I set one goal last New Years and that was to keep Mike alive for as long as I possibly could. He died five days later. I guess you could say I failed that one miserably… not really. Sometimes God’s plans get in the way of our plans and whether we like it or not, His are always better than ours. Sometimes I agonize over the fact that I could have done more but God is so much bigger than I am and greater than anything I could or couldn’t do for Mike. He took Mike in His perfect timing. Case closed.
On January 5, we celebrated Mike’s first anniversary in heaven. I use the word “celebrate” loosely. I booked the day off and my sister Elanna had the day off, so we went to Fort Langley. There were other places we thought of going, places Mike liked, but I couldn’t get the Fort Langley cemetery off my mind. Mike loved it there. He loved cemeteries. It must have been the history buff in him. He liked walking around reading the headstones … the names and dates. He would guess the type of life the particular person lived and stuff like that. It was raining, so Elanna and I didn’t go around reading headstones, but we enjoyed our time there reminiscing about Mike with a few tears and lots of laughs. We spread some of Mike’s ashes in the area, mostly around big lovely trees. We also browsed in the shops and had lunch at Wendel’s (Bookstore and Cafe). Mike would have been very pleased and same with his mum, she liked the shops there too (she liked all shops anywhere and everywhere).
After Mike died, I tried to not make plans, set goals or dream dreams. At times, I wanted to forge a path and plow ahead, but as difficult as it was, I resisted most of the time. This is what I wrote in my post, ‘Conversations With the Man I Love’ from September 21, 2015, “I’m trying to just “be”, so He can do a work in me but that’s not easy. My high expectations say, get up, clean up, make your bed, get going, but I’m trying to be still. I feel I’m supposed to learn the discipline of ‘Don’t just do something, stand there.’ Instead of what comes more naturally; ‘Don’t just stand there, do something.”’ There was healing in not filling my life with “things to do”. The only thing on my ‘List of things to do’ was to rest in the palm of His hand and trust Him on a deeper level.
In the evening of the 5th, I took Erin (my daughter) up on her offer to teach my Pilates class and I went for a long walk. I didn’t think about where I was going, I just went. It wasn’t late but it was dark. I live in a “sketchy” area of town but I never feel nervous there. About an hour into my walk, I found myself on a street that does make me feel a little nervous. After being startled by someone (totally innocent), I picked up my pace and took the first right down a road better lit. I ended up behind someone smoking, so jogging, I crossed over and stopped abruptly right where my foot landed on the sidewalk, safe on that side. The little Christmas lights in the window of the store I was now standing in front of got my attention, along with the paper Canadian flags that hung across the top. The books lined up in rows almost pressing against the crystal clear glass, drew me closer. “Ken’s Bookcase” in sticky letters smack dab in the middle of it all, and I still didn’t get it. God was speaking to me, but it took me a few minutes before I heard Him. I had passed by this little used bookstore a few times before and I had been inside once – many years ago. I had gone in to check out the Bibles. I was interested in having a different version to compare with my ‘New International Version’ (before I used the internet for that sort of thing). I still remember that hard cover with jacket gem on a high shelf squished in-between others less brilliant looking. It was a Woman’s Study Bible, practically new. I pulled it down and examined the weight of it, the scent of it, the sheer genius of it. Then I opened it and a sunbeam or something like that shone from it. I recognized the hand writing of the inscription on the front page immediately. It was my good friend Colleen’s writing.
I wrote about Colleen and her husband Chris in my book, ‘Hold On, Let Go’. Colleen and Chris were our business partners for five years. We owned and operated Fitness Works together, a fitness studio (from 1994-1999). In my book, I describe these two as a little older than us and very wise friends, and spiritual mentors. This is what I say about Colleen (from Chapter 10, pg 167), “Colleen has a really good sense of timing. She listens to that little voice in her, prompting her to call or send a message. When she calls me early in the morning and suggests we pray for my parents who are out on the mission field, I don’t ask why she is calling so early or let her know she woke me up, I just agree.” Colleen always was and still is up to the Lord’s work, so finding this Bible she gave to a young friend who I also knew, was not a shocker.
I actually kept the Bible for a little while and beautified my own bookcase with it – exploring it on and off. I wasn’t seeing Colleen on a regular basis at the time (this was shortly after we closed our business) and kept forgetting to give it to her. I eventually took it to her and told her the story. Regardless of that, and how the book got in the store and why, I don’t doubt for one minute that the Lord directed my steps to that little book store that glowed in the dark on my walk the other night. God wanted to remind me that nothing gets by Him. That He is the orchestrator of the universe and that He placed the stars in the sky and named them; He covered seashores with tiny grains of sand. It’s nothing for Him to get a book back in the rightful owner’s hands or cure a dying man… according to His plan – it will be, or not.
When 2016 was fast approaching, I did what I felt I should, I started setting goals, planning and dreaming. You know, like a “New Year, New You” idea. But then I said in my head, “Hey, “this” you is ok. This you is on the right track. This you is doing just fine right here in the palm of God’s hand.” Besides, I am a “new” me considering 2 Corinthians 5:17, which says, “Anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! (New Living Translation). What more could I ask for?
Plus, when I look back on last year – the year of one goal that failed miserably – more happened than I could ever imagine. I finished a college program, graduated and started a new career. I became an author, a speaker and a spokesperson for ALS. I moved into a beautiful new home, by the river with a spectacular view – a dream (I didn’t really dream) come true. I went places, met people and did things I couldn’t have planned had I tried. These were God’s plans, not mine.
So this New Years, I’m only setting one goal again. Don’t worry, I do have hopes and dreams (hopes and dreams are imperative for joyful living). I also know I have things I need to improve upon in my life and I’ve made a mental note of those things, but the only goal I’m writing down this New Years – the only one I’m setting in stone, is to stay as close to Him as I possibly can; to stay put in the palm of God’s hand. I’m just going to keep trusting Him.
On the 6th of January (the day after Mike’s anniversary), I got up early like I do most mornings and got ready for work in case I got called in. I figured if I didn’t get called in, I’d go to my friend Keri’s fitness class at 8:50. When I didn’t get a call and had some time to spare, I sat in front of my living room window and watched the sun come up. I thought about the day before and contemplated God’s faithfulness and His mercies that are new every morning. As the sun burst forth, so did joy in my heart. I praised Him for a while before I noticed the lightest drops of rain floating through the air. This is when I “burst forth” and scrambled to get my things together knowing somewhere was a rainbow out there. I grabbed everything I needed for the class and ran up to the roof of my building to see about a rainbow. Sure enough, on the other side of my living room view, there it was … just so beautiful. The other half of the rainbow was in full view at the end of my street that I walked up to go to Keri’s class at the Rec Centre. I kept zig zagging across the street to see it from the best angle.
I apologized as I ran in to class a little late. Keri and I both said at the same time, “Did you see the rainbow?” The class was fantastic as always and again at the end, I said I was sorry for being late and added, “But I was chasing a rainbow.” Keri said, “There’s your next blog post title.” I told her I was thinking the same thing.
Rainbows remind me of God’s promises, His unconditional love and faithfulness and, unlike rainbows, you never have to chase those things…they are right there…He is always right there.
Lamentations 3:22-23 (NLT)
“The faithful love of the Lord never ends!
His mercies never cease.
Great is His faithfulness;
His mercies begin afresh each morning.”
Mike’s birthday is today (Jan 16th). Happy Birthday to our dearest Michael! We have now experienced all the “firsts”. You see them coming and don’t want them to come but want them to be behind you at the same time. They are all behind us now, but I can’t say that makes it any easier. We are blessed to be doing quite well nonetheless. Thanks again for your support and prayers.
Here is ‘Conversations With the Man I Love’ in full
Keri is also a writer/blogger. We encourage each other to write from the heart courageously. Here is the link to her blog, Keri On. Her last post, What If?, was written with so much vulnerability, I loved it!
Here is a link to an upcoming Apologetics Canada event I’m speaking at in Abbotsford BC, March 5. My speech is titled, From Worrier to Warrior – finding courage, hope and joy after a terminal diagnosis.
Here is the link to my book, ‘Hold On, Let Go – facing ALS with Courage and Hope’