Wednesday, March 30, 2011

On the Road Again....

"By day the Lord went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud 
to guide them on their way..."
Exodus 13:21 (NIV)

I have a confession to make. I was complaining today...and trying to work myself up into a pity party. You see.....we have to move, again! My husband and I have moved so many times in our 28 years of marriage you would think we were in the military. But no...we just move a lot.

Sometimes it is of our own choosing...
There was the time shortly after we were married that we moved from a lovely one bedroom condo to a two-bedroom apartment because we were expecting a baby. Later we moved from a two-bedroom apartment to a three-bedroom house because we had another baby. Then the life-changing moment when we moved 3000 miles across the country to start a new life. There was the absolute hand of God move when we were living in a 700 square foot, two-bedroom apartment with three small boys and pregnant with my daughter when God provided us with a lovely three-bedroom home with a yard.

Sometimes it is not of our own choosing...
We've lost two houses to parking lots! 
We lost one home to foreclosure.
And now we are losing this home to divorce.

Ok...stop right there! 
No, Mark and I are not getting a divorce! 
Shame on you! 

Anyway...when we moved into this house almost three years ago we were told the owner had bought it as a retirement investment and wouldn't be asking us to vacate any time soon. So we felt fairly comfortable settling in and calling it home. However, life sometimes changes circumstances beyond our control. As their marriage fell apart, our life has become interrupted. And we find ourselves in the position of having to sort through stuff, pack our belongings, and look for a new home...........again.

And so, this morning, I was complaining!  I was standing in my kitchen looking around and praying, "You know, God, I really need direction and some clarity of mind. 'Cause when I look around at all this stuff we have to pack, I don't even know where to start. And I really don't want to do this again!" When we moved into this house we went from a five bedroom house to a three bedroom house. We downsized and threw out a LOT of stuff. And yet, here in 2 1/2 short years, in spite of the fact that we have married off two children and sent one to college, we have accumulated MORE STUFF! It can almost move me to a panic attack.

As I stood at my kitchen sink chopping up potatoes for dinner, it struck me....I wonder if this is how the Israelites felt? I mean, they spent 40 years traveling around a desert that really isn't that big. So they must have spent some time just camped out. And if you think about it, they had a lot of stuff too. When they left Egypt, "the Israelites asked the Egyptians for articles of silver and gold and for clothing. The LORD had made the Egyptians favorably disposed toward the people, and they gave them what they asked for; so they plundered the Egyptians." (Exodus 12:35,36) They had stuff!

Then, God gave Moses instructions on how to assemble a tabernacle....a traveling tabernacle. This was made with linen curtains and gold rods and had lots of utensils and bronze serving items, candle sticks, altars...Read Exodus 26. This was not just a simple little pup tent! 

So when the cloud pillar stopped....they stopped; and they set up camp. They put down tent pegs and raised the canvas flaps; they unpacked their pots and pans, their cots and bedrolls. They sorted through all the clothes and moved hand-me-downs to the next them all put away in their individual "foot-lockers" arranged at the end of their section of the tent. The Levites went through the huge process of setting up the tabernacle and laying out all the sacrificial utensils and tables with the lamp-stands and incense.... when suddenly.....

The cloud began to shift....

Can you just hear the mothers? "Are you kidding me? I just got out the gold candlestick our Egyptian neighbors gave us! I just got them polished and found the perfect spot for them in the corner of our tent! Now we have to move again?"

And so they begin to pack it all up again. But, in the backs of their minds do you think they ever wondered, "Maybe this will be the last time! Maybe when we stop next, we will! Home...." I know I have.

I realize that the Israelites wandered for 40 years due to their rebellion and sin. And I know that some of the times Mark and I have had to move was due to poor choices we have made. But I also think that each place they traveled was a place to learn; a place to see a new or greater aspect of God; a place to grow. And a place to see the hand of God move on their behalf. Battles were fought; victories were won. Likewise, each place Mark and our family has gone has been the same. Each step along the way has taught us things about ourselves and shown us new and greater characteristics of God and each time we are amazed at who He is and how He moves. 

Battles have been fought; 
Victories have been won.

So, for now, it's "On the road again.." I don't know about you, but I like plans. I like to know what I'm doing and when I'm doing it. I don't even really like to be spontaneous about going out to dinner, because if we decide where we are going to go too quickly, we usually end up going somewhere we wish we hadn't. So to know that I have to move, but don't know where or when....yeah, don't like that too much! But as I have looked back over the years I realize that more often than not, that has been the case for us. I can really only think of 3 times that we have found a place to move, and then decided to do so. (We've moved 13 times!!!) Usually we have discovered we HAVE to move and then wondered how it was all going to work out. But I have to say...

God is always faithful!

He has always provided us with a place to live, always on time, and always been better than the place we had before. It just requires a little faith. I'm reminded of Abraham when God said to him, "Leave....and go to a place that I will show you." (Genesis 12:1) He didn't tell him where he was going....just go. "I'll let you know when you get there" (me paraphrasing). Sometimes that's the faith we need....blind faith. The kind that says, "Ok, God, I'll go. I'll start moving and  You direct my feet".

step by step
day by day
moment by moment
box by box.

As with the Israelites, every move we have made has been a memorable place along the journey. Sometimes they were hard fought battles but with victorious outcomes...water from a rock, manna from heaven, quail in times of lack. 

And so, it begins...another move along the way. I will try to keep my complaining to a minimum, Lord. (With the Israelites as my example, complaining didn't really do a lot for them!) Because You and I have been down this road before. You are ever faithful, ever trustworthy and Your love endures forever. You have never left me or disappointed me. I will try not to run ahead of You, because this inevitably slows us down. I will follow Your footsteps when I can't see Your hand; and I will reach for Your hand when I can't find Your footsteps. 

To my prayer warrior friends, please pray with us for His leading, His provision and our patience. 

"The steps of a [good] man are directed and established by the Lord when He delights in his way [and He busies Himself with his every step]" .
Psalm 37:23 (AMP)

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Grace...Cut to Fit

My grace is enough; it's all you need.
My strength comes into its own in your weakness.
2 Corinthians 12:9 (Message)

This week I am taking a Chaplaincy Training class. I took this course last year, but there is so much information that it is worth sitting through again. But this time, I am seeing it through different eyes.

Today we talked about the grieving process. I knew it would be a difficult day. I was prepared... box of tissue in hand; waterproof mascara applied. I knew the story that was going to be told as an example of a sudden and heartbreaking loss and how the family dealt with was the same story that was told in last years class. But this time, I was hearing it with different ears...

I listened with a compassionate heart as this mother told of her 5 year old son who went from a healthy, vibrant, active little boy at breakfast to sudden death after lunch. No time to prepare. Just a sudden and quick illness that took his life. My mother's heart could only imagine her pain at the loss of a child; my daughter's heart could relate to the suddenness of the loss after losing my mom and aunt to a sudden car accident.

However, when our Children's Pastor began to tell his story of going to the hospital to be with the family and described the things he saw in the hospital, my mind went back. In an instant....

I was back in Texas in that hospital room with Momma
I heard the machine that kept pumping oxygen into her lungs
I saw the numbers on the monitor as they dropped
I felt her hand in mine as I watched her take her last breath...

And it was as if the air had been sucked out of the room.
I couldn't breathe....
I had to leave....

Pastor Cindi had told us at the start of the day that it would be a hard day. She said that we would want to get up and leave. She asked us to stay. And I knew in my heart of hearts she was talking to me. But I just couldn't continue to sit there...

I got up and walked out the back into the hall and leaned up against the wall and began to weep. My husband followed me out and just held me. My friend, Vanessa came and hugged me and we went outside for fresh air and deep breaths.

I wish I could say the rest of the day got better; but there was more to deal with. As we talked about the grieving process and what we can do to come along side those who have dealt with a loss, there were reminders of the love and support I received.

Cards that came just at the right time
Text messages,
facebook notifications

On one of our breaks this afternoon, I told Pastor Cindi, "I am not having fun today!" She smiled in her quiet and compassionate way and said, "I know...I prayed for you this morning." She knew this would be a hard day for me. But then she reminded me, "His grace is sufficient; cut to fit the exact situation you are in".

I came home from this day absolutely exhausted. Ate dinner and went to bed. But before I went to sleep, I heard from my oldest sister, Debbi. She had been out to the crash site...the first time since the accident 10 weeks ago. She said to me... " Neecie came out and met me in Greenville yesterday, and we went to see the accident site. I was having panic attacks every time I had to cross that street, and thought I would fall apart when I saw the actual spot. But I didn't. We got out and walked around, and just stood there with her arm around me. It took the power out of it. I felt very sad, but very calm."

Grace, cut to fit...

No matter the situations we find ourselves in; no matter the hardships we must face; no matter the obstacles the enemy would put in our paths to distract us, waylay us, or destroy us, His grace...God's grace, is sufficient to carry us through it.

The song that is playing as you read this is called Rescue by Desperation Band.These are the lyrics...

You are the source
of the life
I can't be left behind
No one else will do
I will take hold of You.

I need You, Jesus
To come to my rescue
Where else can I go
There's no other name by
Which I am saved
Capture me with grace
I will follow You

This world has nothing for me
I will follow You

Time and time again, He has come to my rescue. His grace is indeed sufficient for me. When it seems that all around me has fallen apart; when the air has been sucked out of my world, I will follow Him.

Where else can I go?

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

A Time to Mourn...

"I will turn their mourning into gladness;
I will give them comfort and joy instead of sorrow."
Jeremiah 31:13

My apologies to those of you who regularly follow my blog. The past few weeks have been a little difficult....a desert experience, I guess you would say. And I haven't had much to share.

It's been 9 weeks since the accident that killed my mother and my aunt. Part of me thinks I should be over this by now.  You see, my mom and aunt lived in Texas and I live in Washington. I didn't see them every day. They weren't a part of my everyday life; they were phone calls once a week. So, to other people around me, my day to day life here in Washington doesn't look any doesn't look like anthying has changed. But my heart has. A dear friend reminded me yesterday that I didn't just lose a person in my life...I lost a relationship.

As I have spent the last few weeks trying to go back to life as usual, I'm really just going through the motions. I don't like that feeling. It's not fair to my family; it's not fair to my friends; it's not fair to me.

So, if you'll forgive me for this small pity party, I will take some time off from my Desert series to focus on some healing time. I will be taking a Grief class at church in the next few weeks. Ecclesiastes 3 says, "There is a time to mourn...". I guess I need to actually take that time before I try to get on with life "as usual".

I thank all of you who regularly visit here and support me. Your prayers are what held me up during that difficult week between the accident and the funerals. And I know many of you continue to pray for me and my sisters. We are grateful to you for all of your encouragement and continued prayers.

"I thank my God every time I remember you."
Philippians 1:3

Love you,