For those who have been reading my blogs for a few years, this will be a familiar post. (Click photos to see larger version.)
Last week, I took my scooter (RollerAid mobility device) with me to the airport and flew to Spokane to participate in what has become an annual brainstorming retreat. When I accepted the initial invitation to join a small group of other Christian writers at the Collins' home in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho back in 2003, I knew no one. I'd met two of the ladies, but I couldn't claim to know them. When I think how easily I could have turned down the invite, it gives me chills. It was a God thing that I said yes. I believe that's true for everyone that attended the first year. Even our hostess didn't expect it to become what it has.
These women have become my most precious family. I kid you not. I would trust any one of them with my life. Certainly I trust them with my heart. And what a gift God gave me, allowing me to be with them this year. Between my broken ankle and the death of my mom, it could so easily have been otherwise. I think the Lord understood how much I would need to be with them now, during this season of my life. They took such good care of me, too. I was totally spoiled and pampered. And the delicious food we enjoyed!!! Believe me, I'm not cooking like that for myself.
I cried, of course, when I talked about Mom, but for most of the time I was with these wonderful women, the sorrow and sense of loss took a backseat to laughter and love. And let me tell you, we worked hard, too. We brainstormed seven books/series over two days. I came home, chomping at the bit, eager to get back to writing again, something I haven't been able to do since before I broke my ankle. With the deadline rushing toward me all too fast, I need to get back to business.
I know that the time of mourning my mom isn't behind me yet. In fact, as soon as I was home and my ride from the airport had left, I cried, feeling the silence, missing Mom so much. When my youngest daughter dropped by unexpectedly yesterday, I burst into tears again. Even as I write this post, my eyes are tearing up. And yet I do not mourn as one who has no hope. My hope is in the Lord, and I know that I will see my precious mother again. Ashes will be turned to something beautiful.
This morning, I was thanking God again for the gift He gave me when He put these women in my life. Our friendships have been built on the Word of God and through shared triumphs and sorrows. I'm the fourth in this group to have broken her ankle (beware, everyone else!). Eight of us know the heartache of losing a beloved mother. Several of us have had lives impacted by the alcoholism/drug addiction of a loved one. Most have had hard bumps in our work lives, whether that be writing or something else. Through all the ups and downs, we've been there for one another, praying, encouraging, loving. I'm so glad I'm a part of the family of God and that these precious women are my sisters. Thank You, Jesus.
(We missed you, Tricia and Bev!!!!!!!)
Thank You, Father, for putting these women in my life. Bless them today, wherever they are and whatever they're doing. Amen.