Thursday, August 14, 2014

Thankful Thursday

Today I am thankful for divine timing.
For divine coincidences.
For new friends.
For new opportunities to share some of what I am learning on this, my life's journey.

On Monday, I had the privilege of being introduced to a program here in Charlotte, two programs, actually - Women in Transition (WIT) and Families Together (FT), which are located at the YWCA. Both programs have as their goal helping single women and women with children to move from homelessness (or near homelessness) into permanent housing. I visited the Y with two other women from my church and we were taken on a tour by a most enthusiastic and kind Marianne. She introduced us to Kenya and Michelle and Kirsten and Tishauna. All amazing, bright, loving, determined, open-hearted women who work with energy and excitement to assist the women and families in transition to move into the next phase of their lives, literally and figuratively.

I visited with some of the women from WIT back in January on a Monday evening when a group of women from my church went there, took dinner, and spent some time doing crafts with them. I sure had a great time - and I would like to believe that a good time was had by all. At the end of that evening, I asked if it would be possible for me to return to the Y and lead a workshop on journaling. The woman I asked said she thought it was a good idea, but that I would have to call and speak to someone about setting it up. I don't remember who I called, but I never heard anything back.

Fast forward to this past Monday. At the end of visit and tour, the three of us walked out of the building and headed for our cars. Then I stopped and turned back, explaining that I wanted to talk about the journaling workshop again.

I walked into the office of someone who is destined to become a good friend - but I didn't know it at the time. I asked her if I could fill out the volunteer forms right then, so I sat at the edge of her desk and we chatted while I filled in the paperwork. She called the following day and said that she was sure that my time there wasn't only about volunteering, but it was also about meeting a new friend, making a new connection, and becoming more of the women of God we were created to be together. Amen, girl. Amen.

Later on Monday afternoon, I got an email from another woman who works there and she asked me to return so that she could talk to me more specifically about what my workshop would entail. She met me at the front desk of the Y this morning and her first words were about this blog... that she had read some of my rantings and ravings and that she had enjoyed it. Shaking my head. Giving God thanks. You never know how far or how close your words, your story will go.

We sat in her office and talked, laughed, shared stories, and got excited about the possibility of working with these precious women to uncover, discover, and write their stories in ways that are meaningful to them. Plus we want them to have some fun - and perhaps some snacks as well. After all, who can resist cookies and lemonade on a Monday evening???

After our time together, she walked me upstairs where we stopped in at the office of her colleague, the one I had met on Monday. Together, the three of us talked about brokenness, death, suffering, shootings, how difficult it is to raise black children in a country where so many unarmed young black men and young black women are being gunned down for simply being brown-skinned. We spoke of the sorrow of kanswer and homelessness, the challenges of simply being alive and alert and sensitive in a dangerous, fear-driven, money hungry world. And of course we talked about why journaling is such a valuable tool to help us deal with our personal sorrows as well as the heaviness we bear when we ponder the suffering in the world.

One of those beautiful, powerful, dynamic women said, "The Bible says, 'If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray... I will heal their land.' So we need to be praying." I echoed her words, nodded my head, and committed myself again to deep and sustained prayer for our world, our nation, our city, that program, my neighborhood, and my family. If there is to be peace, if there is to be hope, if there is to be joy, let it begin with me. Let it begin in my home, in my conversations, in my interactions with people all around me.

Lord, please have mercy on us. Help us to want to have mercy on one another, to not respond to violence with more violence, to not respond to curses with more curses, to not immediately allow fear and anxiety to flood our hearts and minds, but rather to seek peace and pursue it. It will not be easy, I know that. It will come with a cost, I know that. But the price that is being paid in the loss of precious lives through both suicide and homicide, in the loss of dignity, in the loss of tempers and respect for others, in the loss of hope that there can ever be unity, in increased stress, in increased illness, in divorce and neglect and incest and abuse - the cost of mercy-less living is too high.

Lord, please help us to turn away from our sin - from our tendency to think only of ourselves, to think of ourselves as better than others, to do what is most expedient for us even if it hurts others, from our thoughts of unworthiness, and from our belief that we don't need you or that you don't care about us and aren't with us. Help us to turn towards you at all times, not only on our darkest nights and most difficult days, but also when all is well and we are at peace.

Lord, please heal our land. The land that we walk on and have managed to damage so severely through our misuse of the resources this earth provides for us. The land that we claim as our nation, its streets, its cities, its small towns and villages. Please help us heal the landscape within us, the places where we wound each other and ourselves with senseless violence and poorly chosen words. Please send rain to the dry places in California and stop the rain in the places where flooding is happening. Please send rest to over-worked fields and fieldworkers. Please heal our diseases and re-member us. Please heal our land and heal us. That is my prayer. That is my plea.

Lord, please give us the courage to tell our stories, to listen to each other's stories, and to be open to the possibility that you draw us to people and places in your divine timing so that we can see and hear and understand and appreciate all the ways that our stories not only run parallel to one another but also intersect. May we all pay attention to and live fully into the co-incidences like the divine timing that brought me to the Y on that Monday evening in January, then took me back there this past Monday afternoon and again this very morning.

Thank you, Lord, for bringing these women into my life as new friends, as co-workers in the building and sustaining of your kingdom. Thank you for the work they are doing in the lives of the women they work with and work for. Thank you that they opened up to me the way that they did and have welcomed me into their circle of friends and co-travelers on the journey of life.

I walked out of that building this morning with my heart full and at peace. Looking forward to spending more time with my two new buddies. Trying to come up with some clever ideas for a flyer/invitation for the women to come to the workshop. Giving thanks for yet another opportunity to serve and to learn and to teach. A few moments later, I pushed the button to start my ipod and what song was the next one on my playlist? "If My People," sung by the Promise Keeper Singers.

Divine timing strikes again.
Thanks be to God.

(Can't wait to see you again, Nancy and Tish)

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