raising my ebenezer . part one.

I've said for a while that once our story was near it's end, that I would share all the awesome ways that God has helped us along the way.  This is partly for those of you who read this blog, hopefully you can gain a little comfort from my stories of God's protection and provision.  But mostly, this is for me, as an effort to keep my memory long term and not be short sighted.

The stories in the Bible that frustrate me the most are almost all of the ones involving the Israelites.  Those freshly saved from slavery people...who five steps into the desert are complaining and crying out about why God never helps them and WHY did he lead them into the desert to die anyway?! They gripe and complain like spoiled children.  It's not like they saw great miracles and awesome wonders performed by the creator of the universe...oh wait. 

The worst part is that we are all often just like them.  Turning our heads from a recent blessing only to complain about never getting anything we want. 

I don't want to be that way.  I want to do as so many in the Bible did and set up a pillar of stones to remember.  

Like in 1Samuel where it states: Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Jeshanah, and named it Ebenezer; for he said, "Thus far the LORD has helped us."  

Or in Joshua 4:9 Joshua set up the twelve stones that had been in the middle of the Jordan at the spot where the priests who carried the ark of the covenant had stood. And they are there to this day.

To me this says: make a mark, write this down, make sure you don't forget.  And when people see your Ebenezer and ask about it tell them about all God has done for you.  

And yes, I am looking for an actual, physical Ebenezer to "set up and remind us that "Thus far the LORD has helped us".  I just don't know what that will be yet.  Any ideas?

So here's part one of the story.  

September of 2010-April 2011 

Homesickness hit us like a ton of bricks.  We always felt like we didn't belong here in Charlottesville but it just became very obvious and uncomfortable and painful to be away from home.  We know for a fact that God protected us from this level of homesickness for the most of the time we lived here.  For the first three years or so, it wasn't too bad.  We got through knowing that it was all for Doug's career and that his employers would keep up their end of the deal and that this place was just a stepping stone for bigger and better things.  

From September through December and on into February of 2011 Doug's bosses and bosses bosses talked to him about going to various places in Virgina.  A transfer was an exciting idea to us...a fresh change, a boost in Doug's career, new skills, etc.  Starting in September Doug's boss would say essentially "get ready to be ready to move because things will happen quickly".  Doug was pretty much promised a promotion/transfer (multiple times).  We got our house ready to sell, but we didn't put it on the market quite yet.  We barely made it through the holidays, we were so emotionally raw, holding our breath waiting for things to happen.  I don't remember the exact sequence of events but I do know that we went through a cycle like this "you will be moving here, actually we gave that position to someone else, hold on we have something better for you", repeat.  It happened at least 3-4 times where we were promised a position only to have it go to someone else.  Many times within 24-48 hours of a decision being made where Doug was promised a position it would be taken away.  It was a tough time for us.  Hopes would SOAR and then the bottom would drop out and we would soar into a free fall.  

I should say that Doug was GOOD at his job.  Excellent even.  And you don't have to take it from me.  You can look at the numbers (which have drastically fallen since he left), you can talk to his employees (many who cried and wrote heartfelt letters to him when he left) or you could just look at how well it's not being done since he left or how terribly it was done before he got there.  He was good at his job and he liked it a lot.  A large part of the problem was burnout.  His position (Logistics) was only supposed to be done for 18 months tops.  Doug was at almost 48 months in position when he left.  And no one seemed to care.  So THAT was why a transfer and new position seemed so appealing to him. 

Finally, it felt like things were going to work.  There was a position.  Doug could have it.  We just needed to take care of the house.  Good news!  One of Doug's coworkers, we'll call him McD was interested in buying a house in Charlottesville.  He came and saw our house, loved it and went to the bank to start the loan process.  A crazy miracle right?  We thought so.  Then McD draaaaaaggggggeeeedddd his feet more than anyone I have ever met in my life.  I know now that it was God slowing him down but more on that soon.  Doug needed to give his boss an answer.  Doug would ask McD how things were going, where were they in the process, etc.  More with the feet dragging.  Weeks later and much stalling on Doug's part, McD says that the bank won't lend to him until he has been in his position for six months.  Bummer but we were willing to work it out with him.  We talked about renting to him until August when he could buy.  More dragging of the feet.  Finally, Doug had to turn down the position because of the feet dragging.

Again, we were heartbroken.  Beyond heartbroken.  This was a broken heart on top of five other broken hearts in a 7-8 month period.  It was a dark, dark time for us.  All we could wonder was WHY didn't it all work out when it seemed so perfect? We knew that God had good plans for us but wasn't THIS a good plan?  I mean, the move wouldn't take us HOME but we would have taken anywhere but here.  We were settling for OK.  We were settling for the long way home.  We were devastated that God wanted to keep us in Charlottesville.  

So Doug turned down the offer.  And McD was fired from his job soon after.  

Did you catch that?  It all made sense.  The dragging feet, the never ending days, the stalling, the giving away of positions.  God was protecting us from a HUGE financial mess.  

Had Doug taken the offer and had McD agreed to rent and rented in a timely manner...we would have most likely been left high and dry.  We would be living in a new city paying rent, while trying (impossibly) to pay a mortgage as well.  We wouldn't have even been HOME.  Just elsewhere in a huge HUGE HUGE mess of our own making and alone.  God saved us from our own short sightedness.  God held out on giving us what we were begging for because it was for our own good AND He had something way better in mind.  

Standing where we are now, it takes my breath away to see all God has done and how it pales in comparison to what we wanted for ourselves.  

But more on that in part two.  

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