The Huge Retirement Vacation

So all those miles, and all those sights (which I have not finished blogging about on Treasures in Plain Sight) – how was I touched, moved, what did I learn?

Wow! The lessons are still unfolding. Here on my desk is a red rock from Sedona area, a black rock from an area settled by both Native Americans and then Mormons, and a column of rock mined from deep underground with yellow and white stone. They all remind me that God formed this earth. He has set us free to explore and discover it, yet we are not in charge.(I still have not identified that column of stone, but God knows!)

I have likely written this before. Bob Gerhard preached once “control is an illusion.” I argued with him all the way home. Now I am much older and hopefully a little wiser. While we were away from home the world indeed continued to have problems. Political furor in America broiled and hatred was often spewed. We frequently missed the evening news and decided we did not care. In many ways, we were better off without the news! Our children and grandchildren had their share of troubles, upsets and victories. And we were not in control of any of it. In fact, my mother-in-law died while we were traveling. We were not totally taken aback. We had visited recently and felt as if that was the last time we would see her on this earth. But, no, we were not in control of any of that. God was.

One of my goals this year is to lose weight. The good news is during the travels I did not gain any weight! That was under my control in so far as what I chose to consume. The New Testament teaches self-control as one of the fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:23). In my experience even that occurs only as we submit ourselves to God and ask His help through the Holy Spirit. I have learned over the years the most I can hope for is to control myself, nothing and no one else, and even that not in my own strength.

Grace! how much grace we experienced in those thousands of miles. We missed major storms, including, snow, rain, hail and sand. Almost daily we had near perfect weather. We were kept from major highway crashes.

I am a kept woman. Yes, my husband of many decades has kept me very well indeed. But overarching my life God has kept me (often from myself). I was not certain how we would tolerate all those miles together, unknown places, chances for robbery and worse. We came home totally intact, blessed, no bedbugs, no arguments or major disagreements, no stops at hospitals, Bob’s health going strong and me (feel as if I am aging quickly) but a-okay. Kept in so many ways I have not even mentioned.

I AM GRATEFUL beyond expression.

HA! I took this photo, but saw one like it on a camera ad on tv yesterday! One of my favorite locations, Bryce Canyon!

I stated I really wanted to see red rocks with snow. And there they were! Part of the park road was closed because of the snow, but what a glorious sight!

Me, GE, Whirlpool and Maytag

As a nanny, helping with infant twins and a four year old I learned to do laundry by rote. Then moved on to help with a family with infant triplets. Three loads a day seemed to be the minimum amount. I called it bringing order out of chaos. Doing laundry for our family of four was relatively simple after that.

Then our family dwindled to three and eventually just the two of us.

I found when my adult kids were behind in their household affairs or in crisis, I could always do laundry for them.

When my son faced a recent health crisis, on many levels there was little I could do to resolve the situation. But I could always do laundry. Load after load, seemingly endless amounts of underwear then britches, a few shirts, and bed linens. I can always do laundry.

The rhythm of sorting, loading, changing machines to dry the fabrics, then the meditative process of folding and sorting into piles. Yes, I can always do laundry.

Stain treatment is likely to involve the pent-up energy of other unresolved situations, but the stains eventually yield, if not totally, then enough to reflect my efforts.

Yes, I can always do laundry… and when I am too old or frail to do laundry, hopefully my children will do the laundry for me. May I not prove to be a burden to them or crisis for them to resolve.

Great sayings!

“I think over again my small adventures, my fears, those small ones that seemed so big, all those vital things I had to get and to reach, and yet there is only one great thing: to live and see the great day that dawns, and the light that fills the world.” – Old Inuit Song

“I hope your rambles have been sweet and your reveries spacious.” -Emily Dickinson

Aspen and pines high in mountains.

“My Father made the moon and the mountains and He tells me that I am His own” still.

Finding My Way #2

February 21st I posted about finding my way through Fibro with God’s help. Especially the leading of the hymn “O Love That Will Not Let Me Go.” Before I went to the hospital for diagnosis I occasionally heard things such as, “When you go to the hospital …” What? Who said anything about the hospital? (Later I realized this was reassurance so I would not go into utter panic at the idea.) I also heard “You will know an answer to what is causing this before the chicory blooms.”

One of the delights of early summer are when the chicory blooms blue flowers and the Queen Anne’s Lace starts to put forth white flowers in contrast to the blue. They often grow together along the roadside.

Chicory, Queen Anne’s Lace and Red Clover

How like the Lord to comfort my heart with something that He knew I would recognize and delight in! He was true to His word and we did have a diagnosis before the full bloom of those flowers. The flowers were lovely. The understanding of what it meant to have fibro, not so much.

In Acts 10:34 and Romans 2:11 Peter and then Paul assure us that God is no respecter of persons. He shows no favoritism or special treatment. Since the Lord was able to lead me through that time of fear and not knowing what was happening, I am certain you can be lead by His Spirit also. Still your heart and mind. Try every day to listen for that still small voice of comfort and guidance. Whether you have a chronic illness or not, God wants to speak with you. He desires your attention and presence.

When unexpected things such as hospitalization come your way, try to remember you are never alone and God wants us to do as Mary Englebreit illustrated:

The Topic of Stillness

There is another song that has greatly encouraged me to more stillness. No, not silliness, stillness.

As you read the lyrics you will understand why I am so moved by this.

The more I get alone
The more I see I need to get alone more, more
Cause just when I think that I’m alone
Your Spirit calls out to me
And even silence has a song
Cause that’s when You come
Sing over me

[Chorus]
Still, let me be still
Let me be okay
With the quiet in my heart
Still, I want to be still
I’m so quick to move
Instead of listening to you
Shut my mouth
Crush my pride
Give me the tears
Of a broken life
Still

Oh this world, it falls around me
And flutters all it’s beauty in my eyes
But let me choose the solitude
Simplicity has always simply changed my life
Cause even stillness makes me move
Cause that’s when my heart
Learns to dance with you

[Chorus]

la la la la la. hold me
la la la la la, cleanse me
la la la la la, change me, oh God
Change me while I am
Still, let me be still
And know that you are God
And You’re always enough
Still, I want to be still
To take all that I am
And simply lift it up
Shut my mouth
Crush my pride
Give me the tears
Of a broken life
Still, still, still, still Songwriters: CHRISTY NOCKELS,NATHAN NOCKELS

ZEPHANIAH 3:17 For the LORD your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With His love, He will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.

Be still and know that I am God. Psalm 46:10


The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; A broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise. Psalm 51:17

Still My Soul

When I make a personal retreat my main goals are to still my soul and listen to the Lord. Stilling my soul can take hours or days. Listening to the Lord is something I try to do with consistency, but that stilling the soul part is much harder!

Some time around 1988 I found Psalm 131 set to music by John Michael Talbot on a vinyl album called “Come to the Quiet.” The entire album is Scripture set to music with a few original lines added in. I wore it out and bought another one. Made tape copies to listen to in the car. Eventually bought the CD. Singing Scripture is a wonderful way to memorize it. “In the quiet I have stilled my soul like a child at rest” a much more challenging task! The photo is the upper left corner below is John Michael now. The larger photo on the music cover was years ago.

I am still moved to quiet when I hear this music.You can hear it now on Google music and is still available for purchase. There is also an instrumental version. We play that version every time we drive through the Smoky Mountains on our way to look for wildflowers at our favorite sites.

Take time today to still your soul. It will be heavenly good for you!

Gifts, Fibro and Gratefulness

Brother David Steindl-Rast in A Listening Heart, The Spirituality of Sacred Sensuousness wrote,  “Any given moment confronts us with a given reality. But if it is given, it is gift. If it is gift, the appropriate response is thanksgiving. Yet, thanksgiving, where it is genuine does not primarily look at the gift and express appreciation; it looks at the giver and expresses trust.”

This idea of gift can help us with the command to give thanks in everything. (1 THES 5:18) Gifts are not always welcome at first. Give my husband an iPhone and he will balk. How can he trust that this device can be learned with practice and become a valuable asset as the computer in his pocket? He sees it as lesser than Samsung and harder to learn.

When I was first diagnosed with fibromyalgia the given reality seemed bleak. I was thankful that I did not have a brain tumor or others things the doctors searched for, but overall gratitude was sorely lacking. Somehow I found my way to the writings of Victor Frankl, an Austrian psychiatrist, neurologist and holocaust survivor.

“When we are no longer able to change a situation – we are challenged to change ourselves.”

Viktor Frankl

When he found himself a prisoner in a holocaust camp, he was able to understand how some prisoners survived the atrocities and how some gave up. The power in our minds can influence everything. Not that he could deliver himself from the camp, but he found means to survive using his thinking and observed others doing the same. He later wrote “Man’s Search for Meaning” which inspired me.

Often when chronic illness is diagnosed we begin to think thoughts of self pity and woe that sound like “Why me?” Frankl helped me realize that I could help myself with as much of a positive mindset as I could find. I educated myself. Refused to attend support groups that were only depressing “why me?” sessions. In fact, I eventually started a support group that focused on education about fibromyalgia, research, and finding ways to cope with fibro instead of “sitting in a bathtub of self pity and asking others to wash my back.”

Brother David says “Happiness is not what makes us grateful. It is gratefulness that makes us happy.”

As I learned and grew and did the best I could to take care of myself and my family, I eventually began to cope better, exercise more and move along with my life past the diagnosis and life changes that brought.

I am grateful to God for guiding and directing me then and now. Without His help, I surely would have floundered for several years and would not be the happy person I am today.

Pen and Paper

When we went to Florida last year I was wondering if writing a blog was a good idea or just another writing dream that would crumble away. It seemed every single day we were on the beach and every single time there were two shells that challenged me.

Sunray Venus Clam shell

The Sunray Venus Clam shell reminds me of lined paper. All of my journals are lined paper except one, once. In times past, the pen shell was likely used when a quill was not around.

Pen shell

Now my dresser is adorned with a pen shell in a glass alongside a lined paper shell, (Venus Clam). My computer desk also has a lined paper shell. These shells challenge me to continue the discipline.

The Artist’s Way challenges people to write three pages every morning, non-stop, no corrections and not to re-read or share what is written. I am not always good at doing all three pages. I sometimes flow into things I want to journal or pray about. Do you remember Captain Kangaroo? He had segment in his later broadcasts (when my kids were young) called “Picture Pages.” I guess in even later years he let BIll Cosby do that section. I warn you if you listen to the first minute or so of the song in the video link below it may become an earworm!

https://binged.it/2TNqIQz

So yes, there are times I write three pages for the discipline. Then there are times an idea will spin off into a sketch. And there are days getting even one page filled is a rough row to hoe. And there are days I have not started writing the pages and the Picture Pages song is going through my head ;-D drawing me back to the discipline.

The writing seems to be flowing. Even when I think there is not one more idea, they tend to spring up like chickweed in Springtime.

What inspires you?