Under Construction

I sat across the table from my beautiful daughter Jessica, trying to speak past the lump in my throat. The restaurant in Southern California was noisy and crowded, but I was determined to get the words out. So much had happened in the past year and this moment was the culmination of all of it; the loss and betrayal AND the healing, hope and renewal.

It was nothing short of a miracle.

“Dad and I want to give you this,” I choked out and gave her the cash gift we had planned to give her last summer when she graduated from college. All of our lives had taken an unexpected detour and we were GRATEFUL to be back on course, following God’s plans for our future.

Three weeks earlier, I was at my usual Monday night Bible study and the teacher was summing up her story of God taking her through a year of extreme pain to work out some profound things in her life. As she spoke, I felt the sweet nudge of the Holy Spirit saying to me, “Your year is up.” I was so distracted by the thought, I HAD to check the date on my phone. Sure enough, exactly one year ago was my first appointment with my new Stanford cancer doctor… which kicked off a year of surgeries, appointments, and MANY personal struggles for my family.

I was very teary-eyed driving home that night.  It was an awareness of God’s presence speaking a personal message to me. “Your year is up,” kept replaying in my mind. It had been a year of unraveling for me on ALL levels—physical, personal, spiritual, financial, emotional… ALL levels… and God had taken me to a new, deeper intimacy in my walk of faith.

As I arrived home, Jessica had some news. She has been trying to move to Southern California for a year to pursue her career goals, and nothing has worked out for her. In fact, her year took a terrible turn and everything in her life was put on hold. This same “Your year is up” evening, she received a random text from a friend she had danced with on her competitive dance team in high school, asking her if she was looking for a place to live down south. Within days Jessica had an apartment, a room-mate, a car and a job!

“Your year is up!”

I don’t know exactly what it means, but something has definitely lifted, opened up for us.

We have just recently had a major crossroad by our home close for six weeks of repairs. A collapsed bridge would be ripped out, and a new, firm foundation laid. The much-needed roadwork would also bring a SUPER inconvenient rerouting of traffic, adding an extra 10 minutes to my commute down narrow, country roads. The detour would not be fun— inconvenient and long— BUT… very necessary.

Roadwork. Detours. Delays. …a great analogy for life.

It has been a year of construction, an undoing, and God has been faithful to repair the brokenness, rebuilding a solid foundation of security in Him.

As we left the restaurant, Jessica was all moved in and Eddie and I were preparing to drive home. We hugged her goodbye and there was such a sense of peace knowing God had made a way and the waiting was over. The detour had not been fun, but there was a new strength in all of us, especially Jessica, to journey wherever God would lead, trusting Him each mile of this new road.

And speaking of new roads….

The roadwork near our home was completed this week and we are able to drive on it. No more long, miserable detours waiting for the work to be done.

Take down the ‘road work ahead’ and ‘road closed’ signs!

The road is open and…

My year is up!

(Now if someone can just make sure Cory receives the ‘year is up‘ memo, we’ll be good! Hah!)

2 Corinthians 1:9-10  “…But this made us stop trusting in ourselves and start trusting God, who raises the dead to life. God saved us from the threat of death, and we are sure that he will do it again and again.”

 

My Summer Surprise

Olivia began shuffling her feet, rounding her shoulders and looking down as we approached the classroom. My happy-go-lucky-can-make-friends-anywhere girl was not up for the challenge.  She has been struggling with a recent transition in her life where she has to courageously participate in a program of 6th-8th graders, knowing hardly anyone. And… the two or three kids she does know, may or may not be there on any given session.

Totally intimidating!

I said a quick prayer over her and stated, “Olivia, what if you don’t worry about your discomfort, but rather look for somebody else who needs a friend, and help them feel welcomed? What if God has you here for that very reason? What if God answers my prayer for you to have a friend in this class, by you being a friend to someone who looks lonely?”

Reluctantly, she left my side, giving me one last pleading look with those beautiful brown eyes. I quickly walked away, but not without first noticing how ginormous those 8th graders were!

It’s interesting how much I fight lately with trusting God to prove himself faithful to my kids. So much so, I think I delay the process in their lives because I interfere and/or intervene when God is training THEM to rely on him.

Several times this past week I would be chatting with one of my kids, saying how much they can trust God, and… simultaneously… thinking how unconvincing I sound. In other words, I’m saying all the right things, speaking words of faith while silently begging God to come through for them.

But that’s just it. I have to release my grip, my control, on what I think God SHOULD do for them. His “coming through” will most likely look different from what I want… and even what they want.

So…it’s AGAIN back to the issue of trust.

Can I trust God with my kids?

Or rather…DO I trust God with them.

Do I trust He will watch over Jessica, Cory and Olivia in hard times? Painful times?

Can I stay out of the way and let a personal relationship unfold between THEM?

I don’t want Jessica, Cory and Olivia to have years of struggle like I did, BUT I do want them to have a real, intimate connection with him. I’m their covering in so much of life, but they have to grow in their own relationship with Christ.

An hour later, Olivia was walking toward me. I scanned her face, looking for the first clue of how things went.

She was smiling.

“Mom, we talked about how God wants us to have confidence in him. I think the talk was for me.”

Priceless.

As we reached our car, Olivia turned and waved goodbye to a new friend. “That’s a girl I just met. She’s really nice and a bit shy.”

2 Timothy 1:12  “I know whom I have believed and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day,”

Entrusted. What a great word. It means to put into the care and protection of someone. I am entrusting my kids to God, in whom I’m believing… AND working on being convinced that he is ABLE to take care of what I’ve entrusted to him.

Olivia turned 11 last week. She is a gift, my little summer surprise, a child we specifically prayed for by name for years. (What can I say… I’m a HUGE Olivia Newton John fan!!)

It is one of my greatest joys to be her mom, and now one of my greatest joys to watch her grow in her faith in God.

Not only am I entrusting her to God, God has literally entrusted Olivia to us— put her in our care and protection. (You can read a bit more of her story HERE.)

I hope your summer has been full of God-given surprises! Just remember this… from a hopelessly devoted Olivia Newton John fan………….

He honestly loves you!