Making Room (7/20/2015)

Today I will meet with my boss, a woman I admire, respect, and genuinely care about, to surrender a perfect job I was led to, have loved, and been so perfectly suited for.  12 weeks of medical leave have come and gone, which boggles my mind a bit.  The day I came home on medical leave I thought I’d be out for a couple of weeks, they’d “fix me,” and I’d be back at work and good as new before I knew it.  Today, however, I have to really let go.  I’m turning in my work iPhone, my access badge, my company credit card, cleaning out my darling office.  My company was only required to hold my position for 12 weeks and it is unfair to ask them to wait any longer.  If I knew an end was in sight, I would ask them to hold on for a little longer, that I’d be able to come back after surgery, treatment, etc.  But there’s no surgery, no treatment, and no recovery timeline.  Letting go of this is so very hard, and I know I will grieve.  Leaving behind so many genuine friends and work that made the best use of my gifts and talents. Feels so final.  So now my calendar we be open for what’s next.  And God keeps impressing on my heart that He is “making room.”

Last week I packed up much of my former life.  I spent time going through my closet, pulling out things I don’t love, don’t make me feel like a million dollars when I wear them, don’t work with where my life is currently going or  (sadly)don’t fit anymore. I had a giant black garbage bag for Goodwill donations and a plastic storage tub for, well, the “clothes on hold.”  The tub is now filled with pencil skirts, blazers, dress trousers, blouses, sheath dresses, button up shirts, sleek pointy-toe pumps, and memories.  The things I won’t be wearing in this new phase.  Wouldn’t make much sense to dress like I’m going to a business meeting to sit on the couch and write my blog.  Or to go to the doctor.  Or on my outings to Trader Joe’s. My closet is cleaned out of the things that would remind me of where I’ve been and make me long for that again as I move into the next piece of my story. The plastic bin of lovely workplace fashion will wait in my garage, as I make room for something else.

All the other radical left turns my life has taken over the past several years have always been God leading me to a defined next step, something different that was fairly clear and tangible.  This isn’t.  Which is so strange.  So I am here at this strange crossroads of limbo, unsure of what my next phase will be.  As of right now, it could just feel like empty space.  I choose not to focus, though, on my lack of a 5 year plan (or one month plan for that matter).  I will dwell in the present, ready to listen, to hear, to be still, and I will look ahead to what’s next, trusting that whatever He is making room for will be for my best. I will wait on the Lord’s leading as He makes room.

But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead,  I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

-Philippians 3:13b-14

Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.

-Psalm 27:4

Enough (7/16/2015)

In most of my adult life I’ve been trying to impress someone.  Someone I worked for/with, some cute boy in high school (who actually did marry me, by the way), teachers/professors, my friends, my frenemies, someone in my church, total strangers, people I didn’t even like, extended family, parents, husband, children, my kids’ friends’ parents, ministry leaders.

I always felt the driving need to prove that I am “something (you fill in the blank) enough.”  Thin enough.  Fashionable enough. Fit enough.  Smart enough.  Well-read enough.  Home decorated well enough.  Home clean enough.  Kids well behaved enough.  Working hard enough.  Doing enough at church. Doing enough in general.  Creative enough.  Cool enough.  Pretty enough.  Spiritual enough.  Innovative enough.  Involved enough. Striving, striving, striving.  So much of how I felt about myself and my success was tied to someone else’s evaluation (real or imagined) of how well I’m doing.

Now, in this strange/purifying season in which I currently live, I find that I am not trying to impress anyone for the first time in my life.  What an odd freedom.  I feel as though I am… enough.  I can’t DO enough, but the being still that is hallmark in my life is enough in this season.  All the other standards of evaluation fall away.

I have set aside so much of my (considerable) pride in this season, not giving a second thought to using my new handy-dandy folding cane chair (we’ve come up with several creative names for it, including Cane-ye West, Cane-y Perry, John McCane, Cane-y Poehler) when needed, or riding in an electric cart in Target on a particularly bad day, or *gasp* asking for help.  Not worried about how anyone else sees me or judges me.  Again, so much freedom.

Do I know what the next steps will look like?  Nope.  But I have found a place of freedom and contentment in spite of that.  I am enough because what God is doing in me is enough.  Sitting with my husband at breakfast, chatting and sharing coffee is enough.  Quiet times with my young adult kids just being there (something that is short-lived, I am painfully aware) is enough.  Sweet time with a precious friend is enough.  My slow pace is enough.

Being in God’s presence, not running, not striving, is enough.

Blessed (7/5/2015)

 

The past three days have been hard.  Very hard.  Feeling particularly bad since last Thursday and disappointed/frustrated in my lack of improvement.  Not my favorite.  But last night one of my dearest friends and closest confidantes in the wide world, one who sees me, knows me, and knows my struggle, challenged me to write something every day about how I am blessed or what I was thankful for. Not easy today, but a much needed paradigm shift.  So here it goes.  One blessing for each of these very difficult three days and one extra for tomorrow:

  1. I am beyond thankful for my husband of 25 years who stands with me and supports me through the hardest things.  He listens to my pain, sits with me when I cry, and loves me regardless.  He helps me wherever he can and encourages me when there are things only I can do.  I honestly don’t know how I would keep going without him.
  2. Air conditioning.  It’s July in the Sacramento Valley.  Enough said.
  3. Exactly-the-right-level-of-ripe nectarines from a roadside fruit stand, just a few miles and a few hours removed from the trees that grew them.  Golden perfect reminder of teen summers spent working at a nectarine ranch fruit stand.
  4.  People from all phases of my life, near and far, who have reached out to me to encourage me in this part of my journey, share their own stories, and give me solutions/thoughts that worked for them.  It means the world that you would take the time to communicate and let me know you hear me, you see my challenges, and you care.

The point in all of this is that God is good and faithful no matter what is hard in my world.  To quote my friend Susie, even on bad days, “There’s a lot of good.”

We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.”

2 Corinthians 4:8-9

Can’t (6/26/15)

My growing list of “can’ts” is disconcerting.

  • ·       Can’t focus on more than one thing at once.  Can’t walk all the way through Ikea.  Or Target. Or the mall.  Or even Trader Joe’s.
  • ·       Can’t go to a theme park for the day.
  • ·       Can’t hike. Or sight-see.  Or even snorkel.
  • ·       Can’t remember what I meant to do/who I meant to call/ what I meant to tell someone.
  • ·       Can’t garden/do housework/move around much for more than 15 minutes before I need a nice long rest.
  • ·       Can’t drive very far without feeling awful.
  • ·       Can’t work at the job I love.
  • ·       Can’t stand for more than a minute or two (don’t know why, but it’s harder than walking).
  • ·       Can’t remember words sometimes, heartbreaking for this girl, one who loves language.

Oh-so-easy to focus on those things, those “can’ts” that weigh down like the lead weights I feel like I’m carrying every time I move, the fatigue that pushes down on me like hyper-exaggerated gravity.

Again, in my time with Him (a great blessing that is part of this season of challenges), God realigns my thinking and reminds me of all the “cans” I should be holding onto.

  • ·       I can be present here and now with my family and have those “simple” conversations with them that wouldn’t happen if I was in my “normal” life.
  • ·       I can learn, as the apostle Paul, to be content in all circumstances.
  • ·       I can, again like Paul, do all things through Jesus’ strength.
  • ·       I can trust that He knows the plans He has for me, plans to prosper me and not to harm me, plans for a hope and a future.  Words spoken by the prophet Jeremiah to a people in captivity that ring true to this grounded sparrow’s heart today.  He knows.

And so you have it; I have my list of “can’ts” and my list of “cans.”  Where I focus my time and energy is up to me, my choice.  So I choose to hold on to Him, the One who is more than able to do immeasurably more than I can ask or imagine.  He can. Even when I can’t.

Limited (6/19/2015)

Limited.  I don’t like that word. I don’t like the idea of my activity, health, or energy being limited.  But limited is my world right now.  I struggle with debilitating fatigue, chest pain, and lack of answers.  I don’t want to be this version of me, unrecognizable when compared to the high-energy, bouncy, super productive, multi-tasking, motivated, high-achieving me.  I worry that I am disappointing to all of those around me; that’s what I see now when I look in the mirror on a “bad day.”  A burden.  Less than.  And whiny.  The opposite of productive.  Not me.  Limited.

I want a nice neat package of definitive: here’s the issue, here’s how to fix it, here’s how soon you’ll be back to normal.  But thus far no dice.  I enter doctor’s appointments with less and less hope that they will end in a direction and course of action rather than ruling something else out as NOT the issue.  Not cardiac, not diabetes, not thyroid, not hormonal.  The most recent “answer” is ridiculously lengthy mononucleosis caused by Epstein Barr virus.  Three severe bouts of sore throat, weakness and fever earlier this year coupled with all of this fun of the past two months and nothing but negative results in all other blood tests bring us here for now.  So I wait some more to see if I improve.  So I take my vitamins, listen to my body, rest A LOT, do my very gentle yoga routine (truly all I can manage), and I have embraced a very clean eating regimen (Whole30).

This is week 8 of my medical leave.  Please don’t misunderstand.  I’m not exclusively Self-pitying Whiny Girl.  I do realize many (myself included in the past) would LOVE two months to stop everything for a rest.  It’s not quite that simple,  but I get that part.  On the upside, I am so blessed and grateful to be with my husband and kids more, to have time to connect, in person or electronically, with people who are dear to me, and time to be still and present.

But still, this doesn’t feel like me.  And I can’t help but wonder if this is my new normal.  No longer the indispensable gal in my office, fixing everything for everyone and making my boss’s life easier, no longer being that woman who can climb Half Dome, do P90X and Insanity, walk all day in San Francisco and still play with her family, cook, clean and decorate her house.  I have no idea how this kind of new normal would even look.  But I’m guessing:  Limited.  I don’t know that this will be the case.  All the things I’m doing could really help, the virus could run its course and I could be back to where I once was.  But I can’t help but wonder.

Yet I am reminded in all of this that He is not limited.  He is strong.  He is more than enough.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. (emphasis mine)

2 Corinthians 12:9