Thursday, June 1, 2017

A Wild Ride, A Wild God

"He leads us step by step, from event to event. Only afterwards, as we look back over the way we have come and reconsider certain important moments in our lives in the light of all that has followed them, or when we survey the whole progress of our lives, do we experience the feeling of having been led without knowing it, the feeling that God has mysteriously guided us."[1]

Last summer felt as if I'd washed ashore amongst 25-years of rubble- nearly drowned and breathless.

Tossed upon the sea.

Beaten by years of crashing waves. 

Some years I tread water, others I lay hopeless in the soundless depths, my heart and lungs crushed. 

When My children and I washed ashore, I grasped for their hands, reached to turn their faces towards One bigger than our circumstances. 

The shoreline produced relief, as waves of peace lapped the shore of my soul. But, tidal waves of fear flooded my mind as I thought of the future. I tend to be self-reliant, to isolate in times of need; but, the Lord propelled me beyond my comforts. I had to open my hands and ask for help.

Open hands led to provision. Miraculous grace and beauty emerged in ways that humbled me- food, childcare, and prayers. The body of Christ made repairs to our home and provided yard work. A family member paid off our minivan. Neighbors and friends welcomed my children into their homes, more often than not, feeding them dinner. Teachers were the hands and feet of Christ when my children were too heartbroken to enter the school doors. Teachers wrote scripture and sweet encouragement on test papers for which my kids were to weary to study. We were surrounded, loved, consistently and specifically prayed for. Friends wept with us and held up our arms. A youth group leader took lunch to my teenager at school. Administrators extended grace when he also missed over a month of school due to heavy grief, which led to multiple medical tests and hospital visits.

It was crushing for my mama heart to helplessly witness my children suffer. It.was.absolute.hell.

Sometimes my kids lashed out at me, other times they just wanted me to hold tight as they wailed into the darkness. As hard as it was, it was an absolute privilege to be the one chosen to grieve with them, hold them, and point them to the only One who could rescue. We were carried by a gracious and merciful Father. 

As I began to gather the shards of our lives, and put pieces back together, the menacing clouds were swallowed by the morning sun. Light broke through the darkness.

As my new life became my new normal, I sometimes juggled up to four part-time jobs. I struggled with guilt, often not present to help with homework assignments or make dinner. I constantly felt like a failure as a mom. During the months of June and July last summer, I trained as a school bus driver. This meant more time away from my kids. And it also required some of the hardest studying I've done since college. 

Every other weekend, my soul was snatched down an unrecognizable quiet, as we began the back and forth swap of the kids visiting their dad. Hardwoods, which normally echoed with horse-hoofed feet of four children, were now silent. One weekend, I could no longer put up with the walls caving in on me, so I headed to a local coffee shop to study for my CDL license. I buried myself in coffee, air brakes, axles, and the stopping distance of vehicles over 10,000 pounds.

Somewhere in the hours of studying, a deep voice of a man caught my attention. A comment about my school bus manual. Another remark about my choice of pumpkin bread, because apparently I got the last slice, and it was his favorite. He had kind eyes and we talked about his yearly cross-country road trip to visit his parents in Connecticut, how he would take a different route each year. This was his first time to navigate into Birmingham. Years prior, he had also studied for a school bus license to drive his soccer team to games. He was a Government high school teacher in Texas, 14 hours away. 

As we talked, we discovered we both majored in political science in college. It was a delightful conversation, and I was a bit caught off guard when he asked for my phone number. I didn't think we'd really stay in touch due to the 1,000 mile distance, but the Lord had other plans.

As the weeks turned into months, David and I developed a sweet friendship. He prayed regularly for me and the kids. His divorce, 13-years prior, had produced a wisdom and tenderness for my situation that was unique. He had battled cancer years prior, and his heart was full of amazing tenderness and compassion.

David and I discovered we had many shared interests and life experiences... which was truly surreal. One of many bizarre commonalities was that we prepared identical breakfasts for years... the same smoothies, down to the almond milk, vanilla whey, flax and frozen spinach. We also became believers at similar ages, in our 20s. I could go on and on about the various ways the Lord moved in our hearts, but the bottom line is we regularly were led to weep together in gratitude for His providential hand in bringing us together and binding our hearts in such a sweet friendship.

We spent 10 months corresponding and traveling back and forth to visit one another, as our friendship blossomed to dating. I've never felt more pursued or loved by the Father, or by a man. We've walked together through some difficult circumstances in our own lives and those of our children. The Lord has continued to answer prayers and provide.

In April of this year, we met with my church and counselors to discuss the plan to marry. David listed his home for sale, and had it sold within 10 days. The Lord continually held us and confirmed every decision and step of the way, including our children supporting our relationship. Even more surreal, my ex-husband shared a meal with us, and testified that it had to be the Lord making his heart open to receive such news- he also supported our decision to marry.

It has indeed been a wild ride. So, last week, I boarded an airplane with a one-way ticket to Texas to help David load a trailer and head east to move to our home in Birmingham. But, first, we traveled west into New Mexico to marry.


Would you please pray for this new journey? Please pray for our transition as a new family. We still stand in awe at our Savior and HIS tremendous love and kindness to do something this wild and crazy in both our lives. 

[1] Tournier, Paul. Reflections on Life's Most Crucial Questions, New York: Harper & Row, 1976.

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Dawn Teeters said...

This makes me so happy! So delighted for you! Just wonderful! Hugs sweet friend.

Melanie Evans said...

Thank you sweet Dawn! He's been working on his Australian accent for you. 😉

Lizzy Bohorfoush said...

Jehovah Jireh.... what an amazing and radical testimony of Papa's provision and tender care over you to even the tiniest of detail as a smoothie:). So thrilled for you and your family in this season of rejoicing and newness.

Melanie Evans said...

Yes! He is our precious provider. Thank you dear Lizzy.