Thursday, December 31, 2015

Beauty From Ashes

Moving to the Big City a year ago was so much harder than I anticipated. Everything was difficult: finding a place to live, the move itself, finding a church, Micah's job - just everything. I had high expectations for this place. Too high. It's not the first time my expectations got the better of me. When Micah came home from Afghanistan for good, I remember breathing a sigh of relief thinking that the hard part of our life was over. God had different plans.

The last few months have proven to me just how little control I have over my life. You'd think I would have that figured out by now. But these few months have also been a sweet reminder of how deeply Jesus cares for me and my family. He has shown Himself in incredible ways.
Let me explain...

Ben got really sick with a urinary tract infection. We didn't know that's what it was until we ended up in the ER with a fever of 105 one night. Jesus looked like a borrowed car, sweet friends who rushed over to stay with Alexis, and a blonde haired doctor who - at the last minute - decided to run a test for a UTI just to "rule it out." Because of Ben's previous bladder issues, we were referred to a urologist after our ER visit. Because Ben had been so sick, the doctor decided to run some further tests on his bladder and kidneys as a precaution. The test results were concerning. At the very least, we were told Ben would need another surgery (he had one when he was a baby) to correct some reflux of urine into his right kidney. What was more concerning was the abnormal shape of his bladder. As the doctor explained that could mean Ben actually had some kind of neurological issue, my heart began to race. We decided to do another test right before Thanksgiving to try and determine the severity of the reflux and the cause of the abnormal bladder shape. I fully expected to walk out with a surgery date. Instead, we were all a bit shocked to discover that there was no reflux showing with this test and that his bladder didn't need any immediate attention. Whaaaat!

A few days before that second test, I attended a mom's group at our church. Feeling especially vulnerable and incredibly overwhelmed, I tearfully shared what was going on and listed all the other things that were beginning to pile up for the coming week, including other doctors appointments for the rest of us. For that entire week, Jesus looked like homecooked meals, babysitters, extra ears and hands and an incredible amount of encouragement - some from people I never even knew before then. I am still blown away by it.

In the midst of all that was the overwhelming umbrella that made everything else seem crazy... we were moving. Micah had been talking to a company in the northeast and, frankly, I thought that's where I'd be typing this right now. But God had other plans. Our plans were derailed (in a good way) when Micah was offered a job here. The kicker, though, was that we still needed to move out of our apartment. Finding a place here that we could afford and that was in an area we were comfortable with was not going to be an easy task given what had become a very short timeline. That's when Jesus looked like an angel of a realtor and a miracle house.

I started to describe the events that have taken place lately to a friend just the other day and I just chuckled because of how sweet it has been. How Jesus has made these ashes of the last few years into something so beautiful. Some of this may seem trivial to you. You may be thinking that all of this is just normal. I'm so delighted that this is normal life for you, but it has certainly not been for me.

As I sit here and reflect on what's taken place, it's natural for me to go back to all that we've endured - all the hard, the mess, the ugly - those ashes.

And then I'm thankful.

For without the ashes, I would have missed the beauty.