Goodbyes, Hellos and Somewhere in-Between

Here’s one of many posts that I have been working on during small breaks from the unpacking.

 

GOODBYES, HELLOS AND SOMEWHERE IN-BETWEEN

Get ready.  Get set.  Go.DSCF1371

It was finally time to switch gears from preparing to move to this is actually going to happen mode.  We had been preparing for this for a long time.  Because the wait was so long, one of our children shared that it was like dealing with the emotions all over again.

This was most definitely not the timing we would have chosen.  But I have found that whenever I start to feel comfortable, that’s when the Lord prepares my heart for a change.  It was time.

I don’t know about everyone else but with any major change, I want the particulars first.  Timing, location; please give me the details.  Yes, faith is a good thing.  Yes, I believe.  But the details, Lord; I need the details to pack along with my security blanket.

But the answer was no.  Get ready.  Get prepared.  The specifics will come later.  Oh, what an uncomfortable but necessary exercise in faith!

I would love to say that I initially embraced the moving news with great gusto.  After all, we’d been praying and preparing our hearts to step out in ministry for years.  But I confess that, at times, I falter.  I often want the roadmap first and will offer my obedience second.  God gently rebukes me.  Sometimes later than sooner, I eventually surrender and admit my desire to be self-sufficient.  In this case, I wanted to keep my warm “fuzzies” of loved ones close by, familiar surroundings, and a life that had become, well, comfortable.  Just for a moment, doubts crept in.  Sigh.  Ah, but the Lord knows that I am a slow learner.  Obedient but slow.

Throughout the moving preparation process, I kept busy with packing, list making, and sharing the news amidst excitement and tears.  Get ready, get ready, and get ready kept beating through my heart, mind, and soul.

Then, it was time to go.

How does one say goodbye, yet again, to family and friends that have such a special place in your heart?  How does one do it time and time again throughout a lifetime?  Does it ever get any easier?

I was reminded of my first heart-wrenching goodbye as a teen at Bible camp.  One of the counselors wisely told my sister and me that it was the first of many goodbyes to come.  Neither of us wanted to hear that. It was a much too painful process to consider that we’d ever have to do it again.  And yet, so we have; many times over.

Is it easy?  No, it’s never been easy to say goodbye.  But there are two things which comfort me with each new goodbye the older I get.  The most important one is that in relationships with fellow believers in Christ, I know we will see each other again.  We have a common destination and that makes goodbye bearable.

(Colossians 3:2)  Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.

The second comfort is in knowing that a loved one remains in my heart regardless of geographic distance, technological challenges, or mountains standing in the way of clear airwaves!

We said our goodbyes to old friends.

(Colossians 1:3)  We give thanks to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you,

We greeted new friends with hellos.

(Colossians 3:17)  And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.

And here we sit, somewhere in-between, about to begin this new adventure the Lord has for us.

(Colossians 4:17)  … “Take heed to the ministry which you have received in the Lord, that you may fulfill it.”

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The Refining Fires of Busyness

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I am so sorry for the unplanned hiatus these past couple of months.  Sometimes the seesaw of life (relationships, roles, unplanned events, and tasks) tips unevenly to one side or the other and seems to stay there awhile.  During busy seasons and faced with a decision on where to focus my energies, I often set creative endeavors aside.

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No, don’t adjust your monitor.  These photos are indeed out of focus and a little distracting.  A couple of years ago, the pace of daily life shifted to warp speed.  There’s barely time to live in each moment; much less process it.  As I click away, my mind continually processing scenes faster than the camera, my husband often shakes his head.  (I have even requested that no blurry photos be deleted.  Someday, I just might use those!)  Sometimes I snap a shot as some writing idea races through my mind.  More often than not, I am simply trying to capture the scenes of life flying past.

The busier the schedule gets, the quieter I become. But that quietness on the outside doesn’t always mean stillness on the inside.  Internally, there is often a flurry of activity as changes come fast and furious and I find myself in a continual balancing act.  There are times that I am quite certain the flexibility joint has bent as far as it possibly can.  But God always shows me that, yes, it can bend some more … if I am willing. He uses these hectic seasons to help me prioritize between the essential and non-essential.

Today, He may use me to bring comfort through a smile or a hug; to listen and cry with a grieving friend over a devastating loss.  Tomorrow, my role may be that of a secretary, chauffeur, dishwasher, or grocery shopper.  Next week, it could be as homework checker, teacher, or all around errand runner; to name only a few.  And on most days, the roles collide and blend together.  Regardless of the task, I am called to be available; even in the words of my posts.

Yes, there is joy at warp speed … again, if I am willing.  Instead of focusing on what isn’t getting done or what’s up ahead, God reminds me of the importance of the tasks He sets before me.  He would have me live fully in His moment; not mine.   It’s not the speed of life that’s the issue; the problem surfaces when I take my eyes off of God, even for a second.

I pray that one day, even in the busiest of seasons, a peaceful spirit will reign inside as well as out.

Romans 15:32-33 that I may come to you with joy by the will of God, and may be refreshed together with you.  Now the God of peace be with you all. Amen.

Painful Anniversaries

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As the summer season and its suffocating heat fade, my soul seems to come alive.  Fall has always been my favorite time of year.  What’s not to love?  The mountains burst forth with color; reds, oranges, and yellows mixed with the evergreens.  Leaves begin to fall and there is something exhilarating about the sound of crunching leaves underfoot.  The temperatures begin to drop; resulting in glorious crisp air in the mornings and evenings.  The morning mist lingers near the ground before disappearing with the sun’s warmth.  Deer venture out, sticking close to the edge of the forest.  In the country, the scents from wood burning stoves and fireplaces hang in the air.  In late fall, camouflage becomes the fashionable clothing of choice along with orange hats and vests as hunting season begins.

After one last curtain call of color, the leaves shrivel up and turn that ugly brown.  Leaves on the ground are soggy; providing a covering for the soil underneath.  The trees’ branches are bare, exposed but the trees are not dead. They are simply conserving nutrients; resting until spring when they will once again show new life. Crops are gathered and harvested.  Animals grow heavier coats.  All of these events signal the end of one season and beginning of another.

This is also the time of year that I, along with others, must face many painful anniversaries.

Most of us have them.  You know the ones; those heart-rending dates that loom ahead on the calendar.  We strive to remember, to never forget a loved one. We may try to blot out (but can’t) that heartbreak or event that forever changed our lives or someone else’s.

What do we do with those kinds of anniversaries?  How do we get beyond the deep sorrow and move toward the joy of spring and new life?

There are documented scientific reasons to explain seasonal changes.  But when it comes to losing a loved one, there is no earthly explanation that can soothe my hurting soul.  I have no textbook answer as to why one person lives a long life and another is taken away in their youth. Nor do I understand why disease claims the life of one yet leaves another untouched.  But I do know that these losses and other tragedies are a part of this life.  I trust that God has a purpose and a reason, even if I am never able to see good come of it.

Trust in Him at all times, you people; Pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us. Selah Psalm 62:8

Each year when these painful anniversary dates come and go, there is always a time of reflection, of soul searching, and a letting go of emotions … yet again.

But it is good for me to draw near to God; I have put my trust in the Lord GOD…   Psalm 73:28

Revive me, O LORD, for Your name’s sake! For Your righteousness’ sake bring my soul out of trouble.  Psalm 143:11

He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake.  Psalm 23:3

Then I prayerfully and purposefully dwell on joyful memories of laughter and family gatherings.  I breathe in deeply of the crisp air and enjoy the sights and smells of fall.  I rejoice because somehow, even after deep sorrow, God once again reminds me how to smile.

I would have lost heart, unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the LORD…  Psalm 27:13

What I know to be true

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Given current world events, last week’s post presented quite a dilemma (which is why this post took longer than I would have liked). Right now, across the ocean, mommies are sobbing over the horrible deaths of their babies. Wives are witnessing the barbaric deaths of their husbands and they continue to face unbelievable terror and abuse. Families are living with incoming missiles as a part of their daily life. Even trying to watch the nightly news shows violent crimes in my own country and city that are happening way too close to my address.

In the meantime, life seems to go on with the mundane in contrast to these unimaginable situations. How can I write about longing for beautiful fall foliage, white fluffy clouds, or what’s for dinner when my heart is in such turmoil? Okay, so maybe I would not have written about those specific topics. However, could I really write about “normal” thoughts and offer any encouragement?

In the process of preparing this post, God gently rebuked me. I needed to take my mind off of the circumstances and focus on what I know to be true. I don’t have to come up with the right words or answers to life’s problems. I just have to remember where to turn.

My soul melts from heaviness; Strengthen me according to Your word.  Psalm 119:28

Despite the dark and sinister crimes described on the nightly news, God has not departed.

Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend into heaven, You are there; … Psalm 139:7-8

No matter how horrific the actions of others, God is still in control.

He rules by His power forever; His eyes observe the nations; Do not let the rebellious exalt themselves. Selah  Psalm 66:7

In the day when I cried out, You answered me, And made me bold with strength in my soul.  Psalm 138:3

Regardless of the fear that the world has turned upside down and life is hopeless, God’s word offers hope.

I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, And in His word I do hope.  Psalm 130:5

Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart, All you who hope in the LORD.  Psalm 31:24

Even though some want to rewrite history and thumb their noses at any and all truths, God’s word remains true.

For the LORD is good; His mercy is everlasting, And His truth endures to all generations.  Psalm 100:5

In spite of those who try to distort archaeological and scientific facts, God’s word tells us the truth.

The heavens are Yours, the earth also is Yours; The world and all its fullness, You have founded them.  Psalm 89:11

Taking comfort in God’s word and remembering what I know to be true…

…I will remember the works of the LORD; Surely I will remember Your wonders of old. I will also meditate on all Your work, And talk of Your deeds…  Psalm 77:11-12

He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress; My God, in Him I will trust.”  Psalm 91:1-2