Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Kindle Fire HD Giveaway- Patricia Strefling

Please include full name, email and mailing address.  
Trouble with the click to enter? 
Just email your name address and email to patskindlead@icloud.com.

You will be able to send extra entries- you will be emailed a list of all ways you can earn extra entries. No purchase necessary.
The contest ends at midnight December 9th, 2012.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Falling Star

There are some things that need to be written down. Moments of clarity in the midst of hurt and pain in this world. There are moments when it seems that understanding death, divorce, broken lives, deep hurts from words or deeds that have affected our life forever, will never be understood.

I was having some of those moments, when late at night a friend called to talk about a recent hurt she was experiencing. She was sludging through the muddy mess, trying to understand what had happened. We talked at length about why -- and if God was there why didn’t he answer the prayer of her heart? Why did it seem he had thrown her under the bus? We knew it wasn’t true. But right then it seemed so true.

Both of us were hurting. For very different reasons. She, suffering from a most recent devastating break-up of a relationship she thought was sent from God. An answer to a life-long prayer. And now it was over. What had happened? And why?

There were moments of silence. 
There were no answers.

Struggling with my own emotions that night, I wasn’t much help to her, except to know that the depth of pain sometimes is deeper than our understanding. We discussed all the why’s and what-for’s. But came up silent at the end. There was no magic answer for either of us.
One thing did become clear as we talked out what we couldn’t fix in our lives: that those who have experienced deep pain are the only ones others want to talk to when they are hurt. And how could we ever understand another living soul if we ourselves had never been devastated by life’s storms?

How could we earn the right to say to someone, “I know what you are going through?”

The conversation slowly came to a sense of understanding that we can’t always know why. She, for her deepest feeling of rejection AGAIN, me for a lifelong trial with the same issue; a lifelong feeling of rejection that had taken up residence in my life.

These emotions can’t be “thrown up in the air” hoping they will magically disappear in thin air. They have to be dealt with. At the time neither of us wanted to quote Bible verses. We knew them. For the moment, we needed to grieve.

And so we grieved for the loss of a relationship she had long prayed for and thought had finally arrived, me for a lifelong sense of rejection that never goes away, no matter how much I want it to.  We had both prayed for years about these struggles and we were mired in them again.

All the time we were talking, I was sitting in a rocking chair facing a big picture window looking out on the back yard behind our house on a cool early November evening. It was nearing midnight and this was my view from the window:  huge full moon high in the midnight blue sky, long white streaks leaving jet lines crisscrossed across the moon’s path. Stars so explicitly bright they seemed hardly able to contain their brightness as they formed the ancient constellations.

The trees had lost all their leaves so the vein-like branches created a beautiful view in front of the moon. The ground was white from the light of the moon. And then realization struck: the fact that God, though his majestic creation, was standing right there looking through the window at me.  Displaying the works of his hands before my eyes without saying a word.As my friend and I talked out our frustrations it became very clear that God was there. Just looking, waiting, hoping that I would see his presence.

My friend was talking and suddenly I interrupted her . . . “You are not going to believe this!” I was breathless.

Across the sky, for the first time that I can remember I saw a falling star. A quick arc-like slide and then it disappeared.
She was excited as I told her what I saw. Our conversation became quieter. A sense of amazement began to fill us.
All that we had said, commiserated about, hurts we didn’t want to face, became suddenly less powerful. I could hear it in her voice. 

One small star, a momentary second of brightness and then it was gone. We realized it was like our lives. Seen for a millisecond and gone.

Could we stay too long in our hurt places and miss what shining moment we might have?

We talked a bit more, but the conversation had gone full circle. We needed to be heard, and we were. The small interruption lasted a nanosecond, but it had soaked into our souls somehow.

I had to wonder if that star fell just for my friend and I . One November night in the middle of deep hurt.

~ Patricia Strefling


Saturday, November 3, 2012

Journaling in England

A familiar sight. Sheep on the green hillsides. This one is from the window at Near Sawrey B&B right next door to Beatrix Potter’s Hilltop Farm. You can understand why she wanted to keep the area the way she found it.  A large portion of the area is under the Trust Foundation she established to protect the land. And yet today we are recipients of the beautiful sights and sounds we viewed, thanks to her.

The land has many paths that run alongside the curving roads allowing people to walk through the areas that look today like they may have looked in Beatrix Potter’s day. While Debbie and I walked this one (heading to Far Sawrey) we found this little scene upon a fence post! We passed it the first time, but thankfully spotted it on our way back.

This photo was taken inside Near Sawrey B&B where we stayed. The windows from the big house right next door to Beatrix’s farm was beautifully decorated inside. This is the view from the window!

We met two very nice people at Beatrix’s Farm who offered us a ride to Hawkshead, suggesting we visit the quaint town. The two-mile jaunt down winding roads led us to a very scenic area. Way above on a high hill overlooking the town where Mr. Heelis (Beatrix’s husband) kept his office, and where William Wordsworth went to school, we found an ancient church. This was the view from inside looking out.

This picture shows where we stayed in Stow-on-the-Wold in the Cotswald area. Sheep were brought for buying and selling. There were many “hallways” leading out from the town center so sheep could be divided and taken away as they were sold.

Behind our B&B in Stow-on-the-Wold was a huge old church, St. Edwards. As I walked around to the back of the church I saw a beautiful old door with two trees growing on either side. I could only think C.S. Lewis may have liked this scene!