Waiting with Trust

“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, and whose hope is the Lord. For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, which spreads out its roots by the river, and will not fear when heat comes; but its leaf will be green, and will not be anxious in the year of drought, nor will cease from yielding fruit. -Jeremiah 17:7-8

Although it was a fantasy of mine, I never imagined we would actually land in Alaska. My husband and I were the ones who watched all the Alaska shows on TV dreaming of the day. Then, this past September, it happened.

During July of last year, we were camp hosting in Central Washington. We had been in temporary living situations since 2018, ever since being forced to leave our home and nearly all of our belongings due to toxic mold causing us to become extremely ill. We had camp hosted the previous year at the same beautiful campground and were given the opportunity again to live in a cabin off-grid while caring for three campgrounds over the summer. Our end date for camp hosting was September 9th and we hadn’t yet found a more permanent place to call home. With the few belongings we had accumulated over the past couple of years in tow and no leads, my anxious self was beginning to mull over the unknown. It wasn’t that we couldn’t afford a place or that there weren’t homes available, it was that due to becoming hypersensitive to mold and environmental toxins because of our previous exposure, our heightened sensitivities have made it difficult to tolerate modern housing and drywall. We found that we do best in log cabins. And these are kind of far and few between-except in places like Alaska. Alaska felt out of reach though, because I still didn’t have my passport. Since the Covid-19 pandemic, the issuance of passports had slowed down tremendously.

We began scouring Craigslist and Zillow for possible cabin rentals all over, but were coming up dry. Then, God spoke in the most unlikely place. One sweltering afternoon as I fought off the mosquitos while picking up litter in the campsites and making sure fires weren’t left smoldering, God left a message, on a fire pit of all places, telling me to trust Him. I knew in that moment that all was well and He had us, that there was nothing to worry about. I didn’t have to jump ahead into the unknown, with my searching mind going into overdrive trying to figure out what we would possibly do, like I had so many times before. With a smile on my face, I could just rest, knowing He had it all taken care of, and He did. He had a cozy log cabin picked out for us planted right along a plentiful river filled with fresh salmon, here in Alaska.

See, my husband had been inquiring about cabin rentals in several states: Wyoming, Montana, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Utah, South Dakota, North Dakota, New Mexico, Colorado, and Alaska. He wasn’t receiving any responses after reaching out. Since my husband works remote and I homeschool, we were free to go just about anywhere God opened a door. And so we prayed that God would open a door. But, we continued to wait. As the days inched closer to September, heading to our dream state was looking slim. Then, my birthday came in August and to my surprise, my new passport had shown up! It was quite the birthday gift! Shortly thereafter, my husband received a call with a rental offer. The one door that opened was this current cabin we are in, here in The Last Frontier. With a rental agreement in hand, we were allowed to cross the Canadian border into Alaska during a pandemic. It was a long trek, but we made it safe and sound, by trusting that this was where God wanted us. It was in this period of waiting, that we grew in our faith.

While it’s not always easy to have faith during seasons of waiting, we can be sure that choosing to trust Him is always the right decision. So, when we are unsure about what the future holds for us, let’s remember that even in these uncertain places, we can still trust our Heavenly Father. It’s in these times of waiting, that we hold fast to Him, not letting our faith waver. Instead we lean in closer, remembering to always be in His presence, aware and expectantly waiting for Him to speak because He might just surprise us in the most unexpected of ways!

Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life. -Psalm 143:

He is All that I Need

The Lord is my Shepherd. I will have everything I need. -Psalm 23:1

Last week, something odd happened. I awoke with this Bible verse turning over and over in my mind. This has never happened to me before, nor can I ever recall having God speak to me through my dreams. Maybe this is a first?

As I lay there dozing in and out, I remember rattling off these words again and again: The Lord is my shepherd. He is all that I need. For awhile now, I’ve felt like He has been telling me this and apparently, this particular morning, God was really trying to pound it into me.

What I find even more interesting is that I will often start drafts of posts, to later come back and write more. I had forgotten about this post until I came across it tonight trying to figure out what I wanted to blog about. In His most impeccable timing, I saw the title I had written and once again, knew it was His way of reminding me of this after a most trying weekend.

This past weekend was one of those-can-I-please-just-pull-the-covers-over-my-head-and-keep-dreaming-so-I-don’t-have-to-get-up kinda weekends. This, along with the last three years of our lives, made me question life itself. It can be difficult to not understand what God’s plans are and yet, keep running the race. Without going into every detail, we have had to move several times in the past three years due to toxic mold exposure and environmental sensitivities. We are in another temporary living situation and were supposed to move into a different cabin this weekend, however, after moving nearly all of our stuff, we were not able to stay there. The entire cabin had been freshly varnished recently and although it had been aired out, it smelled so strongly, our belongings even smelled like varnish. So, after moving everything, it all had to go back to the cabin we came from. It felt like such a waste of time, energy and hard work. I know that there are different seasons in each of our lives, and then the seasons change, but this season we have been in the past few years has been extremely challenging, to say the least. Yes, there have been many adventures that I am so very grateful for, but there has also been a lot of hard.

I can’t help but wonder, after losing nearly everything we owned to toxic mold almost three years ago, when we will have a more permanent home. It’s all just wordly “stuff”, I know, and we are not of this world. Maybe though, I’m still grieving our losses-our health, our home, our belongings, my social work career, and private school for our girls. That’s a lot to lose in one shot. And it doesn’t include the more recent loss of seeing family due to Covid and our big move to Alaska. It’s tough not to compare our life before toxic mold, to the hardships we have endured since, or to others lives, but I know He’s refining us. There are definitely lessons in all of this. We are learning to trust God more and choose faith over fear. And we are being taught to wait patiently.

Today, I’m weary, but I’m going to choose faith. I’m going to keep my eyes on Him and remind myself that my prize isn’t this side of heaven. He’s telling me that He’s all I need, and maybe until I really, truly comprehend that on a heart-level, He won’t give me any more.

So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. -2 Corinthians 4:18

Running on Empty but Full of Grace

“We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,” they answered. “Bring them here to me,” he said. And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children. -Matthew 14:17-21

Yesterday was a tough day. I’ve had a lot of those lately-days where hanging onto Him is all I can do. Today though, He poured out the blessings. Since our second move in two months-the first across the country, and the second just last week, money has been tight. We were unprepared to replace things once again lost to toxic mold and although we have a stockpile of canned food that we were trying to save in case of an emergency, we were running low on our typical supply of fresh meat. With just $20.88 left in our budget to purchase meat for the next ten days, I’ll admit, I was stressing a bit. It’s so easy to do, isn’t it? The world tells us that we have to figure it all out on our own, that we have to meet our needs in our own strength, but guess what? This isn’t true-because He knows just what we need and He is the Great Provider. He not only cares about our every need, He is our biggest need. And when we keep the faith and we trust Him even during the most trying of times, when we run to Him instead of our addictions or our distractions, we can be sure that He will always be there for us, filling us up with His love. He showed me today that He had us. I didn’t need to stress. I didn’t need to worry. He had us and He has you too.

He intervened today at the grocery store in a most peculiar, but incredible way. I have no doubt whatsoever that it was Him. When my husband ran to the store, I told him to just grab one $11 pack of chicken and we would somehow make what we have stretch. God had another plan though and he blessed the socks off of us. Typically, I would buy about $110 worth of chicken for our family of four, for a two week period. We needed a few other things to get by for the next two weeks as well, and twenty dollars just wasn’t enough. I was so wrong, because about twenty minutes after my husband left, I got the call from the parking lot. 

He called to tell me that as he had meandered his way toward the seafood department at Fred Meyer-still several feet away from the poultry section, an employee, out of nowhere, asked “Sir, are you looking for organic chicken breast?” A bit confused by how this man would know this, my husband looked around to make sure the worker was talking to him. The man was looking straight at my husband, while holding up a package of chicken breast, stating that it was currently 49 cents a pound. My husband told the man, that yes, actually he was looking for organic chicken, but he was perplexed by the price (it’s normally $6.99 a pound). The man stated that today is the sell by date and so the chicken would need to be eaten or frozen by tomorrow. My husband asked how many he had and the meat department employee answered “eleven packs.” My husband, humored by it all and oh so grateful, with a huge grin, later told me “I came for $11 worth of chicken, and He gives me 11 chickens instead!” Only God can do that. And the total cost of the chicken and few other grocery items he picked up? $19.88! Exactly $1 less than what was left in our budget!

That wasn’t all though. God did something else. I wanted to buy our girls some new colored pencils and erasers for school, but with extras we had to purchase due to the move, there was just no money to get them this paycheck. As my husband walked out of the grocery store, he found $12 rolled up on the ground outside. It was as though God dropped the perfect amount from the sky to be able to purchase the school supplies.

And He poured out yet another blessing tonight. New to Alaska cabin life, we are learning just how chilly it is. The wood floors are always freezing cold and slippers are a must. A day ago, my husband showed me that the entire front sole of his slipper had come apart and he was hoping to buy a new pair. I could tell he was bummed when I broke the news that there was not enough money leftover right now to do so. He had attempted to sew through the rubber sole, but I knew they wouldn’t last much longer. God reminded me of two $10 coupons sitting in my Zappos online shoe store account that I was given when they did not deliver my last purchase on time. With those coupons and a $1.00 VIP credit, I was able to order my husband a brand new pair of comfy slippers that cost $27.99, and I got them for just $7.20! He cares about us, y’all. EVERY LITTLE DETAIL. He cares about it all.

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?  Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. -Matthew 6: 25-33

A Missing Piece

“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