Saturday, September 28, 2013

Our Story, Part 8

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6
Part 7

Waiting on The Lord is challenging for anyone at any stage in their walk with Him.  How much can our faith stretch before we make it round that final bend?  Will it snap before we get there?  Or will we just make it, muscles burning, legs collapsing underneath us?

It is a little bit like running a race, except for two things.  In a race, you've usually had time to intentionally prepare.  And, you know when you're in the final stretch.  There is a measurable distance that you know you will cover.  You've watched the mile markers as you've cruised along, and even if you're dog tired, you still know that you only have a limited distance left before you're finished.  Believe it or not, I've actually run a half-marathon.  I was tired.  I wanted to stop in mile 11, but because I knew just how much longer I had to go and because I also knew that I had run that distance before in training, I was able to keep my head in the game and not give up.

Our One Bedroom Apartment When We First Moved In - 2 Kiddos.
Laundry Room, Family "Closet", and Kids' Favorite Play Area (aka Living Room) - 3 Kiddos.
To me, waiting is actually more like childbirth.  You do your best to prepare, but you can't really simulate labor, so you just do what you can and hope that you're able to manage when the time comes.  And, like waiting on The Lord, with labor you can't predict the end.  Yes, there are signs that you're nearing the finish line.  There are moments when you can see the progress of your child's birth and you know the end is soon.  But it's not measured out.  You haven't run this exact race before.  It's easy to lose your head for a minute, and even if you've done it a few times (like I have) you still find yourself saying or tempted to say, "I can't do it".

Our Apartment Building - Before Kiddos, 1 Kiddo, and 2 Kiddos.
 I've waited on God a number of times in my life.  One waiting experience was when Claude and I were getting to know each other.  I was waiting for him to get the hint (which he had way before I ever did!) that we should get married.  I'd like to say I waited well in that circumstance, but I didn't.  I tried to push things along, I got impatient and frustrated with The Lord and with Claude.  I probably drove my friends nuts by hashing through all the details and frustrations a million times.

But I learned a lot in that process about waiting and more than that, I learned about trusting God.
The Dining "Room", October 2012 - 4 Kiddos.
Before our fourth child, Jeremiah, was born, Claude and I had been waiting on The Lord for a change in our living situation.  We were at a breaking point, close to the "I can't do it any more" stage but we were trying to hold out, knowing that God is faithful and that He hears us when we call out to Him.  But how and when would He answer?
We didn't have the kind of income that allowed us to just pack up and move into whatever home seemed appealing to us.  In fact, with three (soon to be four) kids and one salary, things were generally pretty tight.  We always had what we needed, but an increase in rent by nearly $1,000 a month was really out of the question.  It had to be the Lord's provision.

As I said before, we had prayed and searched for housing for several months before Jeremiah was born.  And we weren't getting anywhere.  By summer 2012, our half-joking predictions that we could make our one bedroom apartment work with as many as four children were coming true.  Our living room was our master bedroom, laundry room, family closet, office, music room, play room, and living room.  It worked.  Barely.
The Kids' Room - 3 Kiddos.
And on top of the tight quarters, life in the Northeast provided abundant stress (as if four children 5 years and younger wasn't stretching us enough!).  One night I was 20 minutes late for Jeremiah's nursing session because I had to drive for 20 minutes around our neighborhood trying to find a parking spot.  In the mean time, Claude was at home with a crying toddler and a screaming infant.  The neighbors called the police on us that night.  It was a tipping point for us.

We had, up until that point, assumed that we should stay in the New York area.  Much of this decision was based on our involvement in our church.  We didn't feel like we could just pick up and leave while we carried so much ministry responsibility.  In this, we had been putting our ministry outside the home above our family's needs.  Moving out of the area was not on our radar.  But when the police come knocking on your door all because your two-year-old won't go to sleep without milk and your newborn is hungry and waiting for Mom to park the car so he can eat, you start to think outside the box.

Walking Home from the Car - 2 Kiddos.
In addition to our ongoing housing search, we started praying more and seeking the Lord about moving away from New York.  Feeling at peace about moving forward, Claude began applying for positions around the country, always looking for areas that would offer affordable housing for our growing family.  He had many applications without any response and then one day a call came from an academic institution in Houston, Texas.  One thing led to another, and after a Skype interview and a few weeks of waiting for a response, Claude had a job offer.

Kitchen - 3 Kiddos.
The pay cut was substantial, but the cost of housing in Houston was considerably less than in New York.  After much prayer and a certainty of peace from The Lord, we accepted the offer and began packing.  We had three weeks to find a place to live, pack up all of our belongings, and drive 1,700 miles to a place neither of us had ever been.

We had turned the corner, made it round the bend.  The Lord had heard our prayers and lifted up our cause.  Our waiting had ended and we were ready for a new adventure!

To be continued...

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