Anything is Possible!

With Faith, Hope and Perseverance


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“Wait Is a Four Letter Word.”

When God says, “Wait,” we can control only two things: how we wait and who we become along the way.  __Elizabeth Laing Thompson

When God Says Wait

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It’s always something. If it’s not waiting for your soulmate, it’s waiting for your kids to become independent, or waiting to retire, or waiting for your manuscript to be ready for publication.

I’ve just started reading the book, When God Says Wait, by Elizabeth Thompson. It’s easy to read with well-fictionalized biblical stories, personal stories from the author, and simple exercises at the end of each chapter. I sure could’ve used this book 15 years ago when I was wondering if I’d ever fall in love again, if I’d ever find a partner who’d be a good fit. Still, the messages about “navigating life’s detours and delays” clearly relate to my life now.

Finishing the manuscript for Trust the Timing (see my Work in Progress page) has taken a lot longer than I ever imagined, though I’m getting closer every day. Fortunately, waiting to publish and not rushing have allowed me to work through questions about my own history and about how much of other people’s history to include.

This has been a struggle. Early in the writing process, I was encouraged to dig deeper and to show more scenes, which is fine if you’re writing fiction, and okay when it comes to my own baggage, but not so comfortable when it comes to other people’s baggage, or what I call OPB. Even with name changes and changes in identifying characteristics, there has been an uneasiness about exposing some OPB. Earlier drafts have more OPB, and I’ve deleted and softened quite a bit of that. Yet, there are some pieces of OPB that are important to the story. This is one of the big challenges of writing a memoir.

I’ve been praying hard for guidance every time open the manuscript document. It’s helped to ask this  question:

What does God want me to write?

Things often become clear when I ask that question, or some version of it, and then listen to my gut. God often talks to me through my gut. Sometimes God whispers in my ear. But I have to be quiet and open to get the message.

Waiting gives God time to work things out in us and others. Waiting gives us time to become who we are meant to be, to become ready for our heart’s desire. After all, that’s what my book is about. It seems to be my life-long lesson. And I’m learning, slowly but surely.

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What are you waiting for?  What helps you wait?


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Answered Prayer

I asked God to take away the desire for a partner or else send me a good one. “And God, I would really appreciate it if you could get my soulmate here before Dad and Jesse die,” I added.

  From Trust the Timing

When I prayed that prayer seven years ago, I knew I would be strong enough to deal with the death of my father and my dog, Jesse, when those times came. Even without a partner, I had proven to myself that I could cope with loss and keep my head above water. No matter how much it hurt, I would deal with it. But I didn’t want to go through it alone gritting my teeth and forcing myself to be tough.

Now, as I process grief for my father, I can’t imagine how I would deal with the waves of sadness, especially after I spend a day going through Dad’s abundant possessions and then come home to sort through his mail and paperwork. I’m going through mom’s stuff, too, because he didn’t want to get rid of anything after she died eight years ago. If I had to do this alone as the only surviving child – and go to work the next day at a challenging job – it would be overwhelming to say the least.

But I don’t have to do it alone. I know that even if I was still single, God would walk with me through this, and that I’d survive (probably with jaw and neck pain from the teeth gritting.) But it helps so much to have a supportive partner. That is an understatement. Not only does my husband support me emotionally, he made it possible for me to quit my job just one month before Dad died. We didn’t know the timing would work out that way. But I bet God knew.

My husband was here for me when Jesse died a couple years ago, and now he’s here for me as I grieve for my father, because God answered that prayer.

God doesn’t always answer my prayers my way. Despite all I’ve learned about trusting the timing, God still seems awfully slow to my limited perspective regarding prayers yet to be answered. But I know things are being worked out in those I love, and ultimately, love will prevail.

I am thankful beyond words.

bride-leaning-on-groom-in-doorway

2012, just after our wedding

dad-waiting-for-bride

Here’s Dad on my wedding day.


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Be careful about…

I’m getting so many messages like this one, telling me to slow down the process of publishing my book. Another spoke loud and clear in a horoscope, in a magazine that I never read, except for one night last week when i just happened to pick it up. I’m being guided to look more closely at and revise some of the content in my memoir that I thought was finished, but it’s not, and having to learn patience on a whole new level. Trust the Timing is not just the title of my book. It’s my life lesson. Oh, boy. Another lesson. Thanks, God. I might roll my eyes. I might even stomp my foot. But I’m listening, cause I know who’s running this show.

Sacred Touches

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****Photo by Mandy Disher; text box added by Natalie; collage by Natalie

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Love Songs with a Twist

agape-candle

When I was single, one of the things that helped me tolerate and even embrace love songs that came on the radio  was to sing them to God. I know it sounds corny, but it helped. One day, on a solo road trip, that old song came on the radio: “Some Kinda Wonderful.” I was about to change the station, when I got an idea. I substituted the name of Jesus for “my baby.” Later in the song, I sang about my sweet loving savior.
And I’m telling you, it worked. Singing love songs to or about Jesus helped ease my loneliness.

Just try it. When a love song comes on, but you don’t have a romantic interest, or if you have one who’s not good for you, substitute the higher power or ideal love of your choice. Think of someone who’s always got your back.

 

Can I get a witness?

I realized I could do this with any love song. I even sang love songs to my dog who was always there for me. Cause you know what dog spelled backwards is. Dogs are like mirrors reflecting unconditional love. Natalie, at Sacred Touches, agrees.

jesse-howling

 

As I write in Trust the Timing:

“The dogs provided more comfort and less stress than the men I dated after the divorce “

 

 

 

You can sing love songs to any body you want to. Because love is valuable and wonderful . It doesn’t have to be romantic love, though romantic love is pretty darn special. I’m talking about caring for someone else so much that their happiness is just as important as your own. (Love your neighbor as yourself, not more than yourself.)

Whether it’s brotherly love, sisterly love, parental love, platonic love, romantic love, self love, dog love or AGAPE God love, love is good.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Love,

JoAnne/JoAnna

 


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A Gift You Can’t Buy in the Store, Part 2

buttons-and-needles

My 85 year old dad is a stubborn X retired Marine. He won’t move closer to me because he doesn’t want to leave the house he shared with the love of his life. He lives with pain every day – the pain of missing his soulmate and the pain in his legs from being wounded in Korea. The plastic artery they put in his leg all those years ago now prevents him from getting a knee replacement. His knee can give out on him without warning, so he has to keep his cane handy. (He won’t use a walker.)

Each deliberate step is such a challenge it sometimes pains me to watch him walk. But he’s fiercely independent. His back had been bothering him a lot over the past couple weeks to the point that he could not go to church and stopped going to his cardio rehab. (The “rehab was completed years ago, but he pays to go three times a week for the challenge and the camaraderie.)

“Don’t you think he deserves a break?” I ask God.”  I don’t hear a lot back from that. Just some stuff about how Paul had chronic pain and not to worry about it because God’s Grace has it covered. Stuff I don’t want to hear but should probably listen to.

Last weekend, I was praying extra for my dad and lit a candle for him at church. When I called him Sunday evening, he whispered he couldn’t talk because he was at his church’s Christmas. I was happy to hear that he’d made it.

The next day, I called Dad, and he was so excited! He told me that Sunday morning he woke up with “no pain anywhere!” It was the the first time in years he’d started the day with no pain. It generally takes him a long time to get ready for church with the leg pain and arthritis in his hands. He said it takes him several tries to button his top button so he can put on a tie. Well, last Sunday, he said he talked to God about it:

“God, I’m going to try this one time, and if it doesn’t work, I’m not going to button it,” he said. “I just wont wear a tie.” Dad said he buttoned that button on the first try. He was so excited telling me about that button, like a kid at Christmas. He said everything went great on Sunday. People at church told him they’d missed him, and the Christmas Cantata that night was “absolutely beautiful.” He went on to describe the music and how good it was.

He said that Monday morning he had some twinges of pain, but not as much as usual.

I guess God decided to give my dad a break.No matter what happens, even if the pain comes back, I’m thankful Dad had the gift of a joy filled day without pain. You never know when God is going to give you a miracle day.

dad-and-aunt-ruth

My dad and his “big sister” Ruth a couple years ago on her 92nd birthday.

(The buttons and needles picture is from Pixabay.)


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A Gift You Can’t Buy in the Store, Part 1

wooden-balloon

Tuesday was my last full day at the job I worked for 30 years. In January, I’ll go back for a few hours to wrap up some paperwork and get the rest of my stuff, and there will be a “retirement” party. But these things will be on my terms and at my convenience.

My husband told me he was proud of me for retiring on my terms. But it was because of him that I was able to do it that way, cutting my hours back gradually, building my courage for the leap of faith, trusting that I would be taken care of. My husband, not wanting to contribute to the commercialization of Christmas, doesn’t like to buy presents from a store, but he loves to make things from wood like candle holders and Christmas ornaments like the balloon above. I tend to agree with him. He’s giving me the best gift of all the Christmas – the gift of retirement.

It was hard to say goodbye to my clients. But it was the right decision for me. Now, I get giggly inside, like a kid at Christmas, as I realize I don’t have to go back to the bureaucracy, to the demands to do more in less time – or bringing work home,  or to the witnessing of the wreckage of addiction.

I am forever grateful to have witnessed the triumphs over addiction and for the privilege to be able to help a little. I’m thankful for all that I’ve learned. But I believe I’ve paid my dues. Now, it’s my turn to follow my heart back to its creative home. I’ll probably do a stress management group somewhere, maybe a group with a creative twist! But it will be on my terms.

I will remember all those late nights I drove home exhausted, my hands aching from the keyboard, wondering if I would ever get caught up on the paperwork, wondering if I  could make it another 10 years until social security and medicare kicked in, wondering if those benefits would even be there for me in 10 years.

I will remember praying to God for deliverance, telling myself, God has a plan.

Little did I know how marvelous that plan would be. God was watching me, loving me, encouraging me, and doing the same for my soulmate 700 miles away. God waited for the perfect time, when my soulmate and I were ready to journey together. (And in case you didn’t know, I’m writing a book about that.)

Ten years ago, I asked God to take away the desire for a partner, or to send someone who is a good fit.

Today, I thank God for the gift of my husband who is a good fit. And I thank my husband for the gift of freedom to be me. On my terms. And on God’s terms.

doorway-apostle-island


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Being Held

“The world’s not falling apart, it’s falling into place.” Casting Crowns
Did I have any inkling of this 15 years ago at the end of a 20 year marriage? If I did,  the inkling was overwhelmed by the grief. But now it all makes perfect sense. Sometimes it’s hard to trust the timing, but God is listening, working with us, and has wonderful surprises in store for us.

Loving Me, Too

“You are being held so strongly and so deeply, that you can stop holding on to, or defending, yourself. God forever sees and loves Christ in you; it is only we who doubt our divine identity as children of God.”

___ Richard Rohr in Breathing Under Water.

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