Music from the Heart: Unwritten by Natasha Bedingfield
A few years ago, three friends and I (the core leadership team of what is now The River Fort Smith, an outreach church), felt a pressing need to get away for a few days to refresh, recharge, reconnect. So the four us piled into the car and headed to St. Louis to attend the Joyce Meyer Women’s Conference. We jokingly called it our “Elders Retreat,” but it quickly became a weekend filled with laughter, tears and memorable moments, with laughter presiding. Way before the weekend was over, we all knew this girly getaway was destined to become an annual event.
We have since left our mark on Tulsa & Branson. This year we made our trek through the Ouachita National Forest to Hot Springs Village for three days of doing absolutely nothing. It was glorious.
In terms of personality and life experiences, we are about as diverse a group as you can get, which is probably why we enjoy each other so much – and definitely why we need each other so much. But when it comes to a desire to bring hope, healing and restoration to hurting people, we share a strong and common passion. We are girlfriends and partners in ministry.
We have laughed together, cried together, made fun of each other, even hurt and forgiven each other. We have worshiped together, prayed together, and ministered shoulder to shoulder. We have seen each other at our best and our worst, from dressing up for a “Putting on the Ritz” dinner event to lounging in wrinkled pajamas with bed hair & no make-up. We have counseled each other, corrected each other and cheered each other on. These relationships are real, rich & genuine, and I wouldn’t trade them for the world.
Back to Hot Springs Village this past weekend. This was a no-agenda, all-diets-are-off, total chill-time weekend with the girls. On Saturday, it was after 4 o’clock in the afternoon before we shed our pajamas and got dressed to go out for a little nature walk. It was a perfect autumn afternoon in Arkansas – a warm sun peeking through leaves of orange, red & gold, playful squirrels at every turn, and the unmistakably nostalgic rustling sound made only by feet shuffling through the leaves that have already found their way to the ground. It was perfect.
Being a photo junkie, a nature walk doesn’t happen in my world without a camera. I managed to snap several shots of multicolored leaves, trees & sunlight reflected on the lake, and even a couple of a squirrel who agreed to pose for me. But my favorite picture is one that I caught when I lagged behind the other ladies while they walked ahead on the hillside path. It captures three friends walking side-by-side on life’s journey, drawing strength and comfort from the presence of each other. While this picture may be found lacking in quality in terms of photographic excellence, it is priceless to me because of its content.
One of our little entourage is headed to MD Anderson in Houston next week for surgery. She will remain there for about a month, then recover for two more months at home before returning to work in February. Over the weekend, we presented her with a Healing Basket filled with all kinds of goodies – soft fluffy socks, candles, healing worship music, teaching CD’s, her favorite candy, comfort foods, bath & body stuff, framed photos of the four of us, and a wide variety of other trinkets & tokens of our friendship. We also gave her a stack of get well cards, to be opened one per day while she is in Houston. Some contain inspirational messages or prayers, but most of them are designed to invoke laughter, which we all know is the best medicine for whatever ails you.
We are trusting our precious sister/friend to the capable skills of some of the leading specialists in the country But even more so, we are trusting her to the healing hands of the Great Physician, Who also just happens to be the One who designed and created her, knows her best and loves her most. She will walk through this experience with the three of us at her side, laughing, crying, whatever it takes to bring her through to the other side of this. And as soon as she is up to it, we have next year’s trip to plan.
Don’t walk behind me, I may not lead.
Just walk beside me and be my friend.”