The end of 2018 was a strange one for me. The year which had started with the exhaustion and fulfillment of a new book completed, new speaking engagements booked (I still have room in my 2019 calendar if your group needs a speaker,) and all kinds of possibilities; ended as a mixture of contentment, new energy, and hope.
Ella’s rheumatoid arthritis began to flare up over the summer, but became debilitating after a simple cold became a sinus infection and then triggered her immune system. (Please don’t come near us if you have a sniffle. It can be catastrophic for us.) The arthritis which had been confined in her legs rapidly went systemic invading her arms, wrists, hands, and jaw. My girl who was famous for her ability to get around suddenly couldn’t open her mouth beyond halfway or get out of bed without her wrists dislocating from the swelling and pressure.
Despite the wheelchair, I had never thought of Ella as being handicapped before this Fall. She was profoundly disabled, and the phrase “wheelchair-bound” became a description of her reality. And she needed me home.
I prayed about it, and then resigned from everything I was doing. I quit my job coaching at the Crossfit box near our old house. I stepped back from volunteering at the kids’ schools. I stopped traveling to meet up with friends, cutting way back on my social life and asking those I did see to come here instead.
I spent my time writing (look for new books later this year,) reading, and working on our new home. As I worked at making our new spaces feel more comfortable (and pretty, pretty is VERY important,) I purged. I weeded through mountains of paperwork and old clothes, a virago of cleaning frenzy. I took all of the energy that I used to spend running around and living out loud, and turned it back towards my home, family, and writing.
My husband and I discussed my schedule and decided how many days a month I could be gone for speaking and book stuff, and I began to see them as joyful God-sent mini-vacations. I stopped seeking them, and God gently filled my Fall and Winter calendar.
As we got to Christmas, Ella’s new medication finally began working, and her strength and mobility have begun to return. She’s no longer sleeping 18-20 hours a day (autoimmune diseases are exhausting,) and she can once again venture out to see friends one or two times a week.
As our world has begun to open back up to us, I began considering what I could and should add back to my schedule as she continues to improve. I’ve decided, for now, to stick with what’s working.
There is a peace in my simplified life that my former busyness had kept hidden. All of the running kept me from the work God has placed in front of me. Designing a life for myself that was lived so much away from my home was robbing me of the simple warmth of home and family. It was and is a fun life, but it’s not honest and real.
Just for fun, I rolled the dice with Jen Fulwiler’s “Word of the Year” generator twice and it gave me the words “Engage” and “Still.” It made me smile, because that was exactly what I had already planned for 2019 to look like – more writing, more blogging, more engaging with people that God places in my path (look out world! If y’all thought that I talked to everyone I met before now, multiply that by a LOT!) and to be still. I’m planning on a lot more days of my minivan’s being parked in my driveway.
God wasn’t in the earthquake, or the wind, or any of the loud and violent things that passed by. He was in the quiet breeze. This year, I’m going to stay still long enough to hear Him.
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