This entry is dedicated to Cindy – a great friend, a colleague, and an artist. Oh, and a “Happy Birthday” shout out today to my husband of 35 years who supports my excursions to the OBX with the girls!!!
Psalm 37:25-26 “I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread. They are always generous and lend freely; their children will be blessed.”
God’s faithfulness over time is my overarching inspiration here! I just returned from an Outer Banks retreat with my Christian women friends of many years. One friend led us in acrylic painting lessons to replicate a photo of “our beach” (where many memories have been made). This friend generously supplied the paints, paint brushes and instruction; we each brought a canvas. I must admit a preconceived attitude of reluctance to push out of my comfort zone to paint a picture, but I also gathered a real appreciation for the beauty that can come out of ashes if coaxed. And eventually, the true shock that comes from trying something new, like painting, and finding out how satisfying the creative process can be…
Years ago, when I was much younger, I met some precious women at a local church and we began a journey together through Bible study, prayer, discipleship training and of course laughter and tears. A couple of us even founded a Christian preschool together (and it still exists)! We journeyed through the heartaches and joys of marriage and parenting small children, the challenges of walking by faith and not by sight, and the agonies and celebrations of our families of origin. By far, this Christian bonding kept us out of the therapist’s office and offered godly friendships that have spanned almost 30 years.
By God’s grace, we survived in spite of our own children’s growing pains; we are still praying through our children’s “adult” issues and learning to listen well; we are celebrating the joys of grandchildren and the ability to be involved in this amazing second generation. We still see many things that can threaten our peace, but together we still cling to the One who calls us His children and sees us as righteous through the shed blood of His Son Jesus. We have never been forsaken. And, our children really are blessed.
At “our beach”, our souls are somehow fed a lot. We started retreating maybe 5 years ago (we’re not sure). There, laughter always brings us some tears of joy! Small wonders bring big smiles – Gail’s tuna salad and ABC cake; Leanne’s brunswick stew, lasagna and oatmeal cookies; M&M’s and olives, “Pollyanna” or “Calendar Girls;” the latest book recommendations; muumuu dresses; the porch swing; ankle bracelets and temporary or not tattoos; “Chicken Feet;” serpentining poses by Joan and Patti; guest book entries… And now painting.
There is always freedom, generosity, and blessing when we are together. There is healing. There is soul care. There is the blessing of amazing friends in Christ. Now I am older, and I can’t wait to go to “our beach” again! Although a couple of us have recently retired from frenzied careers, we are all still busy in the dailyness of ministry. We love to look ahead to the next OBX retreat to recharge, regroup, rehabilitate, restore, repent, recover, revive, relax, replenish, renew, reflect, recline and rest. The “re” words are very important to us. We thank God for the wonderful chances He gives us to be together twice a year and “re.”
Psalm 4:3-4 “But You are a shield around me, O Lord; You bestow glory on me and lift up my head. To the Lord I cry aloud, and He answers me from His holy hill.”