I was wrapped up in a fuzzy robe resting comfortably on a chair that had seen better days, it suited the weathered deck that stretched the expanse of our small rented chalet. The view was breathtaking and the air crisp causing steam to rise from my morning cup of coffee. The mountain is beautiful. I can see why it bears the name “Lookout”; there is beauty everywhere. Not elegant or refined beauty but the kind that tends to be rough around edges.
I’m pretty sure that last sentence defines my life.
It has been a hard few years since I suffered such tremendous loss and only recently have I found myself willing to look back for more than a few seconds. I’ve had to keep my mind and feet going forward, to avoid drowning in the pain. I haven’t allowed myself to think too long about the way things were “back in the day”; it hurt too much.
But not this morning.
Perched over one of the most breathtaking views I’d ever seen, I found myself reminiscing and dreaming.
It’s been a long road and I finally feel like I am able to breathe again without hurting so much I want to curl up in a fetal position. As a matter of fact I journaled not long ago about a word I believe the Lord had spoken to me. Something that made me smile way down deep in my heart. I felt impressed time and again He was going to give me good news. At first I thought it was just my imagination, or wishful thinking, but it seemed the impression wouldn’t go away.
And some good news after all the hurt and devastation sounded pretty appealing to me.
It took me a while but finally I nervously told my husband what I thought the Lord was saying to me. I am not a person who feels impressions like this very often. Oh, the Lord and I talk frequently, I need a lot of Him to make it, but, this was different. It was almost like a promise for something to come; not a general promise to the world but specifically to me. So I told him casually trying not to make too big of a deal out of it; I mean, what if I was wrong?
Looking back I wish I had never said it out loud because a lot of bad things happened almost immediately.
I don’t really believe in “jinxing” something, but, wow, if I did this would be the perfect example.
The same day I spoke those words to my man, I got a call from one of my adult children with bad news. Nothing life threatening, just disappointing. Then a call from another child, more difficult news. The same weekend there were family struggles that seemed to escalate, relationships gone awry.
“What in the world is going on?” I cried out to the Lord more than once.
In the midst of all of this my youngest graduated from high school and empty nest was looming before me. I am happy to say the Lord helped me to get through graduation without too many tears, so the pictures aren’t forever laden with my puffy, make up stained face from an emotional breakdown. But, my heart was heavy from all the difficulty that was going on around me; where was my good news?
A few days after the graduation ceremony my family of five took off on an adventurous vacation to the mountains. That’s a big deal for this beach loving girl. My mom always loved the mountains, but I never really cared about going. The ocean called my name. But, my husband wanted to plan a vacation to remember and it started in the Smoky Mountains. So we stuffed five adults in a vehicle probably meant for four and hit the highway.
Nothing like close quarters to encourage intimacy, right?
As we were driving from our home to our vacation cabin, I found myself mentally replaying so many of the hurts that had happened in the week leading up to our time away. My thoughts mocked me as I tried to remember my promise of good news. Why had so many difficult things happened all at once and why did it feel like I must’ve misunderstood what I felt the Lord impressed on my heart? Why does life have to be full of complicated relationships and bad news?
Round and round my mind went.
The whole time my three adult children were sitting in the back seat talking and laughing enjoying being together. It’s like a unicorn sighting to have them all in one place these days, their lives have become full and busy. But, here they were, all of them, headed out of town for an entire week.
Still I was looking for my good news.
A few days into our week in the most beautiful place and still I struggled with a heavy heart. I don’t know why I carry everything around with me, all my emotional junk and worries everywhere I go. I pray and then I get up and take all the “stuff” I just prayed about with me. Not something I’m proud of, but it’s the truth.
I’m such a work in progress.
One evening we were sitting around the coffee table playing a never ending game of Monopoly. I was sipping coffee from my new Rock City coffee mug when I felt a spiritual nudge to look around at these precious people and be thankful. There will always be difficult circumstances, situations and relationships, but this moment would soon pass never to be again.
My eyes teared up and I quietly thanked the Lord for each of them.
Why was I holding on to things I had no control over and missing out on what was happening right in front of me. I inwardly promised myself I would lay the negative thoughts aside and put my whole heart into fully engaging and loving on the folks I was with. So, we laughed, drank lots of coffee, stayed up late and I totally lost at Monopoly.
Still, no good news.
I faced some fears over the course of our time away. I was thrown around in a raft and I’m sure narrowly escaped death more than once, but I laughed so much I hardly noticed. Of course, I would be lying if I said I wasn’t a little bit terrified the entire time. White water rafting is no joke. I lowered myself off a forty foot drop with a rope and a prayer. I’ll never forget the feeling of leaning straight back with only air and the ground beneath me. It took all I had to trust and take the first step back off the cliff.
I will never forget it.
I rode bikes on a narrow trail with a deep drop-off on one side and a steep hill on the other. It was the trails of Cloudland Canyon State Park and I feared for my safety a time or two. I wanted to quit and call for help on more than one steep hill I cycled, but who was going to help me? My family members had their own bikes to navigate and no one would’ve been able to hear my cry so deep in the forest.
So on I rode.
I won’t go into all the details about sore muscles, obstacles, turtles, sweat, and tics. I’ll just say it was the best feeling to finish. Not just because it was over but because I’d done it. I was living in the moment just like my Heavenly Father had reminded me to do. I appreciate moments like these so much more because of what I’ve been through, the past has helped to make my present richer.
But, there was no good news waiting for me at the end of each day.
I found myself waiting and waiting for some giant announcement, or for some miracle. But when I looked back at our time together, I began to realize something. Maybe my good news was not one thing in particular, maybe it was the combination of a million little moments along the way. A beautiful sunset overlooking the most amazing view I think I’ve ever seen, watching my children play hours of Monopoly, discovering a new part of the country, laughing until our stomachs hurt, riding bikes like we hadn’t in years, and talking about things that really mattered.
All of it.
The joy of living beginning to return to my broken soul may be the good news I’ve been so anxiously awaiting.
I understand now that our memories are the colorful thread that weaves its way through our lives and eventually tells our story. It is one thing we all have in common.
We will all remember.
I was spending so much time looking for good news that I almost missed it, a life lived well is full of good news, good moments, and good times even in the midst of hardship. We must look for it because it is always there.
And if we are intentional about living well, we will have many good memories filled with good news to tuck us in at night.
I learned a lot on my vacation.
White water rafting scares me to death, but I would do it again in a heartbeat.
Cliff repelling requires trust and perhaps a little bit of insanity, but I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything.
Monopoly is the worst but I would probably play it again…probably.
But mostly, I learned I want to live well and always be looking for the good news.
Chances are, it’s right in front of me.
“How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of the messenger who brings good news, the good news of peace and salvation, the news that the God of Israel reigns!”
Isaiah 52:7 NLT