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Archive for the ‘Friends’ Category

Community | by Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains  County Leader on August 20, 2019:

communityAccording to several on-line dictionaries, community is 1) a group of people living in the same place or having a particular characteristic in common and 2) a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals.

Last weekend I attended the 5th Annual White Chapel Girls Retreat at the White Chapel Bed & Breakfast in Mountain Home, Texas. Every year about this time, a dozen women withdraw from everyday responsibilities and gather for Bible study and prayer along with lots of food and fellowship.

Before it became a B and B, the site of the retreat was simply the home of Julee White, a Donkey twinswoman with a heart that is much bigger than the six acres on which she lives. She has the gift of hospitality, and because of this, she has become the go-to place for strays of all kinds. At present, she has 4 dogs, 4 cats, 7 goats, and 3 donkeys in residence. The dogs and cats have free access through a pet door into the laundry room where they find a variety of food and water dishes which, although intended to be species specific, are often shared equally. The donkeys and goats share their food with each other as well as with the small herd of deer that sidle over when they hear the door to the feed shed squeak open. In addition to the four-legged critters, Julee feeds her feathered friends from countless hummingbird and regular bird feeders. The deer have been known to help themselves to the spillage there as well. Because of her many mealtime guests, especially the goats who have become very well-rounded since coming to live with her, Julee originally named her place the F & H (Fat & Happy) Ranch .

Julee also has many human friends, and her home is a museum of their love. Her lawn is encircled by a walking path lined with yard art, and her front walk is embedded with mementos, all from people who love her. The interior of her home is filled with treasures, and she can tell you who gave her each piece and when.

ChapelHowever, the focal point is the White Chapel, also referred to as the Broken Chapel. Several years ago, Julee felt a Divine Call to build a chapel toward the back of her property. She tried to brush the idea off, but it wouldn’t go away. She wanted it to have special meaning, so she sent out a call to friends for materials that were broken or discarded from other projects, and the response was overwhelming. The resulting chapel is more than can be described in this small space, but it is all she had imagined and more.

In 2014 Julee received a call from two friends who wanted to organize several women’s retreats, and they wanted to know if she wanted to participate. “Now I know why God wanted me to build the Chapel,” she said through tears. “Can we have one here?”

Friend invited friend, and in August of 2015 ten women invaded Julee’s home for the first annual White Chapel Girls Retreat. We were all a little uneasy at first. Some of us knew only one other person, and the teacher had never done anything of this scope, but Julee wasn’t fazed. She spread air mattresses on the floor, pulled casseroles out of the freezer, and by the end of the long weekend, we were all Fat and Happy sisters.

Five years later, the F & H Ranch has become the White Chapel Bed & Breakfast, and the White Chapel Girls, now an even dozen, have become a community. For most of the year, we live in places scattered across the country, but for one weekend a year we live together. I don’t know if that qualifies us as a community, but we definitely have a particular characteristic in common – we all believe in Jesus as our personal Savior. As for the second definition, that fits us to a Tee. Throughout the year, we share attitudes, interests, and goals through Facebook and email so that each year there is a feeling of fellowship as if we had been apart days instead of months.

WCG with paintings

On our last night together, we shared Communion in the Chapel. Community and Communion come from the same root word, and one definition of Communion is sharing or exchanging intimate thoughts and feelings, especially when the exchange is on a mental or spiritual level. As we communicated with God and remembered His sacrifice, we also looked around the circle and thanked God for each other.

Our world has become a scattered place where we can live, work, shop, and travel without ever seeing another person. But like Julee’s menagerie of birds and animals, we were made for community. “Reach out and touch someone” is more than a telephone company commercial.

Blessings,

Linda

Fallen Angel Salvage

Tatia’s Tattoo

Mom’s Long Goodbye

A Long and Winding Road

All Roads Lead to Emory | by Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains County Leader on April 30, 2019:

All roads lead to Rome“All roads lead to Rome” is a proverb of unknown origin that has come to mean that everything you do and everywhere you go will eventually lead you to the center of things. In the days of the Roman Empire, this was true because all the empire’s roads radiated out from the capital city.

In present day consumer-driven American society where trends come and go at the speed of teenage whimsy, it’s almost impossible to determine where the center of things lies from moment to moment. However, I believe I have verifiable evidence that, at least during this past week, this small town was that center and that, indeed, all roads did lead to Emory. (more…)

Living in community | by Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains County Leader on March 26, 2019:

Christopher Knight's CampAt the most recent meeting of the East Texas Library Friends Book Club, we discussed the book “The Stranger in the Woods” by Michael Finkel. The subtitle is “The Extraordinary Story of the Last True Hermit.” It’s the story of Christopher Knight who walked into the woods when he was 20 years old and lived there until he was captured 27 years later.

Our initial discussions centered around what a hermit actually is and whether Knight met those requirements. We couldn’t come to a consensus on that issue, so we moved on to the morality of how he supported himself – by stealing from vacation homes and a summer camp facility near his woodland home. Most of us agreed that theft is wrong regardless of the need and the self-imposed limitations on what is taken, although there was one dissenter who thought his actions were acceptable. The majority of our time, though, was spent on the subject of being alone. What was the longest period of time any of us had been alone with no contact or interaction with another person? Most of us had never spent more than 24-48 hours in solitude, much less 27 years – and most of us had no desire to do so. (more…)

The Good Light | by Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains County Leader on March 12, 2019:

Kitty in the Light 043016I’ve learned a lot about good and bad light from Connie, my photographer neighbor. Good light results in pictures that make me look like I want to look, and bad light makes me look like I do in a changing room mirror under the awful lighting the retail stores seem to favor.

It’s difficult to take good pictures inside our home, at least in the daytime. There are windows in every room, and I’ve learned that natural light pouring in from one of those windows results in washed out photos and lots of silhouettes. After several unsuccessful attempts to capture Kitty in her condo, which is in front of a large window, Connie advised me to change my position by ninety degrees so the light would illuminate my subject from the side. The result is one of my favorite pictures of Kitty. She is looking out through one of the round holes in the side of the condo with a regal look on her face and a halo of light bouncing off her shiny fur. (more…)

It’s a Small World | by Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains County Leader on February 26, 2019:

Six degrees of separationBack in the early 90s, the idea of “six degrees of separation” was popular. The theory was that any two people are only six or less social connections away from each other. In other words, if you began a “friend of a friend” chain, any two people can find a connection within six steps. This concept was developed in 1929, but it didn’t grab the attention of the public until a play by that name opened in 1990 followed by a movie in 1993.

“The Kevin Bacon Effect” was a spin-off of the six degrees phenomenon, and it led to a book in 1996 and a trivia game sometime later. I believe the idea was that everyone in Hollywood had either worked with Kevin Bacon or knew someone who had, thus proving that Kevin Bacon is the center of the entertainment universe. All of this is a long-winded way of saying “it’s a small world,” and if you will bear with me, I will attempt to tell you my recent small-world tale in as few words as possible. (more…)

Facebook or Face to Face | by Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains County Leader on December 18, 2018:

FacebookI opened my Facebook account ten years ago when one of my friends sent me an invitation. I didn’t really know much about social networking, but my friend lured me in with the promise of pictures of her grandchildren. After looking at those sweet faces, I was hooked.

I was working on my first book at the time, and when I was told by those who know that it is imperative for the modern author to be active on social media, my future was set. A decade later, I am not only active on Facebook, but I also have a blog and accounts on Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Instagram, Pinterest, and several other sites. (more…)

Smiles, hugs, and promises | by Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains County Leader on October 30, 2018:

ate-too-much-regrets-nothing-7999720I think I gained about five pounds this weekend. Besides our regular Friday night Home Group that always includes a delicious dinner, we had a family fish fry on Saturday, and a chili cook-off at church on Sunday. I may never eat again!

Home Group met at a different home, and we had to negotiate washboard ruts and water-filled pot holes in the caliche road, but everyone arrived with a smile and was greeted with many hugs. We welcomed a new couple and re-welcomed a couple whose work schedule only allows them to come occasionally. The menu was heavy on desserts, and lively conversation and laughter accompanied dinner. A sweet time of shared prayer followed, and when we finally settled down to Bible study, the discussion was lively and educational. The evening ended as it began, with smiles and hugs and promises to “see you on Sunday.” (more…)

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