After our four enjoyable days with our friends Sherry and Greg in Minnesota, Rich and I loaded up the Harley and set off on the next leg of our adventure. We headed west from Brainerd toward North Dakota. The scenery started changing as we approached the border between the two states, becoming flatter and less green.
As was our norm, we stopped for a break and a tank up after about an hour and a half of riding. Then we continued for about the same amount of time until our tummies told us it was time to get some lunch. We had noticed that the exits had grown further apart and offered very few food options, so as soon as we saw an Arby’s we decided to pull off. We are not big “fast-food” eaters, but Arby’s passes muster for a quick lunch.
Once inside, I made my food choices and left Rich to pick up the order while I went to choose a table from which we could keep an eye on the bike. There was only one other couple in the restaurant, and they were seated about three tables away from our window table. They were an older couple and the husband was in a wheelchair, and I could hear them talking quietly from time to time.
Rich bought our order to the table and we quickly got organized and ready to eat. Then, as always, we held hands and thanked God for a safe trip so far, asked him to continue to bless and protect us, to bless the food and continue to feed us spiritually. Then it was time to dig in and eat up.
I guess we were about half way through our meal when I became aware that the woman from the other couple was clearing away their things. Suddenly she was standing beside us and, leaning in toward us, she apologized for interrupting us. We said, no problem, and she carried on talking to let us know why she had come over.
She explained that she was “one of us” and that it had really warmed her heart to see us praying over our food before we began eating. She said that sometimes it was very hard to be a Christian because she felt we were in a minority. She also said that not many people were willing to be public about their belief in God and that as we prayed we had allowed her to feel as though she were “not alone”. It was a very warm moment of fellowship and my heart went out to her.
Rich agreed with her and told her that just a week or so ago we had done the same thing as she had. We had been having a meal at one of our favorite salad bars, “Sweet Tomatoes”, when a woman and her two daughters came and sat at the table across the aisle to us. Once they had settled into the booth, they all bowed their heads and said a prayer of blessing over their food. I remember how heart-warming it felt for us to see that, and as we left the restaurant Rich had paused briefly at their table to let them know how great it had been to witness that.
We exchanged farewells with the woman, and as she pushed her husband out of Arby’s I wondered what their story was. We feel very blessed to have met certain people, complete strangers, on our ride who have uplifted us and shared a God-moment with us. And I remembered that other couple in the rest stop parking lot in Tennessee who had cared enough about us to pray for our safety as we began our long trip.
You all know that I love words. I am so grateful to the many people who have gone before me and shared their words of wisdom. I am so grateful that there continues to be a steady stream of wise and intelligent beings who share their thoughts on life and their personal life experiences. Here are a few that I choose to share with you today.
- “Feeling healthy and feeling good about yourself is not a luxury – it’s an absolute necessity.” (Anonymous)
- “I do not pray that you may be delivered from your pains, but I pray earnestly to God that He would give you strength and patience to bear them as long as
pleases.” (from “Safely Through The Storm)
- “May your footsteps set you upon a lifetime journey of love. May you wake each day with His blessings and sleep each night in His keeping. And may you
always walk in His tender care.” (Anonymous)
- “In those times I cant seem to find God, I rest in the assurance He knows how to find me.” (Neva Coyle)
- “God walks with us …….. He scoops us up in His arms or simply sits with us in silent strength until we cannot avoid the awesome recognition that
yes, even now, He is there.” (Gloria Gaither)
- “To be simply surrounded by God’s love and presence is pure JOY!” (Chuck Colson)
- “Joy is not the absence of trouble, but the presence of Christ.” (William Van Der Holden)
- “Fear of trials often depletes more energy than facing them.” (Beth Moore)
- “If God accepts me as I am, then I’d better do the same.” (Hugh Montefiore)
- “Resolve to keep happy and your joy, and you, shall form an invincible host against any difficulty.” (Helen Keller)
And as I was writing these quotations, I realized that many of them refer to “God” and to “joy”, and I found myself thinking that those two topics are intrinsically connected for me. Greetings from the road – New Lisbon,Wisconsin to be precise!
Today is Thanksgiving Day. Richard and I are on our traditional Thanksgiving week vacation. We own a small time share in Orlando and it has become our custom to take the Thanksgiving week and enjoy a break away from all the chaos that leads up to the Holiday Season.
It’s a pretty standard time share condo: a lounge/dining area with a small compact half kitchen, a decent size bathroom with a shower in the tub which has some whirlpool jets, and a bedroom with a nice comfortable king-size bed and the prerequisite double closet and chest of drawers. There are two TV’s and a boom box and all the necessary accoutrements for cooking, cleaning, and ironing. The furnishings are nice with small touches of tasteful décor, but nothing extravagant.
However, there is one item of pure luxury as far as I am concerned. We have a large screened-in balcony that accommodates a table and four chairs and there’s still plenty of room to move around. This is my “lanai away from home” and where I spend the vast majority of whatever time we do not spend running out and about. Over the past few days I have sat out here and written about one hundred and forty Christmas cards, remembering friends far and near as I always do at this time of the year.
This is where I come first thing in the morning to have my quiet time with God and do my reflection readings and pray and meditate. This is my small sanctuary where I find safe haven where I can reaffirm or reclaim my inner peace and gratitude for all my blessings. I also bring my laptop out here to do my writing, as I am doing at this very moment. I feel like this is a special gift from God to me.
As I sit here on the lanai I look out over a small artificial lake with a fountain set in the middle. The lake is surrounded by other condo buildings but they are spaced out enough that we are not crowded. There is lush green grass everywhere dotted with flowering trees and shrubs, and pathways offer the opportunity to walk or jog everywhere.
Today is a glorious sparkling blue day – a Princess Di kind of day. The sun is shining brilliantly and shimmers on the water in the lake. There are a few white clouds softly smeared across the sky and the temperature is warm and inviting. I’m thinking about going for a walk and a swim. There is a balmy breeze blowing and the palm fronds wave lazily as it moves through. The smaller leaves on other trees are fluttering like myriads of green butterflies and everything seems to be in gentle motion. Along the banks of the lake a small blue heron is gracefully and stealthily stalking a prey that only he can see.
I sit here and feel the sun warming me to the very depths of my bones and I am so very grateful for all of this, that is so much more than my basic needs. I am grateful for food on my table and a roof over my head. I am grateful for fresh-smelling soap to wash myself with. I am grateful for a closetful of clothes (mainly purple!!) that I can chose from. I am grateful for a loving, kind, patient husband (he needs to be patient with this purple creature he has married!).
I am grateful for the whole of my life, the good, the bad, and the ugly. Yes, there are some bad and ugly parts to my life and yes, I am grateful for them too. They serve as humble reminders that I still have more work to do to improve. I am grateful that today I can recognize, admit and accept that I am not perfect and that there is room for growth. Amen!!!