This year has definitely been one of giving and taking away. It has been one full of ups and downs. However, my heart knows that He has been there with me every step of the way. For that, I am thankful and I know that despite the ache, sometimes unbearable, that is in my heart, I am blessed because He will never turn His back on us. I know that even when He "gives or takes away" it is for His glory. Though I don't understand it, somehow, someway, it's for His glory.
He Takes Away
Some of you know, but many of you may not, we have been trying to sell our house since December 2011, which, because of the failing housing market in Florida, is not easy. We prayed about it. A lot. It was not an easy decision, but a path that we knew He was taking us down. This wasn't an easy decision to make. This was the first house Ryan and I owned together. This was the house I brought my baby home to from the hospital. This was the only house my parents ever knew. I could walk into a room, close my eyes, and picture them in the room, just as they were the last time they were here. There were many memories wrapped up within the walls. However, God reminded me, and had to keep reminding me, that the house didn't contain the memories, my heart contained the memories. It didn't matter whether or not my family was still within those walls, the memories, the feelings, would still be there. It's amazing how the mind works. A smell, a picture, a song - it can bring about the most vivid of memories in a flash. So many times, I think many of us associate those memories with physical places. However, thankfully, God has created us where we don't have to rely on those physical places. He has placed them in our hearts and mind forever.
Halfway through the process, is when my father passed away. I relied on him for his guidance and listening ear when it came to this process. It was not easy to know we would be continuing on without him. I understand what many of you may be thinking "she is an an adult. She should make her own decisions. It's time to grow up." I was raised to be independent and yes, I could make my own decisions, but I enjoyed my parents guidance. I didn't go to them because I couldn't handle things on my own. I went to them because I trusted them. They were wise. I wanted their guidance. My father was there for guidance, as well as a listening ear when I would need to air my frustrations with the whole process. However, suddenly, without notice, he was gone and I had to now figure out this process, along with many other things, on my own. Since we were just shy of 3 years since we had lost my mom, I truly felt like the "darkness was closing in" and it was not always easy to continue to praise His name. However, one thing is true, His love, mercy, and strength is unfailing and if we choose, in those darkest of moments, to praise His name, His strength will be there. In those moments when we don't think we can go on, when we feel as though there is nothing left in us, if we choose to praise His name, He will be there. He will humble us and give us such a peace and undeserved strength to continue moving on.
Finally, after 14 months, we closed the door on our house in Groveland for the last time. As sad as it was, I have never felt more blessed. God has shown once again His provision in the house he has given to us. I was reminded, yet again, of how faithful He is and how His timing is absolute perfection (I'm sure He's wondering when I am going to ever truly learn this lesson). At this moment, we are 2.5 miles from where Ryan parks to go to work. As many of you know, Ryan is (and will for some time be) on nights. As the area grew and construction increased, it got to a point where it would take him nearly an hour to get home. He is now home in 5 minutes. It brings peace to my heart. No more driving tired. No more missing time with us because he has to take 2 hours out of his day just to travel to work. No more missing family time because he is so tired he can't keep his eyes open. The house is more perfect than we could have ever hoped for or imagined. We truly feel His "streams of abundance" flowing.
One thing I have always known is that it's easy to praise Him when everything is perfect. It's easy to praise Him when things are going well. When things aren't so perfect, it's another story. However, in those dark moments, when we make the choice to praise Him, despite our circumstances, at least for me, that is when I have felt His presence the most. That is when I am reminded of how truly faithful He is and how undeserving of His continual blessings I am. An even more humbling thought is the fact is that when I do fail Him, when I do forget to choose to praise Him during those times, He loves me just the same and finds some way to gently remind me of all He does and the amazing praise He is so worthy of.