Nothing Will Fall Out As You Expect

north topsail island, topsail beach“Nothing will fall out as you expect. Your guide will keep to no beaten path. He will lead you by a way such as you never dreamed your eyes would look upon. He knows no far, and He expects you to fear nothing while He is with you.” – Streams in the Desert

I’ve been reading the Streams in the Desert devotional on and off for many years. I don’t read it everyday anymore. Sometimes I open it on the exact day, in the exact moment, that I need to read it. Today, I opened it to the April 16th entry and it met me right where I’m at.

Nothing has happened like I expected and certainly not how I “planned.” There are days when this overwhelms me with grief. Today started off that way. It’s a holiday. That usually happens on holidays. I watched a video on Facebook {this one} and that threatened to take me a little further down the path to being overwhelmed.

I cried. I’m not going to lie. I started to wander down that ugly path that takes me to the inevitable end: wondering why it is that this life I’ve always wanted and dreamed of still remains so far off. Usually when that happens I don’t come back very quickly or easily. It takes me awhile to work my way back from the hurt.

But something different happened entirely. The sadness happened for the briefest of moments. And then I turned my thoughts towards what God has for me. The questions were there . . . why is what I want so far off? Why do You – God – keep all of this from me?

Something stirred in me though. Something different. The reminders of what I don’t have, were met with reminders of those who clung to hope, and their faith, long after it made sense to do so. The verse that goes along with the April 16th devotional is Hebrews 11:8. Hebrews 11 is always described as the faith hall of fame, in one way or another.

By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed by going out to a place which he was to receive for an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was going. – Hebrews 11:8

Whether it was Joseph {his story always means the most to me}, Abraham, Sarah, or Moses, yjey clung to promises long after reason and logic would tell them to do so.  They didn’t know where they were going. They didn’t take hold of the promise within an amount of time that seems reasonable {to me anyway}. And yet, they held on.

Holidays are always the hardest. I miss what is missing {obvi} and on these days I fear that it will always be this way. But today, against reason and logic, I know it won’t be. I know I’m just gearing up for the next adventure. My prayer today has been – lead me to the next adventure, Lord.

I’m ready.

“Where’d Who Go?”

You win the Expert Movie Quote Guesser Award if you know what movie the title of this post, comes from. “Remember boys, no points for second place” {same movie}. And using our friend Google doesn’t count.

But I digress. Where’d I go? I don’t even know where to begin so I won’t go back in time. Honestly, I don’t even know anymore. But it got me here. In a way, I might be five years down a rabbit hole. And where am I now? Sick {literally} and hoping desperately that I’m turning a corner – physically and spiritually.

Tonight I go in for an MRI because of a mass on my liver. Let’s just say I’m trying to convince myself it’s out of an abundance of caution. But there’s always this nagging “what if.” And then next week, on the 10th, I’m going in for a stress test because of some chest pain.

Meanwhile, there’s some other stuff going on. What it brings me to is that I have stressed myself here. I’m working on getting myself out. The writing is good {the fiction that is}. But the living has not been good. I have not been living as I want to live.

How many times do we watch as time passes, wishing we could do things differently? Well, now is that time for me.

All She Wants to do is Dance

henley1

If it weren’t for Don Henley, my “about me” on social media and my blog would be less nerdy. He is always there, front and center, along with Jesus, my dog, pine trees, and wine (and occasionally tequila). I had a come to Jesus moment early this year when I realized that I was turning 40 with nothing not enough to show for it.

I took myself to a Food & Wine festival. I’ve started the foster care process. I’ve lost 30.6 pounds so far. And earlier this summer, after seeing that Don Henley would be performing at Wolf Trap in Virginia, I bought a ticket. To go to a concert by myself? Hell yes.

henley3

But things have been a little complicated lately. And in the stress and worry, I called off my trip. On Wednesday, by the end of the work day, I had been convinced to go. I won’t bore you with all of the details of the conversations that led to the change. I will say this – they both said very similar things. It was enough to remind me that I only have this one chance at this life. I don’t get a do-over. I’ve already wasted too much time.

So I drove to Virginia – tired. I was in Quantico for a couple of hours before heading north to Vienna. It was a rush to get there on time. But I made it. I found a spot on the little hill. I knew I’d lost my chance to get better seats, but I didn’t care. Not even a little. I laid out my blanket and enjoyed a picnic. The great thing about a concert like this is all the…hippies. Or maybe they’re retired hippies. Whatever.

They didn’t care one bit about how anything looked. They wanted to dance? They danced. They didn’t care what they looked like, sounded like, or how freaking hot and humid it was. The crowd was great. While there were definitely youngins’ around, the majority of the crowd was my age and older (emphasis on older). The couple in front of me were adorable – the husband read a book until the music started and got excited every time he sang older hits.

Don sang songs from his forty-four career! What in the world? He was awesome. The entire concert was awesome. His last song (before the encore) was “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” by Tears for Fears. The last thing I expected, but really good.  But his encore was the best part. He sang some favorites including “Hotel California.” When he started to sing “All She Wants to do is Dance” I wondered why I sat while everyone else danced. So I danced. In the dark. On a horribly humid night. Alone. It was a blast.

henley9

I was so far away from the stage! I mean…so far away. In the photo above, the lighted area was the stage. If I stood to the right (and on my tippy toes) I could see a tiny Don Henley. And I mean tiny. But it was still a great night. I’m so grateful that there are people around me who get me. My two closest friends knew I needed to be there. And the conversations I had at work sealed the deal. I needed to do this.

I needed to go to this concert. Like there are some other things I need to do this year. Everything is changing.

 

Uncertain

Onslow Beach, Atlantic Ocean, Beach, Ocean

“I have seafoam in my veins, I understand the language of waves.” – Le Testament d’Orphée
.

When we were little, my grandparents lived in San Clemente part of the year because my Grandpa worked for California State Parks. They lived at the beach – on that cliff where the campground is – where we camped every summer & then stayed after with them.

.

Grandma would take us down the path that led through the cliffs to the beach, early in the day and we would play in the sand or collect shell after shell. Grandma, a true artist, always found new ways to talk about the beauty. I learned some lessons on the beach at San Clemente, that have stayed with me more than 30 years later. Mostly that when I feel the least certain, I find certainty here.

.

“I am made of salt and sand and the deep jade green of the Atlantic. The salt air courses through my veins. This place, these waves, the sea glass and shells with rounded edges, beaten constantly in the surf, are the pieces and places of my very soul.” – Elaina

Messy hair. Thirsty heart.


I drove my messy hair and thirsty heart here a short time ago. There are times when the pain is too much, and the ache too deep. Today? It’s one of those days. Oh is it one of those days.

Mother’s Day brings it out in me. At least in recent years. I try hard to let it slip by, but in the south, where politeness is a way of life, the constant refrain of “Happy Mother’s Day,” to every adult female, is too much.

I lost a baby. She would be close to 10. And now, at 40, I’m childless. The one title I’ve wanted for as long as I remember, I don’t have. I made it past my 40th birthday without facing this.

But I couldn’t escape it any longer. A few weeks back, I faced a disappointing moment in my career. I longed for a change because it was the only way I could fathom becoming a single mother through foster care & adoption. My schedule now, in my current job, is too erratic. It’s not that other people don’t do it – they do. But for me? I’m not sure I could choose to do it alone. I was raised by a single mother. I don’t have any lofty ideas about what it is and isn’t. But that’s the one reason why I needed and longed for this career change.

People I know from work were happy about this {they told me so} because it meant I would stay with them. But it broke my heart. They didn’t mean to hurt me, but the hurt piled up. What does one do when the only way you can imagine getting to the dream, goes up in smoke? Especially at a time that seems so ripe with meaning for women {turning 40}. Single women in particular.

Everywhere I turn today, however, are words and songs of encouragement. Last night, Ann Voskamp posted on her Facebook page about being brave. You can see it here. I saw it today however. I needed it. Right in that moment. Not last night when she wrote it. I have cried buckets today. And when feeling frustrated with my messy heart and tears, I read a quote that showed up “randomly” in my Facebook feed, about tears. It spoke comfort to my tired heart.

I could go on. There are other examples. I still don’t know if the pain will ever go away. I still don’t know why God answers some prayers and remains silent other times. I don’t know why some people are blessed with children and other dreams of their hearts, while others long. I don’t know why He hasn’t taken this desire from me if this isn’t to be my life.

But I know He is a good, good Father. Somewhere, beyond my vision, there’s peace – though I don’t feel it now. The things I’ve read & the songs I’ve heard remind me of this. I don’t know if there’s a reason, but I know there’s peace.

From the time I was a kid, the ocean brought peace into my life. My grandparents lived at the beach most of the summer and we stayed with them when it was possible.
We would nap with the fresh ocean air blowing past us and we would walk on the beach for hours. My Grandma Avalos was a woman with messy hair and a wild, artist’s heart. Our countless hours with her, when my brother and I were kids, taught me to dream big and wide. And as wild as my heart could take.

I’m sure she didn’t set out to do that. But messy haired women with wild, thirsty hearts will do that for you if you pay attention. Today, my messy hair & thirsty heart needed to sit by the sea to be reminded how to dream big and wide and as wild as my heart can take.

Because the God that made the ocean that gives me so much peace? He’s bigger still. And as wild and deep and wide as my dreams are, His for me are deeper still.