Put It In The Bear Box

I could not physically go on. After walking sunrise to sunset miles down a mountain and then miles back up, I was d-o-n-e done.

In fact, I was not sure I could make it from the large rock where I sat to where we were supposed to pitch tents for the night. My feet felt as if each toe was on fire.

SunFloJo [trail name] returned from scouting the campsite while the group of us stayed with the backpacks and overnight equipment.

I confessed, “I don’t think I can do this another day. It is your dream to hike all week and you should not miss the chance. I’m slowing you down, and I’ve thought it through. I absolutely will be fine if you leave me behind. I’ve got a book. And I am sure I’ll be safe. You must go on without me.” I even carried a fairly lethal knife that my oldest son insisted I have in my pocket during the trip. Whether bears or other probs, I would be fine. My biggest challenge would be disappointment in myself as I watched the other women leave me behind.

I gauged her facial expression to be a mix of “so true that you are slowing us down and yet no, I can’t leave you alone“.

I hobbled to camp and collapsed for a while as daylight slipped into night sky.

My mind spun around options regarding what to do next. I felt beyond grateful to no longer have a sweaty back and backpack attached. The group ate and laughed.

We placed food or items that might cause animal smell curiosity into a bear box.

The bear box was a new concept for me. I marveled at its purpose and convenience. To prepare for the trip we had brought a bear bag and rope to place items away from us and up a tree. This night, though, we had the fancy metal box.  It felt like we had a community chest of drawers out in the woods. I appreciated the safety and kindness of the bear box.

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One Benadryl later, I fell asleep too tired to wonder what that scurry sound was swishing by my single person tent.

Birds became my alarm clock that week. I lay thinking hard about what it would take to continue the trail.

What if half of what I had been carrying simply stayed behind in the bear box? Could we swing back by this place at the end of the week when we have access to a car again?

Long story short, that is what we did. Everyone, especially me, lightened our load. The bear box held the burden. I dared to lace up hiking boots again and head back to the trail knowing the next stop did not have the convenience of a bear box.  The next stop we planned to be much deeper in the woods.  I didn’t want to miss the next level challenge.

The bear box has become a mental metaphor for me when times are tough.  What can I leave behind for now?  What do I need to deal with today, tonight, and leave the rest for later?

In many ways, the bear box represented my faith during that trip.

Best wishes to you this week. If you can’t carry the burden, feel free to stick it in the metaphorical bear box for now.

Love,

Glenna

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Matthew 11:28-30 28“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

 

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

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