Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Go West...

This post was written a week ago. Since it was drafted, we accepted an offer on our house. We will move in October, just shy of 12 weeks since Jeffrey came home with the news. xo K

As people of faith we spend our life saying that we believe, that we trust, that we understand that we put all our eggs in the God basket. But do we really?  Oftentimes in moments of crisis we do it flawlessly, we BELIEVE. But when life is going as planned, and life is going really well, we often find ourselves at a fork in the road...

Do we trust, in a plan that is not ours?

Well that is where I'm meeting God on the Pilgrimage. To be honest, it is why I haven't published in a month. For one, I have been so busy that my writing isn't even on my radar, and for me that is a significant problem. You see writing, I have learned, is one of my forms of prayer. The ideas, feelings and thoughts are the very nuggets that I struggle with in my daily prayer life. This is a place where I meet God.

Jeffrey and I made the decision a few weeks ago to move to Santa Barbara, California. As with all good marriages, I was folding towels in the bedroom, Jeffrey breezed-in and from the top of the stairs, (he didn't even come into the bedroom, he remained in the hall!) says, "So listen, there is a NOAA job in California that will be open in the next month, I'm going to go for it unless you say, NO.  I love you, gotta run, "IAAAAAAAN  we are going to be late for tae-kwon-do.  Will talk later."

And he gave me that sheepish, sweet-as-pie grin that I fell madly in love with.... And that was it. He rolled out for tae-kwon-do. I sat on the edge of my bed and said...O' MY! Immediately followed by, "my secret word". Guess we're moving to California!

Now to be honest, this California job had been bandied about before, we had discussed that if it ever came up, Jeff would go for it. He has wanted it for years.  And only when I'm being honest, will I share, that my major prayer focus from the winter was, "Please Lord either let me go into remission or find another way for us to live."  Some would argue that the planets aligned; I don't agree.  It was simply God's hand helping us find a new road on this journey. He has steered us in a new direction.

So honestly, the only logical answer was, yes. DC winters are brutal and while my health has improved every month for the last year, it can't survive winters. Not to mention the steaming summers of high heat and humidity that are just as hard on my body. It was a fait accompli. For the record, it is the job my beloved wants to do... He is thrilled, excited and he deserves this job and that is why I'm so peaceful. This little family of four will blossom in California. In a year, I will look back on this very post and have great insight into this year.

But my heart is more than a little broken... There lies my struggle.

So here is what I can say... I'm peaceful about the move, but not entirely happy. Will I feel better? Absolutely!  Will the year round 70 degrees mean that in January I can walk my children to school? Will I not need to hide under blankets away from doors? YES and YES!   Will I finally get to be a wife and mother year around. YES! Will the weather change my life in ways I can't comprehend? Yep. Is Pilgrimage Gal destined for West Coast greatness? Of course. Because at my core, God is carrying all four of us.  I'm far from alone and that is where the peacefulness resides.

I have to be honest, as I write this I'm in a place of grief, tears start to roll down my face. Oftentimes, I don't even realize that my eyes are leaking. Last night while I flipped and flopped like a beached fish; suddenly my face got scary cold, and it was only then that I realized while sweet Jeffrey purred sleeping, that my face was hiving from my own cold tears.

How utterly ridiculous, but the truth.

Because If I were well, we may not have made this move.

So this very moment is why I have to put my money where my mouth is.  Moving has happened so quickly, so effortlessly, like it's just supposed to be.  It is not our will, it is the will of the Holy Spirit, plain and simple. So while friends and family alike try to offer encouraging words... UGH, it just stinks. I will miss so much and so many. Bonds with friends and family that will be broken.

But, in my heart this move is not mine, it is God's. And as a Pilgrims of Faith, I must be obedient. A hard place to find yourself.

Yesterday at Mass the visiting priest was talking about obedience. He explained that Jesus has even asked for intervention. Even Jesus was looking for the "Plan B" in the garden, but even Jesus was obedient, finally saying, "Thy will be done."

So I'm in good company, every so often it's nice to say, well Jesus rocked that.  We don't like suffering, Americans stink at grief and we certainly don't like to be obedient. We want control. So few of us are obedient, who really wants to  listen with an open heart, to be willing to accept what we don't want to hear; to find the grace in the struggle...


I hear crickets!

And once again for the billionth time, God has met me on this road, dusted me off and reminded me... "Sweet one you are mine, you are my child, but I have big plans for you... trust me."

And AGAIN,  I have to once again swallow hard and realize that this isn't my rodeo, I am following a road that I never wanted, to be that girl with the chronic disease that makes lemonade daily. That I will leave my sweet girls in my "hood", the girls who are the key to my wellness, and begin again.

Because I'm obedient, to living this life as a woman of faith.

I want to be clear, when I speak of obedience, I don't mean submissive, or obedient to Jeffrey. No. We are partners in every sense. I mean obedient to doing for my family and not for myself. Choosing what WE need over what I want. I want to be healthy, live and die in the house that I helped design, that every detail was a decision. That my neighbors are the family we created, and have cared for us in ways that are impossible to imagine. I want to stay with my Harvard, who has been with me on the darkest days and now has to watch me leave... to a new local California medical team that will never ever comprehend where "WE" have been together! (Don't worry I will fly back twice a year to check in with NIH who will continue to manage my long-term health needs)

I don't want to have to work to establish new friends, new church, new doctors, new schools, new therapists. I want to sit back and bask in the sunshine of feeling well. While, getting to enjoy that with my core friends and family.

But, that is not what this life is. I have said it so many times. Life is hard, full of choices we don't want to face. That we aren't living the script we wrote, we are living a very different one! We learn who we are in the struggle, you watch your marriage blossom, you see your children become more confident, you see what you are made of. And that is peaceful, that is the reason I have a smile on my face.

I'm really excited to move, to find what God has planned, what work HE has for me to do in California, what new adventures HE has planned for all of us. That is why we are smiling and crying; because life is full of the bitter and the sweet. This move is both... and I do know that as I sit in my house with boxes around me, this is the bitter.

The sweet is still to come, and it will be delicious, remarkable and full of promise.

So maybe this is my Good Friday and Holy Saturday. We know the Resurrection is coming, that Easter is breaking through the morning dew and warming us in the warm golden sunshine, the struggle is over... That is where I am. Waiting.

Why you ask, well because... I'm on a Pilgrimage, this is not a coincidence, it has been chosen just for me... and I'm running down the lane toward the beach to find the next mile marker. Easter is almost here for the Fergusons, we are anxious to leave Lent and Holy Week behind.

Thank you as always for walking along with me.

The Divine in me bows to the Divine in you!

photo credit: Leshaines123 via photopin cc 

Saturday, August 16, 2014


My happy place...

Well my fellow travelers, I just returned from vacation. This is the longest vacation that I have been able to take in years. Nine days of stepping off the treadmill and relaxing. That's right, the longest vacation in years.

It's hard to believe that you can be held back from relaxation because you are sick. But, that has been my story for far too long. The daily stability of my new treatments made it possible to enjoy an amazing vacation and file away many exquisite moments. To drink in the memories, to savor the seconds like a fabulous meal or glass of wine. In summer it is difficult to find the time to sit and write. I need a blend of silence and lack of interruption. The journey of having two amazing Beauties home is that those moments are hard to find... So as I write, the Beauties are yelling at each other about going to the park. I remind myself that these are the days I will long for in just a few years.

But I digress:

There are places in our world that offer us a break from the treadmill, a respite from the storm of life. And this vacation offered me that space. I have known Jeffrey for 23 years and the very first of his friends my Jeffrey introduced me to, were the ones who would become Norah's godparents. Fairy-godmother Jane and her beloved, we just call him the Godfather around here, Steve. I actually met Steve first. I fed him dinner and alcohol after Jane had breast cancer surgery. Jeff and Steve came and sat at the bar with me after that surgery.  I met Jane six weeks later in her kitchen drinking margaritas and eating nachos with fresh jalapenos from their garden. She had just returned from her vacation home in Maine, where she had lovingly hung, while on a ladder, cedar siding. I'm sure every surgeon would think two weeks after major surgery is the perfect time to be on a ladder hanging siding, but that is just what she was doing.  With a cancer diagnosis you have to shake things up and that is just what she did, she shook it all up. And she did it in her happy place.

Camp is that happy place. Camp is part fairy dust, part magic, and all love... It is rustic, beautiful and a place where I have never had a sleepless night and my worries have always melted away. It is something special, it is sacred in that you find yourself there, every-time. You reset your priorities, see life with the clarity of a fine Waterford wine glass. I don't quite know how the fairy's under Jane's watchful eyes do it... But, there is magic there, I have seen it! Jane could tell you how many times in the last 20 years I have visited, I really can't say, but each and every-time it has helped me chart a new course in my life. From jobs, to motherhood, to cross country travel, it has always helped me find my truth North. Camp hasn't only saved me, it brings peace and love to all who visit.

I love that it's informal, you don't bring your club clothes, nope you bring your favorite jeans, your old flip-flops, no one cares if your mani-pedi is perfect. I'm lucky to find my toothbrush, you don't need makeup. You wear T-shirts, and shorts, you never dress for dinner unless you call a lobster bib dressing. You are your real-self. Stripped down to who you are, real approachable, your true self.

Camp has been in Jane's family for years, her Grandfather and Uncle used the property as one of the original man caves, in the 60's. Without benefit of a tape-measure or level her uncle began building the A frame cottage. Steve on the other hand with his masterful touch has used a level and made the Camp's true beauty shine. Steve's superb craftsmanship and Jane's architectural eye have transformed the once lowly fishing cottage into a woodland retreat.  But the building belies the real truth... It is the Lilly pads on the lake that stop you to see the wonder of nature, even the baby hummingbirds we watch test their wings this year, the dock where too many children have learned to swim, take canoe rides, or just splash in the water, every dog is always welcome and oodles of them have fetched sticks. Then there are the countless hours of floating just off the dock, just basking in the cool waters and warm sun of Maine in the summer. The last time I was ever floating in water was in Maine. A great memory. The Godparents have hosted, every niece and nephew they have, every friend have at one time or another visited.

It has been a summer mecca for years.

I had my first Lobster at Camp, a first for many of the visitors, a true right of passing, and a tradition at least one night while there. I have eaten blueberries just picked, and sipped coffee that has never tasted better. I have been over-served and never had a drop, it makes no difference the memories are all the same...

It's heaven on earth.

Steve and Jane see Camp not so much as theirs, but as if they are care-takers of a gift, a precious and beautiful one. They are a rare team that opens their door to all, and loves each and every guest.

It's no surprise we asked them to be our Irish Princess' guide in this world. There are people in this life that are shepherds, guides... That's Steve and Jane. A godparent needs to do one thing really well, they need to "get it". And when I say "get-it", it means that they are in the world, but not of the world. They delight in the foolishness of living, but also are able to teach through example and guide our child. They are phenomenal godparents. For the record, far better than Jeffrey and I have been to our godchildren.

I'm not surprised that God put these two amazing people in our life... Not even close. They are gifts, that I know I will spend eternity with... Heaven for us will look like a small cottage in Maine, with a cool lake that I will swim in daily, the best blueberry pie imaginable, a warm fire in the fireplace every night, with lobster and a coffee called "Carpe Diem" and Jesus telling us HE is so proud of us, and telling us that we did well.

So maybe that is what Camp is... A door to Heaven, a taste of eternity, a place to find God without looking at all... Because HE is present with us at the table.

Hope your Summer is filled with Exquisite Everyday Moments just like ours... We are overwhelmed with gratitude, love and well more love.  Please know I'm praying for each and everyone of you, today and always.


Photo credit: Mr. PilgrimageGal