Friday, January 29, 2010

...Once More For The Cheap Seats

You know lost songs? You love them and listen to them (or the entire albums) for weeks or months or even years but slowly you get tired of them, or they are replaced by new music. Lost songs. Rediscovering them is great! A few months ago this song found me again. It's by a group that I love and on the day that Matt's ipod picked it out for me I "knew" exactly why I was hearing it. Does that ever happen to you? You hear some kind of song about how your kids grow up too fast and you think you should share it with your friend who is overwhelmed by her 3 kids under 4 years old, or your pastor shares a great story about loving your neighbors and you wish your neighbor (who snipped at you for having your garbage cans out too long) had been at church to hear the story.

I hear many lessons for other people. I hear lots of lessons for my husband, but that's another post. :-) This is a post about how most of the lessons that we hear "for other people" are really for ourselves. Now does THAT happen to you? Well I thought I knew why I was hearing my "lost song" and it wasn't for me! .... Little did I know!

To make a long story short, while business is going o.k. it is a constant struggle for this business to support us 1. where we live in CA., 2. in this economy, and 3. while Matt is still in school.

It's a cyclical battle. While we have no intentions of living here forever we have good reasons to stay. The Bay Area is/has a huge HUGE art community. We would NEVER ever be doing business like we are, had Matt started somewhere else. There are many doors to stick a foot in..... if you can wedge it in there among all the other feets trying to get in. Feets of a billion other photographers and artists, all poor and starving and willing to do things at a slightly lower rate than their competitor. *sigh*
We also have a great church that we love, house that we love, and Matt is still in school. And here is where the cyclical battle begins. The more school he does, the less time he has for work. The more work he does, the more the professors at school ask him to spend more time on school work. He has tried and tried to ask the professors for the best way to divide his attentions and run a successful business. The terrible part is, that he is doing it, and they are TOTALLY unwilling to help. He is in school and will graduate and at the same time will have started his own business, supported his family and had two children. Most of the people in his program are single and have many don't have jobs. Sometimes I get frustrated feeling like the professors get so used to the students who have tons of time for their discussions and assignments that they forget that what they are trying to produce is a student like Matt, who goes on to have a successful photography business and support their family! I mean, he is the real thing, he's not going to graduate and then try his hand at being a professional photographer. He is one...right now!

Excuse me people while I get heated about this!

It's been a difficult time for us. It's stressful at home, when the dishwasher leaks water all over the floor, or the rains come and we have to pump water out of the crawl space in our basement it gets even more stressful. When a piece of photography equipment breaks or needs to be replaced or updated, it's pretty quiet over our dinner table.

And I confess it is so so hard to stay out of the mindset of, if we just had more..... fill in the blank, more money, more business, more time. Or if people were more helpful (Matt's professors), more understanding (Matt's professors), more generous (all the people who hire Matt and want to bargain for his services). More More More.

Sometimes when I am running the words from that song echo in my head:

I was sure by now, God you would have reached down, and wiped our tears away, stepped in and saved the day. But once again, I say "amen", and it's still raining.

How many times have I prayed about this. How many times have we together prayed about this. How many nights have we gone to bed thinking about how to make enough money, rethinking marketing and spending. How many opportunities we have said no to, to visit family and friends, to give gifts, to go out to eat. How many tears have been shed. I was sure by now, He would have stepped in and saved the day. It does seem that "every time I say Amen, it's still raining.

But as the thunder rolls, I barely hear You whisper through the rain, "I'm with you." And as your mercy falls, I'll raise my hands, and praise the God who gives, and takes away.

It's so hard to raise my hands and praise God right now. I don't want him to take away. I don't want to struggle. I don't want to worry.

I don't want to trust Him.

And I will praise You in this storm, and I will lift my hands. You are who You are, no matter where I am. And every tear I've cried, You hold in Your hand. You've never left my side, and though my heart is torn, I will praise You in this storm.

It's so hard to picture the Lord knowing all of my fears, and worries. Knowing all about Matt's struggle to provide for our family, and holding all of these concerns in his hands, even when we do not trust in Him. I take comfort, albeit a teary-eyed comfort from knowing that He has never left my side. (Jos 1:5) I feel worried that we are struggling and embarrassed for not trusting a God that I know will never leave me, all at the same time.

I have had countless conversations with good friends, heard similar stories, shared prayers, and received good advice. It is still heart breaking. I hate to watch my husband struggle. He tries so hard, and is doing everything he can to be successful. Being financially stretched right now has put the greatest stress on our marriage so far, while at the same time I am more in awe of God working in Matt's heart and more in love with him now than ever. Not once has he ever suggested that I do something to help or just "go out and get a job", and there must be temptation to do that, with the weight of our provision on his shoulders.

We have had great blessings in the last months also... a healthily growing baby, the GIFT of a much newer and safer car than we were driving, great contacts and good photography jobs passed on by dear, and very empathetic friends, we've also had work come from our church community out of need, and simply out of desire to help.

It's taken months of this, or worry and trying to figure out what to do to figure out the most important thing is what I thought wasn't for me, the message of the song that has become my mantra. Praise you in this storm. That's what He wants from me, from us. He wants me to praise Him in this storm. As hard as it is, to raise my hands as the rain comes down and "though my heart is torn".

I'm not doing a very good job yet. I had a conversation with a friend a while ago about a financial worry and she told me, (I paraphrase, correct me if I'm wrong Lis) "Laurie, in your head, this money is the only thing standing between you and the poor house. And that's just not the way it really is!" She reminded me that for starters we have people who love us, families, basements to live in (we are not thinking of moving into any basements, don't worry!) There are people out there who have real concerns, no family to help, no basements to go live in, people really financially desperate. People desperate in every sense of the word. But the most important thing is, that no amount of money will ever stand between me or my family and poverty or desperation, or starvation, because Christ will stand there. He will never leave my side. He has promised to be faithful and to never forsake me. No amount of money can ever "save" us, in any sense of the word. I know He is teaching me about trust in Him, not just about money.

So I've been a little blogging absent. I've been working on trusting God. I've been working on going to sleep without worry and fear in my heart and waking up determined to encourage my husband, rather than cause him further stress.
I'm trying to worry less about when God is going to step in and save the day, and just "say Amen", even if it is raining. I'm listening for His whisper, "I'm with you". I am fighting to lift my hands, and praise Him in this storm.

So here it is once more.... and this time it's for me. It was in November too, I just didn't know it then.


Lexie said...

very touching and humble laurie. thank you for sharing your struggles and heart with us. we love you guys.

Susannah Forshey said...

Aww, wow. I'm tearing up over this one. Your post really, really speaks to me, Laurie, because I've written some of these same things on my blog. The biggest struggle is to praise (hence the reference to "the sacrifice of praise"---it hurts, and it's hard to give), yet the biggest reward comes from praise. It is my DAILY STRUGGLE, too. Just know, dear friend, I'm thinking of you, praying for you, and I'm a little gladdened to see another soul walking alongside me on this journey of learning to praise in the midst of suffering.

Herb of Grace said...

Excellent post. A much-needed reminder for me, as well :) I tell you stuff like that so you can tell it back to me when I forget it myself :)

The Sinks said...

No words except "Amen" and thank you.

La Familia Garcia said...

What a great reminder. And songs of praise to go with it! I want so bad for what I know (what the bible tells me) to be real in my life and overflowing from my heart. But that's the hard part! Thanks for sharing!