Soul Stops is a brief rest on the journey. A quite intake of breath as we pause and a gentle nudge to keep moving forward. It is a waiting in the Truth as we nestle close in His promise…looking at what He has said to our hearts and remembering the promises in His Word.
“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.”
We took a trip yesterday, to a garden full of bursting color and beauty to celebrate our girl’s turning another day on the calendar of time. When special days arrive, we like to mark them with reminders of their importance, weighing them down in our memory books of existence so that we can attach a remembering with a moment that stands out. The days are fleeting when these children we were given will be here with us to make memories, like this. I covet these special moments. I want to capture every single one of them.
I am starkly aware that the seasons of life are a reflection of the cycle of seasons in the 365 day year we record time with. When one celebrates, another may grieve and break. There is a gentle balance that keeps love and loss connected… because there is always a losing when loving is real. We need to lose self when agape love binds our hearts. It is a risk we all take. It isn’t bad; it is just real and it is life. Amidst our rejoicing we also heard news of loss this weekend. The passing of 2 men, one a young 21 and the other in the middle of his living years, reminded us of this blooming we do…the living we expend…the loving we attempt; it is purpose-filled.
I didn’t know the young man, but in a small community there is always someone who knows someone connected to tragedy. What struck me was the age, a young one and twenty years of so little living… and the immediate loss I felt for his parents. My own first-born is also 21, and I felt grief bloom in my soul for that momma whose heart must be shattered. And the other one, the middle of the way walking soul, was a long ago friend that my early years and even the gangly uncomfortable ones had time to connect with. There was a breaking in my heart for the loss of this one who was always a gentle supporting protector, far before our school days found us. Sadness seemed to wrap around my heart for the friend that he was, the loss his life will be to those who loved him, and the way that saying goodbye only reminds me of the limited time we are given before we step into eternity. The vapor of our days is like a fleeting mist that sweeps before us and our most well-laid plans can topple.
“A man’s mind plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps and makes them sure.”- Proverbs 16:9
Even now, writing this, the decisions I had prayed over…waited to say my ‘best yes’ to, are jumbling up in my proverbial planner. The anticipating and the considering were not for loss, because He is in the beginning, middle, and the end of our days, but I sometimes I do question if I missed the mark before I etched in ink to dry on the page. Faith seems to grow wings and fly when I am unsure of everything I stand upon except the solid rock of His assurance. Yet, still, I find myself caught in the spinning of His plan and begging to be give just a glimpse of the possibility so that I can prepare my heart for the up and coming days.
I can hear His voice reminding me that He is God and I am not… He is still on the throne.
I tend to over pack for things, by nature. It is a mom-thing, I think. I usually have more than I should require on hand at any given moment, and then the very thing I need, ironically is out of grasp. As we prepared for a day trip yesterday, a quickly planned and hastily thrown together essentials kind of trip, I was of course the last one to enter the waiting vehicle full of my favorite people. (maybe there was a horn involved)
I consider my camera an absolute essential; a fact my husband and I often will choose to agree to disagree upon. However, I distinctly remember checking the battery to see if it was full. I also asked some of those favorites if they had checked theirs. Quick nods of affirmation confirmed we were good to go. Adventure was awaiting and memories were sure to be collected as we found our destination. The thought that it was too easy, somehow touched in my consciousness, but there were flowers to investigate and sights to take in and laughter to record… so we were off.
That is what is funny to me, really. The planning we do. Even the last minute preparing (or hastily throwing snacks in a bag because teenagers need food on a revolving time-clock) was not what I needed to focus on. How timely a thought for our days, especially one that started with tragic news of loss.
Perhaps our days need to include the side-trips, unplanned and unprepared, for building memories to keep us afloat if, or when, we find our life-boats rocked.
Maybe that is the key to planning well, planning a buffer for the moments where we are grasping for grace in the midst our unexpected.
As we arrived, a mass of color exploded before our eyes. So much to see. So much to take in. Thrilled that with older children, I could release my tendency to push the panic button because I don’t have to hover. Because our kids are older now, I can actually enjoy the sights with them instead of anticipating scrapes, falls, or possibly losing them in the midst of the memory moment. (Whose kidding, I am a mom… the panic button is always on standby.)
A few clicks and flashes assured I was capturing the memory pieces, and then the clicking stopped…. and I noticed a flashing battery sign telling me that there was no way I would be catching pixels with my little black digital box. Soon after, our oldest realized, she had forgotten her camera and then the youngest, with a new lens capturing tool, soon found her energy source was also depleted.
Smart phones… while sometimes an annoying inconvenience… to save the day.
And that is what struck me about the plans that are predestined to find us and Jeremiah 29:11 came fully back to memory.
I did check the battery. It was full.
I did ask if everyone else was sure they had ample charging in their devices. They said yes.
But sometimes when we take the steps, we forget that He directs our paths.
And these paths are set to bloom in the time He has already determined they would.
And the blooms are also crafted by the one who designed our beauty and saw our end from our beginning even before our lungs inhaled inspired air.
And faith reminds us that the thoughts He has thought and the plans He has planned will come to an expected end. His plans are prospering plans…not of harm… hopeful plans for today and tomorrow.
It is too easy for me to be so focused on capturing the perfect picture that I miss the glorious landscape right before me. I do it more than I care to admit. And even though things didn’t work as I planned, I was able to take some fantastic pictures before the battery died and with my phone afterwards. I caught candid memories of my kids laughing and my husband finding awe in the magnificence of God’s artistry, that I very truly may have missed if I was too busy looking for a perfect shot.
I was forced to step out from behind the lens to capture His plan with my heart and reflect on the way He nurtures our souls to bloom in an atmosphere of grace.
In the process I was reminded that He heals what is lost and restores what is broken. In the midst of tragedy, our hearts break for others, and still we choose to look for beauty blooming all around. It is through the unexpected losses that we are reminded to enjoy the present blessings in front of us.
I know He doesn’t stray from His purpose to prosper us as we wait faithfully in His embrace, no matter what we can always expect to bloom.
This week as you are journeying through your days, traversing the well-laid plans… be encouraged that he has plans to prosper you, to give you hope, to give you an expected future, and because He is good, even in the hard and the difficult, there will be goodness which surrounds you.
Linking up with friends for the journey:
Moments of Hope, Unite, Cheerleaders of Faith, Tell His Story, Coffee For Your Heart, Three Word Wednesday, Thought Provoking Thursday, Grace n Truth, Faith n Friends Blog Hop, Missional Women, Dance with Jesus, Glimpses with Barbie, Give Me Grace.