Last fall, I would often find myself daydreaming; imagining where God would take me and my family next. I could always clearly visualize myself in a room filled to the ceiling with boxes of all of our belongings in our new home. I would go on to wonder what the rest of the house would look like, and in what city our new beginning would be located in. The part of my reoccurring dream that always resonated the most to me was that, instead of feeling the substantial stress associated with the task of moving, or the loneliness of being so far from the loved ones we left behind , was that there was always an overwhelming peace that was able to lull the other feelings almost entirely. Peace that can only come from the confidence you have, when you know you’re exactly where God wants you to be.
Oh, how I longed for that peace…
Because after all, that was a daydream.
At the time, I thought I knew so clearly what God wanted for me and my family… My husband Ricky and I were happily living in the beauty that is suburbia at its finest (Shout out to Camas, WA!!!) Ricky had a great opportunity as a youth pastor of a church that was not only everything we could want in a church, but the people attending there became an integral part of our lives. I am almost at a loss for the accurate words to describe how much they all meant to us; they were our family in every sense of the word.
I was also lucky enough, to have some of the most uh-mazing friends! Couple friends, mommy friends, girls night out friends (you know, the ones you get reeeally loud with and laugh till it hurts! Cheaper than therapy as I can attest to, and a heck of a lot more fun!) I even had a friend who was nearly 25 years older than me that served as my mentor for years. And then there was Rachel. Never in my life have I experienced a friendship like the one I have with Rachel. We had only been friends for 4 ½ years and yet it always felt like our souls just ‘got’ each other. We instantly connected and the rest is history.
Rachel is always the very first person I call. One specific time I remember calling her when I was in the face of an unimaginable tragedy. And when I no longer could find the words and my tears filled the silence, I can recall her lifting me up to our Heavenly Father in prayer as she fought back the tears herself. I also remember calling her when I was 7 months pregnant and was sent to the hospital because I was having signs of preterm labor. I of course tried to call my mom, and more importantly, the man who got me in the ‘initial condition’ to begin with; My husband. But unfortunately for me, I couldn’t get ahold of either of them. Even better, my husband was out of town for the week and had no cell service. Yeah, that was a pretty bad day. Without even having to ask, Rachel instantly left work after hearing the situation I was in and drove 40 minutes to be by my side in the hospital. If I ever need a good laugh I just think back to what it would have been like for me and Rachel to deliver a baby by ourselves. Oh my… Thankfully it didn’t come to that. But yes, she’s THAT friend in my life. Always will be.
While in Washington, we were also lucky enough to buy our first house. We bought it brand new but it wasn’t anything super fancy. Although, compared to what I am living in now- well, that’s another story for a different time. We never felt like we HAD to buy a house though. We were completely content with what we had, when it felt as if God literally dropped the house into our laps. From the moment we moved in, we made the decision to use what He had so graciously given us to bring honor to Him any way that we could. We were always having bible studies, play dates, movie nights with our teens, premarital counseling sessions, and deep fry parties! Bet you never considered bringing glory to the Lord Almighty through a vat of bubbling hot oil! Ohhhh, Why yes indeed! And you absolutely must get one. Like right now. You will thank me.
The neighborhood we lived in was charming. It picturesquely surrounded the local elementary school that I had so often imagined walking my children to. The tree lined streets seemed to come alive in the fall, turning every color of the sun, only to transform into pink and white blossoms by the beginning of spring. Each night, with the windows open, we would fall asleep to the tune of crickets and frogs. Even better however, was that we were only 2.1 miles to the nearest Costco and Walmart! Which if we’re honest, is all that reeeeally matters isn’t it?
Our neighbors were rare in that, our families were close. We would often come together and have barbeques on the street, or the little boys next door would ring our doorbell and ask if our dog could come play (seriously, have you heard of anything cuter?) I often joked that checking the mail would take an average of 45 minutes because you would “get stuck” …er,… be “catching up” with someone down the street. The conversation would usually end with an invitation for either family to stop by for dessert and coffee that night. We accepted nearly every time.
Possibly the most exciting thing, was that our little family of two was growing! About 4 years into our marriage, we welcomed a beautiful baby girl named Gia into the world. I was lucky enough to stay home with her from the very beginning, and I remember throughout her first year of life being so captivated and cherishing nearly every moment I got to spend with her. So much so, that soon after having her, my husband and I began trying for a second child. We had the names picked out, the new nursery room predetermined, and I had stocked up on prenatal vitamins…
And then God flipped my seemingly happy life upside down.