Archives for category: a few thoughts on…

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Here’s a snapshot of a little “Girl time” for two of my “girls”…my mom and my daughter. Thankful that they appreciate the girl time and all that means that’s different from guy time and brother time and boyfriend or husband time.  Yep, “girl time” is connection and conversations, agreements and different perspectives mixed with opinions and advice and “have you tried this?”s and sweet, sweet wisdom. It’s intuitive sharing and laughter and tears and encouragement and inspiration sometimes that all happens in two minutes. It’s hugs and “I get it”s, and ‘remember whens’ and “you too?”s and “I didn’t know that”s. And sometimes it’s not. Sometimes it’s disagreements and misunderstandings and then oops, I didn’t know you  meant that and more “I get its” and forgiveness. It’s  often words, words, words, mixed with a little silence, and then more words, words, words. Girl time is being in it all. All. It’s connection. Connection is a good, good thing.

Thankful these are two of  ‘mine’…and that even though the connection that I have with Hope is unique and different from the connection that I have with my mom, that they both share a unique and fun, but all girl time connection as well. There’s a sisterhood that comes as we grow older. Thankful for blurred definitions as daughters become mothers and mothers connect with daughters and friends become mentors and neighbors and coworkers become sisters.  Yes, the roles get blurred into one sisterhood that’s so very thankful for a little girl time every once in a while.  I’m so very thankful for the many dear women in my life who are sisters and friends and mentors and co-journeyers who brighten my days and lighten loads and encourage in ways that see through any roles or expectations or lines and just get in there. I know I wouldn’t be the same without them and love the joy and laughter and depth and wisdom they bring into my life. This is a great gift in the journey…those who get in there with us and are truly along for the ride.

Oh, and of COURSE, I love, love, love my boys…and time with them…and they bring out whole other worlds in this mom (and wife, daughter, etc.) …but today, today…I just wanted to shout out to my girls and say thank you, thank you, thank you. This sister is so aware of what a gift ‘my girls’ are in my life. Keep pressing on and encouraging each other along the way…

Blessings ~

Heather

“I thank my God every time I remember you. 

In every prayer for all of you, I always pray with joy,…”

Philippians 1:3

 

 

 

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“Let go of the past, and the past will let go of you…”

Cool quote. Not sure who it’s by. But cool, powerful quote.

“Do not call to mind the former things,
Or ponder things of the past.
“Behold, I will do something new,
Now it will spring forth;
Will you not be aware of it?
I will even make a roadway in the wilderness,
Rivers in the desert.

Isaiah 43:18-19

 

“I will do something new, Now it will spring forth…Will you not be aware of it?”

Tough to be aware of what’s ahead, what’s in front of us, when we’re looking in the past…in the rearview mirror of our lives, so to speak. When moving forward, it’s important not to be looking behind or accidents can happen. Yep, when moving forward, it’s important to be aware of what’s behind, but to be focused on where we’re going, not where we’ve been. Forward Steps. Not backward.

Gotta leave behind the old to get to the new. Leaves fall when trees let go. What makes them let go?  Gotta make room for the new, get rid of the old, before we can add more new.  Cool how the old,…the crunchy leaves soon turn to soft, and soon become a part of the soil. They soon become a part of the nutrients that feed the tree.

Yep, past is past, it’s there…it can remind us, feed us, fuel us with knowledge, wisdom, gratefulness and grace. But have you ever tried to keep, to hold onto a beautiful leaf?  It doesn’t stay beautiful…it fades and becomes dust. If we live in the past and try to  focus on and hold onto our little leaves of the past, we are left with a perspective that keeps us at bay and offers…dust. But if we let go, and let those leaves fall, yes, they become part of us, part of that soil that feeds in a good way.

I love how scripture speaks of the God who makes all things new. Redeems. Forgives. God grants hope that moves beyond the now to the what’s to come. A God that encourages us to remember, but not be held by former things. A God, who like moving waters of a river, calls us to move forward, to catch a ride with Him. Not stay in one place, for waters that do that quickly become stagnant. And stagnant is not good. It stinks. Literally and figuratively, it just stinks. Waters aren’t meant to be kept still. Not in streams, not in oceans, not in us. The heart that beats within us is constantly keeping our blood circulating, moving forward, and becoming full of life-giving oxygen with each beat.  The movement of that flow stops, then so do we…

But back to my little leaf metaphor 🙂 .  Leave behind the old, bring on the new. May the leaves be a reminder of the beauty of the past, but the letting go of it and the moving on toward the new. There’s a quote that I’ve seen a lot this fall and it’s beautiful. It says, “The trees are about to show us how beautiful it is to let things go.”  Yep. Definitely. In trees, and in me.

And like with trees, sometimes there’s a dormant season where you feel a little bare and don’t see the beauty of the new quite yet.  But it’s coming. Sometimes there’s just a little time to regroup, rest, and just be before the new comes swooping on in. And after winter of seeing gray and bare branches in the cold,  I know I sure appreciate the newness and beauty of Spring a lot more than if it had just marched on in right after the leaves left. Sometimes it’s good to get back to basics before the new comes….and then we appreciate and are ready for the new  so much more.

Just a few thoughts on leaves, the past, and the God who makes all things New.  Wonder what new things are in store? Wanna let go of the old to have open hands and heart to ‘be aware of ‘ that new thing. So here’s to Fall, and letting go, and believing that Spring is on it’s way.

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Blessings~

Heather

 

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Jeremiah 29:11 

 

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So the other morning, it was one of those mornings. You know, the ones where you can hear the lines of the childhood book, “Alexander and the Horrible, No-good, Very Bad Day” that list all the “awful ,horrible, no good very bad things” that happen to poor Alexander one day.   My list started like this:  I woke up late because I forgot to put the ringer on my phone so that the 5 different ringtones set apart at random minutes could go off. So, I rushed downstairs to get the much-needed coffee and when I opened the cabinet, two cups fell out right at me. I caught the mug with my hand, and sandwiched the plastic one between me and the counter before it fell. Definitely another rude awakening.

Then I made coffee in the Keurig, but the lid must not have been shut on the little canister thing I use and when I went to sip the coffee in the dimly lit kitchen, there were coffee grounds floating all over the top.That rude awakening was way worse than the cups or the waking up late.  Then  I turned on the brighter light and saw that the container for the lunch that I had packed the night before, was on the counter….empty. Somebody had eaten it late last night. (And my work friends know that I’m not the greatest at packing lunches for me…and that a 50 cent pack of crackers has been ‘lunch’ way more than I’d like to admit.)

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I remade the coffee, readjusted the mugs and cups in the cabinet, and flew up the stairs to get ready for the day. I didn’t say a word to my husband about the lunch..or lack there of. (I kind of had a feeling, a very strong suspicion, that he was the culprit.)

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I could list lots of faux pas of the morning because the day kept going on as it had started. I had forgotten about a meeting, and had some things not yet checked off my list that should’ve been checked off, and at 8:01, I get a phone call from my husband (the ringer was back on…but now should’ve been off because I was in the classroom with students.)  I was worried about why he was calling me at this time, so I pick up and he says, “I’m bringing you lunch today. Sorry….I ate yours last night.”

And I was glad that I hadn’t said anything about the empty container on the counter this morning.  Because if I had made some remark, not only would I not have gotten a better lunch than the one I had packed, I probably would’ve had a not-so-happy husband, and …. absolutely no lunch.

And I kept thinking about how there’s a flip side to everything.  I had tried to tell myself that on the way to work.  Not, ‘What the heck was Tanner thinking when he emptied the dishwasher last night and put too many mugs in the cabinet…”, but “I’m thankful Tan emptied the dishwasher.” Period. And the mug I caught could’ve fallen or hit me in the head or something, so I could be thankful for that. And not, “What the in the world is my problem that I forgot to set my 5 alarms?” But, I’m thankful I made it to work on time. And not, “Who does that?  Who eats his wife’s lunch and leaves the empty container for her to clean up?”  But, “I’m thankful that he cared enough to bring me lunch…lunch that was WAY better than the leftovers I had packed.”

So, yes, I was reminded that there’s a flip side to most everything. There’s a different angle, vantage point, perspective from which to see things in our 3D world. There’s often a negative dimension that has a positive dimension that takes a little bit more effort and squinting to see. Am thinking there’s also a spiritual dimension that sees things in the light of God’s grace.  Three-D.  And it’s funny how often the lens we see through is a bit one dimensional. We can tend toward one dimension or another. Some of us are a bit more positive in our view of things. We see that rose colored glass half-full. And some of us are a bit more negative and worry takes front and center stage in our view of things. But I love how scripture continually paints a picture of hope and positive perspective that points to a God who is in it ALL and can use it ALL for the good. When we bring it to Him, that is. Our faith, or lack there of surely colors our worlds, our views, our world view…

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I don’t yet wear glasses. I wear readers sometimes because my arms are not quite long enough for my eyes to focus sometimes, ha! (But my husband ‘borrowed’ my readers as well…not sure where they are so have been holding things at a stretched arm’s length for awhile!) But I do know from having a son who wears glasses that they can get smudged and cloud the view a bit when you don’t take the time to clean them. I think reading God’s word, and spending time in prayer, seeking Him is like that daily cleaning of the lens of our hearts. He gives clarity, perspective that’s not just in the now, but sees beyond what’s seen, beyond the moment, to help see the flip side of things.

I often reference I Corinthians 13:12 that says,  “For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face.Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.”  I love that. Some versions say, “we see through a glass darkly”, like glasses that haven’t been cleaned or through a window of a dimly lit house. We see in part. We know in part. But….then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.”  What a great thing…to see with perspective..to know every angle of something so as to understand, to KNOW.  To KNOW, comprehend, and understand is a good thing. But to be known and understood?  That’s an amazing thing. DSCN2532

I think we can all sense when we’re known in a one dimensional way…when people see  us through their positive or negative lens.I’m sometimes amazed at how quick people are to judge, how rarely some folks realize that their view might be just a tad-bit one-dimensional. So often, these folks can make quick verdicts and later need to backtrack and re-view their initial judgements…  Three-Dimensional vision takes the perspective of having different vantage points, and that takes t  i  m  e . But to be known, seen, understood…in a way that sees that 3 D view of who we are…that’s a gift. Especially when the knowing comes with an appreciation, even a love of who we are as the whole package. Yes, that is a gift to be treasured and valued and invested in.

I have a globe in my classroom, a one-dimensional cut-out-of-posterboard globe. On it, I wrote, “How I see the world can change how the world sees me.”  I want my students to start recognizing that it takes time and effort to see with a clear view …to see beyond what themselves, and to see beyond what’s seen. I want them to see that the lens they see through is often clouded by our own experience, views, and perspective, and  that in order to see clearly, we need to take into account how others might be feeling or seeing things.  In the same way that a new pair of well-prescribed glasses can correct vision, seeing things through the lens of empathy can allow people to see a more accurate 3-D view of their world, of our world. And eyes of faith, well, that adds a whole new beautiful dimension.

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Well, the day ended up just fine, and the many not-so-perfect moments will be forgotten soon, but the lessons of the flip side? I hope it continues. I hope I’m constantly looking for the flip side, the other angle when things aren’t quite the scene that I’d choose.

And here’s one random visual that I thought I might not share, but it’s late and I’m tired, and so I don’t have much of a filter…so here goes 🙂  Pancakes. Love them. You know when you’re watching the bubbles pop on the pancake and you wait with anticipation to see the golden brown beauty when that spatula flips that pancake?  There’s nothing like that perfectly browned pancake, hot off the griddle, that’s been flipped at just the right time.  Well, am thinking that flipping at the right time is important. With pancakes, and with perspective. You see, if we aren’t in the habit of seeking out the flip side of things in the time that we see them, well, we miss the chance to change the scene in that moment. If I hadn’t sought out the ‘flip side’ the other morning, I could’ve created lots of fiascos with angry husbands and empty stomachs and teachers and students who were in the wake of my terrible no good very bad morning. But when we see the flip side, we can change the view. For us and for others. That’s a beautiful thing.

If we wait too long to see the flip side, well, it might just be like the very well done overly blackened pancake…a missed opportunity to enjoy something great.

Just a thought.

Well, gonna go set my alarm(sssss…..). Here’s to a good morning for you all…and  here’s to seeing the flip side when life gets a little topsy turvy. Remembering that God looks at us through eyes of grace, through the flip side of the Cross, that can help us change perspective on just about everything. Man sees a cross as death and endings and defeat. God allowed the flip side of the cross to bring life and victory and beginnings.  He’s the Master of the flip side. Am thinking that in the light of His grace, it’s a lot easier for us to see and to seek the flip side.

By His Grace~
Heather

“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.
 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 
 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”
2 Corinthians 4:16-18

 

 

 

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Boiling Springs, North Carolina

So, at our school, in this fast-paced, filled-with-trauma world, we’re working on being mindful. “Mindfulness” has been a phrase that we’ve used a great deal in the past year. My realization? That this teacher, (wife, mom, friend, etc), can be a tad-bit distracted a lot of the time.  So often  I am more mindFULL than mindful. So am rethinking some things. Here  are some of my thoughts:

My growing definition of mindfulness- being fully present in the moment I’m in; vested in the now;  all in; aware of myself and those around me; tuned in; present in mind, heart, body, spirit; responsive to the present stimuli rather than reactive to past events or future fears;  focused on the task at hand; living in the minute that I’m living.

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Broad River Greenway

Realization #1- It’s tough to be mindful when I have a mind FULL of past present and future goals, fears, to-dos, etc.

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Ocean  Isle, North Carolina

Realization #2- Tuning out is as important as tuning in.Being mindful takes paring down what I’m focusing on.

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Boiling Springs, North Carolina

Realization #3 – Gotta figure what to filter in and filter out. Filters matter. Different filters are used for different things, circumstances, opportunities. Using spaghetti strainer-sized holes for a Keurig coffee filter won’t do. Will get lots of grounds in the coffee. Using a Keurig sized holes strainer for spaghetti won’t do. Water will overflow, won’t strain quick enough.  Strain.  Now that’s a word…’strain’. Here’s Google’s definition of strain:  “a device having holes punched in it or made of crossed wires for separating solid matter from a liquid.” Separating the solid from the liquid.  Separating the “what-matters” from the stuff to let go. Separating the value from the waste. Yeah, sounds like mindfulness to me.

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Winston Salem, North Carolina

Realization #4 – It’s a strain to strain. It takes work, determination, and willingness to fail, to filter out what’s not of value. It takes a willingness to let some things go. It takes perspective to know that the work of filtering will be worth the value of what’s left.

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Somewhere…

Realization #5 – Good things will be lost. There’s nutritive value lost in spaghetti water.  Yep. And that water could be used for lots more things. Yep. And I don’t want to be wasteful. Nope. But do I value my time and mission and purpose more than making sure that the spaghetti water  isn’t wasted?  Yep. Am I willing to accept that things and opportunities way more important than spaghetti water will be lost or wasted?  I’m working on my “yep” for that one, but definitely not all-there yet. Some things are more difficult to accept than others.

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Broad River GreenWay

Realization #6 – The ‘what’ and the ‘who’ I set my mind on matters. Big time. It directs the course. Like a steering wheel, like a path, like a boundary, the “what” and the “who” direct my steps.  As a Believer, I want my North Star to be Jesus. His truths. His Word. His Passion. Am believing that all else is spaghetti water. Am I mindFULL of that? Working on the “yep” for that one as well.

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Asheville, North Carolina

Realization #7 – Being present in the moment is greatly enhanced by the knowing that we’re just passing through, that our days are numbered.  If I’m honest with myself, I know that I’m slower to complete things when there’s no deadline. Even though I have had many ‘talks’ with my kids about not procrastinating, I’m still really bad about putting things off until  the ‘last minute’.  But the thing is, in this gift called life, we don’t know when our ‘last minute’ will be.  Our days are a gift. So our are minutes, our hours, our years. They are gifts.They are gifts to be enjoyed, to be valued and appreciated, and can be used in a way to impact those around us in beautiful and amazing ways…or not. Kind of depends on what we’re mindful (or mindFULL) of.

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Kings Mountain, North Carolina

Realization #8 – Being mindful is a beautiful gift to myself and those around me. Period. It just is. Even if it can create friction, for friction often comes when there’s a change in patterns. But I know I’d much rather be present and less distracted and fully there for those around me for sure.

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Home

Realizations #9  Sometimes the best gifts come wrapped in discipline. Am thinking this is one of those. It takes discipline to rethink habits and patterns and pursuits.  It takes discipline to put down the computer and pick up the pen. It takes discipline to sit quietly and not fill the voids when there’s an awkward awareness of the void. It takes discipline to get stronger in heart and mind and body and spirit.

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New Smyrna Beach, Florida

Realization #10 – Voids don’t have to be filled right away.  Voids get filled. Vacuums have a low pressure that make for the need for high pressure to move on in.  “Vacuum” comes from the Latin word “vacant”.  Empty.  So many of us have our lives and minds so filled to the brim that there are ‘No vacancy’ signs hanging all over us. And here’s the thing… We miss opportunities big time when we’re filled with fillers. When there’s a space like time or quiet, how often we quickly fill the voids with noise or cell phones or activity that is just a mere filler.

Sometimes we might need to sit with someone and let the quiet seep in before we fill the void with a cell phone or song or TV show. Sometimes we might need to let the uncomfortableness of a void sit for a bit so that we wait for a good filler as opposed to something to merely quiet the quiet. And it is true in so very many things that delayed gratification gives a much greater satisfied feeling and sense when the wait is finally over. So many things are worth the wait. Being slow to fill voids with fillers is something to be mindful of…

 

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Broad River Greenway

Realization #11- Mindfulness is not a 21st century hip trend, it’s been a pursuit and directive for the ages.     “As a man thinks within himself, so is he.” (Proverbs 23:7).  “Wherever you are, be all there.”  (Jim Elliot),”Life is not a matter of milestones, but of moments.” (Rose Kennedy), and here’s my favorite:  “A man paints with his brains, and not his hands.” (Michelangelo).

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Boone, North Carolina

Though I am no Michelangelo and can only marvel at his amazing works, am thinking that we all create masterpieces in life. They are born out of who we are. We leave traces behind of who we are, what we think, what we put our time and passion into.  I love how Michelangelo knew that his hands, his work, were merely extensions of his mind… Another quote by Michelangelo is “Every block of stone has a statue inside it and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it.”  Love that. I’m thinking that he spent a good bit of time and discipline to cultivate his gifts as painter and sculptor…that he was mindful of what he was doing at the time. Focused. Determined. I wonder what masterpieces might surface in our lives if we put our fillers down and picked up our own chisel of sorts?  I wonder.

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Home

And that word…wonder. That leads me to the last little thought or realization I have this morning….( I think it’s the last anyway…)

Realization #12 Mindfulness opens my eyes to the wonder around me and doesn’t put me in the center.  I don’t want a world that revolves around me and makes me, my pursuits, my hopes, dreams, accomplishments the end-all. That leads nowhere. Am thinking mindfulness only aids in helping people to see with awe the infinite wonder that is in the world around them…not only the world that is in them. Mindfulness leads not to an ego-centric view… but  an “out of sight” mentality, in the hippest sense of the word. Mindfulness allows us to see that there is much that  we don’t see,  and to appreciate what IS, right here, here now.

 

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Boiling Springs, North Carolina

The irony of being mindful is that it makes us all the more aware of the world around us as well as within us….and has an amazing way of connecting the two.

I can pray to be more mindful. I am praying and I have. But as Oswald Chambers said, “Some things go by kicking…” Am thinking this is one of those.

So there’s my list for this morning…am hoping that these realizations truly do become real…that they start surfacing in my life. I guess the first step has been made…recognizing and being mindful of what I’m shooting for.

Blessings to You and Yours~

Heather

 

“Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”

Psalm 90:12

 

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My son called a few weeks ago with some exciting news and all I kept thinking as I sat there smiling on the other end of the phone was that I was thankful for the front row seat to so many cool things. And I told him so.  But as soon as I said it, I thought, well, that sounds pretty presumptuous.  But he agreed and was like “yeah, me too Mom…” And as I thought about wanting that front row seat, I kind of laughed at how things have changed through the years.

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I grew up liking to sit in the middle row. In class. At church. At weddings and public functions, I liked being not too far back, but not too up-close-and personal in the front row either.  Then, when I became a mom of quite a few children, I quickly found a new and great appreciation for the back row…the VERY back row.  It’s close to the door in case there’s a need for a quick get away.  It’s important to have a clear safe straightaway exit if there’s an unexpected (but expected) need for a diaper change, feeding, or disciplinary “pow-wow.” Yep, way back when as the variables in my life increased and my world included lots of unknowns, that’s when I started so appreciating the back row. I could focus on the tasks at hand without feeling the unnecessary strain of doing it in front of lots of onlookers.  So for years, the back rows were where I felt most comfortable because keeping my ‘little ducks in a row’ …or not…was easier there.

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But, how ironic is it that now, I WANT front row seats!  And how ironic that those very ‘children’ who gave me such a grand appreciation for the back row are now the ones who are giving me a front row seat to so many amazing and beautiful things in my life?  ALL of  their journeys and successes, their dilemmas, their failures (or not-yet-successes), their quirks and jokes and laughter, their new arenas and experiences that come with them…ALL of it makes me thankful for the glimpse, the window, this front row seat  that I have into their lives.

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But it’s a window… It’s not a door to bust through and invade and take over. It’s a window. It’s not a camping out spot,…it’s a view, a seat, a place to sit and marvel and watch and experience. It’s a place to be available to these “stars” in my life as they live out the scenes of their every day lives…available to reach out to if they want to, or merely observe if they carry on and don’t. It’s a place to enjoy and weep and pray and laugh and be through it ALL.  All that I see, that is. Am so aware, there’s so much of who we all are and do and be that others don’t see. (Thankful that prayer can reach even there…) But the part I do see makes me so thankful. And it keeps me on the edge of my seat in this thing called life. In a good way, in a hard way, and in a way that keeps me so very alive and vested.

 

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There’s nothing like the joy that comes from watching someone ‘do their thing.’ It’s especially sweet when you’ve had a backstage view of all the rehearsals and practices, attempts and fallings, fears,  and fatigue and risings-up-again, …all of the not-yet moments that were so very necessary to the developing of the moments of doing-one’s-thing. And we all have a ‘thing’. Just gotta find it. And help others find it. Because we were born for “it.”

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Am thinking God knows how we’re wired. He knows “the paths that we should take…”  He knows what makes us tick, or ticked off, what makes us passionate, what makes us feel most alive and in our zone. And when we find that ‘it’, it is a joy. But not just to us. It’s a joy to those who have front row seats, to those who are the beneficiaries of the use of the giftedness, beneficiaries of people using their skills to make an impact can whatever way they can. At different seasons of our lives,  we can lose  our “it” that we were born for by having it take a back seat to the needs of the now, the needs of those in our lives.  Moms can get really good at that…losing (or postponing) their “it” that is. So can husbands and dads who are trying so hard to provide and be there for their families.

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But we’re not meant to always and only have a front row seat to others’ lives. Others in our lives can also have a front row seat to ours. Have been cognizant of that in recent years and am hopeful that in the same way that I laugh out loud and have tears streaming down face with pride watching people do their thing, that those in my life can actually even have moments like that with me. Because we are in this journey together…however short or long it may be. And we impact each other. We do. We inspire or we don’t. We encourage or we don’t. We build up or we don’t. None of us can be all things to all people. We’re not meant to have that place, to fill those kind of voids. But am thinking that our love can point to the God who is and does. Am thinking He is meant to have that place in our lives and does fill the voids. And we can be little windows in people’s lives to remind them of that.

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I love that some people will have arenas filled with people watching them ‘do their thing’. They will be celebrated by tens of thousands of people and will be well known. They will be encouraged by many and applauded. But I equally love watching someone quietly be faithful to their task when there’s no audience, no cheers, no front row seats. That the beauty that shines in the arena, shines in the quiet places that no one sees. Sometimes we’re not even aware of the gifts of the precious lives in our midst. How many are the opportunities daily missed because we fail to see the value of those in our midst and to connect. Who do you have a front row seat to?  Are you glancing at your watch as they share and do their thing or are you engaged, vested, encouraging, applauding even?  And what do people who have a front row seat to me see?   Do I even realize that they are there? Do I know how my actions impact them?

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We only see in part now, for sure, but I’m asking the questions of myself because I’m so aware that we impact each other. And the people in our lives are gifts. Gifts. To be treasured, encouraged, admonished, loved on, even more so when they might not deserve it or feel worthy of it. “People need loving the most when they deserve it the least.”  The world sure can be a harsh and angry place. Although technology  has given rise to the potential for connections, people seem more divided and fragmented than ever. Am thinking that a little encouragement, a little applause and recognition, a little awareness that keeps eyes off me and on someone else, can go a long, long way. For those that are cheered, and those that do the cheering as well.  The cool thing is, in this thing called life, one minute you’re sitting in the front row seat, and the next, someone is sitting in the seat watching  you.  And if we let ourselves, we can be encouraged and moved and drawn in by the beauty of the other person’s story, their script, their life. Humility can be a gateway to inspiration and encouragement and growth on both sides of the ‘stage’.

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Would that we would have a front row seat to applaud and encourage many. In word, in action, in prayer…would that we could get our eyes off of ourselves and our agendas to enjoy the ride, even when it isn’t focused on us. Self-centeredness looks to  me more like a merry-go-round with the ego-centric self going around and around and around and around and getting nowhere. And all the spectators kind of do the same thing. Front row seats to others’ lives can definitely feel like a rollercoaster ride for we experience the ups and downs and comings and goings and failures and victories, and all of the emotions that go with it. But I’m thinking it’s a lot more impactful …and fun. And I’ve learned that whether you’re in the front row seat of the rollercoaster, or the back, you’ll still experience the whole ride. (My kids have encouraged me to do the front row seat on that a time or two…and I’ve encouraged one or two of them to get on the rollercoaster…)  But the merry go round…there’s no front or back, there’s just a point that the whole world of the merry-go-round moves around. Around and around and around.

So, am thinking that front row seats are a good thing. On rollercoasters, in class, and when it comes to having eyes to see the people around us. Yeah, the ride can be a little wild sometimes…up, and down, and up and down, but there’s nothing like a good story unfolding before our eyes…if we have the eyes to see it. Here’s to front row seats and rollercoaster rides, and encouragement that puts our eyes less on ourselves and more on others. Here’s to front row seats and using our gifts and encouraging others to do the same. But let’s not do away with back rows…there are moms out there with young kids who need the back rows…for a season anyway. There’ll be plenty more years for front row seats…

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So there’s a few (more than a few) thoughts on front row seats. Here’s to yours and mine.

Blessings ~

Heather

P.S. I love Zephaniah 3:17 that says the Lord delights in us with singing.. that He is in our midst and delights in us with shouts of joy. He delights in us like a dad on the sidelines or a mom in the stands or a sister or brother in the audience cheering like crazy. He sees. He watches. He delights.  Am thinking His is the ultimate front row seat of it all. That’s pretty cool. And He calls us to know Him and love Him and see what He’s doing…to have a front row seat to His heart as He has a front row seat to ours. And that’s the most amazing story of all.

“The Lord your God is with you,
    the Mighty Warrior who saves.
He will take great delight in you;
    in his love he will no longer rebuke you,
    but will rejoice over you with singing.”

Zephaniah 3:17

…”shine among them like stars in the sky  as you hold firmly to the word of life. And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain. “

Philippians 2:15-16

 

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So yesterday as Tanner and I were talking about the start of school, he said, “Yeah, Mom…it’ll be your  ‘last first’ day of school…”  Now I had expected him to say HIS last first day of school…but not mine.  And yep, I had a little difficulty seeing through the sudden pool that welled up in these eyes of mine…and all I could see as I looked at my senior in high school was the little boy with the blond hair and the blue smiling eyes.

And a flood of memories came.  My first first day of school with Zac’s first day of kindergarten…turning around as he got on the bus and waving so bravely with a smile. The mom who was waving back was trying to be brave too. And the many, many many photos on couches and porches and driveways of 2, then 3, then 4, 5, 6 children posing with their new shoes and back packs….and then photos of 6, then 5, 4, 3, 2,….and then this morning only one posing. One taller than me senior in high school ready for his last first day.

‘Last firsts’ are milestones…for our kids. And for us.  Am thinking that on milestone days we need an extra dose of grace (and chocolate or ice cream or your go to of choice…) for them and for us. We need to let ourselves feel and let the well that comes up from the deep spill on over in tears or words or laughter or whatever. Because life is so short…and the milestones need to be seen as precious treasures that we don’t just pass over.  For them and for us. 

I’ve been so in the ‘function’ mode recently that I hadn’t even let myself think about it being my “last first”.  I had thought about it being Tanner’s ‘last first’ day of high school, and had tens of balls juggling in my brain of things that need to get checked off for our family in the midst of lots of transitions and changes.  The list is long and broad and includes details, details, details, with needs for communication and planning and determination all crammed and crunched into a short period of time. But I don’t want to let the details squeeze out the moments that need to be celebrated, relished, and enjoyed. My mom-hat-of-function often bids me forget to let things seep in to my brain when it has to do with me.  But the cool thing is…with this great gift of motherhood… my firsts are multiplied with each new venture in my children’s lives. Because even when they go alone, my heart, my prayers, my love goes with them. …on the first day of kindergarten, or college, or walking on down the aisle…I’ll always carry the child that I carried. Might be in my heart, or thoughts, or prayers. Might be in my dreams or hopes or mind, but I’ll always carry the child that I carried. The ‘carrying’ just looks a bit different…

Am thankful for Tanner’s awareness, kindness, and words that helped me not just look at his ‘Last First’, but at mine as well. Am thankful for the reminder to treasure the day and be in there with each other. We don’t know what the next day holds.  And here’s the thing…we may all be experiencing our own ‘Last Firsts’ and not even know it. Am thinking being ‘all-in’ and ‘all-there’ is something that we will never regret. Ever. Sometimes I so need to be snapped out of the busy-ness to be able to see it.

So, Tan man, thanks for the ‘snap’, and reminder to your so-often-distracted, scatter-brained mom (who adores you by the way!). It’s your Last First day of high school, and it’s my Last First day of watching my 6 gifts go to school.  Definitely something to  both contemplate and celebrate. Am thinking that celebration and contemplation might need to include carry out dinner …and chocolate.  Or ice cream.  Or both.  All with extra extra doses of grace, grace, grace. (Because those pools of both celebration and contemplation just keep welling up in my eyes and I’m thinking it has quite a bit to do with this whole “Last First” thing.)

Blessings~

Heather

And to my 6 amazing gifts who have brought me a thousand firsts and a thousand lasts and a million in betweens…this little compilation of firsts and lasts is for you for today, for this moment in time. Because as Tan-man reminded me in the car yesterday, it’s good to be reminded of milestones and celebrate them.  Now, Tan and I are off to celebrate with carry-out and some sweet concoction.  It’s a good thing I had decided on doing carry-out, because the past hour and a half I’ve spent going through photos of you all. Love you all so much and so thankful for all the many, many first and lasts in our past…and the million more firsts and lasts to come.  Love you. Hugs and Kisses ❤ Mom

 

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Yeah…thanks for the reminder Tan.

“Wherever you are, be all there…”  ~ Jim Elliot

“Life isn’t a matter of milestones, but of moments.” ~ Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy

 

  “Love one another…”

John 13: 34

 

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Yesterday, I took a little time out to sort beads. I went outside on the deck to be in the sunlight where I could see the difference between navy blue and black, and dark purple and brown. Amazing the difference of sunlight versus inside light on color. True colors show through so much more in the natural light of the sun. And on the deck, I get fresh air, and hear the birds, and, it’s amazing how people from inside the house will come and sit next to me outside of the house when I just sit down out there. Love that. Tanner came on out and started sorting beads with me…

IMG_5258So why am I even wasting the time to write about sorting beads?  Because the thing is that I had one of those awful gut feeling, restless, unsettled nauseous kind of vibes today. Woke up with it.  I couldn’t shake it. Not with prayer or reading or even coffee. I had even had a sweet session of playing guitar and working on a new song, but that restlessness kept creeping back in. Like a slow moving fog that fills a void, it kept taking up space. My mind kept racing from one thing to the next, and speaking truth to myself to calm the crazy feelings was just not working.  There were no new worries…but today, my take on things was just not good. And I couldn’t concentrate for the restless thoughts racing around my brain.

So…that’s when I decided to get some mind-less chores done.  I did laundry. I finished the dishes. Then I decided to sort beads. Because my mind could race all it wanted and I could still tell the difference between blue and green. Yep, mindless work can be a good good thing. It gives a way to be productive when my level of productivity at more complex tasks wouldn’t be so great. Not so great at all.

As I sorted the beads, I was thankful for the light. Because some of the beads I had previously sorted were  in the wrong spots. I’ve learned that purple can look like brown and deep, deep greens can sometimes appear black until the light shines. Sunlight helps me see. I was thankful for the beauty of the colors…all of those beautiful colors….a spectrum of light.

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There’s that word again. LIGHT.  You know the cool thing about light?  ROYGBIV always gets in line perfectly. Every  shade and hue of each color knows their place…it’s part of the Grande Design. When a design is in place, when there’s a master plan, there’s no effort in having to recreate the (color) wheel. Every color has its place and every place has its  color.  They just naturally fall into line.

My life sometimes feels like an array of a million beads splashing the surface, in all different colors in mish-mash mess.  (Tanner said today, as a bead bounced across the deck,  “You sure drop beads a lot don’t you, Mom?”  Yep, no doubt. I sure do….  Not just literal beads…am dropping balls all the time….”) But see, that’s the thing. I think of God as that Master Artist who uses that color spectrum to paint beautiful things. In the Universe, in the world, and even in me. And what may appear to be a mish-mash mess of beads in disarray to me, may one day be beautifully aligned just the way He wants them to be. God can change things in an instant, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye. He can and He does and He will. And the cool thing is, the more I seek Him, the more I see Him, and the more Light just invades my world. And when His light,…Son-light…shines in my world, it’s amazing how I see things in a whole different light and can say…”Oops…that bead is not black…it’s dark green…that goes over here….”

All of us may have a different array of beads, but oh the beauty when they are aligned by the One who created us with a purpose, with a plan, with a Love that surpasses all the darkness in a world that often has the lights turned off or down low.

Here’s a funny thing…as I thought about the colors and the beads and the Light, that queasy uneasy feeling in my stomach, that restlessness that invaded my thoughts and had my mind racing in the morning, it all started to fade away. Sometimes when we can’t figure things out, well, we’ve just gotta keep moving our feet and staying busy. Sometimes the mundane tasks in a day can be a great gift of diversion. Fogs that cloud our thoughts can invade the empty spaces in our hearts and minds, but so can light. Light can flood any space and fill it. And today for me, thinking on God’s love and light did just that for me. I’m sure hanging out with my Tan-man  helped too. Thankful.   Just sharing a few thoughts and gratitude for being able to sort through some issues by simple tasks like sorting beads and laundry.

Blessings ~

Heather

P.S.  Funny…today is the day that many have been waiting for…total eclipse of the sun.  So I can’t leave without this little thought. May we be me moons that reflect the Light rather than block it. Reflect. Light. See. Shine. Good words for a world that sure does have a lot of darkness.

 

 

“Nothing in the world is more dangerous than

sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.”

~Martin Luther King

 

LIGHT VALUE OF ONE

Some ignorance is bliss. Like when you don’t know something that your child did but it was all worked out and you find out ten years later and are mortified, but realize that everyone survived and lessons were learned without you having to be the key interventionist.  There’s an element of bliss in that. Or when you don’t know about a meeting that you were supposed to go to but didn’t really want to go to but would have gone had you known.  Or ignorance is bliss when you get to walk in sweet oblivion of conflict that doesn’t concern you and it’s all worked out by the time  you get wind that there was even an issue in the first place. Or ignorance can be bliss when you have little awareness of the price of something and you just get to enjoy the beauty without the expense.

Yes, some ignorance is bliss. It frees from responsibility for a lack of awareness. But some ignorance is not bliss. It’s downright dangerous.  Ignorance that moves to quick judgements and rash words is dangerous. Ignor-ance that ignores principles of respect, truths, consequences and makes blanket statements that rile the masses…this kind of ignor-ance is lethal. People die because of words. Not even just the ideas behind the words.  They die because of ignorant reactions to the words. They die because of perceptions that might or might not even be consistent with what the words were intended to mean in the first place.

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Seems to me the most dangerous “ignorants” are those who don’t even know that they are. People who make rash decisions without thoughtful consideration or contemplation or education (not formal, just a desire to learn) are often those who are the most extreme…because balance takes into consideration views other than our own. Balance comes with a weighing of more than one side. Balance comes with awareness of variables outside of our own sphere of importance.  Ignor-ance IGNORES. It becomes more and more extreme the further it gets from being aware of views that differ from it’s own.

There are good things to overlook in life. But there are basic rights that should never be overlooked. In a country that calls itself “Land of the Free and Home of the Brave”, there should be freedom to speak and stand. Brave stands up for the oppressed, but doesn’t glorify that which is making them oppressed.  Acceptance of diversity is different than a glorification of differences. That builds walls once again. To me, “Brave and Free” are  balanced. “Brave” guards, protects, …”Free” accepts and respects. The walls they build are to protect, the walls they tear down are to accept.

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It’s hard to stare into the trauma of all that is going on in the world. And it’s crazy, because we can literally do that in this day and age….Through social media we have a birds eye view (or skewed representation) of things going on all over the world. Good things. Terrible things. Like the ignorance that is bliss, some can be ignored. But some things…some injustices should never be ignored. Ignorance is like darkness in which extreme views  breed and grow and thrive.  Awareness is a turning on of the light that dispels the dark views. It’s calling things what they are while still having the heart to protect and accept… It’s having the courage to not just see, but to speak words that protect and accept balanced views that protect and accept human rights.

Teeter-totters are children’s playground gems. Up and down, up and down, up and down they go. And in the middle is a fulcrum, a strong base on which the teeter totter rests. May we become fulcrums in a world with extreme disparities that serve as eyes and ears that listen before speaking, see before reacting, and consider before counteracting. May we turn the light on the darkness of ignorance and avoidance. May we not turn away when it’s too hard, but be tenacious in our determination to keep the light turned on.

I do not want to be ignorant…therefore, I can’t ignore injustice. And it’s rampant in the streets. And people are dying…not just physically. Some ideas and philosophies are so full of hate that it’s my view that they’re eating people from the inside as well. As a Christ-follower, I must hold tight to the belief that God is love and calls us to love Him and love others. Period. No room for narrow-minded views that plow over and trample people under their feet (or tires). No room at all. Hate kills. It kills. And giving credence and tolerance to ideologies that kill is dangerous and ignorant because it ignores the power that hate has. Because hate has power. We’ve seen it through history.

I know there are no easy answers. Just giving my two cents to scratch the surface, and lighting my one little candle. Because I know that one candle plus one candle plus one candle ….makes a thousand candles and a flood of light. This darkness is not gonna thrive in the perimeter of my little light because I aspire to be a lot of things…but never, never ignorant. And the world needs  light. Who’s to say what impact a little light can have, even for a person who’s full of hate?  Who knows what a little light can do. Yes, the world needs light shed on darkness. The temptation is to fight hate with hate. Doesn’t work. Just makes more darkness.  And the world desperately needs people to stand with their lights turned on.  Darkness cannot be ignored, but light…light won’t be ignored. Light changes how everything is seen.

I started out with a MLK Jr. quote that was new to me. But this quote is one of my favorites, and a go to for me at times. “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”  One candle at a time.

Blessings ~

Heather

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Backyard view, Shelby, North Carolina

“Walking with a friend in the dark is better than walking alone in the light.”

~Helen Keller

Amen ❤

Maybe because dear friends reflect the light we so need to see during darker times.

Maybe because sometimes we need others to remind us of what is true, who we are, who God is.

Maybe because perspective changes when we know we’re not alone.

Maybe because friendship is a gift that gives and takes at the same time…gives encouragement, takes a share of the load.

Maybe because courage to take the next step into the unknown can come from being encouraged by one that’s in there with us, through it.

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Shelby, North Carolina

And sometimes we might not want to share the darkness…we might want to pretend that all is light, that all is al-right or “fine”. We might want to isolate ourselves to protect others from any of the “darkness” going on. Not a good strategy I’d say, no matter how noble it may appear. Here’s a tidbit:…”isolate” comes from the Latin root “insulatas” which means, “made into an island.”  And we all know, “No man, (or woman) is an island” (John Donne).

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New Smyrna Beach, Florida

Am thinking it’s kind of cool that friend-ship has the word “ship” in it because sometimes we need a ‘ship’ to go rescue a friend that has a mental blip when they think maybe they need to be an island…and that ship sails in and reflects and reminds and rescues one that’s emotionally needing to be drawn back in. In the same way that a ship navigates the very waters that isolate the island, friendship can permeate the walls that keep us locked up ‘in our own worlds’ and keep others locked out. Friend-Ships sail through those rough waters to bridge the gaps…

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New Smyrna Beach, Florida

Yes,”Walking with a friend in the dark is better than walking alone in the light.” And here’s the cool thing that Helen Keller seemed to know as she wrote the above quote, There is often beautiful-pared-down-for-real connection that comes when things aren’t all smooth sailing. There’s an awareness of need, a gratitude for others, and a sincerity that often comes with darker times. Silver linings don’t only come on clouds. They come in stars. And stars shine when it’s dark.  They seem to shine really bright when they are furthest from the light.  Friends that walk along side in the dark can help us see clearly the beauty that’s there in the midst of the reality of what isn’t. They can remind us of the truths of scripture that are anchors to our souls and hope to our heart.

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New Smyrna Beach, Florida

So I’m not sure whether life is smooth sailing for you right now, or whether you’re on rough seas. Or maybe you’re finding yourself drawn to become an island. Am thinking we all feel that desire to just check out for a little from time to time. My encouragement is to draw near. Draw near to God. Draw near to friends and family who know and love you well. (Not perfectly for that’s way too much pressure for any of us to bear, but well….well like a deep well that knows you to the depths…and what they don’ t know, they’re willing to…)  Yes, draw near…fly that white flag of surrender if you find yourself isolated on an island and call in the ships.  Friendships, that is. Call. Seek. Move toward.

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Austin, New Smyrna Beach, Florida

Take it from me…there’s treasure when the ship meets the island. Even Helen Keller who lived in darkness chose friendship and companionship over light and sight. That’s incredible! Am thinking she really knew what she was talking about for I’m sure she knew a thing or two (hundred) about isolation. Yes, there’s something to be said for smooth sailing, and light-er times. But oh, the depths of knowing that no matter what you’re facing, there are those who are with you in it. That’s a tangible heart-encouraging gift. And I’m so so thankful for it. More thankful than I’ve ever been for you see, I’ve had my turns at being ships and islands.  But recently took my turn as an island. And am so very thankful for the sweet ship that sailed on in. Thankful. Renewed. Back on track.

Blessings~

Heather

P.S. “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” (James 4:8) That’s the verse ringing in my ears right now. When we fly our white flag, He’s the “ship” that will always, always come in, no matter how far the island or stormy the seas. Love that.

 

 

 

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Outside of the Southern Arts Society Building, Kings Mountain, North Carolina

“God gives us things to share. He doesn’t give us things to hold.”

~Mother Teresa

I love this quote by Mother Teresa:  “God gives us things to share. He doesn’t give us things to hold. I’m thinking that applies to stuff. Am also thinking that applies to us and the ‘gifts’, those unseen talents, abilities and passions, that we have to share with the world. That ‘world’ may be one person, one family, one community…or that ‘world’ may be internationally reaching people on a global level.  But yes, she was so on point again when Mother Teresa said, “God gives us things to share. He doesn’t give us things to hold.”

 

That’s quite a convicting statement for me as I try to declutter stuff that’s been stuffed away for years with more stuff on top of that. It’s also quite convicting as I try to figure out how to use use the gift of my years, days and moments. But it doesn’t have to be complicated, for as Frederick Buechner said, “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.” So cool. Our passions so often parallel our gifts. What we treasure is so fleshed out in what we love to do.

What we hold on to and put our time and energy into is so what holds us, and if that doesn’t line up with what I say I treasure, well, it might be time for a bit of a priority re-boot. I’ve been doing a lot of examination and re-boots lately, for sure. And it’s been a good thing as it’s been a kind of taking-out-the-trash, and holding-onto-treasure type of thing….with stuff, and with my mindset. One more quote, a good one…”Where your heart is, there your treasure will be….” Matthew 6:21 Love that. Our actions kind of show us don’t they? Gulp. Yes they do. That can be a great thing or a convicting thing or both. It’s been both for me.

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Treasures….Boxed up note, keepsakes, and heirlooms from Grannie

One more thought on treasure-holding.  My morning duty at school has been to be a greeter/ door watcher of sorts at our school. I stand at the door and say “good morning” and make sure these young students make it safely from the cafeteria to the main school building. And do you know what I see EVERY morning?  Students holding hands as they walk to class. Young siblings, friends, cousins caring for each other. Holding hearts by holding hands. I see goodbye kisses and hugs at classroom doors. I see older siblings ensuring not only that little ones are safe, but that they are encouraged. Maybe these babies remember what we as adults can so often forget…that we are the treasure…

 

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Another ‘break it down’ simple statement came from Jesus. In Mark 12, He told us to Love God and Love others. Bottom Line.  Love God with your heart, mind, soul, and strength. Love others as you love yourself…  We are admonished to treasure what gives priority to these two statements. Love God, Love others.  Period.

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Castles in the Sand, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

Many treasures can slip through our hands. They come and go. But am thankful for the reminder from the example of my students holding hands to hold onto the treasure of those we love. Yes, I think Mother Teresa so had it right when she said that “God gives us things to share, He doesn’t give us things to hold.”  I know that she knew the things for holding were hands and hearts and belief.  And the cool thing is, those aren’t things at all….Human hearts and hands and beliefs were categories that so transcend any ‘thing’.  Anything. And if what I treasure gets in the way of these, then maybe it’s time to trash it, let it go. And then as I let things go, to be sure to hold on tight to those hands, hearts, and beliefs that we treasure. In a world that loves alienation and fragmentation and a glorification of stuff over souls, yeah, it’s important to make a determined effort to hold on tight to what you treasure

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I’m thinking the more we let stuff go, the more our hearts and hands are free to hold what’s precious and truly matters. As my inspiring principal (with a background in drama that impacts her speech(-es) greatly) once said to me, “Heather, what can God put in your empty hands that He can’t give you with what you’re holding on to?” She of course added to the impact by holding out both hands wide over her head and closing her eyes.  Point made. I wasn’t happy with her that day, as she was encouraging me to get rid of lots of materials that we needed to move on, but she was totally on point.  Point taken <3. Again. And I’m so thankful for her words not just with regard to my classroom, but more importantly, with regard to my days.  Days are definitely a gift to be treasured.

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Just a few thoughts on treasure from one who wants to remember daily the reminder that yes, “God gives us things to share. He doesn’t give us things to hold…”   and that’s a truth worth holding on to.

Blessings ~

Heather

“…Hold on to what is good,reject every kind of evil.May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it.

 I Thessalonians 5: 21-24

But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth. By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before him; for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything. 

1 John 3:17-21 

One of the teachers of the law came and heard the Sadducees arguing. He noticed that Jesus had given the Sadducees a good answer. So he asked him, “Which is the most important of all the commandments?” Jesus answered, “Here is the most important one. Moses said, ‘Israel, listen to me. The Lord is our God. The Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul. Love him with all your mind and with all your strength.’  And here is the second one. ‘Love your neighbor as you love yourself.’ There is no commandment more important than these.”

Mark 12:28-31  

 

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