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 fear, flower, friend, God, grace, heart, hurt, people, Prayer, scripture, silence, solitude, thankful, unkind, woman, Women in My Life

Fearless Women

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.

 

 

Posted in book, connection, Family, gift, hospitality, love, neighbor, people, purpose, quote, scripture, woman, words

Connecting with Purpose

With our electronics, anyone could go days without speaking face-to-face with another person.  Parents receive a text message from their teenager about the next football tailgate with that adolescent one room away from the parent under the same roof at that place called “home”.  I have been at dinner gatherings where the i-phone is set next to the plate like it is part of the place setting.  And I have been guilty of such!  How about delivering verbal words to your co-worker in person by walking to their office down the hall instead of an email message?  The internet, emails, texts, tweets, and online posts can keep us informed, and there is a time and season for it.  But what about connecting with an oxygen-breathing, heart-feeling human in person?  A connection can happen with a little conscious effort.

Connections can come through family, neighborhoods, work, school, food events, sports, hobbies, art, music, support or social groups.  Colors speak.  Color choices in clothing and home design can display meaning.  I recently read The Turquoise Table by Kristin Schell, and she used a self-appointed, self-painted turquoise picnic table planted in her front yard to connect with her neighbors. This Christian woman wanted to share her life with others in a safe venue such as her front yard.  The turquoise table caught the neighbors’ attention.  This idea of hospitality spread to many more neighborhoods and communities, world-wide.  It is a reminiscence of the front porch of yesteryear.

 

The Jenny Joseph poem, Warning, inspired the Red Hat Society founder, Sue Ellen Cooper to give a friend a red hat for her 50th birthday.  The first lines of the poem, “When I am an old woman, I shall wear purple, with a red hat which doesn’t go and doesn’t suit me,” tell us each to grow older in a playful manner on our own terms.  Purple and red are not just for senior women with the Red Hat Society.  Why not make a statement and most likely a connection with the next visitor at your purple front door?  What about a fresh-baked pie left with the next-door neighbor or a water bowl left out near the sidewalk to quench the thirst of those dogs the joggers/walkers bring out on a hot summer day?

However you decide to connect, connect with the purpose to love …

“Love is large and incredibly patient.  Love is gentle and consistently kind to all.  It refuses to be jealous when blessing comes to someone else. Love does not brag about one’s achievements nor inflate its own importance.  Love does not traffic in shame and disrespect, nor selfishly seek its own honor.  Love is not easily irritated or quick to take offense.  Love joyfully celebrates honesty and finds no delight in what is wrong.  Love is a safe place of shelter, for it never stops believing the best for others.  Love never takes failure as defeat, for it never gives up.  Love never stops loving … Love remains long after words of knowledge are forgotten.” ~ 1 Corinthians 13:1-8 (Passion translation).

Posted in book, challenges, comfort, courage, crazy, God, purpose, quote, resilience, thankful, Warrior, woman

Escape

cs lewis cup of tea quoteHow do you escape from this sometimes crazy world?  “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you,”  1 Thessalonians 5:18 tells us.  Being thankful is one way to escape from overwhelming thoughts and situations.  You say, “that is a challenge right now”.  I know.  I experienced one of those days today.  But more importantly, woman warrior, what recharges you with more resilience, courage, and purpose?   Is it being nestled under a comfy quilt with a book or the Bible in one hand and a cup of steamy tea in the other?  Is it a brief foray with an art medium or craft you are developing?  Writing or making music?  Is it an afternoon out with a friend, or date night with the hubby?  Or maybe a whole weekend away or at a retreat?  Whatever it is, just get there.  Make it a priority, plan it, and the escape from this crazy life will come.  Go ahead, do it, and giving thanks all the way through … I knew you could.

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 battle, depression, faith, Family, God, light, love, man, pain, peace, people, Physical, purpose, quote, Rachel, sacred, Spiritual, thankful, Warrior, woman

I Know This Man … I Know This Woman

I was a guest panelist for the St. Louis American Heart Association’s Workplace Wellness Solutions Forum this week.  What a wonderful experience to share the budget strategies I have incorporated in the wellness program at my workplace with other human resources and wellness professionals.  Our keynote speaker, Aaron Hunnel brought his message of perspective, positivity, passion, and purpose.  This humble young man has accomplished much in his young years. An American veteran who served two tours overseas, overcame addiction, has literally climbed several huge mountains, ran an Ironman Marathon with a disabled young woman as his partner, author of the book Upwards, and a successful business owner.  His keynote message “There Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” moved many to tears.  I sobbed.  His authentic message reached home in my heart.

You see I know this woman who has a beautiful soul. She seeks the good in everyone she meets. She loves unceasingly, full of “thank yous”, and affectionate hugs. “See the light in others, and treat them as if that is all you see,” Kirk Weisler is quoted, and this is what this woman lives.  And the courage she possesses is like no other I know.  This woman has not one but multiple disabling medical conditions. This woman is Rachel, my oldest daughter.  I am so proud of the character she has and is.  An “all abilities” woman.  The battles she has fought and continues to fight are extreme pain with advanced degenerative disc disease and arachnoiditis.  Depression, self-pity, “why me”s, “why now”, purposelessness, faithlessness, hopelessness Rachel has fought against too.  And this woman warrior has won!  Her faith in God has saved her time and time again, and will continue to sustain her.  Rachel gives love to family, friends, and strangers because she knows she was created for such as this.  Love is sacred, love shared, no holding back.