The past six months or so have been pretty difficult for our family. We have experienced a lot of physical and emotional pain in a variety of forms including the early, unexpected death of my nephew and just plain ole difficulties in our family overall. Nothing about this season has been easy. Nothing about it has been enjoyable. Nothing about it was expected. Nothing about it has been something I wished to post about on Facebook. In fact, I want to forget about a lot of what has transpired. What this season did teach me, however, was A LOT about myself and A LOT about our friends and family.
The first lesson is one I have learned many times, but it bears repeating. In the end, it is always the relationships with your family and your close friends that matter. During difficult seasons, they surround you with their prayers, their love, their help, and their concern. They support you with their love in every conceivable way. The love they show is palpable. It holds you up and keeps you going. It gives you new life on days that take your breath away.
Those same people constantly remind you of God’s amazing love for you. Their steadfastness resembles His everlasting covenant with you to never leave you nor forsake you. God always sends them exactly when you need them and I am truly thankful for that. I can’t tell you how many times I received unexpected texts of encouragement at “just the right time” when I was feeling completely overwhelmed with sadness or difficulty. The perfect timing is always a reminder that God hears our prayers, sees our suffering, wants to help us through the pain, and desires for us to seek Him in the midst of the struggle.
During my fifty-three years of living, I have experienced several stages of life in which I thought I may drown during seasons of intense sadness, seasons in which I couldn’t shake the feelings of being overwhelmed, and seasons in which I couldn’t escape the unhealthy levels of busyness surrounding our family. During those seasons, God has continued to throw me constant lifelines in the forms of personal contact, loving compassion, fervent prayers, and acts of kindness. These seasons would have remained like winter if it were not for the gentle breezes of kindness coming my way over and over again in the midst of it all.
When we first moved to Green Acres, I was tired from years of busyness and from the stress derived from overtaxing relationships, the never-ending activities of our three children, our constant traveling due our blended family, and many more items fighting for my time and attention. I literally craved silence and solitude during the first year in our new Central Texas town. I sat in the middle of our thirty acres and happily embraced the thought of being able to live out here completely alone (with The Outdoorsman, of course!) in this tiny Texas town. I thought it was what I needed and wanted after fifty years of extreme busyness and constant activity in the middle of Houston, Texas.
In walked God. He literally forced me into relationships with people in our town despite my desire to do life alone after an overly busy life had convinced me that people were just too tiring. I had decided that I already had plenty of amazing friends from college and from my years in Houston. I believed that I didn’t need to make any more friends. It is true that God has abundantly blessed me with amazing friends from childhood, college, and church in the past so I felt that I was okay here on my own even though my close friends are all literally hundreds of miles away.
The first person to befriend me was our pastor’s wife. She was and is such a HUGE blessing to me, but when we first met, I was still convinced I wanted solitude and “simplicity” so I backed away from doing things with her or really entering into a reciprocal relationship with her. Another year passed and God decided to approach and encourage me again. I had offered to lead a new friend and kindred spirit in a Bible Study with only the two of us meeting casually maybe once every other week or so to talk about our struggles and encourage one another. In the weeks that followed, she texted me several times to tell me that she had, inadvertently, invited another young mother into our study. She asked me if I could please allow the other friend to join our group and meet with us. Much to my dismay, she “accidentally” did that three times and, before I knew it, I was “leading” a Bible Study with five women instead of only two! I was a little taken aback and didn’t know what to think about this new situation she had created, but within moments of meeting them, I knew God had done this as a gift to me.
God absolutely outdid Himself with this group of women. I am definitely the oldest one of the bunch, the Mother Hen of all of them, but LORD KNOWS, I have been ministered to the most out of any of the women involved in our Bible Study group. God KNEW I was about to need a heap of prayer and close-by friends to get through the coming months. My initial Bible Study with these four amazing women also led to the creation of a larger Bible Study group that allowed me to meet even more amazing women in Lee County. They have all been such a blessing to me in numerous ways since entering into my daily life here in our small town. These women are kind, uplifting, and encouraging to me at every turn. I am privileged to pray for and walk through life with them in the coming years. I teach several of their children in my class this year and it is such a blessing to know them and teach their precious children. God also put me back in touch with our pastor’s wife in addition to these women and she has blown my socks off with her fervent prayers and faithfulness to our family. I literally do not know how I would have survived the past six months without these women praying for me, serving our family, and encouraging me constantly. I am so grateful for their amazing, steadfast friendship. I will never take it for granted and know that I have been given a priceless gift.
Do not try or even think you can do life alone. I joked to my pastor and his wife that I was trying to hide from God and everyone in Lee County, but God found me. He loved me too much to allow me to do life alone here in Central Texas. Even if you live in the middle of nowhere like me, God will find you. Let him find you and draw you into the fold. He knows what we need. He knows that we are better in community. We shouldn’t try to do life alone. We were not meant to do life without God or without His people. I am forever grateful that God didn’t allow me to hide out here alone.
“What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off?” Matthew 18:12
I was that sheep who wandered off and he searched me out and led me back to the flock. What a wonderful shepherd we have in Jesus.