Our great cleanout was in full swing. Crafted prayer was in place. Then May arrived. I put Mike on a plane to California the day after Mother’s Day. When I got home and opened an email, I discovered that my little sister Becky had a heart attack and was in ICU in Reno. With this incident, an intense few months started.
I was on a plane the next day. I spent a week rotating shifts at the hospital with my other siblings and Becky’s husband, Adrian.
Becky had been at a business luncheon when she collapsed at the table. Her heart stopped. Forty-five minutes later, she was resuscitated. While there was damage to her heart, we discovered that the greater impact was to her brain.
She lost most of her short-term memory. She didn’t know why she was at the hospital or why she couldn’t go home. She knew us, but couldn’t remember what we said moments before. They had to restrain her to keep her from getting out of bed. It was not possible to have a nurse present 24/7. So, we took turns keeping her company and keeping her from harm.
I went home a week later with the promise to return at the end of the month to assist Adrian. Her recovery would take time.
On June 2, we took the house off the market. Mike was still in California, and I was in Reno. By June 10, I wrote in my journal, “Lord, I don’t know where I am in life’s plan. I am lost without bearing. I don’t see a known path set before me. All the places I thought were our destination are lost in a mist of uncertainty. Lord, if it is Your will, show me where I am and the next step in front of me.”
The next day, trusting that God would care for Becky, I flew home.
Then on June 19th, I set aside time to be with Holy Spirit. I heard Him whisper my name, “Mary Ellen?”
“Listen to My whispers of love. I come gently into your day, ever present with you. There is no fear in love, and truly you do love Me, and I love you. The canvas before Me is clear. You only see a small piece.”
Lord, I see myself in a desert setting, but it is beautiful. As the sun slowly rises, the sands are pink with its rays. I smell the fragrance of sand wet with dew, and my heart rejoices in all You’ve provided. What is this desert scene Holy Spirit?
“It is a heart washed clean by My love and filled with the light of My presence. There is joy in the uncluttered landscape. There is joy in the fragrance of freshly washed earth. And there is joy in the warm colors of dawn, an unencumbered life in the spirit.
“There is a purpose in not seeing the details. It lifts your eyes to Me and My beauty. My love. Details can overwhelm, even when they are good. It is well to have an uncluttered mind and heart. You are a carrier of My peace. Continue to rejoice in My love and listen for My whispers.”
My other sister, Ginny, was packing to move from California to New Jersey. Becky’s heart attack happened in the middle of that process. Ginny worked as the office administrator for three doctors. Work limited her time to pack. I felt prompted to help, and in response, I flew to California on June 26th, Ginny’s sixty-second birthday.
We gathered boxes and packing supplies and got to work. While Ginny was at the office, I loaded up her kitchen and bathroom supplies. When she was home, we laughed and sang and packed together. On the 29th, I got back on the plane and flew home.
Have you ever noticed how after you’ve visited someone with a clean home, you want to come home and clean your house? Or you watched a movie about travel, and you feel compelled to get your suitcase out and plan a trip? After I had returned home from our packing spree, I had new determination to weed through our belongings again.
Out loud, to myself, I proclaimed, “What are our real needs? We don’t need to be hanging on to so much stuff. I don’t want to have to pack all this when we move.”
While neither Mike nor I knew God’s plan in detail, we both believed that moving was still in our future. We started considering our furniture and appliances. We wanted to gift others with the things that were too large to move, or we wanted to replace.
When the Fourth of July arrived, I asked Holy Spirit about this urge to purge furniture and belongings. “Lord, is this You or my own doing?”
“It is Me. I am removing your need for things and increasing your need for Me. The stuff of this world is just that, stuff. I am the substance of your very life. When you leave, there will be only the essentials for My purpose to be packed. All needs will be provided. No worries, no fears. Your God will supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.1 It’s more than words. It is substance, storehouses full of supply to meet every need. Ask of me and see.”
We filled cans to overflowing. Big black bulging trash bags multiplied beside the garbage cans. We found people needing our dressers, two living room chairs, and the extra refrigerator in the garage. A bookcase, loveseat, dining room table and chairs and our king-sized bed found happy homes as well. Mike found a person who loved mules to give our donkey.
After sorting out the closets, I opened my Jesus Calling, devotional. “You will never be in control of your life circumstances, but you can relax and trust My control. I long to make your life a glorious adventure.” God’s continued reassurance blessed me beyond words.
The next day Mike and I were talking, and I asked, “So, when are we going to rent a truck?”
To my surprise, he said, “I’ve been thinking about that. What I’m considering is to take the truck and trailer out after Sarah’s wedding with all my tools and such. Then after I drive back, I can rent a U-Haul and move the rest. Maybe we can stay at Jeff’s (his brother) cabin or Greg’s (another brother) house until we find a house.” I felt as if we were launched with this disclosure. When Mike broke down his ham radio antennas to pack, I knew he was serious.
Sarah’s wedding was set for August 8th. Between July 4th and her wedding, we repainted bedrooms and had a new roof put on the house. At first, Mike wanted to sell the house “as is.” Yet, at this point, we knew an upgrade would enhance the sale.
In the midst of all the upgrading, I tried cleaning all the kitchen cabinets. Our kitchen was large. The cabinets looked like dark walnut, beautiful wood but in need of a cleaning. I spent a couple of days scrubbing, but decided what they needed most was sanding and refinishing. Over the next few weeks, I removed all the eighteen doors. I refinished them and the drawer fronts with a final coat of polyurethane. They looked amazing. When I got them up, I wished I’d done it years before.
Mike decided to have the basement family room and bedroom re-carpeted. Then we repainted several more rooms.
On August 5th, our air conditioner/heating unit quit. It was a hundred degrees, and we knew it would be better to replace it rather than get it repaired. We’d babied it along for a few years hoping it would last. So, two days after Sarah’s wedding, they installed the new unit. We felt like this was the end of the upgrading needed.
Becky was doing better now. She was in rehab, and I felt the need to see her again. Thus on August 13th, I flew back to Reno for a few days. While I was gone, Mike called a realtor and scheduled an appointment to relist the house.
By the fifteenth, I felt as if we were closing in on the promises and the date of departure for California was near. I asked the Lord, “Are we leaving soon?”
“Yes and so much more,” He said. “You are departing from all you’ve known. But you are also departing and leaving behind soul structures. These structures have held you captive to unbelief and low-self-esteem. I am turning up the heat and burning away the chaff. Pure gold is coming forth. You will see Mike, yourself, and Me in a clearer perspective than you’ve ever known.”
On August 19th, we relisted the house and our six acres for $239,000.
Several weeks later, after no activity on the sale of the house, I was carrying laundry downstairs. I was mumbling to the Lord. “Another weekend without people looking at the house. Several drove by, but none of them stopped. Lord, what is going on? All this feels like rejection.”
Then, in my spirit, I heard, “I can’t give you anything but love, Baby. It’s the only thing I’m plenty of, Baby.”
I couldn’t help but laugh. “It’s true Lord, You can’t give me anything but love,” I said. “I trust You.”
By my sixty-fourth birthday on September 20, there were many disturbing news reports. There were stock market woes, the devastation of hurricanes, and government bailouts throwing heavy taxes on all. Our questions grew about timing.
Several days later we met with the realtor and lowered our price to $199,000. Then on September 29, the market plunged 777 plus points.
Mike made a couple of trips to California hauling tools and other things we didn’t want to have to put in the U-Haul. After telling his family about our move, Mike’s brother Greg offered to let us store our belongings in his big Morton building. He also offered to let us stay at his house.
Early in October, I flew out to California and met Mike at Greg’s. I spent the week helping around Greg’s place, scouting out some houses, and going to a Bible study with Greg’s wife, Karen.
Meanwhile, we kept our eye on the stock market and prayed for a call from our realtor. My journal logs the uncertainty. (October 16) “The stock market is a roller coaster. It plunged into the basement this week and then shot up 936 points on Monday. It was down 200 points on Tuesday and then 733 points down yesterday. Not sure what the result of all this will be.”
After we returned home, we received our first offer on October 28. They wanted to close escrow on November 25 two days before Thanksgiving. The next day we signed papers thankful for all the months of sorting and preparation behind us.
The next month would be full of activity, tears, packing and praying. At last, we were on our way to California.
On November 21 escrow closed on the house. By then, Mike had hauled our good tractor to a friend’s farm for safe keeping and sold the other one. I decided to give my car to my friend, Linda. We made arrangements for pick up.
The next day, I wrote my last “Good morning, Lord” in my journal as I sat in my prayer room. Leaving our land, our home, our family and friends brought tears every time it crossed my mind. So many memories, struggles, and triumphs. All the acts of love, the celebrations, pains and immeasurable seasons of grace wrapped in twenty-seven years. So many tears and heart to heart conversations in my secret place here.
A crew of cherished family and friends arrived at nine to help us pack the U-Haul. To my amazement, we were loaded in an hour’s time.
There were hugs and lots more tears. Sarah realized for the first time that Mike and I would not be there for the holidays or her birthday. She cried and cried. It was so hard for her and for us.
Finally, everyone left but Mike and I. Mike finished vacuuming, and I scrubbed out the refrigerator. We shared our final meal of Subway sandwiches sitting on the kitchen floor. After three plus years of waiting, we were beginning a new chapter. It felt unreal.
In those last 24 hours, my watch broke and my favorite pen died, more signs of closure. “Lord,” I cried, “I leave it all behind.” The song came to mind, ‘I have decided to follow Jesus, I have decided to follow Jesus, I have decided to follow Jesus, no turning back, no turning back.’
“Lord, we have decided. What a miracle of grace! What a work of love! Help us trust You for every detail and may all we do honor You, Lord.”
At 1:30 Mike and I prayed and then he pulled out of the driveway in the U-Haul, headed for California. I gave a final wipe down to the counters, put some boxes in the burning barrel, locked the door of the house and left in tears.
After spending the night at my friend Lisa’s house, I flew out the next morning. We had a long list of promises. I couldn’t wait to see how God was going to bring them to pass.
~~ How About You? ~~
Have you waited and waited for a promise to manifest and when it does you find yourself in a whirlwind of activity? Things that were part of your everyday life are difficult to let go of and leave? Have you ever wondered why the waiting seems endless? Then the manifestation always feels as if it’s in fast forward?
For God, all time is present before Him. He sees the end from the beginning. That’s why when He speaks, we need to believe Him because He already sees the fulfillment.
Psalm 31:15 says, “My times are in Your hands.”
Isaiah 46:9-10 says, “Remember the former things of old,
For I am God, and there is no other;
I am God, and there is none like Me,
Declaring the end from the beginning,
And from ancient times things that are not yet done,
Saying, ‘My counsel shall stand,
And I will do all My pleasure.’”
God’s timetable is rarely ours. Trust Him because He is always on time.