A few days before Chris and I talked about moving, we had taken a trip up to Kansas City to meet up with my friend Harmony and her sweet little family. Harmony gave me a book for my birthday called '1000 Gifts' by Ann Voskamp. I didn't know it at the time, but this book would be like a lifeboat in the crazy storm that was ahead. It helped me anchor my longings to God, and it kept me focused on being thankful and grateful for every single moment, even when I didn't know what the "plan" was going to be. I started to count & document the things that I was thankful for throughout my days. It was (and continues to be) a completely life changing exercise. It helped me to stop grumbling and be able to ask for new things without despising the old things, if that makes any sense.
I read that book THREE TIMES in five months... it was that good. ha!
As my eyes started to open to the God who is everywhere and all around me at every moment of every day, I started to trust Him more. And as I was able to start trusting Him more, things started getting really exciting. We started to hear God speaking to us in ways we never imagined He would. Chris started having really significant dreams almost every night. Lots of the dreams were about his work truck... selling it, trading it in, walking away from it and knowing he couldn't go back to it, watching it get swept up and washed away in a raging river...
The thing you need to know about my husband is that he is a passionate and talented musician, who, for the last 10 years, has been "Clark Kent-ing" as a Painting Contractor. He labors faithfully with his hands and he never grumbles and all the while, there is this gift inside of him that has purpose and destiny written all over it. For 10 years, I have been praying that God would swoop him up and make all of his wildest dreams come true.
On the morning of September 20th, I was driving around in my car after I had dropped Myer off at school. I was listening to a song by The Robbie Seay Band called "New Day" (OF ALL THINGS) and the lyrics were echoing everything that was in my heart. I was singing at the top of my lungs. I hadn't heard the song in a very long time, and the only reason I had pulled it out again that morning was because Myer saw the CD in the car and
As I was singing along, I suddenly felt this urgency to pray for my husband. I wasn't quite sure what to pray, so as I drove I just started praying that God would make all of the dreams in Chris' heart come true. But this time, something different happened as I was praying those words. This time, I heard in my spirit, clear as day, a resounding "YES". And not just a quiet, timid little "yes", but a bold and loud and unexpected "YES!!" that reverberated in me and sent chills up and down my whole body and instantly filled my eyes with so many tears that I had to pull off the road because I could not see. I wept and I prayed and I was in complete shock and awe. I felt like God was telling me that he was going to speak to my husband that very day.
I was physically shaking when I called Chris. I had completely forgotten it, but he was going to a conference that day- a leadership conference for local businessmen. Chris had felt very strongly that he needed to sign up and attend this event. He had NO idea at the time why he was signing up for this thing, but he really felt like God had asked him to. When I called him, it was just getting ready to start. I quickly told him I loved him and felt like God wanted to speak to him today. He said he had been feeling the exact same thing, and we hung up.
He sent me a picture later in the morning of the bulletin they handed him when he walked in the door. At the very bottom, the words:
Get ready. It's a new day.
I kept praying all morning long and I couldn't wipe the giddy smile off of my face. I anxiously awaited a phone call from Chris to find out how the day had gone.
Later that afternoon, he called. He was on his way home and he was talking so fast and sporadically, I had a hard time following everything he was saying. He was excited and felt like God had spoken to him about two things specifically. The first thing was the Old Testament book of Nehemiah. The second thing was the book of John, chapter 15.
Now, this next part may sound totally crazy, and even I still have a hard time believing it, but just bear with me here for a moment. As Chris was talking to me on the phone, I was kind of pacing around the house, listening and feeling really excited. Without even realizing what I was doing or WHY I was doing it, I found myself digging around under our bed, with the phone still pushed up to my ear. I reached under there and pulled out this giant cardboard box that has been under there for YEARS, and that I have never gotten out before. I sat on the floor by our bed, still listening to Chris talk about the conference, and I opened the box. It is full of all of my old journals from the past 12 years of my life. On the very top was a bright red spiral bound notebook from 2005. I pulled it out and set it in my lap.
Now, mind you, I still didn't really have any conscious idea of what I was doing. I was just "going through the motions" and listening to Chris. I opened up the journal that I had set in my lap. The page that it fell open to was a synopsis, in my own handwriting, of the story of Ezra & Nehemiah, and at the very top of it all I had written "John 15".
Needless to say, I was speechless. I had mindlessly pulled out a journal that I hadn't seen in years and opened it right to a page that had Nehemiah and John 15 written on it, AS my husband was telling me God spoke to him about Nehemiah and John 15. Uhh... whaaaaaaat? I told Chris what had happened and we were both... just... in shock. He came home and we talked about all the crazy things that had happened that day.
He was telling me how Nehemiah had been called back to "the land of his fathers" to help rebuild the city that was in ruins. As he heard the speaker talk about all of this, Chris couldn't get one place off of his mind... one of the places that was hit the hardest when the economy started to tank back in 2008... a place that has some of the highest unemployment & foreclosure rates in the entire country.
The city where we grew up.
The literal "land of our fathers".