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Linda Safford

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Be Still

Do you ever feel like withdrawing and not having contact with anyone?  Not sharing stories, not sharing ideas, just completely and totally withdrawing?  We all do from time to time.  Unfortunately, I have felt this way about writing lately.   My writing comes from my heart.  Personal ideas, memories, aspirations, dreams.  Sometimes I don’t want to share.  When this happens my blog rests on an old date waiting for a new post.  Today I need to write.

Life has been a difficult walk for the past few weeks.  Our family lost my nephew, Ryan.  We have wept, hugged, comforted, raged, and found some points of healing.  We know more healing will come to our mournful souls but it will take time.  We will always love him, always remember him, and look forward to the day when we will see him again.  Hope comes from the Lord and we never lose His hope.  We never lose a decision made to trust in Him.  He forgives, accepts, and loves us.

While God has taken this precious young man from our family, we look forward to two baby boys and a baby girl coming this summer and fall.  Blessings happen in the midst of sorrow.  God loves us and provides the healing we all long for.  Right now we hurt.  Joy does come when we open ourselves to see the expanse of life through God’s eyes.  

Grief and joy do have the ability to co-exist.  Odd partners that work well together because of God’s care for us.  He won’t leave us and He will never forsake us.  He is our constant guide when we struggle to place one foot ahead of the other.  

Take in His presence today in a peaceful place.  Be still and know that He cares for you, He is God.  You are His creation.  Feel Him in the blue sky, clouds, sunset or sunrise, at the water’s edge.  Breathe in the rose’s aroma, the organic smells of a mountain trail, and be wrapped in a hug from Him.  

This has always been a comforting song to me and I pray the same for you.  Click here to listen.

Steven Curtis Chapman’s

Be Still

Be still and know that He is God
Be still and know that he is holy
Be still oh restless soul of mine
Bow before the Prince of Peace
Let the noise and clamor cease
Be still and know that He is god
Be still and know that He is faithful
Consider all that He has done
Stand in awe and be amazed
And know that He will never change
Be still
Be still and know that He is god
Be still and know that He is god
Be still and know that He is god
Be still
Be speechless
Be still and know that He is god
Be still and know He is our father
Come rest your head upon His breast
Listen to the rhythm of
His unfailing heart of love
Beating for His little ones
Calling each of us to come
Be still
Be still

Live a Great Story

Live a great story.I saw this message today as I did some planning for my week.  Live a great story.  As a writer, my mind is always working on a story.  What if I take some time to be sure I LIVE a great story?

What would that look like for me?  

Sunshine every morning when I wake up

Fresh and hot coffee in my favorite mug

Read my Bible and focus on a spiritual point for the day

A brisk walk

Hot shower

Good hair

A workable and healthy food plan for the day

Good conversation

All plans for the day go smoothly

But what happens on many mornings?  It’s dreary, foggy, rainy and not my favorite weather.  The coffee is weak and due to the weather I postpone my walk.  I avoid the shower, use dry shampoo in my hair, find the hair clip and then long for Chick Fil A.  I skim my Bible reading and don’t take the time to find the applicable point for the day.  

Can a great story still be lived out in the second scene I described?

Yes.

We may long for things, desire situations, and have big plans.  Suddenly we find ourselves on a totally different path.  One that feels like a dead end.

Maybe your college plan did not work out for you

A job offer did not come through

What you thought was a loving relationship ends

A loved one dies

A miscarriage

An unplanned pregnancy

The diagnosis of a terminal illness

Even when circumstances and feelings that surround our life not going according to plan, there is a great story to be lived out.  You still have a great life to live.  We turn our attention to the needs of the day and reassess how we will live in the present situation.  

Commit to a healthy attitude

Regroup

Seek counsel for your situation

Seek to understand how and why the situation happened

Don’t compare 

Continue to keep your eye on your goals

Know that hard work is ahead

A great life story is how we react and overcome.  The obstacles are going to be there.  Meet them toe to toe and head on.  Live a great story! 

Becoming Mrs. Lewis

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I love a love story.  This is now one of my favorites.  Patti Callahan has written what should become a classic.  We’re given a glimpse into the life of a woman with strength and tenacity, vulnerability and adaptability.

C.S. Lewis was a strong thinker, creator of delight in his books for children, and one who spurred his readers to digest Christianity.   We are introduced to Joy Davidman and see, in Joy, ourselves as a reader of C.S. Lewis.  She boldly writes to him asking questions about Christianity and her spiritual experience.  They begin a “pen pal” friendship  that leads to their meeting.

I call it a love story but it is so much more.  The author, through years of research, captures the essence of the relationship, the mood of the time, the smell and sounds of  England.  This historical fiction piece takes you  to the point you hear the crunch of a gravel road, smell the wildflowers, and hear the laugher of her children.  You feel Joy’s happiness and despair.  You relate.  You offer her advice. You steer her to better decisions and all the while fall in love with the honesty of her search for life in the guidance of God.

The one thing I loved about Patti Callahan’s approach was the breakdown of historical characters to relatable people.

Truly a “joy” to read about Joy Davidman, her zest for life, her own career as a writer, her faults and strengths.

This is the second book I’ve read from Patti Callahan.  Her writing style is a pleasure.  Whether fiction or historical fiction, her writing will envelop you  into the character’s world.  If  five stars are the measure, I give abundant glitter to all five.

You can order here.

Review of another Patti Callahan book here.

 

 

 

God’s Will and Election Day

Today, tomorrow, and always is the time to lift up your elected officials in prayer.  Makes no difference if you voted for them or not, pray.  They need wisdom, peace, discernment, and the strength to commit to doing the right things for our cities, states, and nation.

When you have something against a person or have an issue to discuss, you should go to them personally.  While we cannot have direct face to face access with an elected official we do have the ability to send an email, make a phone call. Don’t use social media to slander and denigrate their character. If you disagree, let them know but treat them with respect.  Continue to pray.  

Jesus told the disciples to go into the world and lead the world to Him.  Remember when Peter drew the sword and lobbed off the ear of the soldier who was about to take Jesus away?  What did Jesus do?  He healed the man’s ear.  

We are told to pray for our leaders.  So let’s all commit to pray when we feel the need to tongue lash.  I think of Peter’s sword as that lashing tongue we so often put into action.  Let’s heal.  Follow Jesus’ example.

We are given a wonderful privilege in this country to vote.  Please vote.  It’s your voice.  If your choice does not make it into office, accept the loss graciously.  Then, as good sportsmen do, shake the hand of the winner. 

Pray.  Love God with all your heart and your neighbor as yourself.  Help in your community.  Be a light.  Consider God’s will referred to here:

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; 

for this is the will of God, in Christ Jesus, for you.  

1 Thessalonians 5: 16-18

Live as a light.  Your view and ability to help our cities, states, and nation will be clear and have purpose.  It comes down to helping and encouraging our inhabitants. 

Be kind. 

Love wins.  

Always.  

Tell Me the Story of Jesus

I missed posting a book review for the month of October.  So, let me share some snippets from four men who write their account of living with Jesus.  Their stories mesh and add a life view as fishermen and a physician walking beside and learning from the Son of God, Jesus.  It’s historical and biographical. 

Called The Gospel of Jesus Christ, the story is found in the New Testament books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.  They were four of Jesus’ twelve disciples.  Jesus asked them to follow Him.  He taught them, most times through parables, but also through life experiences.  He was honest – He is Truth.  He was compassionate — He is our empathy.  He walked and experienced our life, our temptations.  He allowed women and children to come near Him. He listened, He healed, He loved, He wept. 

In the greater picture of creation,  before the foundation of the world, John shares how Jesus was there.  John speaks of Jesus as the Word.  “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”  The breadth and depth of this profound man we know as Jesus is not completely covered in these four books of the New Testament.   John tells us, “And there are also many other things which Jesus did, which if they were written in detail, I suppose that even the world itself would not contain the books that would be written.”

Truly a story unmatched by any other, there will be question upon question generated.  There a hundreds of Bible commentaries.  Answers are not always clear, may be open to interpretation to many, may be wildly on target and felt to be a completely  inspired literature by others.

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Jesus speaks to faith, belief, wisdom, honor, integrity, and gives His perfect view in the Sermon on the Mount.  He never let a crowd overcome the supply chain.  From five loaves and two fish, He fed a multitude.  He turned water to wine.  He healed the sick, raised the dead. 

My favorite story ever and I invite you to read.  Start with the Book of John.  His account, as Jesus’ beloved disciple, will open your eyes to the enormity of unleashed Godly love to the world.  

Here’s a link to a translation that is simple to read.  At the top of the page you open,  you can simply change to the next chapter and read through all 21 chapters.  

https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=John+1&version=MSG

You will also find other translations.   Find one that reads easily for you.  As with any story you will be introduced to characters, story lines, there is a protagonist, antagonist, a theme, plot, climax, and resolve.  What a resolve it is!  

To me, it’s the greatest story and the greatest Gift ever given to mankind

Cozy places and simple things

I’m in one of my writing spaces away from the hub of my home.  Pictures and items are in this room that remind me of the ones I love.  My kids, grandbaby, my husband, family, and friends.   We have Clemson’s Tillman Hall hanging in a frame with Death Valley in the background.  Mementos from soldiers who appreciated my husband’s leadership, the American flag given to him from the Nation’s Capital as he retired from the Army.  

I have a bookshelf filled with books — mostly history, religious studies, biographies, and my favorite  fiction.  I like cozy places with warmth, meaning, and memories but also a place where I can center and move forward.  The books on the shelves tell a story of our lives — yearbooks remind me of old friends and I give thanks for lasting friendship.  

History books from college remind me of my favorite college professor who told us boldly at the beginning of class he taught from a Christian world view.  Funny thing is, he never preached, never talked his theology, but did present from a perspective that was open.  Favorite 18 hours of college credit ever!  

I fondly recall Sunday nights in our “piano room” with the kids and reading stories from  The Children’s Bible.  Simple with no hint of deep theological points.  Foundational.  Love God with all your heart and your neighbor as yourself.  

When we move so deep into religion or politics of the day, we lose the personal touch I recall in the picture of Jesus with the children sitting at his feet and climbing into his lap.  It’s my favorite.   Jesus cares and loves and knows our hearts.  And just think of the questions those kids must have had!  We do too, as adults, and it is quite alright to ask.

Thankful this morning for this roof over my head with a cozy spot to reflect. My heart this morning is full — even after a huge dump of emotion over present day worldly things.  He soothes and refreshes.  God is love.

I Wish

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I wish I could write something today that would:

Keep a young woman from having a hopeless attitude about herself

Keep a young man from making a wrong decision

Place our egos in check with a center plumb line

Place our temptations far away

Remind us how much we are loved even if it is not by the person we wished loved us

Remind us that family and friends are everything

Keep us from climbing to a height that  has no view

Remind us that our view should be focused on others

Place us in the path of those in need

That we would give of our time and resources

Keep us from having to have the last word

Make us  givers and not takers

I wish I could write something that would do all these things, but

answers are not found in a wish list.  

We find these things within ourselves

when we center and focus on something bigger than who we are or want to be. 

Is our love big?

Does our kindness go further than we can ever measure?

Is our forgiveness even bigger than our love and kindness? 

I wish.

 

Ella Minnow Pea – A novel in letters

A B C D E F G H I J K  

Ella Minnow Pea  

Did you sing The Alphabet song this way? Author Mark Dunn wrote a book in 2001 with this clever name for his lead character, Ella Minnow Pea.  Ella is the daughter of Amos and Gwennette, cousin to Tassie, and niece to Mittie.  They live on the island of Nollop which lies off the coast of South Carolina.  

Nollop was named for its most famous citizen who found a way to use all 26 letters of the alphabet in a sentence.  When Nollop died his tomb was erected in town with tile letters displaying his famous sentence: 

The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.

When tiles begin to fall off the tomb,  the town fathers choose against repair and decide it is a message from Nollop.  They ban the use of the falling letter tiles. At first the people say they can live without Z and Q.   As more letters become involved the island people begin to see their lives uprooted.  A quick solution is found to affix the tiles.  The town fathers refuse renovation and declare a series of punishments for the citizens who use the banned letters in speech or writing. The tomb of Nollop and his phrase become sacred to the town fathers.  They feel he is governing them from the grave and they begin to glorify him.  The people disagree, not openly, but work to restore their island home.

Ella Minnow Pea was a quick read that brought laughter and reflection.  I would highly recommend for a book club because of the subject depth that could be covered from this very imaginative tale.

 

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Blazing a Trail of Her Own

I’m so honored to share my friend’s journey while she supported her husband’s journey on the Appalachian Trail.  Rick, his friend Mike, and Lisa  are my present day heroes!  I’m so encouraged by Lisa’s writing and I’ve begged her to continue.  Along those same lines, Rick Yates needs to write the book on his A.T. adventure.  I’m going to keep saying that like Dorothy clicking her heels together!   Enjoy a glimpse into Lisa’s life from March to September 2018.

Blazing A Trail of My Own: My Personal Journey As An A.T. Thru-Hiker’s Wife

by Lisa Sells Yates

“ A 40 day hiking trip on the Appalachian Trail? Wow, really? I’m sure that will be a great experience for you. You should totally do this! Go!” Those were the words and thoughts I had when my husband told me that a friend of his, a former co-worker, had taken note of the miles he was walking every day since retirement and asked if he might be interested in hiking the A.T. His friend was planning to hike the entire trail. Rick decided he would be a section-hiker taking him from Amicalola Falls (Springer Mountain), GA to Damascus, VA.

The hike began on a cool, misty, and very foggy morning on March 17, 2018. About three weeks in, I visited Wiley and NAVster (trail names given to them by other hikers) in Gatlinburg, TN. Oh my! I could see the excitement in Rick’s eyes, hear the passion in his voice and the exciting stories and experiences from the hike so far. Everything I heard and saw from these two hikers stuck with me.

Soon after, on a Sunday afternoon, we had a phone visit as it was a “zero day.” I told Rick that I had thought about a lot of things on the drive back home from our recent visit. I told him I knew him well enough to realize that he is driven to finish what he starts. Though I never expressed it out loud, I always knew he would want to keep going after he began this crazy adventure. So, during that phone visit, I urged him to think about it and with my blessing, to keep hiking. I think he was truly surprised and not expecting this. You see, he had just recently retired and we were just starting to enjoy retirement together. I knew if he did not attempt to finish the entire trail he’d regret it. He had the perfect hiking partner and the timing was perfect as well. So with more heart to heart talking, tears, laughter and of course some apprehension, we both knew a big decision had to be made within about 12 hours. After hanging up the phone, I sat on the couch in disbelief at what I had just encouraged him to do! What in the world was I thinking?

I received a text message from Rick as I was leaving the gym the next morning. He had taken the night to think things through and discuss with Michael, his hiking partner. He started the text with, “Well honey you opened Pandora’s Box.” I did not need to read any further as I knew he was going to do it. He was actually going to attempt to hike the entire 2,190 miles! At first, I cried a bucket of tears and then I knew in my heart that we had both made the right decision. We both agreed on our quickly made decision and were determined to put forth the effort this journey required.

Now I had to get in the right headspace realizing that my best friend would be gone for the next 5 ½ months (6 months total) on the journey of a lifetime at my urging him to do so! But what I did not think of immediately was that I, too, would be going on a journey of a lifetime and I would also be making discoveries.  It was time to buckle up. Me, myself and I were about to take on six months alone! Side note here:  You see I married at 21, right out of college, and never truly lived on my own before!

Just as the Appalachian Trail has twists and turns and mud and muck, life can also take on the same paths. There is also much beauty seen on the A.T. with bright blue skies,  mountain streams, full moons, and stars just as life can bring renewal, promise, brightness and exciting challenges.  The twists, turns, mud and muck were beginning as things started breaking, leaking, squeaking, and falling apart in the house, yard and car.  

Then the matters of the heart became present on another part of my trail.  The unexpected death of two friends, one being the mother of our future daughter in law, the diagnosis of cancer for my sister, and my uncle being placed in hospice.  Happy events as well were experienced as my daughter and son-in-law began selling their first crops at a farmer’s market after months of hard work, sweat and tears.  My son and his beautiful girlfriend announced their joyous engagement.

Today I celebrate my transformation of growth as I look back on these parts of my own journey, on my own trail.

I have always enjoyed my alone time but when it lasts for six months, it can get old real fast. To deal with my loneliness, I took on indoor and outdoor home projects. I read several books and watched several series on Netflix.

 I took notice of my quiet time and learned how to meditate and do yoga. I have learned to set an intention for each day and how to navigate areas of life that I had ignored. I learned how to just “be” and find contentment in being.

There are so many discoveries to list but these seem to stand out the most. I can now say with confidence that:

I am capable.

I am enough.

I am worthy.

I am strong.

I learned that being strong is also allowing yourself to see your weaknesses and learn from them.  Yes, I had meltdowns but I didn’t wallow in them.  I’ve become confident in making decisions. I don’t always need permission. I can say no and not feel guilty. I can say yes and not have doubts. I can say that I need help and not feel like a wimp. When needed,  I can put myself first.  I can look at myself in the mirror and daily practice (and practice and practice) to make peace with my self image. I have struggled with my self image for years. I am learning to be myself and like who I have become. To borrow the words of my cousin, in which I find much truth, “We sometimes can’t see what our energy is being saved for until we go through the growing hours.”

As I reflect back on these months, I am grateful for this season in my life. I have evolved and believe I am better for it.  I am grateful for my supportive family and friends that have  not only cheered on Rick but me as well. I am grateful for the cards, texts, phone calls, food after my surgery and the wonderful and fun visits of friends and family to keep me company!

Last but definitely not least, I will be forever thankful and grateful to my amazing, persevering “#myhubthehiker” who will now join that elite group of thru-hikers that complete the entire journey of the Appalachian Trail! To quote the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, “Completing the entire 2,190 miles of the A.T. in one trip is a mammoth undertaking. Each year, thousands of hikers attempt a thru-hike; only about one in four makes it all the way. A typical thru-hiker takes 5 to 7 months to hike the entire A.T.”  Wow! Let that sink in for a minute!

I am thankful to Rick for believing in me enough that he felt he could continue on this crazy adventure. Watch out world, Rick and Lisa 2.0 is about to take on a new adventure together as we no doubt will be stronger as individuals and as a couple.

Whatever “trail” you might be blazing,  give yourself grace. Don’t take each day for granted. Do the hard stuff.  Don’t settle for anything but the best and remember the best is a process which doesn’t come overnight.  If you need help, by all means ask. There are experiences to learn from by tackling them alone.  There are relationships to be renewed,    relationships to be formed, relationships to be found that never before existed until you’re out there in your own wilderness.

 Live your best life! Write your own story! Trust in your faith and trust in yourself. “The path from dreams to success does exist. May you have the vision to find it, the courage to get on to it, and the perseverance to follow it.” ~ Kalpana Chawla

Lisa Sells Yates

August 28, 2018

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