Archives for category: Christianity

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I walked out of the house this morning and saw this…a leaf hanging by a thread. Literally.  And I smiled. Cause I get it. I know a bit about what that feels like. Am guessing we have all had our times of feeling like we’re ‘hanging by a thread’.  And the smile came because I also have a favorite verse as a result. “The eternal God is your refuge and underneath are the everlasting arms.” (Deuteronomy 33: 27a)

Underneath are the everlasting arms.  Like a Dad catching His child when he or she jumps in the pool. Like a fireman rescuing a child from a burning building.  Like a God who knows where we are and what we need more than we do, before we do, and anticipates where we’ll land or fall. Yes. Underneath are the everlasting arms. Love that. Good to know.

Blessings ~

Heather

P.S.  My maiden name is ‘Hangen’, so growing up, one of my favorite go-to answers for how I’m doing was to say, “hangen in there 😉 ”  And through the years have appreciated the truth of just being able to persevere, to hang tough, to ‘hang in there’ when times get difficult. There’s so much value in not giving in or giving up.  Even if the end isn’t what we hope, the process can sure strengthen our hearts and minds and muscles. Just a thought.  Yeah, hang in there 🙂

“And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope.”

Romans 5:3,4

P.P.S.  Gotta add a cool verse I read this morning about falling…It’s Jude 24, 25 and was one of my favorites years ago. To him who is able to keep you from stumbling (some translations say ‘falling’ 🙂 )  and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy— 25 to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.

Amen.

 

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Cross at Christ the Servant Lutheran Church, Conway, South Carolina, April 9, 2017

I have a distinct memory in my high school years. Our beloved Latin teacher gave quite dramatic deliberations on a variety of subjects. She was always incredibly entertaining.I remember her talking about bubble gum giving your mouth a sugar bath of decay. I remember her literally sliding across a table with her hands clenched saying, “PLEASE, PLEASE…”  I don’t remember what she was begging for, but the manner of asking made quite a long lasting impression, that’s for sure.  Yes, Mrs. Goodman was one of my favorites.  She was an incredible teacher, full of inspiration, drama, quick wit, and unconventional methods which sure made her students take note, and learn, like it or not.  I still remember a lot that I learned in that class…

Well, one day, she started a very passionate dialogue. And she said something that really struck me. But this time it wasn’t about health or education or daily stuff. This time it was about faith, Christianity, and the Cross. She asked the question, “Why in the world would a religion choose a symbol as morbid as a cross? It may as well be a tombstone for what it represents.”   And as a young believer in Christ, well, my wheels started spinning quite a bit. I mean, she had a point. The cross was a symbol of death. Not just a natural death, but a violent death where one is being killed. Killed. Punished. Put on public display.

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Beaver Dam Baptist Church Cemetery, Shelby, North Carolina

So I got it. I got the reasoning for her diatribe. And as a new believer in Christ, this most often quiet high school girl wanted to raise my hand  and raise my voice and say, “…but Mrs. Goodman…” But the class time was limited and my words didn’t formulate quickly even though my wheels were spinning fast. My hand stayed down and voice was silent. Ever since that time, I sometimes find myself thinking of Mrs. Goodman and her question. And here are some of my thoughts… (which so wouldn’t have been able to be spit out quickly in response to her age old question during a class period in high school…)

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Cemetery across from airport in Shelby, North Carolina, April 2017

A week before Jesus was nailed to a cross, literally nailed to a cross, he was being praised, cheered, exalted, as a Savior. People lined the streets of Jerusalem and hailed the “King” on the donkey.  They cried out “Hosanna!”  One translation of “Hosanna” is ‘save now’. SAVE…NOW.  Another translation is “I beg you to save now.”  All signs were pointing to Jesus being the Messiah, the promised One who was to be the Savior of the World. And people were recognizing him as such. They saw the miracles, some realized the prophesies, listened to His words…and were moved by His presence.They were recognizing that this one born in Bethlehem under Beacon of a Star could be the One, the Messiah, they were waiting for. “Hosanna!” was shouted, palm leaves were waved as people lined the streets and hailed Jesus as King.

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Cross at Christ the Servant Lutheran Church, Conway, South Carolina, April 9, 2017

But their definition of SAVE…SAVE now…it was a bit different…more temporal than the one that Jesus spoke of. The week before Jesus was crucified on a cross, people had lined the streets to praise Him as the one who would save.  But that ‘saving’ didn’t look like they wanted it to. They wanted the ‘SAVING’ to be from present circumstances.  They wanted the ‘NOW’ to be…now. Days later, cheers turned to jeers, waving palm branches turned to whips, a road to a throne turned to a road to a cross.

But here’s the thing. That had been Jesus’ destination all along. To be the Lamb of God, the Sacrifice, the One who was to SAVE us, not only from present circumstance, but from our Sins….the Sin the like cancer eats away at us, but more than that, the sin that separates from a Holy, Pure, Righteous God. This Messiah came not only to “save now” from sins, He came to reign in our hearts as Lord.  Sometimes we want to trade the external-temporal-SAVING-NOW, for the internal-eternal-Saving-for-all-time.  The internal-external-Saving-for-all-time would take a sacrifice. Literally.  The Messiah would be ‘pierced for our transgressions..’…and the cross, would be where that sacrifice would ultimately take place.

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Wilmington, North Carolina, February 2017

So, the cross became the symbol not for death but for life. It became the symbol for the death of sin’s hold and the redeeming of the soul.

I’m not sure what my Latin teacher would say after reading this.  And I think it’s ironic that her name was Mrs. Goodman, because, she was good. In fact, she was great. She was a nut, but she was so loved and appreciated by so many.  And like her name “Good – man”, there’s something in us that wants to believe that if we’re good enough, if we’re great enough, then, THEN, we or those people can earn their way into Heaven. And that’s the thing. It’s a faith thing. Not a works thing. The Bible says, “all have sinned…all fall short…” The chasm between holiness and humanity is too wide. And the cross of Christ, that symbol of death, becomes a symbol of life. Resurrected life. But the gift, it needs to be received. By faith. Alone.

But…if we don’t believe we are sinners, why would we need a Savior? And if we don’t believe God is a Holy God, and we are so not, why would we need a Redeemer?  And if we don’t need a Redeemer, a Sacrifice, then why would we need a cross?  Paul even recognized that reasoning when he said, “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”  (I Corinthians 1:18)

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I am a sinner. From the get go. I need a Savior. Every Single Day. I need a Redeemer, a Messiah promised from the beginning of time. I need a cross. A symbol of temporal death becomes a symbol of eternal life. Why?  Because Death didn’t have power over Jesus. He was resurrected. Changed. Sin had no hold on Him, and He was raised…and Lives. My Redeemer Lives. That’s what I see when I see the cross. I see a Sacrifice and a Resurrected Savior.  When I see the cross, I see the Love of Christ that breaks sin’s hold on me and breaks through vain religious hoops and striving. When I see the cross, I see Jesus.

Screen Shot 2017-04-15 at 11.58.12 PMI’m not sure where Mrs. Goodman is now. And if I could go back and sit in her class…in a few words, I think I’d say that the cross is the crux. It’s the heart of a redemptive God. The Isaiah 53 Messiah was the Jesus on Calvary who didn’t stay down, but was resurrected. And my awesome Latin teacher would know that the root of resurrection, the Latin ‘resurgere ‘ means “rise again, appear again”. His death is the gateway to life. And because of that, by faith, Death can’t keep a good-man down. Not when a resurrected Christ is your advocate. And that, that is something to celebrate.

A Blessed Easter to You~

Heather

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you.”  

I Peter 1:3-4

Isaiah 53

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I’ve been making bird feeders again.  “For today” feeders is what I like to call them.  And here’s why…  In the past year, the phrase “for today” has become one of my favorite, favorite phrases. I’ve always appreciated the saying of “One Day At a Time. This quickly became, “one moment at a time” when I was a young mom to more little ones than my arms could hold.  (Our third son was born when our oldest was 2…and by the time our oldest was 8 years old, well, he had 5 younger siblings…no twins…just a little visual for ya to see the necessity of the MOMENT thing.) There were so many needs for the moment. I needed grace for the minutes.  I loved the phrase, “grace for the moment” and repeated that to my heart too many times to count. And there was, grace, that is…and miracle of miracles, we survived and even had our sweet familial blips of total thriving. Thankful for all of it.

So that was then. Fast forward 20 some years and I still so hold on to the grace for the moment phrase and truth. But in the past year ‘for today’ has had deeper meaning for me. A year ago this month, my family had the privilege of four of us spending a week together at a center in Georgia.  Willingway works with those with alcohol and drug addictions.  I am the wife and mom of two people I adore who struggle in this area. Big struggle.  Big consequences. Big fears. Big losses.  I could lose a lifetime worrying, wringing my hands, planning for things that never even occur. Or bemoaning and becoming bitter over things that have.  But it’s a battle in which the victories and the losses come by the choices in the now,  the momentary choices  today. That’s something that I’m learning…and a little visual helped it sink it further.

In one of  our morning sessions at Willingway, a woman named Hope led our family group.  She reminded me so much of what my 22 year old Hope might be in 20 years. Both Hopes are unashamedly feisty, determined, compassionate, beautiful, and bold.  Hope, the counselor, gave a great little picture that I don’t think I’ll ever forget.  She was talking about the need to live in the now. (For the full effect of this, I ask that you do try to visualize it, as it adds a dimension to the story, ha!) She stood up, and said this:  ” If we keep one foot in the past, worrying over regrets of what we did or didn’t do…” (and with this, she stepped her left foot to the far left…), “and then, add to that, that we worry about all the the things in the future that could or couldn’t happen tomorrow, next week, or in the years to come…” (and with that, she slid her right foot to the  far right and squatted a bit…), “then ALL we do is crap* all over today.”

Yep.  But she didn’t say “crap”.  And we laughed…and I teared up through my laughter because I so got it. I literally could’ve cried buckets at that moment because the realization of what she was saying was like a lightbulb to my heart. Yes.  We can lose today so easily. Especially when loved ones are struggling. Especially when we are struggling. I mean, we’d have to be crazy not to be consumed with worry over what has been or what will be, right…? Not necessarily… Because worry just makes things worse.  We so miss the moments in the now when we’ve got one foot in the past or one foot in the future…or both. Worry of what was or what will be eats up, consumes, the now. Life can get pretty full when we’re doing well, but when we add the chaos that addictions and wrong thinking to the whole mix (along with the dominoes that follow..), well, moments, days, weeks, years…can be eaten up in fear, worry, and a focus on loss…

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So, when I came home from the week in Georgia, I thought a lot about what Hope has said and so aptly demonstrated. I prayed and thanked God for today so many times. I thanked him for the big and the little and the hard and the good and the in between and tried to trust for today, for the moment.  It was Spring time and the birds were flitting and flying around..and added a whole new dimension to the lesson I so needed to live. I remembered what Jesus said about provision…and to consider… consider the birds of the air…  Consider…look at, think on. The verse says, “Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are?”  Matthew 6:26.

I thought about daily need, daily seed, provision for today. Even in the midst of a lot of struggles through the years, I’ve seen God’s hand of provision more times than I can count… I’m so aware that He can open doors that we never even knew were there. He can provide in ways we never imagined, and He can bring people into our lives at just the right time who we’ve never even met.  So…that’s when I started making bird feeders…not that have seed for a week or a month or a season, but food for today.   At night or in the morning, out goes a handful of seed…

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and then…they come…

the quiet and serene…

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…the sassy…

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they come two by two..
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…and they come in all kinds of weather….

and when they come, they remind me that for today, I have what I need. For today, I can do what I need to do one step at a time. For today, I am thankful. I love how Jesus spoke to worry and said (still in Matthew 6) and said, “Let today’s own troubles be sufficient for today.” Yeah, there’s usually plenty to handle for today. And the great thing is, that it sure is a lot easier to handle when I’m not trying to conquer the past and the future at the same time.

Yeah, I can learn a thing or two from birds. And I am …learning that is. (Side note) As I’m writing this, the two mourning doves are on the deck, one in the feeder, and one underneath. They really seem to have this “for today thing down…always together, never in too big of a hurry, (unless I get up to take a photo of them, then they’ll fly and coo in a heartbeat!)  And I’ll spare them. But here’s a photo of them taken this morning.   Yeah, they seem to have the for today thing down. DSCN2976.jpg

Maybe one day, I will as well. But I’m not going to worry about that, right?  Because for today, for today, …there’s provision and grace for today.

Blessings,

Heather

(“For Today” feeders can be purchased at Gifted:Local Artisan Gift Shop and Supply or can be ordered via pm on Facebook )  I love doing special orders with a theme. Am happy to mail them as well.

Blessings for today ~

Heather

P.S. Gotta share a favorite song here…Live It Well <3.

“Live It Well” by Switchfoot

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?  Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?  Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin.  Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.  If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith?  So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’  For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.  But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.  Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

Matthew 6: 25-34

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So this past week, I was really convicted about something.

And that word “convicted” stuck out to me.  I mean in the Christian realm we can use that word quite a bit. We say that we are convicted of this or convicted of that. Oftentimes it might be the ‘little things’ like eating too much or wasting time or saying things before praying through. And I thought about how so often when we (I) say we are convicted of something, we (I) STAY convicted of something because sometimes there’s a release in the admission…and we (I) leave it there.  We (I) just leave it there.

So here’s the thing that struck me. We use the word “convicted” a lot and that’s all well and good, but logic follows that if we are convicted, we are a …(here it comes) convict.  A convict?  Yep, a convict….one who is convicted of something. Not the verb, the NOUN.  Now THAT word has a bit different connotation. It also has lots of visual imagery of prison bars and jail cells and men in orange jumpsuits. And it struck me that if we (I) say we (I) are convicted without moving into the rehabilitative phase after the conviction, we (I) stay a convict.  Yikes. We stay stuck. I stay stuck and choose to inhabit a prison of sorts if I (we) don’t learn from the conviction, the guilty feeling, the conscience speaking and move beyond it.

It was always a no-brainer when dealing with my children. I mean, if they are truly sorry for something, the behavior will change, right? As a mom who loves them, I needed to help them to learn and turn. Learn from the behavior (with not so fun “lessons” via time out, restrictions, etc.) and Turn. I expected that from them and helped them see the reality of what would happen if they stayed stuck. Loving them and wanting good things for them helped me see and act with clarity and resolve. (Most times, anyway.)

Do I do the same thing with myself?  As an adult, I’m amazed at how much I can rationalize things. That’s so not good. The “no big deal” phrase and cultural norm can keep me stuck. If I feel truly stuck in something, convicted, convinced of sin or a lack of wisdom, I will own it.  If I own it, I will hopefully change the behavior, transform the thinking, move beyond the being stuck, imprisoned and convicted, to being rehabilitated, changed, free.

And it takes honesty. And it takes work. And it takes not listening to what the world says about things and truly listening to, seeking out, and bathing my heart and mind in the scripture that is the Truth that sets free. And it takes praying through and surrendering and being very honest with myself. It takes shoe leather (or canvas or whatever they make shoes out of these days). It takes action. Determination.

If I were to share the thing that convicted me with a lot of people, so many would say, “Oh brother, that’s no big deal….” ( I hate that phrase when it comes to things of the heart and actions that can free us..but that’s a thought for another day…)   My conviction had to do with priorities,…an awareness that my ‘go-to’ for encouragement and a lift wasn’t ‘seeking ye first the kingdom of God”, but was more seeking others’ words, others’ thoughts rather than me going first to the Source myself. Not a bad thing, but not the best thing.  Christ-followers need to be attuned to when we’re veering from the path, getting a little off track. Because the little steps lead to the big journeys.  And the watering down of priorities can lead to horrific outcomes.  I know that and have seen it and don’t want to live it. Being stuck is no fun.  So many times it can lead to others being stuck too. Not good.

So today, I put my running shoes on. Figuratively and literally as a reminder. I’m doing a little inventory on myself and being honest about my priorities. I’ve gotta pray before I quickly say things or hit “send”. I’ve gotta seek the Source and not put second or third or last things first. I’ve gotta be honest with myself about time and be aware that each day is a gift that can be wasted or used to honor the God I love. So many things are simplified by merely putting first things first.

So today starts with coffee and scripture. And do you know what else it starts with?  A new morning, a chance to start again…a new beginning. It starts with gratitude for being able to ‘learn and turn’ and enjoy the simplicity of lessons learned and new goals set. It starts with a determination to make the most of this beautiful Saturday knowing that this day, this moment will never come again.  But the things I do and the steps I take?  They will lead me. They follow me. And I’m thinking that I want to choose to stay on the simple narrow path that leads to freedom. Yep, I’ve got my running shoes on.  Thankful for being a runner in this race of faith…and that goals with determination lead to destinations. I can trust God with the destinations as I honor Him with my steps. The big ones and the so little ones. They lead. And when the race is over, I want to be thankful for where those big and little steps lead.

Blessings~

“…let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,  fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.”

Hebrews 12:1-2

“But seek ye first the kingdom of God,

and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”

Matthew 6:33

P.S.  Wanna know something funny? I thought this would be a paragraph post. Maybe two. Maybe another goal of mine should be to take a writing course on editing which focuses on “abridged versions”. Yikes. To those who made it to the end, thanks for staying with me!

P.P.S. Just a little note of clarification. The journey I speak of today has nothing to do with earning God’s love at all. It has everything to do to responding to His love though… It’s not about salvation, but sanctification. It’s about the way we run because He ran to us. The way we love because He loved us. The way we live because He died for us. My steps, right or wrong, can’t change His love..But they can lead me closer to Him and further away. Here’s to the moving closer…

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So, part 2 of this little excursion ended with Day 5. Actually, Day 6.  Turns out there was a day I forgot to include and if it had been more ordinary, well, I would’ve just kept pressing on and not backtrack.   But, sorry,  I just can’t skip it because we went to the most amazing place!  Absolutely amazing.  We went to Milles Garden.

Carl Milles was a sculptor born in 1875.  His home has been turned into a museum and it is filled with sculptures and beautiful gardens.  It is located on a river and is exquisite, absolutely exquisite. I’ll let the pictures do the talking…

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More mountains of beautiful steps.  Was so worth the climb…mgarden12mgarden16mgarden15mgarden14mgarden13mgarden3mgarden8mgarden2mgarden4mgarden6mgarden10

Loved this one of a woman about to give birth.  She needs others to help her do what only she can do, and they are there for her in that moment of need when she’s about to do just that.Funny how knowing our need is a gift that allows us to let others in.  Have had the privilege of having some dear sisters with me when I was in labor with Hope, Chase, and Tanner. There in the pain. There in the joy. Encouragement at its finest.

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Great place.  Great bench.  Incredible view.   Good to see this one sit down for a few minutes…mgarden27Excuse the dark circles under the eyes.  I sneezed all morning and when Austin said that we’d better go get allergy medicine, I’m like, “No, I’ll be fine…” (Famous last words.)  He says , “Mom, we’re going to Milles GARDEN …with lots of flowers.”   Again, I stated, “I’ll be fine…” and after sneezing repeatedly, well, he says, ” We’re getting allergy medicine. ”  Yes.  Good idea.  (Wish I had listened to him sooner.)

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Made me think of one of my favorite verses, “The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms….” (Deuteronomy 33:37).  Carl Milles called this “Hand of God”.

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See why I couldn’t skip sharing photos of Milles Garden?  It was definitely one of my favorite places.  So now, I’ll get back to where I left off at the last post.  We were in Malmo, Sweden, a beautiful little town in the south, staying at an apartment with the bridge to Denmark as the front view and the “Twisted Torso” at the back.

 

 

 

 

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The next morning, Sunday, we were going to take  a train over that long, long bridge and beyond the horizon of windmills to arrive in  Copenhagen, Denmark.c3

The train station was amazing.  Huge structures, tons of details.  As I looked at those floor tiles, I wondered how many  people had walked, run, and strolled them through the years. It was our turn. c4c5

Purple Vans and Purple double decker buses amidst beautiful buildings greeted us. Was quite an eclectic mix all around the city. c8c11c12c13c14c18c19c21c22c23c26We walked and we walked and we walked.  We were looking for a certain location but were not having luck finding it.  As Austin checked back on the directions, I was enjoying watching a little guy. He was mesmerized with watching the fountain, and was leaning over the edge.  Pretty soon, his Dad came up…c28c29c30

Looks like Austin and I weren’t the only ones who were lost…  I loved how the Dad just held him and then talked with him. I’m sure there were words of guidance of staying close to him and not going his own way no matter how amazing the distractions were. After all, playing with water/ fountains is a huge pull for any young boy.  But I’m thinking what that boy felt most was the love of the Dad who sought him out and found him.  That hug spoke volumes as I watched. c31

It seemed to speak volumes to the little boy as well.  c33Well, am so glad that at least the little boy was found, but as for me and Austin, well, we were still lost.  And well, my ‘boy’ wasn’t quite as happy as the little guy above.  We weren’t ‘found’ yet…c27I’ll let the picture of Austin say a thousand words…

We walked on and I loved people watching.  Couldn’t resist doing the next one in black and white background. This man was just going  at it playing the piano, and although no one seemed to be watching him, we all heard his beautiful music.  All around us. It was like the backdrop of the sky, the ground under the feet…present, but not invasive.  Was beautiful.

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Red tires. Red feet.

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Accordions, guitars, pianos…there was music all around. c42c44This mom wasn’t taking a chance at her little guy getting lost. He had fallen and she helped pick him up, dust himself off, and carry on.

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As I passed the old man on the bench, I wondered if he was being a ‘guardian’ of sorts to this man passed out on the bench.  Pretty soon, a friend of the passed out man came and tried to wake him up.  Wasn’t happening.  But his friend persisted and the sleeping soul finally woke up and walked off with the assistance of his friend.  Another one found.  In this crazy, crazy world am thankful for people looking out for each other.c56c57c61c65c63Swans were everywhere.  Beautiful, graceful, living swans, and huge plastic swan boats.

Austin and I were still lost, and by this point, he was walking a bit ahead and still had a certain look on his face about not being found.  And it got worse.  Because you see, after 4 hours after walking, well, guess where we ended up?  Yep.  The train station.  And as he walked, guess what was right in front of him?  The letters  “M-A-D”.  I’m so sorry, but I just couldn’t resist.  I know why it’s blurry.  I so didn’t take time to focus because he would so not appreciate me taking a photo of him at this moment.  But I knew that we would really laugh about it later, so……

c66I’m so very glad that he did not turn around at this moment!! (And we did laugh really hard about it a few days later!)  Timing is an important thing.

 

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So here’s the really good news!  We (he) found our destination!!  We had wanted to take a boat tour and had seen lots of them, but we finally found the one he had wanted. So we set out for a “three hour tour”… with our Captain in blue.c68c69

This little girl was waving at all of the boats as the woman looked on. c70c71

And here is the first mate answering an Italian Dad’s question regarding EXACTLY what time the boat would pick us up as he pointed to his watch.  You see, there were different phases of this excursion.  We had ridden out to another part of the city and seen all sorts of sights, and we had the option of stopping and sightseeing for a half hour.  We were to be back by 5 for the boat to pick us up.  (Remember this Dad’s face.) There were a few of us that decided to stop.  I’m so glad we did…c73c74c75c76

c72We walked for awhile, and then realized it was time to rush back so that we didn’t miss our boat. c77We rushed and hurried and ran and made it to the water’s edge on time.  So did the Italian family of the Dad, mom, and three young kids.    We waited.  And waited. And waited. And as we waited, the Italian man paced.  His children ran and played and complained and laughed and cried. His wife questioned and talked and wondered.  He paced.  And paced. And I wanted that boat to come and show up more for him than for us.  We could find our way back, but that fearless leader of a Daddy was relying on others to care for his family at that point. That’s not easy.  He had made certain that the mate would be back at that certain time and they weren’t.  And we really didn’t know if we were going to be stuck there, and well, as much as Austin and I didn’t want to end up lost again, this man surely didn’t want to have to be lost with his family at some drop off on the edge of the city no matter how great the scenery was. The family finally sat down and just waited.  We did too.

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Just down the shore people were all taking photos of the Lost Mermaid, a famous tourist attraction.   Austin went and got some photos, and I was thankful for the zoom on my camera as I waited by the water. c82

And finally, it appeared!  Our captain and his mate were on their way.  Felt a little bit like we were being rescued to be honest.  Being found.  Yes, being found is a good thing for sure.

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The Italian Dad was so relieved, and the wife?  The wife went straight up to our first mate as he secured the boat and gave him a bit of a ‘talk’ about why he wasn’t there when he said he’d be there.  The Dad?  He just rallied the troops and looked like the weight of the world had been lifted and got his family on that boat pronto.

The ride was interesting and funny and beautiful. The first mate gave some history and made some jokes.  And sometimes he made jokes when I don’t think he knew he was making jokes and I found that Austin and I were having a difficult time not bursting out laughing. We didn’t do very well with that at a few points.c84c85c86c87c89c90

Once we got off the boat, we actually found the second thing Austin was looking for, Street Stroget.  It’s the longest pedestrian street in Europe from what I hear, and it’s so incredibly colorful .  I took a few photos.  Loved the locks on the gate, the ships’ tall masts, and the sun shimmering off the water. Austin was in photography heaven and disappeared again and again.  I stayed found and didn’t move too far to the left or right. Nope, no more getting lost for me. Not today. c94c95c97c99c100c101c104c112c105c107c110As Austin took photos, I saw him on the left side of the street and decided to move that way. Then,  I saw him get on a boat. Not his boat, mind you.  And then, I watched as he got on a chair.  Not his chair, not his boat.  Not his chair on his boat.  And then?  Then, I got lots of flashbacks of his childhood (I’m not kidding…) as he started to put the chair (not his), on a table (not his either) on this boat, (not his).  The table was very close to the railing.  And my mind raced back to memories of my oh-so-smart kid who risked beyond measure and had stitches multiple times by the time he was three. And I don’t care how great the photo he was about to take would have been, when that grown man who happened to be my child started to put that chair on that table, “AUSTIN!!” came out of my mouth. And he knew that limit. Just needed a little reminder that some risks are just not smart at all.  I try not to default to telling my adult children what to do, but sometimes, well, some of us push limits quite a bit.   Maybe that’s why some of us are off doing amazing things in all parts of the world. It’s just that, although some risks are so worth it, others just aren’t.  And to stay on solid ground, sometimes we just need little reminders (at LOUD DECIBELS).  Sometimes I wonder if I yelled his name more than I said it when he was little.  Risk taker from the get-go?  Check.  But oh, the beauty of where that courageous spirit has taken him.

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He stayed on the boat, not for 5 minutes, but for more like 20.  I’m sure his photos are AMAZING because as he said, the lighting was awesome, but after that amount of time, I heard sirens in the background.  I said, “Aus, do you think you can get arrested for trespassing?”  Sirens getting closer.  “No…”  The siren went to another part of the city, and Austin finally got down off that boat. I’m not sure which I was relieved about more.

Then, we ate a wonderful dinner of that Street Stroget right at the water’s edge and had a great time. I forget what I ate, but I know that it was really good.

c114c115The sun was still up as we made our way back to the train station, but it was descending.  We made our way back to the station for the third time and got our train.  But this time we weren’t MAD.  We got on the train and made our way past the wind mills and on back over that long, long bridge to Malmo, Sweden.

The next morning, Austin had a skype call with a business associate from Dubai, so I relaxed on the back patio as he did his thing.

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When he was done, we packed up our things and then ate lunch by the water.  There’s the bridge to Copenhagen in the distance.  We then walked and talked and I took a few last photos. mm1mm12mm10mm14mm9mm16mm4mm2mm7

We went back and got our bags and took a bus to the train station.  We were early (phew) and so we had some time.  Austin wanted to go see the city a bit more, and I opted to sit by the water.  malmo11

But after about 15 minutes, Austin came back and said he had found a beautiful church and wanted me to see it.  I’m so glad he did.

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St. Peter’s was built in 1319.  THIRTEEN, nineteen.  Wow.  And when I walked in the church, I can’t really explain it, but it felt so familiar. Like home.mm17  I’m not one for gilded sanctuaries…I think there are much better ways to spend money.  And this one was gilded big-time. But it was beautiful in so many ways.  I think it felt like Home for a lot of reasons.  Believers through the ages have sat in those pews and poured out their hearts to Him and sought Him and His Presence. What we seek we often find.

Well, we made our way back to the train station and took the 6 hour train ride back to Stock’home’.

And with that, well, the blog won’t let me upload more photos (which is kind of amusing in a way, hmmm…), so I’ll need to figure this out before I finish the last leg of the trip to Sweden.  Thanks again for joining in this little (big) venture.  Only a few more days to share because this was the end of day 7 of ten. Once I’m able to upload photos, I’ll share the last few days which includes my favorite place in the Archipelago.  Until then…

Blessings to You and Yours~

Heather

 

P.S.  Here are some cool verses about being found.

“For the Son of Man came to seek and find the lost.” Luke 19:10 ❤

‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ ” Luke 15:31-32  (Last part of the story of the Prodigal Son.)

“If you have 100 sheep and one strays, do you not leave the 99 and search for the one that was lost?”  Luke 15:4

P.P. S.  Here’s a reminder of what being found can look like:

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https://wordpress.com/tag/thankful-thursday

 

forgetmenot

So, there’s this little purplish-blue flower that can be seen on wooded paths amidst the moss and leaves on the ground. It can be found in fields, or in the grass.  Forget-me-nots can crop up in a wide variety of settings.

The other day, I was in the mountains  on a little woodland trail.  There were beautiful blooms on rhododendrons that immediately drew my eye to their beauty.  There were stately trees that had been there for a hundred years, and little yellow buttercups, wispy and delicate,  that tickled my ankles as I walked. But amidst the beautiful landscape, with all of the colors and beauty, there were these little flowers that could easily go unnoticed.  I so love that they are called ‘forget-me-nots’, because amidst all of the  grand and glorious, bold and beautiful things in the landscape, it’d be easy to walk on by and never see these delicate little flowers of blue cushioned in the center of a circle of green leaves.

They could definitely go unnoticed, but they are absolutely beautiful.  Upon close examination, one would see that there are often little patterns of stripes, and accents of white with a splash of yellow in the center.  They’re just beautiful.   But in our world, being beautiful (internally or externally) doesn’t mean that you’ll be noticed.  Lots of times, the wholesome beauty, the natural, the gentle, the kind, goes so under the radar.  Because in our world, particularly, in the present culture of the US, (Yep, the “us”), it seems that the degrading, vile, totally tainted stuff is the stuff on the radar. It’s the stuff with the ratings.  It’s the stuff that shocks…and how amazing the amount it takes to shock these days.  Talk about desensitization. Anyway, the tainted stuff on the radar is glorified.  It’s  so on the radar not to be condemned, mind you,  but to be condoned.  (And those who discern, dare I say judge, who shine a light on darkness are seen as having a lack of acceptance, a lack of compassion. I believe it’s just the opposite, but that’s a whole other subject, a whole other “rant” and it was so not my attention to rant.  Please excuse the rabbit trail…)

Ok, back to the forget-me-nots (and I’ll try to forget-not what in the world I’m talking about, because I promise, I did have a point I wanted to share!) These little blue flowers spring up anywhere.  Some are perennials, some are annuals, and they come in yellows and blues.  They are here for a little while, then the flowers fade until a later time.  So, if you miss them, those little blue blooms are gone for a time.

So, here’s the thing.  Like little blue forget-me-nots, there are little reminders of God’s grace all around.  Sometimes, they are loud and bold like the stately trees or the beautiful sunset.  But sometimes…sometimes they look like little blue flowers that you’ve just gotta search for.  Sometimes we’ve gotta stop by the path and kneel down to see these little gems.  Sometimes we’ve gotta take a moment to look for them. We have to be deliberate. Because, when we’re rushing through life with all the demands and busy-ness, it’s so easy to miss the reminders, the encouragement, the joy. And those are things that feed us, that give us the encouragement to keep pressing on.  Sure, we can ‘keep on keeping on’ without them, but it sure is a heck of a lot more fun when we are aware of God’s Presence in the big and the little.  It’s like the ‘wind in our sails’ so to speak.  Sure, you can row a sailboat if you need to, but it was designed to be driven by wind.  We were designed to be filled by the Presence of God, to be encouraged.  Yes, we can choose to be windless, but the journey sure looks and feels different when we try to row our own boat.  This is one of the reasons why it’s so important to stay in the Word.  To hear grace day by day.  To hear truth and parameters that set free.  To refocus, and rejuvenate oneself as we face the whats of the day with the important whys. The Word speaks and fills and reminds us of who we are.

And when we are reminded of who we are, whose we are, well, it might just make us more aware of His creation whispering in our ear the encouragement to keep on keeping on.  We might be much more prone to see the little blue forget-me-nots in our world because we will be so aware and in touch with the truth that He has forgotten us not.   Truly, He has forgotten us not.  And knowing that changes everything.  It helps us to forget others not.  It helps us to slow down a bit and not strive so daggone much.  It helps us to be deliberate about remembering that He is with us and we are so not alone in a world where it’s very easy to feel detached, fragmented, disconnected.

So, here’s to having eyes to see His hand of blessings in our lives, this week, this day, this minute.  Here’s to being mindful of His goodness.  Here’s to being grateful for the little things and constantly cognizant of the fact that they are all around us if we would but have the eyes to see (and even if we wouldn’t…) Here’s to knowing that if we aren’t opening our eyes of our heart to see them, that, just like those little delicate flowers, they may fade away without us even knowing they were there.  If we are breathing, there are things to be thankful for, and being aware of that gives us strength to face the things that we are not so thankful for.   Here’s to forgetting not the benefits of the Lord and being so very thankful that He forgets-us-not.  Those little reminders are all around.  Praying to have the eyes to see them.

Blessings ~

Heather

P.S.  May your days be full of them 🙂

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“Praise the Lord, my soul;

all my inmost being, praise his holy name.

Praise the Lord, my soul,

and forget not all his benefits—

who forgives all your sins

and heals all your diseases,

who redeems your life from the pit

and crowns you with love and compassion,

who satisfies your desires with good things

so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s…”

For more of this chapter, click link.  It’s worth it 🙂

Psalm 103

 

resurrection

To resurrect is to rise up.  It is to bring back to life, to revive.  From what?

From darkness to light

From despair to hope

From bondage to freedom

From defeat to victory

From disease to vitality

From lost to found

From death…physical, spiritual, emotional…death to LIFE (physical, spiritual, emotional).

Love that.

There a story in scripture of when Jesus healed a paralytic. He said, “which is easier to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven’ or to say ‘Get up and walk’?  But so that many of you will know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins, I say to you, ‘Get up, pick up your bed, and go home.’  And he got up and went home. But when the crowds saw this, they were awestruck and glorified God…”  Matthew 9:5-8

See, we’re awestruck when we see things in the physical. Seeing is believing. And we’re awestruck by the beauty of the resurrection, the truth that Jesus went from death to life, a physical death to life. I mean, it’s , well,…un believable!!  But it happened.

But here’s the thing… the resurrected life doesn’t begin with physical death.  It begins when we’re brought from death to life, spiritually. The physical manifestation is merely an outer manifestation of what happens internally when we ask Jesus to forgive us for our sins, to redeem us. Like a life-saving remedy that kills disease and restores vitality and health, the resurrection power of Christ attacks the sin that numbs and steals and invades.  Sin always takes a toll, sometimes in silence, sometimes not.  It invades and changes people.  It steals the joy, numbs the life, dulls the senses, robs us of the missions, the passions, the journeys we were created to take in our lives.  Sin blocks the relationship with God that we were created for.  Jesus paying that penalty restores it.

So, when I hear the word ‘resurrected’, I think not only of Heaven for those who have gone before us.  I think of me.  I think of the hope He daily restores in my life, the way God’s grace has so resurrected and revived this heart of mine a thousand times and more.  I think of the very personal way that He rolls away the stones in my life and helps me to walk in the freedom of being loved and chosen and whole.  He doesn’t call us to tombs of darkness, death, and endings.  He calls us to Light, and freedom, and life….and beginnings.  The resurrected life isn’t all about Heaven and the future and us. It’s about being ALIVE right here, right now, free from chains that bind and hindrances that cling.  A few thoughts on the Resurrection.  May your Easter be blessed, and may the days ahead be full of the risen hope that comes through knowing the love of the Savior.

Blessings,

Heather

“Now this is (not was or will be…IS) eternal life that they know You, the Only True God, and Jesus Christ whom  you have sent.”  John 17:3

 

 

So, today, I was so thankful for the sky.  Yep. Simple enough.  Thankful for wide open spaces and sunlight.  Today began with me feeling behind and thinking that it should be a crime to feel like you’re running late when you’re already in the car at 6:50 a.m.  But so it is with cafeteria duty.  I ran back into the house twice, and then spilled the precious coffee which I unashamedly need in the morning…especially during my month of early morning cafeteria duty.  But I got in the car, pulled out of the driveway and instead of the dark haze that’s been greeting me lately, there was a display of pink clouds in a lavender sky as I drove up the road.  Here’s a visual for ya:morninglight4

The photo doesn’t do it justice at all, because I tell you, it was just beautiful.  It felt like God saying a big good morning, and don’t worry about the spilled coffee or the meeting today or the appointment, or the expectations of the coming weekend,….it’s all going to be okay.  That’s exactly what I felt as I breathed a little deeper and drove up the street.  Crazy how a little change of scenery can grant a little perspective.

As I drive to work in the morning, there’s one place where the sun is usually just coming up and it’s absolutely  beautiful.  This morning was no different.  morninglight3

Again the photo just doesn’t do the beauty justice. Kind of like the difference between a picture of a cup of coffee versus a mug of coffee, right there in 3-D, steaming hot and ready to drink.  The sunrise was definitely the 3-D version.

And then  after cafeteria duty, here was the scene as I walked into my room at school…

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I don’t know what it is, but there are just times when I need to just look up…get my eyes off myself, my feet, my world, and just look up.  I’m thankful for the way the beauty of the sky helped me get my eyes off of my little world and worries and just look up.  Beauty has a way of doing that…of drawing our eyes to something, with the residual effect being that we get our eyes off of ourselves.    Beauty can be a magnet that holds our gaze.

As I walked in the classroom, I didn’t see much sky the rest of the day.  I was in the classroom and went from one thing to another.  Amazing how fast days can fly by.  But at the end of the day as I got out of the car, my eyes couldn’t help but look up again because the crystal clear night sky was full of beautiful stars.  Totally full. And again, I found myself just being thankful for the grace that God shows us in amazing ways throughout our days.  But the cool thing is that the true Beauty lies in who He is.

And here’s a thought that I want to ponder…the beauty of who God is should be shining through in Believers.  It should be a magnet that holds one’s gaze in the same way that the beauty of the sky held my gaze and encouraged me so deeply.  Sometimes as Christians, we try to “put on” the beauty of who God is by doing the right stuff on the outside.  But we’re not called to a plastic kind of appearance like plastic flowers with no scent or life.  We’re called to gut level real life…beauty that comes through the life and light of Christ shining through.   Through. And the cool thing is that the Bible says that if Christ be lifted up, He will draw all men unto Him. Not we….He… will draw all men unto Him.

When there’s a connection with Christ it heals and deals and creates a deep well of beauty that shines through those who are often most oblivious to it, the beauty that is…because the focus is on Him, not us.  It shines from within, isn’t put on from without.  And I think that in the same way that the beauty of God’s creation of the wide open sky greatly encourages me in the morning…well, that’s the way Believers are called to live…as beautiful creations that bear testimony of their Creator. I know some of the most beautiful encouraging souls I have ever met have probably been totally unaware of the fact that just seeing them encourages me deeply.  The beauty and love of Christ just seeps through in these ordinary lives in quiet yet powerful ways. So thankful for that and for how God often uses the simplest of things to remind us that He’s right here, right now, and sometimes all we have to be reminded of that is to look up or look around.

“But thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ,

and manifests in us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place…”  

2 Corinthians 14

 

watches

So,  today the news was buzzing about the sad and unfortunate death of Antonin Scalia, one of the conservative judges on the Supreme Court.  Flags at the Capitol building are half-staff and the candidates at the debate last night had a one-minute moment of silence, with bowed heads and quiet….one moment to remember a life well lived and then they moved on to the political “debate”.

The news media did not take long at all, however, to immediately turn the death of Antonin Scalia to an uproar about the replacement of this conservative judge.  Already, the debate is on…should Obama be able to replace this judge or should the president-to-be-elected in November of 2016 appoint this judge?  The acrimonious debate began publicly on the very day of the death, with public officials, media, politicians…countless people jumping in. The very day that Scalia passed away there appeared to be more discussion about the political weight of how this might or might not impact the nation than about the life of an influential man in our country.

And as I watched and listened to the banter, I just breathed a sigh.  I breathed a sigh and rolled my eyes and wondered why in the world everything has to be so instantaneous and so reactionary, and so daggone played out in speculation of people who talk way more than they listen.  I’m so concerned that there’s such a lack of “think time”, no  respect of quiet for a moment to remember before we jump in to all of the political games and implications of what his death will mean for the court, and what it will mean for our country.  It is exhausting to listen to the politicians and would-be candidates with their banter and manipulative exchanges, opinions and …lack of respect for the humanity they desire to “serve”. Frankly, there are times when it is just downright embarrassing to listen to the debates and wonder what the rest of the world is thinking as they see our political nonsense being played out.

Children are watching. Skeptical young adults are watching. Older adults who once cared deeply about politics and the way our country is going are now shaking their heads and seeing the futility of it all. The adults who are the designated “Leaders” of our country are so caught up  in the nonsense of political polls and strategies and rhetoric, that they are losing their way, losing respect, losing influence. There is so little think time, so little reflection, so little digging deep and standing on a foundation for those who are ‘leading’ our country.  Leadership is one thing.  I would prefer proactive leaders who act more and talk less.  But our media, our fast-paced world, and the need to instantly react rather than reflectively respond is leading.  Leading astray.

I think we all need a time-out.  Big time.

We all need a moment of silence…a period of time when the instant dings of our phones bids us to respond to the latest text, email, or “news” are turned off.  Even the morning “news” shows on TV have become so incredibly ridiculous as the hosts often want to get their word in so much that there is a constant barrage of interruption after interruption and it’s so difficult for the viewer to even decipher what is being said.

Time-Out.

As a mom, I was so aware of the value of time-out…for me and for my kids!  Sometimes you just need a few minutes to reboot, to rethink, to refocus.  Sometimes all that is needed is to take a few minutes to breathe, think through and realize that things don’t have to be so intense…that we can handle things another way.  Like an overloaded computer that has too much stimuli coming all at once needs to reboot, children (of all ages!) can be so overstimulated and just need a little breathing time, a little space.  It’s amazing how a little time and space, (sometimes in silence, sometimes not!) can make all the difference in the way a day goes.

Think Time.

As a teacher, I’m so aware of the need for “think time” Think time is the time you take to engage your brain on a subject or topic or question BEFORE responding.  It is the processing time.  It can make all the difference in how we respond if time is taken to think it through first.  But in our society of  feverishly fast-moving fingers, texting, facebooking, and instagramming, even children are being encouraged to be instantaneous in their responses to whatever stimuli comes their way.  We as adults need to stop, breathe, think and model that for our children, and it’s sad to say that that is so going against the grain of our society.  We adults have our social media, and are getting caught up in this reactionary way of living as well.  Countless hours are lost in scrolling up and down social media, venting opinions to others, getting caught up in the next viral video and responding to that while our children scroll on theirs.   Meanwhile…life happens…or doesn’t.  Memories are made…or aren’t…eye to eye communication is had, or not.

Anyway, forgive the rant.  No answers here.  I’ve just been a bit disillusioned by things going on in this political year.  I’m totally baffled by the behavior of the  present candidates that are representing our nation. I was so sad to hear the banter and political war of words that didn’t skip a beat when Antonin Scalia passed away.  The impact of his life will go on. Whether one agrees with his decisions or not, one can know that his responses were educated, well thought through decisions that he knew would impact the world around him for generations to come. He wore the robe as judge and took it very seriously as one who would lead a nation.  And I guess that kind of sums up the heart of what I’m saying…we have an impact.  May we choose our responses wisely.  May we live reverent lives that realize that reactionary instantaneous words spoken in the heat of the moment live on and on and not only go viral, but impact lives.

Yes, I wish that our nation could truly have a moment of silence.  I wish we could have some think time of where we’ve been and where we’re going… Of what our part is in it all. I wish that our candidates would stop and take a good look at how they are leading…because good or bad, they are leading. Lots of wishes. Lots of hopes.  Lots of prayer needed for sure. Lots of need for some think time for our country. And it starts with me…with each individual.

Again, forgive the rambling rant.  But if you take anything from this ramblefest,please take this:  “Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what the perfect will of God is – His good and pleasing and perfect will.” (Romans 12:2)  We are all filling our mind with something….but reNEWing our mind comes with the Hope and Life and Light of Christ that sets free and changes from the inside out.  Conformity is easy. Refocusing, renewing, readjusting, going against the grain of society….it all takes conscious effort.  It takes time and tenacity and …a determination to stop, to be still…to choose moments of silence in a world full of chatter, banter, and noise. The banter isn’t going to stop.  But I need to. God has a way of filling the Quiet with His Presence when we offer the time to Him.  And in this crazy crazy world, that gives me hope and strength.

“In quietness and trust is your strength.”   Isaiah 30:15

Blessings ~

H

 

snowday6

I’ve always loved snow days.  As a child, the anticipation of snow was always fun.  I grew up in Maryland where there was some snow, but not a lot, so snow days were fun and out of the ordinary.  They were filled with sledding on the nearby golf course, making snow men, and that never-ending attempt to finally build an igloo.  If Eskimos could do it…why couldn’t our neighborhood clan? I never did check that off of my childhood bucket list of sorts!

Later, as a mom, I just loved snow days.  I loved the anticipation of having the kids stay home and enjoy the snow.  With so many little ones in the house, it was quite a challenge to keep them bundled up.  Seems like by the time I got everybody out the door, one of them was ready to come back on in.  The dryer was always running, hot chocolate was a must, and watching a movie was always sweet when the kids were all so tired from playing in the snow that they’d watch in silence, then fall off to sleep, on the couch, on the floor, in a chair.

Now, as a teacher, I must say, I continue to look forward to those snow days, quite a bit actually! I’m worse than my own kids with watching the weather reports to see if we might get a day to catch up.  I love having days when we can just have a pass and not go anywhere and hunker down and enjoy the time here and get caught up on that long list of things I haven’t checked off yet.

So, this snow day started out pretty well…

snowday18…it’s not every day that your husband brings ya breakfast in bed.  I think he felt guilty cause he indulged in the danish that we were supposed to have for Sunday morning pre-church.  Not much of it left, I’m afraid, but at least he shared a piece!  Everything tastes better when eaten in bed with a hot cup of coffee.

So after that indulgent breakfast, I got up and the snow was so beautiful that I really felt like going for a walk, and believe it or not, the man who delivered my morning breakfast said yes he’d go for a walk, too.  So I put on lots of layers and grabbed my boots from the garage that hadn’t been worn in quite awhile and we braved the cold.

And here are a few thoughts from a walk in the snow…

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We all leave traces behind.  Everyday.  Snow or not.  Foot prints.  Tire treads.  We all leave our mark in this world.  Every single solitary day.  Sometimes we see and feel and know the traces, the impact.  Sometimes we don’t.  Am thinking I want my ‘footprints’ to be productive, constructive, even beautiful.  And when they aren’t?  Well, thank goodness for figurative snow that melts and time that heals and forgives and removes and even, yes, redeems.  And about that?…here’s another thought about snow.

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It is white. Quite an observation, I know.  But yes, it is white, bright, and reflects light like crazy.  It covers. It fills in the gaps.  Even things that seem to be white in our everyday lives often appear a bit beige or yellowish when compared to the incredible white of snow.  And that’s a beautiful thing.  Especially when you think about this verse…

“‘Come now let us settle the matter,’ says the Lord.

‘Though your sins be as scarlet, they will be white as snow.'”

Isaiah 1:18

Yep.  White as snow is a good thing.  A beautiful thing.  An amazing, redemptive thing that God can cover us with grace like a bright white light blanket of snow.  Fresh.  New.  White as winter snow.

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And here?  Here is scarlet.  Red.  Blood red.  Bold.  Standing out. Sometimes red is beautiful when it’s berries on a bush in the thick of winter, when so much of the world is grey.  But sometimes? Sometimes red isn’t so great, especially when it’s alluding to the sin that can fill us and course through us like the blood in our veins. Sin destroys like a cancer.  It invades.  It takes over.  But so does God’s grace.  It just needs an invitation to come and take over and cover and make new.  God’s forgiveness covers and redeems. It was bought with a price…red…the blood of Christ. Our redemption for our scarlet sins were purchased by the blood of Christ and His righteousness.  His righteousness, white as snow.  Our forgiveness, white as snow.  Yes, white as snow is a beautiful picture of redemption.

So as Buddy and I are walking, we were pretty quiet, except for when I talked, of course.   Hope asked us to take a selfie.  Neither one of us are accomplished at that at all.  In fact, I pretty much cut myself out of the selfie….so here’s Buddy.

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She wanted us to send her a photo and texted hilarious laughter at our attempt.  Anyway, we stopped for that…and then came upon this tree.  I couldn’t resist sharing a funny story with him when I saw this next scene… and sorry, can’t resist now!

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When the kids were little, we would sometimes have to drive on a road where there was a sewer plant, and some days, boy did it stink.  So, on those days, the kids learned that there was such a thing as a sewer plant that stunk to the high heavens, but I obviously never did explain what a sewer plant actually was, because one day, I was asked a question.  We were out of town and standing on a deck that was two stories high, and we were eye to high with a pine tree full of these beautiful pine cones.  Well, I think the pine cones reminded this young 4 year old Josh of  a stinky something, because his first question as he looked closely at these brown pine cones was, “Mommy, is that a sewer plant?”  Needless to say, it was all I could do to not laugh out loud.  But I so loved the connections this little guy was making. He was curious about his world and was listening when his mom said random stuff in the car about this or that.  And at that point, this mom realized I did need to ensure that I gave further explanations to a lot of those random things I said during countless hours in the car.  Anyway, Buddy heard that story for the first time.  We’ve missed a lot of stories shared through the years, but am thankful there’s still time to share.  Okay. On to the next little observation on our walk….

 

 

 

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So this observation?  It’s good to double-check… just saying! Of course life is full of mistakes, and faux pas (which I have spelled ‘fopaws’ in the past!), and errors and inaccuracies and miscalculations.  But, it’s just good to have a team that looks out for each other and is willing to correct mistakes.  Accountability and constructive criticism are good things because they can keep us from walking around making the same mistakes day after day, year after year, for the rest of our lives.  Accountability says, “Oops…you spelled that wrong.”  And humility says, “Oh, you’re right.  Thank you!”  Refusing correction because of pride, well…it can end up being pretty humbling, cause we’re walking around and our signs are saying Sheirff Allen Rd. when they should say Sheriff Allen.  Yep, accountability, humility, learning from mistakes, they keep things right and good and fresh.  It helps us to keep moving on to the next lesson instead of staying camped out in the same one we’ve refused to learn from time and time again.

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Next little observation, that kind of continues the one before….fragile can be beautiful.  This little tree  was bending with the weight of the snow. It is bending, not breaking.  Sometimes life can feel like that can’t it?  We have a heavy load, and it bears down on us, and we bend.  We tire. But we press on and bear the weight.  And do you know what?  I don’t know about trees…but I know that sometimes, weight bearing can make us stronger.  When the weight is lifted, we realize how much we’ve been bearing and how we are stronger, and have somehow grown from the bearing of the weight.  I love the verse that says,

“A bruised reed He will not break,

and a smoldering wick He will not snuff out.

He will bring justice to those who have been wronged.”

 Isaiah 42:3

Sometimes we can feel like that bruised reed or like  this little light of mine is just a flicker of a flame about to be snuffed out.  I’m thankful that God knows our needs.  He knows the weights we bear better than we do and He loves us through them.  He bears our weights.  Oh, and how awesome is it to have friends who come alongside and encourage and help bear the loads and fan the flames when we’re a bit spent.  I am so thankful for the many precious people like that in my life. And I want to be one of those people as well.  A fanner of the flame.  A bearer of the load.  A friend who sees the fragile areas and doesn’t condemn them..just comes along and strengthens them.

So, we walked and saw beautiful sights.  The snow crunched under our feet with each step, but other than that, there were very few sounds other than an occasional gust of cold wind.

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One more little observation from this walk in the snow.  You see that mailbox?  As I saw this scene, it looked a bit nostalgic…a picture of days gone by.  I thought about how when I was younger, I’d love running to the mailbox to get the mail.  Especially around birthdays. Receiving mail was a good thing.  There was anticipation, but if nothing was there, there was a little twinge of disappointment.  Well, it made me think of all of the many, many, many mailboxes that our kids these days have.  They have facebook messages, twitter, email, instagram, phone, text, etc., and etc….and there’s anticipation for wanting someone to connect, to send a message.  In days past, the trip to the mailbox was once per day.  But now?  Now, it’s constant and momentary…and days are filled with a surplus or vacuum of those “messages”.  And I so feel for the kids who are just ‘waiting for the mail’…the next message that says I belong or I matter, or someone is thinking of me. I long for this generation to know that they matter, they are connected, they are thought of. But people fail.  God doesn’t.  On those days when the mailbox is empty, the loads are heavy, the wind is cold…would that we would know that God cares for us and calls us to draw near to Him.  Our walks in life are all different, and the traces we leave are so unique, but the God who loves  us calls us to a walk with Him.  To a walk with purpose, beauty, and hope.  We can go it on our own, but somehow, I think leaving our Creator behind would somehow be missing the beauty and the mission of it all.

So there you have it.  A few random, scattered thoughts that occurred to me on my walk in the snow with my husband.  Don’t worry…poor Buddy didn’t have to listen to all of my random ramblings as though captive on our little walk.  I have learned through the years to limit sharing my little observations and only share some of my random thoughts and stories.  And you?  I hope I haven’t bored you.  I just figure that this is voluntary and you’ve chosen to walk alongside for this little bit. Hope you’ve enjoyed the little talk from this little walk.  I’m thankful for those of you who read ….that you say ‘yes’ when invited to share in the journey.

Blessings ~
Heather

 

 

 

 

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