For the second year in a row, Eric and I have been able to take about a week of October to visit fall. We left the aftermath of a recent SoCal heat wave and drought inspired water restrictions for a few days in America's rain soaked and lake spattered Midwest. We've sampled many variants of Wisconsin cheese, reconnected with old friends from the seminary, tucked in a couple local tourist spots, enjoyed work and play with dear friends also collected from around the country, and eaten more sausages and brats than any human needs to ingest in such a short time span. All while feeling like we have been able to cheat an extra week from the cadence of chemo - it has been beautiful.
And it has carried some hard. As much as I don't want to dwell in the mist of the past or the imaginings of the future, I remember last year's fall in New York and how blissfully carefree we played through the city. I wonder if we will have the same ability to frolic next fall, when we plan to return to the city that never sleeps. The shape of this coming year is still so unknown, although I do know that in reality, that is true of every year, every month, every single day. There is both a beauty and a hard to recognizing this unknown more frequently than before.
I am currently on a tiny puddle jump of an airplane connecting my way from Madison, Wisconsin to St. Louis, Missouri to speak for a seminary wives retreat. I am so excited to meet and spend time with the women there! And yet every time I have an engagement to speak, in the days immediately preceding the event I get caught in a period of rough. Yesterday morning it arrived with a vengeance.
What is silly is I often forget about this bout until it is quite on top of me. Or, maybe even more silly, I think I have conquered whatever shape or form it has previously taken, and therefore must finally be immune. In previous shades it has appeared as "I have absolutely NO idea what I am doing!!", or, "I cannot stand in front of everyone looking like THIS!", and, "I have zero credentials to be telling anyone anything...what am I thinking!?!"
But yesterday it was a bit different. It started as a niggling discontent that quickly blossomed into agitation. I put on praise music, to connect with God and begin to localize the source of my ire, but my usual feed had been replaced with a recorded baptism service. I listened, a tad annoyed (ok, I was in the shower and couldn't get to it to turn it off and grew increasingly annoyed), for a short while as one by one a stage full of individuals declared their love for the One True God, until I huffily dripped my way across the room to shut it off. This was not what I wanted - how can a girl connect with God which all this talking going on!!
My heart felt just under the very surface of my skin, and a few pesky tears fell as I applied my makeup. I was focused on everything that still needed to be done that day (our conference, finalizing my Power Point, and a very important fifth step sit down with a sponsee), the impossibility of the timing of it all, and I ultimately landed most heavily on the fact that I would be missing Eric's next chemo due to travel arrangements. Eric returned from his morning coffee run to a teary me, hugged me tight and falteringly offered "Do you just want to stay in the hotel this morning and miss the session?"
But I didn't...I wanted to be with the precious people we were about to return to. "Good mornings" were exchanged, "How are you's" answered honestly, and more tears fell. I was enveloped in love and prayer. And during one specific prayer, asking for protection and peace, I felt my entire spirit drench with peace. Simple, extravagant, beyond understanding peace. I adjusted plans and released a vital item from the day's to do list, and received grace from the individual I was not going to get to. And the day went beautifully on.
And now I'm on my way, hurtling through the sky over the pastoral fall Midwest toward expectant ladies, bringing only what has been prepared through our mess and what I can testify has been done in me.
And God. Not that I'm bringing Him, per-say, but He will be there.
The thing is, God has only ever exceeded expectations. As broken, messy and doubt filled as I am, He always meets his kids when we call to Him...in fact He was there all along. And however He uses this weekend, my part is to go, to be, to speak what He has done and release all of the rest. And every single time I have been privileged to do those simple things in the past, He has transformed them into outright amazing things.
If you are a pray-er, please cover us this weekend. Please pray for the incredible not-yet-friends that I am about to meet. For our loved ones, theirs and mine, in whatever circumstances surround them, that they are well at home. That these brave women who are about to be launched out into ministry are met exactly where they need to be in Holy Spirit Power. And that by that same Power I am able to stand and speak Truth, in full peace and love.