by Donna Scales

What a rotten week it’s been! Nothing seems to have gone right. But tomorrow is Thursday—THRIVE TIME—something to look forward to. What is THRIVE TIME? Well, let me tell you. It’s one of those many examples of God turning something not-so-good into something very good.

I’d waited most of my married life to have more time with my husband so we could travel and do things together. He retired but, very quickly, arthritis claimed his mobility and balance. The time I’d looked forward to for so long was not forthcoming. Bitterness lurked. Resentment threatened. I begged God for a way to fight—to replace disappointment with joy and regain my love of life. God gave me THRIVE TIME.

It started with just three of us setting aside a Thursday morning to walk. The air was fresh. We exalted in God’s creation, and we chattered more than the noisy chipmunks. We had such fun that we didn’t want to part, so we went out for lunch. Our time together uplifted and refreshed us, so we decided, there and then, to meet every Thursday.

That was five years ago. We’re still walking. Now, we have about thirty people on our Email list. Five to twelve show up every Thursday to join the fun. We walk rain or shine—trails during the dry weather, paved paths on the wet days. And, by the way, it rains a lot here in Portland, Oregon.

Several THRIVE TIMERS take turns planning the walk for each week: location, parking, directions, and the length and type of walk so people can choose what is best for their time and fitness. It’s been a delight to explore new parts of our city during the winter months and undiscovered hikes in God’s creation when it’s dry.

We keep it simple by announcing the walk/hike as NO RSVP and letting whoever chooses to come plan their own transportation. Over time most of us have set aside Thursday mornings for Thrive Time walks and lunch afterwards. I was born and raised here in Portland, but my friends are introducing me to wonderful restaurants I never knew about.

Upon occasion we add in a little variety. We’ve gone Segwaying (riding two-wheeled, self-balancing personal transporters), kayaking, stand-up paddle boarding, and miniature golfing. We try to keep our outings to outdoor adventures, but one time we broke that rule. Snow had cancelled one week of walking and two weeks was just too long to be apart. The roads were passable by car, but not walkable. So, on the second Thursday, we went bowling and had great laughs making fools of ourselves.

Some of our THRIVE TIMERS are widows, others have spouses who are housebound, and a few are single. Each of us has unique needs, but Thrive Time has become an anticipated respite. It is a time of renewal—to walk away from stress, challenges, and obligations.

Every Thursday we start with prayer. By walking in God’s creation we celebrate the Creator, but it’s through prayer we’ve witnessed His touch upon our lives. Deep friendships have developed.

  • Sue, who is caring for her declining mother says: THRIVE TIME is a sacred time of connecting, freedom, relief and rest from my weekday cares and responsibilities; a time in the week where God shows up in a myriad of surprising ways.
  • Shirley, a recent widow, comments: My THRIVE TIME sisters are all very dear to me. I didn’t expect to have to reinvent myself at this age, but widowhood does that to a person. They are my sounding boards: What works? What doesn’t? Can I be a person and a grandmother too? Where is balance? Friends can answer these questions. Our children can’t yet.

Only our great God could take all our unique needs, bring them together, and meet them. Thank You, Lord, for THRIVE TIME. You walk with us every Thursday.