As some of you know, I have been struggling lately. I know the root of my struggle is faith. The manifestation, though, has taken different faces.
One of the faces of my struggle that I wrote about last week is clarity on my photography. One of the biggest issues there is equipment. Next week I will be shooting a women's conference for our church's women's magazine. Our auditorium holds 1,700 people, and last year it was packed. A wide-angle lens would be great for that. Add the lens hood I need for the head shots I have scheduled in two weeks and the lighting I will need this fall for the family portraits for our homeschool group, plus a "clicker" with a longer cord...It all adds up to not terribly cheap. Not enough to get a second mortgage, but there is more. Isn't there always?
Anna had to get new lenses this week for her glasses. Last year, the lenses alone were $200. Again, not a second mortgage, but not pocket change.
Then there is my favorite boy in the world. I won't go into the long story. The synopsis is that the Lord told me to buy sporting equipment for Robert and Anna and plan outtings two days a week. Along with our Friday skating and PE group, that makes three days of activity which Robert needs desperately (and I desperately need him to have it). I knew the list the Lord gave me for the equipment, and having been an athlete, I had a good idea of how much this little jaunt to the sporting section was going to cost.
Add the sporting goods, Anna's lesnes, and the photography equipment together, and I knew we were not talking about an easy month. To add to the mix, our annual weekend trip to the beach which not only serves as family bonding time but mental and emotionally therapy is scheduled this month. I played with numbers and asked, "Lord, how am I going to do this? How do I juggle this? How am I supposed to do all of this? What do I need to kick out?"
Like most moms I know, the answer seemed simple. Anna had to have new lenses. There was no option. I knew the Lord had spoken about Robert's sporting equipment. The family was looking forward to the beach. Surely the Lord would help me figure out how to tighten the budget elsewhere and somehow take excellent pictures with the lenses I have now.
Faith says, "I have big needs, but I serve a bigger God." Friends, I won't tell you I thought that. I thought I would do what had to be done and see how far down the "nice thought" list I could get before the road came to an end. I'm so thankful God is faithful when I am small-minded and faithless.
First of all, Anna's doctor's appointment was a praise in itself. I just haven't had time to write about it. Her lens prescription hasn't changed in three years (it was changing every three months for nearly four years), and her eye alignment is better than it has ever been! Her depth perception is perfect, and this is the best eye report we have EVER gotten concerning Anna's eyes. Anna told me last year that she believed her eyes were getting better. The exam didn't show that, but she said she knew she was right. I told her to pray that the healing manifest and be visible to the doctor, too. We saw that happen this week. The doctor was shocked. Anna's eye problems simply don't reverse according to medical experience, and yet, hers are.
So there is our first moment of God showing up to say, "Look how big I AM," this week.
An hour later, we sat with the tech ordering new lenses for Anna's glasses. "Can you give me an estimate of how much it will cost?" I asked wondering if we should have returned to a company covered by our insurance. If it was $200 last year with insurance, I wasn't sure if I wanted to know how much without, and yet, this was the company we had used every other year. They knew us, knew Anna's history, knew they had to have the perfect lens alignment or Anna would throw up from dizziness. They weren't, however, covered by our insurance. Still, this was "home", and I wanted to see if they could compete.
Susan, the tech we've known for years, said, "Oh, yeah. You came at the perfect time. We've got a sale on. All children's lenses are $50. That includes Anna's glare protection, her torque, everything. Will that compete with your insurance?" I just nodded and wondered how much of a scene it would make if I hit my knees in humble gratitude right there in the middle of the store.
And again, God shows up and says, "Look how big I AM."
Then today I took the children shopping for athletic equipment. I knew what I was supposed to buy, and I knew about how much it would cost. The children and I grabbed a buggy and headed to the sporting goods section. When we left, we had the following in our buggy:
2 baseball helmets--one in pink
2 aluminum baseball bats--one very pink one proclaiming "GIRL POWER"
2 nice leather gloves
1 batting practice gadget
2 soccer balls--one in pink and one very masculine red and black
4 mouth guards-two hot pink
1 basket for Anna's bicycle
If you have bought just the baseball supplies, you know that alone adds up really fast. Let me give you some quick God prices.
Helmets--$3 each, not $12 each
gloves--$2 and $3, not $11 and $14
Pink bat--$5, no $11
Softballs--50 cents, not $1.28
Batting practice gadget--$4.oo, not $14
My total for all of that was $75. We walked into sports clearance central, and I figure we saved at least $75.
Isn't God amazing?
And it doesn't stop there.
Another area where the Lord is stretching me is my marriage. I don't really talk about it, but the simple explanation is we went through a couple of life changing events, and we didn't transition well with them. When my dad passed on a few years ago, I had a really hard time. I had been a main care giver for years, and suddenly, I had no clue who I was. The identity crisis did not go well. On the tail end of that, Rob went from working extreme hours and being gone almost all week to a normal work week, and we haven't readjusted well to parenting roles and relationship changes.. Add the children and our desire to keep their life as "normal" as possible, and we have found ourselves more distant and different than we want.
I won't lie. This is a hard place, and the last 4-6 weeks have been incredibly hard. I cannot even express the emotional or mental pain or isolation that I have found myself working through, and as usual, the enemy's attacks are relentless.
I have lain on my bed and cried asking the Lord for a word to stand on because I was tired and couldn't see beyond the holes to the vision of what the Lord had in His heart. All I could see is the way we weren't what I had wanted my marriage to be. The only word I kept getting was, "I can restore anything. Do you believe me?"
In honesty, I said, "I want to. It just needs to be so different than what it is, and I don't see how we will get there."
He replied, "Trust me."
Today, I came home from our trip where God declared His lordship over the sporting goods department, and sitting near my front door was an amazingly beautiful vase of flowers. The card said simply, "I'll be there soon. Love, Maynard." (That is my nickname for Rob, btw.) I was stunned, so stunned that I had not even thought of him when I was trying to figure out who might have sent the flowers. Rob doesn't give me flowers, not because he's a jerk but because they simply aren't something I care for. I want something living and useful. Flowers in a vase die. Lot of money for very little. I just don't appreciate them as much as other things, so he has given me the things I appreciate, not flowers.
Today, though, I was greeted by a beautiful bouquet of flowers, and when I saw it was from Rob, my heart fluttered, and I thought, "Lord, you really are leading us into new territory where we've never been." And suddenly, I had glimpse of what I couldn't see. I kept looking at what we had and what we have wondering how God was going to fix it, and in this case, God isn't going to fix or repair. He is simply going to give us something new.
And did I mention the wide-angle lens is on sale this weekend at the camera shop we trust? Did I also mention the money I didn't have to pay in these other areas cover the cost of the lens and some of the other photography equipment?
And once again I declare by personal witness the unchanging, unalterable truth...
"For the word of the LORD (both written and spoken personally) is right and true; he is faithful in all he does."--Psalm 33
Lord, forgive me for still trying to see with my mind and not my spirit. Forgive me for too easily agreeing with the accusations of the enemy that says You won't--or can't--provide. Forgive me for standing frozen by fear of the unknown instead of walking in the faith of the only One I need to know. Thank You for Your faithfulness and love. Thank you for promises kept. Thank you for being I AM when I am so unsure. Despite the questions, You have lead me to an open place where I can declare: You are God. You are Provider. You are I AM, and You love me. Blessed be Your beautiful name.