Lisa Lessing used to be my pastor’s wife before they moved to St Louis. Today, she is a trusted friend and mentor. (Awkward phrasing… Lisa is still married to Reed, he’s just no longer our pastor. Reed is now a Prof at St Louis Seminary.) – Thanks Rena!
Randy Elrod is a new acquaintance from last year. My husband and I spent 48 hours in a personal retreat with him at Round Cove. He’s one of my shadow or indirect mentors. I learn from him by reading. He’s an artist like me. He’s been silent on the blogosphere for a while focusing his time and attention on his new book Sex, Lies, and Religion. (Awesome book by the way). Check him out.
Both series are exceptional.
Until next week. Have a very blessed Easter.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for the above mentioned books, authors, or blogs. I am only recommending people, writers, that I personally enjoy and think might be of interest to my readers. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
This blog post written by Deana O’Hara for Redemption’s Heart. All rights reserved. March 30, 2010
A man should hear a little music, read a little poetry, and see a fine picture every day of his life, in order that worldly cares may not obliterate the sense of the beautiful which God has implanted in the human soul. ~Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
It is my fourth trip to Nashville, Tennessee, in almost as many months. Three I’ve driven and only once did I fly. There is something sacred about the drive. The scenery takes on new shapes while my car travels from the lowlands of Oklahoma through the Ozarks. Following a now known route, we find our way to the Cumberland mountains. My car climbs the summits and explores the valleys. The drive feels more like a pilgramage to me than a trip. It is as if I am following some small distant voice, searching not for greener pastures but rather a closer view of the face of God. Beauty was calling me, and I wanted to find her.
I am at home in the mountains. My grandfather once had a cabin in the foothills of the Andirondacks. Being in the mountains, any mountain brings me back to those days. In the mountains, my soul finds rest, my spirit soars, I am surrounded by beauty and I am reminded of God.
The trip to Round Cove to spend time with Randy and Chris Elrod was an anniversary gift to my husband. To say that the last twelve months have been busy is an understatement. We needed time to get away.
Randy and Chris graciously opened their hearts, their spirits and their time to us for 48 hours. They offered insight, fellowship, prayers, and encouragement. The cove itself offers everything that this female heart desires; Adventure, Romance (Relationship), and beauty to unveil.
There is one piece of the story I don’t have a picture for. Jeff, Randy, Nordeck and I traveled to the Cave at Round Cove. I’m not sure how many feet under the ground this cave is, I just know that traveling to it takes work. It’s rugged, and it’s dark. It is not for the faint of heart.
Randy and Nordeck led the way and I traveled behind Jeff. We stepped over rocks, and pieces of wood and even though I was directly behind him the minute his lamp left my feet I was surrounded in darkness and couldn’t find my footing. I was struck by that and remembered the psalms – Thy word is a lamp unto my feet. Without God’s word and his marking my steps, I have trouble finding my footing.
Even more breathtaking was the beauty that was hidden under those layers of rock. The cave was spectacular. And even though I was unsure of my footing and spent my time in the cave sitting in a chair, I could not help but be taken in by it was giving to me in return for my attention. I was willing to put the effort into traveling down passed the rocks and branches and the earth opened up and returned beauty in payment.
Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul. ~John Muir
Never lose an opportunity of seeing anything that is beautiful, for beauty is God’s handwriting — a wayside sacrament. Welcome it in every fair face, in every fair sky, in every flower, and thank God for it as a cup of blessing. – Ralph Waldo Emerson
We also had the joy of gathering eggs each morning. The chicken’s did not seem to mind, but the rooster sure did. Jeff had to hold him back with a stick while I gathered the eggs.
I find this last picture fitting –
The glasses say Kalein – Beauty Calling
As wonderful as the time away was and as the mountains are, I am reminded not only of God’s provision, His love and His Grace, I am also reminded of the heart that He placed inside of me. I cannot see in my surroundings, or other people, those things that do not already exist in myself. I bring with me what I find in any place whether it be beauty, turmoil, or relationship and joy.
I carry the heart of Eve. The lightness of soul and spirit. Joy in the simple things, peace in fellowship. It is the truth of who we are (His Beloved) and what are created to be.
I’ll be honest. I have not cooked for a few months now. Life has been hectic and I’ve simply taken the cheaters route of filling the fridge up with wraps and various simple to create sundries and have told my family to “have at it.” And then we went to The Cove. Wow, was I ever inspired by Randy’s cooking. He stepped us through every process and the whole living foods he used to create his dishes were timeless. I loved every minute of it. So, having been inspired by some of the best food I’ve ever eaten at the Cove, I decided to cook my own Italian Dinner for Father’s Day. Granted, I don’t have a pasta turner thingie like he had, (yet) the results were still spectacular.
We started off with a simple salad made of roasted pine nuts, chopped red and green peppers, red lettuce, celery, fresh basil, fresh mint, shredded carrots, and grape tomatoes.
Our main course is my own creation – Manicotti stuffed with diced chicken, spinach, italian parsley, dried oregano and Feta cheese. I place the stuffed shells on a bed of diced tomatoes and cover it with alfredo sauce and parm cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for one hour and 15 minutes.
And to compliment the meal, we enjoyed a La Crema Chardonney recommended by our friends at The Cove. For dessert I offered strawberry shortcake.
Do you remember the opening song for that old TV show “Cheers?”
“Sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name.” la da de da..
Well, we needed time to unplug and go where no one really knew our name. We needed time to meet new faces, and new people and see new sights. We needed an adventure without drama. Ever been there?
I plan on writing more about our adventures with Randy and Chris Elrod at later times – along with everything else I’ve promised. But I did want to just write some thoughts for today. I caught myself telling Jeff this weekend that I do not understand the past 12 months. I don’t understand the serendipity of God’s Grace. The doors that are opening. All of it. and I used the phrase, “I’m no body. Why is He (being God) doing this?”
Jeff’s great response was to tell me the first thing I need to do is stop thinking I’m nobody, and start believing that God sees me as somebody. I’m feeling guilty for the Grace. Odd, really.
Do I really struggle with that? Still? Apparently so.
The past seven years, while we worked on dreaming of a church, dreaming of ministry, dreaming of our second life – the life we have post corporate careers and post children has been full of adventure and mixed emotions. I’ve had a lot of healing to do.
It’s just occurred to me really, that I am ending a seven year cycle. One that began on cloud nine with a new church, a new job working in a church, a new “ministry” and a cycle that ended (for me) at the Cove. These seven years have brought me an entire roller coaster of emotions, events, and dreams. I’ve hit every peak I thought possible and more valleys than imaginable. And I find myself sitting again on the precipice of change; wiser and more discerning and still excited.
I find myself searching for words to describe what it’s like to be somewhere where nobody really knows my name with the only two people who did (that being Jeff and God) and feeling known in ways I can’t yet explain.
I mean this post as a dialog really. But I’m at a loss how to start it. So I’ll simply ask this have you ever thought you were nobody and found out that you were the world to at least somebody?