Sorrow and Solitude




Life has gone sad lately.

And I’ve been craving the quiet—still paths to ponder and think.

It began to happen all at once.

My daughter was pregnant, and then she wasn’t–she lost her baby–our first grandchild.


Then two of my best friends had sudden, close deaths in their families.

So much sadness at once!

I find myself  longing for music–long, low songs filled with emotion.  Most any kind, as long as it calls to the heart.

I want to feel the pain, the sorrow, the missing someone I never really knew, yet loved. I want to feel the hurt for friends, and my daughter, who are on journeys of grief, deeper than my own.

I have decided grieving is a journey with no destination–for sorrow has a home all its own.  And for everyone it is unique, and there is no way to know when you are there, or if it’s good to arrive–or not.

It is like traveling in tunnel, with only windows that others peek in.  They try to come in, but they can’t–for your sorrow is yours, not theirs.

How can another know the love you lost?

Yet, in the dark, still of the quiet night—I found there is One Who walks beside me.

And so I rest in His arms, this God in flesh, the “Man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief…” He knows. (Is. 53:3)

Alas,  we women often cope with pain by staying busy; I can’t do it this time. So, I will be taking a break from regular blogging, to find solace in the silence, solitude with God, and time with family and friends.  Though I will be perusing others’ posts to find inspiration and the joy of community…hopefully the desire to write will return in time!

My many thanks to the WordPress Community 🙂

Weekly Photo Challenge: Beloved

Dad and Mom

* “Dad” – the one who made us smile

Beloved – “dearly loved, cherished, treasured…prized.”  The dictionary defines it.                                                            But only people can embody it.

To share a photo of someone or something that is beloved.  Now that’s a hard challenge– because there are many.  But since this is February I chose my Dad.

Echoes of his voice, his piercing whistle and the scent of his pipe filter in and out of my thoughts this time of year. It was a February four years ago I got the call.  You know the one–when someone leaves this world for another–and you aren’t ready for it.

Yet, it was in my loss that I learned how MUCH I’d been loved.

Yes, my Dad was truly beloved.  Not just by me, but by many.  My brothers, my mother, grand kids, friends at his morning coffee spots and business associates… It is easy to say why.  In a quiet and unassuming way, he made you feel as if you mattered–valued, important, and heard–as if you counted.  Believed in.  Some people go their whole lives and never feel that.

Yep.  Beloved is the best word for a man like that.


*Photo credit for the collage goes to my younger brother, Jeff Vestal




The Wonderful Winter of ‘77


It was 1977–the winter of my 13th year.  You guessed it—not a great year:                                                          Eighth grade.  Junior High.  Need I say more?


I’ll add that I was nearly 6-feet-tall, a GIRL, gangly, with B-R-O-A-D shoulders, glasses, AND braces. Oh, and short hair that was supposed to be a cute “shag,” but mainly caused folks to mistake me for my older brother.  Ha-ha.

But then, a miracle happened.

Just before Christmas break ended—a snow blew in. The dreaded return to school (and all that yucky PEER PRESSURE) was delayed!!   Not only did it snow once– on it came, snow upon snow, until we missed six straight weeks of school! For middle Tennessee–where a couple of one or two-inch snows per year is the norm…

            this was incredible.

What a glorious gift those weeks were—a last chance to press pause— before re-entering  teen life.  I don’t know when puberty hit me, and have no idea when it left.  But like everyone—I knew when I was in the middle of it—and it wasn’t good. But oh, those 6 weeks were like an instant rewind to being a 9-year-old again.

                                                                 A gift from heaven.

There was nothing to do but simple chores and play in the snow with my brothers and the neighbor boys. No worrying how your hair looked, or if you had a pimple, or what clothes to wear.  No worrying if you were “good enough” or if so-and-so liked you.

No one cared!

We were too busy finding the best sledding slope, daring each other to catapult over the creek, or hooking up the round silver sled to Sugar the pony and trying to sling each other off–as she galloped giant pony donuts in the pasture. We went to bed aching and sore from bumps, crashes and laughter.

And once again..who cared!


Some days we’d slide around on the pond, if the temperature stayed well below freezing, or hike through the woods with BB guns, shooting at squirrels–as if we might hit one. When we were frozen, we’d stomp back inside to play long games of Monopoly, Crazy Eight, or ping pong in the garage. Maybe read a book by the fire–or watch old re-runs  (selected from one of our 4 attenna-TV stations!).

We didn’t know it then, but how lucky we were that there was…

No internet.

No cell phone.

No video game.

No cable TV.

Because we played together like children–and laughed—or sometimes argued!  But still together.  And together might not have happened much–were it not for the pure simplicity of those weeks.

Now, the memories feel as close as the winter snow outside my window today —        fresh, cool, and enticing.

And I’m left smiling…and longing for a simpler time.





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Facing the Unknown…enticing, yet Frightening

As I drove to work one cold, foggy morning, I looked in my rear view mirror and saw the road disappearing behind me.  I literally stopped in my tire tracks.


Facing the future…enticing, yet frightening.


Here was the perfect picture of the beginning of a New Year…walking into the unknown.  It can be so enticing, beautiful–and yet frightening.  To me, anyway!

Especially as I age, marching even further past the ‘back side of fifty’ (as I like to call it).  Quite honestly, there are a lot of changes I really don’t like.

     But if I embrace the “not so good”, along the with the good–and don’t try to face things by myself–then walking through the fog, I find you can actually see one step at a time.

And I suppose that is all one really needs.

Just Grateful: New Year’s Bread–learning from the Homeless


Since New Year’s Eve fell on a Sunday this year—and a very COLD one for North Carolina—I found myself being truly grateful for my HOT coffee this morning as I prepared bags of goodies to pass out to the homeless and displaced folks who would be at the downtown church fellowship I was headed to later in the day.

As I worked I thought of the friends we had made in the few months we had begun helping there…  First, we met Al—I remembered how he wouldn’t even lift his head off the table that first week. But when I started taking him coffee and granola bars from the kitchen area, he slowly began talking to us.  Still looks tired now,  but brighter in the eyes.  He’s in and out of the shelter, making it a day at a time he says.

And there’s D…Every week he’s there like clock work–rides the bus from several miles away where he lives in a tent– just to come to ‘Homeless church,” see everyone and get a meal.  He told me his story one day–how he started drinking after he was in his 40’s (due to some bad events)—and surprise, turned out he couldn’t “drink just one” and wound up losing his job, then his apartment….  You know the rest of the story.   Now he does odd jobs and can buy his own basic supplies, but hasn’t quite licked the habit.  Though he was jumping for joy last week when he was dry 7 days in a row.   First time in years he said. And he was still smiling this morning–tho as he put it–it was “awfully hard to crawl out of that sleeping bag when my phone said 20 degrees outside!”

Then  there is joyful, young Joe–who preaches to me and keeps me encouraged. His faith is way beyond my level.  I personally think he is Michael come down in African-American garb. And oh,  there’s Mike–serious and steady–always cleaning for us, before and after services; and long, lanky Johnny—who reads everything, and talks to the people we can’t see–but to us, too–always politely.

And the occasional women and children who look tired but grateful for a meal, a chair, and someone to share a word with.  Or perhaps a song and a prayer.  Either way it adds up to one thing we all need for each New Year:  Hope.

It might be as simple as the hope for daily bread, or the hope that someone cares. I know I’m learning to be more grateful for the bread on my plate and the people I love.


*Names changed to protect personal privacy