A New Thing...

A New Thing…

“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

Two days shy of 11 months since my last post.

I don’t even know what to say about that other than a mini blog of sorts has been occurring ever since then over on my Instagram account. The words I write are my feelings and my heart – I don’t speak for that of my family…we all travel the same journey, but with different viewpoints.

Our world, for lack of a better description, imploded in April of last year. Our son’s cancer progressed and we faced chemo, undernourishment, critical levels of everything a body needs, a month in the hospital, a feeding tube…and so on. It feels as though the past year has been an endless tsunami and we are all just trying to figure out which way is up because our lungs are burning for air.

Nothing about this has been easy – every step has been like running your heart over shards of glass and then trying to stop the bleeding with a cotton ball. I don’t care how old they are, when your children are in pain you would go to the ends of the earth to make it go away. You would die a thousand deaths to save them even one second of agony, physically or emotionally.

I say every step has been hard – and yet I feel like sometimes just moving forward has been a miracle. I certainly have not moved forward on my own accord. It has been by the strength of God, through His word and His people. Were it not for people ‘holding space’ for me, I am not sure what state of well-being I would be in right now. (When you hold space for someone, you bring your entire presence to them. You walk along with them without judgment, sharing their journey to an unknown destination. Yet you're completely willing to end up wherever they need to go. You give your heart, let go of control, and offer unconditional support.)

A year ago I would have seen my circle of support being completely different, and yet God had a plan even in those who would rally around each of our family members as a whole and individually. It has been a living, breathing walking out of the truth that we were not made to be alone, we were meant to do life together. These people show me that I am known, I am seen, and I am loved.

And so, while my faith is often shaken and shattered, I still hold tight to the fact that God is in control, He is doing a new thing, mountains are moving – it just doesn’t always look like I think it should look. There are days I feel as though I will never look up again, as though my heart will never be able to be whole again and that I might never have full lungs again. Days when all I can do is put my harsh words out there to God, and to those He has placed around me, and let them carry the ‘ick’ for me. It has taught me to look beyond the painful words and actions, to the hurting heart – my own and others. Too often we miss the pain of another because we choose to be turned away by hard words. If I have learned anything it is this…there is always more we can do to love people well.

All of that to say this – I started this blog as a way to post recipes and creative moments as I built my business. That part of life has been paused for now. Being a food blogger takes on a new meaning when a family member now gets most of their nutrition through a tube. Sewing seems frivolous when there are other pressing tasks to be done. I have even pondered putting my camera away, as if doing nothing will make it all better. Will make the pain go away. It won’t. It just leaves another hole.

I have been told by a handful of people I should write more from where I’m at in life – be it hurting, creating or just sitting in the unknown with those who are holding space for me. So, that is what I will do. Small steps to bring back a bit of light into a corner that has been dark for a year. God is doing a new thing – and I will follow His lead, and write as He directs. So, be it a crafty moment, a family photo session or just a landscape; a recipe for the family table or nutrition for those who are taking care of someone with a special need; or maybe it is just writing from my heart the things God is sharing – putting the broken glass out there so we can all see how He makes even the broken pieces shine beauty.

After all…He calls us to ‘walk on waves.

The Content of Being Content...

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I have been holding off on posting this for a while. And when I say a while, I mean like since the end of September. Let’s be real, contentment is a hard thing to wrestle with when you are in the midst of what feels like insurmountable crisis.

I did a quick definition search and this is what Wikipedia returned for me:

“Contentment is hypothetically a mental or emotional state of satisfaction maybe drawn from being at ease in one's situation, body and mind. Colloquially speaking, contentment could be a state of having accepted one's situation and is a form of happiness.”

Yeah…what gets me there is that “contentment could be a state of having accepted one’s situation and is a form of happiness.” That is a hard dose not truth to swallow.

Here’s the deal, being content is a choice. I don’t care if you are a Christ believer or not, that is just a truth…we have a choice to be content/happy, no matter what our circumstances. I don’t think that means you don’t have sad days, mad moments, grief and despair sometimes (believe me, I have many of all of those, sometimes all in the span of an hour!). But it does mean we choose not to continually dwell on the fact that we may not be where we want to be (physically or emotionally), and we focus on The One who has all things under control. 

I was at a meeting last night and most of us are struggling with not knowing “what the story is about”, or how it’s going to end. We each shared our hearts and struggles in the areas of our heart hurt, prayed for one another and moved on with our evening. This morning the Shauna Niequist quote above popped into my IG stream. 

Perfect. Ok Lord, I am listening.

Then our youth pastor put his Lent challenge out there…listening to hymns only during the  Lenten season  (you might think that would be super easy, but it does have some challenges). Hey, if you want to stretch your heart and get a new perspective on your place in the world, and the great love God has for you, listen to hymn and study the history behind them, and the Scripture they are founded on. Good stuff, deep stuff…stuff to make you face your discontent spirit (and the choice you have to be happy.). At any rate, he shared his playlist (awesome stuff!) and the first hymn to play was one of my top 5 favorites, Come Thou Fount.

Ok Lord, I really am listening.

Here’s my concern, if you will…I don’t want to miss what is being provided to me in the here & now because I keep looking across the waters to the shore and where I wish I might be. My happiness isn’t “over there”, it is right here. Yes, life has been hard…but God has been oh so good. How could I not choose happiness if I believe that He is in control?

Isaiah 26:3 – “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You."

I know many people who are unhappy right now. It hurts my heart. I hear, “if only I had a different job”, “if only we had more money/a different house/a new car”, “if only we lived somewhere else.” Not that any of those are bad in and of themselves, but if we can’t be happy in what we have been blessed with already, why would we assume that more, or different, would make us any happier?

I don’t want to treat God like my happiness vending machine…”if you will do this for us” or “I just need a sign that it’s going to change and then I will be happy.” Nope…I tried to play that game back in the fall and all it got me was frustrated. Not at God, at me…because I know better. I chalk it up to desperate times/desperate measures – but still not an excuse. 

I hear you, Lord…you are in control.

“Precious Lord, take my hand. Lead me on, let me stand…”

And so, what does being content and happy look like to you? If you are not happy, what is it that you think will make you happy  (the deep happy, not the cotton candy-at-the-fair happy) , and why?

During the Lenten season we have the perfect time for reflection and sacrifice…maybe we take the time to sacrifice continually looking to ‘yonder shores’ and find joy in the boat, on the journey. (Oh, & listen to more hymns!)

God is Good...Thanksgiving 2015

As I sit here in my chair at 1:32am, unable to sleep for too many reasons to count, I find that it is in these quiet moments of solitude that I can see all of my reasons to be thankful…and not just on this one day of the year that the country pauses to gorge themselves on food and football, but every day of the year. God is Good

This year I celebrate and give thanks for the many miracles we have been able to witness through the trials of this Fall. In the midst of a cancer diagnosis and the unknown results of a major surgery to remove that cancer, we have seen time and again, God move in ways that none of us have been able to imagine. While we are not yet out of this season of trial, we are still able to see God move and bring each of us to the “spacious places” (Psalm 118), where is continues to minister to each one of us right where we are at in that moment. God is Good.

Looking back, in the immediate past, I was afforded the tremendous luxury to going to a conference for Women’s Leadership in Nashville, Tennessee. The 3 days of the conference were literally life changing. God used those days to pull me closer in to Him. He showed me what true ‘leaning in’ was supposed to look like, and began to give my heart the true and full vision of what ministering to women, not just in my church, but in the rest of the world, was to look like. It was in those sweet days, in the in between moments, where He showed me what “walking worthy” was to look like in my life (Eph. 4). He was ever present in a way that I needed Him to be more than ever. I fact, there were many moments that I felt Him and heard Him, very clearly say to me, “Here I am…let go of your fear and let’s go!” There is a post for another time – but I was given a clear vision of moving forward (my “stepping into the Jordan” moment. Joshua 3). It was thrilling on so many levels. God is Good.

On that same trip, I was blessed to be able to stay an extra day and visit with some very sweet friends, who have really become like our family over the years. They are those rare people who come along every so often, and they know you, and your heart. They pray with you, rejoice with you, grieve with you, just do life with you. They have been in Nashville for 3 years, and we miss this horribly. To be able to spend hours just talking and catching up was the sweet balm that my soul needed. God knew that and He provided in a HUGE way over those 18 hours. God is Good.

We were able to celebrate our sweet grandson’s 1st birthday in a ‘Suessical’ fashion. Being able to not only watch him grow, but to be an active part of his life, has been the sweetest of blessings. To watch as he now knows fully who we are, and that is a good thing in his eyes, melts my heart on a daily basis. I honestly never knew how much my heart could love until I had a child…that is magnified tenfold with a grandchild. God is Good.

While my business has been slow to get going, it is not for a bad reason that has been the case. I have been blessed to be called into ministry service this year as the leader of our church’s Women’s Ministry. While I would love to be able to devote some more time to the business (and the Rocket Scientist and I are working that out as far as when and where time gets devoted), I am blessed beyond measure to serve these ladies and look to a future when God has us serving outside of the church doors as well. God is Good.

Even though Snigglefritz & Me isn't where I thought it would be at this point, I was blessed to be chosen as the community leader for a nationwide group of creatives. We have the only Pursuit Community here in Tucson and I'm thrilled to be a part of it and honored that they selected me to bring together the many creatives in our community who desire to have Christ in the center of all they do. To inspire community over competition. God is Good

 

In spite of 3 pretty significant medical procedures/surgeries this year – healing has been swift and life resumed it’s normal pace quickly following each. No complications and only the desired outcome for each! God is Good.

 

 

We have been overwhelmingly blessed to see the addition of 2 new pastors at our church. For different reasons entirely, we have become close to, and blessed by each of them. It has been a true honor to get to know all of our staff better and better over the past several months. Indeed, we are blessed as a family by these men and women, and our church body is blessed as well. I am excited to see where 2016 takes u as a church with this amazing leadership! God is Good.

Going back to the Nashville trip, and not all people will see this as a blessing (many will think I’m crazy – that’s ok), during several moments at the conference I felt the nudge to get out of my service comfort zone. Over and over it was repeated that “you are responsible for your own development as a leader in your family, in your church and in your world.” Multiple times I heard that, in leadership, you need to get out of the US to serve. The tugging has been constant. While I don’t know when, certainly right now God has not said ‘go’, I do know that it seems my heart is being pulled in a very big way, towards Asia – specifically India (ironic, since these are the people with whom I had much interaction with when I was in my last corporate job). This prospect doesn’t scare me – it excites me in a way that I have never felt before about missions (save for our single days in Mexico). God is Good!

We have been blessed to see babies born and rejoice with those families. Blessed to be a part of friend’s lives as they walk through losing a loved one: coming alongside of them in prayer, in tears, in laughter and in the reality of the beauty that their loved one immediately experienced as soon as they passed. God is Good.

Yes, this year we have been blessed over and over again. In ways both seen and unseen.

So…on this day, when we gather around our tables with friends and family, may we all take a moment to recognize the incredible blessing of, not only the table before us, but the table of life. May we each see in our daily lives the fullness of that table before us, filled with all of the blessings and goodness God has to offer. May we savor each moment, treasure each memory, store each minute in our hearts. May we fully understand that, in the midst of good or bad times, illness or health, happiness or grief, that the God Who sets the table before us is, indeed, good…all the time.