“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” -Jeremiah 29:11
I never could have imagined how my life would turn out. Does anyone ever, really though? When we got married, my husband and I held onto this picturesque vision of raising a family in a rustic farmhouse on 10 acres. Thoughts of my husband penning his book in our study, peering out the upstairs window while our sweet girls ran barefoot freely, and I hung the laundry outside on our homestead, swirled in my mind often. It was THE dream for our family. Just as easily as a dream is formed though, it can be shattered. Life is like that. Loved ones die, sickness is battled, houses are burned down, mistakes are made and jobs are lost. And although we can’t rely on our dreams, we can rely on the One who is our refuge and strength-the One who is always there for us-the One who allows us to soar like eagles-the One who is rock solid and immovable.
Yet, life is not rock solid. It’s fluid and it’s forever changing. We hope and plan and dream, but our real hope lies in Jesus, because at some point, life may sideswipe us and what we thought we wanted, may never have really been the important stuff at all-the stuff He wanted us to have or who He wanted us to be. See, in the end, His purpose will always prevail and we can either ride the waves and anchor ourselves to Him or we can swim against the current and nearly drown. The beauty of it is that the choice is ours. He’s left that part up to us and when we choose Him, that’s where the real joy is.
I made my choice. I chose Jesus-even in the hard stuff, even when I sat in the doctor’s office four years ago and heard the words “you have two weeks to get out”. As difficult as that moment was, He was my anchor. And He got us through it all as we weathered the storm. With just fourteen days to leave everything behind and find a new place to live, this storm raged on. Our current home was infested with toxic mold and our family was bleeding internally. Not only were we bleeding internally though, a whole host of other symptoms gripped us. I would have moments that would come and go, where I felt as though my body was paralyzed and I couldn’t move my mouth to even talk. The mold had wreaked havoc on our guts too, and had caused everyone in our household to suddenly become sensitive to numerous foods. Mold infiltrated our lives. The mold spores, made up of toxic mycotoxins, were in every nook and cranny, on every surface, in every fiber of our belongings.
Nearly all of our “stuff” was destroyed. When we temporarily left, before fully walking away, we attempted to go back inside our home to get a few sentimental items, such as my engagement ring, but this proved to be a terrible idea. None of us could go back in without immediately experiencing symptoms. And if we wanted a real shot at healing, the “stuff” had to stay. The blessing was in there though.
See, His hand was in all of this, even in the shocking news we got. Because, aside from our lives being turned upside down, the blessing was an answer to prayer. After searching for years for answers into my chronic illness, we finally had a huge missing piece of the puzzle: toxic mold. And His timing was impeccable, as usual. Had I known earlier, I don’t know that I would have been prepared to handle what was to follow, for the crazy journey that we were about to embark on, was unfathomable to me. It is a ride I wouldn’t have been prepared for prior. This journey was not what I would have chosen for my life or my family, but it’s the journey we are on. And only He knows why and for what purpose.
He knows. That is the key. Toxic mold cost me my home, my career, my dreams, the “stuff” I had accumulated over the years, and the life I once knew and thought I loved. It also challenged every idea I had about how I was “supposed to” raise our family. Yet through it all, He was moving the pieces into just the right places, pruning me along the way and teaching me that I can trust Him in the darkest of times. Before mold, I thought I knew what I wanted and how to run my life, however, I didn’t. He taught me what was truly important-that “stuff” is just that and that our real treasure is in Heaven. He taught me to slow down and got me out of the rat race I was living, and He taught me to raise our children the way He wants us to raise them.
It’s easy to think we know best, to think we know what we want in life, but in all honesty, do we? He knows though, and we can trust that. We can trust that if our dreams are taken out to sea, that He’ll plant new ones in our hearts-dreams far better than what we can imagine, dreams that will bring true joy because they were what were meant for us all along. Anchor yourself to Him and watch Him work.
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” -Isaiah 55:8