I am hopeful that I am coming out of the two-month malaise I have been in—tired and uninspired and at loose ends. Part of that time, a month, I was visiting with my two sons, their wives and babies in California, one 10 months old and one 18 months old. I learned right away that I could not hang out with the two babies all day, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. I needed a good break between them, say three hours of lunch and reading and just being. I loved playing with them and watching them, but I had forgotten how intense the attention is that they demand. And as I say, I was tired all month anyway.

I got sick on that trip for four+ days; one of my sons, his wife and daughter all had the bug. So I began to think that something more than a physical problem was going on. Coughs have to do with the lungs and the lungs hold on to grief. So as the cough lingered, I began to realize that I was grieving something deep within—a sense that my mom never understood me as a child or as an adult. She just couldn’t put herself in another’s shoes. She was a ESTJ on the Meyers-Briggs and I am an ENFP—polar opposites. From somewhere deep within me came this grief which was a relief to let go of. I think the tiredness was also related to this issue in me.

I was so grateful when I was well enough to see my granddaughters again that I enjoyed them even more. I am hoping to spend a month with them every summer, so that I can know them and they can know me. In the mean time I am doing FaceTime with the older one. Of course, she doesn’t just sit and talk to me, but she is in and out of the picture while I talk to her father or mother. And now she waves “goodbye” to me as we are hanging up.

I did very little work while was in California, much to my surprise. And since I’ve been home, I have only kept up with my weekly blog. I’ve lost that sense of focus that I have had for years. My latest book which needs additional work is languishing. Meanwhile there is the sense that another deep issue has surfaced and has had to be dealt with; that is, I have had to turn it totally over to God to heal and transform, since I have had little idea of what to do about it.

Today I feel more ready to tackle the present than I have felt in the last two months. At last! I always prefer being active and engaged, and yet I have had to surrender my own will, desires and preferences throughout this long period of time. I have prayed and I have talked to God about how I feel about all this, but in the end all I can do is to surrender to what already is in my life. And continue to let Him lead me where He wants me to go.

The Poverty and Justice Bible highlights the more than 2000 verses in the Old and New Testaments that highlight the state of the poor and needy in Biblical times and in our own times. Read the Bible from a whole different perspective.

“In this classic of wisdom, hope and inspiration, Jean-Pierre de Caussade offers guidance for daily living in communion with God. He summons readers to holiness, reveals ways to conquer self-love and pride, and shows how God speaks to us through every moment of every day.” From the back cover.

It’s been such an interesting month or so for me. I’ve been wishing so much that I could know what was going to happen in my life. I’ve been going back and forth with God about this. And two weeks ago, I swear I heard God laugh at me! He said that I am just not made this way, needing certainty and knowledge about the future. I am impulsive, intuitive, grasping things before they make sense to others—an ENFP on the Meyers-Briggs—and basically not needing a plan, just needing to follow my own intuitive/God-inspired self. I had to laugh, too! That’s exactly who I am.

He reminded me of a prayer that a reader of my blog once shared with me—to praise God in advance for what He is about to do in my life and in others’ lives and in the world. That praying this way takes us away from the need-to-know into a real faith in the providence of God and so I’ve gone back to that practice.

A few days later I was driving up to the North Carolina mountains asking about the TMJ I am experiencing which seemed worse on the trip up. Was I not eating right or what? The answer was that I am not able to take in all that the Lord is telling me. Do I get 50%? Yes. 75%? Yes. 90? Yes. The other ten is the love He has for me. I still am not taking that in. So I set my intention to feel His love in all my cells and deep in my bones—amid the tears I was shedding. I had been only hearing what He was telling me about my work, but just not what He has for me!

As I was about to leave the cabin for home I felt I should draw an angel card which might reveal the roots of the rosacea breakouts on my face. I drew “obedience.” The rosacea is related to the TMJ I am experiencing. Now, how the face/jaw/outbreaks relate I’m not sure, but chewing on ideas has something to do with it as does these obvious facial problems. I am the one who cannot see—this is the root of both problems, I sense.

And then a couple of days later I am sitting on my couch looking out onto the patio and the roses that I love. I feel like I am being asked to walk off a cliff, one last surrender that will complete this part of the journey. And so, as I sat here on this couch, I walked right off the precipice and committed myself to following Christ no matter what, no objections, only keeping pace with whatever or however he leads me.

As I say, it’s been an interesting month. I am so dependent on God to reveal the depths of my resistance, and sure enough, He does. As I work at understanding what He is telling me, He is working on healing what He has revealed. And so the journey goes

If you’re interested in deepening your faith in God, look at these books:

This is an expanded version of Rick Warren’s   Purpose Driven Life, What on Earth Am I Here For?, a journey of 42 days with discussion questions and other resources. It is an excellent rendering of the question of purpose which we all need to address with our God.

For the last five years I have been really focused on my writing to the exclusion of everything else except enjoying my family: the By the Waters blog plus two books, The Kingdom Come! and Exodus: Our Story, Too! Last fall I began to hear that “still, small voice” calling me back to dyeing fabrics and then to sewing. By the end of the year I had done quite a bit of dyeing. By mid-February I had my sewing machine fixed and I was ready to start sewing.

It took me a project or two—pillows with my new granddaughters’ pictures on them—to get over the “newness” of using a sewing machine and not having to rip out every seam I sewed. But what I discovered was—even in the midst of tearing seams out—that there is a lot of joy for me in sewing.

So I began to cook again for myself after years of eating out and/or eating left-overs. After 37 years of marriage, cooking for 2 then 5 and then 2 again, cooking for just me had seemed not worth it. Now I am finding that I actually love to cook, even for myself. Again, there is joy in doing something I am good at, even if I haven’t done it for years.

The payoff of all this for me is this: I feel more at peace than I have in a long time, maybe I have never felt this at home in myself. Anxiety that I didn’t even know was a part of me is gone—now I recognize it by its absence. These suggestions of God have restored me to me.

Now I am reminded of Jesus’s 1st Great Commandment to love God with all of ourselves. For me, apparently that means the sewer and the dyer, the cook as well as the writer. I am also getting back into photography as a way to capture in photos what I love for my new website. And so that is what I offer up to God along with all else that He inspires me to do and with all of the ways I am so human and so imperfect, too. All that I am, I am bringing to Him in love.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s God is not a Christian is a provocative read, but it speaks most provocatively about the nature of community as Africans conceive of it, ubuntu, our shared humanity. Tutu is such a man of his times, holding out the possibility of selflessness not just in South Africa, but in all human endeavors.

Michael Eric Dyson, Tears We Cannot Stop, is a wake-up call to white America about the cost of our history of slavery, reconstruction, civil rights and today’s reality for Black Americans. If we are Christians then this is just not a tolerable way to treat anyone, and it is time we woke up to this truth.

Fr. Gregory Boyle, Tattoos on the Heart and Barking to the Choir, writes of his experience with gangs in Central Los Angeles, as he invite gang members to become a part of his Homeboy Industries, to a life of solid citizenry for a population which many dismiss as just criminal with no hope of redemption. Reading his stories about the gang members and how they grew up is an eye-opening entry into a world most of us know nothing about and about how to help them out of it.

Dallas Willard,  The Divine Conspiracy: Rediscovering our Hidden Life in God, writes about the Sermon on the Mount as the description of a disciple of Christ and how he or she would be. It is a challenging and inspiring look into three chapters of Matthew which is the heart of Jesus’s teachings.