In between the moist brined turkey slathered with cranberry jelly, the gravy-drizzled stuffing and the mashed potato mounds, the fear slipped in.
Earlier, on our way out the door to relatives and Thanksgiving feasts, two letters had arrived. The letters mapped out the region around our home, drafting new roads, and moving forward the construction of a giant twenty-four-hour shopping center down the street from us. The twelve acres of woodlands and wetlands would be razed, sections of our yard would be converted into roads and turn lanes, and semi-trucks would soon rumble deliveries all night long on the road outside our bedroom.
On the road to our relatives' house, we passed wind turbines, calculated wingspans, and grieved the probable loss of our home and yard. The fear slid in then, and I voiced aloud my concerns.
- "It took us a year for our last house sell and to find this one."
- "We bought this one when it was foreclosed and at a lower price than they are now available."
- "It's only a block from your work, and from our teens. What are the odds of finding another one like this again? And it's a perfect volleyball yard for youth group!"
- "We landscaped, built raised garden beds, planted strawberries, rhubarb, raspberries, mint, tulips, daffodils, purple aliums, and more. Those bulbs and plants don't come up again until next year, and I don't want to lose them. We brought in garden dirt, started a compost, and planted trees."
"This is my dream home and yard," I whispered later at the table. Mark squeezed my hand, and the moment passed as five small children crashed underfoot, cousins rolling and playing around us, and my father-in-law ground beans in his wooden mill for the next batch of coffee. New family arrived and we tumbled into afternoons of coffee, pecan pie, moist fruit cake tarts, and hours of games and conversations.
|Photo Credit to Becky Pratts|
Yes, it took eleven months for our last house to sell and to find this one -- but it's perfect. Look at his heart and extravagant gifts in that? He can do it again, Jennifer. You have savored this home and yard this last year and a half.
That night, and this week, God brings to my mind memory after memory of where he has shown us his heart: anonymous checks of money in our early years of marriage written precisely in the amount we needed for rare unexpected bills; or tiny five year old Morgan with her cancer scare and His peace that came as a relief after our tight chest moments, even before a final diagnosis; donated vehicles weeks before its predecessor died; God's chasing heart in our own foolish wayward moments; and through it all, His tender re-threading of beauty from our raveled bits.
I pick up my pen each day now, and write line after line in my Gratitude (Gifts) Journal. My pen scratches both the easy-to-list good gifts (hot coffee, tumbling snowflakes, a family who knows You, safe travels, family laughter around the table) and the hard gifts -- the ones that cause anxiety to reach tall, grappling with my heart: (possibly losing our home = a chance to trust you, God; the need to sell and buy a new house = a chance to watch you, God). Thank you for this home, for these eighteen months here, and for each day.
At work today, I watch snowflakes fall and tuck my legs under me, picking up my Bible and this Gifts journal. I remember promises about Who this God is, and Who he says he is. Snippets from my Bible time catch my attention, and I write them quickly across the page. "I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope." "The Lord directs our path, our steps." "The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life..." "...A patient man has great understanding." "A heart at peace gives life to the body... "...The prayer of the upright pleases him." "All the days of the oppressed are wretched, but the cheerful heart has a continual feast."
And my fear? It dissipates. Not in a Pollyanna-denial way, but by stepping back and reminding myself of who this God is, of what his heart is like, and by looking back at his history.
The house issues are still there, and we prepare for two City Hall Meetings. But the fear? It dissipates.
What about you? What fears, stresses, or anxieties stalk you? Financial worries? Children's issues? Marriage struggles? Grab a pen and God's word with me, friends, and start writing out his gifts, will you? "Don't be afraid, you are worth more than sparrows..." "...The very hairs on your head are counted..." and "The Lord works everything out for his own ends." Even the tiny sparrows that are sold for pennies, he is aware of -- "not one of them is forgotten by God," he promises. And you? "You are worth more than sparrows."
What verses or truths do you grab when fear or anxieties creep in? (Those reading this in email can click here to join the conversation.)