Reunited….and it Feels So Weird

I’ve just returned from a quick trip down to Colorado to drop my son off with J, so he can drive back up to Alaska with his father.  Yep, J is coming home.  And if I’m honest, I’m feeling pretty ambivalent about it.

DISCLAIMER:  I never want to dishonor J (or anybody) in these posts.  But he and I discussed it, and the fact is, we wouldn’t be in the situation we’re in, had he not made certain choices.  To tell the story and not acknowledge that would be disingenuous.  It’s been a long, hard road.  People have had their opinions – some of his family finding it inconceivable that he could ever do anything wrong, so it must be my fault; some of my family insisting they knew better what God was saying to me than I did.  That’s fine; I learned a long time ago not to be too concerned with what other people thought.  The whole reason I started writing this blog in 2010 was to use my life experiences to hopefully illuminate someone else’s situations, help them find hope.  You can’t do that without telling the truth in all its ugliness AND beauty.

am·biv·a·lent
/amˈbivələnt/
adjective    1. having mixed feelings or contradictory ideas about something or someone.

I suppose, looking at that definition, it’s fair to say that trust -or lack thereof- plays into it.  In my case, it’s trust in God that’s the important factor, even above trusting J.  Why?  Because God has been with me every step of the way.  It’s old hat for me to trust Him in times of difficulty.  But trusting Him in brand-new seasons that are brimming with His promise that things will never be the way they were again?  That, I find challenging.

About a month ago, when J first told me he had applied for a job in Alaska and it was looking good, I had a heart-to-heart with God that went something like this:

Me:  Do I even want this at this point?  I don’t know this man anymore.  I don’t want what was, but I have no idea what IS now.

God:  He is not where he was.  He is in a good place with Me.  His heart is tender toward Me now.  He made his “now or never” choice.  Daughter, I’m not telling you you have to stay with him.  But I haven’t given up on him, and this is still the best path for you.  Will you trust Me?  I would not have opened this back up if it was going to bring you harm.

Well, what do you say to that?  On paper, the obvious choice is, if God hasn’t given up, then I won’t.   In reality, I feel like I’m tiptoeing into a dark room, with no idea what it holds.  I’ve been going ’round the mountain for the better part of 15 years, seeing things get better for a bit and then go all to hell again.  Been there, done that, bought the tee shirt, ripped the tee shirt to shreds.  BUT.  What I’ve never had in the past was God’s promise that things were new and different.  That’s a VERY different paradigm from, “He’s got to make his choice, but I will strengthen you and be with you through it.”

So here we are.  In about a week, J and I will once again be living under one roof.  And I think I’m mostly okay with that, provided there are no illusions about picking up where we left off.  Nope.  This is brand-new.  So there needs to be a time of getting to know each other.  There needs to be pursuit, even courtship.  Everything has to be fresh.  I have to make the choice not to default to “but in the past, you always _______.”   He has to keep God – and me – in the places we belong in his life.  We will start there, and eventually, friendship and feelings will come.

Similarly, J and M will need to get to know each other.  M is not the little boy he was when all this mess came to a head, and J needs to know him as a young man, which is part of the reason they are on this road trip together.  A week together in a car will make or break anyone!

I am cautiously optimistic because I have seen many times that what God puts together is always SO much better that what I can imagine.  So I will go forward with that knowledge as my strength on the days I don’t feel it wholeheartedly.  Thanks for standing with us and for us, those of you who have prayed and been privy to the inner workings of this crazy, past season. ❤  Would you continue to pray as we make this new start?

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Blooming in the Desert: An Uneloquent Post of Appreciation

The Lord’s kindness takes so many forms.

My 2018, so far, has been full of kindness.  My situation has not yet changed for the better, but it’s as if the Lord is determined to shower me, in the midst of all the chaos and unknowns, with sweet little reminders of his affection.

  • Random strangers shouted, “Bless you!” from across the street, two different times, two different places, as I sneezed.
  • A good friend has committed to checking on me once a week, until I no longer want or need her to.
  • Facebook friends and family were astonishingly generous with their praise when I (uncomfortably) posted a photo of me all dressed up for a night out to see Hamilton with my kiddo.

Small gestures, these, but I have felt them like water on a thirsty ground.  They are reminders that I have value.

Speaking of thirsty ground, one of my favorite places in the world has been offering up its kindnesses, too: the Anza-Borrego Desert.  I discovered it in the spring of 2017, during the superbloom that resulted from unusually heavy winter rains, and it was instant love.

IMG_7755
Superbloom in Anza-Borrego Desert

Its 600,000 wild acres of mountains, sand, canyons, and badlands seem to whisper to my soul.  I find I can breathe freely in its wide-open spaces.  (And the night skies, oh my goodness.  The tiny little village in the middle of the desert, Borrego Springs, is an International Dark Sky Community [more info here], so there are no streetlights for 50 miles in any direction.  You’ll never find a more perfect view of the Milky Way.)  So I get out there as often as I can, sometimes to stay the night, sometimes just to take my little Renegade off-roading, but always to hear the Lord and regain a bit of equilibrium.  I dream of building an artists’ retreat there someday – there’s a robust art scene in Borrego Springs – where people can come and be inspired by the harsh beauty of the land.  And, of course, I will use it, too.

bighornstars2
The Milky Way from Galleta Meadows in Anza-Borrego

I was wandering around the Borrego Art Institute last summer, and I began speaking with one of the ladies who worked there.  I found myself telling her about my artists’ retreat dream, and the next thing I knew, she was showing me vacant lots all around the area.  We had an instant connection, something that rarely, if ever, happens to me, and I came away from that day feeling the Lord’s hand over me like a warm shelter.  I looked for her on subsequent visits, but I always seemed to miss her – until this last weekend.  I had a tough week and drove out to the desert on Saturday, journal, Bible, and snacks in hand.  I spent some time writing, but as the sun began going down and the winds picked up, it got chilly, so I decided to go check out the latest exhibit at the Art Institute.  And there she was at her desk.  Her cheery “How ARE you?” led to me unloading about my life, which led to her and her coworker praying over me right then and there, which then led to an invitation to her home that evening.  And when I walked in her door, it was as if I had known her and her husband my entire life (in fact, her husband had said something similar when she showed him the photo of us she had insisted on).  Soon I was covered with cats and little, yappy dogs, and a fantastic conversation ensued.  By the end of the evening, this older couple had wrapped me in a cocoon of love and total acceptance, had opened their home to me anytime I should want it, and prayed over me again.  I think that night’s sleep was the best I’ve had since coming to California.  The next morning, I got texts detailing what a blessing I was to them.

Y’all.  I barely know what to do with all this kindness, but something deep in me is so hungry for it.  I, too, am thirsty ground, and here come the gentle, soaking rains.  It feels like I have things to learn yet, but they are not harsh lessons.  I can hardly believe that I might get to learn what it feels like not to be cracked and dry.

“And yet He did not leave Himself without witness, in that He did good and gave [me] rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying [my heart] with food and gladness.” — Acts 14:17, New Pellucere Version 🙂

I am so thankful for his kindness.

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? 😉