The ladies group I have been involved with since late spring has been a source of tremendous mutual support. We pray for each other and talk through anything plaguing our minds. Much that we battle with someone else we know has battled with before. Why not talk about it, learn from each other? If trust and confidence is there amongst a community, then there is freedom from stereotypes and judgment. I cannot say that would be the case with any group of women, but it is with this one. Grace abounds.
I headed out the door late this morning, sunhat and eagerness to get to Long Row Lavender where we met for a lunch and walked amongst the lavender field today. Gorgeous September afternoon. We enjoyed a light luncheon of sandwiches, fresh fruit, and tea. Their iced lavender tea was delicious. Two of the ladies have young boys, so it was a party of four women and three boys under the age of 8. On our walk we noticed a couple of varieties of lavender as well as zinnias and sunflowers. The idea is to attract bees, and there were many. The sunflowers drooped loaded with seeds in their heads. Some spilled onto the ground. The children thought this was fascinating.
The parable of scattered seeds came to mind. “A farmer was sowing grain in his fields. As he scattered the seed across the ground, some fell beside a path, and the birds came and ate it. And some fell on rocky soil where there was little depth of earth; the plants sprang up quickly enough in the shallow soil, but the hot sun soon scorched them and they withered and died, for they had so little root. Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns choked out the tender blades. But some fell on good soil and produced a crop that was thirty, sixty, and even a hundred times as much as he had planted. If you have ears, listen!” ~ Matthew 13: 3- 9. What seeds am I sowing? Have I prepared my soil to be good? Am I watered in the Word of God and feeding my soul with His goodness? Today was a wonderful day, soaking in His creation and the blessing of friends.
As an employee wellness coordinator for a large-sized government entity, I keep myself versed on health and wellness topics and periodically take certification courses. Depression and mental health are major issues in the United States. A person can know this by listening to the news or viewing social media at any given moment these days. More and more training in the health and wellness fields are focusing on the “7 dimensions of wellness” that make a person “whole”. If any of these are lacking, it affects the other dimensions of a person, and the community around.
These past few weeks God is urging me to write, more than I have written before with my journals, blogs, letters, and poems. I am writing a book about wholeness, the physical, spiritual, emotional, and mental healing for a woman with post-traumatic stress disorder which affects the social, intellectual, occupational, and environmental dimensions of her life. It is based on the true story of a Christian woman and her struggles after a traumatic event. Subsequent therapy reveals more than this sexual assault trauma, but the dysfunction she is living in her marriage. It is a story of hope despite the reality of trauma, and the fight against shame and demons associated with sexual assault. Life’s lessons are learned in every situation and circumstance, if we listen.
I have applied for a writing fellowship at a writers colony in Arkansas, and hope to hear good news by November. If awarded I will be granted 2-weeks stay at this writers lovely retreat center. My calendar will allow for this next spring, if I am awarded. If not granted the fellowship, well I may take 2 weeks off and hide out in my husband and I’s cottage to focus on this work with greater depth. Projects with my employer have shifted with earlier deadlines, so spring will be a lovely time to write, take walks, meditate, and write again. “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed,” Ernest Hemingway is quoted. For me it will be my pen and journal, and pecking away on the keyboard of my laptop.
Emotions and the mind do funny things sometimes. Emotions can see-saw like the playground equipment, up-down, up-down. Sometimes the mind plays its own games. Truths and lies come into the mind, and I remind myself what is the truth. And people play games, too. But to know the difference requires discernment. I ask God for that discernment and wisdom. And my trust, my anchor, my foundation is in Him and His Word.
I am reading the book The Daniel Plan, and the chapter on “Focus” resonates so profoundly. Taking care of the body and the mind is essential to going older gracefully. A healthy body and sound mind equals good mental health. Fill your mind with good seeds. Then let your practice of those good thoughts bring harmony to yourself and those God has placed in your life. Bloom where you are planted.
Philippians 4:8-9 The Message (MSG)
“Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies.”
I am a planner by nature and vocation. Letting things go for a whole day is not easy. I think the Lord designed the Sabbath for a reason. I am not faithful to take that day of rest each week. And it catches up sooner or later. I have a quiet time each day where I meditate, pray, and just sit in the quiet. But a whole day of this refreshes my body and mind. My spirit needed it, too.
At my little cottage house I created my boudoir, designed with a comfortable chaise and vintage forget-me-nots such as comfy pillows, a lace-paneled screen, brimmed hats, scarves, hosiery, aprons, gloves, a pearl-beaded clutch, and special evening attire. It is tucked in one corner of my husband and I’s large bedroom. I turned on the mood lights picking green to illuminate my boudoir matching the plush green outside the window this summer season. It invited me for an afternoon nap, a day of rest from my weariness. The dark memories of days from over 20 years ago fainted away. “Be at rest once more, O my soul, for the Lord has been good to you.” ~ Psalms 116:7. The pitter-patter of the rain on the window panes serenaded me to sleep.
A week’s vacation is finally coming next week. And a retreat may be in order for this autumn. But also a sabbatical. Traditionally, this is a 1-year recess for every 7 years worked. I cannot see this happening until I retire from full-time employment. So maybe a whole month off next summer, before I move into another chapter of my life’s work?
On several occasions I have had an older gentleman ask me “where did you come from” or “from what place are you from”. He forgets what I told him the last time, so he asks time and again “whence you come from?”. Here is the definition of the word “whence” and the use of this phase …
from whence (adverb)
from what place or source.
from whence (adverb)
from which; from where.
- to the place from which.
- as a consequence of which
In the physical realm I came from my mother & father, who met at the grocery store chain they both worked at in the mid – late 50’s, married in 1958. I am their third child. Their firstborn is my older brother by 17 months. And then came my identical twin sister, born 7 minutes before I. The doctor and my parents were not expecting me, as my mother did not show signs have being pregnant with twins. Remember ultrasound was not used back in 1960. Right before my twin sister was born, they felt what they thought might be a “tumor”, but lo and behold, it was me, a 2nd baby barely over 5 lbs. My parents waited, and my little brother followed 3-1/2 years later. Mom said “if the pope wanted her to have another baby right after my twin sister and I, he can raise them”. Born and raised in Missouri, we lived in a small town subdivision for my first 8 years, and then lived on a tree farm in the same county for another 10 years before moving across the state to go to college.
In the spiritual realm, I am a child of the Living God, predestined for His wonderful plans. “In Him we were also chosen having been predestined according to the plan of Him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of His will … having believed, you were marked in Him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit … live a life worthy of the calling you have received”, the book of Ephesians tells us. This is where I come from, from our Father, Lord Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit.
Looking back, how I have changed with each year that passed. Not just with the added wrinkles, grays, pounds, aches, and pains in the natural aging process, but in each encounter with my God, His people, and creation. Our loving God uses every situation and person in our lives to shape us. At times I have been in solitude, absent of friendships due to illness, death, and the unkindness of others. There have been good and not so good people throughout my life. Even in the most difficult and dark times, God was present. He gave and continues to give me guidance on how to live life more Christ-like despite others. I trust Him. There is no secret from Him. God knows the secrets of my heart and the sins of my life. I draw on the grace of Jesus Christ with my imperfections as I pour out my heart to Him. To all women, I encourage you to do the same. And join a women’s group. Not just any group but one where you are accepted as a prized rose, and encouraged to grow. “Other seed fell on good soil. It came up and yielded a crop, a hundred times more than was sown,” the Bible tells us. Have open discussions, share holy scriptures and prayers, encourage fearlessness in fearful circumstances, and genuine friendships are planted in the garden. Avoid weedy worthless gossip, emotional games, and comparisons. No pretensions, be fully yourself. This season I have been surrounded by fearless women, and seeds are being planted in good soil. I am thankful.