Entering our third Spring living aboard, I cannot believe how fast two years have flown by. We’ve had blessed seasons full of social media worthy exclamation points give way to slower seasons, where daily life is more like commas connecting clauses in a sentence. Sometimes it seems we’ve been thrown a curve-ball and unexpectedly find ourselves plodding questioningly through undesirable tough times. Our dream and determination for our grand adventure on the water is still very much alive…but dreams take time to prepare for, realize and afford. So, as we persistently work and patiently wait on God, I find myself sometimes frustrated, struggling against the social mentality of the next step “supposed to happen quickly and easily”. Unfortunately, as Ryan gently reminds me, God is waiting on us to learn to not fear, not fret, not faint and not forget Who He Is…and character building that reaches the heart happens slowly, not immediately. Bummer.
Often my heart gets overwhelmed at our position in this marathon. Our four children have grown at least six inches taller in the last two years. As our girls enter the “tween/teen” years, we are slowly outgrowing our Cruise-a-home. Some days I feel like we’ll never reach a more spacious ocean crossing sailboat. “Lord, why did you allow this____and that____to happen in our past? Lord, why didn’t you let this_____ and that_____ happen instead? Then we could have done______. ” My heart has cried out many times this winter in anguish, “God, you made a mess! We’re ready to move on to the next step. You’re moving so slow!”
About this time, being so frustrated, I put my ear buds in and listen to a message from my personal favorite author/speaker, Beth Moore. Funny that she just so happened to title one of her podcast series “When Jesus makes a mess.” Mmmmmm….How fitting. Here is the link to her podcast (http://subspla.sh/rb6ypvv).
One of her passages of scripture was Matthew 21:10-17. Jesus entered the Temple and turned everything upside-down. He made a total mess of the place…and cleansed and cleaned the Temple. “He said to them, ‘It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you make it a den of robbers.‘” Matt 21:13. “Jesus doesn’t take lightly what is robbing you of Him,” Beth said. Looking back at my journals, I now recognize where Jesus walked in and made a mess. For the past ten years He has turned our home life upside-down, because that is where we were being robbed.
If wisdom is “skilled living from treasure hunting”, I’ve been searching through my past journals all winter, hunting for treasure. November 2009, Ryan and I had been married for six years. Joy was a toddler, Arianna an infant. I wrote in my journal about one very, very tough trying time. I wonder if anyone can relate to my “den of robbers”?
November 2009 (multiple journal entries)
Dear Lord, I am so depleted hormonally, emotionally and physically. Depressed that I’ve been robbed of so much…joy, singing, creativity, sleep, happy memories. I’m angry and bitter. I have house chores, children and a dog to take care of daily. I might see Ryan on the weekends and very little in the evenings. I’m playing tug-of-war over him with all the different jobs he has just trying to make ends meet. I’m left alone to cope and take care of everything at home. I’m yelling at my kids, mad at the dog, and angry at my husband…for working so hard to provide for us. I hate to look at myself in the mirror and see who I have become.
Lord, all I want is to be redeemed. Restored in mind, body and spirit. I need a sense of peace inside my heart, and physically in my home. To have creativity to make my day with my children fun and filled with singing and laughter, crafts and learning…memories. To be able to genuinely smile and laugh. To get sleep naturally. To feel safe again. To be able to handle my homemaking responsibilities and a new day, energized, without dread, with strength, gladness and joy!
Lord, I need help. How do I get where I want to be from where I am?
Where am I? I’m angry at our current circumstances – at unreasonable neighbors. I feel robbed of sleep, enjoyment, creativity, patience, and energy for being a mommy. Where have the songs in my heart gone? I’m angry at myself for having such a short fuse which goes off so quickly on my young children. They are learning to yell and physically rough house with each other. I’m exhausted – always exhausted. My day normally begins at 4 or 5 am.
Lord, if my struggle and war is not against my neighbors, whom I can see, but against the spiritual forces whom I cannot see, how do I fight them? How do I fight the hurt and anger in my being and allow Christ to renew my mind, restore my being, take away this anger and hurt, and replace the void with love and joy?
Lord, I feel like I’m at a fork in the road. On the right side is Jesus, angels, light, love freedom, peace, life. The left is the devil, dark, ugly, sleeplessness, anger, resentment, bitterness, death. God, help me to listen to Jesus’ voice! Drown out anger’s voice and foothold in my mind!
…I am doing my best to give thought to my thoughts and see which voice is feeding them – be it the devil and if I’m getting angry from the thoughts, or if it is Jesus. More often than not, it is the sneaky devil fueling my bitterness by his whispers. But I feel in my spirit that the devil is slowly losing his grip as I hang on desperately to Christ’s arm – knowing He is strong enough for me. He’s seen what has been happening and He has heard my cry. He won’t let me go. He won’t fail me.
Knowing all that, it is getting slightly easier to let go of my anger and resentment. I keep forgiving – not saying the sting is gone completely yet – but I’m doing my best to live my Now…this moment, this breath. If my children want to play ball or get a hug, I’ll stop and enjoy them. I’m trying to give more thought to the five senses that God has given me – enjoy the smell of my house with all the baking and candles burning. Enjoy the texture of what my fingers touch and give more thought to it. Enjoy tastes, especially that of my husband’s kisses. Enjoy the things I see and hope it brings more smiles than frowns. Enjoy the sounds I hear – my children laughing or singing, my husband who whispers how much he loves me and enjoys being married to me. I stop and listen to the birds sing and contemplate God’s love and creativity.”
As a homemaker, “clean” to me is putting things away, scrubbing surfaces and vacuuming. When everything is in its proper place, I breathe easier. I am delighted when my house smells and looks clean. But “Jesus went straight to the Temple and threw out everyone who had set up shop, buying and selling. He kicked over the tables of the loan sharks and the stalls of dove merchants. He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you make it a den of robbers.’” Matthew 21:12-14 “Prayer is the business of the church…Prayer is how Jesus gets into our business, and prayer is how Jesus gets us into His business,” Beth pointed out.
Sometimes Jesus makes a mess to clean house.
Jesus does not bother making a mess in a house He could not care less about.
Sometimes Jesus overturns tables to show what is underneath.
I guess why Beth’s message spoke to my heart, is because I’ve been wrestling with God in my spirit for a very long time. For years I’ve prayed for God to throw open the flood gates so we would be sufficient – and not need to rely on Him so heavily anymore (I scoff at the irony of that statement…but its true). I would look around and see other people’s bigger material blessings and promotions, crying out “aren’t we good stewards of what little you’ve entrusted to us?” Trying to do the right thing, so often I have felt overlooked.
Another treasure nugget from a past journal entry…
“My heart has been so overwhelmed and depressed through another encounter with our neighbor…I have never clung so desperately to God’s Word nor had such an urgency to pray in my life!
In my quiet time today I believe God was speaking some very healing things. I have such a sense and presence of peace and energy! Imagine that! I have such a sense deep in my gut of anticipation of God’s deliverance that is right around the corner – I can hardly wait to see Him deliver us! Psalm 71:20-21 confirms to me God will move us from this home. “Though you have made me see troubles many and bitter, you will restore my life again; from the depths of the earth you will again bring me up. You will increase my honor and comfort me once again…”
Also, when God gives us a word, He gives us the anointing and power to obey, and the spiritual gift of faith to believe in the unseen. Psalm 55:16-18, 22 “But I call to God, and the LORD saves me. Evening, morning and noon I cry out in distress, and He hears my voice. He ransoms me unharmed from the battle waged against me, even though many oppose me…Cast your cares on the LORD and He will sustain you. He will never let the righteous fall.”
There are so many other scripture verses I have been clinging to! Ps 34:4-7, Ps 35, Ps 63, Ps 34:17-18, Ps 62:11-12.
I have been seeking God’s face and have been meeting Him and knowing Him as Almighty God, Yahweh, the LORD. I am as Psalm 91 says, “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress, My God in whom I trust.”
Again, my peace for deliverance, Psalm 91:14-16. “Because He loves me,” says the LORD, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for He acknowledges My Name. He will call upon me and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. With long life will I satisfy him and show him my salvation.”
Father God, my prayer is that Ryan and I will continue to grow in our faith, trust and dependency on you, and that it will be passed down onto our children as a heritage of faith in our God. Proverbs 14:26 “He who fears the LORD has a secure fortress, and for his children it will be a refuge.”
God showed me something interesting today. Proverbs 14:10 “Each man knows its own bitterness, and no one else can share its joy.” Proverbs 14:30 “A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones.” I felt God was allowing me to understand that my neighbor was imprisoned and being tortured by their own envies and bitterness. Its inside them. They can’t get away from it. And because of their actions and conduct, they have literally alienated themselves from everyone they once called friends. It made me think of Proverbs 14:1 “The wise woman builds her house (on the Rock), but with her own hands the foolish woman tears hers down.”
These are treasure nuggets from a past mess where I clearly kept record of God’s faithfulness to me. Fast forward seven years to 2017 when God again turned our world upside-down when he brought us from another house (my dream house), to our increasingly cramped Cruise-a-home. “Lord, seriously, its been two years of sleeping in a sleeping bag on an air mattress atop the kitchen table. I can’t wait to have my own room and bed again! To have a hallway wider than 20 inches to move about! Lord, please remember us!” And then, when washing dishes, having a very disgruntled temper tantrum, I felt God ask me a question.
“If I brought you here, and never moved you from this Cruise-a-home, would you still trust me?”
I stopped washing dishes. Head hung low, tears blurred by vision. I stopped complaining, and became silent. God just asked me to place my dream of a bigger spacious sailboat…sleeping on a real mattress in my own bedroom with a door…sailing to amazing places with my family – and willingly place it as a sacrifice before Him on the altar. Would I still trust Him?
Deja Vu moment…my journal entry from January 30, 2010 (no kidding, seven years to the day before we started this boating adventure!)
“It is 2:45 am early Saturday morning. Twenty-eight days after God confirmed in Ryan and my hearts we need to move from our house and do it quickly. Don’t tarry. Trust and hurry. It is amazing the projects that got accomplished in 28 days with five of them when Ryan and I were out of town.
We took all things memorable or of value – monetary or sentimental. We left our home tonight. When Ryan and I got in the car and started the engine, the first sentence of the song on the radio was “You’re free! The chains are broken!” Subsequent songs were themed, “Its darkest before the dawn of the morning.” “Child, He knows your name.” “Surrender into His loving arms. He’s carrying you.”
The verse in my heart is, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind can conceive what God has for those who believe, who are called according to your purpose.”
…During my own nap time, while half asleep beside Joy and Arianna, it was like I was told the lesson I was supposed to learn through all this.
God can give, and He can take away.
My heart is pounding, my blood rushing as I contemplate the weight of what that means.
Jacy, I blessed you with the Red house. Then I blessed you with the Brown house. I blessed you in the Brown house. I want to continue to bless you. I Am Huge! I Am what you need. I Am what your husband and children need. I can give and take away – circumstances don’t change who I Am or what I can handle.”
My God, help me in my weakness! Give me your Peace that passes understanding! Restore my joy in daily living in my current circumstances while I wait on You. God, be my vision, my energy, my strength while I wait for my Promised Land!”
That is still my heart’s prayer nine years later in 2019 as we work hard and wait for whatever God has in store next. I willingly place my dreams of a bigger boat and grand adventures on the altar before Him. I trust Him to provide, His way, in His time. He has shown himself to be faithful in our past mess. I trust Him with our future tapestry.
“I’ll never forget the trouble, the utter lostness, the taste of ashes, the poison I’ve swallowed. I remember it all – oh, how well I remember – the feeling of hitting the bottom. But there’s one other thing I remember, and remembering, I keep a grip on hope:
God’s loyal love couldn’t have run out, his merciful love couldn’t have dried up. They’re created new every morning. How great your faithfulness! I’m sticking with God ( I say it over and over). He’s all I’ve got left.
God proves to be good to the man who passionately waits, to the woman who diligently seeks. It’s a good thing to quietly hope, quietly hope for help from God. It’s a good thing when you’re young to stick it out through the hard times. When life is heavy and hard to take, go off by yourself. Enter the silence. Bow in prayer. Don’t ask questions; wait for hope to appear. Don’t run from trouble. Take it full-face. The “worst” is never the worst.
Why? Because the Master won’t ever walk out and fail to return. If he works severely, he also works tenderly. His stockpiles of loyal love are immense….” Lamentations 3:19-32
I have realized, everything I had written in 2009 that was robbing me, has been restored since moving aboard our tiny floating home. Through the mess, Jesus cleaned house and got rid of things I clung more tightly to, than Him. When I get frustrated, I remember: we’ve been given a priceless treasure – a home filled with harmony, hope, love and laughter. We feel safe, secure, and protected here. We can rest, and relax on our boat. God had restored my sleep, and my patience, energy, creativity and joy for being a mommy…and blessed me with four children! Our tiny home provides the canvas for our kids to explore new educational concepts and talk through foreign ideas. It’s a safe place to wrestle through the growing pains from selfish dependence to responsible independence.
Sometimes life throws unexpected complicated curveballs and makes a massive mess. Through it all, hold onto Jesus, who is bigger than any circumstance and mess we find ourselves! Ultimately, it might work itself out to be a bigger blessing in disguise.