2012 is the year I proclaim a seriousness for writing. My friends have urged me to do this for nearly two decades. Sometimes it takes me some time to figure out what is important. It was suggested by my dear writer friend Cathee Poulsen that I start with a blog. She says I have been doing this for years, just not in the format where the reader has a choice to follow and not have it forced upon them! My best writing is from my adventures with God. I lead an atypical life and my adventures are unique. Life took on significant purpose when I put God in charge. It has become clear I am supposed to write about all the experiences I have and share the lessons God wants me to learn. As my loyal supporters will tell you, I must begin a story with Genesis and give you the details up and through Revelation. It takes me a while to get it all down. Sometimes the blessing is in the details of the journey.
In November, to mark my 55th birthday and fulfill a long-time dream, I made the first trip to the mountains and stayed in a luxury cabin in the woods. If I was to analyze my then current state of existence, I could not really afford it but I was sure it would never be possible at any other point in my future as I considered the likely outcome of what was ahead. Nevertheless a gentle tug within my heart said “go to the mountain.” That trip changed my life in a way only God can do. The cabin was perfection. Even my obsessive compulsive personality could find no suggestions for improvement. The mountain required four-wheel drive and it was then I realized why I bought the new Subaru. There was every weather condition in the five nights to include torrential rain, wind, freezing temperatures, a God given majestic blanket of snow followed by warm and sunny conditions. I knew this was a once in a lifetime experience never to be duplicated.
On that trip, I outlined to God the desires of my heart and trusted Him to lead me along the path to fulfill them. I was in the throes of loss and devastation from the unscrupulous acts of a former business partner. My day job is a professional guardian of old people but with one on hospice and the other two ages 96 and 101, my guardianship career was about to end. I live in a small town in central Florida with little economy and I had to face the fact I would have to move in order to secure employment. The one employer in our town who is always hiring actually took the time to call and tell me they would NOT consider me for one of their management positions! I took it as a sign, in this age when you never get a response to a job application, when they call to say they WON’T hire you, I had better hit the road.
At Christmas this year, I had two weeks to write, to do creative things with my photographs and to edit some video. Instead, my time was allocated to emergency guardianship work like urgent constipation issues, to creating some new family holiday traditions. All noble uses of time, but nonetheless, I was not able to fulfill the yearning to write and create. Now two weeks later as I begin a new career, move from Florida to the great North (in January no less), feel the pressure of tax returns and annual reports, I felt an even greater need to write and create. So, I figured out how to return to the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Georgia for a final sojourn to another dream cabin in the woods.
I knew enough not to try and recreate my first visit. Perfection is hard to duplicate and repeat. This time I went to Blue Ridge instead of Ellijay, tried a gas fireplace instead of wood burning, viewed the sunset instead of the sunrise and prayed for another snow, but knew the odds were like getting a good job in Lake Placid, Florida.
I stopped by the cabin rental office at Blue Sky Cabin Rentals to meet the people who accommodated my last minute request for this trip and to share some of my photos from the first trip. I arrived in a torrential downpour which seems to be a prerequisite for the snow I craved. I made a lasting impression on the staff with my exotic cowboy boots and wild fur coats. The cabin I picked was a disappointment and that first impression allowed my friends at the cabin office to graciously swap me out for my second choice cabin which was just a few thousand feet below on the same mountain. Now I had no mountain view, just woods in Fox Hollow. As I got settled in my first full day at the cabin prepared to write, I was not inspired.
Something called me to go out and see the town of Blue Ridge. In the gray drizzle of the day, I had the best lunch at a little café across from the train depot. I went strolling in and out of the stores looking for cabin accessories for the home I do not have. As it began to rain and the temperatures dropped, I quizzed every shop keeper to see if they thought we would get some snow. The weather channel told me we were right on the edge of another glorious snow storm.
My daily routine with God is to start my day with where I left off in my bible reading. I think about what is happening in my life and how the bible passage I am reading applies. I go to my journal, a beautiful gift from my first Sunday school teacher Theresa, and I pick the page with the bible verse that most resonates as to what I want to write about. As I ponder the scripture I am reading and how God wants me to use it for today in my life, I am gripped by a joy I feel burning inside. It is a fullness and anticipation because God is now talking just to me. If you look merely at the facts of my humble surroundings and my prospects in Lake Placid, you would not be feeling this joy, but when you have God burning inside of you, everything is viewed with hope and anticipation.
Today’s lesson came from perhaps the shortest book in the bible, Haggai. I use the Life Application Study Bible and the introduction talked about the pressures and demands which assault our schedules and leave us with little time for what is important. We are rushing through life, attending to the necessary, the immediate and the urgent. Ahhh, like the last two weeks at Christmas when the urgencies of guardianship sucked up all the energy and left no time for what I considered important. Our values and priorities are reflected in how we use our time, our money, our strengths and our talents. I knew I was to write and I had to put all else aside and do what God tells me to do.
Haggai was a prophet and he needed to tell the people of Jerusalem the time had come to rebuild the temple the Babylonians had destroyed. The people of that day were no different than we are. They got sidetracked by concentrating on themselves and their desires and not on God’s priorities. Haggai spoke for God when he told the people “Is it a time for you yourselves to be living in your paneled houses, while this house (the temple) remains a ruin?” Haggai 1:4. “Give careful thought to your ways. You have planted much, but have harvested little. You eat, but never have enough. You drink, but never have your fill. You put on clothes, but are not warm. You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it.”When I got to the point where God said “go up to the mountain and bring down timber to build the house” Haggai 1:8, God had my attention.
At the very moment I read those words, it started to snow. Big flakes came in a fury. In the time it took me to read the two chapters of the little book of Haggai, snow covered the wood slats on the balcony and stuck to the metal roof. This was my sign that God was right there with me. He was blessing me as I chose to do His work.
I could not justify this trip, but my gut told me to do it. I had things God wanted me to say. When the people in Jerusalem began to rebuild the temple with zeal, God promised “From this day on I will bless you” Haggai 2:19. Haggai’s message was to the people to get their priorities straight, to stop worrying and to work for God. God blessed the people at the point where they laid the foundation and did not wait until the entire temple was rebuilt. God sends his encouragement and approval with our first few obedient steps.
Yesterday when I was not inspired to write, a little thought came to my mind. It was “go up to the mountain.” I put on my post-it note to look this up. Today, God’s word said “go up to the mountain and build my house.” I felt the need to make this particular trip, go to this particular mountain for the inspiration to write what I hope to be motivating and to share some of my deep lessons learned about God.
God holds me responsible for the purity of my actions, the quality of my example and the truth of my words. We must be people of prayer, bible study and worship and we must go do what God has in mind for us. He wants to change the world through us. The time has come to be strong and work because God is with you.
As quickly as the book of Haggai unfolded, the lesson learned, the snow came. It lit the fire welling deep in my heart and now I need to do what God wants me to do which coincidentally is exactly where I want to be. “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart” Psalm 37:4.
God gave me the gift of my first story for the new blog. Today is my last day on the mountain. The weather has cleared and unbelievably I see the mountains. I thought I was in a gorge, but as I look out across the tops of the trees, there are peaks reaching for the sky. It is all very clear and in focus, much like our lives when we get our priorities straight.