We all start out with dreams and desires and expectations of meeting and falling in love with Prince Charming and living happily ever after.
But many times, that’s not how life goes.
I felt like I waited for-evvvver before I met my Prince Charming. I was 23, but I felt old. Everyone around me (from my self-pitying perspective) was already married and having children. I wondered if I would ever meet someone who would want me. Then I met Gary, and he chased me until I caught him. Not really. It wasn’t like that at all, but somehow I got him to agree to ask me to marry him. That’s how it felt to me.
Then finally, we got married and started having children. After I convinced him that it was time to have a baby. We had one, and then another, and then we just couldn’t stop having babies. We ended up with 10! Babies are the best thing God ever made! I am ever so thankful for each and every one of them.
But our happily ever after has been full of unexpected and surprising, dare I say, traumatic events that have shocked us and even caused PTSD-like symptoms in several members of our family.
The first years with children were sweet for me but exhausting. I sure loved my babies. And I loved teaching them everything from walking, talking, and eating to swimming, riding a bike, and reading. I was “Mommy”. That’s who I was.
I didn’t get much support, but I didn’t think I should need it. I thought I should be able to do it all by myself. I thought I shouldn’t need help. My mom didn’t need any help. Why should I? My husband was brought up to believe that his only real responsibility was to provide for the family monetarily. I was thankful for that. He worked so hard. He put in long hours. But it was hard for me to appreciate his hard work when I hardly ever saw him, and I was dealing with 3, then 4, then 5, then 6 little ones virtually by myself.
His career wasn’t working out the way he expected, either. He tried to advance. He did excellent work. He cared about every project he worked on. He gave it everything he had. But he could never get recognition for his hard work. Instead he was always encountering people who questioned his ability, who took credit for his work, or who demanded impossible things from him.
So I was struggling with doing the thing I wanted most in life – to be a good wife and mother. And he was struggling with the thing that he thought was his main purpose in life and would bring him fulfillment.
We were getting very disenchanted with how things were.
And then things got worse!
He lost his job and couldn’t get another one.
We lost our house.
We were technically homeless for several months!
I did not expect God to let something like that happen to us. We were seeking Him. We were praying with our children. We were teaching them the Bible. We were expecting God to do miracles for us.
But He had a different plan. It was a very difficult plan for us to walk through.
He gave us fair warning.
He had told Gary that he could choose to walk or climb. Gary chose to climb.
Around the same time, I had prayed for a Baptism of Fire.
We should have known our road was going to get very rocky. But we didn’t expect it to become downright treacherous!
We trusted God and lived totally by faith for over 3 years. He supernaturally provided all of our financial needs.
But the time came when He stopped sending us the money to make the house payment. Then we faced foreclosure and eviction from our own home. I couldn’t BELIEVE God would let that happen to us!
I was in shock. Literally. We had a very difficult time finding a place to live with 8 children. We had a few unpleasant experiences living with other people. Then the Lord made it clear that we were to leave Ohio. We didn’t have any money, but the Lord said to tell people we were leaving and the money would come. We were given about $3000 by some very surprising sources.
And off we went to the faraway land called Arizona in our minivan that was stuffed to the gills with 10 people and duffle bags full of a weeks worth of clothes for each of us. And a few of our favorite things.
It was ludicrous.
But God told us to do it, so we did it.
Through the whole crazy journey, we kept praying and trusting God, and He kept providing in the most unusual ways and usually at the last minute.
One time we ran out of money in Colorado Springs. We had to leave the hotel we had been staying in. We had been on the road – homeless – for 3 months at the time. We went to a park to pray. Gary’s cell phone rang. A man named Burt asked Gary to meet him at a certain address. When we got there, he asked Gary many questions. He must have answered them to Burt’s satisfaction, because he then gave us a check for $500 and went into the bank, which was at the address where we met him, and made sure Gary was able to cash it without any problem. Then we were able to go back to the hotel and stay there for another week.
When that week was over, the Lord used the hotel clerk to give us a home for two weeks, right around Thanksgiving time. He provided for us so that we could cook a Thanksgiving dinner for the hotel clerk and her family. In her kitchen!
There are so many ways that God provided for us supernaturally during our Journey of Fire. I would have a hard time telling all of them.
But I would never have put my family in such a situation on purpose. I never expected God to let such extreme losses and stressful experiences happen to us.
But we have been forever changed.
I know I have.
Now my kids and my husband –
I’m not so sure they fared as well as I did.
Some of them are seeming to question God’s faithfulness and care. I think they want life to be easier than it has been.
I wouldn’t mind getting some of my biggest prayer requests, like a home of our own, answered real soon.
But I will never turn my back on God or question His goodness or His direction.
My older children are working through issues of trauma, and they are testing their wings and their boundaries.
Now that has been shocking to me. I thought they would stay close to God no matter what. I didn’t expect them to question God or His goodness or faithfulness. But they are their own people, and we all have to develop our own relationship with God. They need to take their questions and needs to God for themselves. I try to help them, but I can only do so much.
This has been a heartbreak for me.
But I still trust God to work all things together for their good. Because I dedicated them to God when they were young. I did my best to raise them in the ways of the Lord. I loved them and took care of them the best that I could. I honored God and lived a believing life before them.
So I am expecting good things in the future for our whole family.
God has not given up on them, and neither will I. I never dreamed I would have a Prodigal. But nothing is too hard for God.
I know He will bring everything back around, because that’s how He is. He is a God of redemption. He remembers every single prayer I’ve ever prayed. He took us through the Journey of Fire for a reason, and it wasn’t so that my children would lose their faith. On the contrary, I know it will make them strong warriors for His Kingdom.
So even though things didn’t go the way I wanted them to, like, at all!, I am confident that He will complete what He started in us.
And if things haven’t gone the way you wanted or expected, I’m sorry. My heart goes out to you.
But I would like to encourage you to keep your hope. I believe that God has a purpose for each of our lives (actually many purposes), and He uses everything that happens to us to galvanize our faith and to make us more like Him.
So take courage! Remain steadfast. Keep your peace and hope.
God will make all things work together for your good. He has not forgotten you. He loves you so much. Just think about how much He loves you. Just think about Jesus leaving His beautiful perfect life in Heaven to come here to Earth and become one of us just because He loved you and wanted you to have a beautiful perfect life not only in Heaven but the best life possible here on Earth. The chance to be a child of God.
And the suffering He willingly went through for you.
Now that’s love.
True love. The truest love you’ll ever find.
I’ve said enough.
I hope you hear God’s heart cry for you. He loves you. He is with you. He is taking you to a better tomorrow.
Don’t despair. Hold onto your hope. Hold onto Jesus.
Things are going to get better. You might have been blindsided by events and actions of people in your life, but God is faithful. You may have been surprised at the things God allowed. But don’t let that hurt your faith. He remains the same as ever: good, loving, faithful, powerful, almighty, and – you know. You know your Heavenly Father. Don’t let anything steal your faith from you.
It is the most precious thing you have. So don’t let anything take your faith from you.
Hold onto the knowledge that even though things didn’t go the way you wanted them to, God is not surprised, your life is not out of His control, He does love you and want what’s best for you, and He is working all things together for your good.
Even though they didn’t work out, He will make sure they work together.
Now that’s good!