We've been discussing goals for the New Year on our group site this week. It's been interesting to see the responses. They range from general things we all want, like to make more efficient use of writing time, or to meet and talk to J.K. Rowling. (I wouldn't mind that opportunity myself!) Then there was the list of insanely detailed and intricate monthly/yearly goals. If you are having trouble with goals, please contact our own Donna Sundblad, author of Pumping Your Muse! This lady is an expert. Her list puts us all to shame. She has yearly goals, monthly goals, and secondary goals. I have one daily goal: to make it out of bed and manage NOT to land flat on my back! (Ok… maybe that's two goals.)
I've watched these lists appear, and I must admit to a certain amount of envy. I used to plan everything. I used to keep the impeccable calendar of an Air Force officer's wife, with every social engagement meticulously planned ahead, babysitters hired, the perfect wardrobe for the occasion, my husband's uniform cleaned and ready. Dinners were planned, sometimes spur of the moment, but my recipes were well ordered and I could switch gears on a dime if I had to. Now I don't plan past getting up in the morning. My life has turned a full 180 degrees, and I'm feeling a little lost again this year. The injury that changed my life almost five years ago has now disabled me since the last surgery. When I was younger, I never saw this on my horizon. Never!
This time of year is always bittersweet for me. When I was young, I couldn't wait to grow up, to be out on my own and somehow take the world by storm. I longed for the stage, but beyond a few church productions, that didn't happen. Probably a good thing. Sometimes God protects us from ourselves. Then I married and started popping out my children. I couldn't wait until they all started school, so I could pursue my writing, at least for those few hours a day. That worked in a minimal way. I did write more, and I did see publication in several magazines and national church flyers. But school years also increased the activity level, with field trips, parent/teacher conferences (which were numerous with my son), school programs, and after school sports. They were busy years, but looking back now, they were golden. I didn't see divorce on my horizon. I didn't see a broken heart, broken family, broken dreams. Somehow, even ten years later, I find I'm still trying to pick myself up off the floor from that blow.
Then God sent love my way again. Two years ago, Larry Morris swept into my home and my heart with flowers, chocolates, a basket of clementine oranges, a stuffed penguin, and a glass hummingbird. He swept me off my feet and let me know it was ok to love again. Our first date was January 10th, my 50th birthday. Larry made it a memorable one! The best birthday I'd had in years. God brought Larry along at a point when my spirits were low. I'd been hurt on the job and was weary of the constant pain, the doctor's visits, and physical therapy. Larry helped me forget the pain and live again, in spite of my limitations. We had such plans. Trips to take, plays and dinner theatres we wanted to attend, friends and family to visit. Our goals were set together. As writers, we both determined to help each other prepare for publication. Then a fatal car accident changed all those plans, demolished goals, destroyed hope. I still don't understand why God took him away from me. One day, I'll ask Him about that.
This time of year, it's hard for me to set goals. Even though two years have passed since Larry left me for his Heavenly Home, I still face the early months of the New Year with a certain heart-sickness, and a longing for what might have been. I pass the restaurant where we had our first date, and I feel the tears well up. The pain returns, and plans are harder and harder to make.
And yet…. Somehow in all these things, God has kept His gentle Hand on my head. I feel the pressure of that Hand even now, as I write these words. What lies in store? Do I even want to know? Could I face it if God did let me in on the future? If I could have foreseen the heartbreak, would I have even let Larry in the door? Probably not. But if I hadn't, I would have missed not only the blessing of loving him and being loved, but I would have missed the camaraderie of so many dear people, like our own Frank Creed and Cynthia McKinnon-Morris. I would have felt dried up and shriveled, unworthy of the love of a good man. Yes, God had a plan. I don't understand it fully – certainly I don't understand why my future couldn't include Larry's presence HERE. But God Almighty has a divine plan for each of our lives. In spite of pain, heartache, worldly pressures, monetary need – in spite of all the things that distract us and distress us, God has a PLAN.
I'd like to see my own novel, The Last of the Long-Haired Hippies, completed and published this year. I'd also like to make significant progress on a collaborative work called The Song of the Grey Lady. We've been stalemated for quite some time now, and are eager to get back to work on the journey we started together. And I've promised several reviews, which I desperately need to finish.
But goals? I think I'll leave the planning to God for the time being. He's much better at it than I am these days. Pain is still my companion, and earthly issues, like earning some semblance of a living, are pressing like a schoolyard bully. Only God knows what this year holds for me, and I'm content to leave that knowledge in His capable Hands.
I'm doing well to make it out of bed every morning.