God’s goodness has been thoroughly impressed upon my heart this past week! It’s been like being kissed by Jesus as he leans close to show his love & works on wiping away tears and giving me new hope. God’s love has been tangibly displayed to us through the love of others, the answers to prayers, and the simple pleasures of life we can sometimes take for granted. For example, during a trip to the beach, I can relish feeling the warmth of the sun shining on my shoulders while the soft sand slips between my toes and the cool sea water wash the sand away. It’s all about perspective. This life will never be perfect; if it were, we probably wouldn’t desire heaven or even God himself. Maybe we would get too comfortable here on earth despite it not being our eternal home. However, the beauties, joys, and pleasures of this life are meant to be a sweet glimpse of the glory to come in heaven and it should all excite us and lift us up.
If we choose joy, determined in our hearts not to let the inevitable inconveniences in our lives or our own disappointments rob us of our blessing that we receive the reward of seeing the goodness of the Lord every day… even on the hard days. Every day is a gift from God. The ultimate gift is Christ himself! One way or another–whether through trials or through happiness, the Father wants to give us more of Jesus. We just need to have the eyes to see him and how he works in all things for our good and his glory. I have really appreciated having friends who help point me to Jesus during times when things look bleak. I also want to be that friend to point others to him. Until we get to glory… We can never get too good at loving people better, just as we can never arrive at the point of loving the Lord perfectly, yet we can pursue it! Something I’ve grown to savor is the thought of heaven as a place where all our relationships will be perfected. First, our relationship with Christ. Then, our relationship with each other.
So even though life is so hard sometimes… it is full of the goodness of the Son! He has patiently and graciously been working on my heart to desire him above all. He is teaching me to trust him and to follow his new call for my life. Change is not east but the body of Christ helps carry some of the weight.
Most of this past week has been like a vacation… We’ve been lavished with hospitality and entertained with friends and family every day. We’ve met new friends that we would not have otherwise known if not for this trail! I bask in the kindness of the Lord in the midst of the suffering. It’s because of Christ’s great love for us that he laid down his life for us and calls us his friends. As Christians, we follow suit, empowered by the Spirit to lay our lives down for others sacrificially, whether in big or small ways. We’ve seen church family (some of which we’ve hardly known long) over and over again sacrifice for us in ways that our biological family would. It’s really only because Jesus lives in the Christian that we are so different. None of us can love like this on our own…
One example of sacrificial and selfless love is how a family has opened up their home to us and is rearranging their house to accommodate the boys and me for a year! All of this is a gift, firstly from the giver of perfect gifts–God himself. Some gifts may not seem like ‘gifts’ at first… it was that way for me. I think partly because they often require sacrifice and some degree of change. I have to go home and sell many of my belongings and move from living in a four bedroom house all to ourselves–to living with another family. Yet, I know that the Lord is going to use this new living situation to bless and sanctify us in ways we can’t even imagine. I’ve already had the chance to see some of that in the way this couple has loved my children and enjoyed time together like one big family. I will have the opportunity to not only homeschool Noah but also work of publishing a book with Josh’s writings. I don’t like to be alone and by God’s grace for this next year, I will be able to live with a God-fearing family! I can be excited about that!!! I’d rather be enthralled with life than dread it with fear. It’s another gift we have through Christ… the gift of peace and joy that is not dependent on our particular circumstances.
Our church family in Merlin has been an amazing pillar of support, love, and encouragement to our family. I am thankful to the Lord for all our Oregon friends and that in however a small way we could be used to help the church during this difficult transition; even if merely by being the recipients of all their love. I could see our family staying in Merlin and being blessed with the community that surrounds us there. So I hope no one takes our departure as anything against them. We love you all!! I also can see myself going back to Arizona and being surrounding by family in Christ there too. Yet, I have a peace in the Lord’s leading us to the most congested, inflated and polluted of the three–Los Angeles. During this trip, I have sensed confirmation to be back. I sense a purpose and Hope here. It’s my heart’s desire to stay in LA and start a new life again here. It’s been my prayer that God would align my desire to his will. The Lord has also provided the means to get us back home and for that, I’m so thankful!
I’m actually sad to have to leave LA soon. Today will be like our last day here. We plan to spend time with family and attend church in the afternoon with Josh’s parents since we will be flying back early on Sunday. Please pray for our trip back home. As I arrive back to our quiet abode, pray that we would sense God’s presence. Also, that we would get packed and all the different loose ends tied in order to move back. Pray for an extra measure of grace for the boys as this will be their fourth time moving within just one year since we had to relocate to Portland for Josh’s treatment shortly after moving from Arizona. Most importantly, please pray for their salvation and the salvation of others around us who have attended memorial services, have heard or seen the gospel as a result whether in the family, at church or in the hospital.
“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. 5 Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; 6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. 9 What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” Philippians 4:4-9