October 1st saw the beginning of '31 Days' an annual event where bloggers across the internet blog daily throughout the month of October on the subject of their choice. Instead of my regular Monday post I want to point you to one of these blogs where I know you will find much to meditate on.
Deidra Riggs is the
visionary at JumpingTandem (deidrariggs.com), managing editor at
TheHighCalling.org and a monthly contributor
at (in)courage.me . During the
month of October Deidra is participating in the annual 31 Days blogging event
where she will be blogging daily on the
perspective of being a follower of Christ as
a Woman of Color. 31 days in my brown skin is open, honest, insightful and informative, and a must read for
followers of Christ of any color. I encourage you to join Deirda on her journey
this month as she hosts the needed
conversation on this very
interesting and important subject with grace and candor.
Today Deidra is posting about her mission trip to Haiti which is this week. Please go and leave her a word of encouragement and prayer for her and for the mission team she's traveling with. I'd love to hear your thoughts on her 31 days project so please share them with us. I would love for Renaissance Women to be a part of this wonderful conversation.
Over the years I have come to appreciate how God will take a situation like assembling a set of
bunkbeds for my sons as an opportunity to teach me a lesson for living. The lesson He taught
me in this situation was perseverance. (The Bunkbed Parable Part 1 )
Perseverance is defined as a ‘steady and continued action or belief, usually over a long period and
especially despite difficulties or setbacks’. Difficulties and setbacks. That described my situation. The bunkbeds needed to be assembled,
they were not going to assemble themselves and they had to be up by a specific
time. I had to get out of bed and go do it. I could whine and cry while I put
them together but put them together I must. Yes, it was true that someone had given
me the wrong information and no, it was not fair that they did it but the fact
was the boys needed a place to sleep. I had to do it. I need to persevere
until it was done.
When I got back to the boys room, I sorted through the pile on
the floor, got the directions and started putting the bed together. Halfway
through I found that I needed to have a small Phillips head screwdriver to
continue. My toolbox at that time consisted of a hammer, a pair of pliers and a
regular sized screwdriver which no matter how hard I tried didn’t fit the top
of those screws. I was ready to quit again but I had to go buy a Phillips head
screwdriver. I was miserable but I had to get it done. It didn’t matter that my
head was aching and my foot was throbbing, I had to persevere.
Thank goodness the rest of the assembly went quickly after
that and two and a half hours after I started, the bunkbed frame was done. As I
stood back and took a good look at what I had done, a sense of satisfaction started
to replace the angry frustration I had been feeling. I still had a killer headache
and my toes still hurt but I had gotten it done. In fact, I was so proud to
have conquered the situation instead of letting the situation conquer me that I
went back out and bought two new sets of matching Star War sheets for the
bunkbeds. The boys loved it and were sufficiently
awed to hear that their mom had put the beds together all by herself. They were
proud of me and I was proud of myself.
That was over twenty-five years ago. The boys are now all
men and those bunkbeds are long since gone but the pride and satisfaction I
felt atperseveringuntil the task was completed is still with me.Many times I have thanked God for the
experience of assembling those bunkbeds. It has given me the strength to
accomplish increasing larger tasks and to handle unexpected situations. It has taught
me that no matter what it is that I attempt in my life, if I persevere by the
grace of God, I can get it done.
The Bunkbed Parable was an experience I had when my sons
were little that started out in frustration but ended up being a valuable life lesson
for me. I had gone to buy a set of bunkbeds for the boys and having been
assured by a very nice furniture store salesperson that they did indeed deliver
and assemble the beds they sell, I purchased a set of those heavy duty metal
bunkbeds. I was especially happy about the assembly part because at that time in
my life I was not a screwdriver friendly type of person. Imagine my shock on
the following weekend when the delivery men set two twin mattresses and a very
heavy cardboard box against the bedroom wall, headed back downstairs to hand me
a clipboard and said, “We’re done. Sign here”. A short discussion with the
deliverymen and a long one with the store manager revealed the fact that they
did indeed assemble all of the beds they sold – except bunkbeds. He was as
sorry as he could be that I was given the wrong information, but no, the
deliverymen were not going to assemble my bunkbeds. All they could do was
either leave them there or bring them back to the store where the manager would
arrange for a full refund – minus the delivery fee, of course.
After allowing the delivery men to leave I sat down on my
living room sofa preparing to have a good old fashioned cry even though I knew it
wouldn’t help the situation at all. My head was already pounding because of a 48
hour virus which had decided to stay a few extra hours so crying would only
make things worse. I was a single mom and there was no one else to do it but me.
I also couldn’t wait to find someone else to do it because the boys were flying
back from spring break vacation with their dad the next day and their old beds
were already gone. Wiping away the few already escaped tears, I squared my
shoulders and went back up the stairs to tackle the job.
As a person who believes in prayer I took a moment to ask
for strength and patience before I started. I then proceeded to open the large
flat box leaning against the wall only to have everything tumble out in a heap
on the floor because I hadn’t laid it flat before opening. As a result the
heavy metal frame was upside down, the two heavy end pieces landed on the toes
of one of my bare feet and what seemed like a million little bags of nut, bolts
and screws were flung all over the floor. To add insult to injury, the
directions for assembly were in the on the bottom of this pile.
That was it. Even though I had just started, I had already
had enough. I followed my first inclination to limp angrily out of the boys’ room
slamming the door behind me, crawl back into my own bed and finally have that
cry. I threw a real hissy fit even though there was no one but the Lord
watching and I knew from experience that a tantrum wouldn’t cut any bait with
him. I had a good long cry but after it was over, the bunkbeds were still down
the hall waiting to be put together. The boys couldn’t sleep on that mess when
they came home so and they were too little to put them together themselves. I
was going to have to do it. Brushing the tears out of my eyes and with both my
head and my foot pounding I hobbled back down to the boys bedroom to began to sort
out the mess in the floor.
Starting today I'm adding a weekly post called'Monday Meditations'.They are updated versions of the weekly inspirational newspaper column called 'The Wonderfully Made Woman' which I wrote for three years during the nineties when I lived in Tulsa OK . Just a little something to start off your week. I hope you enjoy them
I have a little wall plaque titled "What I Need" which I bought from a Christian Bookstore over thirty years. It hangs by my bedroom mirror where I can see it every morning. It is a picture of a young woman walking barefoot on a lonely stretch of beach with the following sentiment superimposed over it. It's a sweet little prayer and it never fails to bless me when I read it. I hope it does the same for you.
Friday and Saturday are the days I go visiting my online neighbors. A number of ladies in the blogosphere hold open houses or 'Link Parties' where every one comes together, shares their latest posts and then go off to visit the others at the party. It's a great way to meet new friends and to catch up with current ones. It's like dropping on for a cup of tea.There are three parties I visit on a weekly basis and I want to share them with you today.
You've heard me speak of Company Girls Coffeehosted by the wonderfully talented Rachel @ Home Sanctuary before. She was the first link party I ever joined and it's been fun. Rachel blogs about how er can do 'A Simple Thing' each day to help us organize our homes and our lives. Her partner in this is Flash her pet donkey (yes donkey) who provides us with lots of laughs and life lessons.
The second party I attend is Caffeinated Randomness hosted by Michelle @ Lost in the Prairies. I knew Michelle and I were kindred spirits because of our love of Starbuck's and her bright humor. Today she posted about being "A Hot Mess'. It was very real and very touching. She really got me on that one.
The third party I attend is a new one called 'A Favorite Thing' hosted by Claudia @ Mockingbird Hill Cottage. Claudia caught my eye because she collects McCoy pottery which I have inherited a lot of from my grandmother. She started her party a few weeks ago - restarted actually- and it's been a great success with everyone able to highlight one favorite thing each Saturday. It's the first thing I turn to on Saturday Morning usually in bed with a cup of tea. Great way to start the weekend.
Won't you join me on my visits this weekend? Stop in and say hello to Rachel, Claudia and Michelle. I'm sure you'll enjoy it as much as I do.
My mom always repeated this little verse whenever we had been out and arrived back home. I found myself repeating it quietly as the plane landed at DFW airport this last Tuesday. I had made it safely home from my month long vacation in Atlanta and although I didn’t buy a fat pig, I did bring home six extra pounds that I did not start out with. Do I care? Not one bit. My D.I.L. is a fantastic country cook and believe you me, I ate everything she cooked, sometimes multiple times. I wish I was at her table right now.
I’m always telling people “God knows what you need” and it was very true in my case with this vacation. As I said before it was like a retreat but it very much embodied the principle of “Work and Pray” that I learned long ago.D.I.L. runs a child care from the first floor of their home and on any weekday there were between 6 to 12 pre-school children in the house. I was firmly told that I was not expected to work in the daycare (she has 2 full time and 1 part time employees) and that I was there to rest. I appreciated that but after a few days, I offered to help with lunch time where extra pair of hands are always welcomed and that was all she wrote. I was hooked. I was in love with each and every one of the kiddies and there was no going back for me.Yes, God knew what I needed and it was to be a mom again.
How can I explain of the peace and joy that settle over me with wiping runny noses, changing dirty bottoms, supervising playground activities and getting four bottle babies down for naps at the same time (yay me!). Walking into a room full of toddlers and hearing a chorus of little voices yelling, “Hi! Hi! Hi! Hi!” and having to give out hugs all around to settle the room back down soothed my empty nester soul beyond words. Being able to hold a fussy 10 month old in my arms and rock him to sleep healed my weary heart in ways I can’t begin to tell you.God knew what I needed and what I needed was this wonderful retreat of ‘Work and Prayer” where He filled my empty arms with children and soothed my aching heart.
God also knew that it was going to be hard for me to say goodbye to all of the babies and He arranged a special surprise for me in those last moments. As I was giving kisses all round one of the ladies who worked there called out, “Antonio is walking!” Antonio was a precious 10 month old who was always laughing, always bouncing and good natured. All the while I was there he would walk along holding onto things not yet ready to let go and take steps on his own. I could hardly believe it! She brought him into the room where I was, I kneeled down and held out my arms. After a balancing moment and a big smile, Antonio let go of her hands and walked quickly across the room into my outstretched arms. I was ecstatic! Oh, I was so proud. There was much laughing and clapping and he was clapping himself at him for doing this fantastic thing that everyone was so excited about.I can still feel how it felt to hold him, smell the baby powder and feel the satin softness of his sweet little cheek against mine. I closed my eyes, held him tight, nuzzled his neck and with many laughing kisses, I let him go.
God knew that I needed to leave with laughter and joy. Antonio’s baby steps were what I needed to be able to comehome again, home againwith a full heart. I thank God for the sweet babies and wriggling toddlers. I thank Him for the endless green Georgia pines and the cool restful temps. I thank Him for D.I.L’s welcoming warmth and great cooking and I thank him for Middle Son's quiet humor, generosity and strength. God knew what I needed, He gave it to me in abundance and I will forever Bless His Name for it.
Please share with us something God knew that you needed and gave it to you.
Please also share what you are thanking God for today so we can rejoice with you.
It’s been twelve blissfully cool days with Middle Son and family here in Atlanta. After the first couple days of touching base with friends I have to confess I’ve spent the majority of my free time nestling in the cutest little room on the second floor of their spacious home. It is wonderful little room with a large window which showcases a wall of tall, green, beautiful trees.
I love the view from this window because whether I’m standing sitting or lying down all I see is a curtain of vividly green leaves. It’s an east facing window so virtually every morning I am awakened by dancing rays of sunlight flickering across my face. I love it so much that after I fully wake up I just lay in bed gazing out on the dawn for close to an hour. I start out to praying but most of the time I lay there feeling thankful and blessed for peace and calm and beauty.
It’s a lot like being on retreat.
Being ‘on retreat’ or ‘taking a retreat’ is defined as ‘a period of quiet rest and contemplation in a secluded place’. In other words, ‘getting away from it all’. In the early days of the church, retreats were individual times of separation from the world to still your heart and mind in order to be able to better hear from God. One would go on to a retreat house or prayer facility dedicated to providing an avenue for the opening of your heart and spirit. This was generally a solitary exercise set aside as a time to develop your relationship with God.
In the modern church today we tend to think of retreats as going away for a time (usually a weekend) with a group of people. Generally the men’s and women’s ministries at your local church will sponsor group retreats. There are sometimes retreats for older teens and the children may also have their summer day camps. The singles group at my church went on a retreat to San Antoine a year ago and we had a wonderful time of fun and fellowship. All of these times of retreat will strengthened the relationship of church members with God and each other. I have enjoyed the ones I attended. I would encourage everyone to attend a good group retreat at least once a year especially if your church sponsors one.
I encourage you to schedule a time for a solitary retreat just for yourself. There are times when being away for awhile, alone with God is what your soul really needs. Give it a try. Take a weekend and spend the night in a hotel or search the internet for a retreat house or prayer facility near you where you can spend a couple of days.Turn off your cell phone. Leave your laptop at home. It will be a wonderful time of refreshing. After the first time you take a solitary retreat you’ll start to crave them. You’ll come back rested in body, renewed in your faith and with a stronger, deeper relationship with God.
Been on retreat lately? Planning to go on one soon? Tell us about your favorite way to 'retreat'.
A few weeks ago my middle son called to tell me that he was sending me a ticket to come visit him and his family in Atlanta. I was delighted. ‘How long are you going to keep the old girl this time?” I asked.“I think we’re going to keep you for the whole month of August.” he replied. “Seriously? The whole month?”“Yeah. You need a break from that Texas heat."
Bless his dear little darling heart.
He was waiting for me at the airport this last Saturday.I could pick him out from across the terminal not only because I’m his mother (we can all spot our babies in a crowd, can’t we moms?) but because at 6’2” he stood out in the crowd. He also very handsome and has a dazzling smile. An obedient son he leaned down to let me kiss him on the forehead like I’ve been doing since he was a baby. In fact, my nick name for him (and his brothers) is “Baby Son”.
I have been singularly blessed with relationships I have with my three sons. Not only do I love them all but we are all good friends. It seems each of ‘the boys’ (another nickname for them that came up in from my family) has a specific area of interest or hobby that is also a love of mine.
Oldest Baby Son loves music – in fact, he stole (yes stole) all of my record albums when he moved away. I tried to be upset but he actually played them more than I did and he loves the vinyl. He keeps me up to date on all the best music, plays a number of instruments and has a beautiful singing voice.
Middle Baby Son and I both love books. We are nerds for sure when it comes to bookstores. One of the major outings for us when we’re together is to hit the Barnes and Nobles where we wander the aisles for hours, drink way too much coffee and then buy out the store. Last time we did this we spent over $150.00 on books. Did I say we loved books?
Youngest Baby Son and I love movies. Well, video of any kind really. For us, movies are books that move. He’s lives up the highway from me in Texas (Oldest Son is in Boston and Middle Son is in Georgia) and about once every other week he comes over to ‘give the old girl an airing’. We hit the movie theater then eat Chinese food. We laugh and fuss for hours about everything surrounding movies – the directors, the actors, the storylines. We have a lot of fun together.
All of my sons have grown up to be good men. I thank God for that. I could say that I raised them alone, but that would be misleading. I was separated when my youngest was seven months old and divorced two years after that. It was a difficult, heartbreaking time but I lived in the same town as my family which was my saving grace. My parents and my brothers and sisters and my church family were all there to help out and shield the boys from the brunt of the pain. I credit my family and friends for a large part of helping the boys grow up to be the good men they are today.
I love my sons very much and am very proud of them. If I do nothing else in my life I will be proud to be able to say I had a hand in raising these three wonderful men.I do have pictures of all of my baby sons but unfortunately they are on the portable hard drive I left at home in Dallas. That was the one piece of organizing (putting all the scanned pictures in one place) I finally did get done. Maybe I can raid their Facebook pages for current pictures.
More about my Atlanta trip in the next few posts. In the meantime tell me about your baby sons and baby daughters including all of your grandbabies and assorted nieces and nephews. I'd love to hear about the young people in your life.
It's 2:30 in the morning and I'm smiling. It's been a long night of wrestling with the Blogger interface but I've finally gotten the best of it! I have my background uploaded, my layout locked in and the majority of the font styles and colors in place. There's still quite a bit of tweaking left to do, but I believe I've laid down a good foundation to build on. The most important thing is having it ready for August 1st (today) to officially 'open our doors' again! Whooo - hooo!
You may have noticed the name of the blog has slightly changed from 'A Renaissance Woman' to 'Renaissance Women'. I've been thinking about doing this for a long time and I think it best fits with the scope of this blog. It's about women - all of us and what makes us tick. It about becoming the best we can be and helping others to do the same. I love being in the midst of a group of women, laughing talking and sharing our hopes and dreams for our lives. I love one on one phone chats which can last for literal hours, especially with my out of town friends. I love connecting with other women and helping them to connect with other women. All of us helping each other to be renewed, revived and rejoicing as we go.
You can see from the list on the sidebar that there are many great female bloggers on the web. I've only listed a very few. A number of these women have been come very good friends even we've never been the same room together. (Other than a chat room that is). In addition to pointing them out on the sidebar, I'm going to be highlighting them individually from time to time. Lots of fun and wisdom on that sidebar, and some darn good cooks as well! We might even be fortunate to have a few do a guest post or two.
So here we are, back and hopefully better than ever. Thanks for hanging in with us. Looking forward to catching up with everyone over the next couple days.