Friday, December 4, 2015

When God's Purposes Override My Plans

They call it the "Third Month Wall" for a reason.

Every person who moves to another country faces it, and it's practically a rite of passage.  The first two months are exciting, adventurous and new.  But in Oman, by the end of the third month it's no longer funny that all the streets remain unnamed and never connect to one another - it's a nightmare trying to navigate it from one appointment to another.  It's no longer interesting how stores don't sell certain ingredients that can be necessary to cooking - it makes you want to give up trying to cook all together.  Those old hobbies you took for granted stateside that you can't do here are suddenly coveted.  The ice everyone complains about on the roads and windshields make you cry because you'd give anything to slip on the ice and get a freezing bum on your way to work.  A "nice day" everyone loves back home is now resented by you because it's so bloody hot, ALL the time.

By the end of the third month you've forgotten all the reasons why you moved here and going back home looks like the wisest idea you've ever come up with.  Conveniently forgetting that you've made yourself a home here already.  Add homesickness to that, depression and anxiety, and even more vulnerability trying to build a relationship you desperately want to see work.... I'd reached my threshold.

I'll admit it, in hitting the Third Month Wall I started to seriously look at moving back to the States.  I was looking at jobs, what kind of car I could get, and how I'd manage to build up enough of a savings to financially survive the first few months of being back.  I built a budget and when everything was practically put together, I sat back and looked at my life.

Depression is a scary thing to deal with when it surfaces.  The chemical imbalance in the brain make it impossible to simply "choose happiness."  Your body feels weighed down with bricks as you go about your day.  Headaches are a constant companion and the fatigue is just unbelievable.  It's not uncommon for me to sleep 12+ hours in a day a couple of days a week.  My dog has been an amazing source of joy.  More often than not the past few weeks my first and only smile of the day came when I arrived home from work and she ran up, happy to see me.  To face constant grief with no light at the end of the tunnel is a scary place I've been before, and I had no desire to return to it.  Finding myself in it again was a huge red flag to get out of this country and go back to my safe corner in the States.

When I shared where I was at with my boyfriend, he was rightfully surprised and upset.  After everything he sacrificed and went through to help me get here, to hear that I was seriously thinking of leaving again came as an enormous shock and scare.  Was it even possible to be in a relationship long distance?  Not knowing when we'd see each other again?  I told him I'd fast about it once a week for a month to help decide if I needed to stay here or go back to the States.

I reached out to a handful of women I trust and through Skype asked for their prayers, received that and their advice. There's a very good reason scripture says, "The way of fools seems right to them, but the wise listen to advice," and "Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed."

All of the women I got advice from know me.  They know my medical history and they know my character.  They've seen me in my darkest times and have helped me through good times and bad.  They have the ability to empathize and validate, and yet will call me out and call me higher.  These are women who seek God and his Word for guidance rather than popular opinion.  They are women who want to see me succeed and grow in my relationship with Christ, rather than wish to see me fail.  They're women I trust.  And because I trust them, I was able to trust their guidance, though it was painful to hear.

I was reminded that though the depression I'm facing now is similar to what I faced 2 years ago, I am not that same person.  That woman couldn't possibly be in a healthy relationship, much less move to the Middle East to pursue it.  While the red flags are still red flags, I've learned how to cope and recover from the cause.  My tolerance for certain things may be much lower than usual, but I am actually in tune with what my mind and body needs in order to provide self-care.  My level of trust in God is far more deeply rooted now than it was 2 years ago, which means I can handle more now than I could back then because I've placed my trust in a God whose strength is made perfect in my weakness.  His grace is sufficient for me.

"Give yourself more credit, Sam," one friend advised.  "You've moved to an entirely new country, a Muslim country no less, an entirely different world compared to where you used to live.  You got a job in something you've never done before and are expected to lead employees in a country where women aren't supposed to lead, but follow.  You're in a relationship with a man you love but that means being vulnerable and sharing your heart all the time.  You've left your entire support system and resources here, only to have to build new ones there from nothing.  Have patience, give yourself more credit.  You're doing great considering the circumstances."

My best friend just got engaged over Thanksgiving and it's been a very difficult thing to not be there for her through the wedding planning process.  We make do with Voxer and Skype, and that's the best we can do with the distance.  And we're making it work.  The holidays are always brutal, and I cry at the drop of a hat when I remember going sledding with my kid brothers, or snowboarding with my dad, or even just walking in the snow as it falls quietly at night.  Christmas tree lots are on every street corner where I lived, and here you're lucky to get a fake tree that's 6 feet tall from the store.  The differences are painful, but there are many good things too.

My boyfriend shows up with more and more decorations to make things festive in my home.  He got me a lovely little tree and all the trappings for it.  He even put 200 Christmas songs on a USB drive for me to listen to in my car, and printed off a dozen Christmas themed cutouts to hang around my house.  He's been so patient and persevered with me in my emotional roller coaster and has never once raised his voice to me or spoken harshly to me as my moods have traversed the entire latitude and longitude of the planet.  He holds my hand and shows more affection than anyone else would with a moody girlfriend, and he continues to call me higher as he helps me figure out what to study in my quiet times and how to reconnect with God.  He continues to pray for us and for me specifically.  As I share my needs we work on our communication and definition of things like "quality time" more clearly and then he's been great about doing what he can to meet the needs he's supposed to meet, while helping me get help from others as well.

Another friend told me, "Sam, God has you there for a reason.  There's a purpose in your being there.  Consider Moses and everything he went through before God called him out of a burning bush.  You're like Moses, going to a foreign land and learning how to live and work and start a relationship like he did with Zapporah in Midian."

I told her, "I don't want to be Moses.  I want to live a quiet life, raise a family, work and lead a simple life."

"I hate to break it to you Sam, but you're Moses.  It is what it is."

I still don't want to be Moses, but she's right.  My circumstances are what they are and I can either choose to submit to God, trusting him, or I can resist Him and the path he's laid out for me.  Either way God will be with me, but only one path was specifically approved and even made possible by God.  Being here isn't easy, but it is what it is.

Instead of fasting once a week for a month about whether I should stay here or go back to the States, I decided I'm going to fast about having God's strength in this time I feel so weak.  He has promised to be with me until the very end of the age.  He's promised to guide me with his counsel, he's given me everything I need in order to live a godly life, and that he'll never leave me or forsake me.  He will comfort me, and he will give me everything I need if I simply seek his kingdom first.

This isn't easy.  I'll be the first to admit it.  However, Christ left heaven to come to a fallen land, and entirely different world.  He left a place of love and freedom and compassion where all his needs were met in his perfect union with God the Father and the Holy Spirit... only to come to the earth drowning in sin and evil.  The more I share in his sufferings, I feel closer to him.  It's not easy, but it was never meant to be.  We're meant to simply take heart, and draw nearer to Christ in the process.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Oman Insights and Observations

This week marked two months since I’ve been in Muscat and I’ve experienced a lot in a short time.  I got a job, learned how to drive in this crazy city and how to find my way around (for the most part).  I’m learning the best neighborhoods to shop in for certain things and how to barter (pretty much the malls are the only stores where bartering doesn’t happen).  I’m learning about the many different cultures that reside here and how to show respect without compromising on the fact that I’m a Christian American.  The following is a little insight to some of the things I’ve discovered living in the city of Muscat.

As I sit here drinking it, I’ve grown quite fond of Indian tea.  The kind in the red box that’s full of loose tea leaves, rather than teabags.  A little cream and it’s not only a great energy booster but it tastes delightful.  Coffee is hard to come bye – the real stuff that is – and most people drink instant coffee.  It works, but I’m finding I prefer the real coffee beans or this Indian tea to instant coffee if I can.

I’ve also grown fond of carrying a sweatshirt with me to work every day.  Though this is the Middle East, there’s a significant climate change when you step inside a building.  That’s how people manage to wear pants and long sleeves when it’s 120 degrees (F) outside – when you step into the A/C it drops to 65. 

Doing a workout here is nothing like doing on in the grand ole USA.  You have to have a thick skin and solid self-confidence if you’re going to go to the gym.  99% of the crowd is male, and 80% of that 98% have no qualms about staring.  It’s not uncommon for me to be sprinting on the treadmill and in the mirror watch men trip over themselves as they stare while walking bye.  It’s also very common for me to go to an empty space of the gym and start a workout, and within five minutes I’m surrounded.  They work out – but they rest a lot and eyes are often fixated on one common object!  Back to my point – you have to have a thick skin and solid self-confidence to really not care about all of that and simply do your workout.  The alternative is to go to an all woman’s gym but, let’s face it, the free weights and machines are so much better where the guys are at!

On the topic of clothing: as a woman in Oman, I’m blessed in that I don’t have to wear the abaya or hijab like the Muslim women.  Oman is so tolerant of other religions it’s simply not a requirement or even a suggestion.  I can walk down the street in modest shorts and a tank top without anyone stopping me or giving me dirty looks.  I will, however, get all sorts of catcalls and honks from passing cars.  A happy compromise – I wear jeans and cover my shoulders if I go out or into a shop or restaurant.  I still get catcalls and honks and stares, but that’s the tradeoff for not having to wear the abaya or hijab.

Driving is a whole other animal here.  Never get behind a taxi while driving on the highway – they’re liable to stop at any time and it’s your fault for being dumb enough to be behind them when that happens.  Also, the speed limit is merely a suggestion, and you have a solid 20 kilometers faster you can go before you get photographed by one of the speed checks that pop up every kilometer or so.  Of course, the biggest cause of accidents is due to speeding and I see one about every other day.

Unlike the States, Oman only has two phone carriers.  Every month you either have to add more money to your plan, or you have to put enough money on your phone so that you can simply renew your plan each month.  There’s also a specific code you have to insert when you do this that will channel your money either to Internet, calls or both.  I’m still getting the hang of this, and admit I have spent way more money than I should have because I forgot to enter a code and was charged per megabyte, rather than being charged a certain number of megabytes for the month.  I’m still figuring this whole part of everyday life out.

One of my all time favorite local meals is Lebanese and it’s called a shawarma.  Chicken, pickles, French fries and some delicious sauce all wrapped up in Arabic bread.  Some restaurants put lettuce and a few other things inside, but this is seriously one of the best things I’ve ever tasted.  If it weren’t so somewhat unhealthy I’d probably have one a day.  Instead I treat myself once every couple of weeks.  There’s a restaurant called Arax in Qurum near the Intercontinental hotel that has the BEST shawarmas.  Second best are at Al Jood’s Restaurant in Azaiba.  My fallback meal when I’m pressed for time or just want something healthy: Fattoush.  It’s a salad made up of tomatoes, cucumbers, mint, parsley, lemon juice, sumac, garlic, and a shallot.  It’s healthy and very refreshing.  Honestly between lemon juice and olive oil I no longer even consider buying salad dressing.

Another observation, the cooler it gets the more people come out of the woodwork.  Very interesting things happen in this city as the weather improves.  Outdoor concerts and theater are available for free for the public’s enjoyment and football (soccer) games are thrown together on the side of the highway wherever there’s grass to support it.  Cafes and restaurants stay open late so people sit over plastic tables sipping chai or Turkish coffee as late as midnight and sometimes later.  Street shops (and malls) stay open longer too, so it’s common to see people shopping as late as 11 o’clock at night.

I’m learning how to be respectful with Meg as well.  Most people here are terrified of big dogs.  About 1 in 10 will actually be happy to see her and want to pet her.  For the sake of the rest I always have to ride an elevator alone with her, unless I’m invited inside.  When walking her on the street I purposefully put myself between her and those we pass otherwise they take such a wide berth into traffic I worry they’ll get hit by a car because they’re so concerned about avoiding Meg.  And under no circumstances is she allowed to smell people – at all!  Unless they ask to pet her, she can’t even lean over to smell them otherwise they jump back and fear she’s going to bite.  It’s a shame really – she’s such a love-bug and adores people.  But, I make up for it when we’re home, and when church is at my place everyone loves on her then too.

I’m reminded of Paul when he said, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone,” (Romans 12:18) and “I am convinced, being fully persuaded in the Lord Jesus, that nothing is unclean in itself.  But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for that person it is unclean.  If your brother or sister is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love… Therefore do not let what you know is good be spoken of as evil,” (Romans 14:14-16).  What I do may not be wrong or disrespectful in the States, but here it could be both of those things.  For the sake of loving others the way Christ calls me to love, I have to do whatever I can to live at peace with people, and respect what they believe is unclean or improper.  I may not need to wear the abaya or hijab, but I certainly don’t want to walk inside a store in a strapless top and short shorts, or don a bikini on a public beach.

Another scripture, “I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some,” (1 Corinthians 9:22b).  While I don’t need to dress, speak or act exactly like everyone else, it’s good to adapt to the culture and learn how to dress respectfully, speak the language and act in a way that would instill joy and encouragement in others.  My goal is to help the church here to grow, and if my words, dress and behavior already put them off how can I fulfill my goal?  Ultimately, God’s goal.

There’s much to learn and experience, but I’m enjoying the bits and pieces as they come along.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Settling In

The first day I arrived in Muscat I was completely taken aback.  My boyfriend not only paid off the customs agent to get Meg into the country (then went back with the necessary paperwork a few days later), he put me up in a really nice brand new apartment.  He also furnished the whole thing before I arrived and included a dozen maps, visitor books on the country and magazines.  He even added thoughtful touches of framing a picture of the two of us and putting it on one nightstand, and framing a second photo of my best friend and I with my little brothers and putting it on the other nightstand.  A sign that read, “Welcome to Muscat Sam & Meg” lay on my bed with signatures from just about every church member.  Needless to say, I cried.

The first couple of weeks in Muscat he took me to probably a dozen different schools for interviews and to drop off my resume.  He called, e-mailed and wheedled his way into offices of those who would be best to receive my papers to get me a job.  After two weeks it became pretty clear that I was too late in the game to get a job as a teacher – especially one without a car.  We broadened my scope to the next best jobs that would utilize my skills.  My degree is in human development, and my certifications are in being an assistant nurse as well as a teacher of English as a second language to adults.  My military experience gave me MC, writing, video and audio editing, and radio announcing experience.  I finally landed a job with an event coordinating company on a strictly trainee basis.  The general manager and I share a U.S. military background. 

Honestly, I wasn’t qualified for this job when I got it.  The GM just kept saying, “I couldn’t stop thinking about you for some reason,” “I couldn’t get you out of my head,” “You’re not qualified but something in my gut keeps telling me to take a chance on you.”

He may not know what that “something” was, but I do.  We make our own plans, but God determines the steps we take (Proverbs 16:9; 20:24). 

He’s got me on a 90-day on-the-job-training program right now with a fixed salary each month.  Come the New Year my salary will increase depending on my value to the company.  I’m being groomed to take on a management position in the next 3-4 months and once the late spring and summer months hit our workload will slow down exponentially because the majority of the residents go on vacation.  That will allow me to not only take vacations as well, but to go back to school.  I’m planning on getting an associates degree in Oenology and Wine Business to, eventually, open my own winery back in Washington State.

I’ve been working with this company for a little over three weeks and it’s been a wonderful eye-opener.  While the hours are not what someone would typically prefer – I work most weekends and holidays in addition to weekdays – it’s given me a vision of how the skills I’m learning now will be beneficial to me in the future.  Learning management, event coordination, Disc Jockey, sound and lighting systems have given me a vision of making a future winery also a place to host events like weddings, birthdays, family reunions and anniversaries.  Adding to it a few years into the business would be a bed and breakfast farther up on the property.  Who wouldn’t want to have their wedding, reunion, etc. at the winery, and then stay at a quaint B&B up the lane?

God’s provision has continued to surpass my expectations.  Most people wait a month or more before they’re able to get a job – I only had to wait two weeks.  Admittedly it felt like a very long two weeks!  My boyfriend has been an incredible support since I got here.  Until my first paycheck comes he’s been helping with weekly expenses so I don’t have to worry about them.  Until I get a car he’s been wonderful about picking me up and taking me to run errands without so much as a single word of complaint.  My dog, Meg, has been well loved and taken care of since I got here.  Even with my crazy work hours it’s never been an issue for me to run home to walk her and feed her before having to get back to a setup for an event.  With all the changes that have happened to her the last few months she’s transitioned like a champion.

Across the street from my apartment is a very nice gym that’s affordable for my budget so I got a membership last week.  Having that simple luxury of being able to have a safe place, especially one that’s so close, to stay in shape has been an incredible blessing.  One by one God provides ways to help me take care of myself.

Joe and I continue to work on our relationship, day by day.  The romantic beginning he and I experienced, one that everyone said was just like a fairytale, has shifted to a wonderfully intimate reality.  We’ve had difficult conversations that meant we had to share hurts, disappointments, frustrations and our hearts desires.  We’ve had to sacrifice and humble ourselves, even when we aren’t sure we wanted to.  We’ve had fun, laughed, been able to rest, relax and set aside the demands of work and life simply by spending a few hours in one another’s presence.  We continue to learn what it means to be in a relationship, and continue to work to be better partners for one another.  One of the most joyful moments for me was when I shared about a stranger who had become pushy with me at a club event, and Joe offered to talk to him if he showed up again.  That small act of offering protection meant the world to me.  The more I open my heart to him and give him a chance to know me, the more confidence I have in him and his love to last.

I’m still settling in to Muscat.  I’m working on adding color and feminine touches to my apartment.  I’m still discovering my role at work.  I’m trying to find ways to establish something of a routine, and creating little comforts to make long work nights less of a burden on my heart and mind.  I’m still learning how to be a girlfriend!  But I’m enjoying the journey.  I miss my family, friends and home state every day.  There’s nothing like eastern Washington in the fall.  But the Middle East has its beauty as well.  The more I seek first God’s kingdom more is added to me.  Church, meeting with women in my congregation, opening my heart, being in the Word every morning and having a prayer list to bring to God’s throne every day makes all the difference in the world.  The more I seek Him, the more of Him and His goodness I find.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Forsaking All I Trust in Him: F.A.I.T.H

"Jesus looked at them and said, 'With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.'" - Matthew 19:26

I recently read a great quote on growing in faith.  "Try something so big that unless God is in it, it is destined to fail." - Unknown.  Over the last six months I've been commended on my planning skills, logistical skills, multi-tasking and balancing skills in getting all things worked out to move to Oman.  Even more so getting them worked out with Meg being able to come along.  Here's the truth: I am not responsible for how everything worked out.

If God doesn't allow something to happen, it won't.  If he does, it will.  That's the truth.  Sometimes bad things happen; not because God wants it to but because he allows it to for a greater purpose.  I say that with great delicacy as I know those who have faced great losses would be stung by such a statement.  Feelings acknowledged, it remains the truth.

The last three days have been a great test of my faith in God, and an even greater test in my faith that this move to the Middle East is something God will not only allow, but be pleased with.  God is pleased when we act in faith, and pleased when others turn to him on behalf of themselves, or others (Hebrews 11:6).  It doesn't really matter if that act of faith is to apply for a better job, try to have children, say no to one opportunity to take a chance at a greater one, or even where to invest your money.  The point is to do so choosing to believe in God's Word above popular opinion or the experts.

I did my research to get my emotional support service dog, Meg, to Oman.  For the last six months I made phone calls to airlines, embassy's, customs departments, and searched vigorously every link I could dig up on how to travel internationally with a dog.  My boyfriend has been an incredible support who has made calls and met with people face to face to make sure the facts at the border matched up with what the websites were saying.  Months of research and conversations happened, vet appointments took place and paperwork was mailed and signed and paid for.

When I arrived at the airport, 4:30am on a Tuesday morning, the first lie came to light: Meg's enormous crate wasn't free to ship after all - even though she was a service animal.  Add $200 to my baggage fees.  It was her first time on a plane and she handled the flight like a pro.  Getting to my seat and loading luggage with her was the hard part.  If you have a toddler and you're trying to navigate them down the aisle while carrying your purse and carry-on you have an idea of how difficult it is to keep them focused on finding a seat only you know the number to.  Now imagine your child taking every empty seat they come to first, and trying to navigate them further down the aisle, only to have them pick up a cheerio or whatever food someone dropped in the aisle along the way and stuffing it in their mouth.  Whatever you do, don't smack the person in the aisle with your purse while you turn your child around when they turn to you to ask you a question.  This was my experience with Meg.  Oh, and when I was loading my luggage in the overhead compartment - she's taking the space at my feet - she wanders down the aisle a few rows just looking around - not bothering anyone.  Then I overhear someone say, "I thought she was supposed to be a service dog."  A note to all who aren't familiar with service dogs: yes they're trained, no they're not perfect.

Second lie came to light from my flight from Denver to New York: no Meg and I could not have a bulkhead seat.  The extra 18 inches of leg room makes all the difference with a dog her size!  Despite asking, almost pleading, with the ticket agent to see if there was anything she could do, she refused.  Picture being in one of those seats in the back with your backpack under the seat in front of you, and imagine the leftover leg room.  Now remove the backpack and try putting a lab-sized dog in between your legs for the 3.5 hour journey without bugging your neighbor in the seat next to you OR blocking the aisle.  Fact: it's impossible.  Thankfully the people next to me and around me were super kind, thought Meg was wonderful, and the man across the aisle from me offered me his seat because he had an empty seat next to him.  Meg was able to lay down without being cramped like a sardine.  Turns out the man was a former U.S. Marine like me, worked for the airline, and thought Meg was the most well-behaved dog he'd ever seen.  The guy in front of me said he'd never seen a dog so well-trained before.  The bits of validation meant everything after the previous comments I'd heard.  The last leg from New York to Washington D.C. Meg and I had the only empty seat on the plane next to us, so we were both able to sleep during that 45-minute flight.  I'd only gotten 3 hours the night before.

The third, and subsequent lies, came once I reached the ticket agent for my flight from Washington D.C. to Dubai.  I was told Meg could simply be handed from the gate to someone who would take her to her crate and then put her under the plane.  I heard this same statement from more than half a dozen people working with this airline.  I spoke with a supervisor with customer service and, I'll admit it, I yelled at the guy.  It's really difficult when you go to your nation's capitol and you see posters all over the place that say "we support our troops" and "PTSD, the invisible war" and "Wounded Warrior Project" and then be told that because I'm not active duty my service dog doesn't really count.  It's even more difficult to hear from the disabilities customer service that I could bring Meg into any airport but her breed "might" be an issue.  Long story short, I missed my flight and was told I could board another flight the next night for Dubai no problem.  Meg would be allowed.  I did apologize to the supervisor for yelling at him before I left.

That night at the hotel I spoke to my boyfriend and tried to contact the Dubai embassy to make sure Meg would be allowed in the city.  I was up until 3am trying to get ahold of them - and I never did.  I went to sleep with my boyfriend taking over the calls all the way over in Oman.  The next morning I woke to a message from him that said he'd finally gotten ahold of someone.  In Dubai, certain breeds of dog are not allowed into the city.  This includes any mix of pittbull.  It doesn't matter that Meg is a service dog, she was not allowed into the airport.  The woman he spoke to said it wasn't worth it to bring her in only to get quarantined, to send her home until we could figure out a way to have her shipped to Oman where they would allow my dog.

I finally lost it.  My flight would leave in about 12 hours after I got his message and as she slept on the bed I couldn't imagine leaving her behind.  She's an emotional support service dog for a reason and to face this massive transition without her, after leaving every other part of my life behind and beginning a whole new one - even a new job - was just unfathomable.  Still, I cried and prayed and cried and prayed and began looking at alternatives.  Nothing was coming up as possible.  Sitters charge too much, I had no transportation to get her somewhere without missing my flight, I had no money to stay another night in the hotel much less get another plane ticket through another airline, and the horrific words "humane society" just terrified me.

You can imagine the doubt that raced through my mind.  Was Meg supposed to come with me?  Was I meant to do this whole thing without her?  Could I handle that?  I knew God could do anything, but I also knew he offers tools to help us.  Meg wasn't just a pet, she was a tool for my emotional well-being.  The even bigger question: was I supposed to move to Oman?  God had been working everything out from the beginning, but maybe this was a sign I wasn't supposed to go.  I kept praying, begging God to help me.  In the midst of it, I managed to whisper, "not my will, but yours be done, God."

Then I got a phone call.  A friend wanted to help.  He told me to research an airline and the stopovers to see if there was anything possible for Meg to come with me on another day.  A few hours later I found one.  KLM allowed service dogs, they'd have a bulkhead seat for me the whole way, and the layover in Amsterdam allowed for service dogs, and Meg's breed.  He gave me his credit card and took care of it - we were to leave the next day.  Another old friend from high school sent me a message saying she and her husband wanted to help - they offered to take care of my hotel that night and bought me dinner.  Almost a dozen others messaged me throughout this whole transition with words of encouragement: "Have faith.  God will work things out.  God is good.  God is there for you.  God knows what you need and he'll give it to you.  Don't give up."  Amidst that were half a dozen offers to take Meg until I could work things out, or to offer some money to help out any way they could, or to offer me a place to stay for free until I could figure things out.  I was overwhelmed with the generosity and compassion that poured from people in those six hours.  Dozens of people said they were praying for me and Meg that things would work out for us.  People I hadn't heard from or spoken to in years reached out to me.  For some it'd been even more than a decade.  When my ticket was purchased, I hit my knees and just started weeping again.  Tears of gratitude to God for helping me.

Fact: That help came from God.

My appeal for prayers, once I got the news, gave people something to pray for.  God used my situation, while horrible in the beginning, to cause a large number of people to turn to Him in prayer, appealing on my behalf.  That's what God wants!  People turning to HIM for help, having their faith grow when he answers, and to have HIM glorified when things work out.  And people did glorify God when I told everyone how it had worked out.  It was God who held me back a day to have dozens of people turn to him and give him glory when he allowed me and Meg to go forward with this move 36 hours later.

An untested faith is a weak faith.  There is no other way to please God apart from faith.  My faith, my boyfriend's, and who knows how many others', grew these last couple of days.  God is all-powerful, all-present and all-knowing.  He can stop anything he wants to stop, and he can move people, mountains and time, because he is sovereign, whenever he wants to.  When a glitch in my life results in many others turning to him and giving him glory, I'll take a glitch any day.

Forsaking all else, the doubts of others, the statistics, my feelings, expert opinions and popular opinion, I trust in God.  Even when I don't understand, even when I'm terrified and I think his way might cause more harm than help, I will trust in Him.  Because he says I can.  Because his word stands true, even after people are gone and my circumstances become the past (Matthew 24:35).