Tuesday, November 21, 2017

I Saw The Light!

Winter and the long dark days ahead are not really my friend. Too many previous winters have proven that. Depression complicated by Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) can make for some pretty bleak and exhausting days.

 Last year I swore I would NOT go through another winter without one of those Happy Lights. True to my word, I purchased one a couple weeks ago. It's a compact size so its convenient to move from space to space as needed. I had it set up in my kitchen window sill to start, letting it wake me as I made breakfast but I found that kind of startling light that early in the morning just didn't make sense to me, non-early bird that I am. I moved it to my work space, next to my computer. I think the discipline of sitting by the light at my computer desk will double as incentive to do some writing! Brilliant idea!!

It's only been a couple of weeks so I can't speak with authority to the job its doing but I am hopeful.

As I have done in past years on my Facebook account, I've been posting each day a gratitude or what I am thankful for that day.

That's a great way to remind ourselves of all we have been blessed with in this life. Some of the things I've posted are simple: warm home, coffee, cozy socks. Some have more significance: a loving husband, friends, good health. Some have deeper meaning: God's gift of salvation, being His child, eternal life in Christ.

Whether it's elementary or complex, the mind experiences a shift in attitude when our hearts exhibit gratitude. 

Be joyful always, pray continually, give thanks in all things. 1 Thessalonians 5.16-18

Thanksgiving is just a couple of days away. Have you made a thankful list? If not, what are you waiting for?

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Hello November, Hello.... Winter??

I do love me a gorgeous Autumn. My favorite color is October.

 November rolls around and we think we are just getting into the depths of fall.

The colors have exploded during the month of October and by November have all but exhausted themselves.

 The piles of leaves lining the roadsides and yards proved a thick carpet of colors while the trees are almost bare.

 The sun, while not as hot as it was in August, shines brilliantly. You soak up every minute, relishing these halcyon days of Autumn.  

And just when you think Indian Summer will last forever, it snows. 

It snows?? Yes. It snows. Probably one of the earliest I can recall. It sure looks pretty. But I will miss those perfect Autumn days.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

I'm Conquering Fears!

Left and Right! Bam! Bam! Bam!

In my last post I shared about overcoming a fear of heights to do the zipline. I rode high (no pun intended) on that adventure for weeks! I was just so thrilled to see a correlation between one day God speaking to me about "letting go" and the next actually doing that!

I knew that my fear was more about losing control than it was about heights though.

In July I traveled to Dallas-Fort Worth to attend the annual Premier Designs Rally. It was amazing.... sort of like Women of Faith (conference) meets The Price is Right. For 3 days I listened to inspiring speakers, leaders, teachers, all who said,"yep, we sell jewelry, yep, here's how to grow your business but.... what we are really about is how to Glorify God in all we do!"  WOW. Talk about a spiritual boost! I came away from the Rally on fire and ready to go to the next level in my business.

The last few months have been about testing the waters, and now, here is an intended pun! I tested the waters literally in September at our church camp out. I kayaked!

So, here's another thing about me... although I can swim, I don't like tippy things.... in water. I had a major freak out in a canoe once and decided long ago we just wouldn't do that again. Poor Bruce. He would have loved for us to canoe or kayak but I was not amiable to that! Until that Labor Day Weekend at Silver Lake Park....

Because of the gentle persistence of a couple of very sweet ladies, I caved and found myself in a kayak on Sunday evening.  It was a really wide kayak and I immediately felt pretty safe and comfortable on the water! It was amazing. We paddled across the lake and talked and laughed. It was fun! (Wish I had a picture or two from that because it would have been fun to see my face-- Bruce's face was one of astonishment watching me actually do this!)

As I said before, Fear is really more about not having control over things than it is about the actual things. I'm watching this play out in my mom's life up close. She has been in Assisted Living for the past 4 years and the last several months have seen her declining more and needing more and more help. More than assisted living is designed for. So we've begun the search for a skilled nursing facility in which to move her to.

Her mood is dark these days. She strikes out verbally and speaks of just wishing she was "dead already." She's weak and frail and needs help with just about everything. Her body is wearing out. She's depressed and angry and cantankerous but I think most of it stems from fear. Fear of the unknown. Fear of  having to trust others to do for her what she's done on her own for so long. Fear of dying even though she knows the Lord and knows she's going to heaven.

Its hard to watch. It's sad. When my dad passed away, over 11 years ago, it was cardiac arrest. One minute he was alive, then next he was gone. No warning. Just that horrible phone call the next morning telling us he had passed. As shocking as that news was/is, it's how I hope I go. I'd rather live fully until that last day rather than linger, sick and weak and needy. But only God knows what or how. I have to trust Him.

I've heard it said that FEAR is False Evidence Appearing Real. That makes sense.
So often we just fear the unknown.
We're scared of the dark because we don't know what's out there.
We're scared of heights and canoes because its unpredictable!
Will we fall?

 And we are afraid of stepping out because,

what if we fail??

But Oh! 
What if we fly?

"Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go." Joshua 1.9

Friday, September 22, 2017

And Then I Climbed a Tree

Not just any tree! But a really really tall skinny tree! I scaled this tree about 40 feet up to a tiny little platform that was barely big enough for one person, let alone two! I then allowed myself to be hooked up to a device that would send me sailing through the air,suspended above the ground,  for a 1000+ feet ride, where I was 'caught' by a couple of trained individuals. 

Yep. I did the Zipline.

Memorial Weekend 2017. One week after my retreat and my experience with the duck, you know where God basically told me to quit working so hard to tread water in order to stay safe, and let go a little bit, trust Him more and let me see where the Holy Spirit would take me. We were at one of our favorite places on earth, our beloved Tall Timber Ranch for the Work n' Worship Weekend.  Climbing the rock wall had been offered one evening, the next night, the zipline.

Let me state for the record a few things.
1. I am afraid of heights. I'll say that again, I AM AFRAID OF HEIGHTS. As in I DON'T DO THEM.  Ladders, rooftops, and the like, are not my friends. No, huh-uh, never. 
2. I have been visiting Tall Timber for over 20 years. I have had plenty of opportunities to experience the Zipline. Never. Have. I. Ever. No desire, no need. 
3. Did I mention I don't do heights?

But, something came over me that evening at dinner when table mates were talking about doing the zip-line later. Without any warning I said, 'Maybe I'll do that too..." 

And Suddenly.... it became imperative that I do it! I have no way to explain it, other than a Holy Phenomenon.  It was like it was this bucket list item that I HAD to check off my list! 

Bruce scoffed when I announced I was going to do the zip-line. He said he'd believe it when he saw it. I said he better hurry up then because if I was going to do it, I'd do it before I came to my senses!

My little friend Lizzy was certainly brave!
On a dry dusty hill, below the incredibly tall skinny tree, a crowd had gathered. Some were putting on harnesses and helmets. Others were there to gawk or cheer or both. I got into my harness with the aid of my step-son. Joey has worked on staff and Tall Timber, and has a degree in Recreation. He wasn't assisting in the actual zip-line activity but he was certainly a calming and encouraging factor as he tightened and adjusted my gear. I observed several others go ahead of me and watched carefully. Curiously I realized I wasn't really fearful of the actual zip-line ride itself. I thought that would probably be quite a rush and very fun! It was getting to the platform to take off from that was the challenge. 

You see, not only was the platform from which to launch, 40 some feet above ground, but the process for climbing the tree was precarious! Into the bark of the tree trunk were hammered small hooks for which to place hands and feet. You're not just climbing, you are sort of pulling yourself from hook to hook. Now, not only did I have to conquer my fear of heights. but I had to use arm and leg strength I wasn't sure I had. (especially my arms-- those darn shoulders). I had to trust completely in the harness and gear and the guy at the other end of my rope, belaying me. 

It was a stretch, literally, that climb. Those hooks would be easy for someone really tall but for 5'3 me, I was almost not able to reach hooks above me. But I climbed. I climbed FAST. I think I just wanted to get that part over with!

 By the time I reached the top and was preparing to step off the hooks onto the platform where Nic was waiting to instruct me, I knew what it meant to be 'scared spit-less" I mean it. I had NO SPIT! My mouth was drier than cotton and I wished desperately for a glass of water (or whiskey!!!) 

When I was situated on the platform Nic instructed me to squat a little and feel the support of the harness. Once I did that and realized how firmly suspended I was I actually relaxed a little! Nic said "Whenever you're ready, just lift your feet and you'll go!"

I nodded and lifted my feet. and........



to RECAP: I climbed a tree 40 feet up. I zipped 1000 feet across the clearing to the landing. I had to deal with fear of heights, and use body strength I wasn't sure I had. I had to trust completely in the harness and gear. How like our walk with Christ! We have to trust Him to hold us and support us in those testing and defining moments.

Jesus is my carbeaner

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Life Lessons from a Duck

and I'm Quacking about it!

In May of this year I attended a retreat with some of my Premier Designs Sisters. There were about twenty of us spending a long weekend in a gorgeous lodge right on the Wenatchee River in Leavenworth WA.

The purpose of the retreat was to learn and grow, encourage and celebrate our lives as "jewelry ladies". I had never met any of the gals except for my niece Jill, who is also the one who sponsored me in the business. I was a little apprehensive about attending because of the size and not knowing the ladies or what to really expect. But, I sucked it up and went! I am SO GLAD I did.

 I arrived on a Friday afternoon and immediately reveled in the gorgeous view from the deck as others were prepping dinner. When we weren't sitting in a session we took advantage of the warm spring weather and just enjoyed the view and surrounding area.

Spending some time with my niece was great; she lives in Texas so we can't get together very often!

On Sunday morning we gathered for one final session which was much more like a Worship time than a class. As the end of the time we were challenged to do some writing or list/ goal making. My thoughts wandered instead as I gazed out the large floor to ceiling windows at the river down below us.

The Wenatchee River is popular for river rafters this time of the year and indeed we watched many a group raft past us that weekend. But what caught my eye that morning was a couple of ducks on the opposite side of the river. One duck was perched on the top of a boulder jutting out of a section of rapids. Next to the boulder was another duck, bobbing up and down in the white water. It struck me after a time that that little duck had to work awfully hard to stay in place while bobbing in rapids!

I found myself asking "Is there a life lesson in this Lord? Something you want me to learn from observing this?" My eyes flitted back and forth to the duck on the rock to the duck in the rapids. The logical thought was that the rapids are a dangerous place to be and anyone with common sense would get out and rest on the rock. Was the rock a spiritual metaphor? God, our Rock? But just as quickly as that idea came to mind I discarded it because I sensed that was a Robyn-made thought, not a word from the Lord. I shrugged my shoulders and turned back to listen to the gals around me sharing some of their thoughts.

Later, after we had packed up our belongings and cleaned up our spaces, I wandered back out on the deck for one final look at the river. I am constantly drawn in by water. Whether it's a moving body of water such as river or ocean or a calmer body of water such as a lake, I find such peace and contentment and inspiration being around it. (give me a beach house anyday!)

To my amusement I saw my friend the bobbing duck still out there. I could only imagine how furiously his little webbed feet must be working to remain stationary in the midst of such tumultuous movement.  And just like that the Holy Spirit spoke:
Robyn, I am the River. Stop fighting the current and let me carry you. Trust me. Yes, the river is moving, moving fast. And it will be scary, and dangerous at times. But if you will trust me I will carry you to places you never imagined. You will see beauty you will never see if you just stay put.

Did you just get goosebumps? I did when it happened and they come over me every time I share this story. I went inside and grabbed my niece and pulled her outside to point out the duck and share with her the thoughts that I had had earlier and the one that had just pierced me. It was a strong emotional moment and one I chewed and mediated on during my 4 hour drive home.

It takes a lot of work to stay put, even when it feels like that is the safer, better place to be. But God never promised to keep us comfortable. He's much more interested in our Character than our comfort.

Riding the river does sound dangerous! I've been river rafting on the same Wenatchee River. I was scared but we had an excellent guide and by the time we reached our destination I was wet and exhausted but the exhilaration I was feeling was out of this world! It was and is still one of my favorite adventures. I could have stayed behind (and I almost did once I'd read through the release forms and listened to the safety talk!!) and staying behind would have been safe and smart But I would have missed out. Safe and smart isn't all there is to life. In the life of a Christian we are always being called out of the comfort/safe zone. Makes me think of the quote from The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe...

“Aslan is a lion- the Lion, the great Lion." "Ooh" said Susan. "I'd thought he was a man. Is he-quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion"..."Safe?" said Mr Beaver ..."Who said anything about safe? 'Course he isn't safe. But he's good. He's the King, I tell you.”

Guess What?

I'm still alive!

I just spent the last couple of hours sprucing up the blog in preparation for a re-launch. I have to tell you that just as I hit the 'compose new post' button, my heart started pounding a little bit harder.... anxiousness building as I thought about staring at a blank page unable to write. But if a 1000 mile journey starts with a single step, then so does a blog post.... one word at a time.

It's been a long season of unrest. Depression, anxiety, lethargy. The usual trio of troubles. I have skipped many a writers group meeting because of this. If I am not writing and I don't even want to write then why bother going? Those are the sort of thoughts that would plague me.

There have many ideas floating through my mind however. Bits and pieces, phrases and fragments of words, just enough lately to think I might still have something to say and I might be able to say it well.

I haven't lacked for things to write about... experiences both exhilarating and exhausting.... trips, tattoos, testing, trying, terrifying, trust-building....Testimonial moments.

Stay tuned....

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Ten Days

My husband is going on another mission trip. He leaves this Friday.

Traveling to Costa Rica with a group from our church; a team of 7, they will be involved with construction work on a church in San Ramon (the men) and visiting the hospitals and orphanage (the women). A visit to the Barrio and a puppet show at church is also planned involving the whole team. They will be gone for ten days.

During his absence I have a ten day plan of my own. I'll be participating in a 'diet' from the same nutritionist who designed the Fast Metabolism Diet, called the "Fast Metabolism Cleanse". It's a pretty strict eating plan, involving a lot (LOT) of healthy shakes and meals that are designed to rev up the metabolism while ridding yourself of toxins.

I've been experiencing quite a bit of distress digestively speaking and after doing some reading up on the cleanse, thought this might be a great way for me to get a fresh start on better eating habits. Learning it was for 10 days it seemed perfect timing-- with Bruce gone, I can concentrate on my eating plan and not have to worry about preparing his meals. (be tempted!)

So, 10 days for him, 10 days for me. Each focused on something entirely different but supporting one another in our separate endeavors.

I'll keep you posted on what's happening on both sides.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

The Same Old Thing

it's a new year... a new year that is already 2 months in. We've experienced a hard hit of winter, with snow and rain and ice, followed by more snow and ice and rain! While the snow is beautiful to admire (from inside a warm house) driving in it or working around it is often a pain!

I've had one long battle with a cycle of colds that seems to keep relapsing. The never-ending cough has just worn me out. Constant fatigue. Stress hasn't helped. I have stuff going on in my adult children's lives which keeps this mom in prayer mode constantly. But even knowing God is in control, while bringing me a sense of peace and comfort, doesn't fully abate the mama's heart that wants to DO SOMETHING, ANYTHING, to help her kids out.

You know my kids live on the other side of the country... and airfare isn't cheap. It's been over a year since my last visit there and I am hoping, praying and planning for a visit in the next couple of months. I have to leave that timing in God's hands though because of certain circumstances and I am ok with that... on the  surface....

Between winter, colds and flu, and family worries the Big D has been looming larger than ever. Even though the Dr. adjusted my meds, it's a daily battle. I haven't felt this defeated in my depression ever. If it were not for the few hours a week that I work at the bookstore, or the occasional jewelry shows, every day would be Pajama Day.

I'm gaining back weight I've lost, I've lost muscle tone and energy, I have brain fog and back aches. I'm not a happy camper right now. I don't write, I don't sing. I go through the motions... Well, isn't this depressing?

But it's transparency.