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.
Remember the serenity prayer …
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.
In other words … let go, let God. Easier said than done. And why is that? I will speak for myself. There are times, even some days I am not present moment with God. I think too much. I think I can take this one more thing on, figure it out on my own. God gives us a brain and wants us to use it. It is also Him who gives us the wisdom on how to use it. But sometimes I overstep God. “Here let me do this so it gets done”, like God is not fast enough to answer my prayers or He wants me to do everything but pray. Or “I know what is best”, like I am placing myself better than God! Or how about this one, “doesn’t God hear me?” God is Omnipresent. He hears and knows everything even before I verbally speak the words or know what the need is.
I am writing these words to myself today. A reminder of what I know already, but need to know today as The Truth For Today. There are so many needs within the family as well as the people God has surrounded me with. “Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change”. Serenity means “the state of calm, peaceful, untroubled, and tranquil”. I cannot change the health conditions of my daughters, my sons, my siblings, my cousins, my friends, my colleagues. I am praying for Your comfort and Your healing touch to each of these people on my heart today. There are many, God. My heart is heavy today. Lift this heaviness as I give each of them to You. “Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.” 1 Peter 5:7
The mother of pearl stone fell out of my class ring about 3 months ago. I noticed a hollow cavity in the ring after a shower one morning. My assumption is it popped out while taking a shower or while I gardened. My sweet husband knew how significant that ring was. I worked hard at age 40 to finally complete my BA degree, and graduated with summa cum laude honors. Dean looked up the information, and this ring maker guaranteed their work for my lifetime. We packed it up and it was sent back to me within a month as promised. Beautifully restored and cleaned. Mother of pearl symbolizes restored trust and selfless love. And this is what my BA degree did for me, restored my trust in people, love, and the reward for hard work. The mother of pearl stone reminds me of my children, and the selfless love of a mother. My daughters have done a much better job at this than I. Being a grandmother has been much easier for me, and still an opportunity for a positive influence.
This week I was reminded at the Fearless Women’s gathering how God is in control. Whenever we feel like we need to fix someone or a situation, remind self “they are My children”. God loves our children and others more than we ever could. He knows best! “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” ~ Ephesians 2:10. “Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me His own.” ~ Philippians 3:12. “For nothing will be impossible with God.” ~ Luke 1:37.
I have been making “liquid gold” for many years. Nowadays they call it “bone broth”. According to online resources “bone broth” was used in ancient Chinese medicine to improve connective tissues, kidney function, and immunity. I simply roast a whole chicken, turkey breast, or a bone-in beef or pork roast in the slow-cooker on low heat for 10 – 12 hours. Adding a fermented liquid such as wine, beer, kombucha, or vinegar in water helps bring out the bone marrow and collagen from the bones into the simmering liquid in the slow-cooker. Liquid gold. Good for my physical health. That liquid gold is the base for delicious soups and sauces.
My oldest daughter, Rachel received another type of liquid gold this week. After many years of prayers, tears, and seeking answers from the conventional medical field. Her name came up finally after a couple of years on the wait list for a California clinic that uses alternative medical treatments for her disabling conditions. Rachel is challenged with degenerative disc disease and adhesive arachnoiditis. She lives in pain constantly. This past year, Rachel has had physicians tell her “there is nothing I can do for you”. Faith and hope has been her strength . Those moments when she lost hope she had friends and family still believing. Faith has sustained her. Our God sustains Rachel. An out-of-state trip orchestrated by God Himself unfolded before our eyes, giving hearts melted, funds gathered, plane tickets ordered, and an appointed physician who prays for each of her patients. Today the neighborhood church bells ring at this noon hour, an angelic sound reminds me of our God’s faithfulness. Angels continue to watch over my Rachel.
“Cobbles rumble when a wave recedes, and thunders break the air in lightning storms. I call these noises silence …wherever there is stillness there is the still small voice, God’s speaking… the silence is all there is. It is the alpha and the omega,” writes author, Annie Dillard. We had a few summer storms this past week. In the night, awaken to the pitter-patter of raindrops on the window next to my bedside. Then the thunder claps and echoes in the darkness. And the silence follows. Awaken to pray. Most of the time I know who for and why. Other times I do not, and await to hear the still small voice.
My husband and I have downsized our own living space by moving into a 4-room house. Not sure if to call us “minimalists”, but having a smaller home has slowed us down. We are more focused on our relationship, and that was our intent. More quiet time, more silence than what we have lived the past 4 years while sharing our bigger home with my daughter and her family. No pets in our new space either, we enjoy the neighbors’ pets during our walks. Just the Mr. and I, simple or elaborate meals prepared in-house depending on the mood, less eating out. Projects and chores or snuggling on a love seat watching a classic movie. And the silence. “Slow living … opens up the prospect of slow love, the most sustaining sort of love … a love that comes of unhurried and focused attention to the simplest things, available to all of us, at any time, should we choose to engage: family, friendship, food, music, art, books, our bodies, our minds, our souls, and the life that blooms and buzzes all around us … slow love comes out of the quiet hours, out of learning from the silence that is always there when we want it,” writes Dominique Browning, former editor of a major design/decor publication.
We all need the silence.
A few months ago I began this blog dedicated to the warrior woman God has called each of us to be. This necessity to write about this topic came after my daughter, Elisabeth was diagnosed with two forms of breast cancer, stage 1. Within each of us is a fighter, some more pronounced than others. So I am not speaking of a roughneck girl looking for a fight. (Though I believe either one of my daughters, daughters-in-law and their mothers could hold their own if confronted in a physical battle.) With this blog I am speaking about the spiritual, physical, mental, and emotional fight we as woman encounter on a daily basis. And for some that fight is minute by minute of every day. My Elisabeth had such the fight the past 5 months. She told her story on her social media page, not whining and complaining, but injecting faith and the power God gives to fight against fear and the Enemy. The Enemy, cancer lost! After 5 months of chemotherapy and a bi-lateral mastectomy Elisabeth received the pathology report announcing “CANCER-FREE!” The victory is hers!
In my eyes, and many others’ eyes, Elisabeth is Wonder Woman. She endured chemo treatments every 3 weeks, the nausea and zapped energy level that followed for days. Hair and breasts loss. The mind and emotions battled the lies of the Enemy, refused defeat every step of the way. It takes a village to raise a child. And my daughter had a village praying for her, literally hundreds of family, friends, and church groups surrounded her with love and support, and beseeched Our God. And the countless miracles that followed … her husband’s unwavering support … God’s grace extended from her employer, to work when able… strained relationships focused on one thing, Elisabeth’s healing rather than their differences … a clinic of dedicated medical staff … most expenses covered through the healthcare reform mandate … non-insurance covered special bandages left in the mail box during recovery … gift baskets delivered … and most of all the village’s thousands of prayers said on her behalf.
How thankful I am that my Elisabeth has been healed, and continues in the grace of God! From the bottom of my heart, THANK YOU for loving my girl! To God be the glory!
I awoke this Saturday morn early like most days. Weekday, weekend, it no matter. I am an early bird. And you know the saying “the early bird gets the worm”, but I am sure worms are not on my menu. But time with God is. Yes, I can talk to God (and you can, too) at any time of day under any circumstances. But there is something fresh about the dawn of a new day, quietness and stillness in the house and just outside the house on my front porch. I sit on the porch bench watching the day wake up around me. I am surrounded by shade trees, pots of perennials, the tweeting birds, and garden art. The breeze subtly chills my skin, and rustles the green canopy of leaves. Forgiveness I ask for my shortcomings, and His Grace accepted. Petitions are expressed, asking God for complete healing for my daughters, Elisabeth and Rachel as well as my aging mother. Strength for this woman warrior and my day. With a thankful heart …
Onward to begin the Saturday chores … I sweep the front porch of the twigs, mulch, dog hairs, and dirt blown in with the summer winds. It is an attempt to keep my home tidy. I want to feel welcomed when I come home. Rather be greeted by the warm cinnamon front door, than dirt and grime. I am sure the rest of the family and our guests do as well. Is that not what praying to God is about? Sweeping the wrong motives, ill words, and bad attitudes away while being received in His warm embrace. An Open Door. So happy I chose a comforting color for the front door. Cinnamon. Warm. This morn it invites me into the house to prepare a pancake breakfast and finish those other Saturday chores, and pray all the while.
Racing along, this project done, another one or two started, excellent customer service given, that word of encouragement shared, another homemade dinner made with leftovers for the week, and then I stop short. Sometimes fall short. Sickness does that to me. Not just my sickness, but the news that one of my children or another loved one is sick can put me at a complete halt, worry with frenzy or analyze the problem until I am exhausted. Neither accomplish what is desired, complete healing even from cancer. God is so gracious to me, to each of us. His Word says, “for though a righteous man falls seven times, he will rise again” (Proverbs 24:16).
Prayer is where I go when I fall short. “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective” (James 5:16). Meditative prayers are said at church each day before noon Mass, like glorious chants reaching the heavens. My presence there uplifts me, I rise again from the pew ready to go about the rest of my day. Unexplained utterances come from my lips at times, when English words cannot say what my heart feels. And this too is promised in God’s Word. “For I will give you utterance and wisdom which none of your opponents will be able to withstand or reply to” (Luke 21:15) and “And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance” (Acts 2:4).
Does not matter where I am, at home, in church, at the office, or on a day outing. Just pray. And I am diligently doing. Please agree with me for complete healing of my daughter. “Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them …” (Matthew 18: 18 – 20).
This Woman Warrior writes to share the challenges, battles, and triumph cries of women such as myself and you. This blog has brewed in the 4-part curriculum “Beyond Resilience” I have written for the employees at my full-time human resources job in a local government entity. With the recent news from my daughter, Elisabeth, and the beginnings of her fight against breast cancer, I felt it is time to share words with the whole world what I and so many other women encounter. Elisabeth came from the womb a fighter. A woman warrior. She will beat this damned cancer. She has a legion of angels who surround her, and prayer warriors interceding for a complete healing. It will be Elisabeth’s toughest battle yet in her 32-years of life, but she will win!
The focus of this blog is on women, common and not so common battles we fight as warriors in this world and beyond. These are physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, and vocational battles. We struggle with our health, self-esteem, acceptance, forgiveness, as well as financial and job securities. Real life stuff. This blog is not a political platform to bash political parties or leaders. Nor is it to bash the men folk in our lives. I need men in my life, and I am sure you as well. Oh, how I miss my father today. Our men folk fight their share of battles, too.
We women need each other! We need to stop fighting, malicious gossip, and comparing ourselves to each other. God has made us each unique and perfect. Let us work together towards better purposes. Today I need you to pray for my Elisabeth, her husband, her children, and her supporting family which includes me. Love, faith, and strength unceasing during this battle. A victory cry awaits.
So much to write about in the near and farther future. My Elisabeth may set up your own WordPress blog soon. She wants to share her ups and downs of this battle against cancer, so maybe someone else can learn from her life and words. Elisabeth is a wise woman warrior.