Grace for Goodbye

“Can I come by for a few minutes?”
“What is it?” she asked as I entered her house.
Tears brimmed in my eyes, I hugged her, and stepped back. “We’re moving.”

In our almost 29 years of marriage, Terrell and I have moved six times, each related to a job change. First, God gets our attention to reflect upon the present. Then, he stirs our heart to consider what he possibly has next for us. Last, he shepherds our steps and heart as he brings the current season to a close.

In recent weeks Terrell and I have cherished time with friends in Houston, saying goodbye. We’ll stay in touch and hopefully see each other again, but our sacred season together to plant a church has ended. My heart is sad. It’s hard to say goodbye. Underneath each goodbye is the history of that relationship and significant shared experiences.

The beauty of the sad goodbye is the treasured story that led up to it.

God reigns over our stories. Line by line, we live them. Each relationship is a story. Each event, milestone, revelation, and challenge is a story. Some stories develop over years. Others are short in time, yet long in depth.

So, have you or your child experienced an end to a story recently—involving a job, relationship, school, or perhaps a move like me? It’s never too late to mark its end, in the warm light of God’s love.

Marking an end helps us say goodbye—to a place, a rhythm, a plan, and perhaps to people we’ve grown to love.

Marking an end creates space to celebrate God’s goodness—his faithful provision of all that we need and more, his insights to our self and insights to Him, new relationships that wouldn’t exist if not for the sovereignty of how God intersects lives, his patience, mercy, and amazing grace.

Marking an end helps us ready for the new beginning that God has in store.

When I mark an end, I spend time alone to reflect. I spend time with the people with whom I lived the story. We reminisce, laugh, share our hearts, and maybe cry. Especially, I thank God for giving me this time, for all that he did in it and in me. And then I commit it all to him.

“You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD GOD is an everlasting rock.” (Isaiah 26.3-4)

Trusting God in the Meanwhile

DSC02554 When our children were 5, 7 and 8, they began weekly lessons on our keyboard “piano”. A sweet friend agreed to come to our home and give each child a 20 minute lesson. Making sure each child practiced 20 minutes several days a week was my role. They loved Miss Amy. Practice was a different story. So, before anyone could play a tune – or before Momma threw out the keyboard having lost her mind, lessons ended.

At ages 7, 9 and 10, our children were in new schools in a new city. Before and after the move, praying for new friends for them weighed on my heart. Thankfully, each had a sport team which provided peers and fun, but real buddies seemed elusive.

A year passed. We had an old guitar and Terrell expressed interest in it. I taught him the 4 chords I remembered and my husband did the same. Soon after, the Youth Pastor at our church started teaching him how to play. Meanwhile our son Ellison, who was often beating out a rhythm on any surface in our house, continued to ask for a drum set. When a member of our church learned this, he loaned his old set to him. In time, Ellison joined our church Worship Team. Still praying for friends, I watched the Lord fill many of our boys’ hours with these unforeseen pleasures. As much as they loved their team sports, the team didn’t come home with them.

DSC02555When Cecilia was 12, we moved again. Renewing my prayer for friends, the idea to introduce her to piano surfaced. Not the answer I expected… It was, of course, God’s perfect ‘next’ for her. She was thrilled. Every day after volleyball practice, practicing piano seemed to fill a place in her. Discovering that singing was more than a fun pastime, she joined our church choir and Worship Team, passionate to be stretched and learn. In time, Ellison joined our church’s Worship Team. Terrell led worship for the Youth Group and later as he served with Young Life in college. And would you believe that later this month Cecilia is moving to Nashville, TN, to pursue her passion as a singer/songwriter?!

Many days, on electric guitar and drums, the boys would jam on our side porch. Cecilia would walk through the house belting out favorite tunes. And I loved it...because you love the things that you see give your children great pleasure.

DSC02548Covering over a decade, these are highlights. Outcomes of long days of aloneness, uncertainty, trial…infused with glorious hours of encouragement, fun, discovery. Moving, especially as teens, was very hard on our kids. Not once did they complain about it. Some days the ache for them in my heart led me complain to God. My longings for my kids made so much sense to me. Ever thought that?

At each juncture of their lives, I knew what I wanted for them; God knew what each one needed. Supplying their present need would become a building block for the future that He HELD for them.

DSC02551In the “meanwhile” of moving, starting over and waiting for friendships to develop, God unfolded HIS plans.  Kingdom Plans.  Exposing abilities, newfound pleasures and purpose. Building character. Growing deep friendship among our kids. Knitting us together as a family.

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8.28)

In the day, the month, the season or circumstance, God is always doing so much more than we can imagine. In your “meanwhiles”, step toward God. He’s right there, to hold, sustain and love you through it.

When Things Are a Mess

DSC02116 My house is a mess. Even the hallways. The stairs are lined with things that need to go up. Every flat surface has stuff on it.

I’m ready to be finished. But it takes time. Bringing disorder to order.

And it’s not the only thing going on right now. But isn’t that always the way? Life has lots of moving parts…

Terrell and I moved to Houston about a week ago to plant a church.
Yesterday, a small group of us gathered to worship God. We fed on Jesus’ words:
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” 
(John 14.27)

God whispered to my heart, “Worship Me in the disorder.”

DSC02118In the moment, I embraced this. Grateful for His guidance.
By evening, I was grumbling and complaining.

Physically and mentally spent. Not feeling like I was making much headway. My focus turned inward. To what I wanted NOW.

… “Worship Me in the disorder.”

Curious, I looked up “disorder” this morning. Like I had nothing else to do!

disorder = a state of confusion: tiresome days of mess and disorder

Yep. That about sums it up.

God knows.
Long before we know.
Always, He has the way forward.

Through Him. To Him.

DSC02120“I will remember the deeds of the LORD; 
yes, I will remember your wonders of old.
I will ponder all your work,
and meditate on your mighty deeds.
Your way, O God, is holy.
What god is great like our God?
You are the God who works wonders;
you have made known your might among the peoples.”
(Psalm 77.11-14)

Do you have any disorder in your life?
None is unknown to Almighty God.

Dear God,
Grow our hearts to worship you in the mess. Thank you that you go before us and are always with us. Amen.