This is us in Maui 7 years ago.. a wonderful memory!
If you have been following my blog you know that I write about the struggles of this life.. disappointment.. grief and loss.. disillusionment etc. I feel like there is a need for that type of transparency and sharing. However.. there is more than just acknowledging the trials and the pain we face. In the midst of these trials, God promises to show up.. to reveal Himself to rescue us and to renew us. This was a week when God showed up in my life in a very surprising way.
As you know, my husband is suffering from a type of dementia and we have been grappling with what that means for the last year.. since he was diagnosed. A couple of months ago I decided to take our wedding movie to Costco to have it put on a DVD. We have never seen this movie since it was shot with a super 8 camera with no way to view it.. time to do something about this. I wanted to make sure that we watched it together now..in case Steve is unable to take it in later.. but at the same time I felt like I was going to lose it when I saw how things used to be. We have been married for 17 years and both of us are very different from the way we were on that day.
It seemed as though the Lord and Steve wanted to see it.. so I just hoped that I could recover after it was over. God surprised me.. not only did I recover, but I was totally encouraged as I watched and also amazed. The important moments were all there.. views of the guests.. many of them are with the Lord now.. including my Dad and Steve’s sister. It was wonderful to see them again and to remember them.. Then there were the vows.. showing the close up of my face and I saw the joy that God gave me as I married this wonderful man and promised to be faithful to him no matter what happened.. in sickness and in health. Wow.. so thankful that I made those vows and that God is giving me the strength to keep them. The pastor gave a sermon on 1 Corinthians 13.. the love chapter. It was a prophetic word for us.. emphasizing that love was to be at the center of our relationship.. It was as though the Lord knew we needed to file that away and keep it for this season. So awesome to realize that He knew what we would face and that we would walk it out together. I was strengthened by the words of the pastor as he told us that he could see God’s handiwork in our relationship.. it was confirmation to me that nothing that is happening is a surprise to God.. He knew what we would walk through and that we would cling to Him and each other.
Yes! It was a surprise in a dark time and it came in a surprising way.. I cried and longed to relive those early years of our marriage.. but these years matter too and I want to live fully as they unfold.
I just had to share this with you.. I hope it brings life and hope to your heart!
Today is the second day of September and we are having a big heat wave here in the bay area. I know it has happened before, but it is rare for us to get temperatures over 100 all over the area. We are spoiled because of the temperate climate here.. very few extremes. It is easy to be comfortable in this area since our lifestyle allows us to see so much beauty and we rarely face disasters like they are facing right now in Texas. The flooding we have been watching all week is a reminder that things can change in an instant. No matter how much we try to be in control of our lives, we are not able to predict the future. It seems to me that the Lord continues to remind us of His sovereignty through natural disasters and personal tragedies.
More and more of my conversations seem to center around trials and tests that people are facing. Even here in our county.. things are changing. With so many people moving to the bay area over the last 10 years.. our highways are crowded and there is litter everywhere. Our quiet protected area is not so quiet or protected. People are struggling here with finances, health, and family problems. In order to live here.. there are not enough jobs and the housing situation is unbelievable.. who can afford to be here? I know we can’t.. but God has us here and He continues to confirm that. Our family is here and we support one another. My husband has lived here since he was born and I have been in this area for 50 years.. Yes we are getting older every day:) Many of our friends are gone, they have either moved away or passed away.. it is a bit lonely at times. Aging is challenging in a youth oriented culture and unfortunately the church is the same way. We have found ourselves feeling left behind and in some cases cast aside.
The good news is that these experiences do not define us. Our identity is in the Lord and He continues to affirm our worth and value. Because of the challenges we face.. I am more confident that it is not what I do, or who I know or what people think that defines me. I am His and that is what matters. Our circumstances continually change.. tomorrow it could be snowing here and Texas may experience a heat wave that dries up the land quickly. Tomorrow could bring a scary diagnosis for us or someone we love.. or tomorrow someone may be healed right in front of us.. reminding us of who is in control.. every day.. every single hour. We are not alone or forgotten..we are never abandoned or cast off. He remembers us.. comforts us.. holds us as we lean into Him in these times.
Father.. I pray for everyone reading this that they may experience more of you as this day unfolds. I pray for your spirit to be poured out on us as we cling to you in these trying times. We long to draw closer to your heart.. teach us how to do that.. protect us and guide us each day as we trust you.
I love this time of year.. after a long rainy winter, we are finally getting some beautiful weather and the first signs of spring are here. All my potted plants are showing signs of life.. it is always a surprise when I see that they survived so much rain and I never managed to transplant them.. yet they are coming back again. Their conditions are less than ideal.. but they persevere..reminds me of our lives.
We live in less than ideal circumstances.. yet every spring we can look ahead with hope and trust that the Lord has new things for us in this season. The hardships of winter may have beaten us down.. but there are signs of new growth.. signs of life. I don’t know about you.. but I need to have hope for the future.. to believe that there are going to be surprises.. things that God is going to do that I never expected..I try to make a point of noticing those things when they happen.. even if they are very small things.. like my rose bushes looking exceptionally healthy this year.. almost ready to bloom.. a precious gift from God.
Easter is coming in two weeks.. a time of celebration.. rejoicing in what the Lord has done for us. We have this time to begin to savor each day and to be thankful for this life.. to pray and ask for restoration and healing.. to seek a greater glimpse of His goodness. This is a special time and I don’t want to waste it looking back at the disappointments..the desire of my heart is to experience the abundant life of John 10:10 every single day in the midst of the challenges and trials.. He is always with us and always pouring out His love into our hearts.. time to drink deeply of the Living Water.. to fill up so we can pour out that love to others.. Let it be so Lord!
I love this picture of us… pilgrims on the path following the Lord as He leads us forward. One of my biggest struggles is discerning the path.. probably because I always have ideas and I tend to be impatient. So.. I go back to Him.. praying for direction and when I sense the” peace that passes all understanding”, I know I am on track again.
I don’t tend to share details about my personal life on this blog.. but I thought I would today. Ten years ago my husband and I were living on the campus of Golden Gate Seminary. This week was the beginning of their last year ..the seminary is moving to a huge office building in Ontario, Ca and it will basically become a commuter type campus. This is very different from what it has been here in Marin County. I feel a sense of loss as they move on.. remembering so many things that happened there. Steve and I had a chance to meet and eat lunch with Henry and Marilyn Blackaby. What a wonderful treat God gave us as we got to know this amazing couple.. so humble and fully dedicated to His purposes. We were impacted by that experience in ways I am only now realizing.
For the last nine years..since we moved off campus, we have struggled to stay in our area and to continue to stay on the path that the Lord has for us. I have a small counseling practice and Steve has worked temp jobs. It has been incredibly challenging. During that period, his sister died of pancreatic cancer and my Dad passed away as well. My mother’s money ran out and she lost her sight. These are a few of the losses we have experienced.. there were many more.
We have seen God’s faithfulness over and over.. His deliverance and His provision. We continue to seek Him daily.. asking for guidance and courage to continue. Ten years ago God was preparing us for a journey that we could never have anticipated.. He was asking us to follow Him through jungles, mazes, and dangerous waters.. We went forward with Henry Blackaby to the altar ten years ago and said Yes to Him.. He has tested us and we have come out of the fiery furnace smelling like roses. He is our rock and our sanctuary.. our refuge and our hiding place and we will continue to trust Him with our unknown future.
Do you remember the story in Daniel chapter 3? It is one of my favorites.. The three men in the fire.. showing their trust in God. The king was astounded at their faith…let it be so for us Lord!
“Then Nebuchadnezzar said, “Praise to the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego! He sent his angel to rescue his servants who trusted in him. They defied the king’s command and were willing to die rather than serve or worship any god except their own God.”
About fifteen years ago I was part of a group of women who were reading The Sacred Romance by John Eldredge and Brent Curtis. It was a book that changed my life. John has gone on to write many other books..his wife and son also write. I appreciate their ministry and their message. This initial book is still my favorite..I often refer to it in my counseling practice and recommend it. The concept of a sacred romance was new to me and a little unnerving at first. Was God truly a romantic and was it true that He was romancing us in this very fallen world? As I began to open up to that possibility.. I saw glimpses of the goodness of God in ways that were wonderfully surprising. Of course.. it began to make sense.. we are created in His image … we embrace and long for romance.. He must have invented it.
Over the years since that time in my life I have kept the romance alive as much as possible..there were times when it seemed exceedingly real and times when it seemed to be an impossible dream. I read John’s other books and reminded myself that I needed to fight for this. I keep thinking about the reminder at the end of the book.. John writes ” Finally, we were meant to remember together, in community. We need to tell our stories to others and to hear their stories told. ..our regular times of coming together to worship are intended to be time of corporate remembrance..’ This God has done’, we say this, He will do.’ ..remembering is not mere nostalgia it is an act of survival.”
He is the Great Romantic who fills the sky with colors for no reason other than our pleasure. He created the ocean and filled it with living things for our pleasure. He wakes us up in the morning with songs..birds singing their hearts out for our pleasure.. just some reminders.. in case today is a day when you need them.
These photos were taken last night from my deck.. and no I don’t live in Hawaii! I wanted to share them with you so that you can remember.. so we can remember together that the larger story of God has a wonderful happy ending.
I believe that this is always true of God. He is always doing a new thing and never runs out of ideas:) The problem is that at times we get stuck. We may feel as though nothing new can ever happen or that we are forgotten or possibly we believe that the past is being repeated in the present. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Spring is the time when we are reminded of this. Every year new things spring up from the ground.. trees are suddenly filled with lush green leaves. The light coming in the window is at a new angle. The old brown leaves that covered the ground are gone..suddenly replaced by lush green meadows and the tiny blossoms of wildflowers. The earth is being renewed by its Creator God. He has taken out his paintbrush and painted the most beautiful watercolor we have ever seen.. it takes our breath away.
Every spring I am surprised by the Lord..totally amazed at His creativity.. so inspiring. His personal reminder that He is at work in our world and that He is doing a new thing around us and of course in us.
“For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.” (Isaiah 43:19)
My car has been in the shop for the last 10 days and I decided not to get a loaner. Instead I am taking this time to slow down and rest and to be alone. Today as I was walking in the valley, I began to realize that God had given me a personal retreat over the last week.
I am fortunate to live in an area surrounded by open space..walking here is so beautiful..trees with fall color and animals of all kinds. Since it is so dry, the deer are coming down lower and lower and they are very tame. It is an interesting experience to be walking along and suddenly come almost face to face with a buck..huge antlers and all!
I am reminded that my life is part of something bigger..and that somehow I am connected to both the beauty of nature and the amazing deer that roam this valley. Their life is simple..they eat, they rest, they walk..they are not worried and apparently not afraid. A good example of how our lives can be if we walk in faith and let God lead us. I am so thankful for this time.. for being set aside to remember what really matters..to be with Him and to enjoy the gifts He has given me.
“Then Jesus said to his disciples: ‘Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?’”
This is the buck I saw today.. He let me take his picture! Isn’t he amazing?