Women scare me.

It has been a full weekend. And I am grateful. Grateful that it was somewhat productive. Grateful that it included part fun, part enrichment, part service, part productivity. So many times, I wanted to stop and get to a computer to write down a grateful or seven. And I didn’t. So, for myself, I am going to re-cap the weekend and try to remember as many as possible.  If ever someone were to grant me a wish from my list, I would appreciate a four day work week, thank you, so that I could have one day to write, and read, and clean, and ride my bike, and put a puzzle together, and play the piano as long as I wanted, and…okay, a three day work week.

I am grateful for my car that is now back on the roads and looking all gorgeous and new. Rocky and Rosie Raccoon are not our friends. But I am grateful for body shop guys.

I am grateful for early morning walks again.

I am grateful for Roxanne and Linda, because if not for them, I would not have signed up for the women’s conference at church, because women in groups really give me cause for panic and inferior pits in my stomach.

I fretted over what to wear, because I didn’t want to stand out. I fretted that I only have one purse, and it’s furry and as large as a small suitcase and I was wearing black but my purse is brown fur and looks like it belongs in the mud room of a log cabin. I left it in the car which means I left everything but my wallet and my phone in the car which means I had to carry those two things with me all night because my dress pants had no pockets and if they DID have pockets, those two items wouldn’t have fit anyway. But I had no gum in case I had bad breath or cotton mouth and I didn’t have my lipstick for after dinner so I fretted over looking horrendous. I fretted over drinking all this water throughout the day and what if I had to go to the bathroom all evening long? I fretted over my out-of-style hair style. I fretted over my bad habit of nervous talking and unloading every last detail of my life, you know, kinda like this outlet. I fretted over beautiful successful women sitting at my table and not giving me the time of day but why would I WANT them to give me the time of day since I’d rather melt into the tablecloth and not be noticed anyway? I fretted over not having money to buy the pretties at the boutique. I fretted over being made to do silly things in the conference like they ALWAYS make you do. And they did. I was right. So, I fretted out loud and barely participated.

But I am grateful for Inspired for Life, the women’s conference at church that took place on Friday evening and Saturday. Another stepping out of my comfort zone. Another opportunity to hear three BRILLIANT speakers who sparked different emotions and each encouraged me in completely different ways.

Susan Isaacs, a comedian/actress/author/speaker, reinforced my desire to tell my story and to ask the hard questions and be real with God, and ended with starting at hopeless with a simple “thank you” and build from there until I cannot go a day without being grateful for every. last. thing.

Sarah Thebarge, speaker and author of “The Invisible Girls,” continued to reinforce my desire to tell my story and gave me a renewed sense to discover others’ stories and make connections with strangers. Every person we make eye contact with, speak to however briefly through the day, whether we know them or not, will be left with an impression of us. How can I make a positive difference in their lives by the words I speak, the smile I give, the life I share?

And Ann Marie Miller, author/speaker/really smart woman, taught me this simple truth about opening up and sharing the hard and personal. “Give the gift of going second.” Share your hard and personal with another, and in turn, they just might possibly open up and share their hard and personal with you, releasing deep, dark secrets of hurt and shame and guilt in order that healing might begin and a bond might be formed that will be live-giving for both of you.

I loved her visual illustration when she threw a pot to the ground and it shattered into broken pieces, as my life has been a shattered ugly, broken mess, and then how she showed the healing that God can and will do in our lives as she took the second pot and turned it around to show how it had been glued back together and was now more beautiful because of its unique cracked pattern.

I am grateful for Roxanne and Sue who never left me alone during the conference but were my security blanket. I am grateful to have made a new friend in Sue and grateful that we had something in common in order to open up and share during brunch.

I am grateful that this hymn was mentioned on Saturday morning, and it has been playing on my internal jukebox ever since:

But, let me be clear on this point. Women still scare me.

I am grateful for five miles of walking on Saturday, Sam and I.  Oh, it felt good to be out in the sunshine and warmth, and the ache in the legs at the end was a good ache.

I am grateful for a florist who gave me a great deal on flowers for my Bingo ladies, and I am grateful that I had a car so that I could go and visit them all and deliver the flowers.

I am grateful for my husband who puts up with me when my bitter comes out.

I am grateful for memories of Mom’s pins she kept in her jewelry box. And I am grateful for women who wear pins and corsages, because they remind me of Mom. Corsages are in that category with rotary phones and rabbit ears on top of the TV…

I am grateful for the opportunity to help with choir at church yesterday, for being mobbed by several girls and Albert, for the joy of hearing the guys sing so well, and for the surprise of working with them on a song one of my choirs took to State several years ago.

I am grateful for a 16-year-old named Maya who is a new employee at the bagel shop and gets it. She will go far with her friendliness and calling customers by name when she didn’t have to remember their name, and staying busy, and greeting every customer, and being so pleasant we just wanted to have her sit down at the table and visit.

I am grateful for a sister who brings her son over on a Sunday night to join us for dinner for no particular reason, and grateful that she challenges me to do something scary every day. I fail mostly, but I didn’t fail this weekend.

I am grateful for hotdogs.

I am grateful for my Dad who makes me laugh when he answers the phone, “Obamacare.”

I am grateful for Fred Flintstone, but I’m so glad I’m not Wilma.

And I am grateful for memories of Avon trinkets and toys that I always received from Mom and Dad for Christmas or Easter. The little pins that opened up and had the palette of perfumy vaseline stuff, or the cute little animals with the powder puff bottoms filled with perfumy powder…I had this one once.


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