Try as we might, we cannot stay "up" all the time. Feelings can change so quickly. I think of a summer thunderstorm that rolls in during the afternoon. One minute the sun is shining, and it is beautiful. The next minute dark clouds have overtaken the sky, and a storm is quickly approaching. We have been run off the beach more than a few times by the beach patrol when such a storm was heading toward us.
I want to assure anyone reading that I have my moments when the emotional thunderstorms roll in. Sometimes they are just that, moments. Other times, they last for days. I try to "keep my chin up" and keep a positive attitude, but some days it is harder than others. At times a positive and happy attitude happens naturally, and other times it takes a conscious effort to choose to be happy. One thing is certain: I cannot do it in my own capacities. My friend Patti Davis gave me this great little cross. It is wooden and carved in a kind of twisted shape. It was carefully carved in a shape to fit in the palm of your hand. I have started keeping that cross with me at all times. When I find myself going "down," I grab the cross and tightly hold it in my grip and offer up a prayer to God. Seeing that cross reminds me that no matter how I feel or what is going on in my life, there is one place that I can run to for safety from the storm. Often, just this prayer is enough to pull me out of the shadows of darkness. Other times, however, even after praying with all my might, I still find myself in the shadows. It is at these times that I just continue to ask God to be with me, and I say to myself, "Tomorrow will be a better day."
Today is a great big tomorrow for me that is following several weeks of struggling with ups and downs of this crazy journey. Last week, I got a call from my friend, Leigh Shirer. She had a ticket to the Deeper Still Conference in Birmingham that she could no longer use because her husband is having knee surgery. She wanted to give me the ticket. I called her to say, "Thanks, but no thanks. I just don't need to take off work." Somehow, less than two minutes into the conversation, she had talked me into taking the ticket. When I hung up the phone, I wondered what had just happened. But within five minutes I found myself getting "blissfully excited" about the conference. I know in my heart that God has orchestrated this trip for me as a time of rest and renewal as I wrap up the end of my first year in this Unplanned Journey. Let me tell you, He worked out every single detail of the trip. My principal assured me that it was okay to take the day off work. I found out my good friend, Brenda, is going with her sister in law. She graciously offered for me to ride up there with her and let me stay with them in their hotel room. And if all that isn't enough, God just piled one more thing on the top. I received a text yesterday from one of my very best college friends. She saw on Facebook that I was going to the conference. She is going as well. So I also get to reconnect with her. I tell you this. God is just showing off.
As I come to the end of the first year of my journey, I can say this: I would not be where I am today if it were not for my God, my family, my friends, my coworkers, and my students. It is hard to believe that it has only been a year. I feel like the lessons that I have learned this year should have been learned in half a lifetime. But one thing is for certain. This year has made my faith rock solid. I had an amazing tutor in Christ who carried me every step of the way through this crash course in handling life's difficulties. I would not be where I am today and at this emotional state of healing if it were not for Him. I feel as if this weekend is the icing on the cake that He has been baking with me all year. I know that many of you are traveling your own Unplanned Journey. Please don't travel your journey alone. You have a loving Father who wants to hold your hand and travel with you. It is hard. I will admit. It is a journey of faith and trust. But with Him, you can and will make it.
Proverbs 3:5-6 (King James Version)
Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.
In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths.