Saturday, December 31, 2011

Yesterday, A Season Of Sadness…Tomorrow, A Season Of Joy

Reflections from 2011… ”This too shall pass,” for tomorrow will bring a new day!

“In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which perishes, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” ~ 1 Peter 1:6-7 (NIV)

Facing trials, adversity, hurt and sadness…these are all part of life and nobody is immune. As God’s children, we are to find joy in all things, celebrating our trials and we are to seek His presence. We are to rest in our faith and the assurance that He is working all things according to His divine purpose and His will for our ultimate good. This I know. This I have learned.

It may come as a surprise to you since I have not written in so long, that there has not been any change in my overwhelming desire to write and share the truths I’ve encountered along my Christian life journey. There have been some things which compelled me to spend much time in prayer seeking God’s instruction, to remain still, listen intently, think deeply and take action. These things, while growing me, pulled me away from my computer. Whatever the case, the Word of God spoken to me and the spiritual life lessons I have gleaned from my Father, I fully intend to write about and share with you. I pray you are encouraged.

First of all, I spent a tremendous amount of time traveling during the fall and winter months of 2010, driving back and forth to Smithville, Texas…visiting my brother and sister-in-law and helping with the care of my mother. This is when my writing began to fade, yet my desire to share kingdom living was growing. There are many experiences regarding real-life situations with family, caregivers and an aging parent. There is overwhelming thankfulness inside me because my mom’s last months were spent with my brother, Darold, and his loving wife, Pat. My reasons…some personal…could fill a book. The most precious moments and happiest days my mother had seen or been a part of occurred while in Smithville. She was cared for with much love, kindness and attentiveness and she was treated with genuine respect and dignity. She was also awakened each morning by an angelic voice (Pat) greeting her with coffee and a hug, causing her to smile and simply enjoy being alive to face another day. She was candid and alert while living there and a joy filled her that I hadn’t seen in many years. My heart is full as I sincerely write, “I will never be able to say thank you enough to Pat and Darold.”

In December and also in January of 2011, I was very sick with the flu. My body temperature was up and the temperature outside was down. We didn’t have heat installed and the temperature got down to 9 degrees inside our house. I did not have the strength to go outside and get firewood and bring it in to start a fire in the wood stove. I lived under an electric blanket. On day 17 of my illness, I was not getting any better so I went to the doctor and got two rounds of antibiotic, some other medication and was given a shot. On January 15th, the day I took my last antibiotic pill, my brother, Darold, called and said I should come to the hospital because momma was ill. I was weak but drove 6 hours in the rain, and spent that night praying, crying and simply listening to my mother breathe. I was alone with her when she took her final breath the following morning, January 16, 2011. She was 88 years old and she was looking forward to her homecoming. It was difficult to be sad because I knew how much she wanted to leave this world behind and enter Heaven’s gates. I rested in the assurance that she was so happy now, in Heaven with our Father and loved ones. That was a great comfort. The prayers and well wishes from family and friends were also felt and so deeply appreciated. My husband, who was working in Madagascar, tried to come be with me for the funeral but got stranded in Johannesburg and didn’t make it home. I spent a good bit of time with family before returning to Junction alone. Then, when I did return home, I experienced such a deep loss all alone and rested solely in my Father’s arms. I wasn’t sad for momma…not in the least. She lived a long life and was ready to go home. I was merely suffering from such a deep void…one that resulted in many involuntary tears…but my tears of sadness were always counterbalanced with tears of joy.

Just prior to mom’s passing, a hunter was trespassing on our property and he shot and killed my beautiful golden Lab, Big Boy. Big Boy was my steady companion, running partner, friend and protector while my husband was working away. He was previously owned by a man who ran a “puppy mill” and Big Boy had fathered many pups. I was not familiar with such a thing until I met and befriended this dog and learned his history. When he arrived at my home, it was the first time he had ever been outside of a cage or pen and the first time he had rode in a vehicle. Everything was a first and brand new to him. He was terrified and so surprised at every turn that he continually wanted to run away, which he did...three times. Finally, though, the fear and cowering down ended because I showered so much love, care, time and attention on him. His chain was permanently removed and he experienced true freedom for the first time in his life. He was free to leave or stay and he chose happily to stay by my side. I was deeply saddened when he died but happy he got to experience freedom and genuine love while he was with me.

Isn't that how it sometimes is in our relationship with our Heavenly Father? We run away from Him because it’s all too new or too different. We either don't understand the truth, or we don't want to relinquish our prideful self will to His way or His control so we turn away. He is so patient though, and so kind and caring. He is always there for us to turn to and He continually wants to provide the best for us...always offering His forgiveness, showing us kindness and so much genuine love and mercy. He always gives us the freedom to choose a life with Him or to walk alone. How could we possibly cower away or choose a life without Him? He is the Provider of our salvation. He is the One who can give us the true happiness we are searching for.

I then threw myself into plans for the finished work on our house…first and foremost the central air and heating system. DONE! After that, in any direction you looked there was work accomplished and work yet to be done. As the contractors worked inside, I began major cleanup outside and developed a much needed front yard! The progress on our house is ongoing and that’s ok. In the meantime, I am living life and pressing onward along my journey.

During the course of 2011, I lost my mother and my Lab. My sister-in-law, Gloria, lost her mother and step-father. My sister-in-law, Pat, lost her sister. My sister-in-law, Dina, lost her mother. My cousin, Betty, lost her husband. My cousin, Deb, watched her husband suffer three strokes and face rehabilitation in order to walk again. My precious Aunt Rita, my mother’s sister, first lost her son and then she suffered a stroke two days before Christmas and is currently in in-hospital hospice care. In addition to relatives, I have lost very dear friends and some of my very close friends have lost their loved ones. I also have loved ones and friends who are currently experiencing and/or struggling with other issues as well as major life changes.

Such is the cycle of life and its trials, adversity, hurt and sadness. And you know what? It’s ok to have a season of sadness. That season is where we usually look inside ourselves and have the opportunity to grow, opening our heart’s door and drawing closer to God. While He holds us closely and carries us through, we are attentive and looking to Him for answers. While He has our undivided attention, He reminds us that He is and has always been our eternal Caregiver. Yes, His love and care for His children are eternal, if only we seek His face and follow Him.

So if you are presently in or have experienced a season of sadness, turn to God and expect Him to bring you through it into a brighter tomorrow…for He will remove ALL your sadness in His time and replace it with true joy…yes, with an eternal JOY!

My wish for you is to reside in His eternal JOY in the New Year!

Captured in His reflection,