#1. God works in our lives long before we are aware.
When God brings you someone (a person) something (a talent)—it just is. You don’t have to work to have it. It’s easy because it’s made for you. You will have to work to do the tasks to care, nurture and grow it, but the “being” and “having” has been divinely placed.
My faith is renewed and strengthen when I think about Jean and the ways God knew so far in advance—22 years. Jean never married, nor had children. She had plenty of long-time friends, but as she aged, so did they. So it was for me to care for her at the end.
#2: Gentleness is strength.
You don’t have to be overtly vocal to influence. While some people, and often a grandmother stereotype, are the “you should, you better, let me tell you…,” my Sweet Jean was a gentle force. People have always told me I’m very calm and Jean and I are similar in this approach. She was my perfect fit.
Serving as Jean’s medical power of attorney, often people in the hospital, nursing home, or on social media, would comment that I was such a blessing to Jean. After she passed I realized she was all my blessing. I was going through a hard time during Jean’s decline and taking care of her felt so redeeming. Still today, she is gifting me.
Photos say something, if you listen. That’s not for everyone, but it is for me. Just as Jean was for me. God knows.
#3. Hold onto what God gives you.
Whatever is given to you—in person, in skill, in talent (your gifts, your call)—see it thru to the end. Nurture it. Work it. Grow it.
Jean. She was mine. Finish the race. No way was I dropping the ball. I’ve also done this (working on this!) to do something more with my everyday cross photos. I will be obedient to what God has given me.
#4: God leaves nuggets and nudges.
Will you pick them up? Will you follow them? Will you listen? God speaks so softly. Will you turn toward faith, and follow, even when you don’t understand? Even when you don’t know why? Even when—that is faith.
So often these nuggets and nudges are subtle where people chalk it up to coincidence instead of understanding it’s a message. Pick it up. Take the next step. See what it is. That’s what I did with a few of my photos. At the time I had no plans for a book, that was completely out of my sight range. At the time I had no plans to speak about faith in order to help others find faith in the everyday AND grow in their personal relationship with God. I took one step. Then I took a few more, over and over, by following the nuggets and listening to the nudges. I write about some of these early nuggets in my first book, In Plain Sight.
#5: Faith is a choice.
It’s a mindset. You make a decision. And you choose faith every day. Even when it’s hard. I stand in faith and work in obedience and my faith grows stronger by taking steps in faith.
In the spring of 2016, a few months before Jean passed, I asked her, “Jean, what’s the difference between faith and trust?” I was deepening my faith and wanted to know the distinction. Her instant reply was, “Well, faith is something you put everything into.” Through the coming and goings of dementia, it was a good day. I vividly remember her answer because it was so simple and clear. I know the meaning of her answer even more today. Yes, it sure is something you put everything into, Jean. Back to #2, she is still gifting me today.