Living Through Transition

I have three beautiful children, and consequently, I have experienced three life-changing births.

When Rosie was born, not having any previous knowledge of what it would be like to have a baby, I read books about labor and birth.  Nothing could prepare me for the actual experience itself (I realized in retrospect!), but one piece of advice stayed in my memory: When you feel like you really can not live through it any more, you are almost done.  This is called transition.

Transition, in a typical, uncomplicated, natural birth, is generally the most intense stage of labor, when the contractions are coming on so strong that you barely have time to take a breath between them, and the sensation is so all-consuming it is hard (no matter what those books say…) to think of it as anything but severe pain.

Thankfully, it doesn’t last very long.  And though the work is very hard, the prize is ssssssooooooo worth it.  With each of my three children’s births, as soon as I had passed through transition, it was literally minutes before I was holding the baby in my arms.

I am holding on to this metaphor for our family, as we are in a season of great transition in our lives.

Last fall, I began to feel a still, small voice telling me that I need (and want) to be home.  I have been teaching part-time since I finished my undergraduate degree, and I used to think that I wanted to be a teacher.  I’ve taught all ages–pre-K to college, subjects as varied as high school lit, visual art, video-editing, elementary music, and all the while, I’ve been getting my education, working with youth, having babies, learning to cook, playing music, writing songs, crocheting hats, and trying to keep my creative voice above a whisper.  Then the added stress, responsibility, and overwhelmingly clear desire and purpose to complete an album in our living room…  If my life has been chaotic, you can only imagine the lives of our children: one parent rushing in, the other parent rushing out, different schedules each day, people in and out of our house for lessons, having to leave the house because Daddy/Mommy is recording, having their living room gradually over-taken by studio equipment, learning to understand the world through a series of hurried events, led by parents who are many-times exhausted in every way.  Somehow, God has managed to keep us all together.  But it has been a crazy year.

Over and over, I am hearing the word, “home.”  It is where I long to be, to help my children understand the world in a less hurried way, to teach them things they need (and want) to know.  To cultivate the creativity of our family and tap into the wonder that abounds in every child’s exploration of this world.  I feel that I am being called out of a life of rushing around, spending all my creative energy on lesson plans, and I am being called home.

Randy and I prayed about it, and we both agreed that I need to step down from teaching.  In faith, I let the school know that I will not be returning next year.

This is a stretch for us, as we have been living on an extremely tight budget for the last several years.  We are family of 5, living on the income two parents generate from four or five little part-time jobs.  Our income is always changing, and there are times we do not have enough to pay bills.  But God is always faithful.  There have been days when someone has showed up on our doorstep out of the blue with just enough money to pay the balance of our power bill, desperately due the same day. Or when we have received a gift in the mail that was to-the-cent how much we needed to settle a bill we couldn’t pay.

I know some people think we are crazy to quit perfectly good jobs in order to follow a heart’s conviction. There is such a fine line between having faith and being a fool.  We believe that God is leading us to do this, and He has proven himself faithful–repeatedly, miraculously, in every season of our lives.

As of this month, our future is a giant question mark.  We typically have very few students in the summer (usually our main source of income).  I will not be teaching in the fall, and we can never really count on students returning after the summer.  It is scary to think about what could happen.  But I am writing this out as a future testimony to the faithfulness of God.  I believe with all my heart that He will provide for those who are seeking to do his will wholeheartedly.  We are trying our best to do this.

This is a season of great transition for us.  Also a season of great possibility.  I am believing, just as in the births of my three beautiful children, that this transition, though difficult to endure, is going to produce a new life in us.  That going through this time of laying aside fear and painfully learning to trust God in a deeper way is going to bring about a beautiful birth that will change our lives forever.

We are waiting on the Lord.  We are close to the end of this life-labor, living in transition, waiting on the intensity of it to subside, and looking forward to the joy of welcoming the new life God wants to give our family in this season.

Rosie on the day she was born.

23 Comments Add yours

  1. Lee says:

    have been right there; not as beautifully as you write about you, but raising children at home on God’s promise. Now I have two grown up children and when I can tell you about it without crying, I will relate what Austin told me a few weeks ago about his mom always being there for him and by that, he meant at home. Love to you all and may many of those mysterious God checks come your way this summer. Lee

    1. Oh, Lee. You are such a blessing to me. I love you so much. Your family is a reminder to me that this can work and work in a beautiful way. Thanks for reading and responding.

  2. What a beautiful description of walking in faith, Mackenzie! And yes, God IS faithful to those who diligently seek Him, and He WILL meet ALL your needs according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus. God will honor your desire to follow His will to be home. It is a choice that requires sacrifices, but as you have discovered, not being home also requires sacrifices. I am praying that you will continue to hear that still, small voice and heed His direction for your family’s life. We love you all so much!!

    1. Andrea, you are a mother that I love and respect dearly. Your children have been such a blessing to me. They have ministered to my needs more over the past year or two more than I can say. Thank you for the good influence you have had on my life. I love you.

  3. Precious. I have no other words for it. Thank you for sharing. I join you in this same calling… and will pray for your transition. You are right, the Lord is faithful!! He has put it in your heart – He will provide!!
    Love you. Am so proud of you! We need to do a play date when things settle down a bit for you all!! 🙂

    1. Oh, Susan. YOU are precious. I can’t wait for the glorious day when we actually get our little ones together and get to talk. I feel like I know you so well already, even though we’ve only spent a very short time together. I want to spend more time with you! You are right ahead of me in all this. It will be cool to learn together. Love you. Thanks for reading and responding.

      1. Have been thinking about this post all weekend. It is one thing to stay at home – it’s another to be at home… body, soul and spirit. I feel like I’ve been surviving at home. So prayerful the Lord helps me to take the moments of my days and not just watch the kids, but be with them!!

        Also, what a powerful time for you all. Stepping out, in faith. Definitely going against the rhythm of the world. Listening to God’s voice. Abraham and Sarah were blessed for it… I think the Chester’s will be, too!!

        Thanks for churning up some great thoughts!! (And for your awesome music, which has been playing in my head all weekend!!)

        1. Susan, thank you for sharing this with me. Love you.

          Please let’s do get together soon!

  4. beth says:

    Smile. I keep getting offers and temptations to get sucked back in to the flow. This is a timely reminder of God’s calling. You are amazing. I love you.

    1. Dear Beth, I love you. I am so excited about the possibility of spending leisurely afternoons on a regular basis, turning over rocks on the short-line trail… You are a beautiful person, overflowing with good things to pour out into this world. I am infinitely grateful that I have a friend like you.

  5. Hello sweet friend! I am so so so smiling right now, your timely post has just reminded me of my call. I have been home for quite some time now…. but tired….. and thankful and humbled. God is faithful. Just listen to your heart, He speaks strongly through His word and your heart. I was a teacher before MOMMY also, I could not bear my kids going off for someonelse to reap all the benefit, huggies, kisssies and all the rewarding things they realize, learn and accomplish, all within our humble little abode. I love you, I am proud of you and we’d love some playdates too sometime…… 🙂 Praying for you guys.
    You are such a blessing and such a talented lady!
    Luv ya,
    Paige

    1. Paige,

      Thanks so much for reading this and responding. Your family is a beautiful picture to me of homeschooling, and the joy and benefit that can come from a family together at home. I think about that song your girls sing together (in perfect harmony) so often. I was totally blown away, and I showed Randy the video and he was too. I am looking forward to having time to help cultivate beautiful things in our children. They love music so much. Hearing them sing together is one of sweetest experiences of my entire life. Maybe at our playdate, your girls can teach them to harmonzie!

      We’d love to get with you and your girls this summer. Let’s definitely make the plan.

      Love you.

      Thanks again for reading this and responding. It means so much to me.

      Mackenzie

  6. deairby says:

    I, too, am looking expectantly to what God will birth in your lives!!! Thank you for your faithful obedience. It is a powerful testimony.

    1. Dea,

      Thank you for the profound influence you have had on the course of my life. I often think about the loaf of bread that you got in the mail, and your testimony of how God brought you through even the tightest of times. You have put food on our table more times than I can possibly recount, given us so many fine things and experiences in our married life.

      I pray peace for you in your time of great transition as well.

      We love you so.

      Mackenzie

      1. deairby says:

        Ok, make me cry. Love you!

  7. theRands says:

    I have mixed feelings about this, to be quite honest, but that’s just me. If you know that this is the right thing for you to do, it probably is 🙂 Miss you, guys.

    1. Miss you guys, too. It is hard sometimes to know what is the right thing to do in different seasons of life. I hope we are doing the right thing, and I do believe that God knows our hearts. He has always honored every decision we have made when we have truly been doing something that we feel He is leading us to do. I am not ever 100% sure, but I always pray that God will lead us and keep us from doing something foolish. That was what I prayed the day I married Randy, not 100% sure if it was the right thing. I prayed that God would show me if it wasn’t the right decision. I married him, partly believing it was right, partly by faith that God would work it out. Years later, it is obvious that we were meant to be together… But it was hard to know at the time. There have been so many times like this in our life, just really depending on God. It is a really good way to live for a season of your life. I hope we will not always live like this, but for now, our trust and faith in Him grows every day. We will see how it all turns out, believing that if this is God’s will, He will take care of all the details. And if it isn’t His will, He will open another door for us, honoring the decision to follow where we believe He is leading us. Love you two.

  8. upandownallaround says:

    Transition is a tough season but I love the beautiful picture you drew for me to understand the depth of what is happening during this season – and that is what it is – a season. I have heard countless testimonies of women following God’s call to return home & he has honored their obedience – maybe not in things of the world or flesh, but surely in things of the Spirit that our human eyes may not comprehend or see at first. I, too, was in this position 2 years ago – with out children. Sam & I heard that same voice, and we obeyed. I left behind my recently earned degree to be a professional counselor, my very good paying job, and stayed at home to simply be a help meet to my husband. Many have said, “Why don’t you ‘help’ your husband? Get a job or something.” But I stand as a testimony that God has blessed our home tremendously in the Spirit and in the physical because of our obedience to His call. We still do not have children, but we will continue to stand firm in faith that what we are doing is in the will of the Father. I have accepted my destiny to be a wife & a mom and, now, I have found purpose in the “mundane” of life.

    I appreciate all that you wrote as it gave me reassurance and encouragement for many things we are dealing with right now! Thanks!

    1. Thanks for your encouragement. And for reading and responding to this post. It is sometimes hard to know what to do…but I know God has always honored us when we follow what we believe to be the Spirit’s direction in our lives. I wish the same for you, continued peace and sense of purpose as you follow his will…

  9. I totally said to myself TODAY, “I feel like I’m giving birth.” Cool to see that the Holy Spirit is speaking the same thing to a dear friend.

    1. That is really cool. Our transition seems so minor when compared to the changes about to happen in your life. I love you so much, and I am so thankful for your influence. Your family is so beautiful, and you have had a profound influence on my life as a friend, a wife, and a mother. So thankful to have such a dear friend.

  10. Melanie Terrell says:

    Mack, as always, I am inspired by your writing. Thank you for sharing your gift. I am so proud of you, and I love all of you so much. You are wise beyond your years, and you ALWAYS teach me something! Your faith is beautiful, and I can’t wait to see what The Lord is getting ready to do in the lives of your sweet family! With much love from your eldest sis!

    1. Melanie, thank you for reading this and responding. I love you so much and am so happy that God put us in the same family. You are an amazing person, beautiful inside and out. Thank you for all you have done for me.

Would love to hear your thoughts on this post!