Dear Mrs. Elderly

You may not remember me, but I will never forget you.

I was visiting you at your temporary residence in a long term care facility, and you looked longingly out at the beautiful grounds on that late spring day.  The flowers were putting on a show, and you couldn’t afford to waste one more minute lest the rising temperatures would cause you to miss it altogether.

I guided your wheelchair slowly through the winding paths that meandered through carefully kept beds of annuals and perennials. You instructed me about each one, as you reminisced about your own garden at home.

Small talk and flower talk slowly turned to talking of family, and you, slowly and carefully turned the conversation away from yourself, and inquired of mine.  You were like me, you had a boy and three girls, and I spent a few minutes picking your brain for your advice and parenting tips and tricks.  We both agreed that there is a special dynamic with our youngest that we did not see with the others; a special, heart-wrenching, frustrating, worrisome angst that grips and squeezes, and threatens to suffocate even the most prepared, level-headed, practical Momma.  These youngest children (especially girls), we concluded, have a way of pushing our buttons, testing our limits, and trying our patience.  They are the ones that lead us straight to the throne room of heaven, crying out for mercy on behalf of our limitations and failures.

You looked at me, and though you had no way of knowing the battle that was raging at home with my girls, somehow, it seemed you did, and I felt understood.  You took my hand, looked me straight in the eye, and with the conviction of someone who has been there, you said “Don’t you worry about those girls, Lyn.  They will all three grow to be mighty women of God one day.”

Mrs. Elderly, do you know I have clung to those words for five years now?  Do you know, that in the deepest, darkest nights, when I thought God had turned his back on me and my girls, and the devil had won the victory, your words echoed in my mind?  I heard them when my oldest daughter, unmarried, took me out for coffee to tell me she was carrying my first grandchild.

Mighty women of God

I heard them in the midst of second daughter’s panic attacks.

Mighty women of God

I heard them when I drove our youngest daughter to counseling sessions.

don’t worry…one day

Again, when I found drugs in the bedroom and fresh cuts on my baby girls body, when I got a call from the school that she was being sent home, strung out and high from some bad weed that had been slipped to her.

Mighty women of God

Mrs. Elderly, some days, when I couldn’t see or hear God, I heard your words, and I held on a little longer, a little tighter to a promise that I know I heard once, in a garden, from the heart of God through the words of a gentle lady.

Thank you, Mrs. Elderly, for beautiful words spoken in due season.

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Plan A, Plan B

Yesterday, I set out to make breakfast for my husband before he left for work.  I had the sausage browned and crumbled, added the flour to make a roux, and reached for the milk from the fridge.  I didn’t realize until I had started to pour that the milk had soured.  My whole plan for eggs with sausage gravy and toast was ruined.

On to Plan B.  Steak that was to be used for supper later in the week with scrambled eggs and fried spuds.  My husband, who is very much a “meat and potatoes” kinda guy was much pleased with the change in plan, and commented that next time, we should just skip plan A and start with plan B.

Funny, but it made me think.  Plan A is often optimistic, and filled with good intentions.  Much like our plan A  to move to Canada and start a new life there.  We were filled with anticipation, and grand plans of getting to know husband’s side of the family, and be available to assist in the care of his aging father.  This plan also was handy for the purpose of removing our youngest daughter from dangerous surroundings and peers who were dragging her down.  We were led to believe that there was work for my husband there, only to find once we arrived that we had been misled, or at least misinformed.  The certification for the job that he had done for 25 years in the U.S. was not a valid certification in Canada.  To obtain valid certification would require $700 to take a test, that was graded and judged by the same individuals who would then sell modules to bring him up to standard in areas that he may have not been up to par with, in their biased opinion.  We simply did not have that kind of money to gamble away on a potential to have to pay more.  It was a clear conflict of interest, and so, the search for different work ensued.

Long story short, we never did find work sufficient to supporting the four of us there.  Our plan A had fallen flat.  Added to that humiliation and disappointment was unexpected and fractured family dynamics, homelessness, and total dependence on strangers.

Our Plan A was the soured milk on the anticipation and good intended breakfast.

Fast forward a year…our Plan B has landed us in the deep south.  With the help of some beautiful friends and family members, we are slowly but surely getting back on our feet.  We find ourselves in a situation that calls for the same heart desire we had when heading to Canada.  We are getting to know family members that had been distant, and are able to support them in their role of caring for a terminally ill family member.  Our Plan B, right now is steak and potatoes!  It’s not perfect, definitely not what we expected, but there are a lot of really good things coming out of our failed Plan A…things that require the same heart intentions we had when preparing for the move to Canada.

What if our Plan A was the means to bring about God’s Plan A in us?

What if God’s plans (being higher than our plans…his ways above our ways) are not labeled alphabetically or numbered according to importance.

What if the way we view “all things working together for good” is not about how pleasant and smooth the circumstances are, or how great we feel, or how we perceive “good” to be.

What if the good He’s bringing about is not about the tangible things at all…but in the hidden work He is doing in us, his workmanship.

What if it really is all about me!?  Me becoming less, so that He can become more…me being pressed into the mold of Jesus, being conformed to His image.

What if knowing God’s will…His Plan A, if you will…is as simple as Micah 6:8.

He has shown you, Oh man, what is good and what the Lord requires.  To do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with Your God.

If we were intent on fulfilling the most simply stated “will of God”, it wouldn’t matter if we were in Idaho, Canada, the deep south or Timbuktu.

If we are loving God with all of our heart soul and mind;

if we are behaving ourselves in a just, merciful, and humble way;

if we are loving our neighbor as ourselves, and doing all that we do for the glory of God; then we are accomplishing God’s Plan A for our lives, where ever we may find ourselves.