Today would have been Sharmalee’s 74th birthday. Sharmalee is the mother who was killed on June 10, 2018. So, in honor of my dear friend, it is time for me to write about resilience. Resilience is a quality that lies deep within each of us whether we know it is there or not. It’s that quality that allows us to step one foot in front of the other even in the most difficult of circumstances. Sharmalee certainly demonstrated resilience in many of the ways she lived her life. Especially in her willingness to help others in her work with CASA and here in her work with Care Night.

One aspect of healing after tragedy is the rebuilding. One of my favorite scriptures comes from Isaiah 61:1-4. In this scripture God promises to comfort those who mourn and to bring beauty from ashes. God even promises to help us rebuild from the rubble of our lives. What a beautiful description of resilience.

Another friend that comes to mind when I think of resilience is this “prim and proper little old lady” I met here at the church. She graduated from the Kansas City Art Institute in the 1950s. She found work drawing the pictures for a children’s clothing catalog. It was nice work that helped to bring in extra money for her young family. Then, the camera came along. Photos began to be used in catalogs instead of artists’ drawings. “Technology” completely changed what consumers expected in a catalog. She lost her job and her career.

My friend did not give up. She found work in a department store. At first, it was simply extra money to help with family expenses. And then she got divorced. With children to raise on her own, my friend worked her way up to department manager. She worked for the department store until she retired.

My friend’s journey was filled with challenges. And yet her faith and resilience surfaced repeatedly. Instead of allowing the rubble to bury her, she used it to build something new for herself and her children.

I understand I am making this sound easy because I have condensed both Sharmalee’s story and the artist’s story to a few paragraphs in a blog. I get that the journey back from tragedy and heartache is difficult. I know what it is like to simply put one foot in front of the other hoping to make it through the day. That’s why I find such strength in Isaiah’s words. The Lord has come to “provide for those who mourn in Zion. To provide a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, a garment of praise instead of the spirit of despair ….They shall build up the ancient ruins, they shall raise up the former devastations; they shall repair the ruined cities, the devastations of many generations.”

No matter what the tragedy or challenge, with God’s help we can rise above it. So, this fall we are offering groups designed to help participants rise above the rubble. We are currently offering one group for those going through divorce on Thursdays from 6:30 to 8:00 p.m.  Beginning on September 13th from 6:30 to 8:00 p.m. we will offer two different groups focused on loss: one group for those experiencing the loss of a loved one, and the other focusing on non-death related losses and transitions.

The leaders of these groups have experienced challenges in their own lives and know how to be gentle with others as they struggle to rebuild. Join us and discover the resilience in your own life.

We are also offering a meal, because sometimes we are just not ready for a group experience. And yet it really helps to be in fellowship with others. If that sounds more inviting, please join us in the dining hall on Thursday evenings from 5:45 to 6:30 for some great “comfort food”! The food and fellowship just might be a great jump-start to the healing process. Care Night Meals will begin September 13th and be offered through December 13th. See you there.

Blessings Always,