God has taught my husband and me some important lessons early in our marriage, but He had to place where He did for us to learn them. We serve an awesome God Who wants to lead us down paths of righteousness and give us His best; we just have to trust in His plans and timing. Isaiah 55:8-9 and Jeremiah 29:11-13 remind me that He has plans that are so much better than anything I could ever dream up. Here are eight lessons I have learned from living and working in the city that we call home.
1. The most important things in life are God, family, and relationships. Living outside the "big city" has forced me, in particular, to focus on God and relationships with family, friends, and coworkers. My husband has never had a problem with that; he thrives on relationships and socialization, but I have always been very reserved. God has definitely brought me out of my comfort zone! I love my God!!
2. Depend solely on Him. There have been so many times that God has been the only One to show up and answer our prayers and needs. When people live in a city, everything is at their fingertips and family and friends are close by to help when they need it. However, we have found that very few friends and even family members are willing or have the time to make the drive to help us when we need it. Although it makes us feel lonely and somewhat sad sometimes, it also forces us to get on our knees and seek the only One Who can fulfill every need and every desire in us. God always provides for all our needs (Phil. 1:19).
3. Slow down; enjoy life and moments with our loved ones because life is fleeting. When I first started teaching, our holidays and breaks (Thanksgiving, Christmas, Winter Break, & Spring Break) seemed to last as long as they should, but as I started getting older and, especially when I had a child, those holidays seemed to fly by. I realized that even short work weeks still felt like full work weeks. God opened my eyes and taught me that it's not the number of days we can spend with our family, but the quality of the days we spend with our family. I learned to treasure every free moment I have with my husband and daughter and to make the most of every opportunity.
4. It's not what we own, but how we spend and invest what God gives us--time, money, resources, etc. We don't have much, but very little can go a long way in God's kingdom. Proverbs 11:25 tells us that a generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed (even if you don't have much to offer).
5. Blessings are everywhere. God is always ready to bless us; we just need to make sure we're walking faithfully with Him so we don't miss His blessings!
6. Great people and lost people are everywhere. There are great people around us that we need to connect with who will enrich our lives and encourage us. There are also lost people everywhere who are dying and need to experience the real and passionate love of Jesus Christ, the love that brings true life and hope.
7. Prayer changes everything. I always hear people telling others to pray about a problem, care, or concern if they don't see a solution. It's not cliche; prayer is so powerful! It is a way of life, to be in constant prayer with my Father. I do not know how I would get through each day if I couldn't talk to Him and I DEFINITELY wouldn't be a full-time stay-at-home mom without the power of prayer. One of my mentors, after I told her three years ago that God had placed a desire in my heart to stay at home and homeschool our future children, but couldn't see a way to do it, told me to "pray, pray, pray!" Those three words (or the same word) changed my life forever. That day, I committed to praying about that situation, no matter if I could see a light at the end of the tunnel or not. Then, God showed me 1 Thess. 5:18, which tells me to "give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." So, through my trials, God has taught me to pray about everything--the good, the bad, problems, worries, praises and to trust Him and His timing. Then, if I don't see anything changing, give thanks because that's where God wants me and keep praying until something happens, until He moves. Additionally, God taught me not to wait until a problem arises to pray, but to pray every day, all the time. Through my daily communication with Him, He prepares me for the bumps, curves, twists, and storms that lie ahead of me.
8. Don't make rash decisions. This is sort of tied to the lesson about prayer, but after having made several wrong decisions and suffered the consequences, my husband and I now have a new rule about making large decisions that affect our family. We will pray about them for 2-4 weeks before making a final choice about the matter, and now, from our mistakes, we can teach and model for our children the importance of patience. Although something looks good, it's not always what's best for us.