OK, so before I tell you what it is, I have to tell you the story. I love telling stories, and sometimes I'm long winded. This is one of those times! So if you have a few minutes to spare...
Roll back 10 years ago. Bryan and I took a ministry position in Florida as houseparents. We were pregnant with our first daughter and very excited to finally step foot in ministry. What unfolded over the next year was a very difficult time for our 3 year old marriage. And when we left that ministry, a year later, our marriage was in a bad place and we were broken hearted. Ministry wasn't what it was all chalked up to be and it had about done us in! We lived with our family for a few months until we could figure out where to go and eventually landed in seminary housing with a new baby, a marriage on the rocks, me in a full time job and Bryan back in school.
Along with the emotional strain of fighting for our marriage, there was also a physical strain. I was commuting 1 1/2 hours one way to work a 12 hour shift, 3-4 days a week, then coming home, and rolling right into housewife duties. Slowly the stress began to take its toll on my body. I miscarried 2 babies in a 3 month span. Bryan was working at a restaurant making peanuts for an income. One night he said "I want you to quit your job. I've prayed about it and I think it's what's best."
So I did. Sounds crazy, yes? Most of the time God's ways don't make sense. Not only was that a huge step forward in our marriage (me trusting my husband's leadership), but it was a huge step forward in our faith.
Here's how. By being obedient to my husband's direction for us, God began to switch our roles around. Before, I was (honestly) running the show and leading our family. And Bryan was playing the submission role. Not good. What that moment did for us was pivotal. It immediately put us on the right path for our God designed places in our marriage. It also put Bryan in a place where he began to carry to full weight of providing for us. He was leading and I was his right hand woman! Slowly our marriage began healing. (This was also the time that God put me with my mentor who really began teaching me what Biblical submission looked like. This was a huge part of the healing process of our marriage.)
Bryan got another job soon after. I got pregnant again. (And again. And later, again!!!) We didn't make a whole lot of money, but we watched God provide over and over and over for all of our needs and many of our wants. Many times Bryan would be out of work on Friday and by Monday, he would have another job (he was a subcontractor). I prayed for a good, steady job with benefits. But God kept that door shut.
Then in 2009, God moved us to Texas. The home remodeling economy was dying in NC and we had to go where there was work. Bryan started his contracting business. And then began the ebb and flow of owning a business.
Friends, can I just share something with you?
The next 3 years weren't easy. Bryan's business survived on word of mouth and sometimes we would go months without work, barely making it. There were a few times where we thought we'd face homelessness. A few times where we didn't know what would happen to us. I can't tell you how many times I cried out to God "This is too painful. I don't think we can keep going on." Many times God was silent. But He always always always provided and He always always always comforted us. We were never without food, power, running water, or gas in the vehicles. We had our last baby without health insurance and somehow walked away from the hospital debt free. Many times, people gave to us: clothes, food, money. One friend treated me to a hair cut a few times. It wasn't easy accepting help. But, wow, we were so grateful for it. The reality of our lives was that we never ever knew how we would get through the next month. Bryan applied for countless jobs, went to many interviews. Sometimes it would look very promising and then would fall through. God kept saying "Hope in me." And He kept gently reminding me that whether a job ever came through, He was our provider. I wished I could say I had tons of faith. But I'd be lying.
I prayed continually for my husband to get a job (knowing that He would only give Bryan a job if it was for our best). Prayed continually. Like even at 2am, 3am. Some of you prayed too. For Christmas last year, I asked God to give him a job. "This is what I want for Christmas Lord."
...and a week ago, after many years on a difficult journey, my husband got a job. It's a good job too and we are so thankful for it. But even more, we are beyond words thankful that God carried us through these last years of our life. Because most days, I could barely stand, much less walk. He carried us. And His grace was sufficient for us and His power was made perfect in our weakness. (2 Cor. 12:9)
The chapter is closed and we have begun a new chapter - one of learning discipline in some areas we couldn't really ever be consistent (like financial planning). We are pressing onward, thanking God continually for what He has done, knowing that if Bryan ever gets injured, sick, or what not, God will take care of us. He is our hope when everything seems hopeless. And that never changes.