Sometimes you don’t want advice. Perhaps that’s why I’ve pulled back the last couple of years. This blog has been barely touched. No new books written. I’ve even been more quiet in “real” life–with most of my face-to-face community.
I’m trying to figure things out. And well, frankly that’s exhausting. The thing is, I really don’t want a plethora of other voices adding to my confusion in a particular area of my life. I want to learn to rest in the hope of the One Voice who leads. Trust in the One who knows the end from the beginning. But it’s been a long two years around this issue–and I do need prayer support. But I’m not ready to talk about that yet–I promise I will. At the end of this post.
The whole fear of advice thing is not all that’s going on. Life has simply taken a lot of energy and left little for blogging. After Jerry’s heart attack almost two years ago, we began a health journey that required our focus. Much of the last two years was about doctor’s appointments, diet change, and adjusting. (I talked a little about that here.) The exciting update is that Jerry is healing!!
But even though I think of the last two years as hard, not all has been hard. Some of it has been incredibly good, wondrously good, gloriously good!
My son Sam married the beautiful Ariel!
I spoke at retreats and a writer’s conference and gave a keynote at the Whole and Free Women’s Conference.
I traveled to NYC (which I actually told you about) and then to Afghanistan to serve with an NGO (non-governmental agency). Maybe someday I can dig deep enough to write of the great impact of that experience. Today I’ll share only one quote from a brave, female health care worker in Afghanistan. Through an interpreter she thanked me and said, “We know that you come from a place that is safe and traveled to a place that is not safe to encourage us.”
Yes, I cried.
A bonus for this huge life event was that I was part of an all-women’s service team–and my daughter was one of the team leaders! So I got to experience this humbling, beautiful, painful place with her.
I came home from these trips and couldn’t rest until I found a way to connect with an Afghan woman nearby. I’d simply fallen in love with these beautiful, courageous, resilient women. I found my place as an in-home English tutor for an Afghan refugee. What precious, precious moments this woman and I have shared! We don’t know much of each other’s story–we don’t have enough words in common to tell our stories. But we share each other’s hearts. We are women. We are mothers. We want to love, grow, and expand.
Back to the home front–Jerry and I celebrated 30 years of marriage with a week in the mountains!
And . . . Drum roll please . . .
Jerry and I became grandparents! Oh the joy!
There’s more. So much more I could write of God’s blessings. Our small group. The women’s Bible study. Faithful friends. It’s good to stop and remember. Any time. But maybe especially when you start a post with the words, “sometimes I don’t want advice” and admit that you’ve pulled in.
So let’s loop back to my “more on that later” promise.
The thing that has been the most draining for me (except of course for the emotion you feel when you almost lose a spouse and then watch them fight their way back to living over a two-year period) is that I was totally unprepared to be the primary wage earner for our family.
Jerry and I have always lived on a small, one-income (his!) budget. It wasn’t easy raising four children this way. But we believed I was called to some primary things–being a writer, speaker, and homeschooling mother (not necessarily in that order). So we limped along to allow me to do the things I’m passionate about. Making an income through books, speaking, and the occasional article was/is feast or famine. (Well, to be honest it’s more like a normal meal or famine. Never really a feast.)
God was incredibly gracious to me right after Jerry had his heart attack and was unable to work. Our Lord miraculously paid every single bill for six months. I’m so thankful. I really didn’t have it in me to figure out how to make more money on top of all we were dealing with. God is good. Faithful. Steady.
Next God provided me with a ghost writing job with the potential to support us for a while. The work started more slowly than expected, which freaked me out. (You can think you’ve been tried and tested and grown in faith–and I had–but then comes something that draws your faith in a whole new way and though you truly thought you were done with freaking out (because you know your God is good) you find yourself there again.)
Eventually the work became somewhat steady. I loved being able to bring in more consistent income while holding onto the flexible schedule that allowed me to drive Jerry to the doctor, occasionally babysit my granddaughter, and continue tutoring my friend. (And take the occasional speaking engagement, service trip, etc.)
But it was a huge learning curve. This trying to become the primary provider.
(Okay, not was. Is.)
For too many months I stressed over every penny I thought I needed to make. It was hard to balance my schedule, much less my checkbook. Finally, I learned to trust, to believe God was providing, and lean into the work without freaking out. (To date I’ve sold 78 stories to this company.)
But not long after I was able to wrestle my fears, questions, and stress to the ground–Not long after I was doing better at leaning on God–Not long after I could work without freaking, the project began winding down. Which meant the work slowed down. Which meant the paychecks did too.
The project is almost completed. I may have enough work to get us through October.
(I know I just asked, but . . . um . . . please don’t give me advice.)
Last night I lay awake freaking again.
It’s so not how I thought I’d learned to live with Him. It’s so not how God wants me to live. It so not how I want to live.
I know I am a capable, educated, talented woman. I have skills. Marketable skills. I also have dreams. Whether or not they are marketable remains to be seen. And then there are the hopes I treasure . . . .
I’m not sure where all of those intersect. I’m not sure if they will anymore. I’m not sure how to move forward.
And I am so very sad. And tired. And afraid.
Please pray for me.
Earlier today I did part of what I love. I wrestled with a new spiritual truth that excited me. And I wrote it out to share with others. (I’ll post it here tomorrow–and on my author/speaker page on Facebook.) I have a feeling this new understanding of a Bible passage I’ve previously misunderstood relates to the struggle. Not because it is a direct correlation, but because–as you can read tomorrow–what we see in the mirror matters. (What I wrote talks about what we can see.) But I have a feeling I’m barely beginning to understand the vast applications of that view. Maybe instead of worrying as I climb into bed tonight, I’ll ponder that.
Meanwhile, here in Colorado, I’m just a grandma looking for Jesus. Believing He’s hanging onto me and being grateful for that, because my hang-er-on-er strength feels faint. Sometimes I don’t get that. How God can be so good, so faithful, so kind–and still I feel things that don’t match who I know Him to be. Tonight I may feel overwhelmed, scared, a bunch of things that don’t speak to the truth of the power of my God, but I promise you this. I still seek Him. I still love Him. I still reach for Him.
He IS my all in all.
Until next time,
Tagged: becoming a provider, career, dreams, family, fear, joy
Wowza! That’s a lot, girl. I’ll have to read back through this more carefully when I’m not half-asleep but for now just know that I’m proud of you and excited to see what God is doing (even if it’s hard). Love you so much! – Janice
What an encouragement to hear from you tonight, my friend. I have so much respect for you!
I love you and your transparency. Your words are an encouragement to anyone who struggles, as we all do. I love how you cling to God. He IS faithful. Hang in there.
Thank you dear Megan.
I love you my friend!
I think our words are most beautiful when we’re feeling vulnerable, which you’ve proven here. I am praying for you as our loving Lord walks with you through this unpredictable time.
And your words are a balm, too, Erin. Thank you.
I love your honesty! I can relate to many of your feelings. God is good and only He knows his plans for us. I’m praying He sends you a gift of his love tomorrow. 💕
Thanks dear Monique! Praying for you and the big changes you guys have made. Much love to you.
Dear God, thank you for growing Paula’s writing skills from her heart and personal journeys. Please open new doors of income generating opportunities through the beautiful gifts You have entrusted to her and may she prosper even as her soul prospers.
PS. I love your writing!!
Thank you dear Faith. When I feel especially discouraged I turn my mind to our prayer time together and hold on to the promises given. And thank you for this prayer as well.
No advice. Just praying and sending love.💗🙇♀️💗
perfect. Thank you so much!