The Right Time

Sometimes we don’t have the benefit of knowing when our words or actions affect someone else, and sometimes we can’t see how or why things happen.  This post is about a chain of events that has affected me deeply- where everything happened at the right time; so perfectly that I know it’s more than coincidence.  This post may get lengthy, but I do hope you take time to read it.

I saw this rainbow when I stopped at the store at just the right time
I saw this rainbow when I stopped at the store at just the right time

I’ve wanted to write this post for nearly two weeks, but I couldn’t figure out where to begin.  Now I’m thinking it simply wasn’t the right time because more has happened since the initial events I wanted to write about.

The Sunday before Thanksgiving, I sat in church as the pastor delivered one of the most dreaded sermons: giving.  It has to be one of the most uncomfortable topics to discuss, both for the pastor and the congregation.  I have sat through many of these sermons, and frankly, have found some of them to be offensive and condescending.  I felt differently this time, though.  I heard the right words at the right time.  The thought came to me that I should write and let him know.  Just as quickly, I told myself that was crazy talk because of our history.  Here’s a brief summary:

I won’t go into a lot of detail because my kids could possibly get their noses out of their games and come across this blog, but earlier this year, after I filed for divorce and other things didn’t convince me to change my mind, my husband scheduled a counseling session for us with my pastor- behind my back.  He isn’t Christian and rarely attended church, so I saw it as manipulation (also concluded by other things he’d done.)  I went to the session, but felt forced into it.  The pastor affirmed that divorce is wrong and made a comment about how my hardened heart would cause me trouble in the future.  I was upset because I felt unfairly judged, but I continued to attend church, however, avoided the pastor when possible.

Still, for nearly a week, my thoughts drifted to the pastor’s words from the giving sermon.  On Saturday night, I wrote an offering check to give on Sunday.  I then penned a hand-written note to the pastor and folded it around the check before sealing it in the envelope.  In this note, I admitted that I had been thinking I would give an offering once my credit card bills were paid and I wasn’t living in a house I couldn’t afford and I now realized that this showed my lack of faith in God.  That check was a symbolic leap of faith to show that I was finally putting my trust in God that He would provide.  I also wrote that I didn’t really feel welcome there since the counseling session, but the money was for God not the church.  I wrote other things- a full page, in fact, but I can’t remember exactly what.

To my surprise, I received a letter from the pastor.  I don’t check my mailbox often, but I did on my way to work on December 9th (over a week after he wrote it.)  In this letter, he told of how he’d been discouraged because the offerings once again didn’t meet budget.  Some of his exact words:  “I said to myself, “You know, I’m not going to preach on giving anymore because it never makes a difference.  I don’t know how people can take it so lightly.  Then I read your letter.  Wow! It didn’t raise the offering any, but it reminded me of the real truth that it is God’s money and He always provides.  Your letter was like the voice of the Lord to me.”  He then assured me that I was welcome there and to let him know if I needed financial or emotional support.

I teared up.  My words reached him at just the right time.  And the knowledge of that reached me at the right time as well.  I would never ask for a handout, but knowing emotional support was available came as a relief.  He ended the letter instructing me to be at ease and know they were here for me.  Life didn’t feel nearly as heavy.

That is where I first thought this post would end, with the message that we should never shy away from complimenting or showing love because it could very well be a case of the right words or actions being delivered at the right time.  But like most late-night infomercials, life said, “but wait… there’s more!”

The same day I read the letter from my pastor, I got home from work to find a pallet of pellets sitting by my front door.  (Pellets are a type of fuel made from recycled wood products and sawdust and are packaged in 40-lb bags.  I use these in my pellet stove to heat the house.)  I searched the plastic wrapping and found the store phone number and called because I knew there was a mistake.  The woman looked up my information and said, “aw, that’s so sweet…. all it says here is ‘gift.'”  I asked if she was serious and she said, “sweetie, someone gave you a $300 gift, be happy.”  I was, but I still cried.  I have no idea who did this, but I hope they know how grateful I am. I’m able to keep the house a little warmer, which is good for my younger son (that is another post.)

This is what a pallet of pellets looks like after I unloaded it into my garage
This is what a pallet of pellets looks like after I unloaded it into my garage

The gift of heat came at the right time.  Knowing I have what I need to heat the house until at least mid-January lifted a huge burden.  My house has been on the market since before summer and I’d been told winter months are slow for real estate, so I settled in for a long winter.

A few days after that generous gift, an offer came on the house – it’s now in escrow.  I found another (much smaller) house and she accepted my offer.  Inspections are next week.  It’s all happened so quickly and it’s a blur – especially during the holidays, but it’s all happened at exactly the right time.

Last week, I qualified for a home loan.  Even with the worst-case spousal support payout to my soon-to-be-ex, I qualified.  More relief.  As I was reading through the required documents, I saw ‘divorce decree’ listed.  The loan officer confirmed that the final decree was needed to fund the loan.  Trial is scheduled near the end of January, and my new house is scheduled to close the beginning of February.  If my house would’ve sold during the busy summer season, I wouldn’t have been able to get a loan.  I didn’t know that.

All of this is proof to me that even if things don’t happen on my time, they do happen at the right time.  It’s also shown me there is comfort in loosening my white-knuckle grip on control and trusting that God will provide.  I have a feeling that as I learn to share more freely, I will experience some positive life-changing side-effects.

If you’re reading this, it means you survived this lengthy post.  Thank you for not giving up!  I will keep up with blog reading as best I can, but the next month or so will be really crazy for me.  Just know, it is only temporary 🙂

Have a beautiful Monday and I hope you enjoy the blessings of the season!

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The “More” Train

My train of thought:  this is a pig race... it's similar to a rat race, which is just like a ride on the "more" train.
My train of thought: this is a pig race… it’s similar to a rat race, which feels just like a ride on the “more” train.

So I opened up my laptop Sunday afternoon to finally work on some fiction, only to discover something else I needed to say first.   For days I’ve been trying to root out the cause of my  anxiety.  I traced it to several things, but all paths seem to lead me back to the moment I bought my ticket and climbed aboard the “more” train.

Huh?

Let me explain a little.  Not too much because this is a blog post, not a full autobiography (you can thank me later for skipping details!)  Several years ago, I took my seat on the “more” train.  I stretched my legs and settled in for what I expected would be a luxurious ride.  I convinced myself that a bigger house would solve my problems.  I believed a new location would bring contentment.  I naively poured all my hope for a future into that move.

Sitting on the other side of the experience, I laugh at my naivety.  The “more” train turned out to be a one-way trip to a miserable place where more is never enough.  But I learned something… well, a few somethings, really:  more house doesn’t make old problems go away, it just provides ample space for them to grow; a change of location doesn’t mean a clean slate; and more stuff doesn’t fill the emptiness inside someone.

The “more” train takes you right to the “more” monster.  It is insatiable.  The more you feed it, the more it wants.  And it never gets full.  EVER!  The bigger house and the land wasn’t enough.  New wants kept sneaking onto a never-ending list.  Then came complaints about not having money (well, duh- it’s expensive to feed the “more” monster.)

I’m finding it’s also expensive to get out of the “more” monster’s clutches.  For the first time in thirteen years, I have credit card debt and it’s increasing every month.  I struggle with stress over whether I can escape without being completely buried in debt.  I pray for peace in this regard, although I have no one to blame but myself.

I have faith that one day, I will be permitted to transfer to a different “more” train- the one that leads to more time with family and friends, more compassion, more kindness, more memories that I actually want to close my eyes and look back on.  I want less tangible and more intangible.  The currency of this “more” train is human interaction, not dollars.

I guess the point of this post is to urge anyone tempted by the lure of acquiring “more” stuff to don’t do it.  I can’t stress that enough- DON’T DO IT!  If you think that expensive handbag, the iPad, the Corvette, the new-latest-and-greatest-whatever will make your life better- it won’t.  Sorry, but it’s the truth.  Please, put your wallet away and spend some quiet time contemplating what’s missing inside.

Then, go visit a friend, or volunteer your time for a cause you care about, or just say “good morning” to a stranger and really mean it.

Have a beautiful Monday!  (I sincerely mean that 🙂 )

One Night With Josie

 On Friday night, my heart overruled my mind.  It’s not the first time, and I’m afraid it won’t be the last.

Josie's 1st Night With Us

A couple months ago, my husband asked the Cub Scout assistant den leader (I’ll call her Sarah) to let us know if she had leads on any Yorkshire Terriers that needed a home.  I remember raising my eyebrows at this request because we have a Golden Retriever, Yorkie Poo and 3 cats already.  Never mind the two growing boys running around our house.

This conversation began because Sarah happens to work at the veterinarian office that our family (parents/aunts/uncles and us) have used for over twenty years.  The odd thing about this connection between us is that the assistant leader lives on the next street from us, but the vet’s office is a twenty-minute drive.  There are dozens of veterinarian offices closer, but she is employed there.  It’s also interesting because we don’t remember meeting Sarah until our sons joined Cub Scouts.

On Friday, Sarah called.  A ten year old Yorkie was just surrendered to them.  She told us the dog had a seizure and the owners couldn’t afford to test and find out what was wrong, so they left the dog at the vet’s office.

A ten year old Yorkie with seizures?  My mind spoke up and said “I don’t’ think we can afford to handle that.”

Sarah explained that seizures can happen once and never happen again, or they could occur more often.  They don’t medicate until the frequency is five times a month.  If we didn’t take her they were going to have to put her down that night.

This is where my heart duct-taped my mind and stuffed it in a closet.  I told her I needed to call my husband.  Like me, my husband’s inclination was to say “no.”  But when faced with (her) death, he didn’t hesitate before asking when he could pick her up.  (One of the many reasons I love my husband – he seems tough and crusty on the outside, but he’s soft and gooey on the inside.)

Josie is a beautiful, sweet dog.  My heart aches for her because she is in a strange place and doesn’t know that we already love her and will give her the best life we can.  All she knows is that she isn’t home.

My breath catches with every twitch or odd movement.  I hope Josie’s situation isn’t worse than the owners let on.  This is where my mind goes when I try to figure out why the owners surrendered Josie to the vet.  I don’t understand how one can leave a pet like that.  I think I’d do things differently.

But really, when it comes down to it, it doesn’t matter what I think I would have done in that situation.  All that matters is that God brought Josie into our lives.  He has blessed us with the compassion to allow our hearts to speak for our minds.

After one night with Josie, I’d experienced a range of emotions and prayed for guidance.  In this short time, I was reminded that life is a gift and love is stronger than fear.

You scared of moi?