Thursday, April 14, 2016

Blessings





Today marks the one-year anniversary of when we arrived in Austin.  It's been a year of incredible joy and blessings~  blessings on top of blessings. This marks our fourth major move since we've been married: starting in Austin as a newly married couple, then to Kansas City, then a long sojourn of 25 years into the wilderness (Southern California) followed by ten years in Cincinnati.  We learned through those experiences that things don't often turn out as you expect them to:  there are usually challenges and hurdles you didn't see coming, good and bad surprises, and the feelings of loss and confusion that always go with a major move.
 
But I can honestly say that, with this move, things have turned out even better than we could have anticipated, in almost every way.  And I can only attribute this to the fact that during some very dark and confusing times (during our last six months in Cincinnati,)  we decided to trust God completely and let Him lead us where He wanted to.  One thing I have come to believe, in the deepest part of my being, is that God is a good, good Father, who wants to give good gifts to His children.  And that has proven to be true again now in this new stage of our lives.  When we moved here, we planned to stay with RuthAnn's dad temporarily until we found a place to live.  Our main focus in coming here, we believed, was to be here for Beth & Ben as they prepared to have their second child.  (And in fact, Emma RuthAnn arrived exactly three weeks after we got here.)  And that has been very important:  RuthAnn now works at what she calls "the most perfect job" she's ever had as a nanny for Samantha and Emma three days a week.  However, we also realized right away that RuthAnn's father, Erwin, needed us just as badly.  He's been living alone for the last ten years since his wife went into a nursing home before her death six years ago from Alzheimer's, and he was very lonely and getting fearful of being alone in his house.  He asked us to consider living with him permanently, and we realized that was the right thing to do.  This is a large, comfortable house with plenty of room for us all (even our dog!)  and it's working better than we could have imagined for all of us.  Austin is a wonderful place to live, but housing has become very expensive (think Southern California) and it would've been difficult for us to find a place that we could afford.  Because we're sharing housing expenses here, RuthAnn & I are both able to work part-time, which gives us time to be available to do things for Erwin (trips to the bank, the grocery store, doctors' appointments, etc.)   I've found plenty of projects to do around the house, which hasn't gotten much attention in the twenty+ years he's lived here.  The amazing thing is, in spite of a stream of never-ending projects, I am enjoying everything I do!   I get a great deal of joy and satisfaction from organizing and improving things in the house, the garage, and the yard.   I'm discovering skills and creative problem-solving abilities I never knew I had.  I have more energy than I've had in years-- I actually feel younger than I have in a long time.  The only way I can explain that is that I've always believed that when you're doing the ministry that God has called you to, you will have joy and energy enough to accomplish everything that's handed to you.
Another surprising blessing for me is that I don't miss having a pastoral ministry nearly as much as I thought I would (although Sunday mornings can still be wistful times for me.)  I can see clearly now that this is the ministry God has for us now, and it is more satisfying in many ways than any I've had.  All the closed doors and disappointments left me no choice except to come here-- where the Father knew I could be most fulfilled.  That is how good God is to us.

I mentioned blessings on top of blessings.  At Christmas, Ryan flew down to spend the holidays with us.  This meant that we were all together for Christmas again, which was wonderful.  But the incredibly wonderful part was that on the last day of his stay here, Ryan told us that he had decided to move to Austin.  He felt like God was calling him to be a part of his nieces' lives and be a uncle to them.   So at the end of February I flew up to Cincinnati to "rescue" him from the cold and gray of Ohio winters and bring him down to sunny Austin.  We had a great trip driving down together, and Ryan is settling in to the apartment that just happens to be attached to our house.  God has covered all the bases!   The  hardest part about leaving Ohio was leaving Ryan there.  Both of our children are very, very special and I love being a part of their lives as much as possible.  So it is a HUGE joy and blessing to have him here.  He is already working part-time, has made connections with people at our church --we're back to being Nazarenes-- and is planning to go back to school to go into social work.

What all this has taught me is that:  (1) God can absolutely be trusted (obviously) with our future, our hopes & dreams; and  (2) a new belief that when we do trust God, and open ourselves up to what He has for us, He will actually pour out more blessings on us than we've ever had.  He is a good Father, a generous Father, and He delights in giving good gifts to His children.   This last year, our first in our new home, has been proof of that.  I never want to forget that.

I hope that, wherever all of you are in your journey with Him, you will allow Him to show you the good things He has in store for you.  God seems to have a tendency to save the best for last in the lives of His beloved children.

With the joy that comes from knowing the Father's love,
Pastor Rick 
 
 

1 comments:

Gary Jacobs April 15, 2016 at 7:03 AM  

Wonderful testimony of "defining moments" with God's blessing and faithfulness.