August 20, 2009

Unexpected fruit

In scripture we are told to comfort others with the comfort with which we have been comforted. At the end of a very difficult time for our family, God has provided comfort in an amazing way. This post is intended to share this comfort and to encourage others that God will provide at just the right time and the blessings will be overwhelming.


his past four months have been characterized by one of the most turbulent storms our family has ever gone through. A tempest took us to Lynchburg and a tsunami took us out. Both storms were sent by God. Both storms resulted in graces and blessings that took us by surprise. God is to be trusted and praised.

Our new home

God moved us to Lynchburg by the motivation of our son who had to be institutionalized for medical reasons. This was a terribly difficult time in our lives. Our son was nine years old; he stayed in the residential treatment facility until he was 11 years old. We were able to visit with him for two hours each Sunday afternoon, but were not able to spend any other time with him during the week. We were able to speak with him on the telephone for up to 10 minutes each night. We never missed a phone call and we never missed a visiting time—even though the treatment facility in Lynchburg, Virginia, was almost 200 miles away from our home in Stafford, Virginia.

David in our front yard displaying
his new white-wall bike tire

But in the midst of that tempest, God provided a shelter. We began driving super early in the morning so we could go to church there in Lynchburg before visiting our son at the treatment facility. A couple of the church members offered a room for the night so we could drive to Lynchburg on Saturday and get a decent night’s sleep before visiting our son and heading back to Stafford Sunday night. Eventually, the church offered to rent us a home that was donated to the church by an elderly member years ago. The rent that they charged was quite low. This was a tremendous blessing in that it allowed Kim to stay in Lynchburg all the time so she could at least be near our son. So Kim lived in Lynchburg during the week and I lived in Stafford and worked in Washington, DC, during the week. I drove to Lynchburg on the weekends and spent the weekend with Kim before driving back into town for the work week.

David’s new school—Skyline High School

During that time, we fell in love with the people of the church there in Lynchburg. We fell in love with the city. We fell in love with the Central Virginia area. And we decided to stay. We knew that we would have to move out of the church’s house at some point and we were casually looking to buy a home there in Lynchburg, but we had not made any strong efforts in that direction—especially since the economy plummeted.

So we were not prepared for the sudden request by our church to vacate the property. That request was also accompanied by the information that my ministry at the church (the web site) was being moved into the hands of a paid consultant. The change made us realize that we didn’nt really have roots there in Lynchburg. Knowing that it would be a good thing to be nearer to my downtown office, we decided to look in a new area, closer to DC, for a new place to live.

The removal of ministry (sans explanation) was hurtful. And coming, as it did, at the same time as the request for us to vacate the house added to the pain of wondering if we had done something wrong that for some reason was not being expressed by the church leaders—even when we asked.

Deer eating under our backyard apple tree last night

As time went on and we were unable to purchase a home, we switched our method of attack from buying to renting. Still we were unable to find a home. We applied for them, but they were offered to other folks who had also applied, or were given to a family member, etc. After we had applied for three homes and lost each one for odd and differing reasons, the church leadership demanded that we vacate the house by a date that we had discussed as being beneficial to their plans. We had no place to move to and the church was determined for us to leave. The pressure was huge. But we knew that God was in control and rested in his loving care.

The view from our bed early this morning

The church extended our move-out date to August 20 (yeah, that’s yesterday). They gave us this notice on July 21, exactly one month ago today. Still we were not able to secure a new home for another two and a half weeks. The tension was incredible. Our son began to ask if we were going to be homeless.

We finally managed to secure a new house to live in just two weeks prior to the moveout date. It was obvious that God had provided exactly this house and exactly at this moment. We had not even planned to look at this house, but it went onto the MLS system the morning that we were headed to Linden, VA, to look at another house. The “For Rent” sign had not even been placed in the yard yet when we looked at it. We fell in love. It is the perfect house for us.

John Owen

Did you never run for shelter in a storm, and find fruit which you expected not? Did you never go to God for safeguard, driven by outward storms, and there find unexpected fruit?

And two weeks later, I’m blogging from my new library, in our beautiful farm house just a few miles from the entrance to Skyline Drive (the scenic road that travels the crest of the Shenandoah Mountains). Our master bedroom looks over our large back yard, over our apple trees (that regularly have deer congregating under them) and onto an unobstructed view of the Shenandoah Mountains. The home was built in 1940 and has gorgeous hardwood floors, very large rooms, and floor-to-ceiling windows. It has a full wrap around front porch, a small side porch, and a full-width, screened-in back porch.

Although the old school charm has been maintained in the house, it has been upgraded with such things as central air conditioning, a Jacuzzi tub in the master bathroom, modern appliances (including a dishwasher!), and recessed lighting in almost every room. The house is within walking distance of a large train junction (our son loves trains). It is within walking distance of a baseball stadium and extended baseball park, a community park, a huge pool, a huge playground, a stream where you can go fishing, three restaurants that are considered excellent, multiple churches, and is less than a mile from the entrance to the highway that will take me to work. And yet it is a very quiet and peaceful neighborhood with almost no traffic. And with very friendly neighbors.

It is simply beyond belief. And it is evidence of God’s incredible desire to bless his children, even though we are sinful and don’t often do as we should.

The view from our bed about 15 minutes after the previous one

So today when I read the quote (quoted in the callout box above) from the Puritan, John Owen, it made me once again sing praises to our God. When he pulls us out of the storm, he shows us that he was not merely in control the whole time, but he was preparing for us blessings that overflow the cup and spill out all over the floor. And he doesn’t even ask us to clean it up.


  1. Rich,

    Once again I find myself so encouraged when reading your blog entry. So often when we're going through a trial we question God and ask why he would allow us to experience such pain and trials. Many times it's not until we go through the trials that we can fully understand what amazing things he did in our lives during that time. In my own life I continue to ride the rollercoaser and it looks like I'm going to be on it for a couple more months. If I've learned anything during this time it's my total dependence on our Savior. We serve an AWESOME God! I'm blown away sometimes by the peace that I'm feeling right now, especially with everything going on in my life. That peace can only come from Him! Thank you so much fore your entry today! The last two days have been really difficult. May I continue to rejoice and praise Him in this storm!

  2. Rich, it has been an absolute pleasure to travel this spiritual journey with your family. My children have learned a great faith lesson by what they have observed. There's an old saying, "it's always darkest before the dawn." and it seems to go with these beautiful pictures in your post. Thanks for being transparent and sharing your heart with us!!

  3. I greatly enjoyed reading this story in your journey, and I am absolutely and completely in love with that view from your window. I'm serious - that view puts a big knot in my heart. I'm so happy for all of you, that it worked out this way. Even though there were sorrows along the way, this has got to be a great comfort to you now.


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