I don’t remember exactly when my husband came home from work and told me he was asked to relocate to VA. I knew I married a country boy with dreams of acreage and farm animals…more elbow room away from the hubbub of Lancaster County. And I wanted to support those dreams, as long as I didn’t have to give up too much!
So, he married me. A girl who grew up in the heart of Lancaster’s Amish country, a few miles from pretty much anything. My first job was at a market stand in Philly, I worked at a restaurant with tourists, we could walk to Rockvale Square Outlets from my childhood home, went to school where tour buses would pass slowly to look at all the Mennonite children at play, thrived surrounded by people, loved the “rat race” of lots of plans. Not to mention that my Mom and sisters, nieces and nephews are very important to me. I was so homesick in Romania sometimes that I thought I wouldn’t survive.
When the VA “bomb” dropped, I was sure it would be something we’d think about and that would be as far as it would go. I prayed for closed doors…no house, no church, no school for the children. But as time went on and everything fell into place, Sheldon got more excited about it, things moved forward, I felt like I was smothering with panic. How would I ever survive an interstate move? How would I ever adjust to another…life, so different from the one that was comfortable? On the outside, I was a submissive, sure-I’m-excited, no problem kind of wife. I started to feel like I was allowing a wall to be built in our marriage. Can’t he see that it won’t work? I’ll fall into deep depression! I won’t function! I CAN’T DO THIS!
I was feeling convicted. I knew in my heart that this was God’s will for our lives. Too many things worked out too well for it to be a series of coincidences. I fought it, oh, how I fought it! And few knew the battle raging inside my heart. I wanted to come to the place where I not only supported Sheldon’s dreams, but also shared them. And only a miracle would make that happen.
One morning in April 2016, I woke with a song in my head that I didn’t even know well…but the words swirling in there were, “And when you’re tired of fighting, chained by your control, there’s freedom in surrender. Lay it down and let it go.” Sheldon was leaving for a two-day trip to VA. We were recovering from a fever/achy flu. I was weepy and I remember praying, “OK, God. I’m so tired of fighting this. Just take this whole VA mess and help me allow you to make it a beautiful thing.” I was trying to pack. Sheldon’s mom had offered to keep the three youngest children so I could do just that. I drove Bella to school late that morning having allowed her to sleep in to make sure she was fully recovered from her sickness.
As we drove, I finally came to the place where I felt ready to give up. Almost to school, I felt a terrible headache come on. I got out of the vehicle and pain shot down both legs. I tried to decide if I should drive home or tell someone I didn’t feel well. But what was wrong with me? I didn’t want to make a scene for nothing. And who would I call? Sheldon was 4 1/2 hours away. So I left. The pain became more intense. I couldn’t even think. I remember very little of the drive home (about half an hour) except for saying, “Jesus, help me,” over and over. And one other thing I remember. The song that I woke thinking about? It played on the radio.
I pulled into the garage, stumbled to the bed, wrote a text (didn’t send it) to Sheldon that said, “If I don’t wake up, I love you!” I’m not the kind to think everything is a spiritual attack, but this sure felt like it! It was like I yielded my control of our family’s future and made Satan mad. I slept fitfully for about an hour. By then, I had weird numb spots…my face, my feet, my hands. I was starting to think migraine. I called my mom and told her that I’m home alone and I think I’m having a migraine. But what if it’s a stroke or something else? So I asked her to call me in an hour to check on me. (Hey, what are moms for right? 🙂 )
I was also convinced that I had a panic attack. I called Sheldon and told him what was going on. He wondered if he should come home and I told him I’d be okay. Then after I hung up I thought, “No, I won’t! Please send him home, God!” A few minutes later, Sheldon called to tell me he was not staying in VA with me feeling so strange. “Thank you, Jesus!”
I began packing in the girls’ room. I carried the radio to the room to see if I could get it to work. That station never worked in the house before, but I thought I’d try…it came in clear as a bell. I thought, “About 2 hours ago, ‘that song’ played. A good radio station doesn’t play the same song that often.” Guess what one of the first songs was? (It is now “my song” and probably will be forever!) So many moments through that long day when I could see my Father saying, “Whatever is in your future, I’m here. You’re not alone. I love you. You are mine. I’ll be the same in VA as PA. Trust Me.”
The next days were some of the lowest I’ve ever experienced physically and emotionally. (After my seizure in October, we wonder now if it was seizure activity I experienced. We’ll probably never know for sure.) But I had a peace and security unlike any I’d ever known before. All the walls and fears and worries were stripped away. People were so supportive. We felt so carried through it all.
And Virginia has been one of God’s good gifts. We all love it! And even this PA-lovin’ girl married to her country boy is learning to enjoy southern, small town living. It’s a different culture…but that’s another story for another time! And those fears I had about not surviving and debilitating homesickness? They never happened…my Father was right, as always. Oh, I have imperfect days, trust me! But I’ve learned that surrender is sweet when you can trust the One you are surrendering too.
And “my song”? Give it a listen sometime…