Life's Unexpected Journey

2017.06.Lady of Shallot
The unpredictability of life… How do we find ourselves here?  How did we get to this point?   Where are we going?  What happens next?  How can I get where I want to go?

These are questions that I have.  

About a year ago, I experienced a “heart” episode that rocked my world.  It was an awakening to the amount of stress in my life and the need for some changes.  A new job, closer to home, alleviated some of that stress.  Then in March, out of nowhere, I started to experience knee pain.  Within days it became intense enough that I could not get through a work shift due to the pain.  I was given an ambiguous  diagnosis and there was no surgery that would help me.  The knee pain exacerbated the ongoing issues that I have had with my sacroiliac joint and hip issues.

Physical therapy was helpful in regaining some strength, but I am a long way from being able to function fully.  The work restrictions given by my physicians are such that I can not work; nor was I approved for medical leave and to top it off, I had not been at this job long enough to qualify for short or long term disability. 

There are days, where the pain is manageable and I am able to move and do things fairly well.  Everything seems fine.  But on other days, a single mis-step and I am debilitated by pain for hours or days.  Sleeping without waking many times throughout the night in pain has been a challenge.  

So now what?  Where does that leave me?  

The truth is that I have been wrestling with God over this.  I would like to retire.  I would like to keep my house and yard.  I would like to purchase a van and convert it to a travel vehicle and do some extended traveling throughout the US and Canada.  I would also like to travel overseas to places like Japan, India, Scandinavia, the British Isles and Europe.  I dream of being able to hike trails like the Camino del Santiago, the Appalachian Trail, or the Pacific Crest Trail, or even short trails like the ones in Rocky Mountain National Park.  But dreams of hiking - whether short or long distances, seem out of reach when I cannot make it through the grocery store without pain.  I would like to write a book (or several.  I want to paint, I want to take photographs, I want to create beautiful things.  I want to spend my days restfully, seeking beauty, inspiring others, living simply, joyfully and contentedly.  

By now you have noticed that like Belle in “Beauty and the Beast”, “I want adventure in the great wide somewhere,” while still staying in my safe, comfortable home.  A paradox to be sure.  I want it all!  

In my search for answers and direction, I have recently completed a devotional on the YouVersion Bible app, “Facing the Unpredictability of Life” by Sherene Ellen Rajaratnam.  In it, she states, 
“A major cause of unpredictability in our lives arises from the fact we only look at life from our angle and want God to help us fulfill our plans.  Unfortunately, the sovereign God weighs our hearts.  God wants us to align our plans with His, so He can establish them.”  

Proverbs 19:21
Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand. 

Romans 8:28
And we know that for those who love God, all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.  

James 4:15-17
Instead you ought to say, “if the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.”  As it is, you boast in your arrogance.  All such boasting is evil.  So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin. 

There is more to this unexpected journey that we call life, than we can ever dream of.  It takes us on paths we don’t anticipate, teaches us lessons that we never imagined learning.  Maybe the biggest lesson is that our best life isn’t lived in the life we imagine and dream of, but in the unexpected journey.

God willing, I am retiring from nursing and preparing to sell this home that has been my lovely nest for the last five years.  I have been massively downsizing in preparation.  God willing, I hope to spend a few years traveling this country by van and hopefully some travel abroad.  In short, I hope to truly live my “manifesto” that I wrote a few years ago.
  • Live God’s peace
  • Spread God’s Glory
  • Worship the One True God
  • Live prayerfully
  • Pause and reflect daily
  • Walk daily in God’s creations
  • Downsize my possessions
  • Live environmentally conscious
  • Live minimally
  • Spend time with people
  • Create (paint, photograph, stitch, spin, knit)
  • Write
  • Live simply
  • Live joyfully
  • Be content
Philippians 4:13
I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

I will keep you posted as things change.  One of these days I will have stitching and artwork to share among other things, but posting may be somewhat sporadic for a while longer as I figure things out.  



I wish you good health and happiness in your latest venture. Life does tend to take us in directions we don't have planned, but sometimes those directions turn out to be even better. I hope that's the case for you!
amfuller said…
Sounds like God has wonderful things planned for you. Best of luck on the new adventure!
Ann said…
Best wishes through all these changes. Your life will continue to reflect your Savior. I always enjoyed photos from your yard and home. Such gorgeous plants, such beautiful collections of items on your mantle and shelves.
Pam Austin said…
Lisa your vulnerability, honesty, willingness to bear open your soul and fears and hopes are so inspiring and courageous. I cannot imagine the pain you are in but I have felt disabled by my own ailments and it has been difficult at times to keep my faith and hopes and mainly TRUST and stay encouraged. Your faith and chosen verses help restore my faith and remind me that my deep longing to deepen my relationship with God and know full abandonment is the only real path worth pursuing and one that helps brings awareness and answers to the strange, magical and challenging demands of what our lives bring us. Thank you so very much for sharing on such a personal level and I wish you a life free of pain and the ability to follow all of your dreams in whatever way they are meant to unfold for you. You are such an inspiring human!
Dear Lisa ~ I also want to thank you for sharing this part of your life. You have encouraged and inspired me with your thoughts.

Love, hugs & prayers as you begin this next phase of your journey. You are in God's hands, He is your strength, He loves you dearly.

If there is one think we know for sure, life rarely takes you where you want to go. It is what you make of all the twists and turns in our path. We always thought we would retire and travel. Medical bills used lots of the money we would have accumulated. We live in a little house. The one we dreamed of never materialized so we have no need to downsize...declutter and dehoard, but no need to move to a smaller place. When you hear the phrase "live in the moment" and understand that is the key, well, I guess that's half the battle. There is one thing for sure, you faith will carry you.
xx, Carol
Melody said…
Seems as though our lives have been somewhat parallel, i am a nurse, retrained as a social worker and worked in home health. I have been off work for almost 2 years, fisrt in Dec 2015 I had a 4th cervical spine surgery and then in Sept 2016 I had a 4 level laminectomy L2-L5 and fusion L2-3. It became apparent that I would be unable to return to work. We made the decision to sell our home of 30 years and downsize into a 5th wheel so we could travel our great country. I too would love to have the opportunity to walk the PCT and Appalachian Trail. It is hard at times not to question God's plan and direction. I loved my job and gained great satisfaction from helping our local seniors. My agency respected my abilities and was in fact the vast agency I have ever worked for. It was a tough decision but in reality the only decision I could make. We are less than 2 weeks from a cross country trip, with our 2 cats, to pick up our home on wheels. We will return to California and head up the Oregon and Washington coasts in the fall. My motto, life is an adventure, meant to be lived, as long as God directs and allows. While I do not have the same amazing artistic talent that you do I also want to photograph, quilt and crazy quilt as much as I am able. I so have severe arthritis in my hands so those things may not be long in my future. I Also have an interest in family history. As I move through this stage of my life I have become increasingly aware that the things of this world will pass away, they can become a weight we unnecessarily carry with us and can limit our ability to see. May God bless you on your new journey and may your body heal so that you may enjoy our beautiful country, who knows, maybe we will meet on the trail!!!
Sarah Aldrich said…
I have been following your blog for a couple of years now. I don't know that I have ever commented. I want you to know that I greatly admire your work. You will be in my thoughts and prayers. I hope you find joy and peace in your days and find ways to fulfill your dreams.
nelda said…
I can relate to your experience as I had sudden onset knee pain...after taking an antibiotic called levoflixacin. This med and it's cousins are known to cause connective tissue damage, however most docs don't believe the black box warning from the FDA. I suffered for a long 6 months wearing a knee brace and not being able to sleep without pain. Finally I had an MRI that showed a meniscus tear and bone on bone end stage arthritis. The orthopedic surgeon gave me a steroid injection that lasted a few months while I was waiting for knee replacement surgery. My advice to you is to press your doctors for additional testing and follow up with a good surgeon. Don't accept a nebulous "we don't know what to do with you". And don't bother with arthroscopic surgery if it is offered as research shows it it no better than physical therapy. Good luck and God bless. Email me if you need some support.
Janice Smith said…
Lisa, it would seem to me that you are in a good place. You have a plan and have begun the downsizing process. Change can at times be scary, but it may also lead to many exciting adventures. I wish you all the best as you embark on this new phase of your life.
Margaret said…
I wish you all the very best for this next chapter in your life. Your account of your trip to the UK inspired me to make my dream of fifty years a reality and I am planning now a self drive telling myself 'if Lisa can do so can I"
Thank you so much for your inspiration and your faith filled blog. God speed.
Anonymous said…
Dear Lisa,
Thank you for sharing. I understand how you feel. I had to "retire" 10 years ago at too young an age and I missed my work immensely. I am still hoping that I am doing what God wants of me. I wanted to travel but lack of funds had curtailed that plan. We go where God leads us - only sometimes I wish I could see the road map with that path highlighted. However, I probably would try to second guess it too much if I had that map. This is where faith comes into play - trusting God with no clue as to the direction in which we are going. Good luck and many you fell the presence and guidance of the Holy Spirit on your journey.
traderslostart said…
Oh Lisa: I am distressed to hear what has been happening in your life. Knowing you I am sure that you will accept these things as a challenge. I am sad for you because I watched how much work went into your home and garden to make it such a special place. You are a better person than I am, because I know if it were me, I would do anything possible to hold on to what I have surrounded myself with.

The gorgeous garden with the sensational roses, the huge amount of work you did to make your home simply beautiful. I watched the work and was so impressed with what a wonderful job you did on both the inside and outside, and I can imagine it will be something you will miss a great deal.

I am not surprised that you are trying to figure out what you need to do to go on after what the Doctors have said, and am surprised, no actually shocked that surgery is not an option. I pray they are wrong. I am sure that they gave you a diagnosis, and hopefully a plan for you, and have not left you hanging. There must be something that can be done. Second opinion? I know living with that kind of pain is not easy.

My wish for you is that God has a plan for you. The old saying is that "God never gives you more than you can handle." Maybe it is true, I don't know.

Sending you love, warm thoughts, and prayers that things will work out for you, dear friend.

Bear Hugs,

Anonymous said…
I wish I had great words of wisdom but I'm at a loss. With so much you are able to do just do what you can, when you can and I'm hoping for peace and greatly reduced pain and pleasurable traveling. Meeting wonderful people and able to continue sharing with us who always are excited to hear from you and will now be more grateful than ever before to be able to see and hear all about what you are doing. Even if at first it is just updates on your progress. I will keep you in my prayers for sure!! I love all the versus you share, very helpful!!! Take very good care of yourself Lisa, God has a plan.
Anonymous said…
I forgot to put my name in my comment and when I sent it just went so quickly I'm not sure what happened but it's from me, Mary
Anonymous said…
Lisa, it would seem to me that you are in a good place. You have a plan and have begun the downsizing process. Change can at times be scary, but it may also lead to many exciting adventures. I wish you all the best as you embark on this new phase of your life.

Living with an open hand and an open heart.... xo

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