I started the month of November and retirement with a list of goals and dreams. Retirement coincided with the beginning of my annual NaNoMo project, which seemed like a good place to begin. I thought maybe I’d complete a first draft of the story I’ve been writing–off and on–for several years, the story of my grandmother’s life.
I didn’t come close.
Mostly, I got bogged down in research and writing about writing. I completed my 50,000 words but didn’t write my story.
I also didn’t get my Christmas letter written, a normal task for the month of November. I struggled to find a theme that pulled together the events of 2018 and still was positive enough for a Christmas letter format. Here is the “blog” version of my Christmas letter. (The official Christmas letter will be quite a bit different.)
At the beginning of 2018, our pastors at The Edge encouraged us to Make Room for God, for ministry, and for miracles. I asked God for a miracle that day, beginning the year with high hopes for dramatic change in the life of our family.
Soon after, John, Lizi and I left the Chicago’s winter to experience our first New Zealand summer. We tried to prepare well for our absence, leaving a freezer full of organized meals, a morning dog-watcher for Luna, and a support system in place for John2. I even left my smart phone home with him to make calls easier. (We didn’t need three phones in NZ anyways.)
It didn’t go well in spite of all our preparations. We came home to holes in our walls, a broken bar stool, and a very unhappy son. Frustrated with the smart phone, he threw it out into knee deep snow and it was never found again. Only much later did I find out that he had invited two guys from Wayside to live here for three of the weeks that we were gone. We had a great time in New Zealand but coming home was pretty discouraging.
Life went on, as it always does. In March and April, our pastors preached on Fasting and I began a period of regular fasting. In April I decided to do a 21-day partial fast called the Daniel Fast. On the very last day I had an encouraging conversation about it with a patient/pastor during my work day. As I prepared to head home I got a text message about Johnny “freaking out” over something. I came home and began my usual calming measures but things escalated through the night and in the morning we called 911 for help. Johnny was taken to a nearby ER and much later to a local psych unit in Aurora, where he unhappily spent the next ten days, agreeing to do an outpatient program as a requirement for coming home. I got the “dramatic” that I asked for without the positive change I hoped to see. It did begin a process of change that is continuing, very slowly, but the results are still uncertain.
After that I struggled with my plans to go to New Zealand for the birth of a new grandchild. I was torn between the “needs” of my oldest and youngest. The timing didn’t seem right, but in the end I purchased my ticket and stepped forward in faith, leaving a week after Johnny completed the outpatient program, leaving John and Johnny home to work out the details of life together. Simea Areli was born at the end of my first week. I had a wonderful time caring for Charlee while her parents were away and the even sweeter experience of sitting around holding Simee for hours on end during the next three weeks.
Soon it was Papa John’s turn at grandparenting. He visited James, Anne and the girls for five weeks, mid September to the end of October, when he could help Anne during the beginning of ABS and also help with spring clean up and garden prep. He, too, had a wonderful time with Charlee and Simee.
While Papa John enjoyed his time in New Zealand, I worked a bit more than normal and finished up my 13-year late-life “career” in nursing on November 2nd. I started retirement with–as I said–lots of goals and dreams. It seemed especially important for Johnny and Lizi to find work. I had writing goals, exercise goals, and so on. I wrote “Au Revoir Octobre” in that flushed mood and as the month progressed, I kept thinking that my next blog should be “No, No, November,” reflecting my discouragement at the lack of progress.
This morning I spent time thinking about the year, again looking for a Christmas letter theme. Make Room? I remembered a Christmas carol that ended with the refrain, “O Come to my heart Lord Jesus. There is room in my heart for Thee.” When I googled it, I found another song by Matt Redman of Casting Crowns simply called Make Room. Hmmm. Its refrain is a bit different, asking the question, “Is there room in your heart? Is there room in your heart for God to write His story?”
“No, no November” is ending differently than I hoped. 2018 looks like it will also end without the miracle I hoped for. So here’s the question: Can I make room in my heart for God to write His story? Not my story or even my grandmother’s story.