The Power of God’s Country

God’s Country: “A place conceived of as especially favored by God; a place away from a city.” Merriam-Webster

Last weekend, my husband and I flew to Virginia to see our youngest at school. She was thrilled to have us there and kept us really busy with her friends and touring around the university. It was all precious, precious time together, but there was something extra special about driving (and stopping) along the Blueridge Parkway.

We have traveled through Virginia for years, heading south every spring break with the kids. Back then, we drove which was exhausting, but we saw some beautiful scenery along the way. I fell in love with Virginia. I can appreciate northern Virginia for its proximity to D.C. and many historical sites. We have visited people and toured Leesburg, Arlington, etc., and enjoyed the shopping and eating. All of my travels there offered wonderful sights, but mid to lower Virginia is just stunningly beautiful.

Maybe it’s because I live in a part of NYS where we don’t have mountains so I’m always captivated by them on vacation. Maybe it’s because I live on five acres with a long driveway and I am a girl who likes open space.

I work in the city and take a deep breath when I hit that part of the thruway that finally parts wide. My town is lovely yet there was something much grander, peaceful and right about standing at the center of miles of valleys and mountains.

My job is stressful. I received a promotion a few months ago which was awesome but my hours went up, along with my stress. I do yoga and try my best to compartmentalize work from home but it’s challenging. Above and beyond is usually a way of life. Sustaining that level of giving and producing at work and then home is depleting. An hour of exercise a couple times a week does not restore me as it may have back in my 20’s.

The breathtaking mountainside along the Blueridge Parkway brought my shoulders back down where they belong. I walked in sneakers instead of heels. I breathed deeper than I do on a yoga mat. My eyes were off data and employee issues, soaking in what I name God’s Country.

“What are men to rocks and mountains?” Jane Austen

Those mountains reminded me that I’m missing time with God. We talk every day but my world shifted when I took on another job. I don’t spend enough time in the wide-open space of His Word. Peace like I experienced at the mountainside is elusive during many work days.

Make no mistake that He speaks in offices, at the watercooler, and has made His presence known during colleague conversations. But I thirst for more. I count this as a good thing. I never want to be comfortable too far away from Him, living lukewarm.

Late Sunday I had to come down from the Virginia mountains, just like Moses when he descended from Mt. Sinai. I reentered work on Monday, having to immediately address poor management behavior, just as Moses was confronted with poor behavior by the Israelites. The corporate culture at my company is unlike anything anyone has ever experienced, leading to high turnover. But God uses me for good in my particular role. I believe that He put me where I am to be a light in a crazy place as well as teach me a few lessons of my own.

He is at work and accomplishes His purposes even when we’re not in bible study. He is always with us but there is something powerful about standing in the literal “mist” and “midst” of His spectacular creation. Being engulfed in endless autumn color, feeling cool wind against my face that also refreshed my mind – and the complete silence in nature – equaled renewal.

There is a reason for all seasons in nature and in our lives. This specific season in my work life is challenging, but the chaos likely helps me appreciate God’s Country profoundly more.

You Know You’re Middle Age When…

Your weight is the same that it has been for 10 years, but suddenly you need the next size up in pants!?

Stuff shifts, people. There are worse things in life for sure, but it’s a bummer.

If you read my previous post, I’m protesting the next size up by exercising. I’m also not spending more money to have a separate closet of bigger pants. I’m fighting the good fight. Well…1/2 way. I’ll exercise as much as possible, but I’m still eating ice cream. There are too few pleasures as we age and I’m not giving up dessert or my chocolate intake :).

It officially takes 3x as much effort for me to maintain —  hoping for a 50-something body to tighten and tone requires far more time than I have this week.

Welcome to Middle-Age!

If Sitting is the New Smoking…

Then I must be up to three packs a day.

Since beginning my new job this past Spring, I have felt terribly restricted.

The amount of time I spend sitting is outrageous.

Driving to work.

Sitting in my office.

Meetings.

Driving home from work…in traffic – delaying me in my seat even longer.

I’m still an online professor, even though I left on-campus teaching to take this new job. The new semester just started. More sitting in front of a computer at home.

I’m tutoring on Saturdays.

More sitting.

When I’m not engaged in any of my formal “work”, I’ve been trying really hard to be moving, doing yoga, walking at the park, running the stairs 5x when it’s raining…you get the idea.

I love to read, blog and write. Lately, those have been set aside in an effort to stay healthy :/.

Despite my best efforts to be active in the off-hours, I’m finding my pants are a bit more snug. I got on the scale.

That will be my next post…

 

 

 

The Blairquhan Castle🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿

If I could capture the “feel” of this castle in words, I would. I’m neither talented enough, nor do I think I can convey the warmth and elegance of the interior. For such an enormous setting, those who refurbished this exceptional landmark provided a welcoming, warm, relaxing yet regal and elegant experience for those of us privileged enough to visit and stay for a few days. I can’t begin to tell you how delighted I was to explore the library! Those books you see below? Many were first editions!

Here are just a few captures of the Blairquhan Castle: (If you have the interest, I encourage you to click on the blue link to see professional photos which are far superior to mine below!)   

 

A Wedding. In a Castle. In Scotland🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿.

Well, it was everything you could imagine a fairy tale wedding would include: stunning countryside, a Scottish castle that exceeded our already-high expectations, very moving vows and a bride that her Mama would have been proud of. If you didn’t read the introduction to this destination wedding/vacation with an important person missing, you can HERE.

Yes, the bride decided to marry in a castle in Scotland. Just saying that the last several months was surreal! Thirty-four loved ones attended and there will be a much larger party locally in a couple of weeks to continue the celebration.

The Blairquhan Castle in Maybole, Ayrshire was extraordinary. While Scotland alone boasted over 2,000 castles, many of those which are even visible in 2019 are in ruins or inhabitable. There are however, several that are still spectacular tourist sites and we did visit Edinburgh Castle as well.

But, back to the wedding…everything from the jet-lag being a very real thing (!) to the travel, to a wedding that most brides can only dream of, the event was one that we will talk about for years to come.

We flew into Glasgow, Scotland. Along with celebrating the wedding and staying in a TRULY amazing castle (I will post castle-specific photos soon), we also toured Edinburgh and a bit around some smaller Scottish towns.

After a four days in Scotland, my daughters and I – along with 15 other wedding guests – flew to Ireland where we stayed another five days. I’ll be posting photos of both countries this week and next.

As I’m sure many of you reading can understand, jumping back into the routine after a trip like that was exhaustion like I’ve not known. I also got a flu just before we left, and it promptly reared its ugly head every day that I tried to plow through and stay up too long!

Well, this is certainly one of my more rambling posts and I apologize for that. Work awaits but I’ve missed this blogging community and look forward to catching up this week on what I’ve missed on your sites!

Happy Monday!