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Cindy L. Freeman, 9/28/19 – Embracing Peace

I spent much of my adult life striving, planning, and reaching for self-imposed goals. For many years, I tried to find my worth through my career and achievements. I was lured by the false premise that the so-called American dream must be attained in one’s lifetime for that life to be worthwhile. A schedule filled with busyness, activities, and frenzy shows that life is full and rewarding. Right?

I’ve come to realize there’s a difference between an accomplished life and a significant life. I’m not saying that accomplishment is a negative goal, but that a life of significance first strives to glorify God. When our accomplishments honor God they are significant.

Does our striving for significance mean we’re seeking perfection? Only Jesus lived a perfect earthly life because, while Jesus was fully human, He was also fully divine. Jesus wasn’t just a good person who did good deeds and cared about others. He was God in the flesh.

In our humanness, we are incapable of achieving perfection during our earthly lives. But peace results when we strive to obey and glorify God through our accomplishments. While achieving perfection in our lifetime is not possible, I believe peace is an achievable goal.

The formula for peace is simple in theory but not in practice: seek God’s will in all things, confess to those we have harmed and seek their forgiveness, confess our sins to God, and ask for God’s forgiveness. Though challenging, these goals are achievable. But there’s one more part to the formula, and I’m convinced it is the most challenging: forgive ourselves.

Recently, my sister and I were discussing regret. Both of us harbor regrets regarding our deceased parents. I don’t think we’re alone in this feeling. The problem with regret is that it holds the power to block peace. Regret is possibly the most difficult emotion to resolve. Usually, the people we harmed—or think we harmed—are gone from this earthly life, and we are left with if-onlys. If only I had said or done this or that. If only I hadn’t said or done this or that.

I’ve learned that, although it may be too late to resolve our if-onlys with the people we’ve harmed, it’s never too late to seek God’s forgiveness. Believers are promised that nothing can separate us from God’s love, not even regret. When we harbor regret, it’s difficult to accept that God’s forgiveness is both free and final. We keep taking back the regret and carrying it around like a teenager’s backpack filled with heavy books. Regret weighs us down, causing us to drag through our days, maybe even keeping us awake at night, until finally after the tenth time or hundredth time of shaming ourselves, we accept God’s forgiveness, forgive ourselves, and embrace the peace that God has been offering all along.

Cindy L. Freeman is the author of two award-winning short stories and three published novels: UnrevealedThe Dark Room and I Want to Go Home. Website: www.cindylfreeman.com; Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/cindy.l.freeman.9. Her books are available through amazon.com or hightidepublications.com

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Cindy L. Freeman 10/10/19 – Charlie

What will your obituary say about you and the life you lived? Recently I attended the memorial service of a dear man who I knew only fleetingly. Charlie was quiet and unassuming, but he always made it a point to stop by my office on his way to his volunteer job with the Respite Care program housed in another part of the church building. He would ask how I was doing, and I would inquire about his wife of over sixty years who suffered with chronic back pain. At Christmas time, he would bring me a hand-crafted gift that his wife had made for each member of the church’s staff.

I was drawn to Charlie because of his humility, kindness and gentle manner. I could tell that his wife’s unrelenting pain drew worry lines in his face. One day, he told me she could no longer sit in the pew and had to stay home from church. He said she had given up hope of ever experiencing relief and prayed daily for the Lord to “take her home.” I promised to continue praying for her healing, but mainly that she would find strength, comfort and peace. We both assumed she would go first, that he would be able to care for her lovingly until the end. There was never a hint of resentment in his voice, only frustration that he couldn’t do anything to relieve her pain. Our brief encounters always ended with a warm hug.

That was the extent of my relationship with Charlie. After a few years of his “stop-bys” I noticed he was slowing down. He developed a shuffle and began walking with a cane, but he never considered dropping his volunteer job. I learned from the Respite Care manager that he loved his job and the clients loved this man of few words who had more than enough compassion to go around.

Charlie ended up in Hospice Care and eventually passed away at the age of 83. His obituary was only two paragraphs long, referring to his 63-year marriage, his two daughters, one grandson, some siblings, nieces and nephews. That was it.

At his memorial service, I learned that Charlie’s legacy was one of quiet service. He was greatly influenced by a mission trip he undertook to Latvia. After that trip, he continued to support the home for unwed mothers and their children that our church helped establish. As a member of the church’s “Tool Guys,” he quietly accomplished odd jobs around the building and helped people in the community who couldn’t afford to pay for home repairs. His service to Respite Care was never mentioned. While I was surprised by the omission, I knew that’s how Charlie would have wanted it.

On the surface, Charlie’s life seemed to be one of little significance. He lived an existence devoid of fanfare. His accomplishments were few… or were they? 

Cindy L. Freeman is the author of two award-winning short stories and three published novels: Unrevealed, The Dark Room and I Want to Go Home. Website: www.cindylfreeman.com; Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/cindy.l.freeman.9. Her books are available from amazon.com or hightidepublications.com  

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Susan Williamson – A New Hero

Fall has finally arrived, along with pumpkin spice everything. I genuinely like pumpkin in most forms—pie, muffins, pancakes, cookies, cake, soup and so forth. I don’t drink coffee, so no pumpkin spice lattes please. And pumpkin spice cream cheese on pumpkin bagels sounds like overkill.

As you can tell, fall makes me want to cook and store up carbs for the cold winter ahead, but It also affects my reading choices. I read mysteries and thrillers year round, but as Halloween approaches I look for ghost stories and alien abductions and really spooky atmospheric mysteries, even a bit of Stephen King.

I love so many authors. Once I graduated beyond Nancy Drew, I discovered Mary Roberts Rinehart whose stories were set near my home town of Pittsburgh. In Googling how to spell her name, I discovered that she was often called the American Agatha Christie, even though her first novel was published in 1920, fourteen years before Christie.  So my research has now shifted the rest of this blog to Rinehart who wrote forty-five short stories after the financial crash of 1903 to help pay the bills. She became a World War I correspondent and interviewed many heads of state. She was a prolific writer in the days before computers. Her training was a homeopathic nursing school, no MFA for her, although she did earn an honorary PHD in English from George Washington University.

She was already one of my favorite authors, now she is my inspiration.

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Sharon Canfield Dorsey – Sights and Sounds of the Southwest…

…Six lanes of traffic, in each direction, sizzle in the heat as we leave the Phoenix airport on the first day of our Southwest adventure.

…Saguaro cactus replace tall buildings as we happily depart the city. Did you know it takes ten years for a Saguaro cactus to reach an inch in height? By seventy, it can grow to six feet tall but won’t produce its first arm until it is 95-100 years of age. It’s understandable they are protected as a wondrous species.

…A candlelit Chapel in the Rocks fills us with serenity as we soak in the beauty and spirituality of the red rocks of Sedona. It has been my heart home since my first visit years ago.

…The panorama of blues, burgundy, and pinks of the Painted Desert at dusk have inspired artists for generations. We take photos but they disappoint, not quite capturing the array of colors.

…The Petrified Forest is a graveyard of fallen tree trunks, now calcified into a rainbow of crystals. Near-by are the petroglyphs of Newspaper Rock and the ruins of Puerco Pueblo. Paleontologists continue to try and piece together the stories of its residents.

…We travel through Navajo lands on our way to Canyon de Chelly. Squalid houses on barren land speak to the poverty of these native Americans. I question the old tires on the flat roofs. I am told the monsoon winds rip off the tin roofs. The tires hold them down. The contrast between the tiny homes and the majestic sandstone cliffs and spires of the nearby canyon is striking.

…Monument Valley is a magnificent red-sand desert bordering Arizona and Utah, known for its towering sandstone buttes. We are told we can drive through a section of it. We are not told the road is rutted out and, in some places, covered with six inches of sand. Our rental car wheezes and bumps but fortunately, we make it without having to get out and push. Later, we sit on the porch of our little rental house and watch the sun set over the buttes of the red valley. Unforgettable!

…Jerome is an old copper mining town, perched on the side of a hill. The houses slip down the mountain about an inch a year. The ghost town has become an artist mecca, filling the old houses with something better than copper – gorgeous jewelry, pottery, and paintings. On top of the hill is a huge structure known as the Asylum. Constructed of steel and concrete to withstand the winds, it was once a hospital for the 3000+ men who toiled in the mines; later a mental hospital and now a hotel and restaurant. The narrow, dark halls, period furniture and paintings are background for the stories of ghosts that do, we’re told, walk the halls at night. We were there for lunch so didn’t get to meet them.

…The Cicadas awakened me in the cowboy town of Prescott, serenading us with their unusual song. It repels birds, saving the large insects from being eaten. They can produce sound in excess of 120 decibels at close range, which approaches the pain threshold for human ears. As we wandered around Prescott’s quaint downtown area with its courthouse square, Whiskey Row saloons and interesting shops, the Cicadas sang on.

…The grandeur of the Grand Canyon defies description. The South Rim drive has pull-offs that allow you to walk to the edge and take pictures that don’t come anywhere near capturing its magnificence. The colors change from lavender to blue to gray to pink, depending on the light. The canyon also makes people a little crazy. They perch their babies on the rocky rim and step away to take photos. They fly drones into the abyss to try and get a closer view, even though it’s illegal to do so. They climb over barriers and hang over the side of the canyon even though signs clearly say, “Thou shalt not…” Several people have died there this summer from their own foolishness. At one overlook, a wrinkled Navajo woman sat under a tree, her beaded jewelry arranged on a smooth rock in front of her. She displayed a nearly toothless grin when we stopped to look at her creations. I, of course, brought several of them home. I had never seen the canyon at sunset, so in the evening, we rushed to the Watch Tower and oohed and aahed at the spectacle in the round, along with dozens of other tourists. The temperature dropped from 90 degrees to 40 in minutes as the golden crimson light left the canyon in darkness. We walked back to our car in silence, awed by wonder of it all.

SHARON CANFIELD DORSEY is an award-winning poet and author of four children’s books, two books of poetry and a memoir, Daughter of the Mountains. WATCH for a new travel book, Road Trip, debuting in November.

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Sharon Canfield Dorsey – A Day At A Time… The Journey Continues… Sept. 20 – Sept. 30, 2019

SEPT. 20, 2019:  PARTY DAY! Viv has invited some of her artist and writer friends for an “Artistic Pot Luck.” So many talented, interesting people. Viv is an amazing artist herself. I read some poetry.  Kaye talked about her beautiful cards. Great way to end our adventure.

SEPT. 21, 2019:  One more day! Driving to Phoenix to meet some high school friends of mine, Sandra and Richard. Sandra and I grew up together in W. VA, 3 houses apart and were always best friends. Good to hug and reminisce. One last gabfest with Viv in the hotel. Fly tomorrow.

SEPT. 22, 2019: Teary goodbyes at airport. Phoenix to Charlotte to Richmond. Perfect flight. Shannon there to meet us and drive our tired bodies home to Williamsburg. She even stocked the fridge. Daughters are the best!! Dreams of red rocks, pink sunsets, and canyons – so grand!

SEPT. 23, 2019: Reality! Phone calls to return…dirty laundry…piles of mail to sift through. Also, a 3-hour time difference to get used to, again! But memories – great, fun memories, to fill tonight’s dreams.

SEPT. 24, 2019:  Mary Kay meeting. Glad to see all my friends. We have a beach trip coming up in October so lots of planning to do. And new holiday products – Christmas, already? Oh my!

SEPT. 25, 2019:  Fun to meet with my Creative Writing group today. Assignment was to write about something we enjoyed from the summer. I shared some of the highlights from trip.

SEPT 26, 2019:  Just noticed yesterday was National Voter Registration Day. You are registered…right? People fought and died to win that privilege for us. YOU MUST VOTE!

SEPT. 27, 2019: Chris, the nice man who takes care of my lawn, nearly lost his adult son while I was gone. He was hospitalized with a collapsed lung from vaping. Hard lesson!

SEPT. 28, 2019:  Everyone is talking about the presidential impeachment investigation. Bottom line – no one is above the law, not even the president.

SEPT. 29, 2019: Went to see Downton Abbey today. Loved every minute of it. I could get used to living in a castle. I would especially love having a cook to do all the meals. When?

SEPT. 30, 2019:  My new travel book, “Road Trip,” is in the final stages of production. Stay tuned for a debut date. I’m super excited about it!!!

SHARON CANFIELD DORSEY is an award-winning poet and author of four children’s books, two books of poetry, and a memoir, Daughter of the Mountains. Watch for a new travel book, Road Trip, debuting in November, 2019.