I have a
small poster that rides with me on my dashboard. It sums up 7 months of
displacement, and of sudden loss- my brother’s young son who died this summer.
I read the passage on the poster and I am reminded how I sat for two days in an
ICU, while my brother’s life was in peril. He almost died and all I could do
was offer a pale trembling hand of comfort, a worn photo of my late daughter
and my silver cross.
Upon returning to live out of my car, I sat in the passenger seat, hands folded together and asking God, “I know this is not your plans for me Lord, please help me to re-direct… and change me for the better!
Back on the Island, I prayed over the surgeries I need, and I was able to establish somewhat of a sleep schedule in my mini car. I usually awaken at 4- 5am to a very cold interior. However, with a fumble for the keys, within 15 minutes, I have a heated vehicle.
Over the course of this year, being without a home, I’ve been asked as to why I financed such a tiny car? This amuses me because I could not foresee two things- COVID-19 and myself rendered without shelter. In the area I safely park, I look around at the ‘family’ of others who are also now ‘car-camping’….. there are vans, RV’s, trucks with canopies and I have even seen bigger cars than mine outfitted and better equipped.
I believe I was naïve in my purchase as I thought if I bought the smallest car possible, then I would never be forced to sleep in it.
This was just one of many things that challenged me….and changed me during 2020!
Throughout this experience, I found comfort in the music I listen to on PRAISE 106.5 FM. A song that is on continuous re-loop in my head is the duet “There was Jesus” by Zach Williams and Dolly Parton. I’ve written before of Zach’s own battles with addictions and other challenges. This is why I’m drawn to his lyrics because they are believable.
waiting, in the searching
In the healing, in the hurting
Like a blessing buried in the broken pieces
Every minute, every moment
Where I've been or where I'm going
Even when I didn't know it
Or couldn't see it
There was Jesus…
There is a lot to be said for waking up in a chilly small space yet being able to turn on the heat and access the radio; both of which warm up the soul.
I also listen to “Focus on the Family” and I feel better connected to this world. It helps me to re-direct where I am and what lays ahead of my day. I also have found reason to give a lot of Praise, over the recent events unfolding due to a great deal of people praying for me.
During the months passed, I have received many messages from those sharing they were keeping me in prayers and favour. Friends shared how their congregations had been holding me in prayer. On days when I felt less than whole and fighting the ailments I have- especially my heart and fibroids, I had to learn to redirect my pain and give thanks to those praying for me!
“Gratitude is our lifeline to JOY” ~ PRAISE 106.5 FM
The other morning, I was awake at 4:30 am, as the cold was biting through my layers of clothes. I turned on the radio to begin listening to Focus on the Family Speaker Patsy Clairmont.
20 minutes later and I was hooked on the way she had spoken of serious subject matter- yet laced it with humour. She openly shared of her anxiety and of being abused as a 9-year-old little girl. The following is an excerpt from that presentation:
She mentioned of being confined in bed, still trapped in her younger self’s body, and asking God to give her the bigger picture for more bigger things. Yet she could not even handle the little things…like getting out of bed. As a married woman, she enrolled in Counselling, only to discover that she would be put to task when asked to not complain, whine, or exaggerate any situation, in addition to putting boundaries at her emotions. Patsy scoffed at the notion and laughed at the very thought of any of these suggestions. Her Counsellor also advised her to put the shards of life- the fragments into a Kaleidoscope and look at the great work of Christ that has been done in you! Patsy quoted scripture and from Proverbs: “It is a wise person to restrain their lips!” She burst into laughter as she relayed her reaction to her Counsellor suggesting Patsy go on a “Word Diet!”
The more I listened, the more I realized why I was connected to her speaking…my life mirrored a lot of what she honestly imparted. Patsy ended her talk by sharing her hunger for HOPE and Positivity!
When a visit to the local bookstore permits- there are plenty of self-help books that are able to place a bandage over the wounds, but it takes someone in the trenches- whose tenacity has spurred a relatable connection. The source of our unhappiness can be rooted far deeper than simply believing "WE Rock!"
These programs have been what I call Well Worship…because I have felt my empty well be refilled with encouragement, the spoken word and song.
The next morning, I tuned in to hear a rousing rendition of “Amazing Grace.” If ever a song can deliver emotion, it is this one. I titled my seat back and extended out my arms. My raspy voice joined in the words…” that saved a wretch like me.” Soon, the tears were flowing and anyone driving on by, had quite the sight to see!
On another brisk autumn evening, I checked my messages before partaking in the hour + it takes for me to ‘settle in.’ A song that also evokes a great deal of emotion, is called “The Blessing” and is sung by the married couple Kari Jobe and Cody Carnes, along with Elevation Worship. The powerful words are riveting and redirected me to another door opening…. with scripture shared in a heartfelt message from a dear sister in Christ, Leanna:
Psalm 118: 5-7
When hard pressed, I cried to the Lord;
he brought me into a spacious place.
The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid.
What can mere mortals do to me?
The Lord is with me; he is my helper.
I look in triumph on my enemies.
Turns out that often we pray for something and think to ourselves Oh, this is what God meant….and then the tides turn in a redirection, which makes us question even more.
This is the case, as after 7 months of driving, breathing, sleeping, and surviving in my vehicle, an opportunity has opened for me, to my next chapter. At first, I believed it was connected solely to my health and my surgical procedures, yet as that one chapter remains…it is not the priority I now see unfolding.
As one chapter comes to an end and the chance to move somewhere (the location is undisclosed as to protect me), I look back on the valued contributions in the 7 years I lived on the Island. This points to how the Lord had me serve. Recently, I was gifted a bagful of knitted toques by a lady whose parents were Pastors and her brother’s missionaries. During the pandemic she has knitted and covered her trees in their yard with brightly coloured yarn objects. This spring, when I worked in construction, my driving route took me past her and her husbands home and I delighted in seeing the vibrant corner lot.
She contacted me and asked if I still wanted to go out and connect with those marginalized, by gifting them, her warm, knitted items. I saw it as a wonderful opportunity to redirect my own pain; by choosing to serve those with far greater needs. This blesses me to serve in a satisfying way.
It also has helped me let go of the idea that I struggle with...one in which I am misguided to believe I need to earn my own worth; as I already have it, in the eyes of the grandest creator.
The following verse from Leanna Crawford's song: The Truth I'm Standing On... reflects on this perfect progress:
I'm choosing to believe
Someday soon I'll look back and see
All the pain had a purpose
Your plan was perfect all along
This is the truth I'm standing on ~ Leanna Crawford
It means to me that a new and promising chapter lay ahead….one in which I am to follow this redirection, while God leads!
By Tonya L Alton