Pray, cry, laugh. (a new season and an old hope problem)

It snowed today. (or rather, by the time I get my act together enough to post this: It snowed yesterday). Enough that when I was sneaking down the stairs before the kids were up I saw it covering our car and was a bit taken aback. I don't know why. I live in Rochester, NY. Snow, enough to stick, before Halloween is kind of par for the course. I know what season follows Fall (it's winter, guys. Winter follows Fall.). I knew the forecast for today. But as I stumbled, foggy-eyed down the stairs before 6 am, I was still startled. (I might have also been a bit startled I was out of bed before 6 in the morning. I am trying a new thing. It's called "pretending you are a morning person without becoming a family annihilator". So far, so good.) Anyways, the snow. There it was. It reminded me of what's coming.

Sometimes seasons change quick.

I haven't really mentioned it here, but we are in a change of seasons here too. Two months ago Peter started a new job. If you read any of my past annoyingly vague posts (if you missed them but love annoying vagueness then read here and here ), you probably know that this past year and a half or so the monies, they have been tight. Like poverty line tight. Like breezing right past "after Thanksgiving dinner loosen the belt a notch" tight and onto "that shirt is two sizes too small and 20 years too late" kind of tight. Peter is in sales and while he is pretty stellar at peddling the goods (goods meaning cable and internet...c'mon. Although it got pretty bad. I won't say it didn't come up in conversation once or twice) his company changed his pay structure last September making it nearly impossible for him to make enough money to support us and our small herd of children. Hence the inappropriate tightness.

After months and months of working two jobs, praying, crying, applying, praying, crying, interviewing, praying, crying, selling furniture out from underneath our tired behinds, praying, crying, finding out he was chosen for the job he had tried to get for years only to find out when he went in to sign the offer sheet that there was no job, yelling, crying, praying, then finding out that his position was terminated because of a merger, just flat out losing our crap, God gave Peter the exact job he thought he had here in Rochester, just in Buffalo, NY. (In case you aren't from around here, that's a hour and a half away, so he is commuting.)

There are at least a bazillion details making this story stunning beautiful, achingly ugly and just plain long. I will spare you those. God could not have made it more clear to us that this was Peter's job. The fact that he didn't have another one was a key indicator as well.

We are thrilled. And relieved. Sometimes we look at each other and say crazy things like "hey, maybe let's pay all our bills this month!" Or "I can breathe." And then we high five and maybe snort-laugh. Because we are dorks. Some people think Peter is a bit looney to commute 3 hours round trip every day in one of the snowiest parts of the country. I am here to say he is not that looney, just majorly desperate because our kids are majorly hungry...all the time. And food doesn't grow on trees...well at least not the trees in our yard. Besides being desperate we are grateful. God answered our prayers and has brought us into a new season.

Photo by Hayleigh Gavenda
 But can I peel back the layers of honesty a bit more with you and say that I am other things besides just desperate and grateful? Well, I am going to anyway. Here it is.

I am scared. And a whole slew of other confusing emotions. If Peter and I are the Isrealite people freed from slavery in Egypt, then I am the fearful Isrealite woman who keeps looking over my shoulder for the Egyptians to inevitably chase us down and bring us back to slavery. In this analogy the Egyptians are Peter's company. Over the past 6 years that he was worked for them I have become conditioned for the rug to be pulled out from under us as soon as anything looks "good". So as Peter drives off into freedom each day, I keep looking behind us for signs of the Egyptians way off on the horizon.

I hate that I am doing this, guys. First of all it's no way I want to live, like a new kind of slavery. Second of all, it makes no sense. God freed us. God paved the way (I mean he didn't literally pave I 90, but you get it). He has made it super-duper clear that this is his (our!) job. Yet here I am waiting for the other shoe to drop, or any other similar metaphor you would like to insert there.

I've spent a whole lot of time looking at the yuck of this lately. I want out of this slavery too. So I have been back to my comfort zone of praying and crying. I guess those are some things I will always take with me. I thought God and I worked through the whole misplaced hope thing during our year plus of dancing around the poverty line. But it must of snuck into my go-bag, because here it is again. I am hoping in things that will eventually disappoint when I can hope in the One who never will. I am scared of a company whose nickname among its employees is "Things Will Change", when I can rest assured in the care of my God who never changes.

I want so badly to stop being the Isrealite woman looking behind her for the chariots of Egypt. Instead I want to be the woman from Proverbs 31:25 who "is clothed in strength and dignity" and who "can laugh at the days to come".

Photo by Royce Gavenda

Gosh, I want to laugh at the thought of our future. Not because it's a comedy (although I really hope parts of it are!), not because I have finally lost my mind, not because I suddenly stopped caring  about everything in our life. (Although, in the name of keepin' on bein' honest, I care a whole lot less than I used to. The sweat pants I have been wearing for the last 3 days is proof.) I want to laugh because my hope is secure and my joy is complete. I want to laugh because although I have no idea what is coming, whether we would label it good or bad, I know that my Father in heaven is good. And He does good.

I want to lay my false hopes on the altar before my God. As they burn to cinders and the smoke curls up to the sky, a fragrant offering to my one true Hope, I want to stop looking over my shoulder and instead look up heavenward laughing at the days to come. (Chill out. It's a metaphor. I am not a pyro. I don't have an altar. I have only burned two things recently: a stray piece of pepperoni that fell off the frozen pizza to the bottom of the oven and enveloped our kitchen in smoke causing our kids to put into practice #allthefiresafetymeasures, and grilled cheese sandwiches. Always.)

I don't have a formula for all this changing I want to do. I am just kind of going at it the best way I know how: getting up early to do some Bible reading, praying, crying and if I am lucky a little laughing...maybe even the snorty kind.

"But now oh Lord, who do I look for? My hope is in you." Psalm 39:7

Photo by Braxton Gavenda
 Will you join me? If you have read this far, then you have to be a little bit invested, either that or super-stalkery and bored. Either way! I won't discrimminate! I have this little baby hashtag that I started as a way of documenting moments that reminded me where my true hope lies. It is #mypurplemoment (because purple means hope) and even though I keep screwing up this whole hope thing, purple will always be my color. So hashtag away. Share how you are living hope to hope in all the moments and all the seasons. But more than all the fun hashtagging, I want so badly for us (you, me, all of us) to hold fast to the hope that doesn't lead to disappointment. I am praying and crying and laughing for all of us.

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