Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” Psalm 91:1-2
It is hard to believe but almost two months have gone by without a blog post here. So many good things have been happening that I could write about, travel, family successes, service dog funnies, but by the time I get home from work each evening, I do not feel like facing the computer again. I haven’t been sewing or writing, but I have been doing a lot of reading and watching reality television. Anything I can do while lying in bed with my feet up. I have been doing some blogging though just not here. Anytime you want to catch some of my writings, go to my church blog where I frequently post guest pieces based upon that week’s sermons. http://www.fbcpalmetto.com/fbc-media/blog.html Here are some random things that are going on to get you up to date. Hopefully in the new year, I will feel more like writing and will be better about posting.
1. Cory has been doing great as a service dog. What I did not realize when I sought her physical assistance was what a relief emotionally it would be to have her with me. I did not realize it, but keeping the MS diagnosis to myself was really a struggle. I felt like I was about to explode. Now, that she is with me, the natural question for people to ask is “What is she doing for you?” In answering, I reveal my illness in a natural way instead of having it come out as a complaint. I can’t describe how relieved and how much more at peace I feel. Cory is “out of service” for a few weeks as she is in season. She is terribly pathetic as she sits at the door and watches me drive away without her. I often wondered if she resented giving up her time to chase squirrels to sleep under my desk at work. Now, I don’t think she does.
2. Husband and I leave for Guatemala on Saturday, the day after Christmas. It really is a miracle that he is going with me. I had asked him several times in the months before the application deadline and he always said no. I resolved not to whine or force the issue and left it up to God to change his mind. Then, the night before the applications were due, I asked one more time and he said, “Yes.” I still don’t think he knows what came over him! It is a little stressful trying to pack and get ready for Christmas, too, but I am excited about introducing him to the place and people I love. I learned last year how much fun it is to be there at Christmastime for the workers’ Christmas party. I just pray we don’t get sick. I am taking lots of hand sanitizer and antibacterial wipes and plan to swab down my airline seat and space as soon as we get on the plane. So far, the supply bag, limited to 50 pounds weighs 75. I have to do some rearranging soon.
3. I am not sure if it was because we leave the day after Christmas or because I have been so tired, but my family and extended family has taken over responsibility for providing food for our annual Christmas day meal which we have been hosting for thirty years. The family is growing and the younger generation, twenty and thirty somethings are stepping up to provide sides to go with the turkey that my mother-in-law always cooks. I was assigned, tea, paper plates and cranberry sauce! Husband has started cleaning the house already, and our sons and daughter in love have been drafted to set up the tables. It feels a little weird and I know it will feel weirder on Christmas morning, but I look forward to sleeping a little later that day!
4. I got to hear one of my favorite authors speak in November at the lodge at Amicalola Falls in Northwest Georgia. Barbara Brown Taylor wrote Learning to Walk in the Dark and An Altar in the World which helped to shape how I look at life now. She was a terrific speaker, engaging and thought provoking and very relevant to current events as she talked a lot about welcoming strangers and loving others who are different from us. Cory was quite a hit with the audience and at the end of her lectures, Barbara blew Cory a kiss! Husband and I stayed in the campground for a week. I pushed myself to do some hiking and though painful, I realized what a benefit physical activity is to my body. That week, I also connected with a writing teacher I knew through John Campbell Folk School and went to a writer’s retreat at her house where I finally got back into writing Caroline’s Story. I have vowed to finish that book in 2016 and to incorporate some of the things I learned from Barbara Brown Taylor in Caroline’s Story.
5. Our daughter in love, M., graduated from college a few weeks ago. We are so very proud of her. She overcame a lot in the four years she was in school and could have quit very easily at any point, but pushed through to graduate with several teaching certifications. Five days after graduation and on her first job interview, she was offered a teaching position here in Manatee County and starts after Christmas! In anticipation of her graduation and their desire to move back to the west coast, youngest son had already secured a position at a local hospital ER. He applied for one job and was offered two! They are off to a good start.
6. I discovered Lily and Laura bracelets. I know that I do not need anything, but these bright and cheerful crocheted beaded bracelets make me happy and anything that brings a little joy in my life is welcome these days. I bought a lot of them on cyber Monday and have been giving them away for Christmas presents making others happy as well. Husband wanted to know why I send Lily and Laura so much money. It’s okay, I told him. The bracelets are made in Nepal in a women’s home based business started by Laura to help women earn money to support their families.
7. I decided to abstain from Facebook during the Advent season this year. I realized how much time I was wasting on Facebook, not to mention the seeds of discontent that that social media platform generates. I was getting so wound up about the antimuslim comments, political ads and other hate speech filtering through. Instead, I have been using Christmastide: Prayers for Advent Through Epiphany from the Divine Hours by Phyllis Tickle. It is prayers and scripture to read three times a day, morning, noon and night. One of my favorite prayers, designed to recite upon waking each morning is: “Lord God, almighty and everlasting Father, you have brought me in safety to this new day: Preserve me with your mighty power, that I may not fall into sin, nor be overcome by adversity; and in all I do direct me to the fulfilling of your purpose; through Jesus Christ my Lord.”
8. In exchange for time spent on social media, I have also been reading a lot and have read some interesting and though provoking books. Here is a sampling. The Faith Club: A Muslim, A Christian and a Jew-Three Women Search for Understanding by Ranya Idliby, Suzanne Oliver and Priscilla Warner: Three women who met regularly to learn about each other’s religion and were challenged to learn more about their own. Their beliefs were stretched and changed, but in the end, all three became both more faithful to their religion and accepting of each others. In This Together by Ann Romney: This book was encouraging, comforting and inspiring. Ann Romney writes about her diagnosis with MS and the methods she used to work through that diagnosis to come to a peace about her life and help others do the same. Ann and I have so much in common that at times, I thought I was reading about myself. I finished the book determined to take better care of myself but to also be a light to others around me who are also suffering. Out of Sorts: Making Peace with an Evolving Faith by Sarah Bessey: Again, I felt like I was reading my own journal or a slightly different version of my own. Sarah went through a “crisis of faith” as it is so often flippantly called in our generation, and she eloquently writes about what helped her return to her roots with fresh eyes and perspective. This is just a few of the really good books I have read in the last month. I am currently reading Marmee and Louisa by Eve LaPlante. This is a biography of Louisa May Alcott and her mother, Abigail Alcott. It describes the relationship with the two and how Abigail’s life substantially contributed to the books, Little Women and Little Men. LaPlante is great at describing the history of the times that the two women lived as well as the social factors affecting them. She is giving me a lot of background information on two of my favorite childhood books and their author.
9. Probably the most important news is that we now have a houseful again. Oldest son still lives at home and now, he shares the bathroom with youngest son and M. In a change I never saw coming, we have accepted sharing the house with these young and energetic adults and are actually encouraging them to stay with us until they pay off some debt and save money to buy homes instead of paying rent. In exchange, they are very helpful and we are enjoying having them around. Kitchen and laundry chores are divided up, and youngest son has taken on lawn maintenance. Sometimes, husband and I threaten to move out to our trailer, but for the time being, we are surprisingly content.
10. I have taken Psalm 91 on as my Bible verse for 2016. It begins, “Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” While 2015 taught me to “walk in the dark,” I hope 2016 teaches me to “dwell in God’s shadow.” Still a shaded place, in order to be in His shadow, I have to be close enough to Him for it to fall on me.
I hope to post next week while in Guatemala. If not, see you in 2016!