Sunday, February 26, 2012

Sent here

So Joseph said to his brothers, “Come near to me, please.” And they came near. And he said, “I am your brother, Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt. And now do not be distressed or angry with yourselves because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life. For the famine has been in the land these two years, and there are yet five years in which there will be neither plowing nor harvest. And God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant on earth, and to keep alive for you many survivors. So it was not you who sent me here, but God. He has made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house and ruler over all the land of Egypt. Genesis 45:4-9

It's a little uncomfortable here. I feel alone on this path, cautiously placing one foot in front of another, listening intently to hear the Voice behind me saying 'This is the way, walk in it.' The steady pounding of my heart ricochets back to me, quieting down only when my heart is still before the One who directs my steps. 

A myriad of circumstances and people brought me to this present season of my journey. And I confess, I don't know that I would have foreseen or initially chosen this present place in which I am standing. 

Joseph was the preferred child amongst all of his brothers and was not shy about exalting himself as the favored one. Perhaps he even acted a bit bratty in that gorgeous robe that he wore proudly in front of them. Envious and angry with their youngest brother Joseph, his brothers' plans to kill him were circumvented only by a group of passing merchants who agreed to buy him as a slave. A grim journey, Joseph was then sold in Egypt. In a way that only God could engineer, Joseph becomes a trusted overseer in the house of Pharaoh and later, lord over the land of Egypt, preparing its people for the great famine that would strike. A beloved child. A hated sibling. A nobody. A slave. A man whom "the LORD was with." A servant. A favored lord. A wise steward. A vessel of life. A forgiven man who forgave others.

Perhaps I've been favored by another and that's what landed me here. It's not their fault nor mine. But I've been placed in a position of favor and grace, called to humbly wear  my own robe of sorts. It's what God has for me in this season. Or perhaps my own sin has led me to this place. He is a holy God who allows me to experience the consequences of my sin. Or perhaps, like Joseph, another individual's sin has led me to this place. I didn't want to be here, purchased as a slave and brought to a land in which I don't belong. But the soil I stand upon bears the footprints of one whose poor decisions left or directed me here. I don't know this land. It's not my own. Though not despondent, my heart aches.

So here I am. In a place I didn't have saved in my spiritual GPS. A place I didn't set out pursuing. A place I didn't choose for myself. 

And that's where Genesis 45:8 knocked the spiritual breathe out of me two mornings ago during my study time: "So it was not you who sent me here, but God." The LORD God who directs my steps (Proverbs 16:19) brought me to this place. No person, thing or circumstance ultimately got to dictate my present season without the Almighty Omnipotent One first giving it a nod of approval. No road do I take unless the One who works all things together for good first said 'Yes.' No consequences of another individual's sins are allowed to affect my life without the protective right hand of my God working out His love for me. No one can send me here without it having been orchestrated and approved by God, a platform for His glory and my good. 

And the same is true for you. No pit that another shoved you in was permitted without a miraculous plan for your escape and redemption. No slavery that you found yourself hurled into was given a 'Yes' without a greater purpose of life on the other side. 

Joseph was sent ahead of his brothers to preserve life. And I can't help but cling to the reality that the same must be true for myself and anyone else experiencing a present Joseph-like season. That the One who has come to give us life and life to the fullest will see that His purposes are accomplished. That when the path is not of your choosing, it doesn't mean it's not of His. That the One who spoke the world into being has spoken spiritual blessing and life over you.

And maybe, at the end of the day, it's worth considering that though the present path on which you step is not one you initially choose for yourself, it is meant for the preservation of someone's life, even your own.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Top Ten Indicators that my man is out of town

My peeps,

Nate has been out of the country for the past 19 days and I have two more looooong days to endure apart from him. He takes three to four international trips a year and this constitutes nearly all of his travel time on an annual basis. I love what he gets to do on these trips and wouldn't trade his being able to go for anything. This recent journey has included Dubai, of the United Arab Emirates, Chiang Mai, Thailand, and lastly Hong Kong. But no worries, I'm living it up in Nashville, TN, so don't be sad for me. His trip itself deserves a blog post of its own, but I'm using this one as a platform for the light-hearted self-awareness I gained during these 3 weeks.

For you see, a girl has to keep moving forward when her better half is across the ocean and even out of telephone reach. And I began to observe that I do things a little differently when he's gone. So I started a list of what those variances are. I did so partly because it leaves room for me to laugh at myself. And partly because it helped me for some strange reason. There's a gray line between keeping a softened heart while he is overseas: too soft a heart out of my love for him means I'm a blubbering mess most of the time because I miss him. But too protected a heart out of the desire to avoid a daily pity party leans itself towards a propensity of unhealthy independence rather than interdependence/dependence with my man.

So recorded below are a few of the things I recognized as the Top Ten Indicators that Nate-the-great is gone:

1) I sleep on Nate's side of the bed when he's not here. I don't know why. I don't even like his side of the bed. But it helps me for some reason. Don't judge me.
2) I also let our 65 lb., 2 year old boxer-mix (Hudson) join me. And he can hog the bed and I don't care. He keeps me warm.
3) In the mornings, I turn my praise music on loud while I put on my mascara. When Nate is in town, he's able to sleep a little later than I am, so I don't bust the praise as loudly.
4) I become completely obsessive about making sure the doors are locked. It's actually ridiculous how bad of a scaredy-cat I can become.
5) My frequency of cooking is disorderly and atypical. First, I start off cooking all the things that I love maybe a little more than Nate does. I become a Julia Child wannabee. I purchase more groceries and make more meals the first week than I can even consume. And then, somewhere around week two, I ask myself, "Self, why on earth are you cooking up a storm when you could be relaxing tonight and rockin out a piece of toast with peanut butter and a banana?" And so thyself starts eating like a college student again.
6) I become an employee for Nate's company, Grateful Inconvenience, Inc. No matter how much he prepares, when your husband owns his company and he is out of the country for three weeks, you may find yourself becoming an unofficial employee. I take phone calls. I make sure his invoices go out. And as he told me, there may be three or four packages coming in from Australia that he would want me to bring inside. Yep. A few packages. Or try over 30 large boxes that I came home to one evening and had to haul inside by my lonesome. The CEO of Grateful Inconvenience will be receiving an invoice from me. Grin.

 7) And since Nate is Nate, there's got to be some drama for God to bring along the way. Like the text I got from him while he was in Dubai, at 2 a.m. my time, letting me know that he had lost his wallet or that it had been stolen. So he needed my immediate help in canceling all of his cards. Sure enough baby love. We both prayed that the individual who picked it up would need the cash that was in it more than he did. It took a few hours for the knots in my stomach to unwind. Nate reached hope a little more quickly than I did. I knew it for sure when I got the following picture and text from him: "Baby love, don't worry about the money we lost. I'm just going to belly dance over here in Dubai and get it back." (Yes...that's my man's version of belly dancing. My man who I can never get on the dance floor).

 8) I get flowers. And it's typically quite the scene because he is sending me flowers for my birthday as he's not here. And the sweet lady at the front desk calls me downstairs to come get them. And then they're so big and heavy that I can't lift them. And I love them. Every year. And I try to make them last for as long as he is gone. And I do. I have two cherry blossoms and a beautiful orchid left from this.

 9) Speaking of # 1 and #2, I'm not the only one who doesn't sleep well the first 5 nights he's gone. Our dog Hudson looks out our front window every night waiting for Nate to come home. He cries until I finally convince him to come to bed. He'll sleep for a few hours, wake up and realize Nate isn't here, and then go back to the front window waiting and looking for him. It breaks my heart and my sleep pattern in such a bad way that I'm puffy-eyed for days.
10) I jealously guard my weekend time to be still before the LORD. Yes, I get lonely. Yes, I miss my man like crazy. Yes, I have scheduled play dates with my close girlfriends and have an absolute blast. But when my husband is gone, I tell Jesus every time that I look forward with great anticipation to what He has just for me during this time. It's my time with Him. And His time with this child of His. And I long for it, guard it, and love it.

And before I close, if you're still hanging in here, you may need a little reminder that our God is a God of miracles. Forty-eight hours after Nate's wallet was missing, he received the following email:
 Nate, My name is Jeff. I am in the US Navy and I found your wallet in
a taxi in Dubai on Friday, January 27. I caught the taxi from the Dubai
mall and saw it on the floor in the back and thought it best to NOT to
hand it over to the cab driver. I saw that you are from Tennessee (US)
and figured it would be best to get it to you myself. I did go through
the contents to find out your info and left a voice message on  the
number off of your business card. I can assure you that all its contents
are accounted for... I will be in Dubai until about 2pm
today and then we leave. I was hoping to get it back to you before we
leave. My office number is XXX-XXX-XXXX . Hopefully you get this message soon so you at
least have that bit of peace of mind
Nate and Jeff are buddies now. When he received Jeff's email, Jeff was out at sea so they were unable to connect. Jeff mailed Nate's wallet out on the first shipment and I received it two weeks later, all contents contained therein. 
Only God. 
He loves Nate.
And He loves this married woman lavishly so in the absence of Nate's presence.