Monday, September 28, 2015

from the dark

Why art thou cast down, O my soul?  And why art thou disquieted within me?

This has been my song for the last few months.  Walking through some of the darkest darkness I've ever felt.

In my journal I wrote:

   "I've been better.  I see that now."
   "Peace is like sand through my fingers."
   "The fog ebbs and flows but never leaves completely.  It is my constant companion."

I cling to the Psalms.  I've read them through four times and am currently re-reading them.  I find strength and hope in the words of David.

Cause me to hear thy lovingkindness in the morning, for in thee do I trust: cause me to know the way wherein I should walk; for I lift up my soul unto thee.
Let thy tender mercies come unto me, that I may live, for thy law is my delight.
Thou art my hiding place and my shield: I hope in thy word.

The trials come like ocean waves.  I'm not fighting one battle, but multiple.  And the weight of it crushes my spirit. 

I can't describe to you the darkness, can't detail the depth of the struggle because it is too fresh.  I'm still too much into it to share.  But I can tell you that God loves me.  He really cares and I know because He has shown me.

Last week was hard.  Really, really hard.  I was at the lowest I've felt in my entire life.  Really, really low.

Over the weekend I attended a conference for Christian ladies.  I get to go every year to this conference and I have a lot of friends there, women I admire who challenge and inspire me. 

My heart was not super into the idea of getting dressed, putting on a smile, and going through the motions (just being honest here) but I was going to get to see my mom (whom I've not seen in a year and half) and that was the motivation I needed to make the trip, if for nothing else.

Of course the conference was beautiful and the women were wonderful.  God softened my heart enough to be able to reach in and love me.  He gently reminded me of the bigger picture and allowed me to learn some new things.

At one point, one of my dearest friends, in a private moment, looked me right in the eyes and asked a very detailed question about one of my trials, a trial I have not mentioned to a soul.  When I opened up a bit she just nodded and said she would be praying.  And she is a fierce woman of prayer so I know she'll be right at the heart of God, breathing words of prayer on my behalf.  Lord, thank you for a friend like that!

Some things God showed me:

   ~  look for the blessings in every trial
   ~  every trial has a purpose
   ~  don't look at the lions, look at the light
   ~  be open and sensitive rather than hard and bitter
   ~  this is a time of opportunity

Be strong and of good courage, and do it: fear not, nor be dismayed: for the Lord God, even my God, will be with thee, he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee, until thou hast finished all the work for the service of the house of the Lord
I Chronicles 28:20
I'm still processing exactly how to find a blessing in a trial.  It would seem that the blessing would only be evident after the trial is over but I intend to seek the blessing within the trial, in the deep, dark root of it.
It reminds me of Mister Rogers and how he always said to look for the heroes in every tragedy.  I do that.  But perhaps the heroes in my current story are blessings and I just need to look for them as I do the heroes.
The blessings I've had over the last few days:
  • getting to know a lady new to our church and discovering that she is genuine and honest and delightful
  • spending time with my mom
  • being spoiled with a weekend in brand new Jeep Grand Cherokee (rental car) with so many luxuries that I felt like royalty
  • dear people that gave (GAVE!!) us a car.  It doesn't run at the moment but thankfully my husband knows enough about cars that he should be able to get it up and running and we'll have another set of reliable wheels.  I'm so thankful.  And humbled.
  • an employer that is, first and foremost, a Christian, that I can share some troubles with and ask her to pray and know that she will.  And when I'm in need of some extra hours at work she is able to double my hours for the month and still asks if there is anything more she can do.
I am not worthy of the blessings.  Not worthy of the love that God showers on me.  But I can say that I have felt in the last two days better than I have in months.  My trials are still here, that hasn't changed, but my perspective has changed.  This is what God's love does.  He reaches down in the darkest of hours and holds us close to Him, not promising that things will get better but that He has a plan for every thing and that He will never leave our sides.
It is of the Lord's mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not.  They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.  The Lord is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him.  The Lord is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him.
Lamentations 3:21-25

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

of San Diego

It was such a pleasure to spend a week with my sister.  Our time together is rare and always too short but she is one of my most favorite people in the world, one of those people that I feel comfortable with no matter what.  And being with my brother-in-law and my nephew is easy and enjoyable.
The reason for the visit was to offer some help and care to my sister during her recovery after surgery.  I don't know how much actual help I was but I felt like I was at least doing something, even if that was only keeping the dishes clean.
The San Diego area is like a foreign country to me.  The plant life, the animals, the weather, the was all fascinating.  I asked a lot of questions to quell my curiosity and thankfully everyone was eager to answer as best they could.
This flower resides in a hanging basket on my sister's patio:
This was a bush in their yard:

My nephew, Sully, and I had a "date" at Barnes and Noble.  We each grabbed a good stack of books and magazines and a Starbucks drink and spent a good chunk of the afternoon thus engrossed.  Sully and I actually share quite a few interests so being able to spend time with him was a pleasure.
A few days later we, again, spent time together engrossed in books, this time at the San Diego Naval Hospital Library.  While my sis had an appointment we found our way to the library.  Expecting rows and rows of medical books, I was pleased to discover a normal library, minus some of the fluff of a public library.

The family took me sightseeing on a beautifully perfect afternoon.  This beach was in the Ocean Shores/Point Loma area.  It was neat to see so many surfers and even pelicans!  I was thrilled to see four pelicans flying in formation like bomber planes.  And surfers with hair bleached by the sun.

The houses were amazing.  The clouds, even more.

The view of San Diego from Shelter Island:

A pelican!!

The view from Harbor Island:

I'll confess, I LOVE flying!!  This trip was my first experience with flying since I was 16 (and that was a long time ago).  I cringed upon that first take off.  My stomach sank as we gained altitude.  But I was mesmerized by the power of the jet engines, by the shrinking landscape below me, by the variety in the topography.  The earth is fascinating and when you have occasion to see it from 30,000 feet in the air it becomes all that much more amazing.
Each flight (I had four), I was able to sit by the window and I promise I was pressed against that window the entire time save for one leg where the setting sun was shining right in my eyes and the view below was all gray clouds so I read instead.
The clouds are beautiful from above:
I don't know that I could ever tire of this beauty:

I understand why the term "cotton candy clouds" was created.  Please excuse the spots on this next picture, the window was a little dirty on the outside but the clouds are too pretty to not share.

While I was in sunny San Diego my home was hit with a huge storm that blew down trees and knocked out power.  The rain was heavy.  The wind gusts were recorded as high as 70 mph.  Thankfully we didn't have any trees fall but my garden suffered some casualties.  I wasn't sure what to expect when I got home but I was pleasantly surprised to be able to gather all these tomatoes.  The yellow ones are so sweet!
 And this flower, decorated with rain drops, was a beautiful sight.

It is life back to normal here at home.  Fall is in full swing with a twinge of chill in the air.  All the kids are back to school today.  My two walked out the door to begin their Freshman and Junior years.  Sigh.  It's ok, really it is.
Until next time San Diego.  And, I love you Beth!