I have been on this earth for 29 years. I remember mostly everything. It's scary really. I remember events, moments, people, places, and all in great detail. (Except for what I had for breakfast yesterday...weird.) For the longest time this has mostly been a curse, as I not only remembered, I held on tightly to a lot of the bad stuff. I don't really know why I do that, and if I ever had a prayer request for myself, it would be to please pray for me to let that crap go. I treasured up so many things, both good and bad, in my heart. I held onto them. Some of them make me smile, and some of them ache so much. And then there was Cape Cod...
Seth and I were stationed here about a year or so after we were married. Rylee was just a few months old. I was scared to move so far away. In retrospect, it is not so far away. But what did I know? So many of my friends stationed here are from California or Alaska. I need to stop complaining... I did not know what to expect.
The first two years we lived here, I was miserable. I was depressed. It was just hard and there was a lot of drama on our street and I was excluded and ridiculed. Home life was not much better.
Seth had his own set of troubles that he didn't quite know how to handle, and I was floundering. Often I would find myself in church without Seth, sitting in the nursery with Rylee, and never seeming to find someone to connect with. I felt so alone. I was plugged into several Bible studies and volunteered in the nursery, but all I ever got was "I'll call you" but no follow through.
I found that as time continued on, I was less and less motivated to go to church. It was just easier not to. No one ever seemed to notice anyway. Enter Hannah.
I must confess here that Hannah and her family moved in next door as a result of my lying. Yea. I totally lied. When I met her husband, he seemed nice and unassuming. I knew they would not be the type of people that would judge me. I thought, here is a chance to have someone on the block that would accept me and maybe even like me for who I was. I needed some people playing on my team for once. So, I lied. Not my proudest moment.
I told him that everyone got along. I told him the neighbor kids were nice. I told him that it was a great street to live on. None of that was true. They moved in. I had friends. And simply because they were fresh meat, they became the targets of the neighborhood bullies, and learned quickly that I had lied. But, because they are awesome sauce, they forgave me, and Hannah and I are best friends. And it did not bode well with her that I was going to church less and less.
It started with tagging along to a Bible Study with her at her church, Forestdale Baptist. I was cautious, but I was happy to have a friend to go with. And I felt accepted instantly. Gradually, I began to go there on Sunday mornings as well, except on the Sundays that Seth would decide to go to church. On those days, we would attend our other church.
I was pregnant with my son at this point, which was such a blessing and miracle. We had lost our baby Andrew approximately a year before, so this pregnancy was a source of great joy and anxiousness for us. For about 8 months we referred to the baby as Aidan Luc. I wanted to do the ethnic thing for this baby like I had done for my daughter Rylee Michelle, but the more I called the baby Aidan, the more I would hear rhyming names: Aidan, Cayden, Hayden, Jaidan, etc. And not all of them were boys. So, after much reflection, Seth and I decided to name this baby Samuel Luke. Partly because Samuel and Luke were my husbands oldest friends, and partly because I felt such a strong relation to the story of Hannah. She had prayed and prayed and wept for a child, and finally God gave her Samuel. Samuel grew up to be a great man of God, and played a major part in Jewish history. What a great namesake. Month 8 and my baby became Samuel.
The day finally came for me to have my boy, and I was mostly attending Forestdale on Sundays instead of the other church. But, both pastors ended up visiting me. That was when I felt like I was cheating on one church with the other. I did not have enough sense to recognize that I was just blessed. After I came home with my new baby, we were overwhelmed with the amount of support we recieved. Meals, cards, and presents all poured in for our family. Even things for the new big sister Rylee. All from both churches: our old church and our new church. People that I had felt didn't know me well enough yet or didn't really care. So blessed.
It had been some months before I had finally convinced Seth to go to the new church with me. I think at that point he really liked the old one, partly because it was so big and he could skip sometimes and no one seemed to notice. (I am eternally grateful that he is not that person anymore.) I don't think he was super impressed with the new place. People noticed if you missed a Sunday. Everyone said Hi. People remembered our names. And then there were those huggers. I love huggers, but I think sometimes they frighten Seth. He is not a hugger. Well, at least he wasn't. (People who know him should give him a great big hug from me next time you see him. It would be fun. I promise!)
I had decided that I wanted to finally dedicate our children to God publicly. Our other church only did dedications on Mother's day, and did not seem to be willing to change that rule for us even though we spent Mother's day in NH with family. So I asked the pastor of our new church. And he was willing, but only if he met with both of us.
It was right after Easter, and we had him over for lunch. I think this took Seth by surprise, because he didn't know of any pastor that would take time to have lunch in a parishoner's home, especially those who are not that committed. And yet, here he was in our home and not the typical pastor.
We talked for a long time about what it meant to dedicate our children, among many other things. By the time the pastor left, Seth had decided that he actually kind of liked this guy.
We moved just a few weeks later. Seth had been stationed on a cutter in NH and my world was turned upside down. Things between us had not been good, and I was suddenly moving away from all my new friends who actually cared about me.
It was not long in the new apartment before things came to a head. I actually told Seth I was done. There was a lot of emotion and hurt involved, but instead of ending things, we went to Marraige counseling. It was tough, because Seth was gone on the cutter more often then he was home. Counseling was sporradic. But we stuck it out.
I went to my home church with my Mom, Dad, and siblings, even though I did not really want to. And Seth joined me when he was home. And things began to change. Things began to change in us individually, and as a couple. We were going through a Rennaissance. It did not make much sense in the beginning, but we were where we needed to be. So much happened in the two years we were back in NH.
Out of all the people that were stationed with Seth on the cutter, a few people made such an impact. Seth, who at the time was not in love with the idea of church, was suddenly befriended by the lay leader and Bible study guys. He developed a friendship with these men, even though they seemed like the most unlikely of people.
I was getting emails from Seth that were suddenly including scripture and beauty. They were becoming less and less practical and informative, and more and more spiritual and loving. A transformation was happening. I saved every single one of those emails. And I fully intend on putting them together in a book someday.
I was growing too. I was learning that it was not the world around me that was messed up, but that I participated. I was messed up too.
I was able to put some past pain behind me and move forward. Attending the church in which I had grown up was part of that, but even bigger than that. I was falling in love with my husband again. That was something I had given up on for a long time, and yet I would still pray for him. And, still, even bigger than that was that my husband was finally taking his place as the spiritual head of our household, a burden which I had been carrying for so very long. And one that I did not carry well, either.
I has a husband again, and he had a wife. My children was getting the happy, healthy, whole family that they deserved. Things were beautiful. All because of prayer and the willingness to change and become better people.
The funny thing about prayer is, God hears us. And he answers us. And if we are faithful and tenacious, good things begin to happen. That was what happened with us. I had been praying for years that my family would be healed, that Seth would find his way back to God, that everything would be ok.
Seth became the new Lay Leader on board his ship. He had a co-leader too. Larry was awesome. Those two became such good friends, and an encouragement to one another. It was good, even if there were some people on that ship that wanted nothing more than to hurt Seth and destroy his carreer. He did nothing wrong, they just did not like him simply because he is Christian. And as disheartening as that was, it only challenged Seth to grow more in God. And in turn, me.
Then Seth got baptized. This was huge. He was finally making the public statement of obedience to God and an outward expression of Faith for the world to see. And then people on the ship were getting baptized. And sharing communion. And Satan hated that, and tried everything to destroy it. Funny thing about Satan is, even though he pulls out all the stops to sabotage anything good, he cannot beat God at God's own game.
Finally we got word that we were leaving the ship. It was good news. We had no idea where we were going, but prayed for someplace good. Someplace we would be needed. We made our wishlist. Cape Cod was our first choice. I wanted to go back. Seth was interested in getting involved in that intimate friendly church I had loved so much. But we were told that because he had already served on the Cape, chances were slim we'd go back.
And yet, nothing in my life has ever been expected or typical. We got Cape Cod. Those first several months were a bit rocky, as I believe with all my heart that because God gave us the desires of our heart, Satan wanted to ruin things from the start. Something unfortunate happened that ended in an emergency room trip and quite arguably the worst night of my life, but in the end became such a small insignificant and irrevelent part of our life. It could have ruined everything. It could have destroyed a pretty epic friendship before it had the chance to even begin. It could have derailed our spiritual walk with God. But, the thing is, it didn't. In fact, it only made us stronger, more tenacious, more passionate, and not only did that friendship happen it grew and blossomed into a vibrant beautiful thing, and we wouldn't have it any other way.