Restoration, Part I

The season has shifted, and now it’s time for me to tell you about all the good things the Lord has done and is doing.

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In July of 2017, I had been in the San Diego area for about a year, and, as horribly as everything was going at that point (see https://pellucere.wordpress.com/2017/12/27/pellucere-and-th…d-very-bad-years/), I had reconciled myself to the idea that this was now home.  But one night, I pulled up Google Maps and began looking at all the places I loved in Alaska, and I started to weep.  I went into a vision, where the Lord showed me myself hunched over a grave in the Mat-Su Valley in AK.  In the grave was Alaska itself. He said my dream had been murdered and I needed to mourn, specifically that I needed to “sit shiva.”

For those of you who don’t know, sitting shiva is the Jewish practice that symbolizes the mourner being “brought low” following the loss of a loved one.  It has a specific time frame and many guidelines, so I immediately asked the Lord how I was supposed to implement all that.  He smiled and said it was less about the ritual and more about deliberately putting myself in the frame of mind to actively mourn.  So I took off for a friend’s place in Phoenix, locked myself in her guesthouse for 4 days, and let the Lord take me through it.  I cried some but mostly rested and wrote and enjoyed the Arizona monsoon season. (Is there anything more soothing than a violent thunderstorm? Not in my book!) On probably day 3, the Lord took me back into the vision, back to the grave, and I saw him absorb it into himself, which I understood, and then absorb me into himself, which I did not.  I went back to California feeling like I had set down a heavy weight.

Fast-forward to 2018.  As I’ve mentioned in a previous post (https://pellucere.wordpress.com/2018/05/12/my-cup-filleth-up/), the Lord gave me “restoration” as one of my words for the year.  Apparently a LOT of people got this word because all of a sudden, I started hearing it everywhere.  Right after the new year, the Lord took me back to that same valley where the grave used to be. But as he stood there, he became a portal. He shimmered like a transporter beam, and then I could see his outline but his center became clear, and it was the same valley I was standing in but inside him. I understood that I had mourned what was dead, that I was still in him, and that this was an invitation to restoration. He called Alaska “Lazarus” and invited me to walk through the portal.  And I did.

Now, as far as how that was going to play out in the “real” world, well, I had no clue.  I figured I’d find a job before M and I drove up.  I thought we’d stay in a hotel for a couple of weeks until I got a paycheck or two, at which time we’d find a house and get our stuff out of our storage unit.  I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with M until school started, but I figured I’d cross that bridge when I came to it.  And God laughed indulgently…

In my mind, I always saw us in a cozy little house until J was released to Alaska.  I saw J walking up a gravel driveway with no baggage, ready to come home at that time, but in the interim, M and I needed to be able to spread out, set up our art stuff and our drums, and just rest.  I looked on Craigslist and Zillow, just to keep tabs on the market, and one day in May, I found the cutest little leaf-green 3/2 ranch.  It really jumped out at me, but at that point, I still wasn’t sure when we were leaving San Diego, and nothing stays on the market long in Alaska, so I didn’t give it much thought.  Eventually, it disappeared off Zillow.  And then in mid-June, it reappeared, ready to rent beginning in July.  J and I talked, and we got this crazy idea to apply for it, even though I wasn’t working and he had rent to pay in Colorado.  We had the lease within 2 days, rented sight-unseen.  Now M and I have been here a month, and it is absolutely perfect for us.  Quiet, peaceful, facing the Talkeetna Mountains, it’s a restful haven, except when Little Drummer Boy is banging on his kit. 😀  And it has a gravel driveway.

The restoration continues.  M and his best friend have picked up their relationship right where they left off 2 years ago.  We had talked about getting another cat, preferably a Maine Coon, one day…and then we went to the animal shelter, and this tiny kitten launched himself at my shoulder and would not let go.  So we now have Bean, and guess what? He’s a Maine Coon.  We have the ultimate Alaska neighbors, who have already shown M how to fillet salmon and taught him to ride a 4-wheeler.  And I’m feeling better healthwise than I have in years.  I know there’s so much more just ahead, and I am so excited about this new season.  Be encouraged, y’all.  The Lord does not forget his promises, and even when it doesn’t look ANYTHING like what you think it should (and let’s face it; that’s pretty much always), he is faithful to restore the years the locusts ate.  If you’re still waiting to see those promises fulfilled, hang in there. Call for restoration; stand on it.  It’s coming!

To be continued…

My Cup Filleth Up

The Lord really does do what he says he’s going to do.

There’s a story in the Bible (see Mark 9:14-29) about a man who brings his demon-possessed son to Jesus and basically says, “If you could do anything to fix this, that would be great.”  Jesus looks at him somewhat incredulously (implied by the use of the most emphatic form of “if” in the Greek) and says, “What do you mean, ‘if’? IF you are able to believe, all things are possible to the believer.”  The dad hears this, and according to one translation, says, “I do believe…now help my weakened faith.”   And let me tell you, often I relate to this guy more than any other character in the Bible.  Because I DO believe the Lord, just…weakly at times.  I want to be this powerhouse believer, never wavering, never feeling nervous, never questioning, but I’m more likely to be the one saying, “Yeah, God, I know you’re perfectly capable of doing ______, but are you actually gonna?”

Sigh.

Such was the case when I went to Denver over my birthday weekend.  I had a lot of expectations of the Lord because he had been shouting “REDEMPTION! REDEMPTION! REDEMPTION!” over the 6th of May since the start of the year.  I just didn’t have a lot of optimism that J was in line with all of it because there have been sooooo many times where I was hopeful, and my hope dropped like a bird shot out of the sky in the face of whatever mess J was dealing with at the time.  But I resolved to trust God regardless of how shaky I felt, and I went – this trip was the Lord’s idea to begin with, so once I said yes, I committed to it with everything I could.

And it was a fantastic weekend.

It was a little awkward at first; plus, flying sucks these days, so who’s really ever super-happy after stepping off an airplane?  But I had a great, blessedly quiet hotel room – we both agreed that a neutral space would be better than me staying with J – and after getting a good night’s sleep, I felt a little more optimistic.  We spent the whole of Friday driving through the Rocky Mountains, stopping whenever we wanted to, eating good food, and having good conversation.  We really enjoyed each others’ company, and by Saturday night, I felt a physical and psychic shift. (Have you ever had that happen?  Where you feel like your reality has literally been picked up and moved over a couple of inches and it takes you a second to recalibrate yourself?)  We sat in the hot tub at my hotel, and J poured out his heart to me.  Sadly, I couldn’t hear most of it because of the VERY loud children in the pool, but I could feel the truth and the sincerity of what he was saying.  I didn’t tell him that until after we had gotten out, though. 😀

The bottom line is: things are not what they were.  The old truly has passed away, and all things are made new.  We’re still in the process, but we are watching God’s promises unfold before us.  How gracious is he that our little, tiny, weakened faith is enough for him to work with?  I am so very optimistic for our future now!

The rest of the story in Mark finds the disciples asking Jesus why they couldn’t cast the demon out of the boy, and he told them that kind couldn’t come out except by prayer.  I say that to say this: if you need to see God move in a situation, PRAY.  And give him your little, tiny, weakened faith, and let him take it from there.  Don’t try to demand the hows or wheres or whens.  Let him do it.  If he says he will, he will.

Also, M and I are planning to move back to our beloved Alaska this summer, with J to follow when the Lord releases him to (at which time my cup shall overflow).  How this came about is for another post, but I will say that it is well in line with the words the Lord gave me for 2018: restoration, equilibrium, and tabula rasa.  I’ve applied for pretty much what seems my dream job, so hopefully I’ll have even more good news to share soon.

He’s so good, y’all.  He really is.

Love and Haight and Ashbury

Thanksgiving was lovely this year.  J, M, and I spent it with my ex-in-laws in San Francisco, and yep, you read that correctly.  In fact, that’s what the “Love” part of the title refers to: we love them dearly, and they love us, too.

***We interrupt this program to bring you a special message.  Listen closely; this is important:  Once upon a time, in another life, I was married, and not to J.  It was a marriage that should not have been, yet, in God’s amazingly gracious way, He gifted me by way of that marriage with two of the most wonderful people I know.  And when that marriage ended nine years later, those two wonderful people – who had always accepted me as another daughter – not only wished me all happiness and joy in my life going forward, but they enthusiastically embraced my new husband and my son when the time came.  Now they call my husband “Son” and my son “Grandson.”  M doesn’t yet understand all the history, but he does understand that these two wonderful people love him unreservedly, and they do the same toward his mom and dad.  We spend as much time as possible with them, given that they are hundreds of miles away.   And as far as I’m concerned, despite the large number of people in my life who find this situation weird/baffling/crazy/unbelievable, it is none of those things.  It is proof of the goodness of God and the grace that rules when He is allowed to be Lord of a situation.  We now return to our regularly scheduled program.***

One of the best things about visiting San Francisco was that it was a homecoming of sorts for the hubby.  J is a military brat, and he spent a couple of years living on the Presidio there, 25 years ago.  He felt a strong sense of belonging in SF, so it was a lot of fun to cross things off my bucket list (like eating in Chinatown and walking across the Golden Gate Bridge) while watching him greet and interact with the city like it was a long-lost love.  He showed me his house, his high school, and some of his old haunts.  In turn, I made him visit places he’d never been, like the Queen Wilhelmina Tulip Garden in Golden Gate Park and the Musee Mecanique on Fisherman’s Wharf.  It was a LOT of fun.

One day, M stayed with Grandma at her request (well, more like demand 🙂 ), and J and I spent the day exploring.  After a full day of traipsing across the city and driving down the RIDICULOUS Lombard Street, J decided I needed to see the Haight/Ashbury area, so off we went.  We parked on some side street at about an 80 degree angle (with the wheels TIGHTLY turned to the curb, I might add), and J actually convinced me to stand under the famous intersection sign for a picture.  I even pasted on a dopey grin and made peace signs, if you can believe that about picture-phobic me.  But alas (or maybe not, lol), the picture was not meant to be, for right after I set my Canon T1i to full-auto mode for my darling hubby and assumed the aforementioned position, some dude decided he needed to walk by.  I promptly insisted he go right ahead, and thus began a VERY interesting exchange, made all the more “interesting” (haha) by the locale in which it took place.  This guy couldn’t have been more stereotypical-ex-hippie-who-came-of-age-during-the-dawning-of-the-Age-of-Aquarius if he tried, which made me smile.  He noticed my Texas State University shirt and, instead of passing by, stopped to chat.  Apparently, to him, it was out of place in San Francisco.  J then made the comment that Austin tries really hard to be the Texas version of SF, so it wasn’t so odd, after all.

[I should add, here, that people make a WHOLE LOT of assumptions about the hubby and me when they see us together.  Because he is black (his descriptor of choice, by the way), he is automatically assumed to be a die-hard Democrat-slash-liberal; no self-respecting black man would be anything else.  Because I am white and married to a black man, I, too, am assumed to be very liberal; apparently no proper conservative woman would find herself in such a predicament.  It just wouldn’t be fitting.]

Sometimes, I have a lot of fun with the assumptions.  This was one of those times.  Our new friend proceeded to speak for five full minutes about his horrible experiences in Houston, TX, about how everyone there is hypnotized by Fox News, how they’re all backwoods conservatives who support corporate greed, and so forth.  But he was sure that not EVERYONE in Texas was like that, especially if we lived in Austin.  At this point, I very sweetly smiled and said, “You’re looking at two conservatives from Houston, and no, we’re not all like that.  And we don’t think corporate – or governmental –  greed is good either.”

I guess if you could actually hear a pin drop on a busy city sidewalk, you would have.  And then a lively discussion ensued.   Dude said emphatically that all he was asking for was fairness for all.   J and I agreed that we would like that too, but  that you can’t legislate morality, so more government intervention is not the antidote to corporate greed (of course, we feel that it’s ultimately a heart issue that only God can change, and we alluded to that without beating the guy over the head with Christianese).  Back and forth we went, way too much to recount here, but the funny thing was that all of us had similar goals and desires.  We did not agree on how to attain them, but we had an extremely civil and thought-provoking conversation…right under the Haight/Ashbury sign.  🙂

One thing Dude said was that if we’re really a so-called Christian nation, we should realize that Jesus would be helping poor people out.  I love it when people who aren’t Christ-followers tell me what Christ would do, but he was partially correct.  I told him that it’s possible to be culturally Christian without actually practicing the faith, and I think that’s what we mostly have in America.  But also, Jesus WOULD help the poor.  He just wouldn’t do it through the government.  He would expect his body – us – to do it.  But since in our culture allowing the Church to perform that function would be seen as a dangerous liaison between church and state, it ain’t gonna happen under the current system.  Dude didn’t say much to that, but I could see the wheels turning.

By the time the conversation wrapped, the sun had almost set, and I stepped back to snap a picture of the intersection signs.  Dude shook our hands and told us the chat had totally made his day.  He walked off, and we crossed the street to get ice cream.  That 30 minutes on the corner was an amazing opportunity for us to speak truth into a stranger’s life, a chance to tear down stereotypes and preconceptions, and proof that people on both ends of the spectrum have a lot more in common than they might initially believe.  I LOVE stuff like that!  And I love God’s sense of humor – I can just see him laughing as he chose the location for this meeting.  I can’t wait to see what he sets up next. 😀