Life is full of surprises.
On January 3rd we drove all our worldly belongings packed tightly in a huge U-haul, having found ourselves without a job and without the prospect of a new job on the horizon. We moved from the home we built and loved for the past three years down to home in Georgia. And into the basement of generous family.
January 7th I dug an old pregnancy test out of a still packed bag. When those two dark lines appeared, my hands shook and I choked back tears as I held it up for Chris to see as he sat perched by the tub washing our two youngest, one screaming, one splashing. I will never forget his response. "Seriously?!?!" he said as his eyes lit up and then the sound of the deep belly laugh that came right after.
Our Father, who art in Heaven... what a sense of humor and drama He has.
I spent almost three months in shock. My emotions ranged from disbelief, to fear, to anger, to the smallest bits of hope and excitement.
Life is not always what you think it will be. And sometimes the surprises that come will feel more like dark thunder clouds quickly appearing on a blue sky day.
My hardworking husband got a job washing windows, leaving early before the kids are up in the morning and coming home just an hour or so before bedtime. When he isn't washing windows, he spends his time on networking phone calls and at conferences making connections.
Our first ministry call had been beautifully and wonderfully challenging, calling us to go deeper in the Word, deeper into our identity as beloved. It ended with the realization that the Lord was calling us somewhere new, though the road was unknown to us at the time. It was one of the hardest things I've ever done... to leave a place and a people, precious friends, that I had grown to love so much.
"My feet are light... my eyes are clear... I cannot see the way from here..."
We left winter behind in Indiana and found ourselves in the middle of what felt like springtime in Georgia. The kids have been outside in the warm sun for months, running around in short sleeves, riding bikes, playing in the rich red Georgia clay and throwing rocks in the lake behind my parents house.
The days have been long, slow adjustments of new routines. I spend a lot of time out in the backyard, listening to the sweet birdsongs of cardinals and blue jays and watching nature come to life as spring springs all around us. The lake shines bright blue as it slowly swishes up onto the red rocky clay of the shoreline.
This unexpected and beloved baby is a girl. A precious baby sister that her big sisters could not be
more excited to hold and love.
"But on we go... He knows the way, and in his arms he keeps me safe"
I honestly have no idea where we'll be this summer when Elliot is born.
When I cannot remember myself what I know to be true, I have so many precious friends who remind me of the truth. The Lord is guiding us and we can trust Him. He was not surprised by our circumstances when we found out that our church could not financially support us in the new year. And when job prospect after job prospect did not pan out. When it was clear that we were going to need to move in with family while we worked to figure out our next steps. He was not in the least bit surprised or concerned that I found myself pregnant four days after moving into my parents basement.
"Fear not, keep on, watch and pray..."
I have been overwhelmed with one consistently recurring truth in the past five months...
Our capability is not, in fact, a fruit of the Spirit. We do not have to rely on our understanding or ability or works in order to gain rest and security in the Gospel. That is not the Gospel of good news at all.
The Gospel is simply and beautifully recognizing our deep need of a Savior. It is forsaking all trust in our ability to redeem ourselves and leaning all of our weight onto Jesus as He lived and died to make us sons and daughters of God Almighty. It is crawling up into our Father's lap and receiving the acceptance and security of a Holy Father. It is not the quantity of our faith but the quality of the object of our faith. In what... in whom are we putting our trust?
We will not receive more of Jesus once we hit a standard of understanding and knowledge. We've already been given all the grace of Jesus. Capability nor perfectionism is a fruit of the spirit.... but the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control... and against such things there is no law.
Over the past year, I had been struggling with and had slowly fallen into the belief that I could rely on my own understanding of the Gospel and that if I relied on my knowledge of grace and my understanding of Jesus that I could stand in front of our holy God.
But it is just Jesus that saves.... just faith alone in what Jesus has done on my behalf.
That is such a relief.
Such a freeing, burdenless relief.
All our understanding of grace is meant to draw us nearer and nearer to Jesus, the Messiah, comforted that it is finished on our behalf so we can truly rest in our acceptance, and grow in love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control by the Spirit living inside of us.
We can turn to see the beauty all around us and in others because nothing is up to us nor in what we can do.... or what we are capable of doing for God in this world. We are meant to point to Jesus in all things... What endless beauty and joy and hope to be found in him.
What freedom there is when you see that perfectionism and success and capacity are not actually what our Father wants for us... oh, what a weightless freedom to know that we can and should boast in our weaknesses and in Jesus' saving grace.
I think we'll always be thankful for this difficult season of our lives. It has been full of grief and fear, but puncutated with so much hope and the peace of seeing that we are safe with our Father, who knows what He's doing and where He's leading us.
I never imagined that we'd find ourselves in this particular set of circumstances.
Life is full of hope and joy and endless beauty when we fix our eyes on Jesus.