Imagine being nine months pregnant and living on the third floor of your apartment in humid and hot Texas. Carrying groceries, nine months pregnant, up to that third floor apartment. The smell of drugs is unmistakable from one of the doors you have to walk by. Another door opens EVERY. SINGLE. TIME you walk by with a creepy guy who stares at you as you try to waddle your big hugeness up the stairs. Why are there so many stairs??! Once you finally conquer the stairs, drug smell and the creepy guy, you open the door and see all of your baby’s gifts and supplies piled high around the living room. They have no place to go because you live in a one bedroom apartment. You can’t nest and your hormones are not friendly. They tell you things like, “There’s no way you can raise a baby here. How did you not plan better? You’re already a bad parent.” Then your poor husband get home and you demand that he fix it all. NOOWWWW!
Welcome to our reality from almost nine years ago. We had been looking for homes to buy for months. Our poor realtor was so patient with us. We had no down payment. NONE. Like, not a dollar. And she would take us around anyway and listen to my picky, “It’s not an open floor plan, so no way,” attitude. We finally settled on a pretty torn up home that was the cheapest one we had looked at. It was about to foreclose so surely they would be gracious to us and let us in, right? We made an offer and I went into labor. I delivered Hadlee and the realtor came to the hospital a few hours later to have us sign papers saying that we didn’t get the house. On the day I had my baby. I would have to cart her up to that stinkin’ third floor apartment that I had grown to hate.
Hadlee struggled to gain weight, broke out in terrible rashes, and cried and cried and cried. I was a kid’s pastor but had no idea what was wrong or how to help her. When she was 17 days old, she aspirated and her little tiny eyes rolled back into her head and she passed out. We rushed her to the emergency room where they failed three times to do a spinal tap. I was watching them stick needles into my baby who wasn’t even three weeks old thinking that they were going to hit her spine the wrong way and she would be paralyzed forever. Y’all. I can’t describe the cry/sound that came out of me. It turned out that Hads had severe acid reflux and was allergic to dairy. Every time I nursed her, she was having an allergic reaction to the dairy I was eating. Then the acid reflux was burning her tiny throat. When she passed out she was in her carseat and choked on her reflux. Thankfully, they were not life threatening issues but man, it was terrifying.
You can see some of her rash in this picture. Poor thing.
Our marriage was struggling because of all the stress and we were going through a lot in ministry too. It was an extremely hard season for us. We were lonely and so very tired. Jon-Michael sat me down, turned on a worship song, and said we were going to worship right in the middle of this mess. He prayed a desperate, truth-filled prayer and we sat snuggling our baby, sobbing to this song. (It’s a good one if you need some truth declared over you.)
We were not ok but we went to God together. We told our feelings that we were going to trust Him anyway. We could see no way out but it didn’t matter. He wouldn’t fail us. He hadn’t failed us. We chose to trust Him.
I’m not sure how many days later it was but the man who was over the finances at our church came down to our office and told us that he had good news for us. I had gotten a promotion and raise the year before but they had forgotten to adjust my pay. They owed us $8,000. We bought the house and had enough to paint the entire thing. I got to decorate a room for my baby and hang up all of her cute clothes. She had a place. We had a place.
This was Hadlee’s first birthday at our home that we were so proud of.
I think God allows the struggle for a bunch of reasons: our character is tested and matured, our pride gets obliterated, our motives get cleaned up, and everyone who is watching knows that it was God who brought the breakthrough.
I have talked with several people this week who are frustrated because God isn’t laying out their futures the way they think He should. He hasn’t gone as quickly as they would like. He isn’t spelling it out clearly. Aren’t we funny? For some reason, we think God needs our help.
We get in a big ole’ hurry to live our big important lives. We want to be known and celebrated. We don’t want to wait or struggle. We want our future and we want it now. We forget in the middle of our development that that is what’s happening… development. God is so faithful and so intentional with us (and He loves us so much) that He takes His time with us. He leads His kids one step at a time.
Here is my advice: when you don’t know what to do, do what you know to do. Don’t complain or run around looking for other people to validate your feelings. Run to Jesus. Wait on Jesus. Get in your word. Study the lives of Joseph, David, Simeon, and Hannah who all had to wait on the Lord. Ask Him to show you if you’re seeing things incorrectly. Are there any offenses that have crept in and clouded your view? Do you need correction from the Holy Spirit? Wait well. Trust Him. Obey Him.
God has been God for a long time. He didn’t forget how to lead you. He didn’t get too busy for you. He knows your heart. He knows your desires. He knows the exact right moment to fulfill them.
These lyrics are probably familiar but I want you to read through them slowly…
“Then in fellowship sweet we will sit at His feet.
Or we’ll walk by His side in the way.
What He says we will do, where He sends we will go;
Never fear, only trust and obey.
Trust and obey, for there’s no other way
To be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.
Oh, Trust and obey, for there’s no other way
To be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.
And ‘Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus,
Just to take Him at His Word;
Just to rest upon His promise,
Just to know, “Thus saith the Lord!”
Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him!
How I’ve proved Him o’er and o’er;
Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus!
Oh, for grace to trust Him more!
Oh, for grace to trust You more!”
John Henry Sammis/Louisa M. R. Stead/Don Moen
“Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he’s the one who will keep you on track. Don’t assume that you know it all. Run to God! Run from evil! Your body will glow with health, your very bones will vibrate with life,” (Proverbs 3:4-8 MSG)!
“But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit,” (Jeremiah 17:7-8 NIV).
“But in the day that I’m afraid, I lay all my fears before you and trust in you with all my heart,” (Psalm 56:3 TPT).
If you are struggling right now, please know that you aren’t alone. We have been there more than once. You will make it through and you will look back and see the goodness of the Lord. I used this picture of Hadlee as the cover photo because the goodness of God is so evident. In the first picture I posted, her rash is covering her face, she is thin and her little eyes look vastly different. In this one she is chunky, happy, her eyes are bright, and her skin is clear. I am praying that you see God’s goodness in your situation as you trust and obey Him too.
“I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord,” (Psalm 27:13-14 NIV).