We sat near the front of the New Hope Presbyterian Church on that warm Friday night, still fresh off the road from home the day before. CrossCountry Cowboy Church, where we had attended a few times in the past when visiting this area of Tennessee, was borrowing the building for the ladies worship night and had invited us to join in.
The girl and I were still two deer just a little startled by the direction the Light of our lives was pointing us toward. It all began March 11th.
We sat across the room from one another at home, a book in my hand, the computer in the girls’ lap. “What I REALLY want to do is work for the Rabbit Room someday.” It interrupted the silence like a distant slow drum beat. I looked up from my book and listened to my own voice. “My daddy always said….’reach for the opportunity in front of you. Don’t shut a door on yourself before you’ve tried. Write to them. See what they say.” She sewed the words together that night and I watched as she folded her heart into an envelope and sent it on it’s way to Tennessee. “When you let go the envelope tomorrow, keep your hand and your heart wide open so He can give and take as it pleases Him. Let Him write your story.”
On April 3rd, her computer “dinged” a message. As it turns out, they were going to be looking for a summer intern. An online interview was conducted and the internship was offered. “Mama, I’m not even there and I already feel ‘home’.” She wanted me to come along and we looked together to the Maker of Dreams and asked Him to draw the map. The way for us both began to take the shape of our Father’s hand pointing forward. We were going to Tennessee.
Meanwhile, another drum began to start a cadence in my own chest. We’d lived in our house for 12 years now. It was the fruit of my father’s love for others that caused it to be gifted to him and then to me. It was a constant reminder of grace gone wild and free. But I had heard a gentle whisper a few years back in my spirit. “This is for now. I have a place for you.” From time to time I would remember those words and look upward, inward with a question mark. “Not yet.” But here lately, I sensed a turn. “Soon.” I held it in my heart and told no one. Two weeks ago, the girl is sitting and looking off into space with an intentional expression. “I’m thinking it might be time to sell our house, Mama.” I turned surprised and not surprised all at once. Me too, girl. Me too. So I stood at my praying window where I have a verse tucked onto the ledge that reminds me He is right in the middle of wherever I am and He is God. I asked Him to tell me what to do. I don’t “hear” him like I hear the sound of my phone alert when my best friend, Julie, texts me. But the real sense of getting a message is just the same. A wonderful family bought a small patch of my land last fall to plant a garden. It was provision for me, provision for them. When I came back from visiting family in Pennsylvania, I told God, if they were out at the garden when I got home from the airport, I will know to ask them. Often times we go several days and never see one another. That evening? There they were. We would be leaving again for Tennessee in 24 hours and I felt a sense of God’s desire to put things in motion before we left. I unloaded my suitcase and walked outside. “Let me know when you’re ready to buy a house.” They laughed the “are you kidding me right now?” kind of laugh and told me to follow them to the storage shed by the garden. They had just purchased several antiques at an auction. Someone asked them what their plan for the pieces was. “Buy a house to put them in.” I left a key to the door in their hand and invited them to try the house on while we were gone. And the drumbeat continued as we headed south the next day.
We took two cars, the girl and I, so that we could go different directions if needed. Up until the night before we had no idea where we would be staying the first two weeks. And neither one of us much cared. We were in the palm of His hand and were ready and waiting for His direction. The way we looked at it, with two cars that gave us a two room apartment if we needed to stay in our car. At 5:30 p.m. I had a message from the pastor’s wife at CrossCountry Church. We have a motor home for you! 12 hours later our alarm woke us up and we threw the last bits of toothbrushes and toiletries in bags, shut the door behind us, tuned in our walkie talkies to keep in touch easier and headed off, good buddy!
On the way there that day, we found out there were a few more improvements that needed to be taken care of to make the RV liveable and would we mind staying with people we’d never met before for the night. Adventure wins again! We drove into Fran and Jeff’s driveway like Mary and Joseph at the inn and left friends. When someone wants to give you a place to rest without ever meeting you, you’ve met a trustworthy soul. So with all this joy and assurance and adventure and confidence in the God who loves us, I was mystified with the cramping in my stomach that first night as I lay in bed. I’d felt this before. It was fear.
Which puts us at New Hope church that Friday night, still shaking our heads at whatever God was doing that we could barely catch up to. Fran played the piano and introduced us to Pam and Nellie and Dena and Mary Ann and Sharon and others who welcomed us into the middle of their own stories that night like butter on grits, all warm, sunny yellow and inviting. The speaker for the night walked right up to us. “Bless you on your journey,” she said looking us smack dab in the eyes. It landed on us like the voice of our Father. “I sense He wants to give us fresh bread tonight as we each move forward.” The girl and I looked at each other at the same time. Something in that phrase grabbed us both.
We got in our car that night and started the car. “FRESH BREAD!” we both said out loud. That’s what we’re sitting down to. We headed back to our night’s lodging, our car lights making the way along the quiet country backroads. I knew now what my stomach was feeling. When we left town we’d stepped off the faith cliff, for our summer, for our house, for our sense of change coming. That feeling when you dip down suddenly on a carnival ride? I’m free falling into fresh bread. And it is terrifyingly exhilarating. I’m comforted by the warm bowls of buttered grits grace that remind me I can never run dry.
So here we sit, the night before the girl’s internship begins officially, in our RV out in the country, learning how to not blow a fuse and how to move a cow when you need to get in the driveway.
We are nervous excited and gob smacked at the good in the hearts of those who love Him to care for us, his raggedy team from Kentucky, here to come alongside where He puts us. Pass the bread. I’m hungry for the future!