Posted in authors, blessings, book, change, children, community, Crescent Dragonwagon, daughter, Family, feelings, God, grandchild, granddaughter, happy, house, husband, job, people, silence, solitude, walk, write, writer

New Pace And Space

I have taken on a new opportunity this summer, and not just for this summer. On June 1 I retired from my full-time HR position in order to slow my pace down. I have more time for the activities I love like gardening, cooking, antiquing, and writing. Even with these fun hobbies, I am learning to pace myself so I get enough sleep, exercise, and make healthier food choices and proper time to consume. For additional income I am teaching culinary classes part-time with kids’ 1/2-day camps this summer. Come the fall semester, I will teach culinary classes 2 evenings a week to kids as well as adults.

More time for family is the another reason to slow my pace down. My husband and I already spent a weekend at the lake with his three children, spouses and three grandchildren. Next weekend I will be opening a booth in an antique mall with my daughters and granddaughters. But this week, is time for myself. I signed up for a writing residency at the Writing Colony at Dairy Hollow in Eureka Springs, Arkansas. I learned of this place over 15 years ago. This place has been in existence for 20 years. I could almost pinch myself, to check if it is real. I am actually staying at the Dairy Hollow house made famous by author, Crescent Dragonwagon. I am taking a week’s residency in the comfortable culinary suite creating some recipes to share in a book of short stories with a culinary theme. My first book. See what becomes of this week. It has been productive so far.

I take casual walks in this enchanted town of Victorian wrap-around porches, bungalows with inviting archways, crevices filled with wildflowers, groves of trees and moss-covered cliffs laced throughout the town. I do some porch sitting, watching the hummingbirds and song birds feed. While on the front porch yesterday afternoon sipping iced peppermint herbal tea a doe and her fawn meandered between the two residency buildings. Later this afternoon I hear the readings of one of my fellow writers at the Carnegie Library a few short blocks away. I will make it to the farmer’s market and a couple of local shops tomorrow morning before returning to the laptop for my story writing and making a peach-blueberry slump. Visits with the other writing residents have been at dinner time. We sit and dine for an hour at a long table filled with delightful foods prepared by an excellent cook from the Old World. Yes, life is good. I feel God’s blessings.

Posted in challenges, change, death, depression, discernment, embrace, Family, friend, gift, God, happy, health, heart, hope, life, Mental, people, perservance, scripture, sick, sufficient, survival, together, trust, wisdom, world

Embrace The Hope

Ice and snow rang in the new year. If it is not the virus, it is the weather that keeps me close to home. So many dreams and plans put off during the pandemic. And we are not through with the COVID pandemic with millions of people to still be vaccinated. Maybe it was a job change, retirement, wedding, or a dream vacation deferred. Birthday and holiday celebrations with family and friends altered. Or not being able to be with a loved one while they were sick, or worse while they died. Lingering side effects from the virus? I have not had COVID but my heart was sick some days. How about yours? Many times we cannot understand God’s ways, or the ways of this world. The wait, why?

“Hope deferred makes the heart sick”, the old proverb tell us. There is the other half of that proverb which says “but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life.” (Proverbs 13:12 ESV). Studying closer this verse in Proverbs, here is a commentary from the 1600’s English nonconformist theologian, Matthew Poole: Hope deferred; delays in obtaining that good which a man passionately desireth and hopeth for. The desire; the good desired and expected; acts being oft put for the objects, It is a tree of life; it is most sweet, and satisfactory, and reviving. Comparing Proverbs 13:12 to other scriptures, Proverbs 3:18 the “tree of life” connects wisdom and happiness. The NLT version says, “Wisdom is a tree of life to those who embrace her; happy are those who hold her tightly.”

Despite this dreary, wintry start, I still welcome the New Year like the finches outside on the feeders. Each waits a turn at the feeder. I embrace the hope and wisdom of a better year in 2021. What is the good you desire? Dig deep using the gift of wisdom God instilled in you. Discern and know God has made you sufficient for such a time as this. Those deep roots have the tree of life for you. Happiness will be life to you when you hold onto the hope and the wisdom.

Posted in body, change, choice, community, courage, day, deed, differences, feelings, happy, house, husband, job, lesson, life, live, Mental, mind, neighbor, people, Physical, Prayer, purpose, resilience, spirit, Spiritual, strength, thankful, well

What Am I Waiting For?

About every moment of every day the local, national, and world news capture heart-wrenching stories of tragedy and utter chaos. Although the local news stations have been better about bringing the good news, too. Like how a group of teenagers care for the needs of their elderly or home-bound neighbors during this pandemic with meal deliveries, running errands, minor home repairs, and taking out trash. While helping others, these youth are helping themselves by learning new skills, effective communications, and heart lessons from their altruism acts. These kids didn’t wait for something to change, they made the change. We cannot say how long the pandemic will continue to disrupt our lives. But I cannot stand by and wait to see how long. Life goes on. The new normal is established, for now anyway. What am I waiting for? What are you waiting for?

I have gained 90 minutes a day by not commuting to work every weekday. After about 3 months to adjusting to work from home (and loving most aspects of telecommuting), I decided to make another change. “I don’t have time” is not a valid excuse any longer. I downloaded a walking app, and have been doing interval speed walking for the past 10 weeks 5 mornings a week. It has been so liberating! I am up to 4-1/4 miles in 75 minutes, and my speed is about 17-1/2 minutes per mile. I am out of the house 5 days a week doing something wonderful for my body as well as for my mind and spirit. After 6 weeks my blood pressure and glucose have dropped enough to adjust my meds. There is a new saying I have heard through the online weight management program Naturally Slim. “Mind, meet body.” I play these mental gymnastics, talking to my mind, my body, and my spirit. There is a series of thoughts that goes like this: “This is good for you, get out there”, “God, give me strength, protect me for another day”, “foot, knee, you are going to be okay”, “only 5 more minutes of speed walking before cool down, yes!”, “sweaty wet tank top you are getting washed today”, “God, bless that homeless person”, “the birds sound lovely, thank You”, “God, what a beautiful sunrise You have given this morning!”, “oh, what a cute flower pot” … I think you get the picture. My thoughts turn to prayer, thankfulness, and praise every single day. I turned sixty today! My sassy (my hubby says sexy) sixty self is happy I have not stood by and waited any longer for these walking workouts. We are never too old to learn or do something new. Now is the time.

Posted in authentic, choice, courage, differences, Emotional, faith, Family, friend, friends, grandparent, happy, job, joy, laugh, life, live, old, peace, sister, strength, woman, Women in My Life

A Bench Mark Weekend

This past weekend was a reunion with three of my high school classmates.  We recalled those days many years ago, and laughed all weekend.  Endless fun, without any men, children, work, alcohol, or drugs.   High on life.  I have had the need to connect to my childhood outside of my family of origin.  So much is a fog, just glimpses of faces and scenarios.  The past class reunions are minus familiar friendly faces. We had about 500 graduates in our class.  So I sought three classmates I am connected to on Facebook, where we seem to share the same interests and connect with our comments on each other’s posts.   I remember well all three.  One friend is an authentic pal from elementary school, another is quite the comedian then and now, and the other illuminates peace to anyone in her surroundings.

We reserved the entire country inn in a small town.  The host and hostess accommodated us well with a bonfire, plenty of bedding options, and a delicious breakfast.  We grabbed lunch first at a unique BBQ diner with a resident pig sleeping in a stall.  After lunch we stopped at a local antique store.  The antiques were as old as us.  We visited Big Spring, a natural spring in the Ozarks of Missouri.  I came across a metal disc right on the cliff ledge near the spring flowing from the Current River.  It said “U.S. Geological Survey Bench Mark”.  According to Wikipedia, “the USGS (United States Geological Survey) was created, by a last-minute amendment, to an act of  Congress on March 3, 1879. It was charged with the ‘classification of the public lands, and examination of the geological structure, mineral resources, and products of the national domain’. This task was driven by the need to inventory the vast lands added to the United States by the Louisiana Purchase in 1803 and the Mexican-American War in 1848.”  This bench mark has some kind of significance, probably either a elevation or earthquake marker.  My curiosity will have me research until I know the facts.

Benchmark at Big Spring

I felt like this was a bench mark weekend for me.  I had never done this, invited old childhood friends to gather for an overnight.  We all did not hangout together as a gang in high school, but knew each other.  None of us belonged to cliques.  I felt a bond would form as we came together now.  I have gone on women’s retreats, but this was a different kind of retreat.  This weekend rendezvous confirmed we had so much in common.  Growing up in the 60’s and 70’s.  Childhoods and schools in St. Charles County, Missouri.  Troubled love relationships.  Divorce.  Made better choices with age and wisdom.  Faith.  Caretaking.  Deceased parents.  Mourning.  Parenthood.  Grand-mothering.  Jobs.  Thrift.  Hobbies.  Strength.  A confident beauty that a 59-year old woman possesses despite it all.  The differences were fewer.  We share a sisterhood.  The “plump sisters (PS)” vow to meet up again in about 3 or 4 months for another destination, maybe another bench mark weekend.

“Because there’s one thing stronger than magic: sisterhood.”
~ Robin Benway, The Extraordinary Secrets of April, May, & June

Posted in authors, book, comfort, Emotional, faith, Financial, forgiveness, God, happy, husband, Mental, pain, patient, Physical, sad, Spiritual, strength, thankful, weep, woman, words, write

Women, Stories, Faith, and Heart Matters

“Women’s stories matter.  They tell us who we are, they give us places to explore our problems, to try on identities and imagine happy endings.  They entertain us, they divert us, they comfort us when we’re lonely or alone.  Women’s stories matter.  And women matter, too.” ~ Jennifer Weiner

I read many literary pieces authored by famous and not so famous women.  Women have many untold stories, happy, and sad ones, too.  There is a time to share those stories, and other times to be quiet.  A time to work through heart matters in solitude.  Inspirational writer Ann Voskamp asks in her book Be The Gift, “Are the most painful tears the kind no one can see, the kind where your soul weeps alone?”  This is where God meets us, holds us, hugs us, comforts, allowing the tears to flow until no more.  Empty oneself of all.  In the midst of physical pain, mental anguish, sudden illness, chronic health conditions, death, wrongful accusations, troubled relationships, mean co-workers, political wars, poverty, domestic violence, or complete exhaustion, faith has to play a part to get through it.

But also, “faith has to be exercised in the midst of ordinary, down-to-earth living,” writes Elisabeth Elliot.  “Faith without works is dead,” the Holy Scriptures tell us.  “Faith is built out of small acts along the path of life,” Maria Shiver shares in her new book, I’ve Been Thinking … Today, what small act strengthened your faith, your belief in God and His creation?  And that creation is you, too.  Was it surrendering your curse words to thankfulness?  Was it a smile shared with that co-worker who loathes your presence?  Was faith exercised in giving your lunch money to the homeless lady sitting on the bench?  How about when you wrote an encouragement letter to that relative estranged from the family?  The tenth time to patiently point out a grammatical error to the simple-minded teen?  Scrubbing the stains off the wall made by careless guests?  Forgiving the thoughtless comment from your husband?  When you forget another appointment, but reschedule and mark it on your calendar this time?  The lists goes on how we exercise faith in others, God, and ourselves.

We women have stories, and faith to make the stories go on about real heart matters. Heart Key Hole

 

 

Posted in children, Elisabeth, God, happy, Mary, mother, Prayer

I Heard My Name

At 3:30am I awoke from a deep sleep to a young woman’s whispered words, “Mom… Mom”.  I thought for sure my Elisabeth was calling me from the other side of my bedroom door or window.  I answered, but no one answered back.  Silence.  Was I dreaming?  I got up to double check the windows and doors, no sign of anyone.  Once a mother, always a mother.  I hear “mom” called out at the grocery store or city park, and I turn my head like instinct to this name.  This awakening was different than that.  I returned to my bed, and prayed.  Was this one of my daughter’s need for prayer?  Our Mother Mary must hear her name called out unceasingly.  Be with all my children, my God who saves and protects.  “He settles the barren woman in her home as a happy mother of children.”  Psalm 113:9.