Wednesday, April 23, 2014

End of Chapter 1

You may think that the title of this blog is odd, but then again if you know me, or have been following my blog, it may just make sense after all. The 1st chapter in my life without Glenn, year 1, is almost over.

Philipians 3:14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

As I have been out and about recently I am aware that everywhere you look, you see it and you know it... Spring has sprung. Spring is a reminder that life has cycles, after the winter comes new life. That is what I am looking forward to in me, spring... this last year has been a long winter and I am ready for the spring, and I am confident that it is coming. I don't know how long the season of budding before the bloom will be, but I am beginning to feel that I am entering a bud stage. The year of firsts is nearly over and I have survived, and grown.

The year has been a time of hurdles, closures and many firsts without Glenn. I am glad that this time is coming to it's own sort of end.

Hurdles-- that would be adjusting to a new chapter in life, balancing my business plus a full time job, my personal life including time to rest and recharge (never my strong suit), and try to find a way to get back to doing what I did before with in my involvement in church. I need to remember that this chapter is really more of a steeple chase than the quick short hurdles on a track. The hurdles vary in size and intensity, some are easily seen, some I knew were there and chose to go around them temporarily- I will be facing them shortly, and some are like the ones that hide behind a hedge on the steeple chase course. They come from no where but with God's help I have gotten through them and will continue to.

I can look back and feel both frustrated and yet okay at the same time, there are times when I got mad at myself for shutting down, letting my emotions get the best of me. I'm not one that likes to give into emotions, tears and the lack of control that they create-- but I am human and I lost it plenty of times. I want to be in control, to be on an even keel, and some people may be surprised by this; but I like to know the 'plan,' For obvious reasons, that hasn't been the case, so I have learned that I need to be ready to flex, to 'jump' or turn as the Lord leads.

Firsts -- firsts, lots of them... important days celebrated with out him, some holidays and some days that may have only had meaning to us. Some were harder than others, some were surprisingly good, as thoughts and memories added to the presence of family and thoughtfulness of friends counterbalanced the 'empty' factor. One person really went out of their way in a way that probably did the most to get me through what might have been the hardest time of year... and I am forever thankful to them, and I can only hope they read this to know just how much those 12 gifts meant- you see, they were anonymous.

In this last few weeks I have found myself way more emotional than I have been in months. The first year is almost to a close, a lot of the pain has resurfaced. I miss Glenn so much it hurts, physically at times, and and I know that this is normal and natural, but it still sucks!

On the upside, I have found that God is constantly reminding me that I am NOT alone in this, He is always present with me, and His arms are around me.

Closures-- closure can be a good thing, it's not always easy but it's healthy. There have been a variety of things that had to be 'buttoned up,' finished or 'what have you.'  Some were simple to do, yet hard on the heart... things like changing a car title, not a big deal- but a closure. Bank accounts, bills... you know, stuff. There was one big thing that was still looming until a couple weeks ago, our old house.

During the market crash, we, like so many got hit hard economically and fell behind and into foreclosure. Well for several years that house has been in a holding pattern with no auction date. During the fall of 2012 God opened the door for us to buy the manufactured home where I live now, it is affordable, in an area I like and feel safe in. His timing amazes me, we were able to move and know that no matter what, we (I) wouldn't be in a bad spot when the inevitable happened and the house would be auctioned. Well, ironic timing, that time has come and with it the final closures all at once, the auction of that house and the close of my first year without Glenn will occur the same week. Needless to say the last few weeks have been a bit crazy, but I am pressing through them, with God's never-ending grace firmly with me. It will get done, because it has to, but the good thing is... it will be finished, no more limbo land to drag my heart and emotions out. A big closure, and a much needed one, no matter how uncomfortable it's been.

Looking to chapter 2 - I'm the same me as I was before, but yet, I am not at all who I was. Last year was a time of shock, adjustment, often times just survival mode, and possibly semi-catatonic at times. I spent my share of time crying out to God, and sometimes just crying to God, and He brought me through the year. He has blessed me with an amazing family both in the natural and my church family... I couldn't have survived the last 2 years without their love and caring.

I don't know what lies ahead but I know that what is in my heart, and that is to keep pressing forward toward the things that the Lord sets before me. I want to be obedient to the things that He calls me to do. This 2nd chapter is really the start of my new life, you see, in so may ways I think last year was more of an epilogue to one book of my life and the prologue to the book I am now in. Only God truly knows what lies ahead, but I can honestly say that looking backward, I can look forward with confidence and trust knowing what it says in Jeremiah 29:11 really is true for me.

May the love of the Lord touch each of you as it has me.

Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

A Season of Fallowed Ground

Hosea 10:12 Sow for yourselves righteousness; Reap in mercy; Break up your fallow ground, For it is time to seek the LORD, Till He comes and rains righteousness on you.

This week an odor filled the air that reminded me that spring is coming, and a new growing season with it. Yes, it was a literal odor, you see every year they do a major fertilizing in Jacksonville, which is just west of me, so I get to smell that 'aroma' for a few weeks in the spring. lol

As I look back over the last 10 months, I see a season of fallowed ground. Fallow, means Land left unseeded during a growing season, this allows it to regain fertility. In farming, there is a practice of crop rotation and after a certain number of years they will take one year to fallow it, they will break up the ground, and create the furrows, but not plant. They give the field a year of rest.

I don't mean to say that I see no growth in my life this year, but rather, I see a season of rest, I know that sounds weird, due to the crazy, chaotic schedule, not to mention emotional spikes, I have had since entering this chapter of my life, but in a way it has been. 

You see, it's kind of like my unfinished planter box in the back yard, I set it up a year ago, I had a vision of what I was going to do with it, but then... well my life, as it was, stopped. Much like the planter box, it is set up, have a few weeds pulled and then it's and ready to be filled so that it can bring forth a crop. This last year, has been a year where in many ways that describes my life too, the ground was set and ready for planting- the way I saw it - and then the pause button was hit. The crop last year was in the spiritual, and it has been abounding, but I feel that now it's time that a new crop, one that I have no idea what it will be, is going to be planted in my life. This crop will harvest something that I never dreamed or imagined about because it is only my harvest, not the our harvest that I had always thought about. 

Yes, sometimes, my thoughts about the future are unsettled, yes I wonder... about so much! But I try always to remember that the Lord knew me when He created me. He knew the end from the beginning, and I try at those times to remind myself, that He has a plan for me; Is it what I thought it would be? No. But that's okay, He is bringing me through this season of fallow ground to prepare me for the path that He has for my life, I can and will trust in Him. When the time is right, I will begin to see the crop. As it grows I will begin to see what it is, and understand what it will become, but, ultimately I will remember that just as different crops have different growing cycles, so does the harvest that He is bringing forth in me. I must be patient and know that in His time I will be ready for what He has for me... I want to have a crop/life worthy of His harvest.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

A Ruth Response

Ruth 1:16 But Ruth said: “Entreat me not to leave you, Or to turn back from following after you; For wherever you go, I will go; And wherever you lodge, I will lodge; Your people shall be my people, And your God, my God.

As I was spending time in the word, and going through the book of Ruth, I began to ponder Ruth and Naomi. This story struck me differently than ever before, probably due to where I am in my own life.

Naomi and her family had gone to the land of Moab, her sons had married Moabite women; Ruth and Orpah. Naomi's husband died and then so did both her sons, at this point Naomi decides to return to Bethlehem, and tells the girls to return to their families, Orpah does but Ruth says no, she wants to go with Naomi- she tells Naomi that wherever she goes that she will go with her, Naomi's people will be her people, and Naomi's God will be her God. 

Ruth saw something of value in Naomi, even when Naomie couldn't see it herself. Naomi was feeling abandoned by God. She even said, "call me Mara," translated- call me bitter. Naomi is feeling overwhelmed and alone and is not able to get past the feeling of loss- I can understand how that happens when you lose focus on the Lord.

Somehow Ruth had seen past the fear and distress in Naomi and even in her own mourning and loss she knew that Naomi had something in her life that she wanted. My best guess is that she had witnessed it during her marriage into this family that knew the one true God. I'm sure that they honored the traditional Jewish traditions, holidays and feasts, and through this Ruth had begun to develop a heart that was seeking the true and living God. This is the heart I admire, her response to Naomi was the beginning of what I call the Ruth Response.

When they arrived in Bethlehem, Ruth's love of her mother-in-law was evident by her willingness to serve and provide for her. She went to glean in the fields and that is where God began to move on Ruth's life, through her obedient heart. Ruth was seen by the field's owner, who was a relative, and he told her where to glean and made sure that there was provision for her. 

When Naomi found out, she told Ruth that Boaz was a near relative, and that she should go and lay at his feet at the threshing floor, and Ruth obeyed. She lay down at his feet while he was sleeping... She was literally laying at the feet of her redeemer. 

Because her heart was pure to seek the living God, she was redeemed from her widowhood, first provision for her and her mother-in-law, then she gained the love of Boaz and finally she had a family, and from that family would come her grandson, David-- the son of Obed, the King of Israel, a man after God's own heart.

In my own life I have been blessed, I was married to an amazing man, a man that loved God with his whole heart. I have four terrific kids who love God and are serving Him (and through them I have 2 equally terrific bonus kids). I have 4 grandchildren who are being raised to know the love of the Lord. I am part of a wonderful family and also an amazing church family. Through all of these I have come to know the love and strength of the Lord, more and more each day.

That being said, I can't say that each day has been completely a 'Ruth' day... I want it to, but I have my Naomi moments. Fear can creep in during the low points- "Will I be able to pay the bills?" "Can I deal with issues that may arise?" "Who can I talk to during my moments of fear and frustration?" Yep, low points that happen, whether I wanted them to or not. But when they hit, and I realize what is going on, I push past and begin to refocus where I need to, the Lord.

What I admire in Ruth is that she kept focus, she knew that God would provide, she understood His faithfulness and trusted in Him. Obedience to what those around her said, those that she trusted. Again I feel this is because she saw the Lord's hand on them.  I want to have that focus on God, rather than stress, I want to remember to lay down at the feet of my redeemer- Jesus. I can do this anytime, I don't have to sneak in at night to a threshing room floor. I can lay down at the feet of the Lord at anytime, sometimes it may be in a litteral, prostrate position of laying down, other times it is a heart thing, laying down my fears and trusting that my redeemer will provide, I need to remember at every moment the importance of; letting go and letting God.

Another example of the feet of the Lord as the place to be, is seen in Luke 10:38-42

38 Now it happened as they went that He entered a certain village; and a certain woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house. 39 And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His word. 40 But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me.”
41 And Jesus answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. 42 But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.”

God has shown himself so faithful this last year, I am blessed, and sometimes ashamed of myself for going into a Mara mode... I need to remember my name, Mary, the same as another woman who chose the feet of the Lord.

My prayer; Lord give me a heart like Ruth, one that is obedient to do as You ask, and rest at the feet of my redeemer.