Friends on the Trail

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Steam Team friends 2016 near Rapidan River

I’ve noticed that loss and loneliness often go hand in hand.

To stay the course of cleaning out our home of 20 years before putting the house on the market, I’ve said no to several fun get togethers and adventures this summer.  Spending hours alone in a dusty basement is a recipe for lonely.  Ugh.

I remember 10 years ago feeling lonely as I grieved the deaths of my mom and sister-in-law.  No matter what interactions I shared with people the fog of loss did not lift for many months.  The grieving dominated while I went through the motions of life as best I could.

This loss is different.  I am thankful to not have the intense brain fog, but my mind is noticeably strained with long to do lists and some sadness nonetheless.

While sorting items from our home, I relive memories of friends and family over the years.  Cards, pictures, movie tickets, toys, and journals have resurfaced.

I laugh out loud, snap a picture to capture certain memories before tossing items, and give thanks for the experiences.  I don’t need the fading construction paper from my children’s preschool masterpieces, but I do want a remaining image of their artwork in case I choose to revisit digital pictures that do not require space or dusting in our next home.

I feel lucky for friends in my life whether they are here for a season, reason, or ongoing.  I’ve had time to think about friends and how much they’ve meant to me along life’s trail.  I am reminded to text or email girlfriends I haven’t spoken with in a while.  And close friends who know what’s going on have helped or offered to help in this process.

It’s like I’m in adult time out.

I have long talks with God on my worn path to Goodwill.

Memories made with friends along the trail of life improve my energy.  Oh, and ibuprofen could almost be called a friend at this point too!  Ouch, my muscles hurt.

Sometimes I think when this is over I will spend a week in bed, but I really won’t do that when the time arrives.  I will call a friend and choose an adventure.

friendship proverbs 27 9

Resting Face Fix

We sat on the 52nd floor of Prudential Tower inside the Top of the Hub restaurant.  It was the last evening of a week-long training in Boston, Massachusetts.  The city lights twinkled in the night-time landscape.  My female co-worker’s fork froze midair ascent when he said it.

His name was Alan.  I had stored him in my contacts as Al from Nashville–met 2012.

Among the dark wood finishes and fresh flowers, we had a deep conversation about youth led substance abuse prevention and teen empowerment.  With intrigue and conviction, he points to me, “You are smarter than I thought you were.”  I am silent, then he continues, “Looking at your face this week I didn’t know you were this intelligent.”

Huh.

Now…I may suspect this was a moment of unconscious bias toward females in his life.  It could be.  But I chose to own my piece of it quietly because this was the fourth time in my adult life that something like this was said to me.  Four felt like a theme.  Even if the score is three males to one female who said something similar over the years, it is still a theme.  I’ve been back burner simmer thinking about this subject matter for a while.

Fast forward to 2018 when I’m getting ready to leave for a writer’s conference.  On my list to discuss with my Masterminds group was:  My Resting Face Problem.  I filled in the 4 women team on the issue.  They offered quality meeting people for the first-time guidelines.  Then we came up with the idea to have specific words in mind all week that would hopefully project on my face in the quiet times, walking around campus times, and all times.  They suggested I come up with 3-4 words.

Strategy Words So, I did just that.  During the drive I committed that the following words would be on my face while in public always:  welcoming, kindness, humble, confidence.  Each time I left my room I looked in the mirror and said those words.

Then a metaphoric resting face earthquake happened not 24 hours into the conference.  I received a punch you in the stomach kind of phone call from home.  The call was about work, co-workers and children I care about immensely.  It was a blind side and news of a likely short-sighted decision that could roll down hill in a painful way.  I turned my face toward the nearest wall because I felt the strategy words slide right off my face.

I quickly prayed for many things and did my best to acknowledge gratitude that no one was physically bleeding or worse at home.  I was minutes away from the next meeting with a literary agent.  Turning toward a wall may have morphed into bouncing off walls because someone noticed.  I strained for composure when the sweetest person scooped me up.  Her name is Janine Rosche.  This dear sister sized me up in less than 2 minutes and asked if she could pray me over the hurdle.  Uh, yes please, Jesus take the wheel, I’m thinking.  She prayed me from brain implosion WHAT!? to calm.  I am forever grateful.  She is a Christian Romance writer.  Her blog is JanineRosche.com.  [I will buy anything she writes–hear that publishers?!]

The shakeup was Monday.  I carried on prayerfully the rest of the week.  Mostly I could focus, but I felt my body stress while in a new situation and it hurt to know people were hurting at home.  Resting face words became even more important because I used thinking about the words to center myself each day.  I needed to remember who I am and why I was there.

Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday hummed along and I enjoyed connecting with people and learning.  Thursday afternoon I sat down before the long drive home to care for some business deadlines and emails.  The covered patio overlooking a pond was a comfort.  I knew I’d feel better if I knocked out the work rather than pause at rest stops looking for wi-fi.

So help me, the phone rings and during the call I hear another piece of work information that sours my stomach.  People can be cruel.  The details don’t matter, but it was a problem that led me to be concerned whether I could handle driving 6 hours home.

Most conference attendees were already gone.  The campus was quiet.  Along comes a husband and wife team from Alabama that I had met earlier in the week.  They run a marriage ministry.  They stopped to say hello.  I explained that I was concerned about making the drive.  They asked if they could pray for me.  Yes, please.  

And then the full circle moment zapped my heart.

This is a clip from their prayer:

“….Lord, every time we’ve seen Glenna this week her face is a welcoming face, a kind face.  She is weary right now before the drive, but we ask you restore her confidence that we know is in her.  We thank you for the humble spirit we’ve sensed from her all week….”

I almost fell to the ground.

God is good.  God looks out for us and all of our struggles.  He even helps with resting face fixes!

While the Bible may not talk about the term “resting face”, I do cherish the following verse because rest and God’s presence is vital through the ups and downs of life.  In our facial expressions God can give us rest and focus.  In our struggles the greatest theme above any of our own life themes is the fact that God can weave the words and people we need into our current challenge.  We have His presence and we have His kind of rest available.  He will go with us.

And he said, “My presence will go with you and I will give you rest.”  Exodus 33:14  NKJV

Glenna

Feel the Feels

Pic Feel the Feels

You might think that someone who was a psych major would already know this, but what I am about to share is something I’ve only figured out how to do in the last 18 months.  I am not an expert, but I am getting better and practicing.

As children many of us are taught to suppress undesirable emotions.  For example, we may be told don’t be mad, sad, cry or demonstrate feelings that might make someone else (like a parent perhaps) feel uncomfortable.

Nowadays in my work I find more and more information that states it is important to validate a child’s emotions.  Tell the child it is ok to feel what they feel, and then encourage them to think carefully about what actions they will do next while being aware of their feelings.

Sidebar:  Jesus had all the emotions while on earth that we have too.  It’s how we utilize those emotions that matters.  We can welcome the feeling(s) and still be in control of our behavior choices.

Recently I told a friend, “Not that you are…but be enraged if you need to be.  Use it.  Maybe you need a little mad to keep moving.  Feel the feels and let them pass through your body.  Then get back to work.”

I have found that if I fight the feels, then it takes longer for me to get on track.  I have learned to:

  • Pause.  Allow myself to take a time out when I need it.
  • Identify the emotion or emotions.
  • Say in acknowledgement “I feel _______ (fill in the blank).”
  • Visualize the emotion(s) pass through my body.
  • Repeat as needed.  Breathe and exhale through the process.  Release the pain if needed.  Sometimes I thank the emotion for stopping by and for reminding me that I am human.

This process validates rather than fights the feeling.

Key:

  • Fighting or suppressing emotions derails my time management.
  • Validating and identifying an emotion normalizes my feelings and takes much less time to address.

Another time saver is when I pray, “God here is________.  Take it.  Lead me in the direction I should go.”  I am done figuring out anything that my Higher Power can bust through walls and decipher for me.

We have grace for others, we need to have grace for ourselves too.  I’m trying to do so anyway.  It is hard!

God has adamant love for you.  You are not alone.

Proverbs 3:26 …for the LORD will be at your side and will keep your foot from being snared.

Hebrews 4:16   Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

All the above being said, emotions that get in the way ongoing should be addressed with a professional.  Be brave and seek help from your doctor or therapist as needed.  There is so much power and freedom to be found in tapping into the truth about ourselves.

Glenna

 

4 People You Meet at a Writers Conference

Pic 4 People You Meet at a Writers ConferenceI have lost count of how many professional seminars and trainings I have sat through in my adult life.  This year I set a goal to attend a writers conference.  I declared that intention out loud to my Masterminds group October 2017.

Then the day before I would be on the Masterminds “hot seat” again May 7, 2018 I knew it was time to report on my goals.  Eek!  I had the Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference (#BRMCWC) on my calendar over nine months.  How could I go to my accountability group with anything less than a booked reservation?  I checked and there was still room.  I reserved my spot 14 days before the BRMCWC.

The first night at dinner I carried my food tray through the cafeteria asking God to lead the way.  I knew no one.  I fought back nerves and slight loneliness.  A group of wonderful ladies welcomed me to sit at their table.  Whew!  I felt relief.  And go figure, one of the first people I met, Lilly, was from Alamogordo, NM.  That is the same town where my adult son lives.  She came a long way to Black Mountain, NC.  I found comfort in her presence.

The next person I met said she was returning after this conference crushed her dreams four years ago.  She described running away in tears last time.  Alrighty then.  I whispered to God, I’m a big girl, but You’ve got this right?

From that moment forward, I enjoyed meeting a new-to-me world of people:

Professionals.  Literary agents, publishers, promoters, and editors really do exist.  I studied in college and since have read hundreds of articles and books about them.  I’ve written query letters to them.  I’ve received rejection letters from them.  They are real people flesh and all.  I met with eight professionals in publishing over the course of the week.  I appreciate their wisdom.

Inspirational Folks.  A couple times each day attendees gathered to listen to keynote speakers.  I leaned in to hear what they said and made notes to bottle their encouragement so that I can revisit their words.  I value the paths they’ve forged.

New Friends.  It was fun to listen to other writers talk about their work and lives!  We celebrated one another and exchanged contact information.  I am still in touch with several authors and it is wonderful to feel part of the writing world!  Take Kelly A. Wypych, for example.  Kelly ran 100 miles consecutively in April.  100 miles!  Her blog is great and her Instagram posts @kawypych sing to my soul.  Here’s a pic of Kelly and me at our first writers conference together:Kelly Wypych and Glenna S. Edwards at BRMCWC May 2018

You. You know how you can’t really see yourself, but you walk around in the body that is “you”?  Yeah, that’s a weird thought, but sometimes I suspect we disconnect from the most authentic “you” there is.  We spend each day with eyes that see outward but can’t see our 360-degree self easily.  When I walked by mirrors or spoke into mirrors to prepare for my book pitches I felt like I was meeting myself for the first time.

Hello, You.  Hello, Writer. 

Oh, you’ve been a writer at heart since 4th grade? 

How interesting.  Nice to meet You.

It was good to spend some time with the you that is me.  I think part of personal growth involves getting to know ourselves better.

I give thanks to God for all the people at BRMCWC and for all that I learned.  I thank Him for leading my path.  It was a wonderful experience.

Psalm 9:1  I will give thanks to you, Lord, with all my heart;  I will tell of all your wonderful deeds.

Glenna

I’m Back!

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Hello.  The last 3 years were almost more than I could handle–and this after I thought I’d had plenty of other challenging times in life over the years!  What did I know?!  I have accepted the fact that life involves continuous learning opportunities.

Fortunately God has provided support in every corner of my heart and mind.  I’m thankful for scripture that speaks louder and stronger than life circumstances.  And I’m grateful for friends who have never given up on me.  What a blessing!  I suspect too many people are isolated these days.  If you don’t have the kind of friends who would drive 2 hours to rescue you from a hospital after your body totally locked up while you were alone in a hotel room and had to be carried out while screaming by 6 EMTs…[Yes, that happened.  Story for another day.]…then here are a few ideas about how to seek more friends:

  • Join a small group or Bible study at your church.  People who grow together over a topic or activity may connect in a lasting way.
  • Sign up for Meet Up groups in your area.  Curious about a craft, hobby or crypto-currency?  There’s a group out there somewhere for you.
  • Show up for community events or causes in your neighborhood.  Being helpful can lead to whole new relationships or interests.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-10  9Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: 10If either of them falls down, one can help the other up….

Of course, building friendship(s) takes time.  And it can’t be all about you.  When you are brave to try any of the above ideas, remember to be genuinely interested in getting to know other people.  Listening is one of the best things you can offer to others.

As the title might suggest, I am back to blogging.  And this time I think my confidence has grown enough to stick with it.  The picture in this post is from a special trip in 2016 when I ran away to seek God’s guidance from the highest mountain I could find with the help of 4 other ladies.  Now that is a story & a half!  We’ll get to it.

God bless you!

Glenna

 

THE GARBAGE IS FULL

Pet peeve alert. And a disclaimer alert. –As in, what I’m about to tell you is something I witness that bothers me, but I also struggle with this topic too. I humbly share the following metaphor and follow up information. See if you can relate also.

First, the metaphor: I don’t like garbage to pile up in my vehicle. It does not bother me if other people fill their cars with garbage, but every time I pull into my driveway or a parking lot with a trash can, I try to toss the garbage. I do not sweep or wipe out my vehicle nearly enough, but the garbage must go daily.

Last week I was eager to clear my trash when I noticed that every garbage can in the parking lot was overflowing. If I had tried to add my trash, then I only would have added to the overflow situation. The garbage cans were full. My trash would have to wait.

This life moment reminded me of how sometimes people go through a heavy mess of stuff in their life. Sometimes a person is so overflowing that their pain is obvious. That person may choose to share their troubles with you.

Here’s the pet peeve part: when someone begins to share what is ailing them I think we need to be careful not to add to their garbage. Jumping in to tell someone a story about our own lives, interrupting the other person, trumping them with a nearly similar story…all of that is usually not a good idea–at least not a good idea in that initial sharing time. How much better is it when we simply seek to be present for the other person? How rare is it for anyone to feel heard all the way? –For someone to speak and to be allowed to finish their thought?

I’m not saying that we never share when we have something in common with the other person’s issue. I’m just saying that if someone’s garbage is full, then don’t add to it. Maybe you send them an encouraging word later. Maybe you tell them at a later time that you may be able to relate to their story. Or maybe you simply give the other person the gift of listening and leave it at that.

Occasionally I struggle with this area too. After an exchange passes I may think, “Why did I feel the need to share that in response? What was my motive?”

If our motives are to be there for others and not add to their garbage, then usually the answer is to be present, to be quiet and truly listen.

Hebrews 13:5 Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things you have….

Psalm 46:10 Be still, and know that I am God….

May we be a good listener for others.
May we be blessed with good listeners when we need them.
May we know the difference and the right timing for both.

Glenna

HOPE FRIENDS

I like people, all kinds of people.  I enjoy learning about a variety of backgrounds and experiences.

You might think this would mean that once I have a friend, then we would be friends forever, but that is not reality.

Reality is that some friendships come and go in life…for all kinds of reasons.

One time in college a guy broke up with me because he said I was “too nice”.  He “needs someone more like his mother.”  Interesting.

In my twenties, there was a woman in the office who I nearly worshiped.  I thought she was great and considered naming my unborn child after her (good thing I had a boy).  One day she was done with me and gave me a poem about how friendships are for a season or reason and rarely forever.  Alrighty then.

In my thirties, one week after my mother’s funeral, a girlfriend I loved and trusted gave me an “8 things that have to change about you” list.  Oh boy.  My favorite line item was “you’ll be friends with anybody and that’s not ok with me.”  Absorbed.  Noted.

And now the debacle of 2012, welcome to year one of being in my forties.  Someone I care deeply about misjudged the intentions of a situation.  Kindness was intended, but she did not see it that way.  She got mad.  I offered to listen to her perspective–maybe I’d learn something–but she refused.  This hurts and I suppose she hurts too.  Some relationships can grow stronger after overcoming conflict, but that’s usually not possible if friends refuse to process.

The Bible is clear about what to do when conflict arises:  you go to that person and try to work it out (Matthew 18:15).  And there’s more verses of instruction to follow, but sometimes things have to be given time.  And like the poem (ouch) says, some friendships are not forever. 

You know that movie and book He’s Just Not That Into You?  Well, I think that phrase can apply to realizations we all have about relationships from time to time.

The above examples are from my life, but I imagine you can think of examples from your life.  Yes?  No?  Oh goodness, please don’t tell me I’m alone in these experiences!

Often I witness other rocky relationships and think of a sermon we heard once about Hope Friends and how to identify a Hope Friend. 

Pastor Mecum reviewed Romans 5:1-5.  In those verses you’ll find encouragement regarding the patience and experience you gain when going through tough times.  His sermon focus was that “hope does not disappoint” and you can assess every relationship based on two Hope Friend principles:

1.  Person of Faith – Is your friend a person of faith?  Do they have a faith approach to life?  Do they live beyond what they can see?  Do they hope for the best?

2.  Person of Praise – Is your friend someone who will find ways to praise (be positive) even when times are challenging?  Do they encourage you or bring you down?

If you think of all your friends, how many have both qualities?  It’s eye-opening to think about, isn’t it?  

Then take one more step and assess yourself.  Am I a person who offers faith and praise or do I struggle in one or both areas?  Which area do I need to work on the most?

Perhaps we all struggle in these areas from time to time, but being a Hope Friend despite my flaws is what I aim to be.  And I am grateful for the Hope Friends (and Family) in my life!  Yes, I still have friends believe it or not!

May we all strive to be the best Hope Friends we can.

Blessings to you and yours,

Glenna