Vince and I love the “Fixer Upper” TV show with Chip and Johanna Gaines. Each episode, they transform an older home into a dream house. Chip’s favorite part of the process is Demo Day. He and his workers excitedly wield their sledge hammers to tear out walls, appliances, cabinets, and more. They look like they are having the time of their lives as they tear the house apart so it can be renovated. Johanna can typically be seen off in the distance, with a smile on her face and rolling her eyes, before she sneaks out the door. Her favorite part seems to be the day when she can finally go in and put the final touches on everything before the Great Reveal.
July 8, 2016, I received notification I had passed the licensure exam for Marriage and Family Therapy. After years of schooling, working on clinical hours, and intensive study for the exam, I had finally achieved that huge goal. In 2010, I had gone back to school for my Master’s Degree in order to become better equipped to work with wounded women. My kids and I were in college at the same time. We often sent each other prayer requests when we had big assignments and tests. Going back to school at my age was quite scary. I often told classmates I was from the age of dinosaurs and actually used a typewriter for my undergrad program. During the summer of 2016, all of that was finally behind me and it was a time to celebrate.
That’s when God began a renovation project in Vince and me. After ten years of renting our dear friend’s home on the North Shore, we received word that it was being sold. Vince and I knew it was time for us to be back in our own place. Nevertheless, sitting in a house full of boxes, I told God, “I hate moving and despise change.” As I complained to God, He brought to my mind the Fixer Upper show and impressed upon me that it was now Demo Day for us. I sensed God telling me that He was renovating Vince and me and that the finished work would be amazing. This symbolism gave me strength during the next year as we completed three planned moves before finally settling into our condo on the North Shore.
Adding to the craziness, I had a job interview the day we moved out of the house we were renting. Sitting on a chair, in an empty bedroom, I talked with my future employer about why I thought I would make a good Military Family Life Counselor (MFLC). In the midst of moving and fixing up properties to sell, I sadly gave notice to the Domestic Violence Action Center that I was leaving, and I started a new job as a MFLC.
In May of 2017, we sold our house in central Oahu and moved into our 700 sq. ft. condo on the North Shore. It was tiny, but like the beach house we had previously rented, it was also on the water. Although a tight space, I began to unpack boxes and finally settle into our new normal. That’s when Vince suggested that, perhaps, it was finally time to move back to the mainland. Our kids’ families were scattered across the US. If we hoped to have time with them, we needed to get closer. And then he asked, “Have you ever considered getting your doctorate?” And so, Demo Day continued.
Isn’t that how God works? After Jesus was baptized (Matthew 3:13-17) the Spirit led him into the wilderness where he was tempted for forty days (Matthew 4). After the disciples watched Jesus miraculously feed the 5,000 (Matthew 14) they quickly found themselves on a boat in the middle of a raging storm. Huge blessings are often followed by testing and refining seasons. Obviously, we can find ourselves in the midst of warfare. At the same time, the challenges that follow blessings can be God-given invitations to go deeper with Him.
Some wilderness experiences are brief. Others, like the one Vince and I currently find ourselves in, are long. I continually feel like I am in a plane that is circling an airport down below. I keep asking God to land the plane. There is so much I believe He wants me to do. And yet, I’m stuck in this holding pattern.
In times like these, I must remember, there is a work God wants to do IN me before I can do the work He has for me. And so I wait. This season has NOT been fun. We’ve had a tough three years. At the same time, I can honestly say I wouldn’t trade these experiences. I really want Demo Day to end. Nevertheless, I also know I am changing, that Vince is changing, and the Great Reveal is going to be amazing.
Jeremiah 29:11 is my life verse: “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” Wherever you find yourself today, I pray this verse will encourage you as it does me.