This weekend I had the privilege of spending much of my time around one of my dearest sister-friends.
Not only did she come an hour up the freeway for my birthday/going-away bash, but then she stayed overnight with us...spending a fun girls-night followed by an afternoon of helping with my to-do's.
As I've said many times already, there's absolutely NOTHING like such circumstances such as these to remind you how prepared God has made you... how perfectly and specifically placed and set into your life people are. Julie is not coincidental. Nor is anyone else.
For any of you out there who still think things in your life 'just happen'... that there is not One, True, Awesome God at the helm, with a bigger plan, beyond ANY of this and ANY of us... I beg of you...
give Him a chance!
Yesterday, as I packed my things... frames, inspirational sayings, trinkets and jewelry--most all things from loved-ones--I found myself looking around at the rooms in my house. That spot on my wall where a wedding photo, now in my suitcase, used to hang. Another on the mantel where a family photo taken in a Eugene orchard near Aaron's parents by one of my lovely and talented sisters not more than two years ago (BEFORE I had cancer), gone... packed.
As I found and packed more and more items of inspiration for my hospital room, things around me were beginning to feel 'bare'...
Ignoring those feelings, I turned my eyes back on God, crooned away to the Christian music my husband was blaring over the living room speakers---probably shoving the 'dust under the rug' in much the same way as me---and stayed focused on my list.
A little while later, before Julie took off for home, a topic in conversation brought up the fact that, sadly, she had never seen my newest studio-space. When at a good stopping point in our duties, Aaron she and I loaded up the kids and had her follow us just four blocks up the road to our offices.
As soon we pulled in, I found myself thinking about how I wouldn't be pulling in here for a while... and as soon as Aaron unlocked and pushed the door open, that same wash came over me, once more.
How picked up the main room was, all the books re-shelved--which my students know is never usually the case. ;) Same with the play-room... picked up with absolutely NO sign of being used again for some time. As I proudly toured Julie through, telling her about things on the walls and pointing out all my music-related decors and treasures from students and parents over the years... I found myself inwardly beginning to yearn for yesterday...when things felt FULL.
As we finished up and closed the door, I gulped back the tears, gave her a long hug goodbye, received her deepest prayers and refocused on our agenda.
Later that night, as I found myself STILL consumed by the empty thoughts, I called my angel-mom to 'say goodnight'--which fortunately, she knows in these cases is a plea for prayer and support.
How guilty I felt to have spent the near entire week literally SURROUNDED by visitors offering hugs and prayer and yet feeling more empty than ever before.
As I began to sign off with my mom there was a pause... followed by her again... 'Do you want me to stay on the line just a little bit longer?'
Cue my tears.
Her again 'Oh honey, Do you need me to come tuck you in?'
Like a scared, lonely little child I respond, 'Yes.'
Within 10 minutes she, her best-friend and my dad were all here.
I was just getting the little men to bed with our nightly bible-study routine when they arrived.
The three of them found a spot on the couches and just listened, giggled at my little men's usual questions and comments about the stories and pictures, and soaked us in while we finished up.
How appropriate our lesson was... like EVERYTHING ELSE... it felt 'planned', even though I had just started where we'd left off the night before.
As my little men repeated the final message 'My God is the One True God' and I listened to my eldest first, then my littlest recite it, God impressed the message deeper and deeper onto my heart.
HE. IS. GOD. There is NO OTHER LIKE HIM.
When the boys and I were done, mom, dad, Jonnie, Aaron, myself and our two little men sat and praised God, claiming in one accord, His Glory in this... His Name... His Purpose of allowance... and as we did, my peace... my Perfect Peace, returned.
As we were putting the boys to bed, Grayson asked me to change his 'nice, warm music' that we play each night on an iHome in their room to another song. As I went to do so, I saw the title 'Empty Me' and chose it.
I kissed and hugged my two little blessings, said my goodbyes to my parents and Jonnie and retired off to bed with the hubby.
As I laid there in bed, helping Aaron put together an inspirational music compilation to take with on my iPod, I couldn't stop muttering those words and the words to that song (which, by the way, was written by a good church friend of ours from our Portland church-family)...
Empty me. Lord, Empty me.
Fill, won't you fill me. With you. WITH YOU.
As those words swirled around in my mind and the prayers of the night sunk in...
moment by moment, the Peace filled me deeper.
I sit here now and look around my great-room and feel the emptiness of 'our normal'....but as I type, I am reminded that in THAT emptiness, I am filled to the point of Over-Flowing, with the One, True, Great God... and through Him, my peace is restored.