The Wilderness

The Wilderness

I’ve missed blogging, both on this blog and on our Travel Adventure site. I usually say these posts are more for me – as a diary of where my life was going, where it went and where it needs to be (this site is more for where it needs to be). As I am aging, I see more and more the need to have these events documented somehow. I am so sad I never blogged about all of our motorcycle adventures (many were pre-blog days) nor do I have a good journal of our early years in Florida (2004-2011). I started a few journal entries to keep our daughter informed of those times – but until I actually began blogging, those memories are now about lost except on some digital and paper photos “somewhere.”  Continue reading

Emotionally Drained….

(I wrote this July 1, 2019 and forgot to publish it. I just noticed it in my drafts. I was drained then and now I find myself emotionally drained again. I’m so grateful for my faith and Paul’s testimony gives me what I need to remember: “…That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”)

It’s been tough to blog since our lifestyle change – which has been very good (transition from full-time RVing to a house), but yet, it has left me emotionally drained. I can’t explain everything, but suffice it to say, buying and selling a home in a months time by itself can take a huge emotional toll on anyone. Then add to it a death in the family and numerous other family situations, and you may start to get the picture. I’m not at liberty to share all as they are not mine to share – but I will toss in three situations that are mine:

  1. Bill’s amazing mom has been declining these past few years. Each time we visited her in Mount Vernon, Illinois, we thought it was the last time we would see her. She has not recognized him (although once she said she knew who he was – for a fleeting minute) let alone, has not been able to talk to him. For 9 years (2004-2013), we lived near her. We were her main lifeline to the outside world as she had given up driving. Bill took care of her home and yard while I took her to her appointments and we took her to church. She and Bill talked for hours each week – in person. About everything! Her mind was still sharp although physically, this once very active and independent woman was in declining health. She needed us to do most everything for her. Thankfully, five years ago, we were able to move her near Bill’s brother and his wife – both are Registered Nurses (RN).  His brother is a Certified Register Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA) and his wife is currently working in a Surgery Center where she does everything an RN is needed in the operating room environment. All this is VERY important as her health and mental capabilities continued to decline. She just passed away on June 20, 2019 at the age of 98. I will write a separate blog post about this WWII 2nd Lt. Army Nurse (RN)! She was a nursing supervisor at the local hospital until she decided to get pregnant. She returned to work as a Private Duty Nurse after they started school. She was at the bedside of many patients in their last weeks, days and hours. She knew how she wanted to die – or not die! Sadly, she was in hospice care her last month – and died how she didn’t want to go -but thankfully, she was at peace and in no pain. But it pained us to not be able to be with her – we had the responsibility of caring for our two grandsons this summer….which is next.
  2. The main reason we moved to Myrtle Beach and decided to settle down was because of our grandsons. There is much more to this, but in a nutshell, Bill wanted the boys to spend summers with us. For one, it was his childhood fantasy! His family spent a week at the Jersey Shore when he and his brother were young. They stayed at the same cottage each year. The grandmother owned it and her grandson stayed all summer. Bill was so envious. So now he finally has his dream, a cottage at the beach (ok, our house is a house and we are three miles from the beach but it’s close enough) – and grandsons! Our daughter and son-in-law reluctantly agreed. After all, it meant the boys out of day care so a huge financial savings to them (and to use the time and money for remodeling). We have had to push ourselves to get our home ready for their first visit with us – over Spring Break for 9 days! And then after they left, we had a month to finish getting ready for their summer long stay. Their parents brought them over a long Memorial Day weekend. It started off with a bang! So far, they are both fish – loving both our community swimming pool and the beach; they are mastering their bike riding; have enjoyed putt putt golf; bowling; events at the Nature Center (ok, so their attention span wasn’t the best, but they got to pet a snake); unlimited bounce house fun (I highly recommend Fun Warehouse in Myrtle Beach for 10 years and under); lots of Arcade games; hiking (Colin says since not in the mountains, it’s not really hiking); movies, popcorn, ice cream….I can’t remember all we have done with them (I am making them a photo book to capture the great times). But it has all been with a toll on our aging bodies….thankfully, they sleep between 10 – 12 hours a night! We  get to recharge our batteries but are still pretty exhausted. They both have upcoming birthdays. The oldest turns 6 and the youngest in 4 in August. And in August, we will return them to their parents after a week there.
  3. Finally, a little about my mom. If you know us, you know we relocated my mom, now 95, from Florida to Virginia last July. She is now two hours from our daughter’s home in Virginia. While I can’t get there enough to see her, I am helping my one sister –  her caregiver, by taking care of anything I can remotely….While mom is in assisted living, mentally she is very sharp, physically, she has limitations. She is legally blind and has to take medicine to control her erratic blood pressure which is precarious. However, the place we had her in had not been ideal – so this weekend she moved into a newer and better facility. It’s all a big task for my sister who has a few other family obligations to also manage. Thankfully our daughter and son-in-law plus my two nephews helped my sister.

All of this collided and culminated with my mother-in-laws passing. Although, all I can say is that God’s in control and HIS TIMING is perfect. Our daughter and son-in-law have physically been able to drive to help my mom and sister the past three weekends. Initially, we had hoped the boys would have a long weekend with their parents but due to mom’s move, they helped her….so we did our best to keep them fully entertained….

This blog is about my faith journey. I try to share any great new insights I may glean in this life. And I have gleaned so many things this year….

As I shared how drained I was, my precious sister-in-law who has so much more going on, ministered to me. So, in addition to helping her husband with the caregiving of my mother in law (they also just sold their home, are changing jobs, moving, etc.) she could help me! So maybe as we share how drained we both are and how we are looking to our Lord for our sustenance, perhaps it will help you!

I have to admit, I was a very lost at several points in my life. I’ve shared part of my testimony here, but there is still so much more to share. In all my sinful and lost ways, God keeps showing up and blessing me in ways I can only PRAISE and WORSHIP Him! Because of my past, which included Bill’s and my divorce and remarriage, we are now faithful church members. I started another blog to share about this. If you aren’t familiar with our story, start here.

Because of extensive Bible reading and Bible study, I pretty much “know” the Bible – but am I following what I know? Oh, no, I fall so short….However, I am trying. Bill and I are both so excited about our new church and the Biblical teaching we are under. Perfect messages each week for us to grow together and closer to how our Lord would have us live. But yet, still so weak….

And here is the GOOD NEWS!!!! When I am weak, He is strong! Do you remember that song as a child? I have been weak so many times – and He has proven His strength to me time and time again.

To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me.  Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me.  But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 CORINTHIANS 12:7-10

Victory in the Valley!

Victory in the Valley!

We have been distracted by our obsession with conquering heart disease! Let’s take a break from that series and see what is really carrying us forward. I can hardly contain my excitement about a dear friend who entered into the Valley of the Shadow of Death years ago. She came out claiming VICTORY!! Actually, she went in declaring VICTORY….

If you have followed our Adventure Travel Blog, you may remember we are now minimalists. To finally adopt our dream lifestyle, Bill sold his dearly beloved motorcycle (click the link to see a picture of it) and I had to get rid of all my books!!! Ouch, it hurt us both. I’ve been a lover of books for as long as I can remember….

A VERY dear friend called me a while ago to let me know she was FINALLY writing the book I had wanted years ago. How sad I had to temper my enthusiasm with the fact, books are practically banned from our motor home as we just don’t have the spare room (Bill knows if you give an inch, I’ll take a dozen books!). Continue reading

Coming into Alignment

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From Bible App/Bible.com

I’m so behind on my blogging – I have two posts in my head waiting for time….But then this morning during my Bible reading and devotional time, I decided to post this. I loved today’s devotional, “Day 4 – The Power of Surrender ” by David Shearman from the Bible App/Bible.com. It is so good, I need to share it here so I can re-read it!

I read this devotional after reading Genesis 27-29. These were the chapters that outlined the life of Jacob. Remember how his mom had him deceive his father, Issac, for his blessing. And then what happened to Jacob after he fell in love with Rachel? He worked for seven years for her hand in marriage. Only to be deceived by Laban, his soon to be father-in-law. He substituted Leah, his oldest daughter. Jacob had to work for another seven years for Rachel. And then I read this devotional. It is so important to come into Alignment with our Lord!!!

Whenever we face difficult or unexpected situations in life, we can panic or we can pray. If we open the Bible, pray, and share our concerns with trusted friends, in due course we will arrive at the truth, which has the power to set us free. The truth is, we can be free from whatever has limited, contained, even bugged us for all or part of our lives.

So how do we align ourselves with God so that we can truly receive His blessings?

Our previous family home had a substantial wooden letterbox to receive the mail. The box had a lock and my grandson, Edward, was very proud that he knew the combination. The padlock had 1,000 possible number sequences but only one opened the lock. It’s about alignment, having everything in the right place. With alignment everything seems easy!

If we get ourselves in line with the purposes of God, things open up to us. Things begin to happen that wouldn’t otherwise happen. This is an exciting place to live. It is thrilling to live with a sense of purpose and watch God at work, doing amazing things. We must learn to be aligned to His plans and ways.

Some of us are still fighting against becoming fully devoted followers of Jesus. But until we absolutely surrender every area of our lives to God and fully come under His Lordship, we are not in line for the full favor of God. People tend to argue with Him about how they use three things – their time, talent, and treasure. But the truth is, “we are not our own, we have been bought with a price” (1 Corinthians 6:20). Our full freedom comes not only when we cease being slaves to sin, but when we choose to be “slaves to Christ.”

Does that mean we cannot make decisions about where we live or work or who are our friends? Of course not, provided we are surrendered to His Lordship, and that in our choices we retain an inner knowledge of His peace that guides and confirms we are on the right path.

But when we surrender, coming into alignment with God’s plans and purposes, we gain life in abundance. What does coming into alignment mean for you today? For me it is learning to walk and work with Jesus and keep watching how He does it.

Matthew 11:27-30 All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Why do we wait until it’s too late…

If you are following our travel blog, you may have read our recent “Reflections on December 2016.” We had so much happen to us in December (I didn’t mention the freezing weather which will deserve a separate post on how to survive), it has made us reflect on LIFE in general. I mentioned in that post, we know several families who knowingly were spending their last Christmas with a loved one. Sadly, that helped put our situation into perspective. This post is to make several points as we ponder this question, Why do we wait until it’s too late….?” Too late for what? To keep our marriages vibrant, to enjoy life, to appreciate family, to work on our bucket list, to keep our health in check, to accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior? The list is actually endless. Continue reading

He saved my life!

(I’m posting this on Christmas Eve, 2016. I’m not sure why….May it guide you to reach out to someone who may need some extra love this holiday. We are so blessed to be with family this year.)

I was a rising Senior in college. I had so much going for me, yet I felt a black hole in my heart or being. I can’t really describe it any better, but that is what I felt. I was living on my own, working part time while attending college full time. Continue reading

Great picture and message – perfect!

For today, Easter Sunday!

Song Bird Songs

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” ~Matthew 11:28-30 ✝ **Images […]

via Come to me… — Sacred Touches

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Balance – one month later

I’ve done it, lasted one month with my Gratitude Journal! And I am thankful for telling my husband I am doing this. He has had to gently remind me about it when my mind/attitude drifted off course. The biggest challenge I had this first month was when our motor home was into week three in being repaired. It was supposed to only take 5 to 10 days. That meant we lost a week to visit some dear friends in Ocala, Florida and possibly see a cousin I hadn’t seen since I was a little girl. She was in Panama City Beach. These were two easy stops on our way back up north.

So to be grateful when we got the word it was going to be another week, I had to search for reasons. First, when something like that happens, one may think, “We were being spared from being in some horrific wreck.”  Or I remembered as child the saying, “there is a silver lining behind every cloud.”  But being a woman of faith, look into the Word of God and trust the Lord he has His reasons. Most times we may never know what or why things happen. This time, though, an unexpected gift dropped in my lap.

 Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.      1 Thessalonians 5:18 ESV

I have a friend living in an unfortunate situation. I really needed so see her. She was 2 1/2 hours away when we were in Sebring, and then two hours away when in Lake Wales. I missed the first opportunity to see her on January 18 when a mutual friend was going to see her. The reason? A miscommunication. I wasn’t on my gratitude journey at that time, but I did have faith. Somehow, someway I would make the trip to see her.

Then when our motorhome wasn’t done sooner, I thought there was no way I could see her now. Wouldn’t you know it, the Lord did have a plan for me. When I reached out to our mutual friend to tell her it wasn’t looking good for me to go….she then told me there was an event for our friend on February 29, Leap Day, and that it would be great if I could attend. Bill and I share a car, so I generally won’t go off in the car that long, but now I had a ride there! Talk about Leaping for Joy!💃 It was a great four hours in the car with our mutual friend and then about an hour or so with our friend. Only the Lord could have arranged this!

So let’s look in my journal. Now, the idea is to find one thing each day to be grateful for, and to not repeat what it is. To really search for something different. An example is when you hit that day you can’t find one NEW thing to be grateful for, think about something like your legs. Be grateful you can walk. When I read this with my mom, she could identify with it as she is now struggling with her walking!

My first entry on February 4, 2016 was how grateful I was to be with my mom the entire day. She was having a root canal, so how wonderful I could be there for her. After she was resting at home, I read more to her from The Gratitude Dairies and that really fired me up for this journey. While I was sort of doing it when we started reading the book a few weeks prior, it was highly recommended to buy a special journal and to write it down. So on this date, I bought my mom and I matching journals.

Today, I asked mom how her journal was going. Sadly, with her limited vision, it is not easy for her to write in it – or even see it where she will remember to write in it. I guess I’ll need to start calling her more often and just ask her what NEW thing is there in her life to be grateful for….

So let’s look at the summary of the book from Amazon:

In this New York Times bestseller, Janice Kaplan spends a year living gratefully and transforms her marriage, family life, work and health. Her pioneering reseach was praised in People and Vanity Fair and hailed on TV shows including Today, The O’Reilly Factor, and CBS’s The Talk.

On New Year’s Eve, journalist and former Parade Editor-in-Chief Janice Kaplan makes a promise to be grateful and look on the bright side of whatever happens. She realizes that how she feels over the next months will have less to do with the events that occur than her own attitude and perspective. Getting advice at every turn from psychologists, academics, doctors, and philosophers, she brings readers on a smart and witty journey to discover the value of appreciating what you have.

Relying on both amusing personal experiences and extensive research, Kaplan explores how gratitude can transform every aspect of life including marriage and friendship, money and ambition, and health and fitness. She learns how appreciating your spouse changes the neurons of your brain and why saying thanks helps CEOs succeed. Through extensive interviews with experts and lively conversations with real people including celebrities like Matt Damon, Daniel Craig, and Jerry Seinfeld, Kaplan discovers the role of gratitude in everything from our sense of fulfillment to our children’s happiness.

With warmth, humor, and appealing insight, Janice’s journey will empower readers to think positively and start living their own best year ever.

The Gratitude Diaries

This is totally unsolicited! It’s just not too often I have an opportunity to share about a book.

Balance!

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Here I am, balancing on a beam to avoid the swamp on a recent hike!

I had hoped to write this post a while ago, after all, I said I would in my post titled, “A Happy Medium.”  That post really should have been about Balance as I now wonder if that title isn’t misleading. But I did define it….And then I ended it by saying I would write about Balance next time….and it’s time!

I’m excited about this post as I see a young blogosphere friend is doing the same thing! Her post is here, titled The Mind Body Soul Balance.  I remember when I was a young college student trying to find myself and this was the quest, to balance the mind, body and soul. So here I am 45 years later, still seeking balance!

MIND: I never thought I was college material when I was in high school. In fact, my dad recommended I take typing, shorthand and other business classes so I could get a secretarial job when I graduated. I did OK in typing but just couldn’t figure out shorthand. The business classes were interesting. But all my friends were going to college, so by my senior year, I decided I would go as well. My parents weren’t prepared to help pay my tuition and in the end, I supported myself. That wasn’t a bad thing, either. I ended up liking it and once I found my major, I only made As and Bs. I knew I would need a Masters Degree at some point, so I really began to expand my mind and fill it with educational matters. But I still had junk in my head….more about low self esteem than anything. But eventually I was hired for a GREAT and very competitive job. So much for any self esteem problems, I also had earned a Master’s Degree, but I also mastered my mind to not go down that road. Although I may have some bouts with it, for the most part, I know who and what I am.

BODY: While I feel I have the body part under control, I guess it never is really under control! I became an avid runner and loved cross training in my 20s. In fact, I ran too much and now have knee problems. However, whenever I have my yearly physical, I am told my health (body) is in great shape! I do believe you are what you eat and I have followed a good diet for years. But then the middle age spread took over and it became harder to be as picky about what I eat. I guess I need to return to my better eating habits.

SOUL: This is my favorite! I have to admit I was raised in a Christian home where we believe the soul will live forever, in eternity with the Lord after my body wears out or stops working for whatever reason (accident, old age or a terminal illness).  So this helps me know and understand this aspect of the person. I love to feed my soul with the Word of God. The Bible quenches my thirst and the Word is my bread of life.  I am not a foodie, but have read others using food like this as a metaphor for our sustenance.  In fact, the particular reading plan of the Bible I am reading this year is called, “Eat This Book.”  I do feel I have a great balance in my spiritual life. I am so blessed my husband shares my faith. We believe in attending church weekly. We pray each morning together. We try to do a daily devotional together each morning. We believe all we have really belong to the Lord.  That helps us return a portion of our financial blessings to support the local church, missionaries and other charitable causes.

BALANCE: This is the tricky part. While it seems I have these three components of a human being under control, I still feel out of balance. As I said in my post on finding the Happy Medium in life, I feel so pulled in so many directions. First and foremost, I am a wife. My husband and I travel full time. We live in about 400 square feet of space, or 37 square meters. That’s a tiny space. So we are together a lot! We enjoy each other and share a love for the outdoors. We love to hike and take long walks. But he also loves to work on the outside of our motor home and our car. He likes to keep them both clean and free of bugs, dirt and dust. So while he does that, I am usually inside trying to write in our blogs, stay in touch with others through social media or take care of “inside” work (I do the laundry). We share cooking and the inside cleaning responsibilities.

But I am also a mother and now grandmother. Fortunately, Bill is a father and grandfather to my daughter and grandsons. Believe it or not, that really helps us as we see struggles in blended families. We only have the one daughter and we both cherish her. But we’ve successfully lived apart for over a decade. She put herself through college and has done very well in her career. She is happily married and they own a home. We would see her several times a year. But once she began to give us grandchildren, our lives totally changed. We never dreamed we would want to see them as much as we do. We wrote about how this changed our life to where we finally became minimalists and began to live in a Recreational Vehicle.

Can you believe there are people who tell us we shouldn’t spend so much time with our grandsons. WOW, can you believe it? We love our time with them, but we are trying to also travel to new areas. This really tugs at me. Our daughter would love for us to live near her, but she understands our desire to travel. Anyway, the negativity we get sometimes really throws us out of balance.

And then we are a son and a daughter to our moms. Both of our mom’s lived in Sebring, our home town from 2004-2014 (and still our legal residence). In fact, Bill’s mom moved to Sebring first, then us, then my mom and her new husband, then my sister and her husband (as snow birds) and then my step sister and her husband (full time). When we began our travels in the fall of 2013, Bill’s mom relocated to Illinois to live with Bill’s only sibling and his wife. Since the death of my step dad, my mom is in the process of moving north and share time between my two sister’s homes. We have been there for our moms over those 10 years whenever they faced a crisis. This is only natural and we are grateful for the long lives they have enjoyed.

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My amazing 92 year old mom. Out to lunch a few weeks ago in the Historic Jacaranda Hotel in Avon Park, Florida

And of course, I am a sister, an aunt, a niece, a great aunt, a cousin and friend….so there are so many people our lives intersect. This is why I love social networks. They are all spread around the country so I try to stay in touch with everyone. Hopefully, one day we will be able to visit everyone!

So what is my problem with my balance? I want to be with everyone! I do feel so torn. So we are trying to balance our time alone (adventure travel) and with family. Recently, a very dear friend shared with me that she had just finished reading The Gratitude Diaries: How a Year Looking on the Bright Side Can Transform Your Life. Since I don’t buy books anymore, I shared the book with my mom. WOW, is this the missing ingredient to finding balance in my life?

I bought my mom and I matching “gratitude journals” for us to find one thing each day to be grateful for. So we have started this journey together. I am hoping my sisters will join us as we try to help our mom look on the bright side since her life drastically changed with the death of her husband. He was more than a husband, he was also her eyes. She is legally blind and needs someone to help her regularly. Mom always was a person to look on the bright side….but the loss of her vision really impacted her ability to do so. Then along came a man who loved her as she was. They fell in love and married. Happily for 12 1/2 years before he passed.

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My gratitude journal. I started on February 4, 2016.

So my solution to finding balance in my life? I’m on a year long journey to always look on the bright side to transform my life as suggested by this book.  Occasionally, I will drop in with excepts from my journal and let’s see if it helps me find balance as I focus on the bright side of things!  We started February 4, 2016.

PS. Every once in a while, I “fall off the wagon” or allow negative circumstances take away from the bright side of life. My husband gently asks me, “What was the name of that book?”  😁

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I’d love to hear how you find balance in your life! What do you think? Am I on the right track or am I off my rocker? 😮