I awoke this bitter cold morning to a hush. Not much stirring inside or outside. Missouri broke record cold temps overnight, a whole 10 degrees this November 12. Little stirring in the neighborhood as school was called off and commuters leaving late for work. An early season snow storm set the whole area in an icy mess late yesterday. Typically I would be in the shower by now, focused on my 9-hour day ahead at the office. But I was attending the funeral of a colleague who suddenly passed 5 days ago. I prayed for a blessed day despite needing to say “goodbye” to this friend later this morn.
I was blessed with the song birds coming to the feeder this morning. Chirping and feasting. Shadows of the birds, feeder, and perches lingered in the window panes. The contrast of light and dark resembled life and death. Guess which one wins? “He will swallow up death forever. The Sovereign Lord will wipe away the tears from all faces … But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” ~ Isaiah 25:8 & 1 Corinthians 15:37. The warmth of the guest bedroom lured me to a nap after the funeral this sunny afternoon. I awoke knowing my life and my death is in His hands like my friend, his wife, and his son.
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.
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
The melancholy mood I have been in these past days can be for several reasons. Autumn is bittersweet. “Every leaf speaks bliss to me, fluttering from the autumn tree” writes Emily Bronte. I should be counting my blessings with every leaf I see fall. The cooler breeze and vibrant colored leaves are so pleasant, but at the same time a reminder that winter is close behind. The autumn season has held the celebrations of multiple birthdays. My mother’s 80th this year, cause for a party she is still with us. But I lost my father and grandfather both during the month of October. “I Still Miss Someone” a song sung by Johnny Cash and Bill Monroe written by Carl Perkins speaks what I feel today, this overcast autumn day. Missing Dad and Grandpa. Missing the love I saw in Mom and Dad. Despite their differences, they stayed together.
At my door the leaves are falling
A cold wild wind has come
Sweethearts walk by together
And I still miss someone …
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.
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.”