Monday, August 30, 2010

I Love NY

I am still reflecting on the healing nature of this summer and marveling at the fact that I feel better and more myself than I have in over 3 years--well before I was diagnosed.  I have more energy, I am finally feeling results from regular exercise, I am more content with a deeper sense of inner peace.  Some things that used to rattle me, make me mad or defensive no longer have such a grip on me; I am more centered in myself and clear about my opinions, wants and needs; and I feel more emboldened in sharing them when appropriate.  It seems that God has worked no less than a miracle in my life.

I remember a week after returning from vacation, I couldn't remember anything, I couldn't track what I was supposed to be doing, I couldn't remember the date or where we were in the month.  The next week, I felt like a new person---like God had spent a week re-wiring my brain for a new stage or chapter in my life.  It sounds rather corny, but this is what I experienced.

Part of the healing came about in our near-perfect two week vacation.  It was one of those magical times as a family where things went well, everyone got along (for the most part!), and we all enjoyed what we were doing.  If there was a day that wasn't our personal favorite, there was something the next day to look forward to that kept us going and moving together.

We drove to Manhattan via Detroit (saw friends from the first congregation I served 20 years ago), Niagara Falls (riding the Maid of the Mist was an awesome and favorite experience!), the Baseball Museum and Hall of Fame (we all loved it!), a friends' lamb farm (we held triplet lambs!), and Ridgewood, NJ where Dan grew up (the kids think he had a better childhood than they're having!).  We took in all the usual sites in NY with the special treat of getting together with our friends Paul and Eric, and seeing Kelsey Grammar star in Las Cage Aux Folles on Broadway.  We spent a couple of days at the Jersey Shore and took in the NJ Six Flags Great America where we got to ride the Kingda Ka- the tallest fastest roller coaster in the world.  There's nothing like going 128 mph within 3.5 seconds to shake out whatever ails you.  I felt like I was in a cartoon with my cheeks and eyelids flapping in the wind.

This whole vacation experience released us to feel that life is good again; we affirmed that we have much for which to give thanks.  We were drawn out of ourselves and looked out at the world with new eyes, seeing opportunities everywhere to celebrate, learn, grow and move forward.  We started to get past the rut of letting misery and hardship define us.

I never thought of vacation in this way before.  But doing something completely new opens the way for the Spirit to work on us and in us for wholeness and peace - in our children and in us.

Monday, August 23, 2010

A Healing Summer

Chimney Rock & clouds 05My children went back to school last week; my “blog vacation” has come to a conclusion, so here I am!
My family and I have had the most amazing summer. Now at the end of it, I feel as if God has lifted a burden from me I didn’t know I was carrying. As a family, we were able to close the chapter on “The Terrible Awful” of the past three years and gained a fresh start. If you know the story, skip to the next paragraph. J We have been through the serious illness and death of both of Dan’s parents, my breast cancer diagnosis and a 9-month disability period for treatment, a $10,000 tax bill and equal fees in medical costs, my mother’s chronic illness (she is still steppin’!) and a host of other health issues like sprained ankles, joint and muscle strains, physical therapies and a severe concussion to name a few.
By the grace of God, we are still standing, functioning, glad to be alive and grateful to God for seeing us through. We are stronger emotionally and physically and we are humbled and filled with awe at the help, support and prayers that have carried us along the journey.
Our spiritual transformation this summer began by going to Ghost Ranch, a Presbyterian camp and conference center in the high, red-rock desert of northern New Mexico ( It’s a rejuvenating place with Continuing Education classes for Dan and me, camp and service corps for the kids, hiking, worship, swimming, horse-back riding, community-life and resting in a beautiful, spiritually-infused setting. We have been to Ghost Ranch several times, so much so that it’s like our kids’ second home. But our last visit prior to this year was the summer before all of “The Terrible Awful” started three years ago.
Being at Ghost Ranch again was like a salve to our souls. We felt a completeness, a symmetry, a spiritual order for our lives fall into place. Being renewed at Ghost Ranch gave me fresh eyes to see that we could start a new season, a new chapter of our life with our faces forward, filled with hope.
The class I took at Ghost Ranch was a significant part of this healing for me. Called Pages in Our Book of Life, From Our Biblical Ancestors to Our Descendants, we explored the women of the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament). We learned the archetypes these Biblical women can represent for us, identified these characteristics in our own foremothers and in ourselves, and reflected on how to pass on to our children these spiritual discoveries. This class was co-led by Rabbi Paula Winnig, who added yarn, spinning and fabric arts to our conversation and experience, and Judaic Artist, Sara Novenson. Please go to to see her amazing paintings of NM landscapes and Biblical women.
Learning from and experiencing so many dimensions – more than I have ever encountered in any other class – contributed to the deep healing effect this class had on me. We studied the Bible, we listened to music and read poetry about the women we studied, we explored the artistic process Sara went through to create her paintings and the archetypes she discovered, we wrote prose and poetry, and we painted our own stories or experiences. Visit Sara’s blog at which describes our class, shows some of our paintings and Sara’s description of the event.
This is just the beginning, there is more to come, This summer does get me wondering if I can change the name of the last three years from “The Terrible Awful” to something new…