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Sunday, September 27, 2009

DEEP ROOTS

"STORMS
MAKE TREES
TAKE
DEEPER
ROOTS."
~Dolly Parton~

As I was walking in the woods a few weeks ago, I spotted this old tree, and more than that, I observed this elaborate root system.

I have not posted in a few weeks because I have been busy celebrating our daughter's 21st birthday and this actually goes along with the
subject of ROOTS.
Someone once said that we should give our children two lasting things:
ROOTS and WINGS.
I agree!
As a 50 something woman, I hope you and I will realize more than ever how important it is to help yourself, your children and your grandchildren develop
deep roots as we journey through life.

What does that mean? I believe it means to have a clear understanding about where our strength really comes from and then build a life around that truth.
(See Isaiah 40:29-31, Ephesians 6:10 and Philippians 4:13)
And as we continue on this path, our past experiences show more and more evidences of the storms that are possible during a lifetime. Deep roots can provide us with a peace that passes all understanding, regardless of our circumstances.
Even if the "tree trunk of life" breaks in two, strong roots can hold firm.


Eleanor Roosevelt
said it like this:
"A woman is like a tea bag.
You never know how strong she is
until she gets into hot water."



After spending two nights with our daughter last week, I know for sure she has developed deep roots. And at age 21, her wings are shaping up pretty
good
as
well.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

NO MAN IS AN ISLAND



"...No man is an island, entire of itself...any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for me." John Donne (1572-1631) The meaning of this famous quote is that human beings do not thrive when isolated from others. Donne was a Christian but this concept is shared by other religions, as well.
Donne lived in Tudor and Stewart England, and at that time the tolling of the church bells, to mark various events, was an important feature of daily life.
Ernest Hemmingway helped to make this phrase commonplace in the language when he chose to use the quotation in his 1940-published book about the Spanish Civil War. Hemmingway refers back to 'for when the bell tolls' and to 'no man is an island' to demonstrate and examine his feelings of solidarity with the allied groups fighting the fascists. There was a strong feeling amongst many intellectuals around the world at the time that it was a moral duty to fight facism, which they feared may take root world-wide if not checked. This was given voice later in the well-known poem:
FIRST THEY CAME FOR JEWS attributed to Pastor Martin Niemoller (1892-1984):
First they came for Jews,
and I did not speak out,
because I was not a Jew.

They they came for Communists,
and I did not speak out,
because I was not a Communist.

Then they came for trade unionists,
and I did not speak out,
because I was not a trade unionists.

Then they came for me,
and there was no one left to speak out for me.


I was visiting a friend the other day. She is recovering from foot surgery and mostly home bound these days. While I was there, her step father was in the neighbor's yard next door helping out. A senior citizen couple resides next door and my friend's step dad was mowing their lawn. When I drove away, I could not help but notice the elderly gentleman slowly pushing his lawn mower, while my friend's stepdad cruised through the yard on his riding mower.
As a fifty-something woman, I find myself more observant, more cognizant of circumstances that are going on around me.
While I pray that our generation will not be faced with the hateful illustration of facism in the above poem, I hope that I will be found faithful to aid those in my path that have needs.
This picture of these two neighbors working together to accomplish a task, is a simple, but important reminder to look for opportunities in our sphere of influence where we can make a difference in the lives of others, day-by-day.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

UMBRELLAS AND SUNFLOWERS
















Today would have been a perfect day to stay in and nap,
get the laundry done, read the paper, and then nap some more.

The rain came down steady all day long.

If all these umbrellas had stayed inside out of the rain,
an awful lot of folks would have missed out on a huge blessing.

Many came to a church near my home to worship and fellowship with other believers. This church is not where my family usually attends, but I went there to participate in the joyous occasion of two young ladies' baptism. These two special girls reside in the recovery center where I find myself volunteering weekly. When we left the church after the baptism followed by a cake and punch reception, I could not help but notice the piles of umbrellas at each exterior door.
I opened my own umbrella and posed it for this picture.

I have always liked sunflowers, but became especially fond of them after Mama's funeral service on October 26, 2006. My brothers and sisters and I decided that only bright primary colors would do for our Mother's cascade of flowers and the florist chose lots of sunflowers to complement the other flowers in the arrangement.
Sunflowers...yes, Mama had such a sunny personality!
And so after that day, I determined that sunflowers were my favorites, even more so than roses and daisies, some of my other best-loved flowers. So, that explains the sunflower umbrella that protected me from the rain today. Even when the rain pours and pours, it reminds me as Annie sang that "The sun'll come out tomorrow, tomorrow. Bet your bottom dollar that tomorrow, come what may.
Tomorrow, tomorrow, I love you, tomorrow, you're only a day away!"

Actually, when we were in this church celebrating the baptism of these two girls, it was as though the sun was shining brighter than ever.
Perhaps that is because the SON was shining and his name was being glorified.
Often joyful circumstances can do that
no matter what the weather may be .
Here is the delicious cake that was enjoyed by the friends and family that came to witness the baptisms.
Yes, a sunny celebration can bring joy to a rainy day any day of the week, month, or year!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

DON'T BE A LITTER BUG


I hiked 3 miles on Kennesaw Mountain yesterday morning with one of my friends. This chance for exercise is so good for me, in more ways than one! The cardiac workout is a given and my heart thanks me every time! The opportunity to take in the view, the nature, God's creation, always fills me up to the brim! And lastly, the conversation, the sharing of two like minds is incredibly helpful and encouraging. I mean, seriously...look at this view of our hiking path that I captured with my camera as we hiked! Isn't it beautiful!?! I have been enjoying the idea of taking my camera along with me each day and shooting pictures of my
experiences

As I was walking towards my car after our hike I came upon a beer can that someone had tossed out onto the side of the road.

I immediately was taken into a world of living, loving and teaching young children in my midst, as I recalled an incident that happened many years ago as I was attempting to teach our two children the importance of not being a litter bug.
It was on our own street that we were driving where there are woods and no houses on the right hand side. As I drove, I caught a glimpse of our daughter throwing her chewed up gum out of her window. I stopped the car and said; "Now, Leah, you know that gum is not biodegradable, so get out of the car and go get your gum so you can dispose of it properly." Now, I realize how silly that sounds all these years later and we still laugh about it, because, of course she could not find her gum as it was lost in the woods!
The best part is that as a 50 something woman, I know for sure that neither of our children are litter bugs. I just know it! As I sit here and remember the many other things we attempted to instill in our children, I am thankful that each of them in their own ways are becoming well-rounded citizens, and for that, I am so grateful. I have often said that parenting is the hardest job in the world if you care about the outcome. If you do not care, and are ambivalent about the outcome, then, well... parenting is easy.
As you recall your children as small sponges, soaking up all the lessons of life you gave to them, what lessons are you certain they are living out today?

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

BLOOM WHERE YOU ARE PLANTED




Here in Georgia, crape myrtles are in full bloom! Boasting shades of pinks, crimson, corals, white and lavender, these beauties are all around us. Beloved in the South, crape myrtle is a wonderful perennial deciduous shrub or small tree that provides landscape interest year around, requiring minimal attention and lasting throughout the fall giving away to a fabulous autumn show. The long-blooming flowers appear in mid-summer, with a bloom period that runs from July to late October, sometimes more than 120 days.
As a 50 something woman, I love to stop and notice life analogies in nature. I believe this unique plant is a great example of how we must bloom while we can. The crape myrtle buds represent earlier seasons of our lives when we were busy mothering and working and running around each day. These fabulous blooms symbolize our lives today, a chance to bloom while we can. We can heed an important lesson from this delicate flowering tree...blooming takes time...and patience, too!
Are you and I showing patience towards ourselves during this season of our lives? Let us be our own best cheerleader as we bloom wherever we are planted.
Yes, let's take courage along with us today and bloom! That was my Mama's response back in July 2006, just 4 months before her passing. When she was given the news of her cancer diagnosis, she bravely stated:
"Well, we're supposed to bloom where we are planted." And so she did...never looking back from that decision to live out her days courageously.

Monday, September 14, 2009

MISSING FROM THE PHOTO

Even though our Mama, Polly Shivers Walker was missing from this photo taken earlier today, there was no doubt in any of our minds that she was with us in spirit. She would have loved this day! Mama always loved road trips, visits with other women and days filled with laughter and fellowship! The best news is that when I am physically with one or more of my three beautiful sisters, I truly feel like I am with my MOM...and that...is an incredible blessing!

SHARE YOUR STORY

I feel on top of the world and so proud of my sister just older than me.

Last night, my three sisters came to our home and we had a slumber party of sorts as we went through memoirs gathered from our parents' marriage of nearly 60 years. Today, we arose early, leaving at 6:00 a.m., to get ahead of the Atlanta traffic and drove south for a special engagement.

This morning, I got to witness Laura Lea, along with my other two sisters and a sister-in-law, share her story, her journey of grief and hope. We were hosted by my gracious mother-in-law, Anne, and her monthly WMU circle at First Baptist Church, Thomaston, Georgia.

(SEE TWO PREVIOUS RELATED BLOGS on http://50somethingwoman.blogspot.com
DATED 4/20/09 AND 4/23/09 FOR DETAILS OF LAURA'S STORY)

Every beating heart has a story and Laura Lea told hers today to 40 or more women. Laura took great courage in the way that she shared how God is working in and through her in a very difficult and personal journey. We can all learn and benefit from hearing about struggles and victories that we experience in our day-to-day lives.
We as women can be a great encouragement to one another when we face our challenges shoulder-to-shoulder, strengthening each other as we go along.
While my sisters and I do not consider ourselves particularly talented singers, after Laura shared, we sang a quartet of an old hymn: MY HOPE IS BUILT .
Following our time with the women, my father-in-law, Don, treated us to a wonderful country cookin' lunch at The Peachtree Cafe in Thomaston. During lunch, we raised our glasses of sweet tea to the three celebrating September birthdays and then we took turns edifying Anne by sharing memories of her touch on our lives as we considered her milestone birthday that is coming in December 2009.
All in all, today was a perfect example of how we can support and love the women in our lives. WE only get one chance, only one time around.
Let's be a vehicle for hope...
... by sharing, encouraging and supporting the women in our lives.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

BUILD A BRIDGE

I was walking in the woods yesterday for exercise and I had some piano music on my IPOD...drumming in my ear was the tune of BRIDGE OVER TROUBLED WATER.
As I listened to this familiar tune, power walking along, the lyrics came pouring back into my mind:

"When you're weary, feeling small. When tears are in your eyes, I'll dry them all..
I'm on your side when things get rough. And friends just can't be found, like a bridge over troubled water...."

When a bridge is being constructed, the landscape has to be level on both sides...in people-terms, there has to be what I call "common ground" from two people before a bridge can be built between two individuals.

As a fifty-something woman, I often consider who in my sphere of influence could I build a bridge to that would possible help to lighten a load, make a difference in that person's life, while enhancing my own days. Immediately, my small family unit comes to mind, I want to be here for my husband, and I am, in so many ways! I want to be here for our senior in high school, and I am, taking a college road trip with him next week. I want to be here for our junior in college, and I am, traveling to her home to be with her for her 21st birthday early next month.
Aside from our immediate families, how can a 50-something woman build other bridges?
I believe a bridge can be constructed with our adult siblings, our parents, our in-laws, our friends. Beyond that, I see myself building bridges with the women I meet in the Recovery Center I am currently volunteering in each week. I try to encourage them and inspire them to move forward in their lives, building their own bridges with those they hold close to their hearts.

And so the lyrics continue...Simon and Garfunkle sing:

"YOUR time has come to shine.
All your dreams are on their way, see how they shine. If you need a friend, I'm sailing right behind, like a bridge over troubled water, I will ease your mind.
Like a bridge over troubled water, I will ease your mind."

Life is short and I often remember, this is no dress rehearsal.

Who would you like to build a bridge to today?