Category: the inevitability of change

no shadow of turning

Today, I proclaimed a new season for us.

I have no idea, really, what the new season will be. We’ve been praying for it for awhile, shortly after our current one started and rather quickly, pun intended, went south. I often harken back to some wise words from one of our precious Moms and More meetings, a prayer that says,

Lord, help me to learn what I need to learn from this season so I can move on to a new one.

Which, quite honestly, I sometimes prayed by quoting the fictional and lovable Theo Huxtable:

Oh Dad, I’ve learned my lesson! I’ve learned it whatever it is!

Through these last months, God has shown me on numerous occasions exactly how Not Ready or Not Knowing What I Need To Know that I actually was. I didn’t get this, even after several months of desperate praying and crying out, until some time in January. When I normally make a “prayer goal” for the year, it’s something succinct, like “Wisdom” or “Simplicity.” This year, I couldn’t give a simple term to it. It was:

God, I want to be steady. I want to be a person who is not driven by her emotions. I want to trust You and Your plan before the phone calls, after the phone calls, when the phone calls deliver bad news, and when the phone calls never come. I want peace that pervades circumstances and faith that runs to my roots.

{Sometimes, I overdo it, I suppose}

But seriously…that is what I felt God calling me to strive for. And so I have been. I have been intentionally trying to swallow my negative comments, ignore the knots in my stomach, and turn away from things and even people that feed my anxiety. When I’m waiting on news, or when something else has gone array, I try to call on scripture, or pray, or ask friends to pray with or for me. Because I don’t want emotions to run my life.

With God, there is no shadow of turning. He stays the same.

He is the same whether our season is one of feast or famine, provision or benevolence, giving or receiving.

He is the same whether we have health insurance or (thank You, Jesus), good health.

He is the same whether the dream job is all it was cracked up to be or if it withers and painfully dies in a matter of months.

He is the same in South Carolina as He is in South Chicago Heights.

He is the same regardless of who is surrounding us, ignoring us, supporting us, or lying to us.

He is the same whether we are overseeing a really great press conference or being misquoted by the press.

He is the same when the paycheck comes as He is when it does not.

He is the same when we feel like dancing on a mountaintop as He is when we want to stay in bed, forever.

He is the same in our bondage as He is in our freedom, the same in our drought as He is in the rain.

He is the same in our children’s needs, our parent’s needs, our family and friend’s needs. Thank God He cares about it all!

He is the same in the quiet moments of doubt as He is in the jubilant moments of victory.

He is the same in every decision, be it how to budget our money, where to school our kids, or with whom to share our confidence.

He is the same tonight as He as was last April, when we found out we were moving here and thought we knew why…as He was since September, when the picture starting blurring… as He is tonight, when maybe, just maybe, it is sharpening again, into something more amazing than we could have imagined.

He is the same, the same, THE SAME…even when nothing is familiar, or comfortable, or feels right. HE is the same, when no one else can offer peace or comfort or can even be trusted. He STAYS the same, as everything else turns and shifts and dies or revives.

There is no shadow of turning with my God.

~

We are on the brink of new circumstances. I’m not purposely trying to be coy, but they are not mine to share just yet. I will say though, that just like another April 12 miracle6 years ago! – this ‘new season’ is not really about what is going to happen. It is, instead, about what has happened. In as much as God does not change, He has, in fact, changed me. Changed Rod. Changed our family. He has shifted focus away from extraneous, away from image, away from pride. He has bound us together through love and necessity. He has reminded us Who created us, why He created us, and what we are to do. He has given us a clear directive that simply says, “Follow Me,” and given us the boldness to follow…even when we are walking in the middle of a storm and look like perfect idiots. He has made us a little more like who we are supposed to be in Him. So, whatever new or phone calls come in this next week, we will follow Him… not a man, a plan, or a dream of our own making. It is God Who has provided for our every need – from the big to the tiny – during this most difficult season in our lives. There is no reason to doubt He will continue to do the same by whatever means He chooses.

~

All I have needed, Thy hand has provided.
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me.

full with life

It’s a pretty wordless Wednesday for me. My heart is full with life, as I sort through sweet reconnections, warm memories, high hopes, a glorious ninth anniversary, and one sad goodbye.

I visited Pawleys Island for the first time this week. I am in love with many things about it, my idyllic vision of a beach town come to life. Maybe we will live there someday.

20120327-231532.jpg

This was the view outside a cafe where I had lunch with my friend Rick yesterday:

20120327-225059.jpg

Today I celebrate nine years since promising to be Mrs. Burton until death parts us. This week, two people I love and respect so much – my sis-in-law’s amazing parents, showed us what that looks like. I was not there when they said goodbye. I can only imagine it was done like everything else I’ve seen them do: with quiet determination, loyalty, and grace. We will also miss Papa B.

And our mourning and remembering and rolling with it and hoping and celebrating life will occur like everything else we do: together.

20120327-232321.jpg
remember, helmets are safer…

back up

What. A. Week.

I have spent every free minute since Wednesday cleaning up a mess much bigger than the broken bottle of Worcestershire sauce on my kitchen floor last night.

In doing so, I learned new terms, like malware. I refreshed myself on how to use DOS. I found and learned how to use cleaning scripts, website security, and programs to break XML files (the precious backups of 3.5 years of words) into smaller pieces.

And because I learn this stuff as I go, I also accidentally deleted and had to re-add a database, freaked out because I thought I had to manually add 6 months worth of photos to their corresponding blog posts (turns out the necessary backup files were sitting on my computer desktop the whole time), and had to start the whole rebuilding process over again yesterday because of a misnamed file.

I also had several freakouts due to the other websites hosted on my server space – including our home church in Illinois, Rod’s ministry site, and our Branson GMR site. Everything is fixed now, but I sososo hope none of those sites forwarded people to the nasty stuff some of us saw earlier this week.

I apologize for the forwards… the bad stuff (aka malware) causing that to happen is gone and I have new knowledge and new goodies protecting us from it happening again.

As the Ghostbusters would say, “Light is green, trap is clean.”

Anyway, I missed writing, though it was kind of fun to learn the things I did in the process of cleaning the mess.

In retrospect, once I found the fix, I should have run it and let it do its work, and not deleted and rebuilt everything, but I was worried, I wasn’t sure I was using it right, and apparently, I like to make more work for myself.

And I’m really, really, really thankful I had a backup for everything.

No, the running metaphor of all of this is not lost to me. Nor was it when I was crying in the wee hours Wednesday night thinking I’d lost every word I’d written recording our journey of the past 6 months.

It has been a seriously insane 6 months. For whatever reason, Rod and I have been looking back a lot this weekend, and we’re both amazed at what we’ve come through. Surprised at God’s faithfulness? No. But always somewhat…taken aback, maybe a little flattered, when the Creator of all things takes time to help us through rocky roads, desolate places, and website attacks.

And we’re especially thankful for the little winks He seems to give, reminding us we’re not alone, reminding us that He – no man or entity, but the Lord’s ordering of our steps, is what brought us here.

20120317-231203.jpg

Whether crying in some strong arms or swinging around in them, having Someone to hold us is the best backup there is.

morning after, and before

Last night, we had session 2 of our marriage class.

I told Our Story in front of a group of people… for the first time.

(someday, maybe soon, I will tell it here, but not quite yet).

It didn’t require as much bravery as I thought. It almost felt good…not in a I’m so proud of that chapter of my life way, not in a take my advice kind of way, but in a Look how far we’ve come way for sure.

In every class, we vote on who ‘worked the hardest’ on their marriage that week, and the someone wins a book. Last night, I won:

I was touched and honored by the words of my classmates last night (especially the guy who referred to me as a young hippy girl!), and I am happy that what most people seem to see in Rod and me is our love and commitment for each other and our family.

I think perhaps I still live in some fear that people will only see what I, what we, used to be. But I need to conquer that. We are here. We are together. All things are, and have been, made new.

Since the girls were with their big sister and we were not necessary at home (they were making Paige’s amazing popcorn and homemade pretzels), we decided to have a great date of our own. Thanks to DST, there was still plenty of sun, and we headed to a place where I’ve wanted to go since we moved here:

We crashed at Nacho Hippo, where we worked on our homework for next week and I excitedly studied the menu:

We decided to make our own nachos (2 control freaks…surprise!). Our add-ons were mango salsa, salsa verde, and steak (I let Rod have all of that…) They weren’t the best ever, but they were pretty good.

Whilst eating (I can’t help it. “Whilst” makes me think of Chandler Bing, and Chandler Bing always makes me smile…), we enjoyed this view:

and we set aside our marriage homework so that Rod could explain to me the intricacies of the NCAA tournament, the NBA draft, and how Coach Calipari from University of Kentucky advocates for his players.

He’s so patient and detailed and…goofy. How could a girl not be mesmerized?

~

This morning came fast and everyone was sleepy. I ushered Rod and the girls out the door for school and now I wait. This afternoon, KK has to get her 4 year old shots (!!!) and Rod has an opportunity. It’s one our family needs, so I am spending today mellow, still, and prayerful…not worried. It’s one of those times when we’ll know for sure whether a door is opening for us. And we’re ready to walk through it.

weight loss wars and eye-opening walks

A few weeks ago, I posted about my weight loss victories.

Naturally, since that point, I have gained a few pounds back.

Ugh.

What can I blame? Well, my own lack of willpower, I suppose. I had 2 weekends in a row of celebrating, and while I did not completely chow down, I did consume more cheese and chocolate than recommended (by 2 or 3 hundred percent).

I also, unfortunately, allowed my wonderful, cleansing moringa tea by Zija run out before my new shipment got here, which means (sorry) that I’m literally carrying a lot of excess crap around.

And finally, there is the lack of exercise. Our daily schedule has changed and we only have one car, so my opportunities to get to the gym or even better, the beach, are very limited. Exercise at home, even when the girls are at school, is typically thwarted by distractions with names like Laundry, Cleaning, Putting Away, Meal Prep, Baking, Writing, (FB), and most recently, Training And Playing With Iron Max. Shall we pause for the cuteness?~

20120228-160604.jpg

Last week I finally got over myself and as soon as everyone else left the house in the morning, I put on my shoes, did not pause to put on my makeup (!!!), and took off for a speed walk through our neighborhood.

We have lived here for nine months, and I have never walked further than around the corner before. It was obviously past time I explore. And as usual, when I step outside of my comfort zone, there were a lot of beautiful surprises to see:

20120228-161139.jpg
quiet stretches of land between homes

20120228-161155.jpg
sunshine peaking through clouds at various angles

20120228-161222.jpg
trees, trees, trees… tall, old, wise

20120228-161403.jpg
I also saw a gorgeous blue bird, but he was too fast for me to capture. He darted off a mailbox, up to this roof, and behind the house.


I thought this quaint little gas lamp was made for a Christmas card, though I kinda hope there’s not ever enough snow here for that sort of fantasy.

20120228-161436.jpg
I didn’t know this pond was here…

20120228-161503.jpg
or this quaint sitting area next to it

20120228-161620.jpg

I paused only long enough to daydream and ponder the idea of home. It has changed so much for me over the years, and especially in these last nine months. I believe in my heart that my home is where my family is, my husband in particular, as our kids have/will move on at some point in their lives. The house we own in Chicago is lived in by others; the house we live in now is owned by someone else. As long as we rent, our ‘house’ is temporary… in fact, as long as we abide on earth, our ‘roots,’ no matter how deep they are, can change in an instant.

I’ve grown accustomed to the unpleasant type of surprises to, so I wasn’t shocked, only disappointed, to see this along my path as well:

20120228-161906.jpg

But…another thing I’ve learned lately… it’s going to take more than some junk to scare me away.

20120228-162034.jpg
Things don’t always go how we want them, or how we think we need them. But if we keep taking chances, keep walking forward, keep our eyes open, and remember to focus them upward most of the time, who knows what we will find?

You may say I’m a dreamer…
but if I ever have to go blind, I hope it’s from staring into the sun.