It is a pleasure to introduce guest blogger, Emily Conway. Emily is a young mom, serving God in her homeschool world. You will hear her heart for reaching others. What an encouragement to live for Him in our everyday, ordinary world.
As a child I learned to protect, control, and be perfect. If I protected myself, controlled my circumstances and the actions of others, and did not make any mistakes, I would not hurt. God has spent most of my adult life taking apart this armor so that I can feel again and live. Since we moved to Avondale Estates in January, my life has seemed more unprotected, out of control, and fragmented than I could possibly imagine. We live in a rented home that will most likely only be ours for a year. I love my neighborhood block, but I have no idea if or how we’ll manage to stay here. In August, my children, whom I’ve always homeschooled, kept within my reach, will be going to the local charter school. Our house has become a kind of thoroughfare for neighbors and children. People knock on the door unexpectedly. And God has commanded me to write, something I have fought and wrestled with Him about for 20 years.
I have always longed for continuity, to have my life all of a piece; I want to see how God is working in each aspect and how each part fits into a smooth, continuous whole. However, what I am experiencing now is not a quiet and predictable river, but the effects of a waterfall. I have gone over the edge in a boat of my own making and found myself in pieces at the bottom. But I haven’t drowned. I’m sailing, head up, with all of the broken parts, into an unknown country.
Last week, choking and coughing at the bottom of the falls, desperately trying to gather the pieces of my boat, I cried out to God. Help! And He answered me, “Take up your mat and walk,; you are healed.” I am? Do you know where I am Lord? And by the way, I do not have a mat, and if I did, it would be nice if it floated. Of course, He did know, He put me there: You are vulnerable, out of control, imperfect, and messy. You are growing very attached to a group of people with whom you may not be able to live next year. Soon your children will carry their faith to a secular school where it will be stretched and tried. Your actions, your words, you, are on display every time you have a conversation with your neighbor, work in your yard, tell your children not to ride their bikes in the street. And you are also free, full of joy, beautiful. You are well. Walk in it.
Our new home is in the middle of town, within a block and a half of the swimming pool, park, and school, the heart of community activity. We met our neighbors almost immediately. The woman across the street homeschools her two teenagers and helped me find homeschool groups in the area. She let my children draw with chalk in her driveway, loaned us one of her son’s old bikes so that my son could use it, and told us her daughter liked to babysit. When we were snowed in, my next door neighbor brought us warm cinnamon rolls. I met the 93 year old man who lives on the corner and the 93 year old woman who lives across the street. On one of the first warm days, I sat on a swing in this woman’s front yard, listening to her stories about her husband’s service in World War II and talking with my other neighbors. My children have begun to develop relationships with the four homeschooled kids who live on the next block. They travel back and forth between each other’s houses. We met a man and his 4 year old son at the park. The two walked by our house often, the man stopping to visit, the son to play with my children. Eventually, my husband invited the man in for a beer, and he noticed some apologetics books on the bookshelf. They talked briefly about whether or not God existed before the children interrupted them.
Nearly everyday, God has amazed us with some new detail, revealing how perfectly he has placed us in the community He has chosen. For years, my husband and I have longed for a close community where we could minister and love and be loved. Despite our introverted natures, we have desired a house where people could come and ask questions and receive God’s grace through us. About a month after we moved, I had a vision of Jesus sitting at our dining room table. He was facing away from the table toward the front door. There was light pouring in through the big casement windows at the front of the house. I could see the crumbs under the table and the dog hair in the corners. Jesus was waiting to receive people in our home. The light would illuminate Him, but also us and the people who visited, our vulnerabilities and suffering. In bringing us to Avondale, God is answering some of our longest held prayers. He is also beginning to work through us in ways that we could not have imagined.
God has graciously shattered my life over and over. But this last time, waterfalls not withstanding, it has hurt less, and I’ve trusted Him more. All those other shatterings have allowed me to say “yes” to this one, not to wrestle as long and hard with God over His sometimes uncomfortable blessings. So I may feel disparate and broken but God is neither; rather, He is using my vulnerability to reveal His incredible continuity, the deep and powerful undercurrent of my life. That current has torn and shaken me, and in doing so, it is healing me. He carries me along, and in Him I am beautiful. I hope that others will see the beauty and the joy.