2017 was an eventful year! About 15 years ago God started encouraging me to write & tell my story. In 2016, after working on this story for more than 10 years, I hired an awesome developmental editor, Cindy Cutts, to help me bring this project to fruition. It was a hard story to write because I had to dig deep -with honesty and objectivity- and relate ALL the relevant parts of my past...not just the parts that would bring me sympathy. God wanted me to tell the ugly parts too. For a long time I thought that was so others could benefit but now I know it was also for my own personal healing. God is so good.
At the same time I started assembling a team to take to Kenya on a mission trip. We did fund raising and months of preparation and training. We gathered our community and made more than 100 personalized, handmade gifts of love for the 100 children sponsored by our Church (Christ Community Church) through Christ's Hope International (CHI).
On May 30th, our team of 8 departed for Kisumu, Kenya. For 2 weeks we brought love and encouragement to those infected with and affected by HIV/AIDs. It was my 3rd trip in 7 years and as always I left a big part of my heart in Kenya. As my team flew home, I was blessed to join another team with CHI, the Ride for Hope, Lake Victoria. Starting in Kampala, Uganda a team of 20 or so supported 25 bicycle riders as we traveled 600 miles around Lake Victoria...through Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania. The purpose of the ride was to raise awareness and funds to support the education of children in East Africa. It gave me such joy to look into the faces of children throughout these countries, asking them about their hopes and dreams, and making sure they knew they are loved and valuable.
Upon returning home after a month abroad I learned one of my dear nieces was losing her battle against cancer. She was fierce in her passion for life and art and community. She passed two weeks after I got home. My grief has been deep and lingering.
I am grateful that I was able to retire 2 years ago from AT&T. It has given me time to write, make art, go to Africa and so much more. It has also allowed me the time to grieve. I continue to journal as I have for 40+ years and this year I am learning so much. I've found retirement to be an unsettled place for me. On the one hand I have an income without working anymore and yet I have been so deeply wired to be productive that it is very hard to dial that down. Still, in my quiet time with God He has given me a priceless message. He has assured me that He's pleased with my dedication and obedience AND He's told me it is time to rest.
Before the year began I joined Susannah Conway in a search for "my word for 2017". Since there were no hard and fast rules for this endeavor I ended up with 3 words: Visible with Ease. I knew God wanted me to follow through after writing my book with the telling part, so I had to stay Visible. I also knew He didn't want me to be frenetic about it. So now I am moving in to the Ease part of my word. I'm thinking it will likely flow into 2018 as well...
I know this for sure. The pressure, which I so easily inflict on myself, is OFF. I'm saying, "No" more often and fiercely protecting my studio time. This is my time... time to rest, to make art, to write, to play with my dog, Frida. And if I feel like it, I know God is always ready to take me deeper. I've learned that for as much junk as I dug up in writing my book, there is still more to uncover. But there's no rush. Now is the time for EASE.
Join me in being KIND to yourself. At this season of Thanksgiving I am overcome with gratefulness. May God bless you and keep you. He thinks you're pretty special!