20 And Joshua set up at Gilgal the twelve stones they had taken out of the Jordan. 21 He said to the Israelites, “In the future when your descendants ask their parents, ‘What do these stones mean?’ 22 tell them, ‘Israel crossed the Jordan on dry ground.’ 23 For the Lord your God dried up the Jordan before you until you had crossed over. The Lord your God did to the Jordan what he had done to the Red Sea[a] when he dried it up before us until we had crossed over. 24 He did this so that all the peoples of the earth might know that the hand of the Lord is powerful and so that you might always fear the Lord your God. (Joshua 4:20-24)
I wonder how many Israelite children saw those stones and stopped to wonder; to ask their parents what the heck a bunch of stones from a river were doing in the middle of the sand in the desert. I wonder how many parents stopped to tell the story. I wonder if the stones just started blending in to the landscaping over time or if the people began to forget. In the daily monotony of chores, work, play and mealtimes, did the awe of His work slowly dissipate into a distant memory?
I don’t want to forget.
When the days are hard and I miss my friends, church, work and house, I don’t want to forget how he clearly paved the way for us to be here. When I’m not sure I like being here and wonder if we made the right decision to move, I don’t want to forget how he orchestrated everything to make it happen. When I get teary seeing Sarah’s facebook pictures of her little man and wish our babies could grow up together, I don’t want to forget his attention to every detail. I don’t want to forget the ‘stones’ God placed in our lives that demonstrated his leading as we made our way to New Jersey. I pause and breathe in a hallelujah because those stones must be remembered. They are river stones in the middle of a desert, after all! So here are my stones, my Ebenezer rocks that remind me of God’s help and faithfulness in our journey.
It started while we were in the NICU.
Maya was admitted via one of those “Panda Units” which is just a kid-friendly term for incubator ambulance. Tubes were everywhere and her little arm was hooked up to an IV at only a day old. I have no idea how you can find a place to insert an IV on a newborn; they’re so tiny. Men with ghost-buster looking backpacks came in and hooked her all up and put her in this incubator thing, then put her in the ambulance while I had to wait to be discharged. You never think you’ll be wheeled out of the hospital without your baby and get in the car with an empty carseat. Nevertheless, it happened and we spent the next couple days in the NICU. During our stay, David got a call to interview for a job in Kansas City. So in between feedings, doctors in and out with tests and holding our new bundle of joy, he escaped to the lobby to interview for a new job.
Talk about a lot to take in.
A few days after coming home we found out he didn’t get the position. I breathed a silent hallelujah– actually we both did– because the timing just seemed so off even though it was a little disappointing not to be chosen. We loved our life in Oregon and now we had a new little person to care for and love so we were completely distracted, enamored and busy with her. Even though we were ready to move on if the Lord called us to, we were happy if things stayed constant too. And constant they remained– even if only for four short months.
Then God threw my eggs in a creek, too.
It was as if God was using the experience in the NICU and the relief/disappointment of not getting the Kansas City job to prepare our hearts. We were beginning to realize that trust and obedience go hand in hand. Trust is an act of obedience. With Maya’s health, with David’s job, with my dream to stay home full time as a wife and mama– in all of it we had to trust it into His hands.
Four months after our stay in the NICU, David got a call from his boss telling him about two opportunities he wanted David to pursue. One was in Kansas City again and the other in New Jersey. Talk about a roller coaster! Two totally different parts of the country, two completely opposite costs of living and two stark contrasts from Portland, Oregon. Even though these positions were open to anyone in the company throughout the country, I had this underlying feeling that we would be moving. We prayed and prayed and prayed. We prayed that God would lead and make it painstakingly clear where we were supposed to go or if we were supposed to stay. We prayed each detail would be handled with certainty. And we prayed we would be courageous enough to obey. There were just so many questions we had.
And then He began to take out stones and pile them up as a demonstration of His grace and faithfulness in our lives, taking care of each question I’d pondered and guiding each detail with certainty. Each question I’d previously sighed begged a stone in my lap.
Which job? Any of them? Do we stay? Go? What do we DO Lord?!
David flew out to interview in person for both jobs (continuing that roller coaster!), but in the end God made it very clear. We were thrown for a loop, though! The Kansas City position was offered to someone else and the New Jersey position was offered to David. It was completely the opposite of what we expected for many reasons, but it was very clear. We were going to New Jersey!
How would our house sell?
It sold within 10 days. Well, actually, we accepted an offer on the 10th day. It took a little longer to close, but it sold exactly when we needed it to. We broke even– even in this housing market! Unbelievable.
Where would we live?
David found a charming little house a few miles from his new office, but when we went to put in an offer to rent it, someone else took it right out from under us! We began searching for apartments, ready to significantly downsize, when a coworker told him about a friend who might be interested in renting their home which was larger and closer to work. We now rent their spacious house and it’s only a mile and a half from David’s office. Talk about grace!
Could we afford for me to stay home with our baby girl out there? The cost of living was so intense!
The cost of living is intense! God didn’t change that. 🙂 But because of the nature of our relocation, I qualified for unemployment (relocating due to a spouse’s job transfer). Having this financial help while we figure out our budget here is an unbelievable blessing!
Where would we go to church?
David and I take this extremely seriously, and I knew it would be hard because nothing would compare to our church in Oregon, WCC. Especially since non-denominational churches in New Jersey are very hard to come by. But after a couple months of visiting different places, we found a great church that we are excited to belong to and now call home. TLCC has been a blessing to us already!
What would people be like? Would we make new friends easily?
The gravy in all of this is that Krista is close by. I cannot believe the amazingness of this or begin to articulate the incredible blessing she is to me. People say the population density out here is greater than anywhere else in the country– but it can be very lonely even though you’re surrounded by people everywhere. Knowing that we have such dear friends close by takes the pressure off. We are slowly making friends at church and I belong to a mom’s group (yes, I am now one of those women!), but if I’m having a bad day I know I can call Krista up and visit her in the city. Our little girls can celebrate birthdays together. We can relate to all the change we’re going through and celebrate our tiny hallelujahs together– in person! When I found out her and Ricky were coming, I just shook my head in complete amazement and gratefulness. Gravy I tell you. Absolute gravy!
And so we continue on this road in New Jersey, waiting in expectation for what God will continue to do here. It’s so exciting to be a part of His story! I’m grateful to be on this journey– grateful to go through it alongside Krista– and with all of you.
Thanks for reading.
“Samuel took a single rock and set it upright between Mizpah and Shen. he named it ‘Ebenezer’ (Rock of Help) saying, ‘this marks the place where God helped us.'” ~1 Samuel 7:12 (The Message bible)