The past year is fast receding, along with all the events, challenges, joys and sorrows along with it. As I look back along the 365 days worth of everything that made up 2011, I am once again filled with thanksgiving of what He brought me through. I reflected on this one thought this morning on my 30 minute commute, as my car idled into the parking lot and came to a stop.
That in every seemingly impossible situation during the past year, impossible joy came along for the ride. In the moments of hysteria, sometimes laughter rose up beside it.
In helping my best friend deal with both parents, one with Dementia and one with Alzheimer’s, I learned many things about myself, some things which were not pleasant. I learned how easy it is to love the lovable, and just how difficult it can be to love the unlovely, the unlovable. It stretches you like nothing else. Several times a day I fail miserably. But I am thankful for that too, for that is what keeps me praying.
I am amazed at what transpired, what we got done.
What He brought us through.
And I am amazed at how painful moments can recede in hindsight and the joys magnify.
Like stones worn smooth by a rushing river, He smooths us out. It is easy to forget that just like that mighty river that is flowing all around us, He is still and always, there.
Washing us clean, making us more like Himself.
Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another–and all the more as you see the Day approaching. Hebrews 10:25
Yesterday Elaine and I went to see a dear friend who Pastors a church. He was a friend even before he was a Pastor, but we used to meet at work for prayer and Bible study. It was so good to catch up. By the time we heard all his problems ours felt much smaller.
We sat there for 3 hours…..until he got a call to pick up his daughter at school. The time had flown so fast we scarcely noticed it.
What a blessing it is to have dear friends to fellowship with. Like iron sharpening iron, we are strengthened by each other. He told us of what pain he has suffered over his next to youngest daughter. The one he never expected it from. He also said that lessons he has learned from going through that has helped him deal with issues in the church.
The hardest lessons to learn……Letting go.
He had to learn to let his daughter go, and sometimes to grow a church, you have to let some people go. A very perplexing lesson when you are in a small church and you are trying to grow it.
Sometimes God uses those we love the most to teach us the hard lessons of letting go. Sometimes it makes no sense. Sometimes we feel that the most Godly thing we could do is to grab on tighter. But God’s ways are higher than ours, always.
And it makes sense when you think about it.
He used the One closest to Himself to change the world.
I am posting my blessings on a Wednesday instead of Monday because I didn’t want to miss an opportunity…….to thank Him again for outshining the stresses with blesses.
As I lay awake after my arrival, my mind swirling….one thousand thoughts converging……
colliding, worries tumbling over and over like a spin dryer.
Everything that comes with wanting to be everywhere at once when visiting family. The excitement of being there, and the sometimes extreme duress that came with traveling with someone extremely unpredictable, and with many special needs and challenges. It all swirled around.
My heart beating, my neck tense…..I prayed and let it all out to Him who listens best and can calm my heart when all else fails.
Still the blessings shine through the darkness. And many smiles were had and much laughter too. Now that I am home, I remember one after the other.
Being able to park the RV at my Aunt’s place on the Mokelumne River, and it was a blessing to her too to have us there. A comfort to her since now she comes home in the dark, her husband spends his days and nights away in a rest home. She said over and over again how she enjoyed it….having us there.
Seeing my Mom’s Bible study gals again…..their faith always shines through whatever they are dealing with, and there are many issues. But oh how we laughed and got a bit of study in too. Sometimes the fellowship is the most important part of the lesson.
Being able to spend time with Lauryn, my niece, my precious girl whose voice I still hear right now…saying my name which I waited so long for her to say. She has captured my heart with all the things she does……As I put scattered Lego’s back in the bag, my heart tugged…..lurched for her and the fun we had. Leaving is so bittersweet.
Enjoying a walk downtown in the crisp fall weather……clicking with my camera and enjoying once again walking all the paths I used to walk.
And of course, being able to do some things for Mom and Dad who are so appreciative of every small thing I do. I only wish it could be more……enjoying great food cooked by my brother, who really missed his calling. He should have been a chef.
Throwing an impromptu party for the “girls” in the Motor home. Elaine cooked a wonderful dinner and we laughed until our stomachs ached. My Aunt came out later and said what a great time she had…..
And to top it off. A spontaneous side trip to the ocean. I promise, pictures will follow………….There was a special place she longed to go, my best friend…..but with her Mom along, there was not much peace or relaxation for her. Let’s just say it was not a real vacation. Her dream of escaping there for a few days didn’t work out, so she asked me……Want to take a side trip to the coast on the way back?
It would mean getting back with no time to spare for work. But suddenly the prospect of going there, standing on the pounding surf, was irresistible. And she beamed like the sun……We turned the “bus” to the West with our hearts singing.
And Oh, the seafood. The magic of the waves, walking for hours and hours on the beach, watching the sandpipers clown around the shore, and the otter who entertained us for a solid hour with his antics.
It was all so wonderful. There is truly nothing like praying by the ocean.
Getting to bed at midnight and getting up at four AM for work is something I have not done in a while. But the memories and bit of peace and relaxation we carried away is worth every bit of sleep lost.
Sleep can be caught up. Moments are for seizing, and once passed we can’t be sure they will come again.
We are going to this place……..I had no idea where Belize was until a couple of days ago. I must admit when I first saw where it was on the map, my fatalistic overactive imagination conjured images of drug lords and kidnappings and assault rifles. Immediately I got on the travel website to get some facts. So far it sounds very intriguing, especially for someone like me who loves history. It has been featured many times on the Travel Channel and also House Hunters International. Two people I told at work immediately started gushing about it….yes, they actually gushed. I feel safer now.
So, how it all got started………I saw an ad in the paper asking for writing submissions. Well, all I saw at first were the words: WRITE and CRUISE. Contest was sponsored by the good people at Home Instead Senior Care. They wanted stories about caregivers sacrificing to care for loved ones at home and the winning submission would send the worthy caregiver on a cruise…..I could think of no one more worthy or in need of a cruise than my best friend who has been through so much the past several years with her folks. I tip-tapped my entry in the space….then I had to cut, and cut again.
I whittled it down to two words under the limit and hit “send.”
I didn’t hear anything for a few months so I figured it was already done, then lo and behold, I got an email day before yesterday. My essay was one of the winners of the caregiver cruise for two so Elaine (and I) will be headed for Belize in January. Wheeeee! I still can’t quite believe it. It’s a God thing. Sometimes He just gives one of those completely unexpected gifts, God gifts I call them.
And what is so wonderful is that my very generous and humble friend would hand this trip right over to someone else if she thought they were more deserving than she. No, no no, I will not let her.
Of course, when I read my submission again, the first thing I see is a big whopping error that I can’t believe I let slip by. But when I think about it, isn’t that just the way God works? If I had sent off a perfectly polished copy my ego would have had every opportunity to get all puffed up, as the Apostle Paul put it so well.
I am so grateful for this opportunity to see more of God’s good creation with someone so deserving of this. Someone who has missed so many vacations and left her dreams of another cruise somewhere far in the future, if at all. God had other ideas. I feel like He gift-wrapped it just for her.
“Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow. James 1:17
“Oh, no she has that black thing out again that clicks and flashes the bright light………must you do that nooowwww?”
“Okay, if you insist on doing that, I will just do my best to ignore you and take a bath……”
“Doing my best to look thoughtful and pensive……how am I doing?”
Thankful today for all the ones I have held and known, run and played with throughout my life. Thankful for a loving God who saw fit to create them for us as wonderful companions in the journey of life.
Briggs is the king of the house and loves everyone…..Sydney adopted me as his own and follows me everywhere, flopping upside down in my lap every night…..
All creatures great and small,
All things wise and wonderful,
The Lord God made them all.
If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. Colossians 3:1-3
A pilot friend of mine once said that there was nothing in the world more relaxing than flying. Something about being above it all makes your problems seem smaller. Every now and then I have flying dreams, and it’s wonderful. I soar around skyscrapers and sometimes I just hover and float. Don’t you wish we could just order up our dreams?
There is a way however, that we can lift ourselves above it all, where Christ is. That is by setting our minds on things above. Scripture is the best and most immediate way to do this. Since the Bible is a living book, it has the power to transform our very thought process! This is not Harry Potter magic, where you wave a wand and presto, all your problems go away (darn) This is actually way better, because though circumstances can change in the blink of an eye, God never does!
When we read the Bible with an open heart, we are tapping into the very source of Life itself.
The Word was there from the very beginning………”In the beginning was the Word…….” Not only that, the Bible says the Word and God are one and the same! It is timeless, ageless, and all sufficient. It is wisdom, it is power, it is the bread of life, it is the manna that came down from Heaven! It is the best way I know to keep my thoughts going in the right direction.
If you are living with someone who constantly sees the negative in every situation, it is hard not to find yourself going right down that road with them. To stop being who you are, and become them. But you don’t have to. You can be determined to set your mind above, where God is.
Find some life…..
Go outside, take a walk.
Go to the Mall and watch people.
Get around someone who can show you yourself again.
Do like my best friend who has been known to break into song and dance everytime Beyonce’s “Single Ladies” comes on. And if she can still sing and dance after everything she has been through this year, anyone can….like she is fond of saying:
Sometimes you just gotta give it a little dance.
Happy Birthday Elaine, best of friends…….you continually inspire me to see the good in everything…….