Another Chapter Begins…
…Why would you ever complain, O Jacob, or, whine, Israel, saying, “ God has lost track of me. He doesn’t care what happens to me”? Don’t you know anything? Haven’t you been listening? God doesn’t come and go. God lasts. He’s Creator of all you can see or imagine. He doesn’t get tired out, doesn’t pause to catch his breath. And he knows everything, inside and out. He energizes those who get tired, gives fresh strength to dropouts. For even young people tire and drop out, young folk in their prime stumble and fall. But those who wait upon God get fresh strength. They spread their wings and soar like eagles, They run and don’t get tired, they walk and don’t lag behind. (Isaiah 40:27-31 MSG).
I just reread my New Year’s blog from 2014. How depressing!! But let’s be honest, I had a right to be a little depressed. It had been a rotten 2013 and the start of 2014 had not been much better. As I reflect over all of 2014, it’s a combination of praises and prayers. What I have found, however, is that I don’t cheer the fact that a difficult year has passed. In fact, each new year is a bit sad to me because it means that another year has rapidly gone by. Those seconds tend to speed up. It’s a wonder that I can even catch my breath.
So, what was my 2014 like? Some of said it’s like a well-written tragedy. I don’t know about that but it was definitely full of heartache and excitement. It started out with me sitting in the hospital. I think it was day 15 when the “ball dropped.” My husband had been very sick and there were moments when we didn’t know if he would pull through. The following week, I lost my job. I can tell you that at that moment, I broke. I felt like God must have lost track of me somewhere along the way because I was drowning and it didn’t seem that He would ever throw a life-preserver. The next several months would prove challenging, to say the least. Paying bills required a bit of creativity and we spent more than a few sleepless nights worrying about our next meal.
In the spring, I was honored to serve as Lay Director of the Purchase Area Walk to Emmaus. If you don’t know what that is, shoot me a message. It’s a huge privilege to serve God in such a compacity. While in that role, I was humbled by the hearts of all of the folks I served with. Unfortunately, satan was pretty aggressive, trying constantly to shake my foundation throughout that time period. Verbal attacks, cold shoulders, hurt feelings. They all did abound. In the end, God’s shield provided me with the armor I needed to survive.
During this same time, I started a private counseling practice. I was invited to share office space with two Christian women whom I respect. What a difference an atmosphere makes! While the process of building clients has been an extremely slow one, the benefits of where I am located and who I am located with outweighs any of the negative. I strongly believe that God opened that door and has made it possible to be there each and every month since.
By the summer of 2014, I felt like things were looking up. My husband had just been granted reinstatement of his medical license. I thought for certain that it was only a matter of a few weeks and he would practicing medicine again. Unfortunately, it didn’t quite work out like that. After more “no” responses than I count, his depression set in. This placed an urgency on me to “make things happen.” Who was I kidding? The more I tried to control the situation, the more desperate I felt our situation had become. Finally, one evening, I surrendered myself. I knew I could no more control the outcome than Allen could. I looked at myself and asked God to light a path because I was completely lost. I had been spinning for more time than I care to admit and it was time to stop. The next day, I received my answer.
In July 2014, I would be asked to serve as minister of two local churches. This would mean an official step from laity to clergy. I knew God had designed my life so that this very moment could happen. Saying “yes” was much more difficult than I thought it would be. But ultimately, I did say “yes”. The rapid changes that took place in my life have left me breathless at times. There was no easing into the role. These two churches were without a minister. Their previous leader had already begun his new appointment in another district so I couldn’t “pick his brain” as I would have liked. Instead, I jumped in and prayed God wouldn’t let me sink.
During that same time, I began an internship at a local hospital as chaplain in their CPE program. Let me just say right off the bat that this is something I never want to do again but believe that every minister should have to do at least once. Let me explain. Hospital visits are more than just a quick visit where you talk about the weather, offer a quick prayer and get the heck out of dodge before your next text message comes through. If any minister who hasn’t been through a unit of CPE says he or she knows how to make hospital visits, I’d be leary. Anyone can go in an offer a quick prayer just to check it off the list. But a true pastoral care visit means listening without checking your watch. It means loving without worrying what germs you might get. It means putting yourself in the middle of the visit so that you have self-awareness in your situation. I hated every minute of this internship because it was hard on me emotionally, spiritually and mentally. But I thank God that He opened that door so that I can better serve Him in those moments when people need pastoral care rather than a fly by visit. This prepared me for some very difficult moments that would I face in the next few weeks.
Barely two months into my new ministry, my world would be utterly changed and, quite honestly, my heart would forever be broken. My best friend would tragically lose her life in a motorcycle accident. She was only 39 years old. God would see to it that I served as the minister of her funeral. From that moment on, I have only blogged once – to tell the story of her good-bye. I lost my voice when she passed and I have not asked God to give it back. Writing this has been more difficult than I thought but I know it needed to be written.
Since that day in the fall of 2014, I have struggled with some things internally. I have felt, at times, very distant from the One I serve. That distance is only because I placed it there. I don’t blame God for her loss. In fact, I praise God for granting me a life with her in it. I am just not where I once was in my walk. The beauty of that is that God never leaves us regardless if we choose to go it alone for a while. He never stops loving us. He never stops fighting for us. He never stops lighting our path to find our way back home to Him. It’s always a choice on our part to not have a close relationship with God.
My family and I moved to Ballard County in November. For anyone who really knows me, you probably are finding it rather funny to think of me living in the middle of farm lands. Trust me, it’s been a culture shock. From no cell service to wildlife in the front yard, I have to rethink my way of living. But I know that God has provided this home in this place for a very specific reason. We are still getting settled in our new place. It’s never a good idea to move in the middle of the holidays. Just too hectic! But once we finally get everything unboxed and placed where it should be, it will be nice to relax in the solitude of home.
Just as I started this year, I am ending this year sitting in the hospital. This time, I am there because my mom is recovering from surgery. She’s having a tough time of it. The past six weeks have been difficult on her body and spirit. So, just as I asked during this time last year, I’ll ask it this year – please pray for healing. I am very blessed to have experienced all that I have in the past year…. and in my life. I have been given a storyline and asked to author the text of my life. I could choose to write a story of tragedy. I could choose to write a story of fiction. But I don’t like those genres. I believe that nonfiction can be quite exciting and full of hope. As I look forward to the year 2015 I anticipate chapters of laughter and tears. I believe there will be mysteries and how-to’s. And I believe that through it all, God will light each step toward my next chapter. I began this with a quote from Isaiah. I love how it says, “Don’t you know anything? God doesn’t come and go. God lasts.” Yes! God does last. He is the perseverance when we run out of strength. He is the breath when we fill breathless. He is the light in a world full of darkness. Because of that, I don’t have to worry about figuring out what my next chapter is. I don’t have to fear walking around in the darkness of this life because God continues to shine a light – His Light – so I can see into those dark corners of uncerntainty. Would I like to know what’s next? Maybe. But that’s not how it works. He gives us just enough light to see our next step…to write our next sentence…
It’s 2015. God, I’m ready to start the next chapter…