Full Surrender

If you and I are Facebook friends, then you know things are incredibly difficult for me right now.  I wasn’t going to come out with what it is that has me rattled to the core, but writing has always been cathartic for me and with the challenges that lie ahead, I need all the relief I can get.

I am about to embark on yet another forced adventure and have cried gallons of tears over it; rivers maybe even.  The details as to the how and why aren’t really that important.  It’s the what that has me rather troubled. This new adventure is as scary as it is frustrating and as sad as it is hard. I feel ill-equipped even if I am uniquely qualified for it.

Since June 15th I’ve been on the phone, online, packing, or crying.  I’ve not been able to focus on much of anything and sleep has been in short supply as my mind is consumed with good and bad thoughts.  Satan would have me believe that I’m a terrible mother and my kids deserve more.  He’d have me believe that this current circumstance was totally preventable and all my fault.  He’d have me believe that I’m a failure and suggest I respond by doing some outrageous things.  It’s so painful a recent Facebook status of mine read “In addition to crying enough tears over the last few days to end any water shortage a small country might be facing, I’ve also talked so much I’m hoarse and apparently sound like my son on the phone. I’m pretty sure I’ve also been rejected more times in the last 72 hours than I ever have in the previous 40 years and some-odd days leading up to the last 72 hours COMBINED. Never again will I say it can’t get any worse or this is the hardest it’s ever been because it just gets worse and harder when I do. I feel like I’m facing insurmountable odds and though as my good friend Hanna reminded me, I will adapt because I don’t have any other choice, all I really want to do is be 4 again play play dough and dress up with my Mom. Yes I know that God is mindful of me; yes I am reading my scriptures; yes I am saying my prayers. Yes I am going to church (speaking of that any locals that can give us a ride tomorrow that’d be awesome) BUT…if one more person says to just keep the faith or reminds me that He has a plan I might have to punch them in the throat…HARD. Will everything be OK eventually…of course it always is. That’s not the problem…the problem is it’s not OK right now and I really REALLY need it to be.”

I have been a member of the Vancouver 7th Ward since my arrival in Vancouver 4 years ago.  I have developed some relationships with people in this ward that I cherish.  I am confident they know who they are so I don’t need to name them all here.  In short, 7th Ward is where it’s at.  Without a doubt, the most incredible ward I’ve ever been in.  Up until four years ago my fave ward was Springboro, but the relationships and love I’ve received in the last four years in Vancouver 7th make all other wards pale in comparison.  This is truly a ward family…and I am a big part of it.  Sunday July 13th will be our last Sunday in the ward; typing that brings tears to my eyes and as hard as leaving this ward is, it’s not the hardest part.

This isn’t even the sweetest part of our current location though.  My sister and bestest best friend forever and ever and always lives 10 minutes up the street.  I see a lot of her, we have a standing weekly date night, her 17-year-old son said it’s weird that we’re so close because he feels like he has two moms only instead of us being lesbian (though we do believe we’ve been mistaken for such before) we’re sisters.  I love her boys like my own son and she has backed me up to the ends of the earth and beyond with my own kids countless times.  Moving out of 7th Ward also means I’m moving away from her.  I can’t even begin to explain how painful it is to know that I will soon be a lot further than just 10 minutes down the street from her.

Then there’s my adoptive parents…I’ve blogged about how important they are to me several times and I’m moving even further away from them as well.  This means, just as we were getting used to the fun of holidays together we’re going to be too far away to enjoy any more.  This breaks my heart.  I am insanely in love with my baby nephew who we all actually call Baby.  I adore his mom, I’m crazy about my niece and well I just love my adopted family a ton and I know they love me also.  Sad to just get my parents back in my life only to move away from them yet again.

Finally in all of this there is the love of my life.  He and I just got back together the end of May and now, just 6 or 8 weeks later I’m moving away from him too.  He lives 20 minutes away and I typically only see him once a week right now and it’s not nearly enough time with him.  What will I do when I’m only able to see him once a month?  I think this, combined with everything else might be the death of me.  I cry and cry and cry.  My heart is so heavy; I am so pained.

See it’s not just that we’re moving…it’s that for the next few months we will be living in a 27′ Wanderer Gliderite trailer in an RV park in Cougar, WA.  To some this might sound like paradise.  Keep in mind that I am a city girl.  I even love traffic and smog (yeah I know crazy).  Consider also that there will be 4 of us living in that space, and our neighbors will be inches away.  These things alone are enough to make the situation difficult but then, for good measure, let’s just throw in the fact that the population of our new home is one hundred fifty according to the 2010 census.  Seriously?  That’s fewer people than just the apartment complex I now live in has.  Oh yeah and let us not forget that this place is 40 miles one way from the nearest real town and I don’t have a car, a bike, a scooter, or anything other than two good feet and one really bad back to get around on.  If all that isn’t bad enough, there’s the bugs and wildlife that I’d rather not live near let alone with, campfire cooking, shared showers (or insane propane costs for hot showers in the trailer), and the fact that there’s no cell coverage at the camp itself.  Just because I can camp doesn’t mean I want to, enjoy it, or am even looking forward to it.  Earlier I said I was uniquely qualified right?  I can cook in foil on coals of a fire and make it taste good, just as easy as I can cook on a regular stove.  I can build fires that burn so hot with no non-natural ingredients that they have to be put out twice, I can pitch a tent, I can clean a fish, and lots of other outdoorsy kinds of things.  Knowing how and wanting to do them are not the same though.

Heartache and sorrow have prevailed as I’ve thought about where and how I’ll be living this time next month.  I’ve cried to my sister, my mom, my home teachers, my visiting teachers, my friends, my boyfriend, and even my kids.  My kids are really excited.  Each of them have a different reason they think this is all going to be OK.  I have yet to be convinced…until about an hour ago.

Sunday afternoon my sister drove me up to the campground to put down a deposit on my spot and though I tried to play it off like it was gonna be great, inside I was miserable.  On the drive up there though I happened to hear Building 429’s song We Won’t Be Shaken.  My sister and I were chatting away like we always do when we’re in the car and so I only kinda, sorta, not really paid attention to the lyrics.  You know how when you’re really tired but you have to do something critical and dangerous like oh drive you pay more attention?  Well that’s where I was at and so I got a chance to really hear and internalize the lyrics to this song…I couldn’t believe what peace washed over me when I heard these lyrics:

…This mountain rises higher
The way seems so unclear
But I know that You go with me so I will never fear
I will trust in You

Whatever will come our way
Through fire or pouring rain
Oh we won’t be shaken
No we won’t be shaken
Whatever tomorrow brings
Together we’ll rise and sing
That we won’t be shaken…

You know my every longing
You’ve heard my every prayer
You’ve held me in my weakness
Cause You are always there
So I’ll stand in full surrender
It’s Your way and not my own
My mind is set on nothing less
Than You and You alone
I will not be moved…

This has now become my family’s theme song.  It’s often very interesting to me how God works.  At various points through this process, each of my children have come to me individually and said that maybe the reason we were going through this was basically to do what this song says…set our minds on Him and nothing less.

I’m sure it’s only me and mine, but we are that family in the movie RV.  Hopefully we’ll have the same experience after our RV adventure minus the septic scene and a few others.  At the beginning of this movie Robyn Williams, who’s character’s name I don’t remember,  mentions how plugged in everyone is.  They text each other from other rooms in the house and spend pretty much zero time together.  That’s my family presently.  We’ve gotten away from the basics.  We’ve stopped doing things together in more than one aspect of our lives.  On any given day of the week, you’ll find me plugged into the computer doing homework, editing photos, playing Words with Friends or otherwise computer driven, my 15-year-old on her phone doing much of the same things, my son swallowed up by Xbox and my youngest daughter busy reading or listening to music.  Each of us in the same household, but quite literally off in our own worlds.  We’ve been too distracted by other things and people to even do some of the most important things that need doing to safeguard our family from the winds of hell that seek to destroy us.  Things like Family Home Evening, family scripture study, family prayer, regular church attendance, personal prayer and scripture study.  As a result, Satan has had a firm hold on my family for a long time.

When crying with my middle daughter recently about this move and explaining how frustrated I was at all the rejection I’ve gotten and how of all the places in the world I wanted to be right now, Cougar, WA was not even close to “it” she, in all the wisdom that is this young woman, said maybe the reason we’re being stuck in Cougar is because God wants us to come back to Him and He knows to do that we need to be somewhere free of distraction.  See…told you that young woman is wise beyond her 15 years for sure.

I still don’t know the purpose in this scene, but I do think my daughter is right.  It’s remote enough that the number one rule is always take a buddy.  The distractions are pretty much going to be gone entirely.  The camp does offer internet but I’m not sure there will be enough umph in the trailer to even run my computer which will make finishing school very difficult.  Then, as I listened to this Building 429 song a while ago, there was that line or two that just kind of kidney punched me.  “So I’ll stand in full surrender, it’s Your way and not my own” and then later as the chorus plays again we hear “whatever tomorrow brings, together we’ll rise and sing” and through this whole process those who’ve had the details all along I’ve said this same thing to.  At the end of the day, even with all the misgivings I have about this adventure two things remain constant.  We are together and the gospel is still true.

I know that my Heavenly Father loves me; I know that my children know this same thing.  I know that just as He has provided for us in our time of need right here in Vancouver, He will continue to do the same in Cougar.  His love is constant and unchanging even when the world around us is not.  Where there is chaos, He provides peace.  Where there is fear and doubt, He offers blessed assurance.  I have learned, even when I struggle to look in the right direction, that whether I feel overwhelmed by chaos and fearful or at peace and full of blessed assurance largely depends on where I look and what I focus on.  These next few months of “camping” (albeit doing so in relative style) will undoubtedly be rough, but there are also tender mercies to be found and blessings already present.

This has happened in July not January.  It’s plenty warm enough to camp indefinitely.  It happened after reconciliation with my adopted family because the trailer we are using belongs to my adopted cousin who is letting me use it at no charge.  It’s happening at just about the same time my kids get back from/head off to Girls Camp and Scout Camp so camp skills will be fresh in their minds.  We are fortunate enough to be in a ward when we move and not just a branch, people we love have agreed to come visit so we won’t be alone, space was available immediately with no difficult getting in, several of our close friends are avid campers and they have helped us to prepare, our beloved 7th Ward has plenty of trucks and trailers so a u-haul isn’t necessary, we’re getting a huge storage unit half off for three months, our pad is all-inclusive and we don’t have to risk that scene in RV where they have to dump the waste, the campground owner is very kind, there are members in Cougar, the place is undeniably beautiful, there’s lake access both to the East and West of us within walking distance (so the kids can cool off on these hot summer days that are upon us), we will soon be lean and mean with all the walking we’ll have to do (we have to walk a half mile round trip just to have cell phone coverage), the buddy system allows any two of us to get closer at countless points through the day, the absence of distractions requires us to put first/most important things first, we’ll have great stories to tell kids and grand kids down the road, though there isn’t cell coverage at camp, there is Internet so I can finish school if the connection is adequate and arguably the most important of all the immediate blessings is that we will be together and we will not be living on the streets.

My kids are phenomenal and I don’t just say that because they are mine.  Ask anyone who’s met them and they will tell you that though not perfect, these kids are indeed amazing.  They could have reacted very differently when learning how we’d be living for the next few months.  Here’s what happened though…my youngest daughter excitedly proclaimed “FINALLY you’re taking us camping, I love camping” and my son said “just imagine all the bugs I can catch and throw on Jazmyne” (typical little brother for you), and Jazmyne just keeps assuring me that it’s not a big deal and we’re gonna be just fine.  Already I’m seeing some positive changes in these children as we prepare for camp life too.

We are all thinking about what we can do to pass the time as a family,  Jazmyne was “caught” in her scriptures voluntarily for the first time in months at church on Sunday and she volunteered to read a few chapters last night while we were reading Moroni to help Miss Gabryella finish up her Personal Progress.  Mason excitedly pulled out his Duty to God book and informed us he was anxious to get started on it.  Additionally, he has volunteered to do all the manly camp things like chop wood, hunt, fish (and clean/gut his kill) and when saying our family prayer last night he asked God to bless him with the ability to bless his family during this experience.  In short, our hearts are already returning to God.  We have a long ways to go still, but I believe we’re moving in the right direction both literally and figuratively.

Though this will be an adjustment for sure and may often prove difficult, the despair and gloom I feel around this change is dissipating quickly.  “Whatever will come our way, through fire or pouring rain, oh we won’t be shaken.  No we won’t be shaken.  Whatever tomorrow brings, together we’ll rise and sing that we won’t be shaken.  No we won’t be shaken…we will trust in You and we will not be shaken.”