Fridays, especially football Fridays in South Bend...
The first game of every season, "The Kickoff Classic" would be the hardest because that's always when Dad would call me the most excited. He'd be jumping out of his skin excited on the phone "Are you ready? Were gonna beat 'em! I think this is gonna be the year we make it to the national champs! I love you. Can't wait to see you. Meet us at the pep rally! Go Irish!" (Our own little Family version of Rocket/Knute Rockne he was...) I knew how psyched he'd be to come to campus, walk around, play ball with my brother, be with our family and bask in the glory of the Spirit of Notre Dame. It's no wonder I feel his own spirit so much on campus, which brings me to the point of this blog: My dad is not in a building, it's in me.
This time last week I was signing the papers to turn over a condo I owned off campus to a new owner. I felt all grown up (at 37, yes) doing something so huge in life, selling my first property and knowing it hasn't come without a price. But the timing God created was such a gift as I got to sit at that table the day before Dad's anniversary. I could just hear him saying, "Aren't you glad it's done?" I knew he was a part of it. Above all, i knew God had to work it out in His timing, not mine.
That place was my safe harbor as I walked through some of the toughest moments of my life to which I'm grateful and will share further down. But it's important to recognize the road that got me to the point where I was ready to take the offer and let it go. It's important because right now I know a number of people who are stuck with a property that feels like an alabatross and need to known to keep walking through the storm, keep trusting God and He will take care of you. I used to cry out to God asking why he wasn't working, when he was. My poor husband would listen to me emote about it on bike rides and walks going back and forth on whether to keep it, which I look back and realize wasn't necessary. It only gave me stress. I'd go to the grotto and pray over it. I'd hit that place where I'd cry put, "Why are you doing this? Why won't you relieve me of this financial burden?" I'd hear Joyce Meyer talking about a property she had once. She'd drive by it feeling stressed and just give it to God going, " Thank you for working in my life to sell that." That helped me. Just keep doing what you need to do. Yes it's a financial burden and it's not selling but trust me and it will. Low and behold, we were getting ready to have a renter again, still paying some expenses on it, and the buyer came. After a week of negotiations (Dad would gave have been proud), one Friday driving a friend up with me to the lake, I landed on the porch and sent the text. Staring out at the water, in the place I find rest now, I closed the deal, and the heavens started to open up. My heart opened up and my head got clear. I was full of hope. The burden was lifted.
For so long time I remained crazy emotionally attached to that place. My husband would say, "Remove the emotion, Mere. It's just a piece of property and you know that's not where your Dad or your God is." He was so right, it just took time for me to realize that.
It took time and God to work through me. When it was time, it was time. Yes my dream was to keep it as my place in South Bend or grow Healthy Voice there, but I believe in a God who loves, who cares and has a plan and he wouldn't ask me to let it go if He didn't have a better plan. He just needed to use this to remind me, "Mere, I got this. Remember I got a plan and the plan is gooood!" I don't know where I'd be if I didn't know this in my heart, all I know is I'm trusting Him for what lies through the next door with Him.
So on Thursday night before the closing, I went to the empty condo. I laid down on floor and wrote, cause that's how I process my emotions. I thanked the place for giving me everything it did to be my refuge during struggles and growth in those years I lived there. I thanked God for putting me there to go through what I can only attest to be absolute divine intervention and transformation.
I thought about when I moved back to South Bend in 2007 I think. I showed up ready to get away from a rushed life out East and find a deeper purpose and do something positive for the world. Now I leave the place fully transformed by the power of Christ in my life. I can truly say that today and it wouldn't be so if I hadn't found that place. God I am truly grateful for every single excruciating moment You brought me to and through in that space so I could be here today.
I will particularly remember these and carry them as memories in my heart instead of regrets for letting it go reminding myself, it needed to happen for your good. So here are just a few to show you the how amazing the work of God is in my life:
1. On that living room floor is where I cried out to God for help to change me and he answered. Wow.
2. In that kitchen, I'd try to find my hope and support in food to no avail. And to that kitchen I'd return after a 6-week visit to Florida for treatment of food addiction. But the second time it wouldn't be alone. I'd bring a friend who'd help me clear the past from the cabinets and make way for the new.
3. In that place, I'd begin my life one day at a time in recovery and find a place to call home and rest. In that place, I'd have to grow and learn to love myself the way God loved me without turning away to escape the pain or the overwhelming love, mercy and grace being poured into me.
4. In that space the man of God's vision for would begin his courtship. From moving a piece of furniture up the stairs to realizing this was real, and scary, to being my rock in helping me get the rest of the stuff out of that place that I wouldn't have been able to do myself. I am so truly grateful for him!
5. In that place I'd begin a new career, apart from the politics, with a goal to make a difference. It truly was where it all started.
6. In that sky blue bedroom is where I fell to my knees after getting the call that my Dad had died and felt the grace of God and my dad hand on my shoulder as he went to be with The Lord.
7. In that living room space I'd get to be with the people who knew me the most that would show up to be there as soon as I got the call about Dad. And there I'd call my Mom to tell her only to get on our knees and pray together over the phone.
6. In that living room space, I'd also write my first book. On a big, old, cushy chair I'd face the picture window and watch every season go by as I'd write about the seasons of my life. No doubt my dad was there to help.
7. In that living room space I got a fresh perspective thinking it could be used as a Healthy Voice space. I painted it my colors and decorated with some new furniture. But in the end, God just had another plan and what a great reminder to have me realize he's got a better one.
So here are my big revalations:
- God isn't in a building. He's not up and hasn't been since the moment I cried out for help. He is down here. He is out there and he is in me and this event showed me that's where he wants me to meet Him.
- Letting go of this condo was a physical demonstration of how much more God's got planned for me, how little value material possessions really are in the end, how much his plans come before our plans, how when he closes one door another one is coming, how to be grateful for the struggle, grateful for God giving me what I needed when I needed it to keep this place afloat, that God always provides and always has the best timing and that God doesn't want me chained to one building, he wants me out in the world and in my home and in my everyday life speaking his truth into the world. I can finally embrace the somewhat nomadic, comfortable in between two worlds, creative, intuitive, writer, wife, and stepmom that I am and I don't have to regret a drop of that decision because I know this:
1) God's got my back. He says, "Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is The Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you." Deuteronomy 31:6, ESV
2) He's got a plan and it isn't mine, "The heart of man plans his way, but The Lord establishes his steps." Proverbs 16:9, ESV, "For I know the plans I have for you, declares The Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11, NIV
3) He makes ALL things work together for the good of those who love him. "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." Romans 8:28, NIV It makes me think of a song that always comes to me when I repeat this scripture. It's called "Your Love Never Fails" and it's by Jesus Culture. You can check it out on You Tube because my IPad isn't letting me do it.
A final thought, life is all about trains formation, constant transformation. We grow in none thing and spread out wings in another. In some aspects were a caterpillar and in others we're in the cocoon, and yet in others we ARE a butterfly. I began this condo journey as a young caterpillar. I went into a cocoon to become spiritually broken, renewed and begin a maturing process. And now in a way, I get to be a butterfly.
So if you've read this and you feel like you are in some situation still in the caterpillar phase, like the weight on your shoulders or heart is never gonna come off, just trust God. Give it to Him because he's got this. He knows you are gonna be a butterfly and he knows the exact moment you are gonna spread your wings and be free of whatever albatross you've got. So just keep being. Keep learning and growing and walking though life because before you know it, God's gonna show us your beautiful wings!!!!
Today I'll be driving down to South Bend for the game experiencing the Kickoff in a whole new way. My today family will be with me. My home family won't. My brother started college this year and he needs to be there, which is okay cause life keeps moving! It will be first first season game since dad died to go to without them, but I'm looking forward to it. At first I was scared to go without them, but I know they'll be with me in spirit just like Dad always is. I may be emotional but that's okay. It'll be a good, growing emotional and I know my family will be here next week for Michigan. This time I get to enjoy it with my chosen family and I can wait. It will also be my first game weekend without the condo which I know is a very good thing, yet I also know it has a potential to feel weird. It's okay though. You grow. You change. You recognize it as you go. You feel it. Then you are through it. The beauty is that condo gave me the ability to take a huge breathe and release what I'd been carrying on my shoulders. Not only that, after all the emotional growth I went through with it, God worked it all out, for good, in HIS timing and I can be truly grateful to Him for that.
You can go to my personal Pinterest page at Meredith Schoeller to find the board, "How God used an Albatross" for more inspiration.
Also get ready cause next week I'm going to do part of the theme for the week which is "Rest to Reset" with a video devotional!
Have a great Labor Day Weekend all.