Stranded in Pensacola (*Updated)

And yes, I realize there are worse places to be stranded.

One of the dangers of an RV trip is the number of things that can go wrong that can alter the best-laid plans. Unfortunately our big, lovely dog, Zoey, tore her ACL romping on the beach with our new puppy last weekend here in Pensacola. She has to have it surgically repaired and in testing her they also discovered a suspicious spot that may indicate bone cancer.

So, we are pausing our trip here an extra week in Pensacola to sort all this out as Zoey has surgery today on her ACL and a biopsy to see what we’re dealing with on her other leg. We feel so bad for her.

Next week, we will continue our trip to Anniston, AL and to Atlanta, GA one week later than we had planned. Unfortunately, this means we have to cancel our plans to go south after Atlanta to visit Jekyll Island, Savannah, GA and Columbia, SC.  I’m so sorry that we will not be able to see that part of the country and visit the people with whom we made arrangements in that area.

We are still planning on tagging back into our itinerary at Fort Mill, SC on Tuesday night May 7 and continuing as planned from there.  However, this all depends on how Zoey handles surgery, what kind of treatment we need if she has cancer, and how well she travels while she recovers, but we are hopeful to get back on track. And last week we added stops in Fort Mill, SC, Roanoke, VA, Charlottesville, VA, York, PA, and Louisville, KY, Lord willing.

None of this is easy. Our heart aches for our beloved dog and sad to miss some connections we had planned. In the old days, this would have derailed me, and I would have complained at God for days for not watching over us, or blaming myself for missing something. To be so far from home, doing what we felt Jesus asked us to do and having a freak accident involving our dog messes everything up.

But those feelings are no where to be found now. Over the last twenty-five years, I’ve learned that life is a struggle. Learn to appreciate the seasons of rest and joy when they come, but also embrace God’s working when your plans get wrecked and suffering intrudes on our otherwise peaceful life. Living in this world is hard and we can be so easily blindsided by the unexpected and left fuming with anxiety instead of leaning back into Jesus and how he can make use of any unexpected circumstance.

I suspect there’s more God wants to do while we’re here, or at least he knows how to make good use of it. As his love has taught me to live in the moment without having to control it. I see now what a great gift that is. When you realize you’re not in control of what happens to you, and don’t have to be, then you’re ready to embrace what God is doing.

Each day, look at the situations that confront you, consider the information you have, and make the best decision with him instead of begging him to make everything fit with your own plans and desires. If you don’t have enough information, wait until you do. We are often so impatient to erase uncertainty from our lives that we make decisions before their time. Yesterday, Sara and I could have spent all afternoon anxious over “what if” scenarios, and I can’t say we weren’t tempted to. But we didn’t have enough information yet and it would have been a waste of time.

As we talked to the vet this morning, there were no clear-cut options. But there was one course of action we felt best about and now we’ll entrust it all to God with the outcome for Zoey and our trip.

When I discovered that it wasn’t God’s purpose in this age to protect me  from discomfort and pain, everything shifted for me. Instead of blaming God through difficult times, I could look for what God was doing in those times. Is there something he wants to do to relieve it? Is there something he wanted to do to change my heart?

It reminds me of a dream Luis had in the days when Sara was gone and I wasn’t sure I’d ever see her again. He sat with me in some of my deepest pain. In a dream one night he asked Jesus if he would take my pain away. “I could,” Jesus responded, but to do that I’d have to take his love away.” I’m glad he didn’t. Those who love deeply will also hurt deeply; it’s the fullness of love. You can’t just claim the good side of it and not also embrace him in the painful bits as well.

Last week in the final gathering of the He Loves Me Book Club, we talked about learning to pray that God be glorified in whatever we deal with, rather than the “save me” prayers that come so easily. There’s nothing happening in us that his glory won’t shine through.

When you can follow God, knowing he has more options than you can contrive, you can be at rest when all around you is falling apart. And being at rest in him will allow you to see things anxiety just won’t let you see.



Two hours after this posted, we got word from Zoey’s surgeon. She is out of surgery, which took 4 hours. She repaired her ACL and took a biopsy on the other leg. The doctor is all but certain that her right leg is NOT cancerous. She said it didn’t present that way and she is very hopeful.  We get her back on Friday and for that we are so grateful. She will be hurting on both legs for a while so it will be a tough recovery, but at least she’s made it this far.

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