Archives for category: Faith

 

 

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There are so very many friends out there who have had a rough season way beyond what they thought they could ever bear (“bare” seems more fitting).  Loss of a child. Chronic Illness. Addictions that won’t go away in them or their loved one.  Medical diagnoses they never saw coming. Loss of parent that is no longer here, and some that are, but aren’t. Shattered Dreams. Relationships lost.  This post is for you, and for me, and for us. I don’t have answers or simple sayings. I just want you to know that…. I see you.

I see the look in your eyes. I see  the grief, and the pain. I see it. Even when I don’t. Even when you hide it so well.

And I don’t want you to have to hide it …any of it.  I know that you feel like all you can to is just try to hang on…minute by minute… This season doesn’t define you. You have nothing to prove in terms of how strong you are or aren’t. Nope, times like these can’t be boxed up and labeled and defined. Not at all.

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Am thinking that grief has lots of colors and shades and shapes and looks different on everyone. And there’s no perfect way to navigate the path that grief takes for each one.  And those who see those colors and shapes and shades…well, lots of times we don’t know how to navigate being in there any more than those in grief now how to navigate the pain..

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Some journeys are similar, but none, none are the same.  And the sad truth is that sometimes when we need people the very most, we just want them to go away. It’s just too much. We think they won’t understand. And maybe they won’t. But tearing down the facades that build walls can be a beginning.

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So as the holidays approach that seem to bring grief and memories to the surface, I want you to  know that I see you. I want to walk in it too.  Sometimes it’s just good to have people with us along for the ride, no matter how difficult the navigation…or turbulent the tide.

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And then sometimes there come waves of joy and laughter and grateful grace that come out of nowhere and leave as quickly as they came. I want to laugh with you during those times. To celebrate with you the blessings and remind you that it’s just as okay to laugh as it is to cry…just as okay to be thankful as it is to grieve.

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I just want to remind you that you’re not alone, and that even though this journey has parts that only you can face, that there are people who want to get in there…but may not know how.  Me, for instance. Sometimes I just don’t know how to get in there. I so believe in prayer…that God can fill in the gaps where we could never hope to. And I’m praying. And I’m awkwardly sharing truths as I see them and there’s an open door. But I see in part…and feel in part. I haven’t walked in your shoes.  But I see  you. I do.

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Maybe grace comes in as we stop trying to hold on so tight and “do grief right”, and let go. Maybe I need to let go of some things to. My fear of hurting you more by opening up wounds even more just as they’re beginning to heal. Or saying too much or too little. Those are some of my fears.

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So is sounding so lofty. I’m not lofty…I’m right here right now in this world and want to be in the mess with you too, but lofty isn’t who I am even if me fumbling through my words might appear that way. Kind of hard to navigate this new territory. Nope, no loftiness here,…I just want to meet you where you are…and sometimes moving forward is scary because I don’t know if you want me to meet you where you are. I know there are times we all need to walk alone. I just want you to know that I’m here, and I see you, I do.

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I want to remind you that you’re not alone. Even in the darkest hour, you’re not alone. He sees you. And He knows you, all of you and where you’ve been and where you haven’t and what you’ve said and what you haven’t, and what you believe and what you don’t.  He sees you.  And He L O V E S you. And nothing, NO THING, can separate us from that love. That’s what the Bible says.  When the fog of grief settles in and surrounds, I hope that that truth can be a candle that burns brighter and brighter in your heart and warms you with the awareness that He sees you.  It sure did for me. (He saw me , too)….and I see you.  I do.

Blessings~
Heather

 

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Romans 8:37-39  

“This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all.”

I John 1:5

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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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“Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don’t be afraid.” ❤
~ Frederick Buechner
So, it’s already Thursday again. Thankful Thursday, that is. And here are a few things I’m thankful for today.
First am thankful for..this quote. “Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don’t be afraid.”  Amen. Faith, not fear. Faith. Feed faith, not fear.The news tells us to fear. Looking deeper into things through eyes of faith can encourage us to ….not. Not fear, that is.   Love Frederick Buechner’s tip for sure.
Am thinking faith, not fear, in the little things. Thankful for my one-of-a-kind youngest son who leads the way in this.  He dresses to the hilt for every “Spirit Day” at school, even when it’s at someone else’s school for another team’s football game. Tonight, Hawaiian night. So he doesn’t just put on the  crazy fuschia pink and yellow and black Hawaiian shirt that a dear woman, Christine, bought for Buddy years ago. No, he doesn’t stop with that. He makes sure he’s got the puka shell necklace, the shirt that says, “Hawaii”, and the One Love Skate hat that has the continents of the World on it. He thought they look like Hawaii…and the one who started One Love Skate is living in Hawaii now. Anyway, he goes to the hilt and so does not get it from yours truly. We had Spirit week at school this week and I participated, sort of. Wore a bandana and jeans on Western day and a hat on hat day, ha. Pretty pathetic attempt, I’d say.  But Tanner, Tan-man thoughtfully prepares and goes all out in these things. He’s not afraid of what others think. No fear. Just courage. And with courage comes freedom. Love that. Wanna be more like that.
Thankful for conversations had, and conversations that are not yet voiced. Because sometimes waiting is important. Sometimes the unspoken and restraint and processing before words are spoken is a gift. Sometimes words come like thunder. Sometimes they come like a gentle rain. Usually, some thought and prayer and time can help dispel storms a bit. Takes courage to be still. Takes faith to know that there will be a time to talk later…takes courage and restraint to actually do the waiting. And then takes courage to speak.
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Thankful for heroes. Everyday heroes who see a need and jump in the water, the way, the whatever, to make a difference. Thankful that everyday heroes look just like you and me and that, well, they are you and me when we choose to be. We can all be heroes to somebody. We just need to look for opportunities to jump in. Thankful for the many reminders this week that sometimes the little things are truly the big things. And that those little efforts made at the right time can make a world of difference.  Thankful for the reminder that, “except for the grace of God, there go I.” Natural disasters aren’t personal. They sweep on in and leave people in their wake without regard for race, economic status, creed, gender, political views or ethics. Heroes do the same. Disasters help us see through a different lens…where we are on the same side with the same mission. So thankful for the ordinary heroes sweeping on into Houston this past week and the love in action that was shown.  Thankful for the way it inspires others and inspires me to take initiative to jump in when there’s a need. And there are needs all around….
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Thankful for retrospect. For lessons learned, lightbulbs in heart and mind turned on, and then freedom to move forward. Takes courage to step on into unknown futures.  Takes tenacity to keep moving your feet when they want to stand still. Takes courage to keep eyes and heart wide open. Thankful for loved ones who are moving their feet and going forward into the unknown. Thankful for being in the here and now and thankful for the truth that we need each other. We need each other period. Takes courage to takes walls down. Cool thing is, that’s when there’s room to be en-couraged.
Thankful for celebrations and milestones. For bright lime green balloons and sprinkle donuts, and  cards signed by every faculty member celebrating One student. Thankful for the awareness that one plus one plus one equals way more than three..it equals “We”. Thankful for “We’ll miss you” cards colored with every color in the crayon box. For 3rd and 4th grade students who share encouragement and ‘remember whens’ and give with words and actions.
Thankful for fragrant little white flowers that have cropped up on the Broad River greenway, in the woods by my school’s parking lot, and on the roads on the way to work.  Thankful for the fragrance and the beauty that’s there for just a short season, and then gone. Enjoying them while I can.
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I’m thinking maybe my blog should be called “Rambling on…”
Random thought?  Yep. But pretty accurate, ha.    Or…”Random Ramblings…”Am thinking I’ll close for now 🙂
Blessings to you all.
Heather
P. S. Feed faith. Not fear. Courage. Not fear. Faith. Not fear.
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“Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don’t be afraid.” ❤
~ Frederick Buechner
“Fear not, for I am with you;
Be not dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you,
Yes, I will help you,
I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.”
Isaiah 41:10
Thankful Thursday
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Garden in Stockholm, Sweden

I recently read this quote. Love it. It’s kind of an eye of the beholder thing. A mindset thing. A what-do-you-see-beyond-what-you-see thing.  …A faith thing.

“David was always there in the marble.

I just took away everything that was not David.”

Michaelangelo

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Milles Garden in Sweden

Maybe eyes of faith can help us look in the mirror of our lives and see that some of the painful chip-chip-chipping away of things is merely grace at work in our lives. Because maybe eyes of faith would recognize that He who began a good work in us is indeed doing the work.  But maybe it doesn’t look quite like we thought it would.

 

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Milles Garden ~ “The Hand of God”

It’s funny how we can spend so much of our lives ‘adding on’ to our idea of who we are with experiences, family, friends, professions, accomplishments, stuff, etc.. But am thinking if Michaelangelo had laser vision to see David within the stone, how much more does our Creator see beyond the exterior ‘add-ons’ to the heart of who we are.

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Milles Garden

So if you find yourself in some circumstances that feel like they are paring you down, making you vulnerable, or laying you bare…am thinking it’s good to ask God to help you see yourself through His eyes…to see the situation through the eyes of the Master Sculptor. Michaelangelo could see that “David was always there in the marble”….and “just took away everything there that was not David.”  How much more can God look at us and see what needs to stay and go? Might be a tedious process, with chisel and point circumstances that we wouldn’t choose. But the end result?  Faith accepts that we might not see things that our Master Sculptor knows and that His Masterpiece is quite a bit better than what we could think or dream or even imagine.  Am thinking His ‘less’ is so much more than our ‘more’…beyond what we could even dream. I’d rather trust the chisel in His hands than in mine, that’s for sure.

Blessings ~
Heather

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”

Ephesians 3: 17-20

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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.

 

 

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It’s happened quite a few times in the past few weeks. After dinner and a day of teaching, I’ll get in the car to run a few errands, and find that the car isn’t going from point A to point B in an efficient way. Nope,not at all. It seems to take the long way and end up gravitating to one of a few places with wide open spaces where I can see the sun going down..kind of melting into the horizon.

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I don’t know what it is. Of course, there’s nothing like seeing a good sunset. It’s beautiful and calming, and always changing. No two are ever the same. It’s also a reminder that there’s way more ‘out there’ than my little microcosm. Lots lots more. Of course there is. But being reminded of it by appreciating how vast our world is and how small I am, well, it helps get things in perspective in such a freeing way.  Yeah, these little diversions aren’t a waste of time.

I can remember when my kids were little there were those moments in a day when they’d be playing and then just out of the blue run to me and give me a hug or kisses or flowers or reach for my hand. I remember so many of these sweet moments of them kind of touching base and then quickly returning to their play…, and those little diversions….those are what my sunset diversions are to me.  In the same way that my kids ran to me, it’s like me taking that time out of my day to just run to God and acknowledge Him, thank Him, experience Him. It’s an intentional time to be grateful for the grace to see another day, for the beauty that is so easy to overlook, for the many many things in my life I have to be thankful for. The needs and deficits can have a way of making themselves known…They can scream loud in a day. Yes, needs are like the squeaky wheels that demand to be recognized. But when I take a little time to recognize the awesome things that can be taken for granted, well, it just helps me exhale and breathe a little better for sure.

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I love the verse that says, “Taste and see that the Lord is good.”  It’s not just saying Know….or think on…or believe…the verse is saying taste, see.…experience…savor. Savor the favor. Savor the moments. Savor the grace. Savor, taste, enjoy.  Acknowledge that He is good. Acknowledge and experience His Presence. And somehow, I think that awareness that God is good, that savoring of His grace, so strengthens us  when it comes time to address the squeaky wheels and needs and drudgery that can be in a day. And there sure can be a lot of that in a day. But there sure is always a lot to savor too. Sometimes we may just have to take some diversions to see it…Love that. Thankful for that. Strengthened by that 🙂

Blessings ~

Heather

 

“From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets,

the name of the LORD is to be praised.”

Psalm 113:3

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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  

 

I can hear it before I see it.  Some days it’s louder and faster and more powerful. Other days it’s slower and  more quiet and peaceful. But I can always hear it before I see it. DSCN1597.jpg

I know plants can’t hear. But I’m sure there’s some sense of the water raging by.

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And spiders hanging by threads inches from the waters edge….I’m sure that they are aware of the powerful force of the waves beneath them.

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And rocks,…more like boulders, that have been there in the midst of the water’s flow…they stand still as the river rages on.  I’m sure there’s erosion, but it’s a little by little wearing down.  It’s a standing in the midst of the raging waters…they’re still standing steady, well-grounded, as the waters rage on.

 

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The rock stands the test of time, but the flower…not so much. But then again perennials come back year after year, and if not perennial, well seeds reproduce and the flower lives on through its seed. But in its short life time as this flower?  The delicate presence remains delicate and beautiful and present no matter the flow of the river a few feet from the ground where it has grown.

As my camera lens was  zooming in on the plant, the spider, the rock and the flower, these objects came into focus, into clear view.  But the more I focused in on the objects, the more the fast-moving waters became blurred. I loved looking through the lens and seeing the objects standing still in the midst of a world of water rushing by. And I loved it for a few reasons.

Sometimes life can feel like the world around us is in fast forward overdrive motion. And we can be tempted to focus on those waters. And it might cause us to lose focus…to lose a sense of a clear view of who we are and what our purpose might be. Yeah, raging waters, spinning worlds,…they move fast. But that doesn’t mean the rock does. Or the flower. Or the plant, or even the tiny spider hanging on its web. Yes, I loved seeing the steady standing still of the objects as the water rushed by.

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And I love seeing people stand strong and steady in the midst of the storms in their lives. I’ve witnessed it quite a few times just this week in ordinary souls who choose to stand strong when their worlds come crashing down with difficult news or circumstances.   Steady hearts stay focused. But not on rushing winds or raging waves. Steady hearts stay grounded in truth.  In love. In hope beyond themselves. Staying steady and faithful in a world that encourages people to bail on beliefs and get caught up in the waves of the next momentary trip,…staying steady in this world encourages people to have hope and maybe stay steady themselves. Yeah, it all seems to depend on where the focus lies… on lies or truth…on hope or defeat…on integrity or momentary choices that can get us caught up in a current we had never intended to ride. A wavering heart can lead to wind-and-wave-driven feet. Steady heart….steady feet.

Well, these feet were so thankful for the walk and exercise, and the FitBit was congratulatory when I hit my steps goal. But am most thankful for the encouragement that comes when there’s a little time to reflect, to think, to see, to wonder. Am thankful that God’s Creation speaks (LOUDLY) of His Presence, and that His steadfast love can keep the most wavering of hearts steady when they are stayed upon, focused upon Him.

Blessings~

Heather

P.S. I can hear the river before I see it. And the cool thing is, I can hear the Word of God and ‘see’ with eyes of faith things come to life before I see them. I can trust, believe, stay steady and hold on tight to the Truth…and I believe….that then it’s just  a short walk or a long walk until I see it fleshed out in my life or the lives of those around me. Sometimes hearing comes before seeing, and believing comes before the answer is seen. But much in the same way that i can hear the waters rushing and then know the river is there, I can read the Truths of scripture and trust God with each prayer…because it’s only a matter of time before I catch glimpses of the answer…or better yet, catch glimpses of Him in the midst of it all.

“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering,

for he who promised is faithful.”

Hebrews 10:23

“The grass withers and the flowers fade, but the Word of Lord endures forever.”

Isaiah 40:8

 “Be on guard. Stand firm in the faith. Be courageous. Be strong.”

1 Corinthians 16:13

 

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Sunflower in the Backyard July 2017

If a sunflower could wink, I think this is what it would look like. It’s slowly unfolding its petals and unveiling what’s beneath a little bit at a time.

Kind of feel like life is like that sometimes. Sometimes it takes a good good long while to see the bud turn to a bloom, and then the bloom to surrender all the petals to reveal what’s beneath. Sometimes it takes awhile to see hard work pay off, lessons be learned, efforts bear rewards. Sometimes, most times, good things just take….t i m e…

Just wanted to give a little reminder for those of you waiting to see the fruit of your efforts, the answer to prayer, the evidence of things hoped for.  Faith keeps its heart and eyes wide open even when there’s a slow unfolding of what may be hoped for or expected. Yes, faith keeps its heart and eyes wide open even when it can’t see any signs of what’s hoped for. Why?  Because faith doesn’t want to miss the moment of the unfolding, the unveiling, the revealing of the hope realized.

Yes, in a life of faith, it’s important to keep eyes and heart wide open even when circumstance screams to move on, shut down, and close our eyes. Faith opens its eyes and heart wide…regardless.

And when the unfolding comes, eyes of faith see what we’ve known and hoped for and believed was coming all along. Keep pressing on, praying through, staying free…you never know when the slow unfolding will reveal something even more beautiful than what you had imagined. ❤

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Sunflower Field in Kings Mountain, NC July 2017

Blessings ~
Heather

“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen….By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible.”  Hebrews 11:1,3  

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Sunflowers ❤  Kings Mountain, North Carolina  July 2017

 

 

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