A New Thing

“For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.” (Isaiah 43:19)

“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away …” (Revelation 21:1)

It was momentous. It was STUPENDOUS. It was heartbreaking. And horrendous. This moment of truth. Would I be able to let my kids go? After my daughter’s trunk party, the remaining weeks left to us passed in a blur. Lately, when I looked into my daughter’s face, I saw the little girl she used to be. My baby’s face. “What will you do,” said my friends and co-workers, “when your babies are gone?” For my part, I tried very hard not to think about it. I really didn’t doubt my ability to handle it, at first. After all, this is what I had been waiting for and the culmination of all my efforts for the past 5 years. This mark, this measurement of my success was to see my kids raised to adulthood, in spite of all our setbacks and sent off to college.

“Stick a fork in me, I’m DONE!” I crowed, jubilantly echoing Al Bundy from Married with Children. My friend responded via email, “You don’t really think it’s over, do you?” But she couldn’t derail my enthusiasm. I’d accomplished my goal and saw freedom on the horizon. I was looking forward to that, I told myself. To be free, at last. To start all over again. To be truly single. My end was in sight. Wow.  Yay.  Right?

Problem was, reality began to intrude upon my little celebration. What would it really be like to not have the kids around? I forced my thoughts to veer away from that direction. I wouldn’t think about my soon-to-be empty nest. I figured it would only make matters worse if I spent our last few months together, dreading their departure. I put it off, delaying the inevitable like Scarlett O’Hara, “I won’t think about that today. If I think about that right now, I’ll go crazy! I’ll think about that tomorrow.”

As the day of their departure drew near, I repeated that mantra over again in my head. Just don’t think about it. Finally, Wednesday, the day before THE FINAL DAY, came. I had done all I could do. All the preparations were made. I could no longer put it off. I couldn’t hide from the truth of it by keeping myself occupied with tasks and shopping. Early in the day, I began to have panic attacks. I couldn’t breathe. My heart clutched. The words resounded in my head, filling me, “What WILL you do when they’re gone?” Suddenly, all of my good plans seemed like so much garbage. GARBAGE! I didn’t have a plan! Not a real plan, I moaned, inwardly. Panicked, I gave into the crushing fear of it.

It rolled over me, devastating me with the weight of it. Who do I think I am? I can’t do this! This is too much! I was overwhelmed by the thoughts of packing my kids, my daughter especially, off to college. I was intimidated at the prospect of renting the U-Haul and driving them. A U-Haul?  Who was I kidding?  I couldn’t do this – I wasn’t up to the task. Despair filled me; fear engulfed me as I wailed, “What’s gonna happen to ME?” And it wasn’t about my daughter leaving anymore as I gave into my grief and self pity. I felt pain, like I hadn’t since my divorce.  It was quite a party until my daughter heard me sniffling quietly to myself.

“Are you crying?” she asked.

“No.” I lied, pouting and moping.

“Punk,” she responded.

It made me laugh, just a little and lifted me from my funk long enough for me to see the real problem. It wasn’t just about separation anxiety, although that was certainly part of it. It was about my fear of the future. I was simply afraid of, well, everything. Of doing something different in driving the U-Haul. Of moving out of my comfort zone. Of being alone for the first time in 20 years. Of having no one to fill that space, to take care of and to take care of me. It was scary. It was starting over.

“For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” (2 Timothy 1:7)

Along with this realization came an epiphany. Fear is not of God. I should have recognized the true source but the fear had grown, unchecked, until it drowned out everything. It was almost paralyzing in it’s intensity. I knew God didn’t want me to feel this way and the pain was so great, neither did I. So, I prayed. Initially, I prayed my fears.  Then the prayer morphed and transformed into a prayer of confidence: Lord, you have always taken care of me! I will not let the evil one make me fear my future and cloud my mind with doubts. At that moment, I remembered that God promised good things for me and I was comforted. I went to sleep and slept like a person who had no cares.

The next day brought a new Loria, one who had stared her fear in the face and conquered it. A Loria who could do what she had to do. I picked up the U-Haul, packed up my kids and their belongings and drove them away to college. The benchmark had been reached. The line of demarcation had been passed. A future filled with possibilities and a new world awaited me. No longer hovering on the cusp, I stepped into it, ready to face whatever the day would bring…

Be blessed,



“But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people …”  1 Peter 2:9

“You’re chosen,” a pastor said to me some years ago as she ministered to me. Her words made me feel special but they were also a little intimidating. They smacked of DESTINY (loud resounding echo), another scary word. It was like, “Loria, meet your fate.” A Neo meets Morpheus moment, right out of The Matrix. It also felt a little daunting, like my choice had been taken away. Hey! Wait just a minute. I needed some clarification. “Chosen,” I said to my friend, because it was her pastor who’d spoken those fateful words. “What does that mean?”

She explained it as best she could, “Chosen means God chose you out of your family to save your family.” Why me? I asked. She offered her own theory – she believed that God chooses a person out of every family. He calls them to be different. She said to me, “Haven’t you ever felt different from the rest of your family? Like, even though you were raised by the same mother, you’re not quite the same? That’s because God has called you to be peculiar.” I did feel somewhat strange but thought to myself – who hasn’t felt that way at some time or another? I’ve pondered her words ever since.

“For I have chosen him, so that he will direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing what is right and just, so that the LORD will bring about for Abraham what he has promised him.” Genesis 18:19

Throughout the Bible, we read repeatedly, about the ordinary people that God has chosen. Abraham was chosen out of his entire family. So was David. And Jacob over Esau. Chosen. But what did that mean? In biblical terms, it meant they were singled out and accorded a special honor and responsibility. In Abraham’s case, he was singled out to start a family that would one day become a nation. At the time, he was childless. He was called to lead his household out of their present situation, into a land of promise and also, to be the leader within his family. Was he chosen because he was a person of exemplary character? Or was he chosen because he had no children and was desperate enough to believe God would grant his greatest desire? We know it was his faith that pleased God.

David was chosen to succeed Saul as king of Israel. Was it because he wrestled with wild animals to protect his sheep? He killed a bear and a lion that threatened his flock before he ever hit Goliath upside the head with a rock! That would make him a good champion and shepherd of Israel. David was also gifted in playing musical instruments and singing hymns of praise. He learned to pray and praise God while in the fields. It was during those early years that his relationship with God was formed. He became “a man after God’s own heart.” Unfortunately, he was not perfect and very capable of making mistakes. He was also humble enough to repent and look to God for forgiveness.

Jacob didn’t have anything to recommend him – no hymns of praise or great faith in God. No stellar character to refer him – he was sneaky, deceitful and a mama’s boy. Initially, it seemed he had no redeeming qualities and may even have been a bit of a slacker. He relied on chicanery and shenanigans to advance himself. Not a very auspicious beginning. Jacob eventually came to know God and realized he didn’t have to rely on his own schemes and devices anymore. God was with him. His story made me wonder: Are we chosen despite our faults or because of them?

God, I think, delights in using us, in all of our human frailties and imperfections. It proves always, that he is God and he can do anything, with anyone. I realize now that it’s because I am not perfect that God uses me. He knows me, intimately, in a way that I seldom let others see. And he still chose me, even before I knew what I was capable of. He knew what was in me because he knew what he put in me.

Responsibility comes along with the honor of being chosen. Many times we can accept the gifts of God but not the burden of responsibility that goes with it. For example, you see many athletes and celebrities who use their gifts to become wealthy but still insist, “I am not a role model.” They don’t want to be held accountable for their actions. They know they are gifted to lead; they understand that others want to emulate them and they revel in that. But they don’t want any of the blame for leading folks down a foolish path by setting a poor example.

I get that. I struggled for some time with the choosing of me. My faults, I argued, would make me a poor choice for any ministry, service or leadership role that God could call me to do. I felt like people would be watching me and expecting me to be perfect – or waiting for me to fail. I felt the pressure to be good. I wanted to throw off those bonds and not care who was looking and what was expected. I wanted to live my life and not be held accountable.

But then I saw the people I impacted, positively and negatively. I had to face the reality that I was a role model – regardless to whether I wanted to be or not. Good or bad was completely up to me. I said to God, “Ok – I get it. You’ve chosen me, for whatever reason – despite my flaws. I accept this calling, even though I don’t understand why.” At that point, I chose to live my life with the weight of that responsibility. Being called or chosen can be an honor and a privilege. It means you’re called to lead. You set the standard for others to follow. You are the example.

God initially chose me; now there is balance because I’ve chosen Him, too. It is a reciprocal relationship. I’ve made my peace with my imperfections and content myself with the knowledge that he can still use even me. I’ve learned to trust in His decision to call me. I have also resigned myself to being one of His “chosen” people and happily declare myself to be just a little bit “peculiar.”

Be blessed,