else fell into place, they didn’t have the money to cover moving expenses.  She was afraid.  But then she heard the Lord clearly speak to her and tell her to go.  And in her own words, she said that although she didn’t see how they were going to get there, she was more afraid of not obeying God.  My heart was flooded with peace when she told me that.  The new job was confirmed that same day.

Susan was overwhelmingly busy the next ten days, going through everything they owned, holding a garage sale (with a five-month-old in tow), as well as an online garage sale, and wheeling and dealing to sell everything they could to scrape up enough money to move.  The Lord moved on the hearts of a few dear ones to contribute also.   Chris couldn’t come home until a couple of days before the actual move, and Susan was still working while doing most of this alone, with some help from family with the packing.   God provided.

Changes are hard because even the right decisions can be painful.  Watching my daughter go through this process, my thoughts turned to when Mark and I moved out of state.  When God is calling you, I think He gives you the grace of tunnel vision.  We had many details to take care of…..moving out of a comfortable home, with family literally a few blocks away, to an older duplex in a city that we knew little about. These “details” would naturally raise the question, “Why are we doing this?”  It didn’t make sense in the natural, but God said, “Go,” and he clearly confirmed it in our hearts.

When Susan said, “I was more afraid of not obeying God than how we were going to make it,” I knew exactly what she meant.  It isn’t the fear of punishment.  It’s the fear of missing out on what God has for us, his plan, his purpose.  The deep knowing that you are following God compels you to go.  Does that mean it will be easy, that there will be no pain?  Not at all.  I haven’t posted on this blog for months because the Lord has been leading me through an intimate process with Him to heal my heart.  And he has.

Now just a week out from their move, I picture my daughter and her little family so many miles away, and my heart hurts that I won’t see them when we go home to Arkansas to visit the next time.  Yet at the same time, I’m full of joy because I know they are in God’s will.  And I know because of this trial, her faith has grown, and she knows the Lord more intimately than she did before. 

Tomorrow is my daughter’s birthday.  And this message is for her:  Susan, I have never been more proud of you.  You have proved your faith by taking this risk and trusting God.  You have always been your own person, independent and strong, but you are also your mother’s child, for through this process I have seen myself in you.  I can’t wait to see what the Lord has for you in West Virginia.  I love you very much.  Happy birthday!

Birthday Reflections

Today, July 12, is my birthday.  As I do every year, I take time on this day to reflect upon my life.  I found this devotional that I wrote three years ago and saw that it still very much applies to today.  When I first read it again, I thought, “Oh, no, I’m still at that place of “stepping into the new thing.”  But then the Lord reminded me, “That’s okay.  That’s where I want you, always ready to move forward with me.” 

I don’t know what’s ahead for this next year, but I do know this:  I don’t want to go one step without Jesus. All of us are susceptible to being “satisfied” with the things of this world temporarily.  But then there’s the wave of panic or sadness or sense of dread that washes over us at times that we can’t explain. Could it be the mercy of God that keeps us longing for something we can’t describe so that we will never stop searching Him out?  My prayer, dear sisters, is that we will attune our hearts to pause, listen to the Spirit, and move forward in faith.  Here is what I wrote in August of 2010:

Several years ago, the Lord led me in my quiet time to the parable of the rich young ruler in which he asked Jesus, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”  Jesus asked him questions that alluded to keeping the Law, and the young man said that he had done all those things.  Then Jesus told him to go and sell everything he had and give it to the poor and come follow Him.  The young man went away discouraged because he was very rich.

Three times the Lord brought me to this passage, and I didn’t understand what He wanted me to do, not feeling that I could sell everything and leave my family.  The third time I asked, He led me to Luke 9:23-25, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself daily, take up his cross and follow me.  For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”  What was getting in the way was Me. I was trying to stay in control of my life.

The Lord knew that we would struggle in following Him.  That’s why He told us to take up our cross daily.  Every day there must be an emptying of self and a putting on of Christ.  We can’t muster up the strength or ever be good enough.  But with God’s grace, we can surrender ourselves so that the life of Christ is imparted to us daily.

Now God is continuing to lead me as I walk out the new thing He is doing in my life, a new marriage and new ministry calling.  He is asking me to take steps of faith that are difficult for me.  I have wanted to follow Him with all of my heart and yet struggle to keep myself secure.  The Lord has told us to leave everything behind and follow Him into the new thing and that He will give provision.  As much as I have wanted to let go of my secular career, there is something of my flesh that has relied on it to keep me safe.

Today the Lord graciously brought me to the story of Elijah as God instructed him to pass on the mantle of prophet to Elisha.  When Elijah threw his cloak over Elisha to annoint him, Elisha immediately went home, killed his oxen, and burned his plow to make a feast, a goodbye dinner of sorts, for his family.  The lesson in this is that he believed completely, even destroying the means by which he earned an income.

Jesus said whoever puts his hand on the plow and looks back is not worthy of His kingdom.  Just as the Word teaches us that you can’t put new wine in old wineskins, neither can you make a fresh work of the Lord fit into the old life.  There is no guarantee that we will even be in this natural world another day.  But there is a guarantee that if Christ is our Savior we will be with Him for all eternity.  Embrace the “new thing” God wants to do in your life.  Ask Him to show you day by day.  He has a wonderful plan for your life.  I’m ready to step into it.  Are you?