Forever winter

lamp post narnia real

“It is winter in Narnia, and has been for ever so long…”  (Mr. Tumnus, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, by C.S. Lewis)

The year 2017 felt like it was winter for ever so long.  The “winter” began with my brother’s death in February.  It continued with my mother-in-law’s death in June, my dog’s death in July, my mother’s death in September and my cousin’s death in October.  It continued into 2018 with my aunt’s death in April.  I was numb most of this time as I trusted God to lead from memorial service to memorial service and help us find a new normal in our lives.  I was just going through the motions of life.  I felt I was in a tunnel that had a very distant light at the end which I now know was God beckoning me forward, but at the time I felt I would never reach that light.

The real winter seemed like it would never end this year.  The first day of spring it snowed and continued off and on for what seemed like weeks.  Would the real spring ever spring?  I signed up for my first 5k of this year wondering how well I would do since I was not only grieving but was still rehabbing from an earlier back issue.  That day, April 21, dawned sunny with a bright blue sky and cool temperatures.  Perfect running weather.  I felt the stirring of excitement.  As I began to run I felt stress begin to ease.  I got into the familiar rhythm and was feeling good.  As I approached the finish line I began to sprint and as I crossed that line I saw the brilliance of the sun and the cheering people and realized that I had come out of the tunnel!  I felt alive!

Walking toward the food line I clearly saw all the people.  This was the first race this community organization had sponsored bringing  the community together for a great cause.  I was part of this community, I belonged , I had part in this.  The best part for me personally was this community helped me out of the tunnel of the forever winter I was in.  I was now ready to tackle this grief head on and begin my new normal.  Praise God!

Oh, and a bonus to boot…I came in 2nd in my age group.  Woo Hoo!

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2017

Oh, what a year!  It started well.  I started a new job on January 23 after a tumultuous  2016 with jobs.  In September of 2015 I left a job of 10 years, because of lets just say not great working conditions, only to jump from the fire into the frying pan with a job of even worse conditions.  I prayed each day for the strength to work there and be a light in that office.  The Lord graciously gave me that strength and the words to speak after 5 months when it became evident I needed to leave there.  He then opened the door to a wonderful position with an elected official that made me happy to go to work  every day.  Unfortunately at the end of 2016 that job ended because my boss lost the election.  But because of connections made through that position I was offered the position I have now which is a perfect fit and I do enjoy going to work every day.

February began a downward spiral…My brother passed into the presence of the Lord from cancer.  That hit me hard.  He had tolerated his treatments well and it really looked as though he would beat this cancer but in the end this aggressive cancer was no match.  God needed him more than we did here.

April began a physical challenge for me.  I had some nagging pain in my lower back but found I could still run. I was training for a half marathon and was a little concerned I wouldn’t be able to accomplish that.  But in May on the day of the race I went feeling positive figuring worst case scenario I would end of walking.  But I had the best half I have ever run with a PR. (personal record for you non-runners).  In early June I ran a 5K again with a PR for that race and first in my age group.  Then 2 weeks later I was unable to run.  My lower back hurt and I had nerve pain running down my left leg.  I had no choice but to stop running.  I found a great back doctor but had to wait a month to see him.  It was very difficult.  Running is a stress release for me.  I gave it all to God but still struggled.

June arrived with the news that my mother-in-law passed away.  Once again we were at a memorial service.  Yes it was wonderful connecting with family near and far and sharing wonderful memories of her life, but so sad.

July arrived and I got to see the back doctor.  A series of steroid injections along with ice packs helped me feel much better.  But then our 13 year old black Labrador Retriever died.  He was my comfort when my brother passed and such a loyal companion to my husband and I.  Our hearts ached with missing him and I couldn’t run.

August I continued with treatments for my back and found I could do some power walking for exercise.  I was feeling better but still missed running

September my mother passed into the presence of the Lord.  That hit me hard.  No parents left.  At her memorial service as we gathered with family and took pictures it was very noticeable that some were missing.  The reality was hard to accept.  It was then that I finally really gave it up to God and gave myself permission to fully grieve.  I took time off from work to care for myself.

Then once again in October another death.  My cousin passed away from ALS.  A horrible disease that has robbed us of 4 other relatives previously.  Her testimony of faith during her illness was inspiring.  I know without a doubt that she is with the Lord but once again we are missing a family member here on earth.  I said to my husband, “When is this going to stop?”  4 family members  plus our dog was too much.  He actually answered that question, ” We are next”.    I didn’t need to hear that.  It was supposed to be a rhetorical question I told him.

So…we have made it to the end of 2017.  Here I sit on December 31 reflecting on this year.  This is my take away…God is good.  This is life, the hard to take part of life, but life it is.  The good and the bad.  I am blessed to be His child and now I have more boldness to share that.  He has blessed me with a loving family, a loving church family, abundant provision.  I trust Him wholly.

Security from Yesterday…At the end of the year we turn with eagerness to all that God has for the future, and yet anxiety is apt to arise from remembering the yesterdays.  Our present enjoyment of God’s grace is apt to be checked by the memory of yesterday’s sins and blunders.  But God is the God of our yesterdays, and He allows the memory of them in order to turn the past into a ministry of spiritual culture for the future.  God reminds us of the past lest we get into a shallow security in the present.”
Security for Tomorrow…”This is a gracious revelation, that God will garrison where we have failed to.  He will watch lest things trip us up again into like failure, as they assuredly would do if He were not our rear guard.  God’s hand reached back to the past and makes a clearing-house for conscience.”
Security for Today…”As we go forth into the coming year, let it not be in the haste of impetuous, unremembering delight, nor with the flight of impulsive thoughtlessness, but with the patient power of knowing that the God of Israel will go before us.  Our yesterdays present irreparable things to us; it is true that we have lost opportunities which will never return, but God can transform this destructive anxiety into a constructive thoughtfulness for the future.  Let the past sleep, but let is sleep on the bosom of Christ.  Leave the Irreparable Past in His hands, and step out into the Irresistible Future with Him.”

(Oswald Chambers referencing Isaiah 52:12)

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

 

 

 

 

Chapters of life…More on the current chapter…

Green toe nails…big green eyeglasses & multicolor running shoes

green nails glasses multi running shoes

“It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are”
e.e.cummings

My earlier post Chapters of Life is a synopsis of my life.  The current chapter is the one I am living in right now-the one that is being written.  You will see posts on this chapter as  I become of aware of what God is doing in my life.  I am pretty excited about this time because as the above quote by e.e. cummings says I feel like I finally have the courage to grow up and become who I really am. Like a butterfly emerging from it’s cocoon and stretching it wings to dry I am beginning to fly. To God be the glory I am no longer afraid to be myself.  I never realized how much I hid or kept myself in the background trying not to be noticed until now.  Wow how much I have missed because of that.  So let me tell you how this started…

Back in April of this year I went shopping with a gift card to look for something new to wear on our vacation in Florida.  I searched through the racks of clothing.  Nothing appealed to me until one more pass through a rack of capris and there it was.  A very pink pair of capris in my size!  They caught my eye but my mind immediately dismissed them because they were pink.  I don’t wear pink….pink doesn’t look good on me I tried to tell myself.  But I also couldn’t get the idea of buying them out of my head.  So I removed them from the rack and went to the fitting room.  That would be the proof that I shouldn’t wear these.  Well I put them on and they fit perfectly, they were very comfortable and I liked them.  I decided I would buy them but was feeling very self conscious as I approached the check out counter.  The young lady behind the counter exclaimed that she loved the color.  Ok I felt a little better then. I ended up not wearing them on vacation but I did wear them with a pink flowered top to a Ladies Hawaiian themed brunch at church.   I really put myself out there.  I was sure my friends would tell me pink wasn’t my color but no they exclaimed how nice I looked in pink.  “You need to wear more pink”, “You look so pretty in pink”  Oh my I was thrilled but also not comfortable with the attention.  After that day, though,  I began to feel a shift in my thinking about myself.  In my morning quiet time I felt the Lord nudging me to allow myself to be the person He created.  it was ok to be me, to be noticed, to wear what I want and to be who I am and be confident in it.

The next month I went for my eye exam and needed to get new eyeglasses. I went into the optical shop and my eyes were drawn immediately to a pair of big green frames.  I tried them on.  Quite a difference from my smaller nondescript wire frames.  The technician exclaimed how nice they looked on me but I figured he was just trying to make a sale.  I looked at other frames but kept coming back to the green ones.  So I bought the green ones.  Another step out of my comfort zone and in step with God.  I received many compliments on my glasses but more than anything I felt more comfortable with myself.

The next big step occurred when I went with my daughter-in-law to get a manicure and pedicure.  As we were looking over the bottles of nail polish to choose our colors I she handed me a green polish and said I should use that for my toe nails.  I already had a neutral color in my hand.  Here it was again another opportunity for me to step out of my comfort zone.  So I took the green polish for my toenails.  On a roll…

The most recent step (no pun intended or maybe it is) came at our local running store when I went in to sign up for a running group with complete strangers and buy new running shoes.  A little explanation here…I have been running by myself but really wanted people to run with for motivation and support. Signing up for this group is a major breakthrough.  I would never do anything like this by myself.  I would have to have a friend with me. So back to the original thought.  The owner of the store said she was wondering when I would join this.  She knew that I ran by myself.  That was confirmation! Normally the store doesn’t have my shoe size in stock and I have to order them.  But this time she came out from the back room with not one but 3 pairs of shoes for me to try.  One was a very conservative color which she said were similar to what I had been wearing. Two was black with colors swirled in. Three was multicolored and I immediately dismissed them.  But again I found myself nudged and I believe the Holy Spirit was again giving me that confirmation to continue on the path He was leading me on this summer.  So as you probably already know I chose the multicolored shoes.

Tonight I went out running with the group of “strangers” in my new multicolored running shoes.  No one else had my shoes.  I was unique and ok with it. Most of the women knew each other but I stepped out and engaged with them.  I came home feeling wonderful.  I’m liking myself.  I feel God smiling on me as He has been waiting for me to surrender myself enough to like the person He created.