But as for me, I will hope continually, And will praise You yet more and more,My mouth shall tell of your righteousness and of your salvation all day long. Psalm 71 14-15
Often, when we have different children, we pray about their future while looking at their disabilities. And yet, often, not always, God wants us to look at His strength and ability to surprise us.
How did I let my 19 year old boy, with all of his issues, move to New York City to attend New York Film Academy? Well, that could fill a book. But i wanted to share this article of how God allowed us to step out in faith, even with many fears, because Nathan said,
"Mama, what if a wrestler trained his whole life and was never allowed an opportunity to get into the ring to test his strength?"
Long story short, for background, Nathan prayed for 2 years to be able to do something in the acting industry. We thought it was like praying to be the quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys. The end of the long story, is in our book, Different, but he ended up getting a partial scholarship to New York Film Academy and begged for the opportunity to go attend. Below is part of the story:
I do not recommend anyone using our story as a model of the decisions you should make, but I do want you to know that i am watching God surprise me every day as I see how He is using Nathan in his world.
Each of us has to live by faith in the story God is working through our own lives.
But without faith, we are doomed to live a life that is dependent on our own human strength.
I pray for all of you sweet ones who have written to me the past couple of weeks. May God give you strength, faith, perseverance and hope for all the puzzle pieces of your life. He is more trustworthy than we can imagine. This from 9 years ago when he was 19.
This is more like a chapter from a book--I will shorten my blog posts soon! :)
I just got home at midnight last night and am hitting the ground running, but just had to record a little of the story of what the Lord did. There are times in your life when you pray and pray and wonder if God has heard because you don't necessarily see the results. Then there are times when he parts the Red Sea and you see that He is listening and that He must have heard your other prayers, too, so you have to keep waiting and believe in His goodness. Well, last week was a part the Red Sea time! I will try to make a very long story short.
To start out with, I have to tell you that I had been praying every day for God to provide Nate Christian roomies in New York City. Also, he had been praying for a kindred spirit--spiritually speaking--for two years! He said not one of his friends that he hung around with was really as idealistic and spiritually connected and artistic and he had longed for some friends who had his values--but Nathan is an extrovert, pied piper sort of guy, out of the box and his besties had all gone away to college after high school. He would always have friends, but at that moment, none who could lift him up and hold him accountable--just our family.
Eight days ago, on Sunday morning, after I had spoken all weekend in Montreal, and was already exhausted, I caught a plane to NY City to meet Clay and Nathan who had flown overnight on the cheap flight and met me so we could ride in a cab together. We had 2 nights in a Holiday Inn Express with free points from our travels. After checking into the hotel, (kinda a less than beautiful area--industrial looking--in a part of Brooklyn). We immediately went, on foot and subway, to meet Nate's new roommate and look at his apartment. When we arrived at his street, I thought, "Wow, this looks desolate, can't imagine Nate coming home to this every day tired from school and feeling ok." But, didn't want to be a wet blanket, so put a positive spin on it. There were bars on all the windows. He was OCD and this was not the cleanest place on the outside.
His room mate was looking out the window for us and waved us in. The apartment inside was surprisingly nice--newly repainted and clean looking. Though small, it looked like it might work. Then when his friend showed us around, we realized it was a three bedroom--each room small but with their own closet. The fourth room--which was supposed to be Nate's, had no closet, had two walls of windows--one into the living room and one into the street--(it was really a porch) and no closet and no light. It was about 6'by 8'. Nate couldn't even lay down on the floor-- as the room was too short for him. (He is almost 6-4) So, the guy immediately said, "Hey, dude, we will charge you$100 less for taking this room." ???????
Clay and I glanced at each other, and didn't say anything, but we knew we would have plenty to say in privacy. (Nathan had a mini-piano and recording-computer set up that he had to have a desk for for his writing and composing and desk work--but they said he could just hang his clothes in the living room and put his desk by the kitchen.
We left the apartment and all of us knew that it wouldn't work for him. Here we were, New York, 15 million people and no place for Nathan to live. So began the search, on foot--no car. We spent hours and hours traipsing all overthe broader New York city. Wemet with people at his school and used their computers to search out leads, we walked miles and miles and saw places that were in ghettos and dangerous places--but these were in our price range. By Tuesday night, Clay and I were quickly coming to the conclusion that we would just have to bring Nate back home and let him start back in January to give us time to help him. That was when it occurred to me that we had not enlisted prayer support about this. So we contacted our children and told them to pray and I emailed some others and sent out the SOS on this blog.
It was amazing to me to again realize that much of the love we feel from God will be through the body of Christ and if we are cut off from them, we will feel less of His love. Now the next part is difficult to explain, but I will try.
We started receiving emails from people from all over and several said to look at the Redeemer church bulletin board for an apartment or a roommate. We were all three on our computers and cell phones following up every lead. Clay called a number for one of the apartments and a girl answered the phone and said, "Hi, Mark." Clay said, "I am not Mark."
The girl then responded and said, "Oh, my friend Mark has your same area code and he just moved here, too." So she told us his name and that he was also looking for a roommate. I thought, maybe this guy is it! So we got his number and made a lunch appointment with him the next day. At dinner that night, Clay told me the man's whole name and I said, "that sounds so familiar, but I can't figure out why. Then, I remembered that a sweet friend who had been in a small Bible study I was teaching on Mission of Motherhood to some pastor's wives, had texted me on my phone the weekend before. I looked at my text and saw that it was the same man, and she had said, "He is a wonderful Christian leader and you should look him up in New York City. Sweet man, but not the guy for Nate as his plans were indefinite--another closed door, I thought.
So by early Wednesday morning, I was a little blue and thought to myself and to the Lord, "It always seems like we have to do things the hard way. I am tired, Lord, and I know you want me to believe in your goodness, but it would be so wonderful if you would work on our behalf to show Nathan as he enters this city and this era of His life that you are in control.
So I read in my quiet time and was greatly encouraged by several passages which I will share in the next letter. But I was impressed by the Lord to tell Him what I wish we could find for Nathan even if everyone else told us it was impossible.
(I had hoped he could live in Manhattan where it seemed a little safer, and was closer by subway to his school, I also asked that it be esthetically pleasing--a nice looking neighborhood and a nice looking place to go as I already knew that the culture and the noise and the lines and the busy-ness would slowly deplete Nathan and I just wanted him to have a little haven to come home to--even if it was small. Finally, I wanted him to have godly roommates and support systems.) We had met many nay-sayers who told us Manhattan was absolutely out because of the price, and we should expect to pay at least 900-1000 a month for a room and not to be discouraged by what it looked like.
So, I met with Nate and told him that "Daddy and I can't just leave you here without seeing God work and provide you with some stability." He was open to us but said he hoped in His heart to see God open doors because He had done so much to get him this far.
Meanwhile, Markhad talked to theother girl who was trying to gather a group of believers to all live in an apartment house together, and told the girl that Nate was a great guy--to be trusted--and so the next morningafter we prayed and had begun to get encouraging emails from people from all over, Nate received a short text from the girl and she said, just thought of something that might help--look at this website and see if you find something. I had just read to Nate the passage about not hiding the lamp on the hill, but letting it shine for all to see and that I thought he should put out an advertisement on these boards for Christian roomates, not just a roommate. When he looked at the bulletin board, there was a standout advertisement, "Two Chritian roomates looking for a third."
We called him immediately and he told Nate all about the place to look up the pictures online--the apartment looked almost too good to be true--newly painted, tile entrance, three bedrooms with windows, a living room and separate small kitchen--now these were things that not all apartments had! And it was pretty from the outside on a normal block that looked out over a beautiful park--now these were all just pictures--and he said the rent would be $500 for each guy--we couldn't believe it--sounded too good to be true--and it was in Manhattan! Then the guy said, "Hope you don't mind, but I need to meet you since we don't really know each other--I need to tell you a little about us and be sure we all fit together!"
So, Nathan went to meet the guy by himself in Central Park. I wondered if a young man could get mugged in the middle of the day--of course my imagination went to the worst place. About thirty minutes later, we got an excited call from Nathan. He said, "You won't believe it, but, not only is this guy a strong Christian, he also attended Masterworks festival this summer (a 4 week Christian arts symposium to encourage musicians, actors, in their Christian faith) and he knows Joel! (Our 21 year old son who had just returned from there!) And he wanted to meet because he and his roommate had standards--no drinking, smoking and no girls overnight--he said they had a commitment to Christ he wanted to uphold and that if I couldn't agree to that, maybe we wouldn't be a good fit!"
Now, we are talking about a needle in the haystack--out of millions of people, the chances that these two would become roommates, find such a great apartment and end up exactly where we had been praying for, was beyond amazing for us! But it doesn't end there.
Even though the boys didn't have the apartment totally secured, (they had to meet with a board from the apartment building Thursday night to be approved), we had to go find Nate furniture and stuff to fill an unfurnished apartment. Nate needed a cheap place, a place to shop where we could put together an apartment for him on a budget and all on foot as we couldn't even imagine using a car there with all the crazy traffic. We walked many miles that we had to cover finding furniture and utensils and no parking anywhere. So we took the subway to a bus which took us to an IKEA--a Swedish furniture warehouse with economic options--though it comes in kits that you have to build yourself!
We spent 7 hours there trying to find bargains and it had to be delivered the next day to his apartment if we were going to help him put it all together--as they did not deliver on a holiday weekend! So we had to pay for delivery to an apartment that we had never seen to live with boys we had never met and that was still waiting to be approved. We just made sure we could stop the delivery if it didn't go through--though we had no idea what we were going to do with a truck load of stuff and no place to put it!
Meanwhile, Clay and I had moved for our third time. (Did I mention that each of our bags weighed 50 pounds as we had stuff in it for Nate and that it was over 100 degrees?) Our third move was into a lovely little home for people in ministry that had rooms to rent inexpensively. But did not have air conditioning, no elevator and no internet! So, after lugging these suitcases for 6 days and walking all over the city and helping Nate, we were pretty tired.
But we all took one more breath as we had to meet the next day, if the boys were approved, at 9:30. We took the subway, found the building--and were so encouraged, met the first roommate and within 5 minutes, the door bell rang with all of Nathan's stuff. So we climbed the 5 stairwells countless times to help, I went to a local grocery store while the Clay and Nate were putting his bed furniture together and lugged 6 more bags of groceries on foot to his apartment. (I called them to help me take it up the stairs--I am not that noble!)
Clay and I went back to our rooms, left Nate to stay in the apartment alone that night as his roomies had not arrived. We showered after sweating all day in the 100 degree weather walking for miles and went to see Mary Poppins on Broadway. This was to have been our week of having time alone as a couple for a few days to celebrate our 25th anniversary two years late--but instead we made some great memories with Nate and fell into bed exhausted each night.
Clay and I did have a lot of fun going to the show and spending most of the next day together and then a nice dinner. Sunday, we met Nate after Church (he had gone with one of his roomies.) When we sat down at a cupcake bakery to have some time alone with him, he said, "You won't believe the story of my third roommate. He grew up in Wichita Falls and knows the Clays (dear friends of ours who used to be on our ministry board.) And he was also homeschooled."
My mind started clicking and I said, "Well, Nate, then he must know this other young man, who also studied music in Boston and was homeschooled and grew up in Texas. I then told him the name of my very dear friend's son, and Nate looked at me very surprised and said, "Mom, that is his name!" Nathan was going to be a roommate with a friend who I had known for ten years and had prayed for!
I had stayed at the home of this young man ten years ago when I had been invited by his mother to speak to their support group. She then became my friend, even spoke at my conference, sent me emails to keep me posted on her children--and I had been praying for her son--and didn't realize he had moved to New York--and this young man who is a believer was going to be Nathan's roommate! Within a few minutes of him telling me this, my phone rang and my friend was on the phone with the same amazement as me! "Sally, we have been praying all week for Matt to find a great apartment at a good price and to find a really good third roommate who was a Christian!"
So I picture heaven getting all these prayer requests from different people all over the US and a prayer coordinator putting them all together to come up with a suitable miracle for all of us! To see how, out of all the millions of people that there are in New Yorkand to even end up with friends--with less than one per cent apartment availability and to see God direct us together to a good apartment at a good price truly had Clay and me in awe. The Lord must have Nate there for a reason to so validate his prayers and faith in this personal way!
We spent several hours yesterday morning reconnecting with an old friend of Clay's from high school and college who had moved to Broadway to work in the musical-acting industry with his family--a wonderful, very spiritually committed man, and he and Nate connected and now Nate will even have a family to connect with regularly!
So, we had a different week than we thought we were going to have, but to be a part of God's miracle for our son as he is building his faith was a blessing--but I have to tell you that being in my home in Monument this morning gives me new eyes to appreciate all that I have--quietness! A mansion compared to the very small housing options available in New York, a place to belong and my own bed!
I have to say, that indeed, my mouth will speak of the great things my precious Lord has done! Thanks for praying for us! When we had your support we began to see the Lord work! Now onward to life!
For more of the story, read Different.