I mean this title to be both metaphorical and literal. I mean it literally because we are in the piney woods of East Texas again. Can I get a yeehaw and an amen?? The cicadas and crickets are SO LOUD at night, and I LOVE it! We came back to Mt. Pleasant for the summer to soak up family, friends, sun, and to try and get some rest before we head out to Brazil in less than 7 weeks!! Thanks to all of you who prayed for our trip down from MN. It truly was a great trip down, maybe the best on record so far. The Lord heard you all!!
I also mean the title metaphorically. Lately, life has felt like tromping through the woods: full of thorns and creepy bugs, spider webs in the face, and limited ability to see far in front of you, all the while filled with beautiful sights, sounds, and smells. You know what I mean…all the yucky and good mixed together? I feel like my life is on repeat. Didn’t I just write that we had a big move coming up?? And didn’t I just write what I’m about to write again, that we have been so sick? Our first month in TX was something akin to insanity. There was so much joy mixed with so much sad, busy, and sick and all the emotions in between. We’ve traveled to see family, said good-bye to a beloved sister and family, saw a niece married, and played on the beach with gusto (and with a mad crazy virus that followed us home and lingered an unfavorable extra week). We’ve shot fireworks, mended friendships, gone to work and meetings, done copious amounts of laundry, cried a lot, and laughed a lot. To say we’ve felt out of sorts is an understatement. I would like to believe that I was not held responsible for all my shortcomings in this last month, but alas, I am.
However, the faithfulness of God has held firm for me and my family. He has been here in my home and in my heart when my mind and faculties weren’t (I was so sick I can’t remember a portion of a weekend!!). There is an ebb and flow to life. I feel we have been in a pulsing flow of chaos, but I can feel the ebb coming, the receding back of the chaos into a place of rest and peace. Not that life is somehow getting less busy or sad, or happier in circumstance (although I would like to shout with joy that we are NOT SICK anymore). But rather some of the things I have always known about God: His sovereignty over life, His nearness in trials, His ready wing to draw me in and shelter me in His love, His word so strong and solid to stand on; all of these He has pushed from my head deeper into my heart. This is rest and peace in Christ, not just knowing Him with your head, but with your heart. So in essence, I feel my faith is more real than ever before and how glorious a feeling that is. When you feel your faith growing, doesn’t it make you happy? Like all the trouble of your trials did something worthwhile in you while they raged? I think, at least in part, that is why the Proverbs 31 woman laughs at the days to come. She knows that up ahead are days of trial and pain as well as many joys. But she has confidence in her God to make everything useful for her faith in Him and it makes her heart glad to the point of laughing to know how much better she will know Him and love Him. There have been times this summer that I have asked God, why THIS summer? Couldn’t we have had a rest from trials and more sunshiny moments? But God has had bigger things to do in my life to prepare me for the days ahead. He’s had to remind me that this Christianity thing isn’t just a "thing" for me. It isn’t just how I was raised. It’s more real than that. It’s True Life. Jesus really is all there is when the life gets stripped down to the bare bones. This isn't my first time around this block, but maybe my biggest time around. Like I said, my life is on repeat. I am sure you all would agree that I needed to be reminded of this before I leave the only country I’ve ever known and my family, my friends, and my stuff…not to mention the English language and cheddar cheese (because really, who can live a full life without it??).
So, all in all I am very grateful. Daniel has been leading our family in being thankful in prayer. The Lord has taken me a step farther in my daily life and in my parenting in this area. Before I let myself utter a complaint or criticism, I try to think of at least one or two things I’m thankful for in the thing I’m about to criticize or complain about. Otherwise I feel the darkness creeping in. How true God’s word is. Romans 1:21, “For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or GIVE THANKS to him, but became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened” (Emphasis mine). Gratitude fights against a heart that would be/will be darkened by sinfulness without it. It has been true for me. The practice of giving thanks to God has been light-giving and has anchored me to the Rock. I am learning, by small degrees, to laugh at the days to come because I see Him there, up ahead, waiting with pleasures forevermore at His right hand.