Friday, May 17, 2013

Singing In The Valley Of Trouble

It was heaven. Air Force Bases as the home of my early childhood. New friends every day mixed with an endless supply of playmates and giant lawns for epic adventures. Military aircraft played symphonies above, vibrating my window as they landed in their safe haven. My favorites were the Jolly Green Giants floating over, the gentle ripple of their blades a lulling heartbeat. No one could hurt me there.

It all changed when I turned 8. Dad’s service completed, we entered civilian life. At first, it was a new adventure. Living in a Grandparents’ house filled with light, I attended the school where my Mom went. I walked to school imagining myself in her shoes. Then famine hit.

November 1976, in the breath of a sentence my world changed forever. We had to move. We needed to go where opportunity was. Like Joseph moving his father Jacob and family to Egypt. I was moving to the Central Valley of California. Both started out as provision and ended with trouble.

I grew up quickly as the weight of change burdened my Mom. She fought Depression valiantly. Christianity told her if she was anointed with oil and prayed over healing would come. Read the Bible, pray more, get involved in a Bible Study; all of these helped, but never fully freed her to be the person she was in the land of plenty.

She obeyed. Depression always came back.

The wilderness introduced a new mother. She did the best with what she had, constantly battling to be free. All of life became a struggle. Four girls, financial woes and I as the oldest accepted the responsibility to fill in the gaps. In this new land, I didn't fit into the culture. Friendships were few and far between. The ability to serve my Mom and sisters eased my burden of loneliness. I learned the joy and importance of service.

The Counting Mutant and I met in college. The weekend after graduation, at 20, with song and dance, I packed my car and moved.  Central Coast was a land of new purpose. Creating a home, we trekked into adulthood. Our journey carried us from the Coast to LA.

Our fifth year of marriage brought us a beautiful baby, BoyA. A Master’s Degree introduced a new season. With breathless expectation we sought God for direction. Each interview ended with the same statement: If you only had a CPA…

It became clear we needed to start over. God had a promise and The Mutant knew the only place to find it was in the Central Valley. My heart groaned. The promise was for him, but not for me. I knew I was heading into another wilderness. 

As Sarah followed Abraham, I packed my house and prepared for the journey. It didn't take long to realize how much trouble filled the Central Valley for me. My family of origin in disarray making the best of their situation, I realized my loneliness. We welcomed a second son, BoyZ. The friends Father provided were few, but they were rich in love and grace. The next four years left lasting, aching scars. I learned to love God above everything else. He would always provide for me if I served and obeyed him first. He was a Master I trusted.

For The Mutant, the CPA was obtained. He sought God’s face: where next? He opened a window and we were released. I quickly packed the house. With singing and dancing I left this Valley of Trouble, eager to see what promise set before us.

Northern California was a balm to my wounds. Stability and a third baby, GirlyK, introduced a season of joy and peace. After 18 months, the dream job arrived. Another move and for two years California felt truly like home. A ski resort town, people from all over the world gathered to teach, explore and breathe airs of delight. Four seasons, complete with snow and Spring Green that glows with new life.

The dream job is still a job. God often gives us exactly what we have asked for in order to draw us toward him and reveal its emptiness. The Mutant became acutely aware. Famine was coming. It was time to go again to the Valley.

I imagined what Naomi must have felt when her husband decided to move to Moab. My soul ached. I cried out to my Master for mercy. He led me to this verse:

“Therefore, behold, I will allure her, Will bring her into the wilderness, And speak comfort to her. I will give her her vineyards from there, And the Valley of Achor (trouble) as a door of hope; She shall sing there, As in the days of her youth, As in the day when she came up from the land of Egypt.
And it shall be, in that day," Says the Lord, "That you will call Me 'My Husband,' And no longer call Me 'My Master,'” Hosea 2:14-16

I entered a season of Winter Sun. Light to guide me without warmth. As I meditated on Hosea-written on windows and mirrors with dry erase marker and placed on shelves in frames- my eyes were opened to small tender mercies.

Father’s Fingerprints: A blue bird that lingered on a branch outside my window, friends who helped carry an impossible burden and aided a way of escape. Once back in the Central Valley he provided home with aged trees and a lake. Provision came from unlikely sources. Former enemies gave us encouragement. Lessons about God’s love and grace taught by disenfranchised. The freshly healed scars on my heart were bumped and poked. Fresh wounds of abandonment appeared and my spirit sang;

“Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him for the help of His countenance.” Psalm 42:5

It has been a long ten years. I still stand in the Valley of Achor, yet God is now my Divine Love, no longer a master I serve out of duty. I sing with laughter and fulfillment because of the men BoyA and BoyZ have become. My husband’s soul is whole and healed with of the return of a lost son, BoyN. The Counting Mutant is pleased by fruitful labor. Divine Love uses GirlyK to renew and redeem childhood lost within me.

I confidently sing in this Valley of Trouble now. In the beginning of this third, Divine Love whispered tender words to me as he held me in seclusion. As time passed, rich vineyards of community flourished and flowed with friendship. He provided exactly what we needed when we needed it; from food to dance classes for the kids. Trouble was a door of hope, wounds allowed to heal created an ability to unconditionally love and build boundaries of wisdom.

Writing today, I overlook a backyard lake, trees dancing in the breeze and mountains shyly peak the distance. I am reminded of a childhood interrupted. The days of my youth; free to play in open spaces filled with green. I lay in rest by shores of flowing water. In my head, Miriam takes tambourine in hand, dances and sings: 

"Sing to the LORD, for he is highly exalted. The horse and its rider he has hurled into the sea." Genesis 15:21


  1. Thank you for sharing your story, the anguish, and the gritty step by step living it out.

  2. This is really beautiful. I am so thankful to have been taken into your confidences and hope that I have been a part of your healing, as you have been for me.

    1. Absolutely! Without you and your unconditional friendship I would not be the person I am today. We, kindred spirits and sisters cut from different cloth.


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