I have been sick this week. I’ve had a nasty cold that’s just been doing a number me, gradually working its way down from head to chest. On top of that, there’s been a lot of mental stress and anguish going on in my life. I work as an educator in the public school system in Louisville, KY, and I am also VP of the PTA board at our school. We are gearing up for the close of this school year, and it is a whirlwind I must say. This is a busy, busy time of year for us all – students and teachers alike. We have state standardized testing coming up, and about one zillion end-of-the-year events and activities – all for which we must prepare. And…that’s just my professional life.
Last week, our family cat unexpectedly passed away. We were so devastated by it. He was our baby, and we have truly mourned his loss. Getting over the death of a pet is so hard! And with it being so sudden, we have been left stunned and just downright sad to be without our boy.
But…the big stressor that I have had weighing on my heart is a very hard situation that my parents (and thus, all of us kids) are going through. My dad has Alzheimer’s, and this past week my mother had to do one of the hardest things she has probably ever had to do to date – she had to move him into a nursing home. It has altered our lives forever…mostly hers and his…but all of us feel it…that pain of letting go. I tell people about it, and they are sympathetic – as much as they can be – but the heartache isn’t their reality…it’s ours. But we all go on. What else are we going to do? Dad is happy – as he always is – so we go on. Moving with the changes of life is much easier than fighting against the current.
So yeah, it’s been a difficult season as of late, and I’ve had trouble finding peace.
Yesterday I had the pleasure of spending the day with some friends that I don’t get to spend time with very often, and we spent our time together way out in the country in a little place called Oriole, Indiana. We talked for hours, laughed, watched my friend Lori’s bees going to work, rode the Mule (an ATV) all over back, country roads, and we ate. Yes, Lord, we ate.
Sometimes, just getting away from all things related to your stress is what you have to do to get yourself to reset. For me, an Alabama girl who has been living the city life for quite some time, getting away to the country, hearing the peepers sing in a cemetery far away from any highway or noise for miles, smelling the wet dirt of a freshly tilled country garden that’s been watered by a long spring rain, and seeing the peaceful swish of content cows’ tails in a silent field of green grass, that’s the ticket. Watching the sun set over a still river, undisturbed by barges and speedboats, that’s the way to my heart. Being with friends who just always seem to bring peace and joy with them – in the way that they treat one another – in the way that they love one another – through their laughter and gentle teasing – in every story and testimony – that’s what it takes to bring my pieces back together. I am reminded that life is good. I am reminded that simplicity brings peace. And my heart is full. Because in the country I am away…and I am able to hear God speaking again. Because there is no ignoring God when you see this kind of beauty. He’s all around. He is in every smile, in every breeze, and He’s even in that smoky flavor of the chicken that’s so good it changes your life. His is in the remembering of a time and life I left behind in body but never in spirit. He created that sunset that pierced through the darkness shrouding my soul, and He gave those peepers their song…just a’singin’ in the night..singing me back to life.
So my advice to you, if you’re going through hard times, is get away. Just find a way to remove yourself from everything for a bit. Find a place to meet with God, really meet with Him, again. Let Him minister to your soul and pour peace into every crack that life has created. He will do it. Find your Oriole. Find your peace.