Unexpected…

What do you think of when you hear the word:
Unexpected.

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I think if I could pick one word to summarize this past year, that would be the word.

From an unexpected vacation given to us in October of 2012, to an iPad being given to my techy-loving husband, to unexpected health problems for me, to days of lying on the couch wishing I were dead and yet knowing I would somehow pull my way through the awful that was my lot, to having a young girl here in my home for 10 days seeing me at my worst and yet willingly doing what I asked, to friends and neighbors blessing us in ways that were over and above any expectations we had, to wrestling with the here and now of our current involvement in church and coming to the place where we laid it all down, to watching one little step in faith be all it took for God to show us He is enough.

If that feels like a loaded paragraph, it is.

Very.

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This past year for me, for Tim and I, for our family has been hard. Physically, I’ve had some (not life threatening) health challenges that have seemed to drag on and on and on. It’s been my choice to not talk about this before now, because, I am a private person and since this malady has been more personal, I have not wanted to blather on about it. Nonetheless. I’ve had two surgeries that were, to say the least, less than a blast, but I survived. I’ve had more days of tears and wondering ‘why this’ and ‘why can’t I be well’ and ‘what do you really want from me, Lord’ than ever before in my life. I’d been blessed with a faithful husband who has been a shoulder to cry on and with, and I’ve had a friend that has stuck closer than a brother to me in my greatest time(s) of need. And, most of all, I’ve had a God who knows and sees and hears and loves No matter what. No matter when.

When you’re in the middle of hard times, no matter what nature, life in general is hard to come to grips with. I’ll be the first to admit that. But, I’ll also be the first to say that when you’re in the middle of hard times physically, it forces you to be still and KNOW. And, for me, because I have Christ in my life, it has made me KNOW He is all things to me and in me and through me.

In this past year where so many things were unexpected and especially having more time than ever to really look at life, Tim and I talked lot. A whole lot. We talked about dreams, and if we had any. We talked about our family and where we want to be. We talked about God’s calling(s) on our lives and what that really means for us. We talked about so many things and in so many ways, that I can honestly say that my physical suffering was a blessing in that way. Not that I would ever pick that means to come to any place where we can genuinely process. No, I would not pick what I went through in a million years, nor would I wish it on anyone. Ever. But. I can honestly say that my prayer all along, all through this unexpected chain of events has been, “Lord, help me learn and I want your glory to be seen through me by those who look at my life.” Of course, I prayed for the pain and affliction to pass. Oh, I prayed that! But, all along, all through this year, I have been keenly aware of those around me that do not know Christ and if my physical suffering could in some small way be a way for Jesus to be made known to them, I can truly say that I would not count one agonizing second for loss.

As we have gone through this year, and looked at life, it has been a whole lot of wrestling. Wrestling with unknowns and unforeseen. It has been a year where in many times, peace was not really residing within our hearts. And, that is a place where life can seem down and out and overwhelming. Really overwhelming. Some of the things we wrestled with this year were not born out of the events of this year, but the events of this year did call us to look at them closer.

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Eight years ago, my husband was licensed as a minister in our church. It was truly a holy experience to walk into something that sacred and acknowledge God’s call on Tim’s and our life. Holy and humbling. Very humbling. We have walked in this capacity for the past eight years and throughout the last three especially, we have felt unrest and wondered if this really was for us for any longer. We have asked God over and again, ‘what now?’ and it seemed He was silent and so we kept on in what was before us. Kept on, and yet, kept asking and seeking. My husband sought counsel from Godly men in his life many a time and hoped that God would speak to us clearly if we were to pursue other things, or if we were to stay on as we were. And, still, it seemed God was silent and yet pursuing us at the same time. Pursuing us and yet, not letting us have rest and peace as it seemed we should.

Fast forward to 2012-2013 and all that the year has held and it seemed the unrest within our hearts had increased. And, it seemed like as we prayed, more and more God was saying ‘lay it down. It’s not yours to have.’

If I could tell you how scary and how much fear there is when you go to lay down what God has asked you to faithfully do, I would. But, I cannot. I can tell you that coming to the place where your heart says ‘yes, Lord’ is not an easy thing to do when you let the fear of man and the realization that you do not have answers for the next step crowd out the still small voice of a Faithful God. I do not say that lightly.

And, so, one day led to another and one prayer led to another and over and again, it felt God was calling us to lay it down and to jump where we could see nothing.

The still small Voice was getting louder in our hearts and we realized it was now.

Not tomorrow. Not next year. Not someday.

Now.

And, we laid it down and….

Peace.

Nothing but peace.

It truly passes our understanding.

On a Sunday morning a few weeks ago, my husband stood before our congregation and read a letter that he had poured days and hours into. Days and hours and tears and so much of his very soul. I sat there in the pew with our four children and my heart was probably beating loud enough that the people next to me could hear it. I sat there with our children and knew without a doubt, that from that moment on, our lives were forever going to be changed. For the good, or the bad. If ever in my life I have been at a place and time where I just wanted the moment to be over, it was then. I wanted to be somewhere, anywhere but there. And, yet, it was the step that we knew God was asking us to take and it was the first step of faith that He has used to bring so much peace and freedom back into our hearts and lives.

In the letter Tim read, he disclosed how God has been working in his and our lives and hearts to bring us to the place where he is stepping down from the ministry and we, as a family, are pursuing moving to Kansas. It is a decision that we have not made lightly, but a decision that we know God asked us to make. We asked the church to, more than ever, remember us in prayer as we seek out what God has for us in this new life He is calling us to.

I cannot tell you how draining that day was for us.

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But, I can tell you that God has been so very faithful. One day, my husband is telling our church we are stepping down and moving to Kansas with no known job, or house, or anything to fall back on, and literally, the next day, his current employer came to him and asked him if he would consider staying on as their employee and doing exactly what he does here, from Kansas.

It was overwhelming to say the least.

To know that one of the biggest pieces of this puzzle was already in place for us, was and continues to be huge.

Unbelievably Huge.

One step in faith and, God.

God and Peace.

We are, imaginably so, on a faith journey like none we’ve experienced together before.

We plan to move to the area where my family is, but we do not have a definitve timeline.

Our house has to sell before we can move, so that is the next big piece.

But, I know, I fully believe that our Faithful God is going to work it out in the timeframe that He already knows.
And, as we wait, we want to remember His faithfulness to us this far, and be faithful to Him as we trust He is all things to us and in us and through us.

He is Enough.

There have been so many sustaining verses that I have claimed throughout this year….
“I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall. I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me. Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.” The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him. It is good to quietly wait for the salvation of the Lord.” Lamentations 3:19-26

‘So that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge- that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory.’ Ephesians 3:17-21a

‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.’ II Corinthians 3:9

And, I could go on and on.
I can truly say that His Word has become more precious to me through this hard year that we have gone through. I can honestly say that meditating on His Word, on His Truth and on His Promises has been overwhelmingly humbling.

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Unexpected.
You probably thought I was going to tell you we are having another baby, right?

Nope.

But, that was a good guess.

As we go on from this point, I will be blogging in my normal, random ways.
But, this unexpected journey we are on will also be chronicled here.
I’m excited to share it with you.
Thank you for taking the time to stop in here.
With love,
Rachel

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23 thoughts on “Unexpected…

  1. Amy Beachy says:

    Rachel, I only met you once, but I felt such a sweet connection that one night meeting you. You are a beautiful person, inside and out, and Christ radiates through you! I am so thankful for how God has worked in your family’s life, and how you guys obeyed Him and followed His leading. I know that God is going to continue to use your family to give Him glory and praise. Blessings and prayers!
    Love,
    Amy

  2. Stacey says:

    We met in the park of the “littlebrowntown” – I’ll never forget it. We were soul sisters from the beginning and I feel honored to call you friend. I hope you continue writing and one day publish a book to tell your story of faith. You are amazing Rachel. I love you bunches.

  3. yes. having another baby was the first thing I thot when I started. but this. wow.
    sad you are maybe leaving. but happy that you are following your hearts, and your God.
    blessings to you, dear lady. I will be waiting in anticipation to hear of you taking your next step.

    And I’d love to help out w/ the kids if/when it comes to packing boxes. we’d love to have them up to play so you can get things done.

  4. Rachel! I’m sure you wrote out Kansas on accident…certainly you meant to write Illinois! 😉
    Wow…this was a big post. So much going on in your life. So much!
    I love it when God works and we can see so clearly. I don’t like having things go wrong in life, but it is always a reality check for me. I need to be smacked in the head and I am thankful for it. Whatever problems happen here in this life, they are temporal! They easier to handle with eternity in mind.
    I am excited for you and I will be praying for you my friend! XxOo

  5. Wow, this is just so touching. What a journey God has been taking you on, and what a beautiful heart you’ve allowed Him to create in you through it all. Much much love to you!

  6. Anonymous says:

    I honestly did not think that you were going to tell us about having another baby- but I guess that’s not my first thought like it is for some people (speaking from personal experience here!)

    But wow, it’s amazing how God leads! We truly don’t know what a year is going to hold! Your heart is kind of in Kansas anyhow, right? Wishing you all the best in this big transition!

  7. I was too involved in reading the words of your story to have any free brain cells left for guessing what might be the next unexpected. It took me back so vividly to our own years of stepping out, of not knowing, of going and of being taken. Different story, yet so many similar emotions. Especially the long years and years of silence from God coupled with so much unrest and then the sure knowledge it was time and the miraculous peace. In spite of the fear of man. In spite of the words. In spite of everything. I’ve said it so many times in the past two years and I’ll say it again. “There is no safer place than the center of God’s will …. and there is nothing more imaginably freeing than to KNOW you are there. Even when it’s hard. Even when things don’t line up. Even when it doesn’t make sense.” That knowing is life.

    I’m sorry you’ve been so unwell! But I also hear you when you say good things happened because of it. I hope the rest of your journey is crystal clear. That God would continue to give you so much rest in your heart. Much, much love!

  8. can I just say that I’m SO with you this year?? Unexpected. hard, wavering faith, worrying instead of letting it go, and in the end finding out there’s so much MORE than there was before all the suffering. Man, the circumstances have each been different, but I could have written the gist of it myself.

    Also, I’m So So So excited for you that you get to MOVE closer to your family. No more sadness as you come home from vacations to visit that are too few and far between. I’ve got SUCH joy for you right now.

  9. how can I be startled? and not. both at the same time. but I am.

    maybe because when I read about your “unexpecteds”… I am reminded of my own. For me, I want trust to be predated with understanding… but it IS what you wrote, “One step… and God.”

    i am so sorry about your health issues.
    And so happy about the big piece that was already in place.
    and The Big Peace that’s In Place.

    much love.

  10. Wow… The thought crossed my mind that you might be moving as I was reading. I’m so excited for you to live close to your family. I can’t begin to imagine all you face as you make the move. Hugs and prayers.

  11. Linda says:

    WOW…unexpected to us but not God..this is amazing, beautiful and God honoring! Thanks for sharing and may you continue to find God nearer than ever before. Unexpected…not to God! Praise HIM! I am amazed how when God takes you through the hard…the other side is so much better and MORE than you ever dreamed of. Continue to step in faith He has BIG plans for you and they are for good.

  12. jennie says:

    This made me feel sad and happy. So sorry for the pain etc that you went through. I am so glad that you and your husband stepped out in faith and are trusting God. So glad you found peace. Love you so….may God pile on the blessings in this journey!

  13. How many times have it thought about you and prayed for you the last year?! Wondering how my friend was doing. And here it all is, written out to beautifully, God’s plan unfolding for you and your sweet family. Unfolding sounds like such an effortless thing, but really growth and change dose not come without pain and confusion, does it? You have such a way with words Rachel! I will continue to pray for you but this time I will know exactly what to pray for 🙂

    I am excited for you! I do hope you will continue to post about this next adventure!!

  14. Hi there, thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment! As I was reading through your post here, it brought back memories of a time in our lives when we “stepped out” not knowing the future but feeling at peace. Even though it was the hardest thing my husband and I had done, we can both look back and see how God worked time and time again. Blessings to you and your sweet family as you seek Him!

  15. What you wrote, and how you worded it was just beautiful. I’m sorry for your health issues, and am glad they were not life threatening. Living in fear is so difficult, and once you let that go – it’s SO freeing! What an adventure you’re about to embark on! I look forward to reading more.

  16. you KNOW my heart feels all this right with you.
    can’t wait to see all God has in store.
    it’s gonna be a fuN new journey~
    i’m excited to watch it unfold.
    *giving your hand an extra tight squeeze*
    love you.

  17. Wow. What a loaded post to write, from an even more loaded year! I love to hear how faith is strengthened, a soul guided by the Word, and a woman of God falling more deeply in love with Him even when (because of) so many things have been so difficult. I wish you well in all the next decisions. And of course, you can always keep the blog name, because there is plenty of golden prairie brown in KS too.

  18. Laurie M. says:

    I can identify with the fear and wrestling that comes before leaving what is known but then the surprising joy and peace of being held and led by God. I could be a little envious because Kansas is home for me but I ‘m sure you all will leave many things behind that you love. The prairie doesn’t have the splendor of green and color but it has a sky and its own rustic color that tugs on me, even in the foothills of the Blue Ridge which I love. Meg Doersken on her blog (Whatever) captures in her photography what tugs on me about the prairie. Others have told me it is the graciousness of the people that helped them to adjust and I hope you find that there.

  19. Sherilyn M. says:

    Wow Rachel, just wow… it is hard to find words… your heart is just stunningly beautiful. And God is so very good… so weird how stepping out in faith when you only have light for that step brings such peace. I was so encouraged by this post, this afternoon telling God I want to remember again all He has brought our family to, instead of doubting when suffering hits… wow, I want to say I am so glad you are moving to Kansas, but I also so know that change is so so hard. I feel wistful, wish I knew you better… 🙂 I just found your blog several months ago, and wasn’t sure I had the “right” to comment. 🙂 But I just felt so heart moved with this post.. I am guessing you will know that I am Brian’s wife from Choice Books days.

  20. Anonymous says:

    sheesh, to say i’m behind is an understatement!
    (proves how truly shallow instagram is 😉
    yay God.
    well said.
    very exciting.
    xo

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