The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps. Proverbs 16:9
The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord: and he delighteth in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the Lord upholdeth him with his hand. I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread. Psalm 37:23-25 (KJV)
Man makes his plans…
September and early October 2018 were exciting weeks. I was on a roll. My research was going well. My lessons were coming together. My teaching platform was being tweaked. Last minute plans to launch the Canadian History course, Canada in The Making, were coming together. I was pumped and could think of nothing but…
My close sister in England, Louise, who had been ill in the Summer, was on the mend and things looked good for her.
I had planned to visit her in the Spring, after Tim graduated from seminary, and was looking forward to a visit – long delayed. By the Summer, she had become ill, and because our immigration limbo in the US prevented me from leaving the US, I had encouraged her to ask our younger sister in the West Indies to come up to England to help her.
My sister Berths, happily obliged, and with constant care and TLC, Louise was on the mend. We were hopeful and happy.
Sorrow upon Sorrow
In late September, Berths returned to the Islands for a few weeks because her son was getting married and she needed to be there for the last 3 weeks of preparation. She was to return after the wedding. By mid October, Louise was admitted to the hospital, and after a seizure, was comatose for a week before passing away on October 23rd. I was devastated.
The course which was launched in early October, to be recorded and uploaded weekly, came to a screeching halt as I collapsed under the weight of grief and loss. I had uploaded 1 lesson of 6, and was in the middle of editing the second.
Added to that, we learned, about the same time, that our efforts to have our immigration file reassessed, failed. What we believed would be a straightforward process, was anything but.
We had to return to Canada, with uncertainties about accommodation, job opportunities and how long we would be here. All of our future looked very temporary. I often used the terminology of ‘flying blind’.
I had prayed God’s promises back to Him, about giving us the desires of our hearts. Our desire was a good one, I reasoned, but God’s desire for us was not our desires. So I had to acknowledge, ‘nevertheless, not my will but Thine’.
Obviously, I spiraled downwards for many days and couldn’t focus nor muster up the energy to sound upbeat to complete the lessons. I contacted the families enrolled in the course to explain my predicament. They extended much grace for me to deal with two of the biggest stressors of life – moving and grief.
I needed to pack for Canada, with three weeks to go. This involved packing up and securing important belongings which were being left behind in Pittsburgh and rearranging our house to make it easy for friends to manage for us (we rent some of our rooms to guests).
The process was just as involved as moving from 1 house to another, the difference being that we were putting our stuff ‘in storage’ in our own house. Deciding what to take and what to leave is very hard when you don’t know exactly where you are going. We were not sure about living arrangements in Canada on short notice.
And so it was, wave upon wave of events crashed over my soul. I had also been dealing with dental issues for 9 months which were not yet resolved. So, our last week in Pittsburgh, the week of November 5th to 9th, 2018, dawned with Tim in the midst of preparing for exams, me having to fit in time for dental visits and the deadline for being packed up for Canada, looming at the end of that week.
I was also not looking forward to the funeral which was to be live-streamed from England on Friday November 9th at 7.30 am. I was sent the link for the live stream a few days earlier, but was too busy packing to test it, thinking to myself, ‘how difficult is it just to point and click?’ I did not realize that I needed to install a different browser and download another program to allow the streaming. By the time I got everything to work, the funeral was over! More grief and pain! That day, I accompanied Tim to his exams. He had 4 of them on that Friday, being sustained in 3, with one needing be re-taken in May 2019.
Since then, we have arrived in Canada, had more challenges with accommodation, health, discouragement, dental issues, job-hunting for Tim, and bureaucratic red tape with proof-of-residence status.
We still need to make several trips back and forth to Pittsburgh because of unresolved dental issues which began almost a year ago. It seems like every time I think ‘we’ve hit rock bottom and there’s no where to go but up’, something else comes from clear out of left field and throws us for a loop.
Streams in the Desert, and Seizing the Day
So in the ‘in-between-ness’ of events, I look for the ‘streams in the desert’ that the Lord provides. Streams this past week include:
– a warm, peaceful place to live for a few months
– enough relief from pain so I could tag along with homeschoolers to Parliament Hill. I needed some more pictures taken to upgrade the Parliament Hill Booklet (shout-out to Karin)
– birthday dinner and movie with our son (hasn’t happened for a long time)
– team members in Pittsburgh who are gifted and skilled in just the right areas of technology, so I could be guided in the best ‘next -steps’ for ChristianRoots in the face of my own instability, and the shutting down of Centre Block and the Peace Tower for the next 10 -15 years. (shout-out to Jonas and Phil)
– and friends who act as sounding boards to help me ‘seize the day’ of small opportunities and small mercies (shout out to Joyce)
And so, today I did a Facebook Live. Not the best location nor lighting. Not the best video I have done. The internet connection was choppy. But I persevere. I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me. (Philipians 4:13)