Wednesday, July 22, 2015
I have begun to think of my life as a threatrical play.
Act 1 was full of the scenes of my childhood and growing up years, high school, college, career, children and all the ups and downs that life entails, caregiving for elderly parents, as well as dealing with several of my own health problems as well as those of my children.
Act 2 has been full of an unexpected life change of divorce, being a single mom, and continuing to deal with chronic illness as well as going back to full time work, guiding my children through their school years, college and beyond.
When my marriage ended, there were many trials, ongoing health issues and financial distress. At the time I was making $17,000 a year as a teacher’s aide. Over and over God provided miraculously as many of you know. Finances were tight, but we never went without. Through it all God healed my heart and enabled me to move onto a life of joy, grace and forgiveness that could not have come from my brokenness on my own.
My ex-husband is a wonderful father who generously provides above and beyond what he is legally required to do. He gives me money for their Christmas presents and even pays for their vacation expenses so every year they can attend Cedar Campus, a family camp and student training camp, managed by Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship, as he knows important that place is for our kids.
We go out for coffee every few months to discuss how the kids are doing and how we want to handle the variety of situations that inevitably arise in parenting a split household. The discussions and time together are actually very enjoyable, and we have become better parents because of them.
While married, I had ministry dreams and aspirations that God laid on my heart that my then-husband would not allow me to pursue….so I set them aside. Shortly after we separated, I was surprised to realize that life was a completely open book for me and that now, perhaps I could pursue the ministries God had so long laid on my heart. Suddenly, being single starting looking pretty awesome!
However, after the divorce, I allowed myself to enter a relationship that did not honor God and thus, I again set ministry hopes aside all the while God was gently tapping my shoulder to not forget the open future to serve Him.
Eventually, the new relationship ended mutually. Although painful, the entire process was an incredible teaching gift from God. The relationship taught me that I am still a smart, desirable, beautiful woman even though my former husband chose to end our marriage. God used the relationship to remind me to not believe the lies that Satan told me about myself that racked my self-confidence that had been completely crushed.
Also, through that relationship I learned so much about God’s incredible grace and how there is NOTHING I could ever do to change His love for me. My stubborn heart finally learned that I could do absolutely nothing for God and He will still love me. I began working with a counselor to resolve my “works-mentality” Christianity that I struggled with for years and I truly embraced His grace…and my motivation to serve Him totally changed. In the past I often served because I thought I had to, or felt obligated to or felt I had to live up to others expectations. I now serve out of gratitude for His love.
I also learned that the best part of falling away from God is coming home to Him.
The most miraculous part of this story is how God literally has provided thousands and thousands of dollars completely unsolicited when I most needed it…over and over and over…everything from free school lunches and textbooks, college scholarships for Stephen and Amy, unexpected envelopes of cash in my mailbox, patient assistance programs, free medications, medical bills being discounted or written off, Indiana tax breaks for single moms, awesome insurance coverage for Heather’s diabetes’ supplies….. so much money that I have lost count.
Earlier this year I was invited by Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship’s donor department to attend their Urbana mission conference in St. Louis between Christmas and New Year’s. This is a conference held every three years and has over 16,000 people who attend and includes Bible study, speakers from all over the world, hundreds of seminars and exhibitors. It is a discerning space to discover where your gifts, dreams and calling meet God’s global mission and a great opportunity for me to prayerfully continue to explore options for the future. I can hardly wait to attend with some Inter-Varsity staff and students from Indiana!
As I read the invitation I was surprised to learn that I was invited free of charge and was given a generous hotel discount. I learned from the donor office that it was a gift to honor all the years that my ex-husband and I had given to the IVCF ministry and the years that I had continued to give. I am so thankful!
Ultimately through all of these events, God’s grace has put me back to the place where I am an open book to His call. I just have no idea what it is yet and I am so excited about it!
I told my kids early on in the divorce that when they graduate from college and are launched in life that I am being called to leave home to possibly minister in other states or possibly other countries.
They were naturally concerned for my chronic health issues, especially if I ended up far from medical care. God spoke through me to soothe their fears as I told them, “I would rather be in God’s will in a Third World country away from medical care that could possibly cause my death than to be outside of God’s will safe at home.”
I also wondered if might miss their young adulthood, family Christmases, holidays and eventually grandbabies if I ended up in missions in another country. As I was praying through this, God reminded me, “You will have eternity with them…what more could you need?”
As a result of all of these events and me finally listening to God, I can honestly say that I have never been more content in my life....I am so happy in this almost empty nest season of my life...looking forward to what the future brings while enjoying the incredible blessings around me every day.
Never let your actions or others' opinions dictate what you think God’s grace can or cannot do for you.
Never let your checkbook balance dictate what you can do for God.