This year has been stressful.
We had our second child in January, which is one of the hugest blessings in our lives, every time we see that magnificent smile he makes. But, when you couple that with caring for his 3-year-old brother, and my grandmother, it gets pretty tough sometimes, especially for Sandra.
A few months ago, the house we still own on the other side of town was broken into and robbed. We didn't have much there, but anything worth taking, was. The china that we received as wedding gifts, everything I needed for working on the yard, the tools I had left there for working on the bathroom that remains half-finished to this day. Even the old family Atari!
I have several projects all going at once, (maintaining 2 houses, attempting to write various children's books, teaching Children's Church, side jobs doing web design, etc.) and am constantly trying to figure out which one needs my attention the most, and rarely am able to give it the attention required. So much so, that I actually gave up working on Vacation Bible School this year, which was a huge deal for me. I've been in charge of it for years at our church, and just couldn't shake the guilt of having to pass (or push) it on to one of the kindest people we know. (Thank you again, Kim)
Then, we got a call that Sandra's grandmother was diagnosed with lymphoma. Those of you who know Sandra know that Grandma lives in California, and was a huge part of raising Sandra, so this was akin to hearing this about a mother, rather than a grandmother.
Soon after, we scheduled an emergency flight to California, to be with the family, after hearing her health was rapidly declining.
Then, we saw God's grace at work.
We could only afford to go because of the insurance check from the house being robbed. We had set the check aside, waiting until we had time to replace what was taken, because we knew that if we put it in the bank...well, it wouldn't be there long.
As it happened, our trip made us miss VBS weekend completely, and I would have needed to push it all on Kim at the last minute, had I held on to it as tightly as I wanted to.
It was the middle of summer, so school was out, which meant my Mom was off and she and Dad could come stay with my grandmother while we were gone.
"And we know that in all things God works for
Even the bad can be used for good, and we all-too-often fail to notice when it is. The trip to California was abrupt, and couldn't have been long enough, but was good in its own way. We got to say our goodbyes to Grandma, be there for the rest of the family through a very difficult time, and experienced a closeness with them that is very rare when living so far apart.
If God can use all that, I can't wait to see what He does next.
I've spent lots of time praying for God to reveal His will for me, fearing I'm off-track, or worrying that an opportunity will just breeze by me because I'm too distracted to notice it. I'm done worrying over that.
His will for me isn't one moment that I'm going to spend my life heading in a straight line toward. It's a puzzle that He is tirelessly putting together. He knows every piece, He knows what order to place them, and He already sees the masterpiece He has meticulously planned.
So, hopefully, the next time I'm stuck looking at the current mess, and all I can see is how crude the edges are, how it just doesn't seem to match anything or fit anywhere, I'll remember just how carefully He carved it out of the whole picture of my life.