Back in December, we were so excited about 2020! A new year and a new decade! Our “Word of the Year” was carefully prayed about and selected. Sharon chose the word VISION, and Leslie chose the word ASSURANCE. We had a glimmer back then that God was up to something SUPER COOL!
We couldn’t wait!
Then January happened!! During the very first week, we both experienced personal, life-altering events within days of each other. As we tried to navigate these events, we could hardly catch our breath privately and for each other. Then, the absolutely unexpected happened, a worldwide PANDEMIC!
Sharon: “My husband lost his job unexpectedly for no good reason. I was angry and sad for him, and I was also scared. I don’t think anyone can fully prepare for a financially, mentally, or emotionally situation. We both decided to trust God, no matter what, and take it day by day.”
Leslie: “I experienced a completely unexpected family situation that was jarring and shocking. I felt fragile, unsteady, and overwhelmed by how uncertain my future suddenly appeared. I kept hanging on to the word that God gave me back in November: assurance. He was telling me was that no matter what came my way, I had the assurance and security of His provision and care to walk me through, day by day.”
In late spring, we started to dream and plan for the annual women’s retreat. We knew back at the retreat in October of 2019 that we wanted to incorporate a “labyrinth.” A labyrinth is an ancient tool for prayer and meditation, consisting of a winding path that begins at the periphery and leads to a central space, and then out again by the same path. One approach to walking a labyrinth is to start by standing at the entrance and taking a moment to reflect on where you are in your life, then quiet your mind as you walk. Once you get to the labyrinth center, you can sense that you are meeting Jesus there and sitting with Him, considering where He wants to take you next.
As you return by the same path out of the labyrinth, you can listen for where Jesus is guiding you, or simply experience the peace that even if what’s next is unclear, He will walk with you the rest of the way. We thought that was such a great image of what we were dealing within our lives and thought it would be a great activity to share with other women at a retreat!
We tucked that really cool idea away, and we waited. Since January, the word “faith” kept coming up for both of us. Ya think?
Leslie even got a tattoo with 2 Corinthians 5:7, “Walk by faith, not by sight.” We started to pray and came up with our theme, “Faith in the Middle.” Not only did we need to have faith in the middle of our circumstances, but we also knew that Jesus IS the FAITH in the middle. Unfortunately, due to Covid-19 and our life-altering events, we had to postpone the retreat. However, we know that this message of “Faith in the Middle” will have its opportunity to shine in the very near future!
We went on a camping trip with another family in mid-July. Yes, you read that right, we went camping. We actually slept in tents! WHAT!? Yes, we entered the wilderness and left behind many of the comforts of home to have a weekend of simple, natural, outdoorsy fun!! This was about seven months into our year of uncertainty, stress, and hardship. Guess what! The campsite had its own LABYRINTH! We took some time early one morning and decided to walk the labyrinth and see what Jesus had for us. As we walked the winding path, we each had our own experience of silently sharing our struggles, fears, and concerns with God. We met up in the center and sat on a bench together and quietly prayed and felt the strong and peaceful presence of Jesus, right in the MIDDLE of the confusing and windy path!! At that moment, we both felt the clarity that we had no idea what was coming, what was in store for our lives, but we had VISION and ASSURANCE that we could continue to trust Jesus, release our junk to Him, and it was ok to keep on sitting with Him, right in the middle of the mess, with FAITH in Him.
We returned home, back to the “normal” of COVID-life...John and I prepared to send our son Kenton off to college, Sharon and Mark ready to send their daughter Katie off to college as well, and Mark continued the job search.....
Sharon: “After applying to over 1,800 jobs up and down the East Coast, my hubby finally landed a job in Central Florida in the first week of September! This is the area where Mark and I met. Our family is in this area as well as close friends. In essence, it is our home.”
WE ARE MOVING!
Leslie: “As we packed our son up and sent him off to college, John and I found ourselves in the place of being inside a huge and empty “nest.” It was full of echoes, and we felt we were ready to let it go and see what the next phase of life has in store for us. We decided to sell our house and begin a new adventure in Pennsylvania.”
WE ARE MOVING!
Does God have a sleeve?
We put our houses on the market on the very same day, we both got offers on our homes just twenty-four hours later, and all we can think is, “Wow, God’s got something brewing!”
We don’t know many things, but we know that God has plans for all of us, no matter how uncertain things may seem, and no matter how many bumps or curves we find along the path of life. What we are experiencing shows us that you can’t always have a VISION of what He’s going to do, but you will always have the ASSURANCE that He’s going to do something beyond what you can imagine. His Holy Spirit goes with us and guides through every step. As it says in Ephesians 3:20, we can’t wait to say, “Glory to God, who is able to do far beyond all that we could ask or imagine, by His power at work within us!”
One thing we do know for sure is that Better Than Fine will go forward with confidence that what God has up his sleeve is far better than we can imagine, and the two of us don’t have to be living in the same location for that to happen. This whole sisterhood was founded on the acronym F.I.N.E. There are two ways you can look at that acronym:
You can either see it as:
F - Freaked out
I - Insecure
N - Neurotic
E - Emotional
Or.....you can strive to be Better Than Fine and in the middle of whatever life brings your way, as a woman who is:
F - Free
I - an Influencer
N - Normal
E - Empowered
We choose the latter! As as we look back to the start of B.T.F. and think about where we are heading, we recall the title of our very first blog - “Leap of Faith”! God has got something amazing up His sleeve, and we can’t wait to see what it is!
1, 2, 3, JUMP!!
We love you,
Leslie and Sharon