Yesterday morning I was cruising down the road, somewhere after mile two, and came face to face with a very startled doe. I'll be honest, I don't know what preoccupies does, but I am not a sneaky runner, by any stretch. So when I rounded the curve and this doe did a double take including startled snort and a definitely ungraceful scramble, I found myself laughing out loud, by myself in the near-dark of predawn somewhere more than a mile from home.
If you had told me six months ago that I would be running 3-4 times a week and looking forward to it, I would have snorted in your face. If you had told me that somewhere in the middle of it I would be caught up in a belly laugh before dawn mid-run, well, I can't even think what I would have had to say or if I would have even been able to speak.
Life's been like that a lot lately, catching me unawares with things that both tickle and amaze me, even my own kids have either become way more funny, or I simply have laughter much closer under the surface than I used to. Even a random cow standing alone on a large pile of dirt will spur me to thoughts of bovine King of the Mountain and send me into gales of giggles alone in my van late in the afternoon.
I don't know when I lost my funny bone or where I found it again, but I am glad to have it back. Life's a funny old thing and a little laughter sure makes it sail more smoothly.
I'm always struck and dismayed when I read the Old Testament at commentary on the forgetfulness of humanity when it comes to God and His works. "Remember" is a word spoken often, a command, a plea, a promise of the Lord. Remembering brings blessing and forgetfulness leads, always, to destruction. Patriarchs built alters, observed holidays of remembrance, told their children, danced and wrote songs. It seems that a celebration of remembering should take place in my own life. I have talked to some degree about what happened to my family, and how it affected (and still affects me). Even more I have spent many painful hours dissecting my own part in the months and years leading up to that day- that's been a fun and humbling experience. What I have not yet done is shared, really shared about how God ran ahead of us and then laid out the red carpet to bring us triumphantly into Georgia. It's a story that deserves to be shared, told and retold to our children and grandchildren about one of the many times our God showed up and showed off for us.
Summer 2009 was an interesting time for us. More and more Hunky and I were feeling a pull that a time was nearing when we would be leaving his place of former employment (we'll refer to that as PFE from here on out), but since we didn't have a clue what the next step would be, and since Hunky's ministry was absolutely thumping, and as he had really begun to come into his own as a pastor, we also had no reason to foresee any imminent problems.
As we have done for many years, we spent the last weeks of July/ first weeks of August at my Grandmother's house in Michigan and as usual, Craig stayed a shorter time than we did and returned to the grind while we stayed behind to play and loaf a little longer. That summer, one of the reasons he left early was to speak at a 3-day youth ministry seminar for friend who was the lead pastor at an explosively growing church in Milledgeville, Georgia. Mike, the lead pastor here, has his own amazing story of how God brought him to Georgia. I'll simply say that on the way, it involved a three year detour at our PFE where he and hunky worked together, became close friends, and experienced some of the same frustrations and dissatisfactions. When Mike left Florida, Craig felt his absence greatly. When he asked Craig to help inspire his church family to a fresh kind of youth ministry, Craig was happy to help.
Hunky's weekend in Georgia included a tour of the city, including the local historical mental hospital, a night of Q&A with the elders and their wives, a night of speaking and Q&A with the youth and families and preaching for the entire congregation Sunday morning. At some point in time over the course of the weekend the elders asked what it would take to get Craig to come here, at which point he and Mike both laughed and made a joking comment about Craig not being affordable for Georgia (we might still be eating crow on that one....)
In the meantime, the girls and I had made the trip via the trusty mini-van from Michigan to Tennessee and were attempting to make the second leg of the trip home with a side visit to Alabama when the van almost literally fell apart by the side of the road. Fortunately (or I should say Providentially since God's hand was all over this too) it was close enough to my Mom's to allow us to stay there for the almost four days it would take to completely isolate and fix the problems with the van (God took care of us here too since after just one day the dealership declared it fixed and we settled the bill only to discover it wasn't fixed at all and at least 15 more man hours were put into it at the dealer's expense). All the while, Craig was in Georgia, and the people here were praying for us, and caring about us - a family they didn't even know and had no reason to expect to ever meet... God's funny like that.
We did all eventually make it back to Florida, just in time to take our much anticipated "Condo Week" (it does go by another name) in which the girls went to stay with Hunky's parents, and we chilled and did absolutely nothing for 6 glorious days in a generously donated and furnished condo overlooking the ocean. Our week was wonderful. I could spend much time (and have) speculating what was happening at our PFE, but the long story short is, while we relaxed in blissful unawareness, our lives were being completely changed in ways we would never have dreamed possible.
I've said as much as I will say on his "return" to work that Monday because that is only the tiniest fraction of this story.
On the way home to tell me what had happened...Craig called Mike... and the job and home that God had already lined up for us, before we even knew we had a need, were placed right in our laps.
I'd love to say that every detail of our lives since then have been smooth and pain free, but there are many, many details that are still working themselves out. Still, I am daily reminded that God sprinted ahead of us, smoothing the ground, clearing the obstacles, leading the parade of people who drove to Florida to move us out, and brought our things to Georgia to move us in, who brought us meals, and loved our children, who captured our fractured hearts and helped glue them back together. He led us out of Egypt in a mighty way that we would never have devised and could never have brought about on our own. His Glory shone in our lives in an unmistakable way.
I don't want to forget, nor my children, nor their children. Our God is a God who saves.