Well, in the words of Will Smith, “This is a story all about how my life got flip turned upside down. And I’d like to take a minute just sittin right there to tell you how I…” Well… let’s switch over to my words because I definitely didn’t become the Prince of BelAir…When the New Year’s Ball was dropping this year, I had no idea what a major change was ahead of us. Our lives had already been through quite a bit of turmoil the past couple years due to David’s lay off, but we had learned to deal with that and be creative in making ends meet.Truthfully, we were forced to cut it dangerously close or had to just put some things on hold at a few points. But, through His sovereignty and the blessing of family pitching in when needed, God provided through every step of that journey. We never went to the poor house, though it felt like we’d be there soon at some points. We never went to bed hungry. We never had possessions reclaimed from us. We had a roof over our heads and love to keep us warm.It feels like we’ve been sprinting up an icy slope the past couple years trying to recover from the financial hardship of having a full time job stripped away from us. Oh, the stories we have of trying to survive. That husband of mine truly is superman if you ask me. He worked in a file room sorting papers. He made himself go out on field days to try to drum up business for his own freelance graphic design company, returning with clients in the fortune 500 industry, musicians, historical societies, and tourist attractions. He photographed weddings, families, and events no matter how rude and ungrateful the clients. He interviewed all over town over the span of two years while being led on that he was in the top two picks almost every time, always to receive no phone call at the end of the day. He even interviewed at one place eight separate times, including the time he showed up the morning after his car was totalled on his way home from picking up printed pieces from Kinkos for his portfolio for his interview. He enrolled himself in Graduate School, with my blessing to count the cost of the debt we would go into from that as an investment that would last a lifetime. Not too much later, he was chosen out of over 200 people to be the graphic designer for a Billboard Top 10 Rock and Roll band. I can assure you that the pay is not rockstar pay, though. I was the “big” bacon earner with my part time job at church up until July. Really, we had been living at the poverty level or below. Though we had been digging our nails into the icy cliffs of climbing out of unemployment for so long, we were grateful to the Lord for His provision and we were excited about all the exciting opportunities that were coming our way. Those opportunities were priceless. Unfortunately, though, our bills were not. We began to wonder when we would ever get out of the phase of just scraping by.We had been desperately, often tearfully, praying that God would provide a job with full time pay and benefits. We had an idea of how we thought this would work out and we assumed we would be in Nashville almost indefinitely. But, around April, the winds started to shift. David received a few phone calls here and there from his old professor asking if he would like to move back to Virginia to teach a class or two. It was never enough to warrant such a huge move, though. We discussed it and decided that Virginia just was not in God’s plans for us at that point. We thought there would be much more opportunity in the area we were (not sure why, though, since nothing major had happened in over 2.5 years in that department for us) or another metropolitan area. July 1st, though, we got a call that changed everything. It was for a full time job with benefits for David. And it would be for what he has been working for in getting his Masters of Fine Arts…to be a Professor teaching Graphic Design and Photography. It was the perfect job and the answer to our prayers. Yet, I was devastated.People would ask me if I was excited and I’d usually say that it was bittersweet because we hated to leave our friends and church in Nashville, but we were excited about the new opportunity in Lynchburg. But if people caught me at a really honest, vulnerable moment, I’d share that I actually was not excited at all, but I was sad.
What a nutcase I am. I did not want to go back to the small town we had worked so hard to move away from. Yet, 3.5 years prior, as we were rolling the Penske into Nashville moving away from Virginia, I cried then too, saying, “I’m not a big city girl, David. I’m just a mountain girl.” Yet, back to those mountains I was headed again, this time crying, “I don’t want to leave Nashville. I love it here. I’m going to miss my friends and my church and the people I work with and our house and it’s going to be boring in Lynchburg. We’re not going to make any friends and we’ll never find a church as good as ours in Nashville.” (Insert breath here). Oh the meltdowns I had in that Penske as we drove into the night away from all our hopes and dreams in music city.
Well, I began to unpack…mostly alone while David was getting oriented with his new job. He would come home so excited about his new job. I was extremely happy for him. But, I was also wallowing in my own lonely pity party most of the rest of the time.
Strangely, enough, this probably only lasted about two weeks. It was the evening before our first official venture to visit a new church. I bawled my eyes out and told David that I was overwhelmingly sad because I just knew that there would not be another church like were members of in Nashville.
The next day we went to church and the Holy Spirit went after me. There are many things that can become idols in our lives if we are not careful. I realized as we sat there listening to the message that God was just as present in this body of believers as He was in Nashville and that I had inadvertently been idolizing the church we belonged to, making myself believe that it just couldn’t be topped. God spoke to my heart reminding me that He had called us back to Lynchburg because He not only was providing for the major need of a full time job with benefits that we needed, but also for us to enter into a new season of ministry. Once that sin became clear to me and I listened to His voice, things started feeling more “right side up” than “upside down.”
Despite my funky mood about this move, throughout it all, we have had conversation over conversation about how much of a fulfillment of Romans 8:28 that everything- good and bad- we’ve experienced especially over the last two and a half years has been. It is true, “And we know that all things work together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purposes.” Often I’ll just break down in the middle of what we’re talking about and say to David, “It’s just Romans 8:28…It’s just Romans 8:28.”
Yes, I do miss our friends, church, home, and activities in Nashville dearly. Yet, just as God provided for every need of our tumultuous two years, He is providing not only tangible things, but intangible things as well here in Lynchburg. Within a week of David’s orientation, we already made new friends! Not to mention the old friends we are enjoying getting together with as well! We’ve been basking in the new to us section of the city we’re living in as well as the perks of living close to exciting places such as our nation’s capitol. We’re living in a dream house… a 1939 beauty that is just so Virginian that we feel like we live at Monticello. And…we’re living in the mountains again. They’re not my mountains from North Carolina, but they’re a close second. And more often than not, when my eye catches a glimpse of those mountains, the sweet breath of my maker who is known by so many good and faithful characteristics such as Jehovah Jirah- God who Provides, Jehovah Rohi- God who Protects, and Jehovah Rohpi- God who Heals whispers in my ear the words of the Psalmist saying,
“I lift up my eyes to the mountains- where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of Heaven and earth. He will not let your foot slip- He who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord watches over you- the Lord is your shade at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord will keep you from all harm- he will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.” Psalm 121:1-8
So maybe, after all, my life needed to be flip turned upside down so that I could lay on my back and look up at the mountains He made, remembering that His plans are always right side up.