He is Near

Today, I am happy to announce, was my last day at work.  I made it through 37 weeks, but given how tired I am, how much my feet ache, and several of my brain-dead moves today, it couldn't have come a moment sooner!  In fact, as evidence of that, poor Travis is on his way to my job right now, to pick up my cell phone, which I left there for the first time in 2 1/2 years.  And sadly, I didn't even realize I did it.  The gal I work for had to email this afternoon to say she had it and she would try to call Travis at work.  I read that and thought, "Really?  It's not in my purse??"  Oh boy, it's a good thing I'm not going to be responsible for her children any longer!!  What's funny is that I had no way of calling Travis, so I did the next best thing.  I twittered about it, knowing that he would get an alert on his phone with my twitter!  Sure enough, he emailed me we rely on technology or what??  We got rid of our land line phone a few years ago, which has never been an issue until today :) It's a weird feeling to not be able to call someone.  Praise the Lord for the internet or I might be going crazy at this point!
As you can see, my belly is protruding greatly at this stage in the game!  For the last couple of weeks, going to work has been a struggle.  I love my little guys, but so much of my day is spent bending over, picking up toys and little boys, and running here and there, in and out of the car.  By the end of the day I am always wiped out.  For awhile, we have been just waiting to see how I would feel and how long I could keep working.  I was hoping to make it one more week, but on Tuesday it became apparent that today needed to be my last day. 

The great thing about nannying part-time is that I've had no pressure on me about staying longer or being available through a certain date.  That's been a wonderful blessing.  The bad news is that I also have no maternity benefits or paid leave.  So, as soon as I stop working, so does my income :)  Fortunately we've known this all along, but isn't it just fitting that this last month has been full of unexpected expenses and annual "bills" here and there?  I told Travis the other day that it feels like we've been bleeding cash.  However,  in this economy, we are very blessed when we put our circumstances in perspective with the many people who have lost everything.  Please hear me say that I am not complaining!  

These last few weeks have been a great time of learning and growing however.  Many nights I have found myself, sleepless, caught in a cycle of anxiety about money.  By the time the sun rises, I'm convinced that we won't be able to eat, pay our bills or stay in our home!  That is of course, ridiculous, but it's amazing how quickly you can spiral into that pit of worry.  Through my moments of hormonal worrying, the Lord has been very faithful to remind me and show me that He is very near and still providing for us every step of the way.  I want to share with you a few things God did for me in the last few days.  Things that seem so little, but were very profound to me.  

On Sunday, I was particularly stressed about how many paychecks I had left, the bills that needed to be paid, etc.  I told Travis that I thought we should not eat out after Church because we needed to be very conservative this week.  He agreed with me, but after Church one of our students handed us a gift card to a restaurant, thanking Travis for something he had done.  How sweet right?  We recognized that as a blessing from the Lord, a little reminder that He knows what we need and He will provide for us.  So, we went out for lunch :) But then the best thing happened.  We ate our meal, asked for the check, and waited to pay with our gift card.  When the bill came, we were confused.  It was already paid.  We looked at our waitress to explain that something was wrong, but she told us that a couple had paid for our meal.  Turns out it was someone from our Church, whom we don't know at all, but they apparently knew us.  They blessed us greatly and paid for our lunch and once again we found ourselves realizing that God was trying to get our attention.  He was near.  

That morning I had spent some time reading Phillipians 4:4-7.  Here is what it said;

"Rejoice in the Lord always, I will say it again: Rejoice!  Let your gentleness be evident to all.  The Lord is near.  Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus."

It's such a commonly quoted passage, but what kept grabbing my attention was the promise that the Lord is near.  I thought through that word, near, and tried to grasp what it might mean for me if I believed that He was near.  It reminded me of some advice we got from Ryley's vet last year.  

For the last couple of years, Ryley has been prone to having seizures at very random and in-frequent intervals.  Turns out that is common in purebred retrievers.  They don't last more than 5 minutes usually and they come in no predictable pattern.  He can go 6 months without one and then have 2 in a matter of weeks.  We've had him checked out and it appears there is nothing really "wrong" with him.  His seizures are simply the result of something misfiring in his brain and they leave him shaking, with his joints locked and his mouth clenched tight.  I've been assured that he is not in any pain, but instead gripped in fear.  The worst part is that you can see it in his eyes.  They get huge and kind of gloss over and somehow he's able to know that's going to have a seizure before he has one.  He always finds one of us, usually me, and nudges me or tries to get as close to me as he can.  It's tragic and sweet all at once.  Fortunately, they are still so mild that we haven't had to consider any kind of medication and he hasn't lost any bodily functions.  But when I asked what we should do, I didn't know if I believed it would help.  

Our vet told me that the best thing we can do for him is hold him and reassure him that we're near and that everything is going to be ok.  She told me to get on the floor with him, wrap my arms or a blanket around him and put my face right up against his.  She told me to speak softly and calmly to him, letting him know that I'm there and that he's ok.  Well, you can imagine I didn't hesitate to do that very thing the next time it happened.  Usually I'm beside myself and near tears, but this time I did everything she told me to and you know what?  That look of terror in his eyes didn't last as long and as I held his shaking body, I could feel him start to relax in my arms until eventually he was through the worst and he could get up and return to "normal" again.  I was near and he knew it.  

When I read that verse it reminded me of Ryley.  Then I pictured what worked for him, working for me.  I pictured the Lord face to face with me, arms wrapped tightly around me, telling me that He was near.  It was going to be ok.  He wasn't going anywhere.  And as I digested that truth, I found myself relaxing, soaking in that peace that transcends understanding.  Did money suddenly fall from the sky?  No.  Did our bills just disappear?  No.  In fact everything that caused me anxiety before still remained.  The difference was in knowing that regardless of the circumstance, He would be near.  

The plan all along was for me to work as long as I can, have a baby, and then eventually return to my part-time status in the summer or the fall.  We knew our income was going to be much tighter than we've been used to and that this new stage was going to require some great discipline, but we were okay with that.  Ava is more than worth any sacrifices we might have to make, including our beloved coffee indulgences!  What's been so sweet is to see how the Lord has sent us some unexpected provisions in the process.  I haven't blogged too much about it, but remember my floral/wedding business I started in the fall?  Well, God has been working and blessing that and I have 3 weddings booked for the summer, with 2 more in the works.  Travis received an offer to coach a summer boys soccer team, with very little time required and some extra money to help us out.  Do you think for a second we haven't seen the Lord working already on our behalf?  

On Tuesday night, we were talking about this week being my last one.  I felt pretty good about it-I mean let's face it, I'm THRILLED to be at home-but I couldn't help but feel those waves of panic start to rush through my mind again.  I decided to pick up a devotional book that I haven't read for awhile, just so I could quiet my mind before I tried to sleep.  I'm going to leave you with what it said, because once again, it was undoubtedly just what I needed to hear.  

"This is a time in your life when you must learn to let go: of loved ones, of possessions, of control.  In order to let go of something that is precious to you, you need to rest in My Presence, where you are complete.  Take time to bask in the Light of My Love.  As you relax more and more, your grasping hand gradually opens up, releasing your prized possession into My care.  

You can feel secure, even in the midst of cataclysmic changes, through awareness of My continual Presence.  The One who never leaves you is the same One who never changes; I am the same yesterday, today, and forever.  As you release more and more things into My care, remember that I never let go of your hand.  Herein lies your security, which no one and no circumstance can take from you."

Hebrews 13:8
"Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever."

He is near and I am at peace.  I am happy to be closing one chapter of my life today and ushering in a whole new one.  I'm so ready to be a Mom, not because I think it's going to be easy or always rosy, but because I know He is near and that's all I need to lay the fear down and do a new thing.  So good-bye to working, hello to more waiting!!



MELISSA said...

wow.. i really enjoyed this. its something that i needed to hear. i know how faithful He is, but sometimes that fact gets a little cloudy beneath all the other stuff.

thanks for being so transparent and for sharing this with all of us out here in "bloggy world".

sheltonfamily said...

Great post Steph! I so feel your pain on the bending over...I think lately that I am in marathon training and really the greatest relief will be when I am in labor and our sweet baby girl is here. It has been soooo hard being preggo, working, and two toddlers. Wow, but God has been my strength each day and I've had to rely on him or else I fail miserably with my attitude etc.... So neat how God is blessing you all with "unexpected" work.

Always a Southern Girl said...

Love your post today. God is good all the time! I love that verse in Phillipians. Good luck in your last few weeks.

suzzanna said...

I always enjoy reading your blog but today it meant something deeper and meaningful to me, because I found myself in the same situation. Bills coming in and money getting tight, but I will put my faith in HIM. HE is near! Yes he is all we have to do is lean on HIM for help and understanding.

Kendra said...

Beautiful...really beautiful.

Pam said...

Awesome post. Something we all need to remember. I really enjoy your blog. I've been reading for a while. Can't wait to see pictures of Miss Ava.
Pam from Arkansas

petrii said...

I wish I could tell you how much this post has blessed my heart and has been just what I needed. There is so much going on in my families life right now, and I needed to hear He is near. I know that He is, but He is speaking to me directly through this post. Thank you for being obedient to write it. God has used you mightily in my life today.

Have a Blessed and restful-nowork kind of Friday =)

Jay & Leta Palmer said...

that was great. thanks!

Rebecca Jo said...

I think that is a struggle with EVERYONE - the way to WORRY.... Satan can use it as a huge tool - can't he? Gotta do just what you are doing - bringing it to light, & digging back for TRUTH in the WORD! Reminders are needed all the time - we're like sheep - sheep aren't smart :-)

Glad you are going to be relaxing some before Ava makes her appearance!!!

Mrs. Stilettos said...

This was such a wonderful post. Thank you...I really needed to hear all of this. I've really been stressing about finances too as we prepare to welcome our daughter into the world. We've always had two incomes and it will certainly be an adjustment when we go down to 1 1/2!

Ava's room is just adorable and I'm so excited for you. I hope you'll be able to take the next few weeks and relax and enjoy this time before your little one comes. She is so lucky to have you as her mother!

Donna said...

I found your blog a few weeks ago and have enjoyed watching you get ready for baby....but today's blog had me near tears reading about the dog! You have a gift for making the reader feel like they are right there knowing what Rylie was going through! Then with the economy and the state of the world it was good to reflect on the good, simple things that bring you pleasure and know most everyone has struggles too. Thanks for a really good lesson in life today and good luck with the last 16 days!!!!

Bei Tesori Boutique's Blog said...

Congrats on your pregnancy! With lots of prayer we finally had our last little blessing. We are blessed every day. :)

Anonymous said...

Kellie Poehner, Clarkston,Michigan

MissHeather said...

steph your posts these days make my eyes well up with tears! Thank you so much for sharing with all of us! God definitely uses you through your writing and seeking.. Thank you again!

Heather H

Joyce said...

What a lovely post...blessings to you in the waiting. Looking forward to 'meeting' your new little girl.

Heather said...

Hi Steph! As usual, your writing and this post just totally blessed me and spoke to my heart. I relate so, SO much to you and we have so much in common! My hubby and I have been doing a "no spend challenge" before Avery Kate comes...just to help pay some things off and pay for her new things! It is HARD! But just like you, we have been blessed by gifts and other ways God keeps being near and providing.
I am praying for you in these last couple of weeks before Ava's arrival. Enjoy this sweet time with Travis!