A Women’s Retreat and a Woman Retreats
October 28, 2016 | My Jottings
Happy Friday everyone!
I have been
struggling working for weeks on three sessions for a Community Bible Study retreat that takes place tomorrow, about 40 miles south of Duluth. I’ll be speaking on the life of Corrie ten Boom, and how relevant her experiences are for us today, even though we’ll never suffer the atrocities she did. At least I hope not. You never know, with the current world events. We are only given this breath, so even presuming upon tomorrow isn’t wise, I know.
We have a few leaves left on our trees, but most of them are bare, and the cold and wind and grey skies definitely feel and look like we’re getting ready for November. I can’t believe Thanksgiving is next month! I don’t know whether to say “Yayyyy!” or “Gaahhh.” Maybe a little of both.
This morning I walked in the cemetery and carried the names of the women who’ll be attending tomorrow’s retreat with me. I hardly saw a soul there, so I prayed for each dear out loud, asking God to lead me in praying for each one. I am not one of those people like Corrie ten Boom who seem to hear the Lord’s voice so clearly, although I have had a few times in my life where I can see He was moving me to do or say something. It was easier to see in hindsight, though. Today, though, words came to me that I don’t think were mine, so I’m trusting that God has a touch for each woman there. We’ll have young, oldish-young, youngish-old, and old at the gathering, and our CBS Servants Team will be bringing crock-pot soups and bread for a delicious lunch. Is there anything better than homemade soup and bread when the weather turns chilly?
I was happy to be asked at first, but since I’ve never spoken at a retreat before, that happiness dwindled pretty quickly as I read and wrote, revised, prayed, chucked, cried, read, wrote, prayed, and tried to put something together that would minister to mature women, many who have walked with God for decades.
As I printed out the three sessions this afternoon, I had to try not to think about how so much of what I’m going to say is basic Christianity, and nothing anyone hasn’t heard before. I don’t know if it’s my aging brain or what, but I have never had to slog through such blankness and darkness as I wrote. I don’t assume it was all the enemy opposing me, although I don’t rule that out. I know he hates God’s Word and that’s what I’m going to talk about.
Now that I’m done and have revised and trimmed as best I could, I’m going to pack the car with all my “retreat paraphernalia.” CD player, CD, Bose speaker, iPhone with music on it for the Bose, books I’m quoting from, iPad with photos to share during the three sessions, my Bible, a little memento for each of the 40 women, two pairs of glasses, handouts, my notes, and more. I’ll be up early to get things settled here before I head out around 7:30 or so.
I am fervently asking the Lord to accomplish something lasting in all of us.
After the retreat is over, I will retreat to my haven-home, tend to a few foster paperwork piles, clean my office, balance my checkbook, and get some rest.
I have a few new books I can’t wait to read too. I’m going to start on A Soldier of the Great War next week. My dear friend Diane and I are going to read it and then meet in a few weeks to discuss it. Instead of a book club, we’ll be a Book Duo, which makes me smile. I also just received Ann Voskamp’s newest book called The Broken Way and hope to savor that as my Christmas/Advent read.
And in the best news ever, my cherished friend Denel is coming for a visit in a couple of weeks. (Click her name if you’d like to see our goofy girlhood photos.) She and I haven’t seen each other in a year, and she’s flying from SoCal to NoMin for a long weekend. I thought it would be nice to rent a cabin on Lake Superior together so part of her stay will be up the shore. This is one of the cabins.
It’s such a gift to have a friendship that has lasted 52 years. We grew up knowing each others’ families, we took vacations together and went to the beach a hundred times, passed Nancy Drew books back and forth, and generally acted weird and laughed our heads off a lot of our childhoods.
I look forward to a crackling fire while the gales of November are blowing the Lake into a tempest right outside our cabin. As long as it’s a manageable tempest. I look forward to reading, catching up with Denel, driving into Grand Marais for lunch or dinner, listening to music together, and savoring that bond that we will always have.
Well, it’s time to start thinking about dinner here. I guess I’m all rambled out. Thank you for stopping in. If you feel like leaving a comment, I’d like to know what you’re reading. Or just share whatever you like. I’ll be happy to read.
October 16, 2016 | My Jottings
Many of our leaves have fallen now and we are past peak, as they say around here when referring to our gorgeous autumn colors. There are still a few trees waiting for the next blustery day to help them let go of their leaves, so I took a couple of photos today at the cemetery.
Our old, beloved Schnauzer Edith died in July, and we decided to spread her ashes on Michael’s grave. We were waiting for a lovely Sunday to do it, and today was the day. Sara, I, and one of our Fosters had a little memorial graveside service for our pooch, thanking God that He dreamed up dogs, for giving us Edith and increasing our joy through her life, and for the thought that she is with Michael now.
Here are some shots looking toward Michael’s headstone (dates obscured because you know, weirdos lurk — you should see the spam this unknown little blog gets), and also from the headstone looking over the cemetery and one of its ponds. Aren’t the colors stunning? You can click to enlarge these if you like.
And this tree was just begging to be noticed.
Who would have ever thought that one of my happiest, most peaceful places would be a cemetery. Certainly not me.
And here is a recent picture of Miriam Loretta, my ninth grandbaby. She just turned two years old, and is the sweetest little girl!
Lastly, I thought I’d share a picture I received by text last week from my dear friend Tauni in California. She and I have been friends since before Kindergarten. She has visited me in Minnesota twice, but she took this picture during her first trip in 1987. Michael was 38, I was 30, Sharon was 10, Carolyn was 8 and Sara was 5.
Well, Sara is calling me to come watch something on TV about Hillsong NYC, so I guess I’ll make this short and wish you all a wonderful week!
Before the election
October 13, 2016 | My Jottings
I will be glad when the elections are over in a little more than three weeks, but I also know whoever is our next President, I will be deeply concerned.
Here are two articles which couldn’t state better how I’m feeling about things. Not that my opinion matters at all, but hey.
This one is so articulate and hits the nail on the head.
And this one is the best comfort I’ve read regarding this whole election issue in a long time.
Have a peaceful weekend,
On being stretched
October 12, 2016 | My Jottings
I’ve grown allergic to busyness in the last few years. Having a seriously ill husband who required some kind of care sometimes round the clock, made me crave quietude on the most visceral level. Then, when his cares were finally being done at a skilled nursing facility (Silver Bay Veterans Home), a new kind of stress set in. The crushing weight of trying to care for Michael at home while Parkinson’s and Lewy Body Dementia took firmer hold in his body was lifted, but now I carried a different burden: guilt and sorrow in such scraping depth I had no way of expressing it or dealing with it, except to weep and cry out to God every single day. And to be almost a bystander outside of my own mind as I constantly tried to figure out how I could bring him home and have it work this time, or how he could stay there and both of us not be losing our sanity.
So for one year after Michael’s death, I did as little as possible.
Perhaps no one else would have thought that. The house was still in order, laundry done, meals cooked, Community Bible Study attended, birthdays celebrated. With the help of my friend Carey, I even took my foster gals on a cruise to Alaska during this time, so I didn’t actually become a recluse. But whenever I could, I rested. I sat in my bedroom chair and thought. And cried. And read my Bible, and prayed as I could. I spent a lot of time writing in my gratitude journal. I sat in my living room recliner and watched TV, especially my favorite show, Life Today, with James and Betty Robison. I walked in the cemetery. Slowly. Breathing in the fresh air and intensely observing the beauty there.
I don’t know if that season is coming to a close or not. This year I have taken on a responsibility I take very seriously, a Core Leader at CBS. This means that on Monday mornings and Tuesday mornings I’m gone now. For those of you who work 40 hours or more outside the home I realize this sounds like nothing, but for me, after having felt hollowed out by Michael’s terrible and beautiful journey, this is a lot. Because I am still working in my home, providing foster care to two women with developmental disabilities, and all the paperwork that the state requires with that.
I also began the fall term at University for Seniors recently, and am taking one class — Great Books. It’s the continuation of the same class I took last spring. I haven’t loved the stories we’ve read so far, but I do learn when I go to the discussion group made up of around 25 people sitting around a large table.
So I’m feeling a bit stretched, and I’m still trying to figure out if this is a tiny waving red flag in my peripheral vision cautioning me to slow down, to restrain myself from jumping in with both feet, to intentionally keep taking time for healing and rest, or if feeling this way is a good and growing thing.
And, I have lost my brother Steve. He died alone, on October 1st. I cannot talk about it yet. I might someday.
These are just ramblings. And this photo is just the view looking out of my living room window. In between the two neighbors’ houses across the street, I am blessed to see our inland sea, Lake Superior, every day.
I hope you are taking some time for yourself too, and resist busyness if you can.
God’s peace to you, dear family and friends,
Overflowing With Gratitude
October 2, 2016 | My Jottings
One of the joys of my life is to sit in my plaid bedroom chair in the mornings and write in my gratitude journal. I’m in the 6500s now, which for a glass-half-empty kind of gal, is truly miraculous. I spend a few minutes listing the things I’m grateful for, sometimes making them into a prayer, and then I put it aside and open my Bible. And/or do my CBS lesson, which is on Matthew this year and is blowing my mind.
When something in my life becomes difficult or painful, I still try to sit and write my thanks. I might write,
“#5903 – Thank you Lord, that you are with us today, and that no matter how things look, you are at work in ________’s life”
Or when I’m afraid I might write,
“#6228 – You hold the future, Lord. Thank you.” Pretty simple, but very sincere.
I record all the time about how He has lavished such grace and beauty on my life.
“#5091 – Louisa’s eyes, Lord! Thank you! You have outdone yourself with her.”
Or “#6544 – Hot breakfast this morning while looking at Lake Superior.”
Or “#3120 – The way Millie’s stubbly tail wags – you made her Lord. Thank you!”
Or “#6539 – A text from Sue, Lord. Thank you for her life, please bless and help her.”
And “#4597 – Your promise in 1 John 1:9 that if I confess my sin to you, you will forgive and cleanse me.”
I thank Him for the big things, like His love, for Jesus’s willingness to die on the cross for MY lies, my cheats, my laziness, my pride, my anger, my lack of love. I hope I never get over that, that Jesus did this for me. And for you. I thank Him for prayer, that we have an audience with the King of the Universe at any moment, and don’t have to grovel and crawl to come to His throne of grace.
And I love to thank Him for little things, like a book in hand, the voice of a friend, the color of a pillow, clean water, dental floss, pain relief, handwriting, and more. And of course those are really big things too, when we think about it.
Do I ever despair and feel ungrateful? Yes! But I find that making myself sit down to write out my thanks to the Lord makes a difference. On good days, it brings me joy and strength. On bad days, it keeps me going.
Yesterday Sharon sent me some photos from the week of Michael’s dying that I had never seen. She’s a professional photographer, and she was cleaning out some space on her hard drive and came across the pictures she took 20 months ago, and she sent them all to me. I gasped when I saw the dozens of precious pictures of our family and friends as they all poured their love out on Michael and said goodbye to him in their own personal ways. I’ll be posting some of those photos now and then, even though a year and a half has passed now. Being without my beloved is still my reality every day, and even though the waves of grief are definitely coming with less frequency, when they do hit they take me under. Which is normal, I have learned.
So here is another thing for which I’m so thankful…
The beautiful and heartbreaking memory of my oldest grandson climbing up into Michael’s hospital bed in our bedroom, two days before Michael flew to Jesus. Mr. McBoy’s love for his grandpa. And even though by this time Michael wasn’t able to speak or even open his eyes, I believe he heard and felt and knew. He heard our songs and prayers and our thousands of I-love-yous. He felt our hugs and kisses. He knew he was a deeply loved man. And he was secure in what was waiting for him on the other side of that deathbed.
I think I could fill up an entire journal about God’s mercy and faithfulness, just regarding Michael.
Therefore, as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, overflowing with gratitude. Colossians 2:6-7 HCSB