Navigating storms during the most wonderful time of the year

WaveSo life was humming along ok. Things smoothed out since the summer busyness. I decompressed from my mission trip to Guatemala. I sorted through most of the stuff from Allume, and hoped to get into a groove with my writing. Smooth sailing through the holidays and start the new year with fresh vision and purpose!

In a 10-day period,

My son was transferred to a new job seven hours away.

My mother-in-law had a cardiac episode we feared was a heart attack.

My mother had a stroke.

Not a whole lot of smooth, especially those last two.

The good news is that Scott loves his new job and new city. More good news is that my mother-in-law is home and doing great.

The not-so-good news is that my mom has a very long road ahead of her in residential rehab.

We’re counting many blessings. Both sets of parents live with 15 minutes of us, so helping care for them isn’t complicated by distance. We have supportive friends and family, and have found wonderful care for mom. The Lord gives us new mercies and graces every morning.

But still there is grief. Fatigue. Questions. Frustration. Anger. Changes. Fear. And so many unknowns. So much praying-without-ceasing. So few answers and even less smooth.

I’ve told several of my friends that God started preparing me for these life changes back in the fall. I read several significant books:

Margin: Restoring Emotional, Physical, Financial and Time Reserves to Overloaded Lives, by Richard A, Swenson, M.D.

Unglued, Making Wise Choices In The Midst of Raw Emotion, by Lysa TurKerst

The Wall Around Your Heart: How Jesus Heals You When Others Hurt You, by Mary DeMuth

Blue Like Jazz: Nonreligious thoughts on Christian Spirituality, by Donald Miller

I also believe He slowed me down by pairing a blah season with some website woes. I needed to choose to set some things aside for a time. Little did I know I’d need that life-margin to deal with what was ahead for my family. But God knew.

He is GOOD.

Even in the unknowns and the tears and the storms, He is GOOD. And Sovereign. He’s high above all kingdoms and authorities, worshiped and adored by the heavenly hosts. John the Revelator got a glimpse of His throne room and wrote,

Day and night they never stop saying:

Holy holy holy Rev 4-8b

I join their chorus every chance I get. I can’t think of a better way to find peace in the storm and celebrate the birth of our Savior.


When the most wonderful time of the year is stormy, our Heavenly Father gives peace.

BTW – thanks to all of you who noticed my absence and checked in on me! Your sweet messages and prayers humble and bless me more than I can say. I hope to be back (somewhat) after the first of the year, as the Lord allows.

Book image courtesy of jscreationzs /


  1. Dear Susan,
    Thanks for the update and sharing how God prepared you for the coming storms…praying God continues to sustain you and uphold you during this time of caring for your mom and and hugs to you :)

    • Thank you so much, Dolly. He is GOOD and I’m grateful for so much! Love and hugs back atcha :)

  2. Susan, as I’m going through a similar season in some ways, I feel I understand what you’re going through, and I just pray that your heart would be blessed and that you would know the peace that passes understanding. Thank you for the book recommendations, I’ve read “Margins” and “Blue Like Jazz,” both are awesome, but not the second and third, so I will seek those out. You can know something and not do it, and I’ve not allowed any margins in my life during the last six months. That is one thing I aim to change in 2014. Bless you and I wish you a joyous, peaceful Christmas.

    • Thank you, Kathleen. It was a good Christmas in many ways, so I’m grateful for that. I’m sorry to hear you’re going through a similar season. I’m finding this one to challenging. Praying for you to find margin and for an extra measure of His strength in 2014! Hokie hugs to you :)

  3. Oh how he gives peace. I’m so grateful I don’t need to try and do life without Him.
    It was a delight to see your post in my feed today Susan. Keeping you in my prayers, and prayers for your MIL too.
    Much love,

    • Thank you so much, Beth. I keep you and your husband in my prayers. I hope he’s safe and having a productive deployment. Love and hugs to you :)

  4. Yes, there are no Hallmark cards for some seasons of our lives.
    I’ll keep on praying.

    • Thank you so much, Cyn. This is a hard season, for sure.

  5. TKSharpley

    I think about you everyday. Thanks for the updates. YES! I did notice that you were not writing, but you have done exactly what you needed to be doing. Aren’t we blessed to celebrate Christmas EVERYDAY! Blessings to you and your family, and praying especially for your Mom! xoxo

  6. Oh my, we never know what is up ahead of us do we? And yet God does know and prepares us. So glad you were able to look back and see that. I pray that your mom improves after her stroke. I know that can take time and physical therapy. I’m happy that your son likes his job and that your mother-in-law is doing well. Not everything is rosy even in the best of times. Praying for you Susan.

    I have two weeks off from work and I’m exhausted. So I look forward to some rest and cleaning and visiting friends and family.

    Blessings and love,

    • I hope you had a GREAT Christmas, Debbie! Thank you for praying for mom. This is challenging to say the least. Hope you’re enjoying that phabulous Phoenix weather :)

  7. Janice Williams

    Dear Susan,

    You will never know the encouragement I receive from your blogs. I am in constant prayer for Sheila. She is such a special person and I love her so much. Tell your Dad that he, too, is in my daily prayers. May God give all of you the strength you need during these trying times.

    Love to all of you.

    Janice (MHS Classmate of John’s)

    • Thank you so much, Janice. We’re especially grateful for your prayers for mom. This is challenging for the whole family, especially for dad. I know he’s thankful to have so many friends praying for him too.
      They send their love to you and your family!

  8. “Even in the unknowns and the tears and the storms, He is GOOD. And Sovereign.” YES and AMEN!!

    Praying for you and your family! Merry Christmas!

    • He is GOOD even when life is crazy. Love you, Emily!

  9. Susan, you are always in my prayers but especially now for you and your whole family. God is so awesome in preparing us for what is to come, and our part is to trust in wherever and whatever He leads us.

    Praying for many blessings for you and yours during this Christmas season!

    Love & hugs,

    • Thank you, sweet Anna. You stay in my prayers, and I hope you had a wonderful Christmas with the family. Love to you and yours!

  10. Susan, I’m so sorry to hear what you and your family have been going through. Praising God with you for the good reports on Scott and your mother-in-law, and joining you in prayer for your dear mama.

    I love that you can look at the past and see God’s hand at work, preparing you for this very moment.

    May you see His light more than ever this Christmas as we celebrate the Gift and the Giver.

    • Thank you, Vonda. He is GOOD and His ways are perfect. There couldn’t be a better promise!

  11. God has been preparing you, caring for you, and bringing you through all of this. You are an amazing woman, Susan. You are the real thing! I am still praying for your Mom! Love you, Susta!

  12. Susan,
    So good to get an update from you and to hear your heart so beautifully poured out on paper.
    My husband and I have personally navigated some of these same painful experiences with parents and family. And in all these times, His grace held us as we broke through to release and joy after seasons of watching loved ones suffer. You’re in my prayers, dear one.

    • You’re the best, Glenda. I’m sorry you’ve walked this road, but so grateful for friends who can empathize and pray. I’m also grateful He gives joy in every journey, even the hard ones.
      Hugs back to you!

  13. Bookmarking this as I compile my 2014 booklist. I love being able to trace God’s hand of preparation in my life… just sorry that the prep wasn’t leading to more ‘joyous’ fruition, at least in our human terms. Press on, sister!

    • Thank you, Kirsten. I think you’ll enjoy those reads!

  14. Oh how I love you! I was just thinking about that book “Margin” yesterday. Wondering if I should read it as my life seems to have gotten full and overloaded. Praying for you this season. Much love!!!

    • You’re the best, Alene! Don’t buy Margin — the copy I have belongs to Dawn! Emily passed it along to me, and I’ll send it to you. It’s seriously GOOD.

  15. So sorry to hear about your mom Susan! I hadn’t noticed the MIA because I’ve been MIA myself! This last month with work, Christmas, and kids has been a little overwhelming, but nothing like you’ve had to deal with. So don’t feel guilty about being MIA for awhile. Priorities are priorities and we have to keep them in order. Praying for you my friend!

    • Sometimes MIA is a good and right thing! You’re right, Celeste — our priorities have to be in the right place, or we spin our wheels and have no peace. Or joy. Or hope. That’s one thing I’m learning in this journey :) Thank you for praying!

  16. God in His faithfulness and loving kindness will always prepare us for what’s uphead. We just see it until the storm hits. Praying for continued strength for you as you go through this season of your life.

    • Thank you so much, Barbie. Praying your 2014 is off to a great start!

  17. Some interesting parallels going on in our lives. Thanks for sharing so honestly. I totally understand where you are coming from and I will be praying for a speedy, uncomplicated recovery from your surgery today. Lots of love to you! (PS Several women from our area are headed to Guatemala later this month!)

    • Thank you, Karen. And thank you for your sweet email. My reply is on the way :)

  18. Prayers continue, sweet friend.

  19. Mary Gemmill

    Susan- my heart embracing yours across the ocean- I empathize and sympathize!! Now you are having a little surgery and will be hobbling for a little- let me pray for you:
    Heavenly Father, I lift Susan up before Your Throne of Grace,and I ask that you will be her Fortress, her Strong Tower, her ever present help in these times of trouble. May she not grow faint or weary, but be lifted up on eagles wings to soar with you above it all, knowing herself to be deeply loved by you and many others. May the peace of God that passses ALL understanding guard her heart and mind in ChristJesus.
    Now unto Him who is able to keep you from falling,and present you faultless before the Glory of our Maker with exceeding JOY,to the only wise God our Father,be glory and majesty,now and forever, AMEN.

    May the blessings of God abound in your life, and the trials become fewer and farther in between. May you not lack for any good thing as it is the Father’s pleasure to shine His light upon you and give you PEACE.

    With love,
    Mary, New Zealand xxxx

    • That’s beautiful, Mary! Thank you so much. I hope this season of life is summer-y. Literally and figuratively! Hugs to you :)

  20. Keeping you in my prayers.

  21. Rhonda Phillips

    Susan, when I read this and when I see the daily struggles around me, it’s a reminder that life is never to be set on cruise control. Even though there is pain and suffering, we know God gets the most glory when we are actively relying on Him. Cruise control doesn’t allow us to truly turn it over to Him.

    I’m so thankful for the good news in your life, and I am praying for God to intervene in your sweet mom’s life and restore her to good health. Thank you for such a hard post. God was honored and it blessed me. I love you and your dear family.

    • Thank you so much, Rhonda. We love you too. You guys have a special place in our hearts, and especially my dad’s. I know you’re praying for him, and we’re so grateful. This is a hard time for everyone.
      Love and hugs.


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