Our time in Florida has come to an end.
Even though at day 3 or 4 I was already dreading this day, it does not come as I expected. I am not sad. I am not filled with dread.
I've thought today about how I could someday write about these 2 weeks here. And I felt a lump in my throat immediately. You know those moments in your life that could never be told as they really were...? The emotion something that could never be verbally explained...? The birth of your child? The death of someone you loved? Sure pictures and memories attempt to tell the story but it never really gives the full picture.
This trip. The fact that I start to cry when I think about this trip...tells you more than my words ever could. Someday...I'll try. I'll try to paint the full story. This was our healing trip. But...not our two weeks to be healed. No...no. No...definitely not.
This was the first big step in our healing. And oh...only Heaven knows what has happened on this trip. The gift to my soul in these last two weeks is something I could never fully articulate. Ever.
The gifts have been so many. So very many. I've not even shared the half of them. The fact that a friend of a friend works at Disney World and blessed our socks off with helping us with tickets. Or the friend that contacted me not knowing anything that we are going through saying God laid it clearly on their hearts to give us a certain amount of money. The many many many notes I've received from people that know me so very little...with words they will someday know God gave them to send to me. Or the friend that heard we are coming back through their way and graciously invited us to stay and get to know them better. And of course...the gift of this condo for 2 full weeks. Fully gifted.
Through it all we have been humbled...grateful...and most of all in awe. Both of us have said that over and over. We are simply in awe of how God has shown us we are right in the palm of His hand. And in this storm? We needed that reminder. And will need it.
For me as I look back on these two weeks of bliss...I see so much. Sunshine every single day. Lots of little brown faces and yawns at the end of every day. The quiet, consistent crash of one wave after another right off our deck. All of it...what I walk away with most...is hope.
I came here with very little. Very, very little hope.
I was a mess. Many questions. So very few answers. Honestly...I came with a decision. A decision to still have faith. A decision to believe. A decision to not doubt. A decision.
But I'm leaving with hope. I've seen it. I've seen what I could never have even wished for. I've seen the look in a child's eye filled with wonder and joy. I've seen laughter come alive that's been missing . I've seen life...totally renewed. And like a warm Gulf wave over a shattered soul...it's given me hope.
I remember when my sister, Joanne, graduated just a year ahead of me. She chose this quote for her year book photo. "Never deprive someone of hope...it may be all they have." I have never seen her year book since 1997 and I have never ever forgotten that quote beside her graduation picture.
I have thought of it so many times in these recent months. As my hope waned and I felt the lifelessness take over...I knew I needed it breathed back in to me.
Could I ever fully express what has happened here? Not the physical...not the fun and the memories. No...I'm talking about something that has happened inside of me and I'm sure you can see it on the outside.
This is one of my favorite verses. It puts things in perspective. I know the here and now isn't what my story is all about. I know there's a greater picture being painted and I love how this verse reminds me of that.
2 Corinthians 4:16-18 NIV
So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.
We don't lose heart. Oh...I have. I have. Those nights when I collapsed on the floor sobbing saying over and over and over "I can't! I can't! I can't do this!!! I can do anything but this!!" I love this verse.
I know right now this is all so very vague. I want you to know why I made the decision to blog now. In the thick of it. I'm a realist. To the core. Tell me all the worse case scenario stuff and let me prepare for the worst. It's how my brain works. And for me...when I'm going through something like I am right now...I want to read someone's story when they were right there. Right there, in the eye of the storm. Not after they made it through. Our tone changes then. Doesn't it? Hearing my children talk about the scary rides at Disney a week later...? So different than when they were on it! Screaming and clutching my arm for dear life. Now? "It wasn't THAT bad..." "I mean...I'd do it again..." and I smile. Not quite. That's not quite the real story. And they may do it again! But tell us how it was IN the moment. That's me. And so when this storm hit I knew I was faced with a decision. I couldn't tell you the specifics...but I could choose to stay silent and tell about it after (if...) we survived it. How there were so many gifts that offset the pain. How my faith was still rock solid (forgetting that it was shaken to the core and I questioned every thing I knew to be true...) That's when I knew. I decided to tell the story...in real time. Though I can't share the details now...someday when they are known...you can look back and see this story 'in the raw'.
Hope. Tonight as we pack the van to leave early in the morning...my heart is filled with hope. There IS a future. There IS a path that can be filled with joy here. There IS something bigger happening that I can't see. God CAN use this story for good. I came so very empty. Frail. Weak. Full of questions. I'm leaving still frail. Still weak. But knowing there is hope. I have seen it. And it has changed me.
For I know the plans I have for you. declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. — Jeremiah 29:11(NIV).