Part II, aka, “The Details, or, at Least, as Many of Them as I Know”

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On 29 May 2013, I stood near this marker and looked out over the roaring Little Su River, just outside Wasilla, Alaska.  As had happened many times already, I was overwhelmed by the sheer beauty of the place, nearly to tears.  I texted the hubby something about how incredible it was, and he responded, “I guess we’d better move there.”  Now, anytime I travel, he says things like that to me, but this time was different.  I had found myself constructing a whole life for us in Alaska, mundane stuff like, “If I lived here, I’d drive such and such a car.  I’d go to such and such a grocery store.”  But I hadn’t said anything to J because while I was fulfilling a 30 year-old dream, he was back home in Texas working crazy hours and bearing full responsibility for our child.  I didn’t want to rub my joy and freedom and exhilaration in his face.

But it dawned on me that this was the fourth time he’d texted or said this to me during this trip.  And something clicked.  My heart started beating faster, and I prayed for a phone signal.

Me: You keep saying that.  Are you saying what I think you’re saying?

J:  Do you want to live there?

Me:  Yeah…kinda.  Yeah.  Do you?

J:  Yes!  Let’s do it!

Me:  But you haven’t even seen it.

J:  I don’t care.  Let’s do it.  What do we have to lose?

Me:  Nothing, that’s what.

Both of us (and God – I heard it very clearly): WHY THE HECK NOT????

I mean, what do you say when God asks you something like that?  We started talking details, and J wanted to move right then and there.  But I felt like there was a timing to it all, so I made it back to Texas a few days later, and we began to plan.

Ah, plans.  The fun-to-make, well-thought-out, just-makes-sense framework for all that is good in the world.  Yeah.

From the start, not one thing turned out the way J and I planned it.  We sent out resumes.  We went on interviews.  We priced houses and U-Haul trucks and plane tickets.  Resumes went unperused.  Interviews got to the “you’re one of two candidates” stage and fizzled.  U-Haul was not the way to go – anyway, who wants to drive a huge moving truck 4096 miles, over mountains and on gravel and tar-based highways (did you even know there was such a thing?)?  God made it very clear to us that HE was going to be the one to make this whole thing happen, and it has been an unnerving, faith-stretching-to-the-breaking-point process.  He’s called us to take one step at a time and promised that each step would open up the way for the next step.  Translation:  we haven’t known much of anything for the better part of a year.

J can do his job from anywhere in the world, so there’s that.  But we didn’t have the money to ship our stuff, which is what God told us to do.  In fact, we still don’t have all of it.  But he has promised us that he does, indeed, finish what he starts, so we’re shipping it.  The resources will be there.  The same goes for a place to live, a school for our son, a job for me — he’s going to provide.  That kind of faith looks like utter foolishness to most of the world, but we can do nothing else.  We know and believe what he said.

This last year has been a year of purging and reassessment.  The Lord made it very clear to us that nothing old is to go with us into our new lives.  (This even includes some things we’d consider “good.”  They just don’t fit the picture anymore.  S-T-R-E-T-C-H.)  We’ve made 6 trips to the Salvation Army to give material items away, and there’s at least one more trip that needs to happen.  I think the most fun giveaway happened a couple of weeks ago, on a perfect last day at the beach.  M and I had decided to leave our boogie boards on the sand with a sign saying, “Moving to Alaska!  Don’t need these!”  But we happened across 2 young girls and their parents, so we just handed them over.  And then we asked if they wanted our pop-up shelter and three beach chairs.  It turns out the mom leads an area Girl Scout troop, and they just started learning about camping, so these things were definitely useful to them.  We left the beach with huge grins on our sunburned faces.

Did I mention that along the way, a friend of the family decided she wanted to move with us?  So she’s gotten to go through her own faith-stretching, and “family” has been redefined in a brand-new way for all of us.

Old ideas, old beliefs, old ties and relationships – especially toxic ones – all of these came under scrutiny, too.  It’s been intense.  But I don’t even know if I can explain how this move feels – it’s like not only is one chapter done, but the whole book is closed, and a new one is opened, full of blank pages just waiting to be written on.  There is such a sense of life about to start, like everything up to now has just been a shadow of what’s to come.  I am more excited about this than I’ve ever been about anything  in my life.

So…in approximately 8 hours, my friend and I will be on the road.  We’re taking 10 days to make the drive, and J and M will follow us on the 1st of August.  Our stuff should get to us a few weeks later, at which time we will hand the movers a check, and they will be paid in full!  For my Facebook friends, I’ll post as often as I can, but I’m pretty sure internet access will be spotty once we get into Yukon Territory and such.

Squeeeee!  Onward and upward!  North to the future!!!!!!

PS — Did you catch the significance of the “shift” happening on top of an active fault line????

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We Have a Big, Gigantic, Humongous, Enormous Announcement

success-really-looks-likeI’ve been mentally writing and re-writing this blog post for about 6 months now. Why? Because when the hubby and I had our big idea a little over a year ago, I just knew how the whole thing was going to play out. We would make the decision, agree on the details, and move forward with executing the plan flawlessly. The story would be sequential and VERY entertaining. My narrative practically wrote itself…

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

Ahem. Sorry.

It’s just that not a single thing has happened as we envisioned. Our end goal is still the same, but the getting there has been all kinds of “not what we imagined.” Really, I should have known better, because in our household, God is not only IN the details, but he writes them. And our best-laid plans gang aft agley because we still haven’t learned just to go with the flow and trust his process.

[Side note: The Lord has been teaching me about the difference between dreaming and imagination, and what his giving us the desires of our hearts REALLY means. It’s not about “if we want it, he’ll give it to us.” It’s actually about one who knows us better than we know ourselves and offers a dream – a desire – he knows we’re gonna love. When we say yes, he gets to work making it happen, but the deal is that it’s like writing an outline. We “dream” – come up with the idea, or more accurately, discover what he’s put in our heart. We say yes. Those are the Roman numerals in the outline. We get to choose what goes there. But the little abc’s are the details, and if we have truly given him authority over our lives, those letters are not ours to fill in. When we do, THOSE are imaginations, and they’re most often in vain. I realize this seems to be in direct contradiction to all that stuff we’re taught about going after our dreams, making them happen, etc. But years ago, someone told me that if I could accomplish the things I dreamed without God, I wasn’t dreaming big enough, and I took it to heart. Dreaming, in my mind, is the single biggest way to deepen my trust in the Lord. And that is very much what this season has been about.]

Okay, so the announcement:

We are moving to Alaska at the end of July. Yes, the 49th state. Yes, for real. Yes, we know it gets cold up there.

I’ll give y’all the details in Part II, which, in and of itself, is exactly 0% how I thought I’d break the news. But there it is. And we are super-excited like you wouldn’t believe. We just have to see a few more things fall into place, and then I can tell you everything. But for now, I need to go cook supper for my family, which will be served on paper plates, as all my dinnerware is packed. 🙂  Until next time…

Walking on Water…Sorta

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Life as I know it has been HECTIC recently, so this past weekend, I took myself down to the Gulf Coast for a bit of “degaussing.”  Having grown up in that area, it’s always been a happy place/de-stressing place/thinking place for me, and this time was no different.  I took my journal with me, like always, and sought out the least-populated stretches of sand, like always, so I could meander and process.  (Hi, my name is Pellucere, and I like long walks on the beach…)

Eventually, I came to the Quintana fishing jetty, and it hit me suddenly that I had never once walked its entire, 3/5-mile-plus length.  I had a strong compulsion to do so, which was quickly countered by a mental litany of all sorts of reasons why I shouldn’t (you’ll get to the end and be swamped by the breaking waves and swept away into the muddy, brown Gulf.  You’ll drop your phone in the water while trying to take pictures.  It’s a pain to get saltwater off your sunglasses. Your mp3 player will get soaked.  You’ll lose your car keys.  NO ONE ELSE IS DOING IT!)

I am not generally a fearful person, and frankly, all these thoughts ticked me off.  I mean, really.  You know how sometimes you hear stuff in your head that you just KNOW isn’t you?  It struck me as an opportune time to take all those vain imaginations captive, and so I did.  Even so, as I began to walk out past the few fishermen perched on the first third of the jetty, I found myself stopped a few times, standing and watching the waves crash over its end.  But as I kept going, I realized that the breakers were landing directly in front of me or directly behind me.  Not once did I get more than wet feet.

I heard the Lord speak to me as I walked.  He said, “I will keep you safe.  The spray is all that will hit you, and it won’t bother you at all.  In fact, you will be refreshed.  You will thrive in it.”  I felt like He meant this for my life in general, and the jetty walk was really just an illustration, an exercise in choosing to trust Him, rather than let irrational fears rule me.  And I had to laugh when I finally reached the end — there was a large, green sign declaring this to be Jetty #7.  Green represents new life, and 7 is the number of completion.  I felt like I’d completed one phase or level and been promoted to a new one.

So many people I know are in a season of learning what it means to walk by faith and not by sight.  Where we thought we had an understanding of this before, there’s a new intensity to the lesson that makes me sure we’re being prepared for things we can’t even imagine.  If you find yourself in this season, blind and unable to hear, full of uncertainty and strange fears, maybe rethinking everything you ever thought you knew, rest assured that you absolutely are not alone.  Take comfort in the fact that the Lord believes in YOU enough to stretch you a little further, teach you a little more.  Be proud that He thinks you capable of the hard assignments.  Think of it as an honors class in more ways than one. 🙂

Can’t wait to see where I walk next!

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Love’s a Revolving Do-o-o-r

(With apologies to Princess Ana and Prince Hans, and also to your brain, which now has probably been infested with an earworm)

Recently, I’ve been thinking a lot about the people in my life who have come and gone through the years.  Mostly, I’ve been thinking about the ones who have gone.

Some have gone because they grew into people who have little in common with me.

Some decided my presence in their lives was only “for a season.”  I may or may not have agreed.

Some  were hypercritical/nasty/abusive/negative, and I decided they needed to go.

Some blamed me for things I didn’t do, or they didn’t forgive me for things I did.

Some just faded away.  One minute they were there, and then all of a sudden it was 3 years since we last spoke.

Some passed away or moved away.  Either way, we lost contact.

Some should have never come in to begin with.

There are a LOT of emotions that can accompany the dissolution of a relationship, and most of them are negative.  Fear, anger, blame, bitterness, depression, guilt, sorrow…all of  these come rushing in to fill the spot where the person once was.  You might find yourself reciting a litany of things you could have done differently.  Or maybe you scream and scream and scream at the other person, even if it’s only in your mind.  Or maybe you find yourself defaming him or her to others, or even becoming suicidal.

Here’s the deal:  People are complex, unpredictable beings.  We can never truly know with 100% certainty why they do what they do.  We might understand bits of it…or we might be way off the mark and make judgements based on our own filters.  And these judgements we make don’t exclude us.  For example, your best friend might freak out on you one day and yell at you for an hour about how you always try to make her be someone she’s not.  Maybe this is true, and you do that.  Or maybe something about your personality triggers a deeply-buried hurt she carries from someone who really didn’t accept her as she was.  But in the face of that onslaught, you start thinking she’s crazy, and then you start second-guessing yourself and thinking maybe you’re doing this stuff without realizing it and all of a sudden, ohmygosh, you’re such a horrible friend who doesn’t deserve to have a BFF.  BOOM, just like that, 2 hurting people, because you owned the accusation.

So how the heck am I supposed to navigate these murky waters of relationship, then? 

Here’s the answer:  Love.  Love that holds on loosely, allows people to be people, and continues to love, even when they leave.

Absolutely impossible in our own strength.  Truly, and yet we are told  in the Bible to do exactly this because it’s good for them AND good for us.  “Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing” (1 Pet 3:9, NIV).

I think a part of that blessing we inherit is not having to walk around damaged by negative emotions that take root.  If people want to go, let them go.  Realize that you don’t understand everything, but the Lord does, and He still loves your ex-best-friend.  Be like Him – it has nothing to do with how you feel.  Give those hurt feelings to Him (and don’t take them back!!), and then continue to love your friend by blessing her in her coming and going.  Deuteronomy 28:6 says, “A blessing on you when you go out, and a blessing on you when you come in” (Complete Jewish Bible).  And yes, I realize that contextually, this verse is smack in the middle of an explanation of what happens when you are obedient to God.  I’m not trying to twist Scripture for my own purposes.  I just think it’s a great sentiment and an example of how we can treat the people who come in and out of our lives.  And anyway, doesn’t it make sense that if they are coming in and out of our lives, we’re also going in and out of theirs?  So if we are obedient, we receive the blessings coming and going.  And obedience to God’s word includes blessing those that curse you (Luke 6:28, Romans 12:14, Matthew 5:44).

So let the door revolve.  Thank the Lord for the good things the person brought into your life; where applicable, forgive the not-so-good, and send them on their way with a blessing.  And also?  Don’t marry a guy who proposes 10 minutes after you meet (looking at you, Princess Ana)!

Do Not Go Gentle Into That Dämmerschlaf

You know, when you ask the Lord what he wants to talk about, you never really know exactly what he’s going to say…this morning, for example, he brought up twilight sleep.  He asked me to go read about it and then get back to him, so, coffee mug in hand, I read. Here is what I learned:

In the early 20th century, Carl Gauss developed a method called Dämmerschlaf, or “twilight sleep,” for laboring mothers .  Moms-to-be were drugged into a semi-narcotic but conscious state, the idea being that they would have no post-delivery memory of labor pain.  It was heralded as a “new era” for women, but the side effects left something to be desired.

For one thing, twilight sleep removed the woman from the experience of childbirth.  True, she had no memory of the pain, but she also couldn’t actively participate in, or remember, the delivery itself.  One Nebraskan woman is on record as saying, “The next thing I knew I was awake […] and then I thought to myself, ‘I wonder how long before I shall begin to have the baby,’ and while I was still wondering a nurse came in with a pillow, and on the pillow was a baby, and they said I had had it—perhaps I had—but I certainly can never prove it in a courtroom.”

In some cases, this memory deficit affected the normal mother-infant bonding process, leading to ongoing issues.  In addition, the drugs used (a cocktail of morphine and scopolamine) affected the infants’ central nervous systems, which resulted in lethargic babies with poor breathing capacity.  All in all, not a great way to start out…

Okay, I’m back,” said I.  “What are you wanting me to see?

God: Talk to me about your own experience giving birth to M.

Me: Okaaaay.  I went totally natural, had a waterbirth.  I felt like a mama cat who just wanted to be left alone and let the process happen.  I trusted that my body would do what it needed to.  I was adamant about not having an epidural or meds because I wanted to experience the process from start to finish, and because I knew it would be healthier for me and the baby. 

God: What else?

Me: It hurt.  It was a lot of work.  I thought I might die a few times.  Hubby had to keep reminding me to breathe. 

God: But you were fully present in the moment, yes?  You remember when they laid your baby on your chest and you got to see him the first time?

Me:  Yes, I remember clearly.  I was astounded at how beautiful he was.

God:  Okay, so, switching gears for a minute.  You’re not really one for the journey, are you?

Me:  Ummm…I like road trips a lot.  When I get to plan them.

God:  Right, when you’re in charge.  But you aren’t too fond of not knowing what’s going to happen next, are you?  You’ve been learning this about yourself recently.

Me:  Sigh.

God: So let me talk to you about birthing a dream.

Me (starting to see where this was going): Okay.

God: What if you had been in twilight sleep while in labor with your son?  You wouldn’t have memories of pain, but you wouldn’t have been able to be a part of the process.  But since you were awake and aware, you got to experience it all.  And you knew him the second you saw him. Now, just like your midwife knew the natural progression of birth, I know the process for birthing a dream.  I don’t want you in twilight sleep as this thing unfolds.  I want you to be fully present. I need you to trust me, trust that I’m monitoring your vital signs, trust that I know when to tell you to relax and when to push.  I promise you that there’s a connection between the memories of the pain and the value of the dream when it comes true.  And also?  Dreams are healthier, fuller, when we co-labor.

Me:  Okay, so all this recent frustration and not knowing what in the world is going on…what’s all that about?

God:  That’s because you should be relaxing, and instead, you’re trying to push.  Timing is everything, daughter o’ mine.  Let me do my part so you can do yours. I’ll let you know when to push.

God is right, of course.  Right now is a time that I am fully aware of a dream on the horizon, and I am completely unable to MAKE it happen sooner. This has caused me no shortage of grief as I learn to trust his process, trust him even more.  I’ve spent a lot of time yelling and pushing, when what I needed to be doing was saving my strength for when it’s time.  And there are always, ALWAYS clear signs of when it’s time…which I would miss if I were in Dämmerschlaf.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go rest.

 

 

It’s All About Us

The 12th of March was the hubby’s and my anniversary.  We observed it with the usual Facebook tribute, a beautiful rose (he picks out the BEST flowers!), cards, and the umpteenth round of  the “tell me again why we chose a wedding date right in the middle of Spring Break” conversation*.  We didn’t make any plans to go out until the next night, when M would be sleeping over at his Honorary Grandma Lulu’s house.

So tonight was that next night, and we found ourselves with a dilemma (1) and a realization (2):

  1. We live in a city that neither one of us particularly likes, and because of that,
  2. We usually end up going to other places to celebrate our day.

Escaping our town wasn’t feasible this year for various reasons, so we had quite the discussion about finding things to do that were “us” in the vicinity.  And it was tough.  We’re not into most of the things our city is known for, and going the “fancy dinner and a movie” route seemed disingenuous (not to mention at odds with our dietary habits) since part of our issue with this area is that the food scene seems a bit pretentious.

[GASP!  Wait a minute!  What do you mean, you don’t like our fair city?  It’s the best city on the planet!  Everybody loves it here!  And why don’t you like the things our city is known for?  We’re so cool!  We have music and weirdness and hipsters and more music and festivals and a vibrant downtown scene and music!  And our food is awww-suhm!  You must be out of touch.  Or you’re old.  Or you just don’t get it.  Maybe you should move!]

Yeah, I know.  I heard the collective protests and sighs of dismay before I even started writing this.  Because truthfully, this city is full of people that feel exactly that way.  And it’s okay that they feel that way.  But it’s also okay that we don’t, which leads into the point I’m trying to make.

My husband and I were initially attracted to each other for a number of reasons, including the fact that we think quite a bit alike about many, many things.  Tonight we celebrated the fruits of that attraction: our marriage, our friendship, our very unique relationship that is unlike any other I’ve seen, the fact that we both LIKE how different it is.  We celebrated US…by not doing things we wouldn’t normally do, anyway.  This is not a moral or ethical, “there’s only one right way” issue.  Our marriage, as we see it, is about laughing joyously with God, acknowledging His crazy sense of humor in putting the two of us together, and just enjoying who we are individually and as a couple.  And honestly, that’s what I wish for everyone: Find the truth of whom you are, and enjoy BEING it, regardless of what anyone else thinks.  I firmly believe that every single person was made to reflect a facet of God that no one else does, and when you find the freedom in being whom He says you are, you shine.

I’m not going to tell you what all we ended up doing, but I will say that this Texas girl could eat those In-n-Out grilled onions by the spoonful…

[GASP!  Mighty Fine/P Terry’s/Elevation/Whataburger/Hopdoddy is sooooo much better!]

Shush.  Let us be.  And you go be. 🙂

*In case you decide to get married on a date that falls during the week of Spring Break, you might want to rethink it.  Destinations are  way more expensive – and crowded – around that time, so if you’re wanting a quiet, romantic little beach getaway, or a visit to Disney World, or a ski trip, well…good luck to ya.

One Moment in Tiiiiime…

(Admit it.  You’re singing.)

We-e-e-e-e-e-ll, I should know better than to think I could dash off a quick, encouraging post whilst sitting at the airport, waiting to board a plane, which is exactly what I’m doing.  It’s those darn rabbit trails…I had a thought in mind, and I was going to talk about it on the simplest, most superficial of levels, but then when I went to research the components of my thoughts, I started thinking about nuances of words and how they’d apply to what I wanted to say, which meant I had to look up the nuances, which led to more thoughts…heck, just re-reading my last sentence is making me tired!

So.  Instead of telling you what I was GOING to tell you, I will share with you the reason I am at the airport.  I’m sitting here because someone I love said yes to God when He asked if she was ready to walk into some brand new healing.  And He had told me I was going to be a part of it several months ago, but I had to wait for her to be ready.  And she is.

God told me my word for 2014 is “new.”  As in, He makes all things new.  This year will be about new ways of seeing things, new ways of doing things, new ways of Him doing things and showing me things, maybe new jobs, new locations…I’m not even sure yet.  What I do know is that He has said clearly to me that things can change in a single moment.  I am not to stress about what I don’t see happening, but I am to watch for those moments and be ready.  He called them “flashpoints,” and I saw a timeline with these big dots on it.  Periodically, one of the dots would flash once – like when you throw those little crackerballs on the ground.  One quick pop, and then it was done.  I got the sense that He is being very intentional about things in this season, and each one of those flashpoints is only gonna flash once.  I don’t want to miss any of them.

This moment in time is a flashpoint for my friend, and the way this trip came about is a VERY big object lesson for me regarding how a couple of things I reallyreallyreallyreally want to happen are probably going to happen.  Not that I have details, obviously, but they’re gonna be single moments that flash and then everything will be different…if I don’t miss them.

Be encouraged!  I know I’m not the only person in the world this word applies to.  If you are facing impossible situations, don’t focus on what’s not happening.  Be looking for the flash!

On that note, adios…I’m leavin’ on a jet plane…and you’re singing again, aren’t you? 😉