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firm foundation

November 6, 2016

16 days ago I landed back in America and since then have been going back and forth trying to figure out how to tell you all about my Niger trip.

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How do I capture what I did and saw and learned in words on a computer screen when the memories are so much more dimensional in my heart? I haven’t come up with a master plan, which isn’t a shocker since I am JUST now feeling like my normal, human self again. As I sat journaling this morning about something entirely different, what I was writing connected a dot back to Niger and I get giddy when God connects dots and decided to share this snipit with you.

The concept: “it takes time to build a firm foundation”.

Three days into our Niger trip, I had the blessed opportunity to speak at the women’s conference we were hosting for 100+ Nigerien women–primarily pastor’s wives in the neighboring communities and other Christian women from their parishes.

I had committed to speaking at this conference in JULY. However, you all know my professional procrastinator self boarded that plane on October 12th still clueless as to what I was going to say. We all have our own methods of preparation, and mine typically involves waiting to the absolute last minute–but God knows this and patiently waits until I’m ready to hear what He wants me to say.

Sure enough, the night before, well past midnight, God lays my tomorrows words on my heart. Using the experience I had walked through with my family as a starting point (read about it here). He reminded me how strong our family had been through the whole hurricane wedding ordeal and showed me it wasn’t something we could have survived as well as we had without the time and energy and effort and TIME our families had put into building a firm foundation with one another.

And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. Matthew 7:25

In my talk at the conference, I used hand motions to hammer my point home “It takes time (point to your “watch”) to build (put arms together like the roof of a house) a firm foundation (say those last two words while stomping on the ground).”

 

I shared my story of how long it took the Lord and I to build a firm foundation. My initial “acceptance of Christ” was in 6th grade during a New Years Eve event celebrating the new millennium. As most of you know, my story is peppered with times of me seeking the Lord and then being wooed back into the world (it’s so enticing!). Full of moments where storms wracked my faith and a lot of times wrecked it as well. I don’t see those years wasted. I see them for what they were– time to build my firm foundation with Him.

Now, I DO NOT at all claim to have a firm foundation that won’t fail. I’m sure over the years the Lord and I will wrestle wildly as He continues to lay the stones of faith under my feet. Stones that will keep me steady during storms to come but that at the time, I want nothing to do with. He’s always having to move me around and get me out of my comfort zone to get those rocks under my feet. “BUT DADDDDDDY, I’m comfortable here, why don’t you go work on another part of my foundation right now, or better yet, just let me BE for a minute pleaseeeeee”

With my job title as “wife” only 54 days away, I’ve been pensive about Lukas and I’s relationship, as well as other relationships I had in the past. What made them not work? What made this one work? Ding ding ding- the connected dot! “It takes time to build a firm foundation”. Okay, okay, I’m anticipating the eye roll– “you and Lukas haven’t been together very long, that isn’t much time”. When building a firm foundation, I think time is relative. I think it’s less about the physical time and more about the time spent on the stuff that gets the foundation deep and strong. Stuff like hard conversations and vulnerability and honesty and differences of opinions that lead to arguments (or as we say at Chick-fil-A “intense fellowship”) and healthy doses of conflict/resolution.  I believe you can be in a relationship for a long amount of physical time and never get to the nitty-gritty stuff that builds a firm foundation. I know this from experience, especially in friendships! I’ve had long standing friendships that crumbled at the sight of a storm or challenge. Relationships I ran from when things got tough. My relationship with God is the BEST example in my life for this. God and I would be good and then someone would die and WHOOSH, there goes the sandy foundation!

Lukas and I have done (and continue to do) this hard work. One specific moment that stands out in my mind was during one of our Sunday afternoon FaceTime dates. We’d been extremely disconnected because of how different our schedules were that week and things got heated- quickly. My wise and patient fiancé said, “Honey, let’s pause and I’ll call you back in 5 minutes.” I walked away from my iPad on the kitchen table and sat on the steps of my apartment… bawling. THIS IS HARD. I don’t want to do this. I don’t want to wade through this painful mess. Life is way easier by myself. Yes, that’s what I’ll do. Stay by myself. I just won’t walk back to the iPad. I’ll let it ring and ring and I’ll stay right here in this dark closed in space, my cave, yes, my cave, far away from painful things. I told God how hard it was and told Him I was good in my cave. Thanks but no thanks, this whole marriage idea is a complicated one anyway.

Because of the foundation building work we had done previously, as I heard the phone ringing and ringing, I (FINALLY) pried myself off the steps. This was physically painful. Walking back to that iPad was choosing to trust him (and Him!) and stay vulnerable, stay open, even when impending pain felt like it was going to swallow me whole.

I remember answering the phone and staring at Lukas. I remember reciting over and over and over in my head, “I trust him” “I trust him” “I trust him”. And then the words began to spill out, we began to reconnect and wade through the mess…together. To this day, I don’t remember what the mess was. I don’t remember what storm was rocking our relationship foundation, but I do know that day I stared at a fork in the road- HIDE or PRESS IN. Protect yourself from the pain and stay in your comfort zone or move and let God place another stone in the foundation of your future marriage.

Lukas and I have no idea what storms are going to come during our marriage. I am walking out some pretty YUCKY storms with married friends right now so I know there won’t be a shortage of challenges for us. What we do know is that we won’t be able to survive those storms if we don’t allow God the time to build our foundation now. Lukas’ prayer the other night was “Lord, prepare us and do in us what you need to set our marriage up for success”. During his prayer, after saying those words, he followed it with “Lord, that’s a scary prayer but I know it’s worth it.”

In Matthew 7:26 it says “everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And then rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”

Firm foundations are HARD. If they weren’t– everyone would build them and nobody would be the foolish man. Firm foundations are painful, but as Lukas said, they are worth it. Learning to weather storms and PRESS IN instead of hide (I think) is the secret of strengthening a foundation.

My final words to the Nigerien’s were as follows: I don’t know what storms you’re weathering today. They may be physical, emotional, or relational. You may be feeling pain, suffering fear or doubt, or disappointed in people you love. I don’t know what your storms are called but I do know there is a Father who’s longing to make your foundation stronger. Today, I believe He’s calling me to tell you beautiful women to be patient, don’t give up on Him and His plans. Because suffering produces endurance, endurance produces character and character produces HOPE. But that all takes time…TIME to build a firm foundation.

xoxo, va

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Dad permalink
    November 7, 2016 7:36 pm

    Beautiful, VA. I’m sorry that you have to bare the burden of your inherited method of preparing for a presentation. You are your father’s daughter!! Or I should say your Father’s daughter!! I love you as He loves you!!
    Dad

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