Because Evidently, I Need Some Friends

I started a women’s Wednesday night class at church. I didn’t want too, but, well, EVERYONE says I need some friends. I don’t know what to think about that.

(A side note here, because my female friends that live far away from me–or at least far enough away–well be like, what? I thought we were friends. We are darlings, we are.  But when I moved 2 years ago, I moved to a town where I knew no one, and I still don’t. Hence the “go make friends from family.”)

So, I went, feeling a bit “ulterior motive-ish,” and scanning the room for potential candidates.

When the teacher did her icebreaker, and went person-to-person asking why we joined the leadership class, I came pretty darn close to saying, “Because evidently, I need some friends.” That seemed a bit TMI right off the bat, and possibly frightening for the ladies, so I mumbled something–blah, blah, blah–about leadership, while continuing my scan of possible new friends. I figure if I leave the class friendless, my family, and my one friend will kill me. They’re thinking I’m high maintenance at the moment. I’m thinking I’m high maintenance at the moment too, but hey, I’m not stressing over it. They are.

But, bonus! The class is interesting.

We started with this acronym VVMG.

  • Visions
  • Values
  • Mission
  • Goals

What’s your vision for your life (or ministry in this case)?
What do you value?
What is your mission in life?
What goals do you need to set to accomplish that mission?

I’ve been given the mission of finding a friend because my family values their evenings, and are tired of me interrupting them with the billionth phone call for a chat. The goal is simple: Pick a friend and don’t run her off.

I  learned that leaders should have these qualities: Honesty, integrity, purity (of motive and more) , and an integrated personality with an integrated life. This one was solid gold for me. Simply put, being the same person all the time. No chameleons or charlatans. The person we are becoming is the person we always are. It’s called authenticity. I have no idea if God wants to use me in a leadership role. I have little vision for my life beyond doing what’s next, and the only thing I value right now is an income. But, I desire to be authentic.

Jesus was authentic. He was a fully integrated human being. The only one ever, because he was perfect. Not perfect like a perfectionist (who are just annoying), but perfect in his humanity. He did not have to reconcile different aspects of himself or have some space to “find himself.” He simply was, is and always will be. If I have any vision at all, if I value anything, or have a goal, it is simply, to be.

I a mom, a writer, a gardener, a daughter, a sister, a horticulturist, (and evidently I need to be a friend soon) but mostly, I am Cinthia. It makes sense that you must start there in leadership, with just yourself and no pretense. I imagine it’s a good starting point for making friends, too.



All Things Material/A Crisis Of Faith

We’ve reached the sad part of packing up Mom’s house. I don’t get to participate as much because I lost two weeks of work when Mom passed away, and now there isn’t the luxury to lose more. I must trust my sisters to pack and sort, and keep or throw away.

It is hard. I would love to go through her things one last time. As painful as it is to box away her things, it is just as painful not too. What would I discover? What would I learn about the last days of her life? The last years? But life dictates, and so does work. Moving from South Turkey Creek prepared me for this moment. I gave away many memories all wrapped up in material things because of the downsizing I did, and the time constraints on moving. I did not have the leisure to sift through each drawer or box-stuffed children’s drawings, though I wanted too. It’s something we all have to face at some point—this reduction of life.

If I ever needed my faith, it’s now. Yet, I will admit to a crisis of faith. I ask the Lord, “Precisely WHERE is my mother?”

I’m told because she died so suddenly, and so unexpectedly, that the processing of her death is harder. I can attest to the truth of that. When Daddy died, I wasn’t happy, but I was prepared. I got to say good-bye, have those conversations and such. I hated his suffering, but the length of his illness allowed him time to prepare, too. He was given sweet time to grieve with us.

There is a quality of vanishing to Mom’s death that there wasn’t with Dad’s. Here one day, and literally gone the next. Talk about life being fragile. And, truly, from the woman who loves the Lord deeply, I am wondering if I bought into a load of hooey. Is what I believe true? Is my mother with Jesus? Did he personally come to her, and take her to her eternal home? Or did she just vanish?

I am astonished at my questions. But, here they are.

My oldest sister could not bear the thought of a yard sale. All those people picking through her mother’s things, and taking them with her. No matter how small or trivial, they were her’s. The process isn’t about material things, it is about life. The life she built in her small mother-in-law house. The life I am very proud of her for accomplishing. It is no small feat to build a life. It takes hard work, perseverance, courage.

But cleaning out her house removes her hard work and wipes the slate of her life clean. She is no more, and her home was our home (my sisters and I) and so where is home now? I look at my three sisters and think, I better be nice to them. They’re all I’ve got now. I better stop with the “who’s right, who’s wrong” mess and just get on with the business of being their sister. What if they got together and voted me out? Well, they can’t. Votes are unanimous.

In case you’re stuck on the crisis of faith statement, let me say, that I get on my knees, and I ask God these questions. I work through it with him, not without him, and hopefully when he gets me to other side of it, I will have a story to tell. About his faithfulness, his grace, his mercy, his provision, his love.

I read once that a group of Jews at Auschwitz decided to put God on trial. There is some debate on whether or not the story is true, but it is told that they held a mock trial and found God guilty of neglect, I suppose. Scripture does, after all, refer to him as Father. Millions of Jews were being slaughtered every day. Where was the heck was he? (I am famous for saying, well, he did let John the Baptist get his head chopped off.) After their judgement, they prayed and worshiped him. They found him guilty one minute, and worshiped him the next. Call me crazy, but I find great comfort in that.



A Tribute to the Ability to Change–Yes You Can.

Exactly two years ago this month, my mother told me she loved me for the first time in my adult life. Maybe for the first time ever. I  have no memory of her saying it when I was a child. But, when I moved to Brevard, on the day of actually, she called me up and we chatted a bit, and I could tell she had something important to say but was struggling to do so. She finally got her courage, and told me she loved me. It was a bit uncomfortable for both of us honestly, yet a precious moment for both of us, too.

My relationship with my mother was tumultuous when I lived at home. Let’s just say, I brought her no joy. When I left home, I left for good. Oh, I still saw my parents, but my connection to them was surface level. Whatever interaction I had with mom was strictly obligatory, and I was good with that. But Mom was not, and she set about the hard work of changing it. She initiated a relationship with me again, beyond the expected holidays and birthdays. My mother bridged the gap between us when she still did not understand her introverted, question-asking, boundary-pushing daughter. Mom, ever the socialite, that person who never met a stranger, was dumbfounded by my lack of interest in being “like her.” That was the wedge between us, really. She wanted her daughter to live life the way she did. I wanted to live it my way. Admittedly, mom had a great life, but it was her life, not mine. She came to understand that, and began to create, slowly but with perseverance, a relationship with me as an adult, based on the respect one adult pays another–not running their lives for them, but enjoying life with them. A hard won battle for my mom. A hard won battle for any of us. Who do you need to stop controlling? .Who do I need to stop controlling?

On the day she told me she loved me, our relationship had been thriving for many years. Gone was the anger, and bitter root. In its place were two women, mother and daughter, who enjoyed a beautiful relationship in spite of differences and preferences. We’d learn to celebrate the uniqueness of one another, and I am proud of the woman who did what a good parent does–listen to her child and validate her. Mom made a choice to forget who was right or wrong (a hard choice for her or for anyone!) and determined to love her daughter as is. No small feat when I see parents daily who are content with sweeping issues under the rug, or pretending that nothing is wrong, or demanding children live their lives as they do. Mom knew something was wrong between us, and she set about fixing it. That sentence, that 13 word strung-together sentence is astonishing, and something so evolved that it requires respect.

I am proud to call a woman mother, who was that brave, the kind of bravery that soldiers yearn for. On the heels of her death, as we pack up her house and make decisions about what we’d like to keep, well, I’d like to have of her humility to acknowledge what she wanted to change, and her courage to do so. They say love is an action verb. My mother took 53 years to say I love you to me, but I did not notice it, because she practiced love every time she put her understanding of life aside, and listened to mine..

In a world that screams at one another, I am right and you are wrong, my mother let go of  her “right to be right” and connected with me. I could pay her no greater tribute than to simply say, “Mom thank you for letting me be me, and for loving that me. I love that you.”


No More News Today; I’m Going Out to the Garden

I can’t watch the news, anymore. The Lord did not give me a heart of steel. I am a sponge when it comes to broken hearts and broken worlds. There is only so much any of us can listen to or watch, and stay sane. Enough said. It is out to the garden I go. Or in today’s case, it is out the garden center I go. The place where beauty actually overtakes evil.

The light shines into the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.

Here are two of my new favorites at the garden center. I will side note here to add that if you go to a big box, you might find these, MIGHT. But, if you did find them, they would not look like this. Point made. Support your local, independent garden retail center

Number one new favorite:

Coreopsis ‘Enchanted Eve’ part of the Lil’ Bang series (which is the dwarf of the Big Bang series, like ‘Mercury Rising’). This super cool guy named Darrell Probst (no, I never met the guy but his plants are awesome) is the breeder. His thing is breeding coreopsis for lower zones (down to zone 5) and color (he has introduced a true red coreopsis).  Height on this one makes it perfect for containers or landscape, 8-12″ and 12-18″ spread. Blooms early summer into early fall. Zone 5-9 and cooler climates will have more red in the center. Don’t you feel better just looking at this and thinking of all the great places to plant it? Me too.

Coreopsis 'Enchanted Eve'

Coreopsis ‘Enchanted Eve’

Second current favorite:

Coreopsis ‘Red Satin’ done by the same guy. (He is very busy.) Part of the Permathread series, this one gets 12-18″ tall, similar spread, and zones 5-9. (The zone thing is evidently a big thing for him, living in MA, a zone 5.) A wine red color.This one just makes my heart so happy it hurts.

Coreopsis 'Red Satin'

Coreopsis ‘Red Satin’

Joe Pye Weed hybrids are selling like mad in the garden center, everyone wants one. Little Joe, Baby Joe, and this guy, ‘Phantom,’ whom I adore. It stays compact, 31″ high max, 23″ wide, not all that flopping around. Not to mention, its blooms are perfect. No, that is not our garden center in the background. If it was, we’d open a bed and breakfast and take reservations. My phone died before I could take a picture. This is an internet shot. Wherever this place is, with the view in the background, what a heck-of-a-place to garden. Here’s a link for a comparative study done on the pye weed by the Chicago Botanic Garden. (I know, that is the last thing you want to read, but the pictures are incredible.)

Joe Pye Weed 'Phantom'

Joe Pye Weed ‘Phantom’

And, in my own garden, Sweet Autumn clematis. It can be so weedy, but how pretty is this? Up to 30′ tall with a similar spread, this baby can tolerate a lot of shade. And, it blooms now, late August through September. It is also deer resistant, but let’s talk deer for a half of second (or they’ll hear us and come running and there will go my clematis). I’ll say this once. DEER DON’T READ OUR PLANT TAGS.

Sweet Autumn Clematis

Sweet Autumn Clematis

If you feel the need to return to the news now, go ahead. I’m going to walk Aggie while drinking my coffee. (A definite balancing trick, “Squirrel!”) I’ll pray today for the violence to recede, for gardens to take the place of war-torn lands, and swords to turn to plowshares.

Isaiah 2:4 He will judge between the nations and will settle disputes for many peoples. They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore.

Go Get Your Mani/Pedi, The Sisters Made Their Bucket Lists

My sisters and I (there are 4 of us) aren’t sure how to manage the deep, black hole my mother left. Today, Sister #3 dropped her college kid off, and was sad because every other year (this is the junior year) she texted Mom a picture of the college dorm room. But, no Mom this year. She texted it to the group message we’ve had going since Mom died, instead.

Here it is.

Adorable niece in college room

Adorable niece in college room

All, l I’m saying is, it’s a good thing Mom had her cataract surgery or she’d be hard pressed to make out which grandchild this is. What’s with the blurry pic, Sister?

Then, the group text decided we needed something to look forward too. That started the  bucket lists flying, and honestly, one of us did have skydiving on her’s, but thank God her husband said no. We would have voted against it anyway, since we did vote that we would help each other complete our bucket lists. (We’re supportive, but we’re not crazy.)

Here’s what we got so far.

  • A Broadway play and Niagara Falls.
  • An infiiniti pool with a bar and fruity drinks on a beach.
  • A night out at the symphony in Boston, majorly dressed up with good seats.
  • A visit to the Sankaty Lighthouse in Nantucket (the oldest ever, in case you’re wondering).

Yeah, we’re an adventurous group. At least Mt. Everest wasn’t on the list. So far, we’re calling up the Ritz to complete our lists, or the Plaza. Who doesn’t love Eloise? All I need for this bucket list is a mani/pedi. I feel a book coming on.

I can’t imagine it will change the empty space Mom left, but I hope it will change time. New-memories-made-out-of-new-adventures, kind of time. But, let us go on record for saying, that, well, Frankie Ann would be furious. If we ever did anything without her, there was H-E-double-toothpicks to pay. She wanted to be included in everything. Which is the one word everyone that knew Mom used to describe her–inclusive. So, it only makes sense. Mom liked her people.

But, to be fair, Mom would be blessed to know we’re helping one another make dreams come true. Or, really, to know we’re helping each other through this Valley of Death, and, in the midst of the horror of it, possibly dream new dreams.

My sister is home after the college-kid drop of. This was her final text for the night.

Cross on Interstate 24 towards Chattanooga

Cross on Interstate 24 towards Chattanooga


Mom would have loved it, even without the cataract surgery. Good picture, Sister.

Getting Rich, Starbucks, Good Deeds, and Rocky Road Ice Cream

I have a friend who is very rich. She once said to me, “If people wouldn’t spend 5 dollars for a Starbucks coffee everyday, maybe they wouldn’t be so broke.”

Well, there you have it. The answer to welfare.

So, I think of her when I stop at Ingles’ grocery store after work, and get my daily Starbucks iced tea. A large–very large, the largest one you have please, (I generally point to the plastic cup I want)–with a little sweetener and a little lemonade.

Now, here’s where it gets wonky. I get the exact same size iced tea every day, made the exact same way. I mean Starbucks majors on that, right?  Yet, in one year of visiting this Starbucks, I have never paid the same dollar amount for my tea. It ranges in price from $4.32 (what I think it actually costs) to $2.32. Sometimes it is $3.32. I never know. Mr. Starbucks Man/Woman/CEO are you reading this? Because here’s what I’m thinking. While my friend assumes I’d be so much richer if I didn’t waste money on my daily Starbucks, I’m figuring Starbucks would be so much richer if they charged the right amount for their tea, consistently (whatever that is).

But, I’m glad they don’t. That would be so boring.

Okay. On to good deeds. I did two today. One involved money. I have no idea what my rich friend would say about me giving money to a single mother who is pregnant again, and dying for some ice cream.  If they wouldn’t waste their money on ice cream?  Who knows? My rich friend is on a cruise in the Greek Isles at the moment, where the temperatures are getting close to 100 degrees, so I imagine she is throwing down some cash on her own ice cream (or iced latte).

My other good deed did not involve money. It involved me withholding judgement. It was the harder one of the two, especially since the single mom inspired me to my own Rocky Road experience, so that good deed didn’t feel too hard.

The reason for all this good deeding on my part is church. The pastor keeps yammering on doing them, and so finally, I thought, what the heck, I’ll give a good deed a try. I will admit to feeling like the Lord should reward me “just a tiny bit.” He did not. Here’s what I got for my good deeds.

After being oh so noble, and helping others and withholding judgment, I decided to cook for my evening meal. For the enormity of that statement, read this. I roasted vegetables that I bought at Ingles’, right after purchasing my Starbucks tea (today’s cost: $3.32). I put them in my 350 degrees oven, grabbed a quick shower, while feeling amazingly organized, and then when I reached in the oven to pull them out, I flipped over the roasting pan, and well, potatoes, zucchini, squash, kale, all ended up in a olive oil heap on the bottom of the oven, smoldering.

At least there was no fire.

I considered eating them, anyway. When was the oven last cleaned? I couldn’t remember if it had ever been cleaned. Wouldn’t that just make them char-grilled? Then, I remembered my good deeds. Hey what happened to that? Where’s my reward? On the bottom of my dirty oven, that’s where.

So, instead, I had Rocky Road ice cream for supper with my Starbucks tea. I am poorer to the tune of $3.32 for the tea, but I am not sitting in 100 degree temps, and somewhere there is a single, pregnant mom eating Rocky Road ice cream with her six-year old daughter who likes Belle from Beauty and the Beast. My granddaughter likes her too. I’m good with that. And, I’ll clean up the veggie mess later.

Blooms for You Shade Dwellers

Oh, how we all want those full-sun blooming flowers in our cool, shady yards. One poor customer is so desperate for them that she plants full-sun perennials in containers, and then wheels them around all day on plant coasters, following the thread of sunlight that moves spot-to-spot in her dappled yard. I say, embrace the shade.

On that note. We’ll not waste a minute for you shade dwellers. Here’s a shade-loving perennial that blooms!

Toadlily 'Purple Beauty'

Toad lily ‘Purple Beauty’

Adorable, right? This is Tricyrtis ‘Purple Beauty’. It’s in my very shady perennial border and loving it. About 36 inches tall, I keep it toward the back of the border. It has long stems that are covered with these little orchid-like blooms. They really are appreciated up close better than far away, but since I am generally up close in my garden, I don’t mind.(There is a Toad Lily that arches, and looks great growing over rock walls.) 

If they dry out, their leaves will brown and they won’t produce as many flowers. Keep them in a moist, shady area and they’ll bloom right through frost–beginning in late summer.

Hardy down to zone 4a for some cultivars, others 6a–so check your cultivar with your nursery. (I’m 7a and mine lived through last winter, which is saying a lot since most people barely survived last winter sitting indoors in front of their fires.)

The best part about this perennial?  You don’t have to plant them in containers and wheel them around your yard, chasing wisps of sunlight. 

cinthia milner, transplanted and still blooming, golf

Why I’m Considering Golf

It’s Wednesday. I write about gardening on Wednesdays. But this week, I will focus on golf.

I’ve never liked golf. Here’s a few reasons why:

  • My childhood was spent waiting on golfers. Have you ever waited on golfers?.They always play an extra nine, no matter what time the dinner reservations are.
  • Silly shoes.
  • Hate the shirts.
  • Too much equipment.
  • No one gets to talk. (Spend an entire 5 hours together and never get to speak. Huh?)
  • I wish they’d go organic on the golf course.
  • It’s just a ball.

So, why am I considering taking up golf? Turning in my Felco’s for Hello Kitty’s Complete set of clubs?

At Mom’s memorial, the only real memory I have is of my granddaughters (their smiles were the best), and the golfers. Tons of golfers came through the receiving line. They were part of Mom’s weekly golf group(s). She played every week (several times a week) at a local municipal golf course with a ladies’ group (and other groups that included the men).

These people were ancient. I mean like 92, 87, 95. Most of them still playing the game. They were vital, happy, energetic folks who didn’t seem to realize they were old. One after the other offered their condolences for my loss, while telling me about their last golf game with Mom. Those games always ended in dinner or a late lunch out, accompanied by lots of laughter.

My College Son said, “Mom, golf is the fountain of youth. You might want to consider it.”

He is so right.

I always wondered what my mother’s secret was. How did a woman, who lived alone, who worked until the day she died (literally, she was getting ready for work), whose children could have been so much nicer to her (speaking for myself here), have so much excitement for life? Golf.

My mother adored the game. She was so thrilled when she played a good game, that I generally got a call to tell me about it. And, nothing made her happier than a day dedicated to 18 holes. Traveling 2 hours away to a course for the day just made it better, because then the entire day was about the game. Pure heaven for her.

I never understood her passion, but I listened as she talked about the “Dirty Dozen” (one of her golf groups), or the “Hilly Dilly” (no clue). She was like a kid. She watched the game on tv, talked about incessantly, and played it every chance she got. This made gift buying for Mom super easy.

I’m learning what the phrase, “Getting old is not for sissies,” really means. I thought it referred to the bodily aches and pains that accompany aging. That factors in, but what it really means is that with aging comes loss. My pre-50 years were full of friends and family I so dearly love, but as I passed the mid-mark, I started to lose many of them. This year I’ve lost a brother-in-law, father to my nieces, and now my mom, my best friend and role model. It isn’t my body that aches but my heart. Both parents are gone, my ex-mother-in-law, my brother-in-law, and many friends. And, the years ahead bring promise of more loss, more dear souls in heaven, and less here. Dang right aging is not for sissies, and my mom was a lot of things, but sissy did not describe her.

She was determined, stubborn, strong-willed, independent, passionate, creative and kind. And, after my dad died, instead of shutting down, she played golf. While my sisters and I were busy building our families in the years following Daddy’s death, she was playing golf. She was enjoying the game, the camaraderie, the outdoors, the competitiveness, the beautiful courses, the friends, the dinners. She was re-building her life on a golf course. She had played some with my Dad, who also adored the game, but really she played after he died. Maybe that was a good way for her to grieve.

Mom’s golf buddies were tearful and sad about losing her, but their eyes still had mischief and delight in them. They were quick to laugh and quick to tell stories of their golfing adventures. I watched 92 year old eyes twinkle and 85 year old smiles erupt like children, as they recalled one adventure after another. I may be wrong, but it appears that more happens on a golf course than a game. It appears that friendships are forged, adventures are the day’s fare, life is lived, and for 18 holes, old age is kept at bay.

Truly, I could consider worse.


Mom, a good day of golf; she had a 42 on the front 9. One of her best scores.


Would I Quit My Job Again?

I get asked this question a lot: Would you quit your job to stay home with your children if you had it to do over again?

Because after staying home with my children for almost 20 years, and then going through a divorce, I am starting over, not just in my personal life, but in my career. And, I am starting over without the back-up of a second income. It’s like being 25 when you’re 55 in the work force. Adding to the equation is the whole notion that at 55, I am beyond hiring, and beyond making any real money.

Let me address the age issue before I get into the “would I have quit my job if I had it do over again” question.

The age thing:

  • I am finally at an age where I can work without distractions. I am not trying to balance home life and work life.
  • I can travel or move anywhere in the world.
  • I do not have to take sick days because someone other than myself is sick.
  • I can work 24/7 if needed and I often do. A typical evening for me is to come home, shower, cook something simple (okay, that’s a lie, I eat key lime pie) and then start working again.
  • I take countless courses, and obtain as much training as I can personally get (and pay for it myself), because I am passionate about what I do, and I can be single-minded about it. Nothing competes for my attention or time.
  • At 55, I am not idle. I don’t look to the future and see years ahead of me. I would like to retire when I am 72. So, the next 20 years have got to count.
  • I am way more mature than most 20-somethings (not all, but a lot) and I have connections that they do not.
  • I am often considered by clients to be a more responsible person to interact with–and it is not uncommon that I have a personal relationship with the clients.
  • I am healthy and work a job that requires me to lift up to 50 pounds, crawl up and squat down, and be outside all day in every kind of weather, on my feet. I can do that. I have worked in some of the worst conditions possible (hail, rain, freezing cold). My 20-year-old son, who plays college soccer, has said he wouldn’t and couldn’t do what I do. All this to say that the idea that I am a poor health choice is ridiculous.
  • I am hungry. Hungry people work hard and are grateful to do so.
  • I do want a career. After years of raising my boys, I’d love to have a full-time, meaningful, and something to be proud of, career.

So, that’s my answer for the age thing. There is absolutely no reason not to hire me. In fact, there are many reasons to hire me.

Now, on to the first question. Would I have quit my job if I had known the divorce was coming, and I’d be in this scramble position of creating a career? Yes.

Absolutely I would do it again. For me, it was the right decision. Being a mom, creating a home, giving them a safe environment to grow up in, was my first and only priority. And, I am not a multi-tasker. I truly can’t do two things at once. I knew that about myself and I know that about myself. So, for me, it was exactly the right decision. Please note, it is not the right decision for all moms. It was the right decision for me. And, yes, it was a huge financial sacrifice for us, but life is about knowing your path and following it.

Listen, I read a lot of career advice, and what it mostly says is that I committed career suicide by staying home, and when my husband left, the last nail was nailed into my career coffin. I am told that I should find a way to live without enjoying a career now, or making much money. I suppose I am constrained to old lady-hood by society’s standards. What a load of bull. I plan to have an exciting, adventurous career that helps create a better environment for my granddaughters–if I have to invent that career myself.

So, yes, I stayed home to raise my children and I’m glad I did. I was fortunate to do so. Now, I’m going to have a career that helps my grandchildren have a healthier world to live in.

Ultimately, it’s all about the babies.

And, now, before my bedtime, I will write up notes for two clients. I will work on promotional material to give clients tomorrow so they can more easily refer me. 10 years ago, I’d be reading bedtime stories.




Rearranging Deck Chairs on the Titanic

As a Christian, I was never taught it, but somehow I came to believe that God would never ask certain things of me. I assumed the Lord and I had an agreement worked out. For instance, I felt I could handle losing all my money, so if there was going to be a trial in my life, then the Lord knew that was a good one for me. It was a little game I had going with him. Lord, this trial is okay, but never THIS ONE (fill in the blank with your greatest fear).

Because of my assumed agreement with the Lord, when trial did come, as much as I should have seen it coming, I refused to believe the Lord would allow it to happen. I believed He would swoop in at some point and save the day. And He is certainly capable of that. So, as my ship was sinking, well, I was rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic.

I am assuming that I’m not alone here, Christian or not. I am assuming that most of us, whether we trust Jesus as Savior, or believe that humanity’s collective consciousness is God, we all are pretty much going to do the same when suffering comes knocking–duck our heads into the sand until we are forced to accept the circumstances.

Every step of my trial was one where I prayed that God would step in and change the outcome. He did not. And, here’s what I tell people now. I don’t want another trial, but I wouldn’t have missed this one for the world.

Here’s why.

1. I found out that God is faithful to get you through it, even if he chooses not to get you out of it.

2. I found out that while the ship is sinking, God is so very present in your life its as though you could touch him physically.

3. I found out that God will help you rearrange the deck chairs if that is what you need.

All the things I was taught as a Christian, that God is faithful to us, that he never abandons us, and that we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us, well, I found out that all of that is true.

Once, in the middle of my big mess, my oldest son was home for Christmas. We had just picked him up at the airport, and he was expecting the holiday traditions he loved. We were going to decorate the tree first thing to get the festivities going, and I had everything ready to do it, but we couldn’t find my husband. When I did find him, he was in his office emailing his girlfriend, who he would later leave me for. I went into the bathroom, shut the door, and sat down. I said, “Lord, you promised you’d be here. Period. In your word, you promise you will be with us in every situation. I need you here now.”

No bright light shone into the bathroom. I didn’t see the Lord visibly (though many have). My husband didn’t end his conversation with his girlfriend or she with him. He eventually left for her and she left her husband for him. But, I came out of that bathroom able to cope, to make Christmas what it is, a celebration of Jesus’ birth. I came out filled with joy that Christ was born.

What grace.

I no longer assume that I am exempt from any trial. Instead, I know that when trial comes the Lord will be there helping me to rearrange my deck chairs until I am ready to let the ship go down.