As you may have guessed, my life now consists of running here and there with the kids in tow, looking at the nuances between this dishwasher and that, pulling Liberty Grace off of the machines and Mercy Jane out of the machines, and deciding which one I want in the new house. (Err, dishwashers that is, not children.) So I haven't blogged.

Plus, it's hot out.

So here's a quick story that I emailed my friend Debbie Awful a few weeks ago. Debbie Awful works at a radio station down in Georgia, and she thought y'all would like to read what occurred at our breakfast table. In fact, I can't even claim the pun in my title. Debbie Awful thought of it.

Copy and Paste, you are my friend!

Our family was listening to your radio station this morning while we ate our breakfast of pancakes and eggs. Liberty kept kicking her sister Mercy Jane under the table, and I finally asked her, "Liberty Grace, are you kicking your sister?"

"No, Mommy," she lied to me.

Just then, Bud or Bug or whatever his name is on the radio said something like, "If you're listening to WRAF, then YOU ARE KICKING your weekend off right." The phrase YOU ARE KICKING came right after Liberty's response to me.

Liberty looked startled at the computer (which is how we are hearing your program) and with a touch of fear in her voice, she quickly turned to her sister and fervently said, "I'm sorry, Meecee Dane, for kicking you!"

Then she checked the computer to see if she had been forgiven.

On Thursday, May 6th, we received the phone call: The Yellow House At The End Of The Lane had been sold to someone else.

Surprisingly enough, I felt only a twinge of disappointment. Granted, other more traumatic events had recently clamped my thoughts into their choking death-grasp, and I didn't have a lot of brain power left over for thoughts of the home that wasn't meant to be. Also, God had hugged me a few days before the news of the house came, and His hug is still giving me peace as I write this. But from the very beginning when Jeremy and I sat across the table from each other in that restaurant and held hands asking God for His wisdom, we have been careful to keep this situation in His hands. He's smarter and sees further, you know. So we had decided that if God wanted us to have the house, HE would do what HE needed to do to give it to us, and if He didn't want us to have this house, He wouldn't. Finding out that He didn't do it was disappointing but not devastating.

Another possible reason for our relatively peaceful resignment to the situation was the fact that Jeremy and I have had time to prepare for the probable disappointment. We had already discussed what our options would be if God chose to give the home to someone else, and we knew we would go ahead and build on the small lot we had picked out before that was almost perfect for our family.

In the week or so since receiving the negative yellow house news, I have reflected on our absolute certainty that we should go ahead with the bid and the wait, which has now caused us to miss out on some of the relocation benefits Jeremy's company would have provided. I have wondered, did we misunderstand God's prompting? Did we make it all up? But having thought about it here and there when time and brain-space has permitted, I've realized a few things. First, I am sure beyond sure that we did follow God's leading. He made it very clear to both of us that we were to put the bid in and wait for the conclusion of the matter no matter what it cost us. He made that clear to us several times over the months when changing our minds would have been convenient.

I don't know all of His purposes, but the second thing that I have realized is that the wait for the house took us on a maze of twists and turns where God's working in the situations became extremely evident and His gentle-yet-persistent pull on some hearts traveled to the top of our prayer lists and has remained there. It has ended up being quite an adventure story with good guys and bad guys, thickening plot lines, justice hopefully coming forth, but more importantly closer relationships with God forming in several hearts! We were introduced to people who have become good friends; we were introduced to people who have desperate heart needs; we were introduced to people who became nice connections to have in this town, and none of that would have been possible if we had not ridden the wave of waiting. We have also made friends with neighbors here at our apartment complex who we would never have met if we had built a house months ago and moved on our time-table.

I'm so glad God is smarter than we are and that following Him is an unpredictable, sometimes wild, always worth-it decision.

So now you know. We are building a house! We chose a plot of land in a wonderful neighborhood where we already have friends who go to our church. I called it "almost perfect" earlier because we won't own a lot of land the way we had wished, but a small park, some rolling hills, a scenic pond and a gorgeous line of trees decorate the property just beyond the limits of our backyard, and we can easily pretend they are ours.

The house plans are finished. The decorator has done her job. The mortgage agent approved it all. Now we just need to sign the paperwork this week and begin negotiating a price for the land.

Let the new adventure begin!
Finding a balance between blogging and spending time with my family and getting my housework done is doing me in.

Sorry, I've gotta jet. I have laundry that needs to be folded and put away, a kitchen to clean (Jeremy made his AMAZING spaghetti last night, but did not clean up after himself), and supper to start.

I hope I'll be back later to fill you in on a mulitude of news, but I have two episodes of Survivor to catch up on tonight when Jeremy gets home, and one of them is the finale!!!! AAHHHH!!!
Last night my supper consisted of a very delicious grilled cheese sandwich and a handful -- or two or three -- of Cool Ranch Doritos. Of course, these chips were consumed while I watched The Biggest Loser TV show because everyone knows that the calories eaten during that show do not count. Especially if you're flexing your stomach muscles and alternately lifting each leg while sitting on the couch. I'm not saying that I was doing that, I'm just saying that I could have been, which would totally have made those chips more like apples in my system.

I did not mean to eat the chips, it's just that they were there, and the bag needed emptying so that I could go on with my health-oriented goals, you see. At least that obstacle is out of my way now. I feel a sense of accomplishment.

Today, I have eaten one Kashi granola bar and some water and several bites of a pear that was so sweet Liberty called it a Lollipop Pear.

I'm looking forward to lunch. I wonder what it will be.
***Edited for better reader-comprehension***

Some things happened a few weeks ago that sent my trust in God into a tailspin. I won't go into detail about what occurred, but because of these events I started to wonder how God could possibly be called consistently good. I started to wonder why He would choose to respond "yes" to certain requests and "no" to other requests that were equally if not more significant. I started to wonder if praying was worth the breath I would waste.

You know the stages of grief that start out with denial then anger? That's exactly where I was. The first week I was able to continue my daily routine relatively undisturbed at least on the surface. I chatted with neighbors, laughed with my daughters, pondered my way through the budget with Jeremy, listened in church, but inside my brain and emotions were reeling; it felt as though a tornado were whipping my thoughts and emotions past my sight so quickly that I could not grasp any one thought and follow it to a logical conclusion. I cried out desperately to God on behalf of all involved, begging Him to miraculously turn this situation into something good. Begging Him to work in hearts to draw us all closer to Him. It took about a week, but eventually the reality of what has happened sunk in. The tornado slowed enough that facts are now visible. It is somewhat of a relief because the lack of equilibrium the tornado brought was unsettling, but there are days when I long for the whirlwind to return with it's confusing numbness. Now that some facts are visible, some consequences are visible, too. Consequences to many more people than just the person who should be paying the consequences. Consequences that are too costly, too painful, too far-reaching to realize their extent right now. As more and more of my thoughts were able to reach their logical conclusions, they caused torrential tears of shock and pain. Those tears in turn transformed into strong, ugly, battle-ready anger and disappointment directed at God.

What is a stronger word than disappointment? Because disappointment is not even close to the correct term. Disgust, maybe? Discouragement? Disenchantment?

I felt like God's true character had finally been revealed to me, and it was not what I believed it to be. Not pure. Not consistent. Not good.

In The Jesus Storybook Bible that I am reading to the girls everyday the first story is about the serpent, satan, whispering to Eve the first lie, "Does God REALLY love you?"

I struggled to pray on, but I began wondering why I was putting in the effort. If God did not say "yes" to someone else's prayer about preventing the situation, why would He be bothered to say "yes" to this prayer of mine about turning the situation to good for all involved? Those questions led to doubt about the true character of God, and the unpleasant ambiguous feelings created by doubt led to anger.

"GOD! WHY DID YOU LET THIS HAPPEN? HOW CAN YOU CALL YOURSELF GOOD? HOW CAN YOU LIVE WITH YOURSELF? ..... I don't know that *I* want to live with You, anymore."

Have you ever fought with your best friend? Have you ever argued to the point of distance with your husband or wife? Has someone whom you expected to be a permanent, reliable part of your life ever let you down so drastically that there were conflicting feelings in your heart? Feelings like "STAY AWAY!" and "DON'T LEAVE ME!" shouting out at the same time?

That's how I've been feeling about God.

I'm in the middle of memorizing Ephesians chapter four (I've been in the middle of it for about three months now, because I'm slow like that), and verses 14 and 15 keep rattling around in my head. At the most inconvenient times, mind you.

"Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into Him who is the Head, that is, Christ."

I knew that I didn't want to base my belief system on circumstances and whatever my emotional reaction to them happened to be. If I did that, my belief system would change whenever my emotions dictated (tossed back and forth by the waves). I also knew that I didn't want to base my belief system on what others tell me is true because who knows where that research came from or what miscommunications or misconceptions occurred during that process (blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming). I want to be solidly planted on TRUTH alone. Regardless of where that path leads. (Ephesians says it leads to maturity in Christ.)

Jeremy and I briefly discussed The Matrix movie where an entire population of people lived a wonderful make-believe life. For them, choosing to seek the truth led to bleakness and war. Which is the better choice?

I've decided to choose Truth, even if maturity in Christ is not a pleasant, easy or pretty thing.

Huh. I guess that's a "so far" statement to quote Beth Moore in her Annointed, Transformed, Redeemed Bible study. Last night, as I cried myself to sleep, I told God I DIDN'T want to choose maturity in Christ if it meant this much pain for myself and others. But last night was BEFORE God came and talked to me.

You people reading this need to know that what is pouring out of my keyboard is not at all what I planned to type right now. These words are streaming straight from my heart and surprising me as I type them.

This past week (the week where I faced the situation full-fledged, the week where my anger burned and my confusion confused me), I have struggled back and forth with the "GOD, STAY FAR AWAY!" and the "GOD! DON'T LEAVE ME!" feelings. Ephesians convinced me not to make any rash decisions right now, and this post by Liisa (my friend who's husband has died) helped persuade me to hold on. There is more happening than I can currently see. At least, that what the "Don't leave me!" side was telling me.

The "Stay far away from me!" side wondered is God good? Does He plan to say yes to my current prayers about this situation? Does He even care? That last question was hard to ask, because I know God. He's my friend. We enjoy life together and hang out together and have a grand time laughing together and loving together. We've been through HARD TIMES. We've been through life and death situations. We've been through prayers that He has said "no" to. We've been through silences. We've been through devastations. He's always been there. I know He cares. At least, I think I know He cares. I began evaluating my relationship with God: remembering events when He communicated directly to me, sifting through nuances to see if I had misunderstood His personality. And through it all I kept telling Him, "You don't have to prove Yourself to me, because You've already done that several times in the past, but could You just tell me what kind of prayer answerer You plan to be? Could You just help me understand a little bit of what's going on here? There are so many details and so many people affected by this; whenever I start to think I understand all the repercussions, I turn a corner and find a whole new set of results and feelings that overwhelm. I just need to know You're God. You're good. You're trustworthy."

I'm so thankful that He welcomes honest questions. I'm so thankful that He doesn't turn away from fearful doubters.

And you are never going to believe what happened next.

1. Jeremy has been away on a business trip for several days. Around midnight last night, I was writing all my questions and rantings to God in my prayer journal (it was the first time I have clearly attempted to put all these random accusations into understandable words), and Jeremy called to say goodnight. When I told him what was going on in my heart, he was able to immediately help me bring several aspects of life into focus, weed through the outlying issues and get straight to defining the real problem. I know that sounds cold and clinical, but it helped me let go of the lesser problems so that I didn't feel so overwhelmed. Then with my big problem defined, I could search for solutions. In the meantime, Mercy began vomiting in her crib, so all forward progress was halted, but I hung up the phone with a sense of purpose and hope, and I slept peacefully...when I was finally able to get back to my bed.

2. This morning, a lady from church called me. She told me that God had clearly prompted her to call and tell me the following message. Then she proceeded to define thoughts that I had not yet attempted to evaluate myself. She described EXACTLY how I had been feeling (even feelings that I had not yet discussed with Jeremy), and she told me, "Missy, God loves you. He IS good, always. He knows you are overwhelmed not just by this big situation, but also by many smaller ones that are swarming you right now," and she named a few of them. She spoke specific things that she could have no knowledge of on her own, and it was word for word what I had said to God in my prayer journal the night before. Then she prayed for me. She prayed that I would know truth. She prayed that I would be useful. She prayed for my relationship with God to be sturdy and wonderful. She prayed specific requests for everyone in all of the multiple situations surrounding my life right now. She had not yet finished praying when I realized God was hugging me.

He stopped the spinning of the earth and the holding up of the stars and the polishing of the sun to speak directly to me. He used my own carefully worded questions to give me specifically worded answers. While Rosemary's voice sounded in my ear, it was so obviously God's voice speaking to my heart. In the movie Arsnic and Old Lace when Johnny comes home with a distorted face from too many bad plastic surgeries, and he is trying to convince his aunts that it is really him, he uses instances from their mutual past that only family members would know about as proof. That's what God did for me yesterday. He used my own privately written prayer journal sentences and put them in Rosemary's mouth to prove that it was Him, to prove that He loved me, to prove that He was aware of the situation and WITH us all.

And He didn't have to. Who am I that God would feel the need to prove Himself to me? I'll tell you who I am. I am His daughter. He loves me! Just like He loves every single person on this planet.

Have you ever been hugged by a Holy, Powerful, GOOD God? Peace and joy and absolutely certain security flooded inside me. I'd like to tell you right now how it felt, but the only thing I can express is the lack of tension. The lack of stress. The knowledge that things are just as they always have been -- life hasn't changed -- but somehow, everything is different. All the stress I had been storing in my muscles released at once. My body felt as though it had just received the most relaxing massage known to man. My face was not wide enough for my smile to extend the way it needed to. I jumped up from the rocking chair with the phone still pressed to my ear. My friend continued to pray, not knowing what God was doing on the other end of the line. My joy was so big, it could not stay contained inside my body, and it tried to come out of my mouth. I stammered through an attempt to tell Rosemary what was happening, but there are not words to describe God's hugs. I thought I'd be able to tell you guys what it was like, because I'm better at writing than I am at finding the best words out loud. Unfortunately, I'm realizing now that even by writing about it, I cannot express it fully.

All I know is this: God is GOOD. He can make ANY SITUATION work for the best, but we have to let go of our death grip on our own blueprints and bow to His unseen prints.

Trust me, friends. HE IS GOOD.
If you've knelt beside the rubble of an aching, broken heart,
when the things you gave your life for fell apart,
you're not the first to be acquainted with sorrow, grief, or pain,
but the Master promised sunshine after rain.

Hold on my child; joy comes in the morning!
Weeping only lasts for the night.
Hold on my child; joy comes in the morning!
The darkest hour means dawn is just in sight.

To invest your seed of trust in God, in mountains you can't move.
You have risked your life on things you cannot prove,
but to give the things you cannot keep for what you cannot lose
is the way to find the joy God has for you.

Hold on my child; joy comes in the morning!
Weeping only lasts for the night.
Hold on my child; joy comes in the morning!
The darkest hour means dawn is just in sight.

(William J and Gloria Gaither, 1974)