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The Next Chapter I Haven’t Wanted

The Next Chapter I Haven’t Wanted

So far 2016 has not been kind.

No, 2016 hasn’t resulted in a pregnancy (yes, I do realize that at 41 I should be long beyond even hoping for it). It has, however, brought the loss of two of my best friends within a three-week time span, whose husbands’ jobs moved them to two different places completely across the country. And it has involved mind-blowing, life-altering, devastating betrayal within our family – forever shifting my understanding of deception and disorder and degradation, and leaving broken people – people I dearly love – in its wake.

This year has done its share of battering, thus far. But at least I still live in the place I love, with the people I love, doing the ministry I love, and going to the church I love.

Yeah, about that.

We have just found out that we have to move to Raleigh, North Carolina, because of my husband’s job.

While I am proud of my husband, and thankful for the promotion that he is receiving, if there were any way to stay here, in Roanoke, I would. But the truth is that even if he didn’t accept the promotion, his career trajectory would end up locating us to Raleigh in the near future – only with less control over the process.

So we are leaving. Probably within the next 6 months.

Homeplace shoot-5323Leaving my sister, who just had a baby. Leaving my parents, who just retired. Leaving my church, that just built a beautiful new Community Life Center. Leaving my home, that I just renovated. Leaving my ministry at the Blue Ridge Women’s Center, where I just started a class for women who have lost babies.

Leaving my son’s grave.See Luminosity-3475

Lord?

I don’t understand, and my grieving process is in full swing.

See Luminosity-3303See Luminosity-3753I don’t care about climbing the corporate ladder. I don’t want more money or prestige. I don’t need new friends or a new home or exciting opportunities. And I can’t even stomach the idea of a new church. Everyone and everything I love is here. My children have both sets of grandparents here. There is horseback riding, and Gram who teaches them Science and sewing, and Grandad’s tractor and woodworking. Their older cousin is their closest playmate, and their newest little cousin is the baby brother that has never materialized. We are an hour away from our favorite pastime – skiing. There are equal four seasons and at least a couple of good snow storms in the winter. We look out the window of our bedroom and watch the sun set over Tinker mountain. We live 5 minutes away from everything we do, including the Roanoke Valley Children’s Choir, church, the gym, and our families’ homes. There is no traffic. We have a homeschooling network of friends and are plugged in to the area homeschool events and activities. Our church has nurtured our children since they were infants and has known me since I was the same. I get to minister to women every week at the Blue Ridge Women’s Center, and have an intimate fellowship with my co-workers there that surpasses anything I have found anywhere in my life.

I spent four straight months painting and renovating our home, because I said I wasn’t ever going to move from it – I was going to retire in this house. See Luminosity-0776

Three cheers for the illusion of control.

The first few days after the announcement of this move mostly consisted of me in a two-year-old tantrum with God. It involved a whole lot of sobbing and yelling and “I’m NOT GOING”s as well as some nighttime Dominic grave visits. And then, God gave me the parent-on-the-edge-of-your-bed-in-your-room-at-night talk. The passages in my devotion the night after we got the news were these:

James 1:2-3 “Consider it a great joy, my brothers, whenever you experience various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. But endurance must do its complete work, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing.”

Awesome. That’s what I need more of, Lord – trials. Because I haven’t had any of those. If it comes down to more trials and maturity or no trials and immaturity, how about you just sign me up for the forever-21 soul status, ok? Because this maturity thing pretty much rots.

And then this:

“But you, My servant…
I brought you from the ends of the earth
and called you from its farthest corners.
I said to you: You are My servant;
I have chosen you and not rejected you.
10 Do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be afraid, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you; I will help you;
I will hold on to you with My righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:8-10

I don’t want you to be WITH me. I want you to STOP this! Don’t strengthen me – make it go away! I am NEEDED here! HOW COULD YOU ALLOW THIS NOW?! Forget Raleigh… your righteous right hand is all long and powerful, so it can hold on to me here in Roanoke just fine. You can just plan on doing your ‘calling me as your servant’ thing right here in the good ol’ Bonsack Bubble, got it?

And the final passage in my devotion:

“Where can I go to escape Your Spirit?
Where can I flee from Your presence?
If I go up to heaven, You are there;
if I make my bed in Sheol, You are there.
If I live at the eastern horizon
or settle at the western limits,

10 even there Your hand will lead me;
Your right hand will hold on to me.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me,
and the light around me will be night”—
12 even the darkness is not dark to You.
The night shines like the day;
darkness and light are alike to You.” Psalm 139:7-12

NOOOOOOOOO! DO NOT ask this of me, Lord!!!!

I literally threw the Bible down on my nightstand.

Why can’t I get the god who tells me what I want to hear, like most of America does?

After a few more days of anger and prayer and venting, I began wrapping my mind around the fact that, for whatever reason, in spite of how devastating it feels, we are supposed to go. Every barrier we have put up so far has been overcome. Every request we have made of the company has been answered. I do not understand, and, to be honest, it feels like a death to me. But I am in a very different place with my Lord now than I was a few years ago, and I know that He is always working for my good, in everything. And that, regardless of how it feels, He has a plan for our well-being.

See Luminosity-0780So I will grieve. I will cry that I am going to move away from my parents, who are getting older, and with whom I have numbered years. I will weep that my children will not get to do school and horseback riding and cooking with their grandmother every week anymore. I will mourn the camaraderie of having my sister nearby and the joy of cousins as close as siblings. I will lament the reality that I will leave the home that I just got absolutely perfect, and that I will have to give up my ministry and friends at the Women’s Center, and that I will no longer get to meet my friend for dinner at Nawab on Tuesday nights. I will shed tears over the loss of the church who has been my family for the majority of my life and my Sunday School class and my Roanoke view and weather and the Roanoke Valley Children’s Choir and kids’ musicals at church. I will grieve that I will no longer be able to visit my son’s grave when life is just too much.See Luminosity-5697

Yes, I will grieve. But I cannot only grieve.

As Hebrews 12:1 says, “Let us run with endurance the race that lies before us, keeping our eyes on Jesus, the source and perfecter of our faith”. The race before me. Not the race I want to be running – the one that is actually before me. I will grieve, but I will do it with hope, looking forward to what the Lord is going to do in this upcoming chapter of our lives. This race sure hasn’t looked at all like I thought it would, and there are days when I want to quit running all together. But I know the author of this race. And I know what prize is at the end.

I love Roanoke, I love my family, and I love my life here. But more than even my security and comfort, I want to be His servant. I am determined that, no matter how much it hurts, I will not let my sadness over what I am leaving keep me from experiencing the joy and purpose He has for me in the future. This is hard, but I have done hard before, and I know where it ends up, in His hands. It is a place that I am willing to endure most anything to be.

Pray for us as we make this transition, and pray for the family I leave behind.

“Brothers, I do not consider myself to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and reaching forward to what is ahead, I pursue as my goal the prize promised by God’s heavenly call in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:13

Physically we will be moving to North Carolina. But we will never be out of His hands.

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One Response to “The Next Chapter I Haven’t Wanted”

  1. Gabe says:

    Dear Rebecca,

    Your recent articles reveal the wisdom that the Lord has given you. What a great blessing and yet what a burden it is to have wisdom in this age. I have been following your journey and it weighs heavy on my soul. So I am compelled to write you.

    Have you moved to North Carolina yet? If so, how have you been adjusting? If you are still troubled by having to leaving your family, home, ministry and son’s grave, know that He is the Lord who brought Abraham out of Ur of the Chaldeans to give him possession of his people’s land (Genesis 15:7). You know what followed after Abraham went.

    Have you lost hope in His promise of children? The forties are not very old for having children, even by biblical standards. Your wait to conceive is also not very long by biblical standards. With technology making pregnancy over 50 possible, we are relying too much on science and less on God. What glory has He to gain unless He one-ups this idol of science and technology we so love to worship in this generation? Don’t lose hope. Despite the difficult things you went through, remember the blind man whom Christ healed. John 9:3, “…but this happened that the works of God would be displayed in him,”

    I bring to you a true story of a barren couple from Guatemala who conceived after eight years of nothing and maybe a miscarriage or two. They came to a missionary, who prayed over them. They came to Christ and not long after, the woman dreamed one night of Christ giving her a little lamb. He told her, “Take care of this little one for me,” She believed and was pregnant soon after. Now they have two children.

    How faithful you must be to still desire a baby in this age, at this age. That or you’re plain crazy. Consider Matthew 24:19. We are living in an age where being a follower of Christ will we harsher and harsher. If for young mothers it will be so difficult, think of how it will be for you and your child. But if you still wish to go through, and you believe God will use this child for His purposes, I pray this prayer for you:

    In the Name of Christ almighty, I pray this woman conceive a child. When she conceives, let God be glorified. Let those who witness this event confess that Christ is Lord indeed. Let the lost child be as Ishmael: not the promised child, but still greatly blessed (even though in the next life). Let the coming child be as Isaac, the one whom you promised. Let the promised child be as Samuel, or John the Baptist: used for your great purposes. May there be no doubt that you will answer this prayer, that the doubter should become mute like Zechariah until the day of the fulfillment of the promise.

    In the Name of God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit I pray, amen.

    Be massively blessed,

    Gabe.

    p.s. Continue to write.

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