Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Blessings of "NO"


Most of you know that Sir Knight and I have had the desire to sell our homestead and move for a number of years.  When we originally bought our property, we had intended to live here forever.  We even purchased land with very few zoning requirements, hoping that one day we could subdivide and provide our children with plots of land to build their own homes, essentially creating a family "compound".

As our children grew older, our hopes and desires changed.  We found ourselves longing to move closer to my parents, to have our children grow up near their grandparents.  We wanted to become a community of generational living - all having our own homes, but in close enough proximity to shoulder each others burdens and share in each others daily lives.

Having a clear direction, we put our property on the market and began looking at options in the vicinity of my parent's.  Convinced that we would be moving shortly, I spent weeks packing all but the essentials and storing the boxes tidily in the horse trailer - anxiously awaiting moving day.

Quickly, we found the perfect property for our family.  It was a HUGE old house on 20 acres, complete with a barn, chicken house, garage and two ponds.  The house was rambling and quirky and full of character - a perfect fit.  The children had picked out their rooms and I was redecorating the house in my mind.  My thoughts were filled with hope and joy.  We made an offer on the house (full price, even) with the condition that our property sold.  Our offer was summarily rejected.  I prayed and prayed and prayed.  Sir Knight and I talked and planned and gave it another shot.  We made yet another offer, sweetening the pot, but to no avail.  Our offer was rejected again.  I was crushed.

The truth of the matter is that even if the homeowners had accepted our offer, our property hadn't sold.  An accepted offer wouldn't have made a whole hill of beans difference, we couldn't buy our dream property.  God had spoken.  The answer was "NO".

That was the beginning of a cycle of highs and lows, impossible hopes and dashed dreams.  Over the next few years, we would find ourselves hoping against hope that this property or that was finally the "one", only to be told "NO".   My best girlfriend's mother decided to sell their family home.  I had practically grown up there - it had to be the one!  NO.  A piece of property came for sale right down the road from my folks (where there is very little privately-held land - and it never goes up for sale) - that was the perfect piece!  NO.  Again and again and again, our dreams evaporated.

I would like to say that I took all of this gracefully, with perfect peace and contentment, but the truth is that I raged inside.  I cried and I questioned and I felt abandoned by God.  I kept thinking that if I just did all of the right things, if I tried harder, that everything would fall into place.  It seemed, however, that the harder I tried to make things happen, the more resounding the NO became.

I felt trapped.  My best efforts where for naught.  Our circumstances were less than desirable, but we couldn't seem to change them.  We couldn't sell, we couldn't move, we couldn't even change our current living arrangements without going into untenable debt.

I have to admit it - I was angry with God.  I had watched Him bless many of our friends abundantly, extravagantly - yet His constant answer to our family was NO.  No, you can't sell.  No, you can't move.  No, you can't live in a house.  No, you can't enjoy the ease and comfort of a normal life - even for a little while.  No, Sir Knight can't get a job that is easier on his body.  No, no, no!  And the worst part?  I hated my lack of faith.  I hated the fact that I questioned God.  In my head I knew of His faithfulness, His goodness.  In my head I knew that His plan for our family was perfect.  I just couldn't see the forest through the trees and I hated my lack of vision.  I was broken.

So, what did I do?  I hit my knees and cried out to my Lord.  I told Him of my anger.  I poured out my soul.  I asked for His forgiveness for my lack of faith.  I begged Him to sustain me through the valley of unbelief.  I prayed to desire His will alone and to live my life according to the will of my Father.  I practiced contentment, reminding myself of His many blessings on a daily, even hourly basis.  I sought to understand the very character of God.

I am so thankful that God loved me enough to tell me NO.  Through the years of disappointments and struggles, God has drawn me closer to Him.  He has shown me the depths of His love and the reservoirs of His grace.  He has taught me that we can't earn His favor, yet He delights in giving good gifts to His children, even when they don't deserve them.  He has taught me that His best work is often done under the shadow of grief and that hope is renewed every morning.  He has taught me that when I am at the end of my human strength, He will uphold me with His mighty right hand.  He has given me eyes to see and ears to hear - and that alone is worth every disappointment and every hour of suffering.

And here we are.  We still have not sold our property.  We still have no prospects of moving nearer my parents.  Sir Knight still works at a job that is very hard on his every joint and muscle.  We still don't live in a house.  We still have hopes and dreams and desires unfulfilled.  Our circumstances have not changed - but my faith has.  Every morning I wake with a mind filled with hope.  Not necessarily the hope of selling and moving and having an easier life, but the hope that God's perfect will will be done - that He is still on His throne and that He holds me in the palm of His hand.  I have the hope and the assurance that whatever God does with this family is right - whether it is accomplished here in "Little Shouse on the Prairie" or in the mountains of my youth.  I am exactly where God wants me!

If God had allowed all of the desires of my heart to be immediately and completely fulfilled, I would never have experienced the blessings of being told "No".  I would not have raged and questioned and cried until finally falling to my knees in submission.  I would never have scratched the surface of my faith.

I still would love to sell and move.  I would love to live in a house and see my husband working at a job that is not so physically draining.  But I am content.  I am content because I know that I can trust God with our lives.  I know that His plan is to prosper us and not to harm us.  And I know that being in the center of His will is exactly where I want to be.

30 comments:

  1. I completely understand. We want to move NOW (and have wanted to for years), but know that we cannot right now. We will put our place up for sale next year, and hope that it sells quickly, but the chances of that happening are pretty slim. Most places do not sell quickly anymore. God knows better, thank goodness, and we will be right where He wants us, even though we may not agree...Take care!!

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  2. Amen, sister. God is good all the time.

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  3. Enola Gay,
    It IS hard to always receive the answer "no", especially when we see others around us being so richly blessed. Our pride often comes between us and God. But isn't it amazing that God loves us so much that He wants us to grow closer to Him? He LONGS for us to totally depend on Him as our Father. I have been blessed by reading this post - to know that I am not the only one who has struggles like this. I have personally experienced God's hand moving my circumstances - not the way I envisioned or dreamed, but the end result was even greater! It was only in hindsight that I saw His working - during the storm I was questioning and raging, too. We cannot truly appreciate the sun (or the Son) until we have experienced the storm. I give praise to God for the increase in your faith - just as I do for the increase in my own. He is truly worthy! And I know that wherever He places you, it is for a far greater purpose than we may ever know this side of Heaven. Thank you for sharing your heart in this post!

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  4. Great post! Exactly what I needed....thanks for sharing!

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    1. Similar situation here. I needed the reminding. Thank you.
      Montana Guy

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  5. Thank you for this post. Our circumstances are pretty identical to yours. Our house is a huge blessing, but I want something different. Our house is so nearly perfect that it is hard to replace. Our house is so nearly perfect that my husband doesn't want to leave. The thing is, in my opinion, there will come a time when we are too old to live this way and I want to simplify before that time comes. But, where to go, what to live in, and on and on it goes. We/I have been having this conversation for years - with God, with the Mr., with myself and with each other. It just goes 'round and 'round and round. I know in my heart of hearts that God is watching over us and keeping us in the place he wants us to be. But like a spoiled two year old I still throw my occasional tantrum. It will be interesting to see where this all leads because I honestly don't know. Hugs to you and yours Enola.

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  6. Thank you for the reminder that we need to live in God's timing, not our own. I have also wanted to move from where I am but it has so far obviously not been the right time. I am working to be content with where I am and to be faithful with what He puts in front of me instead of longing for the future at the expense of the present.

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  7. I think realizing that the blessings you "see" other people receiving are not the intended blessings God has for you. Your increased faith and deepened relationship with God are going to bring you more blessings than you could ever imagine. It's so tough to live in this fallen world and wanting what we see. I enjoy reading your blog so much. Thank you.

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  8. Thank you Enola! I needed this today. ~Cricket

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  9. We're going through the same thing; we've been looking for several years now, and have been outbid on four different properties. I cried all day, after we lost the last one. The difference here is, we're stuck in the city, right by downtown, and not in the greatest section. It's hard. We both grew up in the country, and always intended for our children to do the same. It has been really, really difficult, and no end in sight. We're simply not at a place in life where we can buy bare land and pick away at a house - I have number five due any day now, and that just doesn't seem feasible. Maybe we need to just jump in and do it anyway. I just don't know anymore. It's so incredibly discouraging.

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  10. Enola, What are the reasons given for "No" when it comes to you not getting a sale?

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  11. Your faith is so much greater than mine, Enola, and I understand your struggles. My DH has been relatively unemployed for a few years and can no longer do what he is good at due to physical condition and age - his joints are plain worn out. (The reason he is unemployed; there is work here.) I would love your wood stove and envy the TIME you have to make your home beautiful and do some of the things you do. I am the full time (and overtime) employed worker in our house.

    When I get have one of those moments (I call them a "pity party") I don't have to look far at all. It is March - when The St. Baldricks's fund raisers are held to raise money to research cures for childhood cancer. One look at one of those kids with cancer and another look at my healthy teenagers, parents (both 85) and in laws (both 80) and I can very easily count my blessings and be thankful. My parents just celebrated their 58th Wedding Anniversary...another God given blessing and one I am in awe of. So what if the 1960's wallpaper in my kitchen is holding the plaster on the lathe around the "new", but unframed 2 year old windows.......God is blessing me every day and it is good..... natokadn

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  12. I am struck by all the replies saying they understand, are in the same place. Ditto here. This isn't where I wanted to live out the rest of my life, but the Lord has made it abundantly clear to me that this is where HE wants me to be. Submission did not come easy, but it brought the blessing of contentment when it came. God bless you, my sister. I know he already has...

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  13. Thank you for sharing. I appreciate your candor!

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  14. While I make no declarations to understand God's plan for you, with my fears of where this country is headed. I have no fear that you and your family can and will weather the storm of destruction which the Pansy in Chief is creating for each and every family within the USA. I fear for my family, doing all that I can here in the liberal, pro illegal immigrant, gun hating state of CA. I grew up east of the Mississippi, God and Country priorities, it's so hard here, yet husbands job can only be done here. You are blessed right were you are, but for you, I hope God blesses you to be nearer to your family too. xoxox

    Dixie Chick

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    1. Dixie Chick, we were blessed to be able to move to The Redoubt and join one of the strong liberty-minded ‘Second-Amendment Churches here. There is in fact a modern day Exodus to The Redoubt (and safer rural areas) taking place. Every Sunday at least one of the families visiting us desperately wants to move here. But they too are anchored by a job, a house that they can't sell etc. Many are in fact stuck behind enemy lines in the Peoples’ Republic of California.

      That said, several of these families have been able to fellowship with Patriots (many of whom were stuck in the same situation not long ago), get familiar with the local area, and subsequently been able to come up with a viable ‘Bug-Out’ plan. Establishing trust is the key; it takes time and repeat visits. But some have been able to do that to the extent of making plans to join another family or group retreat here. That has given them the HUGE advantage of being able to pre-position preps and being able to travel light and innocuously if the need arises.

      Knowing WHERE you can Bug-Out is important. Knowing WHAT you will have is important. Knowing WHO you will be with is PRICELESS.

      A good place to start this process is searching (by state) for ‘Second Amendment Churches’ at http://libertyfellowshipmt.com/Resources/SecondAmendmentPastors.aspx

      Montana Guy

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    2. I'm bugging out to Canada, this place is a mess...

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  15. At risk of trying to read the mind of God, Enola, I quite imagine that God has a place all picked out for you, and a perfect time at which it will be given. Be ready...

    ...and, in the mean time, don't stop living where you are. You have a good place, a wholesome life, and good neighbors. I fantasize about asking you what you want for your place and supplying you with a buyer (me!!). But I know that wouldn't be fair to my husband at this point in our lives, and it's not the Lord's direction for us right now.

    Hang in there, dear one.

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  16. Hang in there. God knows what trials are coming and you may be just where He needs you to be when they get here.

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  17. Wonderful post, Enola. I am passing it along to my daughter struggling with contentment, different situation, but same heart issue. Wise words, dear sister, and a beautiful heart to show for surviving the storm. May the Lord less you and your precious family.

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  18. I'm struggling with contentment also. I've been blessed beyond measure and I can no longer keep up with my blessing. When husband retires, our budget will be stretched to afford the property taxes. We found a place in ID that we can afford, that has a much better prospect of a productive garden, water is abundant and if something happened to my husband, I could both manage the place, physically and financially, and continue raising our youngest child.
    But my husband will have to stay behind in our other home and work until that home sells. He can retire next year. We won't be able to house my parents, our kids and grandkids if a collapse occurs, while we currently can. We'll be almost twice as far away from them and my parents. I'm having to reconcile myself to the fact that they are adults and have made choices to make lives in cities, and spend money they rightfully earned in ways I can't imagine, while I prepped for them. They were taught better. My parents are where they want to be, have lived all over and spent a lot of their hard earned money on entertainment and pleasures in retirement.
    I'm having to reconcile I can't keep prepping for everyone on my husband's hard work and sacrifice. I have to trust the Lord. As I think about how the place we are buying is so different from what we set out to buy, how the goals changed, and how in one chance meeting we were set on a path to a property that just that day came on the market, I know that it was the Lord's providence. I am still struggling with the knowledge that our prepping goal of taking care of everyone in abundance was only practical while husband continued to work. No one (other than my brother) was making choices to move here to work (there are jobs) and help with the upkeep. They all know what is coming, sooner or later.
    Discontent is heavy and it feels so good to let it go in prayer to Him. Unfortunately, I keep picking it up. Between my wise husband, who says that happiness is a choice, and Our Savior, who takes all our burdens from us if we let him, I can not lose, though.
    Prayers for you Enola, for your contentment and your prosperity through Christ our Lord.
    sidetracksusie

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  19. I am very sorry to say this but Jesus said that a Man should leave his parents and cleave to his wife.
    The same things apply to the wife. You are to leave your parents and cleave to your husband. And
    it is with your kids. They should in time leave you and cleave to there spouses. Sorry about that
    Blessings

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    1. GOD commands us to honor our parents. That means we are to look after them in their old age, among other things. The cleaving you speak of has to do with the marriage relationship itself and the dynamic between husband and wife v. parental interference..

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    2. THAT is a subject of much debate.

      While, after marriage, your spouse is your first priority, I seriously doubt that God truly means for us to turn our backs on our parents once we marry.

      The old Israelites might have been patrilineal, such that a woman did in effect turn her back on her birth family once she married...

      ...but they had reasons that we, here and now, do not.

      I've tried turning my back on my parents to "cleave to my husband." It DID NOT bear good fruit.

      You are, of course, free to believe what you feel is right. But I respectfully (and vehemently, in this case) disagree.

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  20. Enola-
    Although I am relatively new to reading your blog (a little over a year), I have always found joy in your words when you are describing your "shouse", family and little place on the prairie. You have encouraged me in being content and joyful in heart with where God has put us. I long to be in the state where we had originally lived prior to the 2008 "Great Recession". But God has stretched me in so many ways that I would not have otherwise been stretched if I had been "comfortable". In those now almost 6 years, He has blessed us abundantly with being able to care for an elderly relative who had no children and He has blessed us financially in a time when others have had such hard times. The best blessing was a beautiful baby boy (who is now five) after numerous miscarriages. God is good all the time and in all things. I am so glad that you posted this- I could tell this was coming straight from your heart. Thank you for touching my heart and encouraging me. God bless you and your beautiful family! Jennifer

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  21. Enola, I have not commented before but felt led to. I feel your pain because we have experienced many of the same highs and lows as you. We prayed and wanted a farm for many years and always God said no. I was crushed. It took me many years to become content about where we are, and now it seems God is saying yes. I am still not getting my hopes up, because I have learned the hard way that God is in control. You know what, I am fine with that, because He is taking care of us and knows what is best. I will pray for you and your family!

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  22. My Sister in the Lord,
    You have no idea how this was so needed by my wife and I. Sometimes we think we know what is best for us. Forgeting that God has more knowledge of what we need far better than our own feeble minds. We too are seeking the Lords will in our own lives, praying for God's direction in finding his will for her and I, to be closer to him.
    God bless you and your family!
    Brian

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  23. WoW ! Enola It is good to read this. We have a boy diagnosed (late) with learning disabilities and severely underdiagnosed with visual problems. All resulting in horrifying behaviors. We had put our house on the market because we wanted to sell and move East (we are in Washington state). Then the medical Bills rolled in one after another. Ending up with wonderful Doctors and therapies for our son and still the house not selling. God was obviously saying "NO, stay for your son" Still we want to move. Our son is improving daily and we hope to make a move in Spring 2015, God-Willing. If not we stay and follow His word- It is hard but we have to trust. We live so frugal, garden , Can our wares and have no toys that all our friends have. Yet we are thankful to have the ability to stay afloat and earn our living. Thanks for the post.
    Tawnya

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