Every time someone would ask how they could pray for me, I’d always say the same thing;
I just don’t want this to be my life anymore.
That was the only plausible way out of this mess — that the Creator of The Heavens and The Earth have enough pity on me to slip me a get out of jail free card. Or better yet, let me exchange my life for a new one. (You either understand that level of suffering, or you don’t. I’m afraid, there is no in between.)
But in an effort to not sound crazy anymore, I knew I needed a real prayer. Like, one grandma could bring to her weekly prayer group. (And that preferably, didn’t make me sound any crazier than I already was.)
So I opened up my Bible to the passage God used throughout the darkest season of my life – the Israelites up against the Red Sea – and searched for a ‘best case scenario’ to hope for.
In Exodus 14:31 it says, “When the people of Israel saw the mighty power that the Lord unleashed… they were filled with awe before Him.”
After reading that verse, it became my most heartfelt prayer of 2015 — “God, I want to stand in awe of you, and the mighty power you unleash on my behalf.”
And almost as soon as I began praying that prayer, God acknowledged that one day I would stand in awe, and He made me a promise:
” I will restore ALL that was lost.”
Which was quite a hefty promise considering:
- My marriage had completely fallen apart.
- I had a very treacherous journey ahead of me out of a very dark pit of depression.
- I had zero dollars to my name. Zero — as in nothing in savings, and nothing in checking or retirement (…I wish I was kidding…)
2015 started with nothing more than a prayer, a promise, and fresh piece of paper set aside in my journal to document everything God would (or wouldn’t) do to rebuild my life — Never imagining the 85,000 blessings that would soon fill the pages!
Here are a handful of the ones I hold closest to my heart:
1. “The House God Gave Us”
God had asked us to sell our house, our cars and nearly all our possessions when we moved to New York City — Only to lose everything we had left, in the year and a half we lived there.
Which explains the zero dollars, and also why we were (in no way) looking to buy a house when we moved to South Carolina. It also explains my confusion when a very kind, but obviously ludicrous, man told us God wanted him to sell his house to us…
(I must have laughed.)
Because we couldn’t afford a mortgage right now – we had hundreds if not thousands of dollars in counseling ahead of us. (Not to mention the astonishing ZERO in our bank account!)
…And yet, the very next day, my husband got a raise that covered the difference we would need to pay a mortgage each month!
Yeah, but what about a down payment? (Hi, yeah… Zero dollars, remember?)
…Within the week, someone gave it to us. Like legit, wrote us a check!
Even still, I wasn’t convinced.
We don’t have the money it would take to fix this house up!
But late at night I would find myself dreaming about what I would do if I did have the money to fix it up – Dreaming, (for the first time in a long time) about things like, wide plank cherry laminate… granite… and stainless steel appliances… Dreaming about how amazing it would be to have a home of a very own again, after all we had been through… after all we lost….
But deep down we knew we couldn’t get ourselves into something that would cost us thousands in the long run, even if it was such an already generous offer. And so we (very sadly) decided we couldn’t move forward with the house considering all the work it needed…
But to our surprise, the owner refused to back down,
“God wants me to sell my house to you. So what do I have to do for you to buy it?”
In the end, we bought the charming fixer upper, updated it exactly the way we dreamed (can you say wide-plank cherry laminate, and granite?) — And more astonishing, without spending a dime of our own money to do it!
I will restore all that was lost, God had promised — And that’s exactly what He did!
Which is why the lovely house on the corner of Savannah Drive, has been renamed by my preschooler, ‘The House God Gave Us’…And why, I couldn’t think of a better name even if I tried.
2. The Dream Car
I will never forget the day my husband left to go run a quick errand with a friend, only to come back with a car!
We only had one car at the time (which btw we considered a 100% improvement from the whopping ZERO cars we had while living in NYC) and weren’t about to get another car loan (I see you, Dave Ramsey!)
But last summer, we were shocked when my husband was tricked into thinking he was running an errand, when in reality, they were meeting at a car dealership to buy him a car — and not just any car, his dream car!
What on earth would possess someone to buy us a freakin car, you ask?!?! I had the same question.
To which they simply responded, “God told us to.”
…Of course He did…
( I’m still lost for words on this one.)
3. My Marriage
Early in counseling my husband and I were asked to tell each other why we loved each other, and instantly my heart clenched and my thoughts raced searching for something – literally, anything – I could say.
I didn’t love him, I was sure of it. Not anymore, and not after what he had done. And I told the counselor that.
And I will never forget her response. She said there was indeed something beautiful still there; that much like the movie Maleficent, our love was just surrounded in what felt like an impenetrable wall of thorns.
“Your love for him is just hidden away and hard to get to,” She said.
“…But just because you can’t get to it right now, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.”
That’s what this last year has been about; peeling back the thorns in search of the love that on our darkest days we were certain couldn’t possibly still exist.
The process has been costly and at times agonizing. And I’m pretty sure at one point I punched him …But there our love was, hidden among the ruins, just like she said.
If you were to ask me today I would tell you, God asked me to do the unimaginable and stay with my husband. That it was the single hardest thing I have ever had to do in my life.
And that it made no sense at the time —
…but I am so glad I did!
Because the hopelessness in my marriage was the platform God used to show us a miracle. And though I can’t imagine going back and having to relive the nightmare, to undo the pain would be to take away my perspective. And I can’t fathom not knowing what I have come to learn about my Heavenly Father!
For that reason, I wouldn’t trade my suffering, or our love story.
And that shocks me, even as I type this.
4. My Happiness
I could be folding laundry or stirring a simmering pasta sauce on the stovetop, and every so often my four-year-old will stop to ask, “Mama, are you happy?”
She sees a difference in me.
The healthier I get, the more I realize how sick I was. How terrifyingly close I was to letting go, and how desperate I was for someone to show up at my doorstep, with a casserole, or even some tequila, and look me in the eyes and ask me if I was okay.
…Because on so many days I wasn’t.
And though it pangs my heart to think that my daughter had to see me like that (that oftentimes she was the only one who did) I am grateful knowing in her very short life, she has already sat front-row to a miracle — watching the God she hears about in sunday school, breathe life back into her mommy’s spirit. Often times, so clearly noticing the astounding work God has done in my heart, that she has to stop everything she is doing and take note of His handiwork!
Are you happy mama? She will continue to ask, studying my face.
And the only thing better than being able to respond, “Yes, baby. I am so happy…” Is knowing God and I fought like hell, for it to be true!
Looking back on the last year as a family, we are stunned.
We have been given a house, a car and not one, but THREE family vacations! (We even received a brand new washer and dryer and a grill, because apparently God thinks of everything.)
And while we started the year with zero dollars, the added blessings God poured out on us in the year 2015 come in at $85,100!!!!!!!
$ 8 5 , 1 0 0 !!!!
But not only has every single possession been restored, incomparably better than all of that — I am happy. I am healthy. And holy $*#@, we are still married! (And so very – miraculously – happily married at that!)
And while there’s no worse feeling than watching the (great) life you spent years trying to build, be destroyed. There is no greater feeling than watching God rebuild your life, painstakingly but gloriously, into the life He always wanted you to have — A life on my best day, I didn’t have the courage to dream!
Moving forward I can truly say I am in AWE of the mighty power the Lord unleashed, just like I prayed — Because God restored ALL that was lost, just like He promised!
What would it take for you to stand in awe of the mighty power of the Lord?
Make Him a list.
And prepare to stand in awe.