Day 31…wow…I did it! I had some technical issues yesterday, but here we are. Around the World in 80 days comes to mind…except it’s 2 years (almost) in 31 days…looking back at all the pages, that’s a lot of life! That’s a lot of learning! But as hard as 2013 was, I can see now it was the perfect preparation for the year to come and I am thankful each and every day I learned enough to be able to see and share God at work in 2014. Life is so much easier when we accept God’s love and mercy and grace…it’s there – HE’s there – waiting…all we have to do is ask.
Learning to lean into God and take an active part in a relationship with Him doesn’t necessarily change life events, but it certainly changes the way we see life events.
And yes…there is more to the story…the beginning of a new chapter…the beginning of Embracing the New Norm I wrote about originally…how perfect! As we enter November – a month often focused on giving thanks – I think is the perfect month to continue sharing… yes, I have stage IV metastatic breast cancer… but I am oh sooooooo thankful!!!!!
Yes…I’m behind posting! But I’m getting there…
While I’m sure the first few weeks of my parent’s vacation was hardly what they expected – overall, I really enjoyed them being here – especially on simple days and I think they enjoyed the time as well. Whether it was breakfast at iHop, getting a haircut, or being serenaded by my stepdad in the car…I really enjoyed the time together. Heck, they even taught us how to play pinochle! My stepdad loves FOX News, so I also learned a good bit about what was happening in the world…
One of the things they did while visiting was to look at housing options – the cost of living is crazy in California and since my mom retired in JAN’14 (yes…my 81yr old mom!) they would be living on a fixed income and were excited at the thought of being close to the rest of the family again.
As you’ll read…things rarely go the way you might expect and my parent’s visit wasn’t an exception. The visit was supposed to be for one month – then it was postponed another three weeks to help me after my dad’s passing – then it was postponed again… and then it was another “go” moment… and God prepared the way for another move.
The past two years have been filled with opportunities / lessons for letting go. Saying goodbye to expectations, a job/career, & my dad. As hard as it was facing the changes in my dad’s health, today I’m thankful for the opportunity of time. It’s a commodity so easily taken for granted.
Not that we’re all a bunch of statisticians, but whether we realize it or not we plan based on probabilities. We assume we will have the luxury of putting things off for another day – at least I did… and the thing is, we know there are no guarantees.
But look how perfectly things aligned…sure the journey had some really rough spots…in a way that makes the memory sweeter…to witness the gracious hand of God at work on such a truly personal level is incredible. Before my dad’s stroke, he longed for the opportunity to see family one more time. By the grace of God, he did. I longed to be available for family without the constant work battle of feeling forced to choose otherwise. By the grace of God, I did. My mom & stepdad were scheduled to return to California just as hospice was called in for 24hr care. In the past, I had a habit of pushing people away when life got really hard. It was time to let family & friends in to help me through the days ahead, and by the grace of God, I did. I’m so thankful for that choice because it gave me the opportunity to be vulnerable & strengthen my relationship with my mom & stepdad.
Before my dad moved, he loved woodworking. He made HUNDREDS of these little wooden rooster note holders – HUNDREDS. For his service, I wanted to have something to remind folks of his passionate hobby that helped him maintain a sense of independence. Along with an article written by the local paper, my daughter, mom, & stepdad all worked together to make a special memory wreath – the wreath consisted of eight roosters: one for each child / stepchild and one at the top. My daughter added the dual cross in the center with one of my favorite verses, Psalm 143:8
“Let the morning bring me word of
Your unfailing love,
for I have put my trust in You.
Show me the way I should go,
for to You I lift up my soul.”
P.S. Oh yeah…I hurt my back (again) the week before my dad passed – I thought it was from catching an elderly woman from falling 😕
Last night was the first time I resisted writing…June 2014 was a different season… a season coming to a close… a time where the freshness of learning to truly lean into God was at the forefront of each day… a time where I wasn’t juggling an onslaught of emotions and demands… and so it was a tender time and still is to a certain degree.
God is always so gracious! Last night was also the perfect opportunity to backtrack a bit in the journey – a time to shift focus to my sweet sister and lay the foundation for the integral part God would have her take in the upcoming season. And in the process remind me of His goodness and faithfulness to walk alongside me…even in retrospect.
So I started writing about my sister and how God began strengthening our relationship on a spiritual level – which, by the way, I thought was pretty darn good before! Even today as I think back…there is such a sweetness that brings joyful smiles and tears all at the same time… a memory to be treasured for a lifetime.
We’re all familiar with Matthew 6 where Jesus tells us not to worry about tomorrow:
“So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.”
It’s so true! Although my daughter was ill and spent Mother’s Day weekend in the hospital, April & May 2014 were low-key in comparison to the prior year and I was truly thankful! For the first time ever, I could just be a mom without the weight of a job (and deadlines!) looming over me.
I didn’t want to think about tomorrow – well, to be honest…. I didn’t really want to think about much of anything. But the prior year really taught me so much about who God is and I really enjoyed resting in His arms without my faith being tested. I was still battle weary and even though I knew in my heart more challenging times with my dad lay ahead, I didn’t want to think about it. And if I didn’t think about it? You got it – I wouldn’t worry.
It’s easy to sit on this side of yesterday and see things so clearly, isn’t it? The trick with worry isn’t so much not thinking about unknowns; it’s looking to God with confidence He knows our unknowns.
For those that don’t follow my blog, let me introduce you to Lucille – my camper! Silly as it may seem, I even have a blog dedicated to her restoration / facelift. I purchased her in late 2012 and planned to have her settled in the country by mid-2013… well, if you’ve been following the #write31days, 2013 didn’t exactly lend itself to “me” time let alone getting a camper moved! So here’s the link to Lucille’s story… My Someday Getaway [click HERE] – you can also get there by clicking on the “Jesus makes me a happy camper” photo in the sidebar below.
Ladies group – writing Scripture before new flooring – literally STANDING on His Word!
Lucille and I have a unique relationship – and yes, I’m quite aware of how odd that sounds, but it’s true! My purpose in purchasing Lucille was to have a place where I could truly be still with God – away from the dailies of life – a place where I could rest in Him, and open myself to the words He scribed on my heart. But it wasn’t just for me… little did I know she would become a place of rest for weary souls…as you step over the threshold, all who enter are literally surrounded and standing on God’s Word.
And don’t let the enemy fool you…Lucille didn’t need to be in the country or finished to be a sanctuary for this weary soul. During 2013 and most of 2014, Lucille was parked at a storage facility…behind a Chinese restaurant with an often overflowing dumpster and beside other campers… not exactly what one would describe as serene, huh? Oh but it was!
I guess you could say Lucille is my WAR ROOM – and if you haven’t seen the movie, you’re missing out! I can immediately shut my mind off to the noise of life and zero in my focus to God. Everyone needs a Lucille – a war room – a space where distractions stay at the door and you enter into His Presence
God fuel – a term I’m sure used by others before me…the thing that keeps you going when you have nothing left in the tank…not even fumes of perseverance to tap into. That place where you’ve reached the end of yourself, willingly given God the reigns, and start to see Him work wonders.
That’s where I was in the six weeks leading to my resignation. I was pouring what little I had into God and in return He was pouring into and through me so that I could meet numerous demands. No longer was I fretting over every detail of my dad’s declining health…I made a choice…I chose to trust God to provide for him, just as He was providing for me. No longer was I a basket of nerves walking into the office…my focus on God kept me calm and available for Him to work through me in meeting requirements of the job and not be rattled by excessive demands.
It was as if an incredible weight had been lifted – no doubt, the days were difficult, but I wasn’t trying to lead and manage every minute detail…I Laid it at the Cross – and left it there, where God could take over. Thinking of Laying it at the Cross reminded me of a post from earlier this year…
At some point, most believers have experienced the opportunity to physically lay cares at the foot of a cross – for me, it was a very powerful experience – so powerful, my daughter made me something very special – a shadow box where I can write and leave cares at Jesus’ feet. Now, take a moment and look closely at the box…granted, this is the original photo, but it’s still looks pretty darn empty today – speaks volumes, doesn’t it? I look at the cross every single day and yet I hold onto so many cares troubling my heart. A pattern of unbelief I didn’t recognize before. Yesterday I pulled out the ONE item I wrote and placed at the foot of the cross – it was a prayer to God over my work situation last year – in the weeks that followed, I left my corporate job and God blessed my obedience and trust in Him more than ten-fold. You see for me, I only know I’ve really laid it down (and left it there) when I experience perfect peace in the days and months (or years) following.
Perfect peace – that’s the result when I truly leave something in God’s hands. It’s incredible! And the scripture is so true – He will sustain you… He provides the God fuel you need to get through every difficult season. I may not put tons of pieces of paper in the box, but I am consistently laying cares at the cross. I’m incredibly grateful for the lessons He so patiently began reinforcing in me – I still get stubborn, but more readily say “Here, Lord” with truly open palms.