But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:13b-14, NIV)
It's no longer the year when Jolene died. A burden has been lifted from my shoulders.
I used to think our new year celebrations were artificial and, well, trite, to an eternal God. Until I finally realized that God gave us time. He knew we humans would need boundaries to separate one day, month, year from another. And so I take the beginning of 2009 for what it is: a gift, an opportunity to move on.
I still grieve Jolene. I always will, and 3 months remain before we reach the one year anniversary of her passing. Last night I forced myself not to wallow in grief. Alone by myself in an empty apartment, I was tempted.
I was alone because Mom entered the hospital last Friday night and yesterday returned to rehab. She fell twice (no broken bones) and we discovered she had a raging UTI, possible pneumonia, as well as continuing problems with her blood thinner and her kidneys. We don't know what lies ahead.
But God is pointing the way to the future even as 2008 closed. For one thing, in an unexpected twist, I have been invited to speak to two different writers' groups--both in the month of March. THE month. The first one I dismissed as bad timing. When the second invitation came, I realized "this must be God's gift to protect me from overwhelming grief."
I am praying that God will open doors for me to "pay it forward." So many people have done so many things for us during this difficult year. I can't begin to pay it back, but I can reach out to those whose struggles lie ahead. Among my dreams for 2009:
Four books. I still can't believe it. The last 2 books in the Dressed for Death series are scheduled for release in March (A String of Murders) and in August (Paint Me a Puzzle). My first Heartsong historical romance, Beacon of Love, should arrive in June and another Christmas novella, Lucy Ames, Sharpshooter, will appear in the Wild West Christmas anthology in September. (Thanks, yes, but prayers needed. I have NO contracts after I submit 2 manuscripts on February 1st.)
Grandchildren. Whether we live in Colorado or Oklahoma, I intend to spend as much time as possible with baby Jordan.
Ministry to single mothers. I don't know how this will happen, but I pray that God will use me (and the book 365 Daily Whispers of Wisdom for Single Moms) to help single mothers with their unique challenges.
Ministry at the rehab center. Mom and I would like to return and minister to those who recover (and those who live) at the rehab center.
Return to choir. Between Jolene's death and health problems, I have not participated in choir much since March. For several months, I couldn't even climb the stairs.
Changing relationship with Mom. As her health declines, we need wisdom, strength, grace to determine a new dynamic in our relationship.
Of course, God may laugh at all or some of these dreams. But please pray with me that I will follow in the path where God leads and glorify Him in whatever happens.
What are your dreams for 2009? I'd like to hear.