When life has been hard for a long time, it gets more and more difficult to believe that it can be better. But, we at Red Vine refuse to give into that notion. We believe in the God who brings us through the wilderness, providing all the way, into the Promised Land. We believe we serve a good Father, a Father who works all things together for our good. Our hope for a Promised Land life will not be in vain, and We will behold our Lord in the land of the living, yielding fruit for our labor and rest for our spirits.
It has been a long time since I’ve written. Since Good Friday, to be specific, which was the longest stretch I’ve taken from Red Vine since we started here together four years ago. Yes, that’s right. We’ve been meeting around this table for four years, and I do believe there is something sacred here. I never want this place to be a place of have-to’s, like a job or a charity commitment. This is the place of get-to’s, the place we take off our shoes and sit in front of the fire on a chilly day and just talk.
So many of you know that that is what I love to do with my people. Forget pretense. Forget the shiny bling or raggedy sweatpants you’re wearing. We don’t care about any of that. We care about how you really are, how that big mountain you’re climbing is treating you, how you and your spouse are loving each other, how you’re handling the latest hurdle your kids are throwing at you, how you’re answering that call deep in your gut that burns like ember, how you’re walking with Jesus. We care about the real stuff around this table. And we care about treats. Definitely, treats to go with our steaming cups matter very, very much.
Writing this, thinking back over the two hundred-some posts I’ve written, my heart teems with gratitude for each of you who have read these words of mine, this chronicle of our journey.
This journey was chock-full of fear-filled months and isolation and open heart surgery and med reactions. This journey was about me: finally getting brave about this calling, and stepping out in faith. This journey was honest about this step-by-step dance with my husband, as we grieve and stress and pray and walk this quandary-filled parenthood of an Angel, a Rainbow, and a Miracle.
All of it has been so hard, and I want you to know that your reading these words kept me pushing forward. Writing it all down, finding the place where my pain transcends me and reaches into your heart, giving both of us courage: that is the gift of Red Vine. That is the blessing of all of our struggles: when we find the place where our pain becomes gift. And that place has been here, in these words, for me. That place of transcendence has been my holy place. Thank you for meeting me here.
My life changes dramatically next week, as Samuel starts kindergarten. Wow, huh? I’m expecting this transcendental shift from stay-at-home-mama to no-kids-at-home mama to take some time for me to absorb. But I am so excited. I’ll be writing full-time: hopefully finishing my book by December, and blogging here, at HealthyPlace, and for Grace Alliance. I will also be launching a speaking ministry in January, and will be sharing more about that in the months to come. Our “Mental Illness in the Family” group will resume meetings in October under the umbrella of “Fresh Hope” Ministries, which we are very excited about. Life will be full of challenging new opportunities. I am so excited to work, to have the time to focus on blogging and writing, to dedicate myself to this ministry.
As I stand here, looking back at this journey, I can’t help but pause to ruminate on these verses in Deuteronomy:
Then the Lord said to me, “You have made your way around this hill country long enough; now turn north . . . The Lord your God has blessed you in all the work of your hands. He has watched over your journey through this vast wilderness. These forty years the Lord your God has been with you, and you have not lacked anything.
As we make our way into a new phase of life, I praise the God who walked with us and provided for us through the wilderness. Through all we experienced, there was always just enough to keep us. By the grace of God, we have even paid off Children’s Hospital for the first time since Samuel was born (I jumped up and down the day we sent our last installment). Our marriage is intact (a miracle), our children are healthy (bigger miracle), we still own our house. God is good. Friends, He is very good.
And now, all we can ask for is that our work continues to be blessed.
To have the blessing for the work of our hands is such a privilege, and I couldn’t be more thrilled to dedicate myself to this calling (did I just write that??? Who am I? God, look at what you’ve done in me! That scared Jonah heart is gone, and You have wooed me into your Gracious trust. I have spent my time in the desert, wandering in circles, and you proved Yourself faithful to me. I am ready to follow you anywhere.) We are traversing promised land, taking breaths of bright blue air, and finding a new pace.
And now, like all families get the privilege to do, I’d love to share the great stuff with you. Because we are a people of hope, and we must keep reminding each other that when the night is long, joy IS COMING in the morning.
The pages of my Bible fell open to this chapter this morning, and I couldn’t help but think it might be more than just a coincidence:
Observe the commands of the Lord your God, walking in obedience to him and revering him. For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land—a land with brooks, streams, and deep springs gushing out into the valleys and hills; a land with wheat and barley, vines and fig trees, pomegranates, olive oil and honey; a land where bread will not be scarce and you will lack nothing; a land where the rocks are iron and you can dig copper out of the hills.
When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the Lord your God for the good land he has given you.
When you have eaten and are satisfied . . . For this girl who has been hungry and lacking for so long? Yes. Yes, even for her.
I hope to keep you all with me, so we can continue on together. We can sit at the feet of Jesus, whether around a dinner table feasting or at the cross weeping, together. We’ll keep slaying giants and planting vineyards together. That’s what we’re doing in the promised land, folks.
Onward, for satisfaction. Are you with me?