When I saw that Bloom’s next study would be Pursue the Intentional Life, I knew that I had to join in. I am so thankful for the book sponsor program that they have because otherwise I would not have been able to participate! And y’all. This book came at just the right time. I honestly anticipated the book to encourage me to be more present as I parent, to be more intentional in my relationships, and maybe to be more mindful of the areas where I tend to be easily distracted (um…parenting?) What I found was substantially more than I could have imagined.
I started reading this book on the heels of realizing that I had made Church my god. Lines like, “Revelations are graces from God not to be received lightly,” hit me hard and fast, challenging me to share even when it seems silly or redundant (page 22). I also found several places that challenged my parenting, especially when Jean asks, “If I had only one year to live, how should I order my days (page 48)?” My scribbled-in answer challenges me still: “Reading good books and getting the Word in them.” Reading back over the pages, the lines that stood out most to me still give me pause. “Tell us everything about His grace that was always there (page 63).” This is the part where my story intersects the study, where everything I read before, every post and doodle and conversation prepared me for what was to come. Almost three weeks ago, we found out that the rental house we’ve been living in for nearly four years has been on the market…and that there is an interested buyer. Almost two weeks ago, my husband received a phone call that confirmed a verbal agreement on the house and the land. I am currently almost 35 weeks pregnant, a stay-at-home mom to a three-year-old and a nearly two-year-old (she turns two in August), while my husband works a full-time job, a part-time job, and volunteers as the student pastor for our church. Our city was hit by a tornado in April, so housing is scarce. There are several other factors that, when I look at all of them, just increase my anxiety. Looking through my notes, there’s definitely a “before and after” effect. Before we realized we needed to move, I mostly just underlined in the book. After? Every page spoke to me. Every chapter offered another perspective of what we’re going through. Even though I’m twenty-six years old, the chapters on loss, on leaving, on widowhood pierced through my despondency over leaving the familiar. When Jean prays to remember that God’s options aren’t limited even when ours are (page 182), I couldn’t stop thanking God for those very words. Right now, our options are limited. We have some direction, but not enough to follow through. We are learning to trust God, rest in His timing, and keep working when it’s possible. Some days, I can’t pack because my body begs for rest. And some days, I work as hard as I can before giving in. And then there are the days when I feel like crap for not doing enough…followed by friends and family stepping in and filling in the areas where we can’t. It’s a delicate dance, this life of ambiguity. But as Jean prayed, “Light my way in loss and gain. Remind me that what You give and take is my biography, a story meant to bless me and bless others to Your glory (page 176).” Amen, Lord.