When Matt asked me to marry him, it’s a really good thing he didn’t say, “So, Trace. I was thinking. In 9 years do you want to leave everyone we know and love to move across the country? It’ll be fun. We’ll just pack up and make our life in a foreign place because our child, who races her big sister across the backyard and beats her friends to the top of the slide, is actually really sick. So what do you think? Want to do that with me?”
I know for certain that I would’ve declared a loud and definitive NO! That would’ve sounded completely crazy.
Lucky for all of us, instead, when Matt asked me to marry him, he said something to the effect of, “Tracy, I don’t know what the future holds for us. I know I want to find out what it holds with you. I can’t guarantee much about our unknown future. But I can promise you this: I’ll keep loving God so that I can keep loving you. I want to do that with you by my side because I think we can grow in God better together. I can promise you that instead of demanding what I want in life, I’ll ask God what He has for our life. I think that with your encouragement of me and your commitment to Him too that we’ll have the courage to choose His ways instead of ours no matter what He calls us to.”
Now THAT sounds romantic and surrendered. Brave and authentic. That is something I could say yes to. And, well, I really loved that sparkly ring in his hand.
During our first year of marriage, we went on a small group retreat where our leaders instructed us to select a verse for our marriage. A verse that we felt defined our togetherness and that we could use as a foundation in the years ahead to anchor ourselves to God and each other.
Matt and I chose Ephesians 2:10: For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them (ESV).
I love how The Message version puts it too: He creates each of us by Christ Jesus to join him in the work he does, the good work he has gotten ready for us to do, work we had better be doing.
I’m very glad that when we were 25 and 27 we had no idea what those specific works God was preparing us for would look like. I’m also glad that on our wedding day Matt and I vowed to God and each other, in front of many of you, that we would not think of our life as our own. We vowed that we would surrender ourselves to God for His ultimate purposes and glory in our marriage and through our family.
It sounded so easy on May 9, 2009. It feels much harder today.
Because today there’s a lock box on my front door so that any realtor can let any family in to see if they want to make their home in our beloved Little Rock house. And today I’m scrolling through images of MLS listings from my realtor friend in the suburbs west of Philly.
Audrey is asking to have her 6th birthday party in our backyard, on our big deck, on her swing set…like she always has.
I’m having to explain to her that by the end of May, someone else will be partying on that deck, swinging in her swing. And we’ll be trying to sprout some intentional love for the charm and character of an 80-year-old colonial with no garage, but plenty of off-street parking, in Delaware County Pennsylvania, 30 short minutes away from Annie’s cardiology team at CHOP.
On a recent car ride home from school Audrey voiced the unified wonderings of us all. “Will we live in Philadelphia forever?”
I had to admit the truth. “I thought we’d live in Little Rock forever, Auddie. So I’m really not sure,” I told her.
Then I thought back to how Matt and I began our family with his proposal that March that feels so long ago. I knew exactly what to say, “I don’t know where we’ll live for our whole lives. But God does. I can’t promise that we’ll live in Philadelphia forever or in Little Rock forever. But Daddy and me can promise you this: We will go wherever God tells us to go because He knows what’s best for our family. We will say yes to whatever God calls us to. We will trust Him and obey Him every time because He knows what He’s doing.”
Annie has accepted it. She told Matt, “Momma told us we’ll make new friends and we’ll like our new school. I can pick which bedroom I want. And if we need to, we can get a new swing set for our new backyard. And that it’s okay because y’all will always do what God says.”
I’m so thankful that in all the newness that awaits us when we relocate in early summer, our same big, faithful God is already there with His new mercies day by day that will give us the strength to walk in Jesus Christ a little baby step at a time.
And hey if you know of anybody who needs a super cute house in Roberts and Pinnacle View school districts, send them our way!