Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old.
Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers (streams) in the desert. (Is. 43: 18,19)
This past week has been another roller coaster ride. But in the face of it all, God provided many a ‘stream in the desert‘ for me as I look back and recount the blessings of my time in Pittsburgh.
On the Lord’s Day, November 25th, I worshiped with my own church family and enjoyed sweet lunch fellowship with dear friends. After my appointment on Monday, when I realized I would be around for a Tuesday dental visit, I had dinner with 2 girlfriends. I thought I would have surgery on Tuesday and be gone by Tuesday noon. Instead, with surgery scheduled for Thursday, I was able to prepare a meal in my own kitchen to share with my Airbnb guests. This also allowed us to enjoy dinner with other dear friends on Wednesday evening.
I had also slept restfully in my own bed for 5 days, during which time my back issues gradually got better. As I looked around, I feasted my eyes on my own comfortable, organized home (which instilled a feeling of peace), enjoyed cooking in my own kitchen, and sharing meals each evening with different people. These are all simple blessings – things we take for granted when life is good, but become mountains of gratitude when one is down in the valley. He does indeed ‘lead me beside still waters and restores my soul’.
In The Valley
My valley began with a dental bridge gone awry. It had been installed on November 8th in Pittsburgh. By November 14th, on a cold Canadian evening, unsettled by the transition of moving into temporary accommodation, and reaching for ‘comfort food’ which I had not had in a long time because of dental troubles, I bit on a banana chip and heard a crack. In short, the bridge broke and I had to return to Pittsburgh for a dental appointment on Monday November 26th.
In the meantime, we moved into an Airbnb on Sunday 18th November, our temporary ‘home away from home’, as part of the process of figuring out a more permanent housing and job situation on moving back to Canada. By Monday, sleeping in a less than adequate bed for my already weak back, despair had begun to set in, as my back issues flared up, limiting my movement, my options and eventually my disposition.
A firm couch, an electric heating pad and a wedge under my knees were my constant companions for 5 days, as I sought relief from a chiropractor for 3 of those 5 days. Saturday rolled around soon enough and we left for Pittsburgh, but not before the third visit with the chiro before hitting the road. The Lord also used that dental appointment to give us the smoothest crossing over the US/Can border that we could remember. PTL! We stopped every 2 hours on the 8-hour journey so I could stretch.
More Mixed Blessings
Then came the Pittsburgh experience… a mixture of delight and darkness. Happiness to see people I have grown to love, but delays by new dental appointments resulting in the surgery scheduled for Thursday. You see, it was a 3-hour appointment, after which we had to hit the road to drive back to Canada – pain, and ice on jaw for 8 hours.
The Lord provided other unexpected blessings:
- On Tuesday, I saw the specialist doctor who was sympathetic to my situation on 2 fronts. She is also an immigrant (from Korea), who understands the immigration limitations, and her father is a pastor. She totally gets the context of US immigration turning down the application for the relevant permit which was made by our church for my husband, and the trials with having to leave the US to relocate in Canada temporarily.
- She had read my file on Monday 26th November, in preparation for my Tuesday 27th visit with her. She had figured out the structural defect in the bridge – not enough of a solid foundation on my jaw to successfully support the bridge. She affirmed the need for reconstructive surgery, and referred me to her husband – the surgeon I would be seeing, who just happened, on Monday, to have a cancellation for Thursday 29th… that same week. She booked me with him immediately before she saw me. Normally his waiting list can be months long.
- On Thursday morning, I was preparing to settle into the chair. I got my ear buds and cellphone out, and the surgeon’s assistant asked if I would be listening to podcasts during the procedure. I mentioned to her the passage of Scripture I would be listening to, only to hear he say that she loved the poetry of the Psalms. God had surrounded me with Christians. I had great peace through the procedure. He kept me in perfect peace… Even my blood pressure which can have a higher reading under stress, was the lowest ever! The peace of God did indeed surpass all understanding.
Many hours into the drive, and half an hour from the Canadian border, my husband stopped to pull out his passport from his briefcase. He discovered that the briefcase was left in Pittsburgh. I was hosted by friends in Syracuse while Tim drove all the way back, grabbed the briefcase and headed north again… an extra 11.5-hours for the trip before crossing the border.
We returned to our temporary abode to find that the small fridge in the apartment had stopped working for unknown reasons. The food in it was additional loss to the many losses of this experience. We lost time that Tim could have used to job-hunt, we lost money in extra days in car rental, Tim lost time to sleep, and now we lost food spoiled by a fridge not working.
And so, I look for purpose in the pain. I count the blessings, and think of them as ‘streams in the desert.’ I cannot doubt that God will use this situation to bring glory to Himself and prepare Tim and me for whatever ministry He has appointed for us.
And so today’s purpose?
- Prepare this blog.
- Continue eating loads of pineapple to mitigate against swelling and pain from dental surgery.
- Listen to Casting Crowns for encouragement. You can join me here
Author’s Note; Lynette is the owner of ChristianRoots Canada. She spent almost 3 years in Pittsburgh where her husband attended The Reformed Presbyterian Seminary. They are back in Canada for an undetermined period of time while God works out exactly where they ought to be serving Him in His kingdom. They have been experiencing many challenges in this journey back to Canada. She is blogging about them to keep perspective. Thanks for joining her on this journey.