The Beautiful Ugliness of Refinement.

At the onset of this post, I want to make it clear that although it has been a very hard season in our life, we have still had our joy, we have still had our fun, we still love each other like crazy, and we still love the state of Texas ;) This is just an honest picture into the refining process that we have been through. Thank you for reading.

I am completely out of my comfort zone. What comes naturally to me is studying and reading and growing intellectually. Never before have I had to run a household. Never before have I had to take care of children. Never before have I had to clean a house and do a million little chores. Never before have I had to meal plan and grocery shop and make decisions about vaccines and be awakened in the middle of the night for several months at a time. Never before have I had to give myself selflessly in the bedroom. Never before have I been so stripped of time to myself.

People have approached me and told me how they admire me for being a great mom and wife, but they don’t know the inner turmoil that I have faced. The constant tug that I have felt to be somewhere else, anywhere else but here. Granted, God has given much grace and helped me to press through these feelings… but once again, I have been found to be completely out of my comfort zone.

I was a studying machine growing up. My primary job and responsibility was to study and make straight A’s, and my parents took care of the rest. All my dreams and plans and passions for years revolved around being well-educated and doing something professional, like becoming a doctor, and using that on the mission field. Then I got married young, had babies young, and that rug was pulled out from under me. Yes, I always had a longing to be a wife and stay at home mom, but I always thought I would become something "bigger" first. In our society and even in our church culture, being a stay at home mom/wife just isn’t enough. In my family in particular, I was considered by my parents to be the “smartest” kid (sorry siblings ;)), yet I am the only one of the 5 of us that did not get more than a college degree. I have spent countless hours questioning my decisions, wondering if I screwed up.

Just as I started getting a hang of wifehood and mommyhood and realizing that the destiny God had for my life was totally different than what I had prepared for for 20 years, we up and moved to Texas.

Our season here in Texas has been one of deep challenges. It has been one of profound spiritual growth, but it has been a very confusing season for our family. Everything we thought we knew about ourselves has been questioned. Moving away from everything you know can do that to you I guess.

We moved from a place where we were pretty comfortable to a place that is unsettling, disturbing, painful and refining.

We moved to Texas with the grandiose idea that life would be bigger and better… because everything in Texas is bigger and better, right? We stepped foot in this adventure with the assumption that life would be more enjoyable, that we would be more successful, and have more opportunity. We assumed this move to Texas would be our springboard to “become something big.”

However, the opposite has proven to be quite true. Life has been hard. Trice and I have butted heads (no pun intended) more times than one can count. We have been humbled as work opportunities didn’t quite turn out as we anticipated. We have been squeezed dry in the financial department, wondering if we are ever going to be able to “get ahead of the game,” or to even have a savings. I have questioned my capability to mother our children. I have questioned my faith. We have been left at times wondering if God has turned His back on us. Every strength we thought we had has been scrutinized under a microscopic lens. I have had moments of such mental/emotional despair that I have just wanted to run away and never be found.

Yet amidst all this pain, all this ugly, all this inner turmoil, all this discomfort and feeling out of place, life has proven to be beautiful.

God has stretched me and grown me in ways that I did not think were possible. God has fully humbled me. God has stripped me of all things I could possibly brag about and helped me to realize that this short life isn’t about advancing my name, but His name. God has removed all the distractions that were plaguing my life and has forced me to look deep within and see my ugliness and my need for Him. What a beautiful thing that God removed the rose colored lens from my eyes so that I could become dependent on Him. You see, when life is all fine and dandy, it is easy to forget about God. It is easy to rely on yourself. Now that I have experienced desperation, I have fully realized my need for God.

1 Peter 1:7 says “These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold – though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.”

Through this refinement process, I pray that Trice and I will come out as gold. I pray that our faith will be continually deepened. I pray that God will use this difficult season to bring others to Him. It is through this season that God has shown me my true purpose in life -- not to become well-known or advance myself, but to follow God wholeheartedly, to love people deeply and fully, to live life freely, and to advance HIS name.

Lord, I am simply a broken, empty vessel. I am nothing without You. Use me to bring glory to Your name. Thank you for the beautiful ugliness of refinement you have shared with me. Your ways are better than my ways. Amen.