CHALLENGING PATHS

Rossistones

As often happens when I’m away from home, I awaken early.

4:05 a.m. to be exact.

Rossi Place

 

I finally get out of bed around 5:00 and brew a pot of coffee.

Still in my nightclothes, I make my way onto the deck of our neighbors’ house on Lake Hamilton.

 

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As the sky lightens, I notice a swing on the landing halfway down to the water. I go down the stairs but see that the seat is still drenched in dew, so I stand and sip my coffee, taking in the landscape.

 

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To the right, steps fashioned from railroad ties curve downward. Worn and mossy surfaces betray their age, and there’s no handrail.

Not for the faint of heart.

 

 

RossiNewPathOn the left, a newer stairway, constructed from decking and concrete, gives way to flat stone steps. It looks stable. And there’s a sturdy wire handhold.

I opt for the newer, more secure path and head to the dock and over to the seating area at the bottom of the old railroad-tie steps.

 

 

RossiMistWisps of fog hover over the lake. Somewhere across the way, a bird welcomes the new day with song. I wish one of those little clouds would drift close enough for me to reach out and touch its dream-spun softness.

I lift my head and breathe in the peace I always feel near a body of water. No wonder working people retreat here for weekends.

IMG_5769As I return up the rock stairs, I notice ferns and moss softening their hard faces.

 

Later, I find myself pondering the two paths. Although the older route would have appealed to a younger me, I’m acutely aware that at this stage of life, I would need a walking stick to maneuver down those ancient steps. Two scriptures come to mind.

Thus says the Lord: “Stand in the ways and see, and ask for the old paths, where the good way is, and walk in it; Then you will find rest for your souls. But they said, ‘We will not walk in it.’ Jeremiah 6:16

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil;
for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me
. Psalm 23:4

I find myself praying for the wisdom and courage to choose the right path even when it appears rugged. I recall past experiences when the way felt rocky and hard, but every time I held onto to God real tight, He delivered me safely to my destination.

 

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What about you?

Are ever tempted to take the easy way out?

Whatever path you find yourself on today, whatever you are facing, I wish you peace and the revelation that when Jesus calls us to follow Him, we can trust Him to keep us.

 

For I hold you by your right hand— I, the Lord your God.

And I say to you, ‘Don’t be afraid. I am here to help you.

Isaiah 41:13

 

 

FINDING CONTENTMENT

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One of the books I read this year was The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. This bestseller has been around since 2009, so you may be way ahead of me.

Although I’d read her column in a woman’s magazine, I’d never felt the need to delve into the book–that is, until someone I love confided he was working on being happier.

As sometimes happens, shortly after that conversation, I saw Gretchen’s book, thought of him, and bought it. Not wanting to send him something I hadn’t read, I plunged in.

And guess what?

I saw myself.

76cc3-img_1347Like the author, I have a good life: a fine husband, children, grandchildren, and friends. I have enough disposable income to buy a pair of shoes that strike my fancy or to splurge on a surprise for someone else.

However, as I read, I realized that in spite of this, I wasn’t as happy and content as I wanted to be.

So I slowed down and pondered the research Gretchen had done and the way she applied it to her life.

And I tried some of it myself.

Consequently, I’m more aware of what brings joy to my life, and I’m happier when I take time to savor little surprise such as:

  • Finch eggs nestled in the center of a fern

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  • A fragrance-filled breeze leading me to new gardenia blooms at the end of my porch Gardenia2
  • the warmth and whir of a relaxed kitty snoozing in my lap.

I’m more content when I recognize and acknowledge other peoples’ kindnesses like:

  • The friend who called me every day when I was going through a rough stretch
  • Text messages and calls from my children and grandchildren
  • Terry’s willingness to eat out without a fuss when I’ve had a busy day or just don’t want to cook
  • Other writers who share their knowledge, read my blog, and encourage me

I feel more fulfilled when I

  • Make time to write
  • Check on that person who’s struggling with a problem
  • Exchange a daily list of things for which I’m grateful with my gratitude partner
  • Interact with readers like you.

I could go on, but you get the drift.

I’m happier because I’ve been taking the time to notice and acknowledge the blessings in my life.

There will be more to come. And I’ll probably share them here.

What makes you happiest?

 

The faithful love of the Lord never ends!
    His mercies never cease.
 Great is his faithfulness;
    his mercies begin afresh each morning.

Lamentations 2:22-23 NLB

A Book Review

Today, I’m pleased to bring you a guest book review by Linda Scisson.

This excellent little book, Mysterious Moments, reminded me of my own experience in coming to terms with my brother Will’s death. Linda sums up it much better than I could in her excellent book review below.

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A Review of Mysterious Moments: Thoughts That Transform Grief

by Linda L. Scisson

It’s not every day a relative writes a book, and it’s certainly not every day that a relative writes a thought-provoking book that deserves attention among the blog-site world (and elsewhere). I’m speaking of Mysterious Moments: Thoughts That Transform Grief (Winston-Salem, NC: Wake Forest University, Library Partners Press, 2017) by Jane Williams, PhD. Jane, a recently retired clinical psychologist, is my second cousin. Jane’s paternal grandmother and my paternal grandfather were sister and brother. In other words, our dads were first cousins.

While the book’s title is Mysterious Moments, the operative word is “suddenly.” Throughout the ten narratives, based on real life experiences of loss, transformational moments are introduced with phrases like, “suddenly she realized,” “without warning and without any effort, she suddenly . . .,” or “suddenly, in the middle of my distress a healing thought . . .”

On a similar note, with the adjective mysterious appearing in the title, the reader discovers that often a moment appears in an unusual way that brings comfort, healing, or a deeper understanding to a person dealing with grief.

Based on Jane’s clinical experiences, Mysterious Moments allows us to have a better understanding of the idiosyncratic and often mysterious process of grief. That is, the book is not a step by step, self-help book on the stages of grief. It is a book to savor the stories. Why is that? Because one will find lessons to help in this challenging world that includes, like it or not, a delicate emotion called grief.

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Dr. Jane Williams

And the author’s credentials speak for themselves. Dr. Jane Williams has worked for over 25 years with individuals who have experienced trauma, life threatening illness, and grief. She completed postdoctoral fellowships at UCLA and Harvard Medical School. At Harvard, she trained in medical crisis counseling and later developed the Medical Crisis and Loss Clinic at Arkansas Children’s Hospital. And she has helped develop grief programs, made national presentations at grief conferences, and published peer-reviewed articles on grief.

And I might add the University of Arkansas’ “Hog Call” would not be an unusual sound to Jane, as she was raised in Russellville, Arkansas, attended Hendrix College, and graduated from the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville. And some folks in our state would recall Jane’s leadership in the Pulaski County Habitat for Humanity affiliate.

 

While grief is a universal experience, whether one currently calls Arkansas or North Carolina their home state, I believe this is a book to place on your reading table. Admittedly, a box of facial tissues nearby would be a good idea, as Mysterious Moments is a tender book.

When I first heard about Jane’s book in April (2017), she asked me to let her know what I thought about it. By email, I did just that in mid-May. Having read three reviews by professionals on the book’s back cover, including sterling comments by a former president of the American Psychological Association, I decided to write my own brief reviews. Here are three of them:

(1) The multi-colored working of the Holy Spirit weaves through the ‘mysterious moments’ in 10 easy-to-read stories. Williams’ book is a beautifully understated spiritual book without one specific scripture quoted or referenced.

(2) Continuity and clarity and care — that’s what you’ll find. I did not feel the author was rushed in writing it, and I did not feel rushed in reading it. But I was quite curious what the ‘mysterious moment’ was going to be for each of the 10 stories.

(3) Mysterious Moments calls one to rest in the tension of one’s grief and rest in the grace of one’s eventual, and often unusual, transformation.

Hopefully, blog-site readers of “Reflections from Dorothy: Reflecting on Life, Love & Faith” are convinced that it is no mystery that Mysterious Moments: Thoughts That Transform Grief by Jane Williams, PhD is a polished gem that I am fortunate to have suddenly discovered, and think you will be, too.

 

Linda L. Scisson is a retired administrative assistant and author of Durables: Articles, Poems, and Reviews and One-of-a-Kind Christmas Quiz.  She lives in Little Rock.

 

A Note from Dorothy: I want to add my recommendation to Linda’s excellent review. Mysterious Moments is a quick read that I believe will bring comfort and hope to anyone struggling with grief.

You can order Mysterious Momentsfrom Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Or ask you local bookstore to order it through Ingram.