I’m considering going back to school to get my Bachelor’s degree. I’ve always wanted to do this but the last decade or so has been almost overwhelming, and it was a struggle to merely keep my head above water for a long time. I’m far from fixed, and I have my issues, but I think it’s time to fulfill this dream. It will probably be an online program because I don’t know if I can handle campus chaos, but hey — an achievement is an achievement, no? How we get to where we need to be may not be how we imagined it, but the journey can be fulfilling and satisfying anyway.
(I think the neighbor is rearranging, at 4:30 in the morning….don’t ask me why I’m still awake because I can’t say except to note that my mind won’t shut up again. I keep hearing scraping and moving sounds over on the other side of the wall,)
It’s getting cooler here and fall is definitely in the air. After 3 winters in Florida I have the feeling Missouri is going to kick my backside once again. Hopefully this will be my last year here for a while, if all goes as planned. I’m looking into getting a house with my daughter and her family in another state because they can’t afford what they need on their income, and I need to be around people whether I like it or not. Their family respects my introversion when I choose to be alone in my room or go on a trip by myself, but they also provide me with a sense of belonging and companionship I can’t get when I’m living on my own. Yes, they’re amazingly loud at times, but that’s what headphones are for, right? I stayed with them a bit over the winter and early spring and we did okay….as long as they respect my need for privacy when I shut my door and I give them space when it’s necessary, we should get along fine. Families in other parts of the world make this work all the time. We can do it, too. Multi-generational living has definite advantages. It’s not perfect, but life isn’t either.
God has been good to me. Bumps, bruises, pain, loss….it’s all in His hands and He can make something good from even the worst that happens to us if we allow Him to move in our lives. Yes, I’ve had it rough at times, but other people have gone through much more for longer and they survived. I’m tenacious, determined, and willing to go with the flow to get where I need to be. Hopefully I’ll be an inspiration to someone else who just might need to hear that our past doesn’t dictate our future if we can let go of the pain and stop the negativity that wants to pull us under.
I’m not perfect. I’m a work in progress just like everyone else. I have a bit of a different viewpoint than a lot of folks, but that’s part of who I am. I’m not tied to places or belongings, but to my God and what He has for me even when I have no idea what that is or how I’m going to get there. That’s faith. I trust that when He calls me to step out, there will be ground under my feet or He will help me fly. What more do I really need? He’s gotten me this far and He isn’t about to let go now.
Yep….I made up a new word. More than thoughts….progressive development of thoughts created by thinking about thoughts. Like it?
So today I’m sitting at the library in Waycross, GA. It seemed as good a place as any to stop and take advantage of power as well as free wi-fi. It’s been a week since I last made an entry; this one is more about me and less about others.
See, I’ve been learning a lot since I hit the road. God speaks to me in all kinds of cool ways through all sorts of neat things. I’d like to share some of them with you.
First off, we look at things not only through a mirror, as it says in 1 Corinthians 13:12, but we only see a teeny little bit of everything going on around as well as within us. For instance, I have some issues. (Yeah, I know – what a shock!) When I look at them, I see what appears to be a massive tree right in front of me. It blocks my view of anything else as well as shutting out the sun, rain, and anything else of positive note. All I can focus on is that silly huge tree blocking my way, with massive branches hanging over my head and threatening to fall on me, destroying who I am.
Well, guess what? That tree isn’t even really there. It’s more of a tumbleweed, really. It’s only part of what makes me who I am, but the reason I see it as being so big is because I’m limited by who I am, what I’ve experienced, and how I see the world. Everything I’ve gone through in my life affects how I view a crisis, challenge, or what I see as a failure. I take things very personally, partly because of how I was raised, but also because of how that upbringing conditioned me to see not only myself, but the world.
See, I grew up being compared to others and always, in my mother’s eyes, falling short of hitting the mark. I wasn’t thin enough, or active enough, or social enough. I had “a pretty face,” but this meant I was fat and needed to lose weight. This isn’t intended as a criticism of my mom, but an explanation of why I am who I am and the reasons I struggle with accepting my existence, weaknesses and strengths without feeling the need to justify everything or tear apart every failure. I’m great at criticizing myself, but not so good at accepting that I’m good or deserve anything positive.
Even though I came to a saving knowledge of Jesus at a relatively young age (14), I struggled then and continue to wrestle now with accepting His love towards me just the way I am. I can never seem to feel like I quite hit the mark. I make silly mistakes, jump off into deep water seemingly without thinking, and I can’t keep my mouth shut. I have no filter and very little in the way of tact. This causes crises that further reinforce my sensation of undeservedness and fuels my feelings of insufficiency. It hasn’t caused me to lose my faith; in fact, it has given me reason to cling even more desperately to the Father like His love is a life raft and I’m in the eye of a hurricane. Without my faith, I’d be dead. No doubt. However, this whole mess colors how I look at myself and my life both in general and in day-to-day situations.
I think we all suffer with this tunnel vision to some extent…..some of us more than others. I know people who appear to breeze through life without a trial, tribulation, or loss of anything that appears significant. They have good jobs, nice houses, and their kids are successful as well. However, what we see on the surface is only the visible. Who knows what they deal with inside their own heads? Do they doubt themselves as much as I do? Do they accept the love of God without fear? Do they beat themselves up every time they make a mistake? What about the pressure to keep up with the income, the possessions, the reputation? Do they ever want to do what I just did — sell everything and move into a van?
Anywho….to get on with my point…..when I was out west for my first frantic trip, I saw lots of cool stuff. One thing God used to speak to me was the desert. It looks kinda dry and barren, but things still live and even flourish there. Cacti absorb water when it rains to feed themselves and a wide assortment of wildlife in the dry season. Insects burrow into the sand in the heat of the day and come out at night. In the spring, there are flowers and fresh growth shows up everywhere. Lavender grows wild on the roadsides, adding a gentle beauty to the sand and scrub brush. What looks kinda desolate is actually teeming with life of a different sort — the kind that grows, propagates, and brings beauty to the environment around it.
So why do we complain when we find ourselves in the desert? Instead of bemoaning the lack of surroundings we’re used to, could we look instead for the hidden blessings and opportunities for growth? Could we garner something positive and develop our characters so when we were in seasons of drought, we’d still have resources to draw on? Could we become people who never stop looking to learn, reaching for the positive and the possible?
It’s the same with the northern climates…..yeah, snow is cold and wet and hampers movement and it can be as dangerous as the desert. However, its purpose is plain. It allows perennial plants to go dormant, preparing for the next season of growth. It provides moisture for forests and fields, enabling all kinds of life to be sustained. It even gives people the opportunity to rest inside by a fire, enjoy a day of skiing or sledding, and have some down time with a cup of hot chocolate while relaxing alone or with loved ones. John 12:24 says a seed has to fall to the ground and die before bursting into life; are humans the same way? Sometimes we need a period of rest and just being still before moving on to the next thing. We don’t always need to be doing things. It’s okay to sit at Jesus’ feet and just be.
So anyhow, those are the beginnings of my rambling thoughts. I hope maybe they make sense to someone and even possibly bring a blessing to another pilgrim struggling, like me, to make some kind of sense of life….or just to live and enjoy it and stop trying to figure everything out…..
Life has a way of challenging us. It tasks us to grow,
develop character, and allow things to happen in order to make us into better people.
If we choose not to accept this opportunity, we can become bitter, angry, and
Simply put, things happen to everyone. Cars break down. Jobs
are lost. Homes sell or need major repairs. Kids and adults get sick, need
glasses or braces, or require surgery. Natural disasters destroy possessions
and sometimes take lives. What you do when this happens to you determines how
your life will develop. You can look for ways to make good from bad, or you can
let it eat you alive.
I’ve seen what happens when someone decides that everything bad happening to
them is a personal attack. This person became almost intolerable to deal with
as they ranted against nature, against previous spouses and grown children, and
blamed God for things that were occurring all around them every day all over
the world to thousands if not millions of other people. They allowed
circumstances to dictate how they lived instead of responding to those happenings
by making the best of it and seeking to glean positive from negative.
I’m sitting at the car dealership as I’m typing this up. I
brought my car back to Florida to sell it and pick up a van so I can fulfill a
dream….I want to travel the country on my own terms, living on my own, taking
my time and not being tied down to any possessions beyond what I need to
survive. The car had other plans. The mass air flow sensor is shot, and I can’t
take it to the dealer I’m selling it to while I know something is wrong with
it. Now hopefully the significant cost is covered by warranty, but if not, I’ll
pony up the funds to pay. This is part of living as a Christian with integrity
and honesty; I can’t just pass off something defective as if it’s perfectly
good. If it costs me several hundred dollars, so be it. It’s only money. Was
this in my plan? Heck no…..by this time today I was supposed to be loading the
stuff from my storage unit into the back of the van with my grandson so we
could leave tonight and head back to Missouri. Instead, we’re sitting here waiting
for an unexpected repair. There’s a reason for it – there always is. Maybe
there’s an accident on the road and we missed it because we were here. Perhaps
this is God’s way of making me sit still for a purpose I won’t discover until I
see Him face to face. It’s not my job to try and figure all this stuff out….what
is my responsibility is doing the best I can with what I’ve been given, and not
letting this like this get me all stressed out and angry.
I need to ask myself at the end of every day if I’ve lived
it to the glory of God to the best of my ability. That doesn’t mean I’m perfect;
in fact, I’m far from it. I’m weak, subject to doubt and insecurity just like
the next person. However, I know where my hope lies, and it’s not in a car,
bank account, or timetable. God is my source, not man or technology or circumstances.
Every crisis or unexpected situation is a chance for growth and character
development if I will be open to that possibility. That’s my goal….to see what
He wants me to see in whatever presents itself as I walk through this life.
With His help, I can be a positive influence on those around me not only by
what I say and do, but by how I act when life throws me curve balls and knocks
me flat on my back. It’s not about falling….it’s about getting up, and if not
in my own strength, with the strength of the One who created the planets,
stars, and every living thing. As long
as I keep my eyes on Him this will all work out the way it should. It’s when I
get in the way that things get dicey.
God is good all the time, even when life doesn’t go as
planned. His ways are higher. He sees the end from the beginning. If we could
just remember that, it would make life a lot better…….