Have you ever had those times in your life when you think, “God, how did I miss this one?” Such is the case with this long and challenging journey which began last week. As I shared, I arrived at my original volunteer destination only to realize this was false advertising. While heading back home, my daughter encouraged me to investigate if another resort or inn could utilize my time and talents. As I knocked on an innkeeper’s door in another village, I was informed “yes, indeed they could use me.” With much kindness and hospitality, they accepted me as a volunteer, but quickly realized this was not beneficial for them.
I’m returning home, but this time not stopping to smell roses along life’s path. I realize that with every event in life, there is a purpose and often a lesson. God is always in the details, even when it appears things went awry. I know if God lays something on my heart again and I pray for Him to direct me, I will not back down from a challenge. However, I will be more cautious and perhaps expend more exploration. Even though I did my research this time, I “missed the mark.”
As in all situations there are positive elements if we choose to seek the optimistic and not the pessimistic. I spent some loving and memorable time with my brother, sister-in-law, niece and her family. I also learned things are not always as they appear. Although, laughingly I acquired that lesson many years ago. Additionally, I was blessed to be a part of the Sunday morning worship service at the church where my brother is interim pastor, interacting with many caring individuals. This was a time to be reminded of I Thess. 5:18 KJV “In everything give thanks…”
As I had shared, I was heading north to WI for a month-long volunteer stint. After two days of driving over 1,150 miles, I arrived at my destination. Shock and disbelief were the first words which came to mind upon arrival. After telephone calls and e-mails to the owners for over two months, I was astounded to see the accommodations were unfit for even my little dog. The room smaller than my closets contained not a bed, but a cot without a full set of linens or even a pillow. There was not a closet nor a rod for hanging my clothes. They knew I was coming with my bicycle and sewing machine as this had been discussed “at length.” The filth and stench of the room allowed me to realize most probably non-human residents would have been bunking with me.
I wondered how anyone would be willing to allow someone to volunteer for them 40 hours per wk. for a full month and then provide accommodations inferior to shelters? As I drove away, the numbness was so enormous I could not even cry. I telephoned my daughter informing her I had no option, but to return back to OK. Not dealing with the situation as I was, she was wise in her counsel. “Mom, there has to be someone else in the area that can use your time and talent.” I said, “you are right.” I will see if I can locate someone. If not, I’m heading back home.”
As I pulled over to the side of the road, I continued the prayer I had begun when viewing the appalling living arrangements at the resort, “God I prayed about this before I began this adventure, so please show me now what you would have for me to do.” I researched resorts and inns in the area. God is always in the details, so He led me to an inn where the owner/innkeeper was present. I inquired about anyone whom could use a retired volunteer for a month. God led and God intervened. Yes, the new inn could use me. So now on day 2 of this adventurous, journey, I’m awaiting what will be in store for me. Psalm 37:23 NKJ “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord and He delights in his way.”
How could anyone desire more? Hearing, inspirational words from Chuck Swindoll and his team on cherishing our family, meeting dozens of other Christians and hopefully making friendships to last a lifetime, viewing God’s majestic handiwork, but most of all making beautiful and treasured memories with my daughter have filled my blessing basket to abundance and overflowing.
I had never been on a cruise, but chose to go on this one, as it was Chuck’s 40th anniversary of Insight For Living and having been a member of his church on two separate occasions, I knew this would be an opportunity I didn’t desire to miss. I also knew there was no one I would rather share these memories with than my beautiful daughter. Words are inadequate to describe all which transpired over the 10 days I was gone. I can only say “thank you God.” Andrea and I had never been on a trip together and this was also a “first” for each of us with the cruise. It was far more than either of us expected, so that too was a joy immeasurable.
As Andrea and I shared often during the trip, it would not have been as memorable had we not shared it with the other 848+ travelers whom were there for Chuck’s tour. As with many things in life, there was a week of “emotional and inspirational highs”, but reality returned. As Chuck shared on our last night of the trip, we can’t spend our lives being waited on as we were for the week aboard the cruise. Nonetheless, what an elation to return home, knowing that all the words we heard and hymns we sung are reminders that God is with us for our every need in every situation.
I depart in the morning for a month-long volunteer commitment. I will share as much of my voyage with you as possible; not disclosing my locale until the conclusion of my journey. Years ago, I promised God for as long as He gives me the stamina and abilities to do His work, I will. No matter what we do or where we go, we are always witnesses for Him. When others know we are God’s children, we can choose to be shining lights or impediments. Matt. 5:16 (NKJ), “let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good words and glorify your Father in heaven.”
Would you love to turn back the clock to where your life was before “whatever”; before your children left home, before you lost that job, before you lost your parents or other loved ones, before your mate left you for someone else, or countless other things in our lives which we don’t want to live? As pastors say often, if we knew what the future held for us, would we do what God desires of us or go where He leads us? However, none of us are given that opportunity. As we all know, today is tomorrow’s past. As we go to bed tonight, today will be history. It will merely be a memory. If we are God’s children, do we allow our todays to count for Him, or do we wish we could “turn back the clock” to another time? We can’t change what others say and do to us. However, we can all make our days and memories count for something, for someone and always for a purpose. Romans 8:28 (NKJV) And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.
I know some of you received the sentiments one year ago, “2018 will be your year.” As we close out this year and begin anew, I know for many of us it was not what we could have called “our year”. As I learned the reality of the abandonment of my ex-husband of 44 years, it brought more sorrow than I believed I could endure; infidelity. I was betrayed a second time; the first when he left me 6 years ago and the second when I learned of his long-term affair, which began while married and hidden from me.
With knowledge of his infidelity he was most happy to tout of his love for her, the trips and times together they share. I have shed more tears these past 8 months than I have shed in my entire life. How grateful I am for God’s promise in Psa. 30:5”…weeping may last for the night, but joy comes in the morning. May each of you have joy for all of 2019.
Over 25 years ago I began a book entitled, The Gift of Giving and Gratitude. Life happened, and the book still lies in a file drawer, unpublished and incomplete. However, having attended countless writer’s groups, workshops and seminars, as well as being a member of local writing organizations, I’ve learned that we can reach an audience from blogs. Thus, the first day and the first page of what I trust will be a daily “read” for years to come. Feel free to share your stories with us, the audience; the readers. Do you have a special gift of giving to others? Did you receive a gift which is is beyond measure? Was it a gift from one’s heart or merely one’s wallet or both. Because my life would not be possible without my faith, then my gifts of gratitude are always based upon I Thess. 5:18: In every thing give thanks…..