I have been sharing the story of how my husband, kids and I ended up 1400miles away from our home and family, moving to Florida from Ontario, Canada. Though we felt God’s leading through it all, the “pilgrimmage” was not easy. Over and over again, we found ourselves in impossible situations. I can’t even tell you how many times we wondered if it would just make more sense to go back home. And to be honest - yes, it probably would have made more sense! But when God leads you somewhere, you have to know all the reasons will not unfold at once. There is a time, or in our case, many times when you have to walk by faith - not by sight.
Where I left off in our story was our wait for our work visas. We had bought a house and moved into the neighborhood we prayed for and were now waiting to get the paperwork that would allow us to legally stay and work in the US. We had grown to really love our area but now felt we had more to lose than ever. Our visa interview was scheduled to take place at the US consulate in Toronto, Canada, and if we were not approved, we would have to walk away from everything. The wait between our move to our final visa date would be 7 months. 7 months of living in a new place, meeting new friends, starting our kids in a new school and investing in a life that we weren’t sure we’d be able to keep.
But before I tell you what happened at our interview, I want to tell you a few other things.
Lately, I’ve been reading through the book of Luke. I love my devotionals but there is nothing like the living word of Scripture. You can read a passage 100 times, but on the 101st time, something that jumps out at you. As I was reading along in Luke, the disciples were just sent out by Jesus to go and tell the world about Him, to heal and deliver the people in Jesus’ name. And they did just that!! They went out and spread the name of Jesus as far as they could. When it was time for them to return, it says in Luke 9 that they came back and told Jesus everything that happened! It was such a special moment that Jesus wanted to be alone with them, so they all slipped away together. Can you imagine being there for this? I can only imagine the excitement in their bones sharing all the stories of things they had encountered. The power they had experienced seeing others be healed and delivered from decades of bondage and pain! I wonder if we have fallen too far away from this practice. When was the last time we got together as believers for the sole purpose of sharing all the amazing God-stories we encountered that week? I would think we’d leave these meetings on cloud 9, so encouraged by the power of God at work. We’d be motivated to look for ways we could share the name of Jesus knowing when we returned to our group, we would get to testify about it!
So instead of going into all the nitty gritty details of our story - I want to share a couple super cool God-stories. Ways I have seen God’s provision and power at work in our life.
We had been praying very intentionally before we moved - personally, I had been praying that God would surprise me. I know, it’s an odd prayer to pray and to be honest, I had sort of regretted it because there had been SO many surprises, most of which did not feel very good. But there were some moments that were so unexpected I felt like God was giving a little nod to that request in His own way.
We had also been praying for Christian neighbors. Shortly after getting possession of our new home, but before we had moved in, the kids and I were outside by the pool. It was a HOT summer’s day - and Florida Summer is no joke, when I say hot, I mean hot! We were examining our new pool that was on the greeny side and sadly couldn’t quite swim in it until it was treated. Well, while I was standing around wishing to jump in, I heard music blaring from next door. I listened for a moment…it was the Christian music station. We had seen so many answered prayers up until this moment, I shouldn’t have been surprised, but I was. I quickly ran and grabbed Bronson, my 2nd son. Hey, Brons! What is that you hear? He listened for a minute - Christian music! We both smiled at each other knowing what we had been praying for. Later that day, I approached my neighbor and told her I heard her radio earlier. She quickly apologized for it being too loud, but I told her I was so grateful and asked if she was a believer - she answered, Yes! I told her I had been praying for a christian neighbor, and she sweetly said, me too! This neighbor has since grown into a friend and I am so grateful to her. But God didn’t just answer that prayer, He decided to go one step further - and give me that surprise I had been asking for.
I have a son who feels everything really big. He loves big but he also cries big. And from the time he turned one, this has been an incredible challenge. When he was younger, for an entire year we barely went anywhere because of the meltdowns that would undoubtedly happen. For the last five years I have thanked God we lived in the country because I didn’t have to worry about neighbors hearing the screaming tantrums that would occur. But now here we were, moving to a neighborhood with actual neighbors. This was something that weighed heavily on my mind, What would people think?
Now, as he has grown, the meltdowns are fewer and further between but every once in a while we get a real doozie. I remember talking to a friend, really concerned about where we would live and if this would become a problem in meeting new neighbors and friends. She assured me, there would be people wherever we were going that could handle a kid like mine. Well, fast forward and here I am in my new house, with neighbors right next door and we were experiencing one of these magnificent meltdowns. I was sure child services would be called because of the sounds coming from his room. Just as the thought entered my mind, I heard a knock at the door. Oh no. The police are here and I will be arrested for being the worst parent in history.
Well, wouldn’t you know it was my lovely neighbor who had come over for another reason and didn’t even hear the screams (until I opened the door). So, quickly, I stepped outside and closed the door behind me. I told her what was going on and how sorry I was if he was so disruptive. She stopped me and said, Let’s pray over your home. Right there, she prayed. For peace over my son and for our home. Obviously, I cried. I was so concerned my emotional son would drive people away and here she is drawing closer? When I stepped back inside, the house was quiet. He had fallen asleep. What a gift this moment was.
This story may not seem so crazy to you - unless you have had a child like this. Or if you have felt completely out of control in a situation that was embarrassing and made you want to hide. I had always tried to step out of this messy part of my life to meet people with my best face on. What I had never expected is for someone to step into the mess and meet me there. Now that’s a testimony! God knows what we need. He is powerful and He wants to show his Glory and provision in our lives.
There have been many more stories of things God has done. I wish I could share them all but we would be here all day. So, I’ll borrow from the gospel of John 21:25 And there are also many other things that Jesus did, which, if every one of them were written down, I suppose not even the world itself could contain the books that would be written.
Maybe some day I’ll get to share more stories but right now, I am enjoying living in the middle of them. There have been new surprises and pivots every week! Not every day is easy, in fact it’s the opposite. Sam and I have had our share of anxiety (I’m talkin’, hairloss-throwing-up-shingles-heartburn-sleeplessness type of anxiety..the struggle is real) But from what we know of the past year, every victory is prefaced by hardship! So when we are in a tough spot, we do our best to remember all the ways God has provided. We pray. We surrender our worries and our stress. And we believe that God will show up. Always holding all things loosely.
It says in Psalm 23 that God leads us for HIS name’s sake. The LORD is my shepherd … He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake. If we think the story is about us, we are sorely mistaken. We are not the hero, friends! God is. The path we are on is for His name’s sake - not to make a name for ourselves. So let’s give Him the glory! Let’s testify to the power of His name in our lives. Maybe next time you and your friends get together, take a minute to share the God-stories from that week before you get chatting about your kids. Let’s create new habits of testifying! I bet we will all be more encouraged and even more challenged to look for those moments in our lives.
Well, we finally had our visa interview! This was it. Do or die. If we were not approved, we weren’t even sure if we would be allowed back into the US to get to our house. We had everything on the line, no plan B. We had a few friends and family go through this process ahead of us and not everyone was given immediate approval, so we knew nothing was certain. With shaking hands we stepped into the US consulate and after waiting in lines for a couple of hours and mentally going through every scenario I could think of, we were finally interviewed and granted our work visa.
It was official. We could call Florida home.
Make sure to catch the first parts of our story:
PART 3: When Hard Does Not Equal Wrong