"If the God you believe in as an idea doesn’t start showing up in what happens to you in your own life, you have as much cause for concern as if the God you don’t believe in as an idea does start showing up. It is absolutely crucial, therefore, to keep in constant touch with what is going on in your own life’s story and to pay close attention to what is going on in the stories of others’ lives. If God is present anywhere, it is in those stories that God is present. If God is not present in those stories, then they are scarcely worth telling." ~ Frederick Buechner

09 January 2014

The Importance of the Community We ALL Desperately Need

Good heavens.

We've had one of those unbelievable, "when it rains, it pours" sort of mini-seasons. The past few weeks have been absolutely crazy.

*N's car battery died, after being jump started on several occasions, and we had to replace it.
*We discovered that a rodent has been setting up a bed and breakfast in my engine, leaving urine and dried fruit from our neighbor's tree all over the engine, creating a horrendous smell and potentially loose wiring with the battery, which causes the car to stall at unexpected times.
*Our garbage disposal sprung a leak on Christmas Eve and had to be replaced.
*A screw on the highway shredded one of N's tires. He discovered he had to replace all four, because it turns out, the ones he had had been discontinued.
*B's white noise machine (which he uses every day for nap and bedtime) broke.
*B got sick on the way home from visiting relatives, spiking fevers and being generally miserable. With the prevalence of H1N1 this winter in Houston, I have to admit, I was frightened.
*The last two things have meant disrupted sleep for all of us.
*Our health insurance and the way prenatal care works here is messed up. We had to prepay for all my prenatal care and just trust that someone (insurance? the OB?) will reimburse us once the baby is born.
*It has recently occurred to us that we need to come up with a plan for where B will stay when we go to the hospital.
*Plethora of things that are too personal to mention in public.

At times, I have just sat in shock, asking God, "Um, do you remember me? You know how I'm going to have a baby in about eight weeks? We can't afford all this craziness!"

I may or may not have had an epic emotional meltdown last weekend, and I stayed home in bed while N and B went to a pizza night with our life group.

But just as I was on the verge of feeling like I was going to really lose it, we had the joy of taking Little B to his Sibling Class at the hospital where we plan to deliver his baby sister.
If there's anything to cure the grumps, it's a bunch of little ones who were just babies themselves YESTERDAY learning about their new baby brothers and sisters.
He wanted to bring "my baby" home with him, because he wanted to "take care of her and she can sleep wif me."
There was a brand, spankin' new baby in the nursery!
And then the reverse avalanche (I know there is no such thing in real life) began:

When we arrived home, we found a very thoughtful and generous surprise gift from two of the couples in our life group from church.

Then a friend from church (who also serves on the MOMS leadership team) whose husband works at an auto dealership reached out to us, and they were able to provide us with a discount on purchasing the four new tires we needed.

And another friend (also from church and who serves on the MOMS leadership team, too ~ we obviously have a great group of women) went way above and beyond while B was sick and took the initiative to go to the store to stock us with elderberry syrup and Umcka, either of which we had ever tried before. We're not sure what B had, but within a couple days of doses of both, his fever was gone. He did keep complaining of his tooth hurting, so I wonder if he has another tooth coming in. But hey, I'll take teething over the flu any day!

And another friend (who is moving to Michigan in less than a month) insisted on planning a baby shower for me, even though I kept saying she really didn't have to because she probably has a million things to do in preparation for their upcoming move.

And then I got to have a nice, long phone conversation with a college roommate, which was especially sweet because she's going to have her third baby any day now, and who knows when we'll get to have our next long talk!

And then our life group leaders told us that the ladies would like to do a little something together to celebrate the baby and that for our church's service project day this spring, they want to come over to our house and help us with whatever we need done.

These were all desperately-needed reminders for my faltering, aching heart that our little family isn't on an island, that we aren't all alone, and that, not only are there are people who care about us, more importantly, there are people who will SHOW us that they care.

Today, at MOMS, one of our leaders spoke on Sarah Mae and Sally Clarkson's book, Desperate: Hope for the Mom Who Needs to Breathe.

I read that book almost exactly a year ago, in another season of intense loneliness.

How easy it is to forget the lessons we have been taught.

I was so blessed by the timely reminder that God made us to live life together, that we are not meant to go at this alone. I need "right there with you" friendships with women in my current life stage, "pour into you" relationships with younger women, and "I want to learn from you" friendships with older, wiser women. I'm grateful for the beautiful women God has provided to fill those roles in my life in the past. My spirit was humbled to realize that I haven't been asking God to provide those women in my life now, here, nor have I been particularly good at initiating those relationships. It is too easy for me to fall into the trap of believing that I should be able to handle it on my own and to make excuses about how I don't want to inconvenience anyone or believe that older women have too much going on in their lives already and don't have time for one more thing (me).

I need to be courageous enough to accept help when it is offered and to ask for help when we need it.

Tonight, I was chatting with one of my favorite people from our time in upstate NY. Tanya was one of the girls in the high school youth group where N and I served as youth leaders, and then, as she got older, became a dear friend. She was the first to come visit us in the hospital when B was born and B's very first babysitter. Anyway, as we were discussing a potential outfit for B to wear in her wedding this coming summer, I briefly mentioned that we'd been through a rough patch recently.

And she said, "Well, please let me know if I can help in any way. I'm always a phone call away and a quick plane ride if you need me."

I thanked her, and she pressed on, "I'm serious. If you need me at any time, even when the baby comes, a flight to you guys is cheap and fast, so it wouldn't be a problem."

I don't have any answers yet to some of the questions surrounding the logistics of this baby's birth, but the Lord has definitely communicated one thing to me, loudly and clearly: He is faithful in all circumstances. Nothing is too big for Him and my job is to rely on Him for strength and courage to walk through these crazy seasons.
I'm grateful to rediscover the sweet joy of deeply knowing the truth of Romans 8:28, the very first Bible verse I ever memorized when I because a follower of Jesus: He is always, undoubtedly GOOD and He is always working for my good.