As I sit outside in the lil area I have made for my family, writing this post, I think of winter from two perspectives, just the word "winter" puts chills up your spine. The frigid feelings of discomfort and discontent, ice, barren trees, shorter days and longer nights. Fading memories of fun filled sunshine, grilling out with family, bike rides and for me afternoons enjoying gardening. The DEAD of winter! Barren and lifeless! But I don't agree! I spent one winter, my only winter in the Carolina's, and it was AWESOME! Not depressing at all!! I remember our home, nestled up on the mountain, curled up by the crackling fire listening to the children's chatter, Kenny and I reconnecting after many years of being "busy". The excitement of the next big snow storm, being shut in and forced to spend days with only each other. The mountains and city covered in fresh fallen snow was absolutely breath taking. It is a reminder that God does exactly as His pleases, on His schedule, not ours! He conducts the universe. Tells the seasons when to come and when to change. Not the other way around. I loved winter, I didn't see it as barren or lifeless, I saw it as exzilerating and refreshing and exciting! Probably much different than how you see it. Tons of material is written today on motivating but very little is written about finishing well. Also, alot is available to get you motivated and excited but what really carries you and keeps and inables you to go the distance? Plenty of books with game plans and ideas and how to set your goals and so much of it very helpful, but I know myself, how many times have I made a game plan, bought all the necessary supplies, did all the start up work only to see it fizzle out and die. How about starting from the opposite end for a change? How about not losing heart even though the project or the calling has lost it's appeal. Or the limelight, or the accolades, or the rock star status. Our attention span has been reduced to about 30 seconds, has also our commitment. Working through conflict in a marriage is a struggle so our divorce rate is out of control. We are just not problem solvers, we don't do it, we avoid doing it, and we have not taught our children how to do it. I reflect back to when I left Tallahassee to move to North Carolina without Kenny and I knew it would take dedication, the excitement of a new place, a new environment, the stress of the finances, all that would all wear off quickly and the discipline and guts would have to carry me through. I had a plan where we would sleep, where the children would go to school, how we would work the chores, I was certainly motivated, but I absolutely didn't understand what it would take to survive the emotional roller coaster that I would experience ahead. We didn't know exactly how long it would be before Kenny would be joining us, but I knew it wouldn't be soon. I remember laying in bed after we had been to church one Wednesday night, crying out to God, why was I in this position, no husband, no home, no car, stripped of everything. It always seems when words fail me the tears flow. Tears have their own language that needs no interpretation. I heard a doctor say our inner-communication system knows when to admit its verbal limitations.... and that is when the tears come. Well they were coming that night. When our soul is overwhelmed with all kinds of emotions good or bad, and words cannot describe, tears appear. It was one of those bone chilling nights, and I had no one to curl my body next to feel the warmth of their body. I was all alone, alone to carry the burden of what life had dealt us, I would face the children, the public social services, and I would face them alone. 600 miles separated me from my husband of 25 years, and not by divorce or an affair or some dark secret, really I didn't have an answer for why we found ourselves here. Some curse, some punishment? Why God, why? I would watch families as they would come and go into church and I could feel the bitterness come into my soul like the winter I described above, dark and gloomy, heavy like it was choking the life out of me. It felt like the burning I felt , when I would run on a cold morning and my lungs would fill with the cold mountain air. I often joked that Beelzebub rears her ugly head, but lately it seemed she lived next to my bed. I drew my knees to my chest and cried quietly, I was lost for words to even pray. I thought how easy it was to write a game plan and expect the best and get all caught in the plan making and not really think about completing the task, or following through to the end, and I felt deceived, deceived by God, like Jeremiah the prophet of the Bible, God why have You deceived me, You have overcome me and You have prevailed. I have become the laughingstock all day, everyone mocks me, all day. For Your service I feel like reproach and derision has come to me all day long. I felt like I had given my entire life to God and the church and I was stripped of everything and left with nothing. Nothing but humiliation and dishonor. Dishonor to God, my Country, my children, my self, my church, everything I believe in. I just felt like He was absent, His silence was more than I could take. It just seemed so opposite His character. Even the prophet Jeremiah said, I will not remember Him or speak of Him anymore in His name. God, the ministry is out, I am done! I will have no credibility I can never show my face. Why have you brought me this far to fail me now. I wouldn't say it out loud for anyone to hear me, but none-the-less I felt it in my heart. It was there. And I knew it was not going away. I drifted that night into the darkness feeling alone and desperate and angry. As I look around at my sitting area and this lil beach cottage I call it, which is no more than a dilapidated trailer, it really all goes back to perspective, just like the winter I spoke of earlier, at that time in my life I saw my life as over. I felt disillusionment and felt like I was drowning in despair, and my anguish had taken over, I felt my ministry was over, my reputatation was shot I would have no credibility or no voice. But what I realized was the despair and the disillusionment I had felt and the problems I had been through the past 3 yeas had become my ministry. All thoses things had become my voice, bigger than I had ever imagined. If we constantly avoid problems we also avoid the growth that comes along with the problems. I know when I am so hard headed as to just keep pushing a problem away instead of meeting it head on it just keeps coming right back around until I meet it head on. I began to view these problems as a sort of God-appointed teacher ready to teach me and a take me out of my comfort zone and challenge me and deepen my faith in Him. And boy had that happened. Just like me sharing my story. My idea of what my ministry was to be, has TOTALLY changed from what I thought it would be, to what it has become. As I look up at the beautiful tree above me decorated with Christmas lights, the chill of air, my lil cottage looks warm and cozy, my soul surges with a cleansing fire of confidence and renewed sense of hope and determination swelling up inside me. The disillusionment is quietly replaced with the reassurance as He reminds me of the old hymn It is well with my soul, It Is well with my soul! And thank God it is, because I am weak and I doubted, but divine reassurance had returned, divine perspective has provided a fresh breeze of hope in the lowest times of my despair. So my ministry was never in jeopardy at all, or my reputation, God had it in His control the entire time!!! Because of my reputation and what I have lost and suffered I have reached and touched more people than I had ever imagined possible. My suffering has joined me to the suffering and the pains of others, it has made me more human than I could have ever imagined. Now I truly can weep with those who weep and rejoice with those who rejoice, I am joined even to strangers by a bond of suffering. It has changed my perspective. It has changed me. He had a plan, it wasn't easy, we're not through it yet, it wasn't pain free or smooth, and you know, I like this Jeremiah prophet (he was dubbed "the weeping prophet") guess I can be snot girl!, he seemed like an unlikely choice, He was never at a loss to voice his convictions and you could always count on him to sob aloud, and odd God would chose him at a very critical time in history. So it doesn't seem so odd that God would chose me to share my life with others, or that it would be so odd that it cost me something? So here I am on the reverse end, game plan out the window, excitement faded, accolade's gone, nothing left but the shear determination and guts and this daily journey I record called a blog, and the absolute assurance that He is my peace Eph 2:14.