Ronnie walked onto the back porch of his mom and dad’s house. It’s my favorite spot at their house, screened in and full of my mother- in- love’s sweet taste for southern décor. Plenty of chairs for anyone wanting to share some sweet tea and southern conversation. I sat there waiting for him to return while my kids fought over beach balls and pool noodles just a few feet over. He walked in with a grin and full of nervous anticipation I said, “Well?” He leaned down, kissed me on the cheek, and said “She offered me the job, T.” We conversed for an hour or so about the interview but in summary the principal had offered him a PE position teaching middle school students, they needed a baseball coach, and she would need to know within the week whether he would be willing to accept the position or not. She was on a tight time table as well. No big deal, right? I have a week to say yes or no and change the coarse of my family’s life forever. Easy peasy. Smh!
“Excuse me I need to go have a panic attack.” as I made strong eye contact with my mister. He lightheartedly laughed knowing this was a huge decision and my inability to make even small decisions. Raise your hand if you have trouble deciding what flavor toothpaste to buy. Me!! “We have time, it’s ok, God will show us the way as the week goes on.” he said confidently. It was Tuesday and she wanted an answer on the following Monday. How in the world were we to know what decision to make, and then to trust it was the right one?? But that small little mustard seed was rolling around between my thumb and pointer finger, and feeling its smallness made me cling to the giant trust that God was starting to grow in me. I rolled the seed again between my fingers and whispered, “God, this is so much bigger than me. You know how terrible I am when it comes to decisions. Can you take this small seed and make it clear? I have a small seed of faith in my heart that you can make it known which way you would have Ronnie and I to walk. But we need your clear direction, you can see the big picture while we can’t, so please light our path. I can handle only knowing the next step but light it up ok? I need a lamp and I know you are it.”
We had a day at the beach planned with his brother the next day, they were bringing their boat and the plan was to find our own little island off the waterway. We packed coolers, sandwiches, lathered our babies in sunscreen, and loaded up my favorite minivan for a day of fun. Ronnie squeezed my hand and looked my way driving down one of those really straight roads in Wallace 😉 , “Let’s just have fun today. No stress about what we are gonna do. This is a day on the beach with our kids and no stress or worry is going to lead us to a decision. So let’s just play. God has this all planned out already, he will show us.” Ronnie was meeting my faith with his, and I knew if we both just kept trusting him that we couldn’t go wrong. I won’t ever forget that day. We took the boat to an island, Ronnie set up my beach chair and threw sand buckets next to it for my 3 year old strawberry shortcake to play, and then he took my big kids and jumped back on the boat with his brother. They rode inflatable inner tubes over and over while I sat with my girl. They laughed, flipped, and guzzled salt water while this scaredy cat momma [sharks, seaweed, octopi, crabs} watched from her chair! A breeze kept catching my hair and blowing it out of my face, the same time it would blow against the top of the ocean water causing small ripples at the shore. Every once in a while the breeze was strong enough to turn the ripple into a wave and it would crash at my feet. A sudden memory of my religion class in college jolted my heart back to a verse in Genesis.
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the spirit of God was hovering over the waters.” Genesis 1:1-2
My religion professor went on to spend a large amount of time just on this verse. I was 20 years young and building a new passion for bible study from this required class for my nursing degree. I remember the professor making a strong point of how even before anything else was formed God’s spirit was present on the earth. There was no light, no day or night, it was formless, empty, but the spirit of God was there, evidenced as his spirit hovered over the waters. That same God that was there before there was anything, that would go on to create all the world, and every living thing in the world was also with me. And he was reminding me with every movement of the water, I didn’t have to go looking for him, I didn’t have to search, he was with me, no matter what decision I faced, and whether I was driving through a mountain curve or watching my red head build sand castles on the beach. I was not alone. We were not alone. My family was not alone.
We packed up a full day at the beach into our car. Salty hair, sunscreen scented kiddos, and rosy cheeks, filled the seats of the van and we went looking for a refill on our Gatorades. Ronnie always called his buddies when we were in his old college city and this day was no different. The kids had already fell asleep from an ocean induced day of exhaustion. “We’re meeting Trey at the Go Gas, I want to tell him that Charity offered me a job.” We pulled over and while the kids slept we jumped out to see his lifelong friend. He was excited for Ronnie and the potential that he might have the chance to teach at their old middle school. I didn’t know what direction our life was going but before I could catch my mouth I blurted “Trey, if Ronnie takes this job I am going to need a job. Do you know anyone that can help?” I knew to ask Trey because he knew everyone, even in the city he seemed to have a connection with people from every nook and cranny. He replied and stated that he and Ronnie went to high school with one of the women’s and children’s hospital managers in Wilmington. “She’s over the entire department and you should talk to her. She might know where you need to start.” He told me her name and I jumped in the car, I looked her up on facebook (that is what we do these days, right? :D) and messaged her right away. God was about to use social media to open a door for his daughter. She messaged me back almost immediately and said “I won’t be there tomorrow but another manager will be and she can give you a tour of our departments if you can meet her.” I wasn’t believing this. The same God that had sent water crashing over my feet was making a way for me in a city of millions of people. We set a time and I screamed at my husband “YOU ARE NOT GONNA BELIEVE THIS.” My kids suddenly weren’t asleep anymore. OOPS! I told him what just happened and we both sat there with our mouths hung open. I didn’t have a job yet but we felt like this was a step towards God’s faithful promise of provision.
After we found out about the tour I looked at my husband, “Ronnie, if God is moving us forward we are going to need a place to live.” He made some calls and arranged for us to look at some houses for rent.
The next day Ronnie drove me to look at 2 of the 3 houses that were for rent. Neither were appealing to my country heart. Ronnie then decided it would be a good time to inform me that we might not find the perfect house. I said the peace bible verse in my head, and told him that God would lead both of our hearts to the right house. “Well we are set up to see one more house after the tour. The owner did not advertise this house to rent because they are very picky about who rents it, but my realtor friend knows him. He called him and he is willing to meet us after your tour is over.” Well ok then. Life was proceeding in a certain direction and we hadn’t even talked about the PE job again. Oddly enough it felt like the path was being made for us. Ronnie then drove me to the city for a tour in a 800 bed hospital. He dropped me off and I walked into the women’s and children’s hospital. I might have started talking to myself at this point, “Tarren, you’re not in Kansas anymore.” A grand piano in the lobby, a beautiful glass walled gift shop, a full service café in the corner. This was nothing like my home hospital of 25 beds where I had spent the majority of my career. I met managers from several departments, viewed all floors, told them of my experience. I called Ronnie once I had finished the meetings and he pulled under the entryway to pick me up. Two days ago I said “Well?” to him and now he looked at me “Well?”
“How did I just walk into that hospital, a women’s and children’s hospital, meet with hospital leadership, and not feel one ounce of fear? What is God doing? All I felt when I walked in there was peace, it’s like he clothed me with a robe of peace right when I walked through that door.”
Ronnie was speechless and didn’t have much to say. But I didn’t need an answer. God was fulfilling promises right and left. Promises of peace, hope, and plans not just for my husband but for me too. We jumped back on the interstate towards Wallace, I hadn’t told Ronnie about the conversation with the nurse back home yet. But it was time. I told him the story of peace for marriage from that nurse, for two people trying to make decisions, two people committed and devoted to one another in marriage. I then read the verse in the same version that I wrote in the previous blog post.
One more time for good measure.
“Let the peace of Christ keep you in tune with each other, in step with each other. None of this going off and doing your own thing. And cultivate thankfulness. Let the word of Christ – the Message- have the run of the house. Give it plenty of room in your lives. Instruct and direct one another using good common sense. And sing, sing your hearts out to God! Let every detail in your lives- words, actions, whatever- be done in the name of the Master, Jesus, thanking God the Father every step of the way. ” Colossians 3:15-17 The Message version
“How have I never read this before? How has our marriage missed out in this verse for so long?” I asked him after reading. But it didn’t matter. It was our promise now and we could move forward with this promise of peace. “God is gonna lead our hearts in the same direction, only if it is his will. Even while looking for a house we might live in, we will both know it is right.” Peace after an interview, peace on the beach miles from “home”, peace in a hospital to big for my country accent, and now peace towards a little white farm house, sitting on the side of a straight road in my hubby’s home town, down east where I promised him ten years before I would never move.