Not too long ago, we celebrated Remembrance Day here in Canada. But, as it turns out, my day of remembering was of a different sort a few days later.
It started like any other ordinary day. I was waking up with my cup of coffee curled under a cozy blanket in my Living Room Lazy-Boy.
My red iPad was in my lap and I sleepily thumbed my way through social media channels and headed over to my favorite blog.
As I read the words on Thistlewood Farms that day, I found myself wiping away tears that simply refused to stop.
Karianne had finally written the post I’d been waiting for. She’d been carefully preparing me (and her other gazillion readers!) for this day.
You see, Karrianne is a home decor blogger. Although we’ve never met, I consider her a friend. I’ve read her work since she started blogging and fallen in love with her & her lovingly crafted Kentucky home.
Now she’s leaving it and moving to Texas.
I. can’t. even.
In typical Karianne fashion, she described her last walk through of her beautiful Kentucky home with such vivid word pictures, I felt like I was standing right there with her.
And I remembered.
I remembered my own story of saying goodbye to a house that I’d poured my heart into.
I remembered how difficult it was to navigate the waters of my own breaking heart while trying to help a group of readers say good-bye to a house with me.
But, more than that, I remembered the agony I never shared here ~ as it was just too raw to put into words.
That good-bye was far more than just saying good-bye to a house with walls with pretty paint colors and open shelves in the kitchen.
That goodbye was part of the most difficult chapter of my life.
It was a time marked by confusion, uncertainty and unknowns. Life as I’d known it had turned upside down.
I’m sure you can understand that although I like to be authentic and open and honest with my words, I need to weigh them very carefully as I talk about this.
Sparing you the details ~ in a nutshell ~ our 24 years of living and working at a place that we’d given our lives & service and loved beyond words was ending very, very badly.
My heart was filled with fear like I’d never known before.
Panic attacks were were my weekly – and sometimes daily – companion, and nights were long and sleepless as my husband patiently talked me through my racing heart, numb arms, shallow breathing, and irrational thinking.
I was beyond scared.
I was terrified.
Many of you have found yourselves in similar situations. I know, because a brave few have told me.
I couldn’t fathom what life could look like beyond the perimeters that we’d lived in for the past two decades.
However, on that big day when I walked out the door of that lovely old house for the last time and said that big goodbye, it was a relief.
That, my friends, was a miracle.
We were stepping out into a big, dark world of unknown, but I was ready.
Fast forward to a few days ago when we were sitting at our weekly Bible Study group. We were discussing questions from last Sunday’s sermon message on Joshua.
We read and pondered the story of Joshua 1-4 where the Isrealites crossed over the Jordon to finally set foot on the promised land.
We pictured how tired the arms of those priests must have been as they stood in the dry riverbank holding up that heavy ark.
And then we came to the stones of remembrance.
God had asked Joshua to have men take out stones from the riverbed and set up a monument so that later on they could look at it and remember what God had done for them.
That word appears often in Scripture, doesn’t it?
It’s important to remember.
In my case, the remembering makes my heart hurt.
But, on the heals of that pain comes the remembering of God’s faithfulness in the darkest days of my life.
I remember the few faithful friends He gave me who prayed, called, visited, and sacrificially gifted things made me feel loved and cherished. It’s not many friends who will join you in the valley. I praise God for those who joined me in mine.
I remember sitting on a bench overlooking the ocean on my birthday and pondered taking my own life. But, God nudged my heart and penetrated my addled brain and told me that was a silly notion. He was there. I remember.
I remember the foggy brain that came with living with panic attacks, and I was relieved when I discovered what would calm them down.
Simplicity was key for me. I would repeat the 2 truthes I learned as a child:
“Jesus loves me.”
“He is with me.”
Those truthes comforted me.
Mostly, I remember feeling loved and cherished by God Himself.
His presence never failed me. He kept whispering in my ear, “I’ve got this” ~ and He did.
As we took each day one step at a time, He cleared away the unknown, foggy path, and showed us His way.
He provided jobs.
He gave us a beautiful and special “in between”house where we could rest, relax, & regroup.
And He (miraculously) provided a way for us to purchase the sweet little townhouse we live in now.
He’s been faithful to wipe away tears that I thought would never stop.
And as I sat there the other night in our friend’s cushy living room couch, I suddenly remembered something else.
My very own stone of remembrance.
To be honest, I’d not thought of it for a while, but it sits outside our front door. I walk by it every time I go in or out.
It was given to me by a sweet lady who probably didn’t know the full extent of my hurting heart the day she gave it to me.
But, she knew our life was changing, and she cared.
I don’t remember her exact words, but it went something like this:
“I made this to remind you that God has a special plan for you. You may not know what it is yet, but there is something beautiful ahead for you.”
And, now we know, there was.
God has been faithful to guide our steps and provide for us just as He did for those children of Isreal who walked across that dry riverbed.
They were participating in a miracle that day and He wanted them to remember.
He’s still in the business of miracles.
The remembering helps me face the todays and tomorrows of this life.
For as I remember God’s faithfulness and presence in the darkest days of my life, it gives me courage to step out ~ with Him ~ knowing that He will provide everything I need to do all that He asks me to do.
As I photographed our Living & Dining Room Christmas decor, the words of this post were simmering in my mind.
It somehow seemed fitting to put the two together.
After all, Christmas is the time of year where we celebrate Jesus coming to earth to be with us.
May you experience the comfort of His presence ~ as I did ~ not just at Christmas time, but throughout all the days of the year.
And to those of you who may be going through the darkest days of your life, can I just give you a word of encouragement? You are loved. You are not alone.