One year ago today, a skunk moseyed on into our house...okay fine, it was chased in by my dogs. Whatever.
One year ago today, I was not in a good place emotionally. It was a season in my life that I felt like one thing after another was just going wrong, and if not wrong - was just really hard. When our little suburb-woodland creature decided to wreak $13,000 worth of damage to our home with just the lift of his tail, I truly felt like it was a blow that I wasn't sure we could recover from. I remember repeatedly using the phrase - "It's all too much. I need something to lift. It's all too much." I shook my fist at the Lord, and began wondering if he thought this was all funny, or if he had just turned a blind eye. Why was life only piling on, instead of easing up? Little did I know, the skunk was one of the best things that could have happened to us in that season. Little did I know that God meant it when he said he would use all things, even skunks, for good. (Romans 8:28)
Man makes his plans, but the Lord directs his steps. Proverbs 16:9
Watch how the steps unfolded....
May of 2017, I quit my job with the plan to pursue school for Life Coaching. Skunky McSkunk visited us on my last day of work. (Which working at a spa, my odor was not entirely a welcomed one. Sorry G & C! ) As a result, I did not end up starting school in June as I had planned. Instead, I spent the next couple of months becoming a professional skunk odor eliminator. We needed to come up with $13,000. God provided $14,000 within three weeks. God lifted our financial burden through our incredibly generous community. Because I wasn't filling my time with school, I had the time to check in on some health stuff that I had been letting fester. Turns out I needed surgery. In that surgery, they realized I needed a much bigger surgery - one that would lift some of my physical burden. Because I was home recovering from surgery, I wasn't able to go back to work. Because I was home, we had the space and capacity in our life to say yes the day we received a call asking us to take in a newborn baby. Orphan and foster care has been close to my heart for years. But I had grown calloused and tired. God began lifting an emotional burden. Our family has been blessed beyond measure to have this precious child in our home for however long we do. And through our tiny human, my desire to find a career in the social welfare field has been re-kindled. So I'm planning to pursue that next year. (I use the word "plan" very lightly...see above verse.)
That maybe sounds like a weak story on paper, but only because I cannot find the words to re-tell the story of the hundreds of thousands of ways God worked day in and day out this year to bring our family, and my heart, to where it is today.
How many times do we say we don't have time for things? Or we don't have the energy or the capacity for things? How much energy do we put into what we think our lives should look like? I know I've invested a lot of time and energy into my plans, only to feel tired and burned out at the end of each day. That's another blog post for another day. "Margin" and "Time" have been on my mind a lot lately. But this past year, God has showed up in such huge and small and unique ways to remind me that HIS ways are not mine, and they are ALWAYS better. Don't get me wrong, I still struggle. I still feel like God is asking a lot of us, and I wouldn't mind him lifting a few more things. He's just changing my perspective on what that means. Slowly, but surely.
If the skunk had never come, the baby wouldn't have either. I really believe that. And oh, how I love this baby and his story in our family for however long we have him. (I would take a thousand more skunks if it meant we got to love this sweet child for this season!) This didn't happen because I created time or space - that was all God. And it was painful. Being stripped of our plans to make way for his generally is. But looking back over the course of the past year, I see God's faithfulness at every turn. And the story in its entirety was what I needed for anything to lift in this life that has felt like entirely too much. It's what I continue to need as I stumble through my days wishing for an easier life.
So friends, what is the hard God has you in right now? What is your attitude and spirit saying about it? Maybe pause and ask him to direct your steps in it, instead of lifting you out of it. You may just find the best story yet over your life. God really does write the best stories. And one day, I know you will be able to look back over the course of your days and see his faithful hand over all of it. Maybe you already can if you choose to piece together what has felt like mundane, random and really hard days. It's fun! Try it! Stop and ponder all the pieces that fell in step that had nothing to do with your plan. Then tell me the story! I can't wait to hear it! Sometimes looking back at all the ways God has been faithful is what we need to remember he will be tomorrow as well.