Saturday, November 16, 2013

Persevering Through the Valley

The valleys were deep again this week as I do the painful yet necessary work of grief. Having Ted in my life was such a huge and wonderful blessing, so it is going to be a mountain of work to reshape a life without him.

You only get perseverance from what you persevere through.

I know that the testing of our faith produces perseverance and we need to let it finish its work so that we are not lacking anything. So, I remember that even now, though I can't always see or feel it, God is in the middle of a good work. That's His nature. He drenches us in His unfailing love and He works all things together for good for those who love Him. It encourages me to persevere with Him.

With so much to do and much more on the horizon, I started believing that the harder and faster I work, the sooner I can simplify my life. But, I realized that this strategy has put many things in motion that have complicated my life rather than bringing the simplicity I so desire.

This week, in the middle of a big valley, my grief counselor suggested I take a six-week "vacation" from thinking about the rentals and just let things unfold. That way I can focus on the holidays and be more free to enjoy the moments with family and friends, and to take care of myself. I love that idea and the "permission" she gave me to do that.

After all, God is in control anyway, so it really is surrendering to Him and not trying to do it all myself. Wait a minute... when did I revert to thinking it was up to me? God has been so very faithful in showing me that when I abide, He provides. I have many, many examples of Him providing daily manna in my life. My part is to focus on today and to just walk with Him.

Even when things seem long, dark or bleak, His great grace finds me. We always have HOPE in the Lord Our God! According to C.S. Lewis, "If we can praise and worship Him in the midst of trouble, pain or loss, that is what pleases Him the most."

So, Lord, I'm breathing in your grace, and breathing out your praise... I'm breathing in your grace, and breathing out your praise.

Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, still I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior (Hab. 3:17-18). All praise to our great God!

Saturday, November 2, 2013

My Husband, My Provider

Ted's words came back to me from Heaven: "God gave us these resources and we are just stewards of what He's given. It's up to us to do our best with stewarding the duplexes, and it's up to Him to fill them."

That is what I've been trying to follow, though I had never planned on being a landlord. It was Ted's interest, his talent with people and mechanical things -- but definitely out of my comfort zone.

I've been stressed and praying much about these duplexes, both the properties and the people in them. I want to treat the families well and take care of the homes, but I want to be done with this job soon. The properties are for sale.

Being that they are on the market, it has scared away some prospective tenants as I diligently tried to fill a unit that had come open. I screened and interviewed several people, and the good ones seemed to go away after I told them I was hoping to sell soon. I was treating these people the way I would want to be treated, and they deserved to know.

After a busy week of squeezing in rental showings between all my other responsibilities, I was getting discouraged when, time after time, the background checks on prospective renters revealed numerous small claims court cases, evictions and unpaid bills. One prospect was more than an hour late for our appointment; first she ran out of gas, then got lost, got lost again, phoning me all along and telling me her GPS said she was only 6 minutes away...

I had already had a long day, but now I was waiting endlessly in an empty apartment with no furniture and no heat. I was cold, tired, hungry and had an imposing list of other to-do's. I knelt on the kitchen floor and prayed. "Lord, you own this. It's yours. You know who you want for a tenant. I trust you to bring who you want. I always had Ted to make decisions with. I really wish he were here now. He'd calm my emotions and have a plan, and I liked that all I had to do was support him in whatever way I could. He was wise and confident, strong and capable."

So is Jesus, I thought. He is my husband now and He will do those things for me. I can give my concerns over to Him (put them in His backpack) and walk alongside Him, trusting Him for the next steps. He is the one with the plan as I abide in Him and provide my support. The thought calmed and comforted me.

As I was finally leaving after this appointment (which had only gone further downhill quickly), I cried in frustration all the way home. But as I turned down my road, only 10 minutes after my desperate prayer, my cell phone was ringing. I received the call that would become my "ideal" trustworthy renter, coming from 200 miles away and not being bothered that I would be selling. He said he might even be interested in buying...!

Good Lord, you are so wonderful to me. You are in control of every detail and nothing is too hard for you. Just as you brought the ideal renter, I know you can bring the ideal buyer(s). My eyes are on you and what you will do. My total trust is in you, my loving husband and provider of all my needs.