Archives for category: Family

DSCN2817So, I don’t know if any of you have noticed, but I’ve been blogging a bit (LOT) more than usual. The reason?  A blissful three week break. Yep three whole weeks. Teaching year round school has its advantages for sure.

But it’s Sunday night, actually, Monday morning (12:03) a.m. and I’m sitting here kind of wired-tired.(Just got back from picking up Tan in SC)  I can usually drink coffee late at night, but it wasn’t a good idea tonight as I’m a bit restless. *Sigh*.  My three week break is officially over…and work starts in about 7 hours. Sigh again.

And since a picture is worth a thousand words, I’m going to post a few from this three weeks to remind myself of how sweet it was and to be thankful for my job that gives me some long breaks.I’m so thankful for time with dear friends and my kids…and want to remember… I’m gonna do like Dr. Seuss says, “Don’t be sad  it’s over, smile that it happened.”  So there. Gonna attempt that.

So here goes…The first week had a lot of reading, sitting, writing, and even…playing guitar in my lime green chair.  Was so good for me.

I cleaned and organized a lot that first week as well. I promise I did…  but I also took lots of photos and had the creative outlet of making little tea cup bird feeders.

And then, come Friday, I left for the beach to see these guys…<3

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…and then, Melanie and Zac in Calabash. We went to the beach, ate at a cute little coffee shop called Drift’s in Ocean Isle, and even went to some thrift shops (for tea cups…surprise, surprise!). That night, we ate dinner with Melanie’s parents. Loved getting to know them and thankful Melanie and Zac have such great people in their lives.

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Yep, there’s me and Zac. (Am usually behind the camera, but actually got in front of  it this time.)

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Even got to eat breakfast on the patio…Bible (check), camera (check), coffee (check)…yep, it was a good start to the day.

I then went and spent a few glorious days with my mother-in-law.  Doing what you ask?  Anything we wanted!! That was a switch!  And what we wanted included gardening and fixing fountains and eating food that didn’t take long at all to prepare.  Got to spend time with my nieces as well and see my sister in law and brother in law as well…and all of their cute quite affectionate dogs. Also got to go to a sweet Psalm Sunday service at my mother-in-law’s church. So thankful for the time. Even got to go to a senior breakfast with 30 ‘senior’ ladies on the Pier in Myrtle Beach as a last hurrah.  I felt like I fit right in…

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Then, back to Shelby to be with Tanner and Bud.  But had to go see my girl up in Boone.  But on the way to Boone, made a stop in Hickory to have a precious time with a dear, dear friend. So thankful for time spent just talking and encouraging and so being real I needed that. More than I knew I did.  Thankful . So then off to Boone.  So good to spend time with Hope and take in the sights.  (Oh, and I promise I was wearing shoes. Flip flops that is. They have a tendency to flip off when I’m sitting down. (Especially when I have to have good footing on a  cliff. )

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We even got to spend some time with one of her friends that I just adore. When it was about time to go she said, “Mom, do you want to stay tonight and have a girls’ night?”  I said  YES 🙂  And we drank coffee, ate cannoli and watched “Safe Haven” and cried.  Yep, a perfect girls’ night.

The next morning, I left early and drove down the mountain to see some dear friends for breakfast. I had hoped to see the sun rise over the mountains, but it was pouring. Was still beautiful. Yep. I even had to stop to take a photo of fog…DSCN3947.JPG

I had a sweet breakfast with dear friends of the family. They’ve been mentors and encouragers of mine since I was a  young mom. Talk about priceless.

And then, back to Shelby. Got to see a sweet friend and her kids as well the week before Easter.

So thankful for the truths of scripture that refresh and rejuvenate more than any amount of time well spent. Had lots of time to read, pray, and take in encouragement from scripture and friends. So good.

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And then, the next week was full of more cleaning and making (MoRe 🙂  )  teacup things and lots of baseball games.  DSCN4009

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And, I discovered the culprit for the huge branches that keep coming down off the mimosa tree!  This guy right here…  He was caught red-handed (headed). Ah well, It needed to be pruned anyway.

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I went to an Earth Day art show and sold (a bunch!) of the tea cup bird feeders. We all got to see a butterflies set free. Kind of cool. But was very important to watch your step…they weren’t sure what to do with their brave new world after being set free. I’m sure they’ll find their way…DSCN4521

And I’m guessing I’ll find my way as well in this going back to school in the morning. Gotta be brave sometimes, right? If it’s hard for me to go back after three weeks, just think of how the students I work with must feel. I’m guessing I’m not the only one wanting to rewind the clock right now.  Gotta focus on helping them be brave and spread their wings a bit.

And so, I’ve gotta focus forward…and focus outward… and “not cry because it’s over, but be happy because it happened.”  I’m so thankful for time well spent. Even when it’s full of nothing. I think I needed a big dose of that…and I’m so thankful for the “thousand words” each of these photos represents. So, when the coming days are full and busy and a little bit chaotic, well, I can look back and remember and thank God for the little respites we all have amidst the busy-ness of life. And to my kids?  Well, what a joy it was to spend time with you all. And what a gift you are to this woman who happens to be your mom. Thanks so very much for time well spent.

Blessings ~

Mom ❤

P.S. Didn’t get to see Austin this break. (California is just a bit too long of a ride these days!) So thankful for the time we had from Jan-March. Still have your ‘office area’ all set up…clocks, crazy water bottle and all 🙂 xoxox

Was sweet to be able to spend time with Chase a few weeks back. We walked and talked on the beach and then he started throwing shells as I took some beach shots with my camera.  He didn’t realize that he was the subject of the photos a lot of the time…

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And as I looked through the lens and watched him skip shells, well, it brought a huge smile to my face. I don’t even think he realized what he was doing. It was like he was back on the third base line, firing a ball home….He would put the shell behind his back…

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Lift that left leg…

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..stick his tongue in his right cheek (yep, every time)…and…

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…whiz that shell to the waves.DSCN3251

Then, he’d watch. Just for a moment because it disappears right away of course…

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I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen my boy-now-man repeat those steps. He played third base as far back as coach-pitch…and muscle memory tells him that when he picks up a ball, a rock, a shell, he follows a certain sequence. And he follows it…even when skipping shells at the beach 🙂  And I don’t even think he realized it.  Until I couldn’t hold back my laughter and he realized that this not-so-conspicuous photographer of a mom was taking photos of him. And then I told him about his stance…totally baseball third base stance was on the beach …and he smiled as he reached down for the next shell.DSCN3255

And I did a lot of grinning as I watched. Because no matter how crazy life gets, well, we have our ‘go-tos’. We have our little things that are so ingrained in us that we don’t even realize it. We have our things that help us stay steady when life gets a bit unbalanced.

And as I watched, I thought about how the patterns developed during the easier times in our lives so matter during the storms. When our hearts and minds go to defaults, where do they go? I mean, I know that skipping shells or stones in a certain way isn’t a big deal, but it just reminded me of how what we practice is what we do. What we pour into our hearts, minds, bodies comes out even when we don’t realize it. What we pour in comes out. What we practice is what we do. What we think is how we live.

And during crazy times when we may not feel like we can sort through things, well, we have our defaults. So am mindful of making sure my default, the things I practice, are the things I want to flesh out when I’m not thinking.  Because, if I’m honest with myself, there’s a lot of instances when yours truly is so not thinking. I react, respond, and revert to my default. Some good defaults. Some so not. Gotta work on those so nots.

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Because you never know when someone is watching and taking it all in. Ask Chase 🙂 When a stone is thrown in a lake, the splash goes in and then the ripples go out and out and out… And it’s the ripples, not just the act, that can impact those we never even know. Our defaults matter. They so matter.

I’m thankful that scripture gives good defaults…good things to ponder and pray through and practice. Here’s one  of my favorites. (the verse  below, Philippians 4: 4-8)…..  Cool how determined, disciplined action that may start out as going against the grain of our feelings, etc. can, with practice, become our “go-to” defaults. And peace follows…peace that passes understanding. That’s another cool thing about defaults…they provide stability, normalcy, familiarity, when things might be so not stable, normal, familiar. Love that. Crazy how watching my Chase throw a shell can start these rambling thoughts…  Maybe that’s one of my defaults….rambling thoughts, ha!  Yikes.  Oh well…here’s the verse to think on…

“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”

Philippians 4:4-8

And one more (rambling) thought.  Those shells that Chase threw out to sea?  They’ll most likely come back to shore soon. It’s what waves do. It’s what shells do. There are “defaults” and “go-to”s all around us designed by a loving God. Creation speaks of His Presence and love. Being mindful of His goodness can make this whole setting good defaults a whole lot easier. We love because He first loved us. It’s what He does. Maybe the more we realize that, the more we will, as the verse says, have our defaults be to love. Maybe so.

Blessings ~

Heather

“A ship in the harbor is safe.

But that’s not what ships are for.”

William G.T  Shedd

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Wrightsville, Beach, North Carolina April 7th, 2017

I saw some ships today, and some smaller vessels on the water. They were coming in to the harbor just as the sun was going down. My son and I watched as the boats in the distance moved a little closer in to the dock.

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It was windy and cold, but beautiful on the patio as we ate.  Hot Clam chowder tasted really good on a chilly day like this. But we definitely preferred the view with the cold over the comfort without the view. We watched (and shivered) as the ships came in and the sun went down.

I know that ships are meant to sail. Some are meant to be on the high seas and others are meant to be a little closer to shore. But all are meant to venture out from the safety of the harbor. Yeah, I get that. I do.

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Ocean Isle, North Carolina April 8, 2017   (Zac)

And anchors help to provide stability out on the seas. And there are times to use anchors, and times when anchors are dangerous. And moorings are meant to keep one safe in the harbor. Moorings need to be tied tightly at the right times, and loosened when it’s time to set sail.

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Chase, Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina , April 7th, 2017

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Zac, Ocean Isle, North Carolina April 8th, 2017

My  “ships” are all venturing out these days. Only have one who is ‘safely in the harbor’ of our home, but all of the others, well, they are venturing out, all at different distances, different speeds, different tracks, but all venturing out nonetheless.

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Chase and Josh, Wilmington, North Carolina April 7, 2017

And I’m proud and thankful for the courses that they are on. And at times I’m fearful of the storms blowing in and the potential dangers that they have faced, are facing, and will face on their journeys.

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But I remind myself that ships…ships were meant to sail. Birds were meant to fly.

DSCN3273 Children were meant to grow up and become independent, to use their gifts and give it all ‘out there’. And they are not alone ‘out there’. I’ve gotta remember that.

DSCN3203And the fact that my ‘ships’ are out sailing, well, it makes me so thankful for times when they get to come back in to the harbor, so to speak.  It makes me thankful when the moorings are tied, and they are safe in my sights for a little while.

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Chase, Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina April 7th, 2017

And we can talk about the journeys and the trials that have been, and maybe prepare a bit for the ones that are to come.  I love that ships don’t have to be tied to a specific dock to be safe…it just takes that connection, that mooring, that link to that holds them close to shore.

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Chase, Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina, April 7th, 2017

So, the past few days have been precious, because, well, it’s felt like my sailing ships (3 out of 6, anyway…)  and I docked for a bit. ( And we were reminded that home is so much more than a place and family is a gift, and God is good and present and available on high seas and safe docks, college campuses and work environments.

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Zac and Melanie, Ocean Isle, North Carolina April 8th, 2017

And I’m catching glimpses of their world and am thankful for where these ‘ships’ have sailed.  And I’m thankful for moorings that look like cups of coffee and walks on beach and ‘remember when’s. I’m thankful for moorings that look like  T   I   M   E…not stuff, but   T   I   M   E, and conversations that don’t always include lots of words, but might include lots of listening. And prayers prayed sometimes out loud and sometimes not. I’m thankful for moorings  that look like warm chocolate chip cookies, kale smoothies, clam chowder in the cold, or walks on the beach.  I’m thankful for moorings that look like truths stated and not danced around and hugs afterward. I’m thankful for moorings that look like laughing at ourselves and not having to be anything but what we are in that moment. And I’m just thankful for moorings, connections with these ships that were entrusted to me so long ago.

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And I’m aware I’m so not the Captain. My job isn’t to steer the ship. It’s to trust the One who is steering, and encourage those ships to listen, to yield, to the Captain. Am thinking in this stage of my life, my privilege is to focus on the moorings…so that in the midst of all the venturing out, there’s always a connection, a safe place to dock when those venturing ships need a reminder of why they’re venturing out in the first place. After all, ships were meant to sail…

Blessings~

Heather

“Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up”

Deuteronomy 11:18-19 

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https://wordpress.com/tag/silent-sunday

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So, I’ve done a load or two of laundry in my day.  In fact, I’ve probably done at least a load or two of laundry per day for over 25 years. Having a large family has helped me do my share and more of this chore.

I’ve learned a lot.  Separating is imperative if you have a new red shirt. With six males in the house, pink was never a dominant color choice.  Another thing is that you can’t overload the bin. If you overload the bin, well, the laundry doesn’t get clean, the washer starts to thump, and bump causing the launderer (me) to run frantically from one side of the house to another before something snaps (in the washer of course.) One more thing.  Never, ever, ever put a white sock in the load with dark sweaters. Never, never, never.

Why is this you ask?  Because one seemingly innocent move like putting a white sock or two in a dark load of clothes can create hours and hours of painstaking removal of lint from dark sweaters. Either that or the sweater gets put away for years.  Or the sweater is worn with lots of little white dots all over it. It’s not a fashion statement to be envied…trust me. I’ve worn those sweaters a time or two (or two hundred).

I have also wasted precious time trying to de-lint the sweater that was a cohabitant of the sock(s) in the washer.  Yep, I’ve wasted precious, precious time using every form of lint remover there is in an attempt to remove what could have easily been prevented by just not putting  socks into the washer. “A stitch in time saves nine” is one way of saying that… a white sock kept out of the washer saves a lot of annoying lint removal later on…

And why do I blog of this today?  What’s the deal with the white socks?  Well, I just did a load of black clothes and almost dropped a pair of very white wooly socks in to the washer.  Yikes. I did get them out in time, but  immediately was thankful for the analogy. Because why?

Well, I was thankful for the analogy because words…words are much like socks.  One white sock in a load of black, one bad apple in a basket of fruit, one ill-timed ugly word in a conversation….they all seem to have the same effect….lots of wasted energy and time.

See, ill-timed, reactionary, words that aren’t thought through, well, they have an impact much like the white sock in a sea of black.  They waste a lot of time, energy, and ruin something that was good.  Words matter.  Spoken and unspoken, they matter.  What we think and feed in our minds matter way before they come out of our mouths in words.

I love the way the Bible likens words to a rudder on a ship, for they do steer and lead and direct not only the people in the conversation, but can impact those we never even meet. Words matter.  The Bible also likens words to a fire…fire can warm or be useful, or burn and be incredibly destructive.  Just ask the people who love the beautiful mountains of North Carolina….a campfire can be a beautiful thing, but a fire untamed, un restrained, in full-on fury is terrifying, destructive, and devastating.

So, am reminding myself to be careful.  I’ve gotta be careful with fruit ….(note to self: gotta get those bananas out of the fruit bowl today..either to make banana bread or trash them because they will soon lead to some bad apples.)  Also, I’ve gotta be careful with socks and breathe a huge sigh of relief that I just rescued the black sweaters from a pair of hidden white socks.  And, way most importantly, I’ve gotta be very very careful with the words I speak out loud and even the words I don’t say.I’ve gotta filter the words I hear through what I know to be true. I’ve gotta be careful with the words that are spoken to me in anger and hurt and be determined to have a teflon spirit. I’ve gotta be careful with words. Period. What I let in. What I let out.  What I do with both.

Words are rudders. Words lead the heart, the mind, the soul, and we are to guard our hearts with truth. Period.  Reactionary words happen. They just do.  Forgiveness needs to happen then too. But more than that, it’s such a great thing to be well equipped with truth from the Word of God that acts as a filter, a dryer’s lint guard if you will, to get all the fluff out of the way and stay clean, dare I say, “pure”.  That’s what the Bible says…How can a young man keep his way pure?  By guarding it according to Your Word.” Psalm 119:9.  And if it can keep a young man pure, well, am thinking that it will definitely have a great impact on keeping others on the right track. So here’s to throwing away bad fruit, keeping laundry sorted, and hiding God’s Word in our hearts, (order of importance reversed of course!)

And if you get a chance, read Psalm 119.  The whole thing. It’s awesome.  Talks about how God uses His Word to revive our spirits, enlarge our hearts, keep us on the right track. His Word is a lamp to our feet and a light to our path. His Word refreshes and gives hope.Hiding God’s Word in our hearts, meditating on it and filtering our thoughts through the treasure of Truth found in the Word can prevent so much waste in our hearts, minds, and lives.  Yes, it’s definitely worth the time to read…Kind of like those white socks…being mindful can prevent a lot of annoying wasted time, energy, and even heartache later on. And unlike the effects of white socks on sweaters, the impact of words can last as long as the memory allows and can lead us down paths that are difficult to redirect.  Here’s to letting that ‘lamp unto our feet’ help keep us on good paths. Just a few thoughts as I did my laundry and rescued my sweaters from a few white socks.

Blessings ~
Heather

Psalm 119 – ALL oF it is so good, but below is just verse 11 through 32.

How can a young man keep his way pure?
         By keeping it according to Your word.

With all my heart I have sought You;
         Do not let me wander from Your commandments.

Your word I have treasured in my heart,
         That I may not sin against You.

Blessed are You, O LORD;
         Teach me Your statutes.

With my lips I have told of
         All the ordinances of Your mouth.

I have rejoiced in the way of Your testimonies,
         As much as in all riches.

I will meditate on Your precepts
         And regard Your ways.

I shall delight in Your statutes;
         I shall not forget Your word.

Deal bountifully with Your servant,
         That I may live and keep Your word.

Open my eyes, that I may behold
         Wonderful things from Your law.

I am a stranger in the earth;
         Do not hide Your commandments from me.

My soul is crushed with longing
         After Your ordinances at all times.

You rebuke the arrogant, the cursed,
         Who wander from Your commandments.

Take away reproach and contempt from me,
         For I observe Your testimonies.

Even though princes sit and talk against me,
         Your servant meditates on Your statutes.

Your testimonies also are my delight;
         They are my counselors.

My soul cleaves to the dust;
         Revive me according to Your word.

I have told of my ways, and You have answered me;
         Teach me Your statutes.

Make me understand the way of Your precepts,
         So I will meditate on Your wonders.

My soul weeps because of grief;
         Strengthen me according to Your word.

Remove the false way from me,
         And graciously grant me Your law.

I have chosen the faithful way;
         I have placed Your ordinances before me.

I cling to Your testimonies;
         O LORD, do not put me to shame!

I shall run the way of Your commandments,
         For You will enlarge my heart.”

Psalm 119:9-32

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So, today in my classroom, we took a little bit of time to do a puzzle. We’ve been needing to work a bit on teamwork with this eclectic strong-willed little group, and we worked like a team.  “We” were black, white, and multi-racial.  “We” were blond haired girls and dark skinned boys and a white  middle aged teacher whose olive skin is darker than some of her students who are African-American. “We” were the team.  We talked about team work and we had a goal…to finish the puzzle…to make  all of the many pieces fit.

And some of us tried to force pieces to go where they wouldn’t fit.  And some of us tried to fix it. And some of us sat back and turned all the pieces to the same side and others of us found all the edges.  Some of us were good at looking at shapes.  Some of us were good at looking at colors and patterns.  Some of us were good at encouraging.  Some were good at organizing.   We were a team, a very diverse, team of strong personalities that quietly sat together and put together a puzzle. And there were only six of us.

After 20 minutes, we realized that we probably wouldn’t finish the puzzle before it was time for these students to leave and the next students to come in. And do you know what “we” decided?  The students volunteered, “why don’t we let them finish?”  as the next group filed into my room. I was so proud of them.  Because they realized that sometimes it’s not about us.  But all of us wanted that puzzle finished because there’s just something unsettling about seeing all these pieces laying around when they are made to be one.  One picture. One vision. One big piece made of lots of little pieces. The second group did gladly finish what the first group started and fit right into the Social skills lesson of teamwork that we were discussing this week. We all felt a feeling of accomplishment.

And as I drove home feeling a bit discouraged with regards to wondering what I’d find when I turned on the news regarding the election, I smiled.  I smiled because I thought about the puzzle.  I thought about the pieces, and those young minds and hearts and bodies that worked as a team to get the job done.Trust me, for this little crew, that was no small feat!  And for some reason, that gave me a bit of hope.

I think it gave me a bit of hope because in a world where there a million pieces and a thousand different views and ignorant people that are vocal and wise people that are silent and every kind of people in between, I remembered that we have today.  We have today to build puzzles and work like a team with those in our midst.  We make a difference in the way we do or don’t work together with people who will or won’t see the big picture in our homes, in our families, schools, churches, synagogues, streets and communities. We are part of a whole. Each and every one of  us are an important part of a whole.

Our nation is a nation divided.  It is a complicated puzzle with fragmented views of what the whole is supposed to look like. It’s more obvious now than I ever remember it being. Now as I sit and watch the TV screen with the map of the U.S. (the ‘us’) with red and blue states that look like little puzzle pieces fitting together, I am choosing to remember that irregardless of the outcome of this incredibly divisive election, we are part of a whole.  And the way we treat each other in the process matters.  It matters so much. Win or lose. Democrat or Republican. Black or white.Conservative or Liberal. Christian or Atheist. We are part of a whole. United we stand. Divided we fall.

My students got that today.  The only way they got anything done was by listening, contributing, working together and showing common courtesies. And maybe seeing the ugliness of the past year can help Americans to have a mirror held up to ourselves to determine that we need to pause.  After the election and before the inauguration, I hope and pray that adults in our nation will step back, pause, and breathe.  That collectively and individually people could stop long enough to listen and hear and respect.

I so believe that we are one nation under God, because I believe God is Sovereign.  Whether we acknowledge God or not is up to us.  The consequences will follow based on the choices we make. Consequences of a lot of these choices are a slippery slope, and there are many who refuse to acknowledge the way one choice will lead to another. There are those crying “Danger ahead!” and  I so see the slippery slope our nation is on…financially, morally, ethically.  I’m praying for mercy. I’m praying for vision. And I’m praying for team work that can come when very different strong-willed people can quietly take a little time to accomplish a small task at hand.

Puzzle pieces are meant to be put together. Praying for peace-makers…..piece-by-piece peace makers…who are both tenacious and kind, determined and resilient, focused and hardworking…because those little hands that were putting the puzzle pieces together in my class?  They will be reaping the benefits or curse of what we do with this fragmented country. One adult, one voice at a time will help lead.

Yes, the problems facing our country are all too big.  They are enormous. Like a vast million-piece puzzle, the problems facing our Nation are so complicated. But in the midst of this discouraging political climate, let’s not forget that puzzles are put together piece by piece, one piece at a time. We can’t do the whole puzzle, but we can try to make a positive impact in our little corner, with the little pieces we have.  I’m not naive enough to think that I can make a huge difference in this incredibly big nation of ours.  But one thing I can do….I can do my best to be a contributor, a peace maker in the lives of these little ones around me who are with me right here and right now.  And maybe… that will make a world of difference to them, and to our little tiny corner of this great big puzzle we call the United States of America. Because puzzles…puzzles are meant to be put together.

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Choosing to remember that every piece of a puzzle matters.  Every single solitary one.

P.S.  Oh, and I do want to add one more thing (always, lol…).  When you hold up one puzzle piece, one might wonder what in the world it is.  But when all of the pieces are put together, we see the big picture because all of the pieces blend into one, and it all makes sense.  We so see in part these days…with puzzle pieces and with each other… And I think a lot of times, instead of accepting, we stereotype and categorize and analyze and think we see in whole when we see a teeny tiny part. It’s easy to get so caught up in the minutiae that we don’t understand, that we sacrifice the truths that we do. Maybe if we spend less time trying to analyze and figure each other out so much, we’d be able to see each other for who we are. Just a thought.

 

“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.”

Colossians 3:12-15

  •  *love that “binds everything together in perfect harmony”..kind of like a puzzle…<3
 Blessings ~
Heather

 

 

 

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Every October, I remember.  Of course, I remember throughout the year, but when leaves start to turn and there’s a chill in the air, I often find myself having to fight off some fears and steady my heart as my memories turn to two days, two sons, and two events in October of 2012.

Two days:  October 25th, 2012 and October 26th, 2012

Two Sons:  Josh and Tanner

Two Life Changing Events:

Major Car Accident (Josh- October 25th, 2012)

and Cardiac Arrest (Tanner – October 26th, 2012)

October 25th, 2012.   Josh’s car accident in South Carolina.

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Josh’s car.  Flipped multiple times and topped a tree 15 feet up.  Yep, 15 feet up with the metal still hanging in the tree.  And there’s Josh to the left…standing.  He’s there STANDING with only scrapes and cuts on his arms and hands. I couldn’t wait to travel down to South Carolina to see him the next day, but then….image

…then came Event Number Two. Next Day, October 26th, 2012. Tanner’s Cardiac arrest at middle school.  He was “out” for 5 minutes.  Revived by school nurse, Amber Payne, and parent, Edna Farrington, with use of AED. The good news was he was revived and breathing. The bad news was that the medical team couldn’t stop the seizures. A principal from the school had rushed me to the hospital and I was there to hear the sirens as the ambulance neared the hospital. Nothing could’ve prepared me for seeing Tanner in the condition he was in.  He was soon airlifted to Levine Children’s Hospital in Charlotte, put in a polar suit to stop seizures, and was in an induced coma for three days.  We weren’t sure how things would turn out when he woke up.

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Two Days. Two sons. Two events….felt like a bit too much. And well, it was.

Time kind of has a way of feeling like a blur at times like these. But the amazing thing is, we only have to live one minute at a time. Thank goodness for that. We live one phone call at a time.  One fast car drive at a time.  One hug, one kiss, one cry, one itty bitty moment at a time. One doctor’s prognosis at a time. And the cool thing is, there’s grace for the moment, for the minute that we’re in, when we’re in it.  Grace lives right there in the now, not in the past, not in the future.  It lives in the minute that we’re in right here, right now. And that’s what I saw in those days and the days to come…grace that covers the needs of the moment.

Every family has their stories…the spoken and the unspoken, the beautiful and the incredibly hard. We all have our own takes on what these stories do to define us, refine us, shape us, and change us. I so believe that what God allows, He uses, but I don’t pretend to understand the ‘reasons’ for why or why things did or didn’t happen. I can see it from different angles for sure, but my sights are so limited. (Of course when I was 20 I saw things perfectly, knew it all, but  50 years have  helped me to see what I don’t see more than what I do.)

Yes, we all have our stories, and how we respond becomes part of the narrative. I could grieve that it happened, that two sons came so close to losing their lives.I could grieve that not only did Josh endure the accident, but also that when he needed us to be there for him, we all had to rush to another tragedy.  I can’t even imagine how hard it all was for him. Or I could be so incredibly thankful that he survived a car wreck that no one seeing the car believed he could have survived. I could grieve that Tanner has a heart condition or I could be so filled with gratitude over the grace that allowed the school nurse and a mom who “just happened” to be a nurse had “just happened” to be stopping by the school at the same time that Tanner’s heart gave out.  Or I could be so incredibly thankful for the grace of the miracle that these two sons were still breathing, living, and right there.  I could grieve or I could be thankful. I did both.

I’ve told the stories so many times…because, well, it’s therapeutic. Those days changed me.  They changed my family.  As hard as the day was, what I remember most is the grace that held us all together and provided just what we needed at just the right time. Our family and friends and community supported us in amazing ways and came to be there in those first moments, hours, and days. My family was in 5 different cities in the Carolinas and we all got to the hospital at the time when the doctor called us into “the room” to share the gravity of the situation. We were all there, including Josh, who was still bruised and scraped and reeling from his own trauma the day before. The news from the doctor wasn’t good.  Wasn’t good at all. But we were together in that moment, and that’s what mattered.

Sometimes it’s easy to jump ahead…to fear what that prognosis might be.  To fear what might come, what might not come. There was definitely a battle going on in my mind about not fearing the unknown of what the future might hold. It’s also easy to regret what’s behind.  So easy to lose so much time and energy and heart over what we can’t control in the future or in the past. It’s one thing to learn from mistakes. It’s another thing to dredge them up and keep living in them.  It’s one thing to prepare for the future. It’s another thing to fear it. We don’t know what the future holds. Worrying only steals our present, and we have no idea how long we have this gift of our present. Trust me on that one…

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But here’s the thing.What’s my takeaway from all of this?  Sometimes the very things that are just too much for me, point me to the grace that is so much bigger and so much greater than I can even conceive. Where there are gaps of feeling “too much”, the voids point me to my needs that I can’t fill on my own, or those of my kids.  What I want to guard my kids from might be the very things that grow them up in amazing ways. Voids make room for more grace.  Voids recognize the need for grace.  Grace to endure. Grace to be thankful for what is rather than what isn’t. Grace to recognize but not fear what could have been,but be thankful for what is.

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Tanner, Hope, and Josh in July 2016

Grace that Josh survived a crash that no one believed anyone could survive.  I mean, look at the car.  And he came out with only scratches and gashes on his arms and hands. The scars today are a reminder of his survival, of grace that said that there was more, so much more of his story left to come.

Grace that Tan survived. Grace that people rallied. Grace that not only did he survive, but that after not breathing for 5 minutes, that he still had the capacity to do all that he had done before the ‘event’.  Grace of having so many people who were there for us in countless ways.  Grace for nurses who were incredibly passionate, professional, and blessed us in ways that I can’t even explain.  I’ve tried.  But words just don’t suffice.

And maybe, bottom line, that’s the heart of this story for me. It’s not the story, it’s what the circumstance, the story brought about.  Between the lines of any story are gaps…gaps that are filled in by the writer, by the reader, by the teller, by the listener. And maybe sometimes it’s not as much the “what” of the words of the story that impact us as much as the “HOW” it is lived out and responded to .  I’m thinking that I never would’ve chosen to write in a 13 year old son’s cardiac arrest and a serious car accident of a 21 year old into my family’s story, not in a million years. I especially wouldn’t have written them in two days apart. No, I would’ve never chosen that “what”.  But the “how” of how it grew our family, changed us, knit us together…I’m more thankful for that than I can even describe. Yes, the two days four years ago helped me see  and feel in tangible ways that where there are lots of twists and turns in my story, that the gaps are filled in by the grace of God that carries, protects, and keeps.  Grace keeps.

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So, as the leaves start to turn and the winds start to change, I’m going to remember.  I’m going to remember the grace that carried me and my family through a dark time.  When fear starts to grip me, and at times it really does, I’ll choose to remember that I’ve faced some of my worst fears and seen God’s Hand in the midst of it all, leading, protecting, and loving…..filling the space with grace. Like mortar on a stained glass window, His love fills in the gaps of the broken pieces of our lives, and makes something absolutely beautiful. It is mine to keep offering the pieces of my life to Him, ALL of them, one by one. It is His to fill in the gaps and make something beautiful. I love that. “He makes all things beautiful in His time.”  His time. His moment. It is mine to live in the moment, it is His to show up. And when He shows up, everything changes, because grace…grace changes everything.

By His Grace~

Heather

“He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.”

Ecclesiastes 3:11

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Hope

Silent Sunday

I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
    where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
    the Maker of heaven and earth.

 He will not let your foot slip—
    he who watches over you will not slumber;
 indeed, he who watches over Israel
    will neither slumber nor sleep.

 The Lord watches over you—
    the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
 the sun will not harm you by day,
    nor the moon by night.

 The Lord will keep you from all harm—
    he will watch over your life;
 the Lord will watch over your coming and going
    both now and forevermore.

Psalm 121

Sweden6Day One.  I arrive in Sweden just before noon and get to see Austin for the first time in ten months. No words for how great it was to see him face to face.  Whether our children are 3 or 23, it seems that just seeing that they are safe and sound and in your sights give a sense of breathing-deep relief and joy.  Pure joy.  We took the train back to Stockholm and I put my bags (and the beautiful flowers he handed me at the airport) in the room where I’ll be staying and then hit the ground running to see the city.

I loved taking it all in.  The big, grandiose, impressive sights like these…

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…and the not-so-big, ordinary, little details like these…

 

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And in the big and the little, I so enjoyed taking in “my view of his view”…Aus loves taking photos probably even more than I do.  Here’s a few of him on day one…because of course, of all the crazy-good things that I was seeing for the first time, the greatest thing was seeing this city that he’s come to love , through his eyes.

 

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Day 2

I slept like a rock that night even though the sun doesn’t go down till 10:30 ish and came up at 4 a.m.  Summer days in Sweden are long.  The day began with breakfast on the balcony.  Aus had toasted bread and lingonberry jam, along with French-pressed coffee.  We sat on the balcony and this was our view…

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The first stop after breakfast was to go down to the corner store and get some to-go lunch.  We got pasta salad to go and were on our way to the next stop…getting bikes to ride through Stockholm.  We found the City-rent-a-bikes and were on our way!  I hadn’t been a bike in I don’t know how many years, but as a good friend of mine recently said, “where our children go, we go fearlessly.” (Deb).  Yes, pretty-much fearlessly, but some of the traffic stops were a bit congested and I’m sure people were aware of the wobbly start at each stop.  Ah well….we all survived and there’s nothing like riding a bike right smack-dab through a city to help you see it, sense it, appreciate it. And that’s what we did.  We ended up at a beautiful spot by a bridge and ate our lunch there.   There were daisies everywhere.  Have I ever mentioned that daisies are one of my favorite flowers?  daytwodaytwo5daytwo4daytwo6

So, we ate lunch, took some photos, and then we were off again on our bikes. Austin had wanted to show me his favorite little coffee shop that was a bit on the outskirts of the city.  It has a huge outdoor seating area looking over the water. The ducks seem to like it there as well.

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Talk about relaxing.  We had time to catch up a bit on some of Austin’s recent ventures.  He’s had an idea for years that is gaining support and coming into being.  He’s networked with people internationally and was recently flown to Dubai to speak about the project.  So, as I sat and listened to Austin and had a cup of coffee and looked over the water, I kept feeling so thankful for the here and now.  There’s no telling where Aus will be in the coming months, but there is the now and the incredible opportunity to just so enjoy the time and savor the moments for sure. We took more photos and then grabbed our bikes and were off to the next stop…Skansen.

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Skansen is a village museum/zoo.  Homes from hundreds of years ago have been taken from all over Sweden and brought to this beautiful site to recreate an old Swedish village to enable the visitors to see what Sweden was like hundreds of years ago.  You can visit the bakery, post office or coffee shop.  We took tons of photos and  then, of course, visited the  bakery/coffee shop.  (We had self-control with regards to the desserts.  I did splurge and add a sugar cube, however!)

 

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One of my favorite surprises at Skansen was a beautiful garden overlooking the water and the city.  It was breathtaking and breath of fresh air at the same time.

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The June flowers were in full bloom, the aroma was amazing, and the sky was clear blue.  We spent awhile in the garden and then turned the corner to see this…daytwo51…and the aroma started to change from the fragrance of flowers because just around the corner was the …zoo.

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Yes, there were reindeer!  Poor thing was shedding it’s winter coat, so I’m sure it’s had better photo opps but it was so cool to see.daytwo31daytwo32daytwo33daytwo34daytwo41daytwo36daytwo40daytwo39daytwo38

The bears got in a little tussle and I was amused by the mama trying to rally her 3 cubs.  The little guy on the right just caught a fish.   So after the zoo, we continued walking on paths where we found more gardens, more animals (with a very vocal sheep as well as a very loud goose that reminded me of the goose in Charlotte’s Web), and more amazing scenes.

 

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We left Skansen and were very thankful to find our bikes on the bike rack outside of the zoo.  There are tons of bikes everywhere in Sweden, and bike lanes that pedestrians, well…they best stay out of those, for sure!

bike So we rode the bikes on back into the city, and ended up leaving them on the square that would become one of my favorite spots throughout the week. (It’s beautiful, but I think part of the reason why I loved it so much was because I knew where it was.  It was a home base of sorts!)

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We checked-in our bikes and then continued to see the city.  Austin showed me buildings where he had had meetings…bike5

And we continued to walk on the water’s edge.  There were huge antique ships, little boats, and seemingly everything in between.  We ended up taking a ferry back to the part of Stockholm where Aus lives.  bike9bike10bike11bike12bike13bike14bike15bike16bike18bike19

bike17After the ferry ride, we took a bus and were close to home.  I always felt thankful when I started to recognize things a bit.  I love exploring, the adventure of it all, but it’s nice at the end of the day, to get back to where you know you are.  bike23bike22

Couldn’t resist take a photo of this sign!

bike20bike24So, the day ended and we ended up back at Austin’s apartment ate dinner with the fun, thoughtful (and thought-provoking) amusing professors that he lives with.  Was a wonderful meal full of lots of conversation.  They realized that we had had a full day of using almost every possible form of transportation-walking, biking, riding a boat, a train, and a ferry, and could probably see that jet-lag was catching up with yours truly.  Even though the sun was shining , my body was definitely saying it was time to stop and rest.  It was around 10…because that sun shines long in Sweden.  My son was shining too, and I’m so thankful for my Aus who was willing to turn tour-guide and help me see parts of his world that I had never seen.  Yes, it was a good day and even though the sun was up, I slept  like a baby.

Well, that’s all for round one of the ten days.  I know there are a million photos and comments…thanks for bearing with me.  I just want to share to remember this time while it’s fresh and to share it with friends and family who could experience the time with Aus in a teeny tiny vicarious way.  So, round 2 will be coming in the next week or so.  Trust me, I have a kabillion photos or so, and still dishes to clean, laundry to fold, and a life to live here.  But it is so incredibly fun to be lifted out and put back in to the beauty, rest and encouragement of those ten days just by looking at some photos. Hope you catch some good glimpses of that beauty as well.

Blessings ~
Heather

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD,

plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.

Jeremiah 29:11

Thankful Thursday

So, in honor of all of you Dads out there, here’s some sweet images from today.  They were taken in the city of Malmo, a seaside town on the southern tip of Sweden.  I’ll let the images do the talking…

dads5dads3dads2Dads1dads4And then, there was this Dad and his son and one red balloon…

dads6The little boy was holding on tight and then the Dad decided maybe he should tie it to his wrist. I nonchalantly watched him gently tie it to his wrist, not too tightly and just secure enough…or so he thought…But then…

dads8Oops.  Big oops.  Almost tears, but Dad took the hand…

dads9And taught the lesson that life goes on even when there’s loss.  We just need to stick together and keep moving forward.

So to all the Dads out there who are doing their best through the ups and downs, here’s a little tribute to one of the most enormous jobs there is.  Here’s a genuine thank you and it matters and hats-off-to-you-for-trying because those little things are what the big ‘kids’ will so often remember.  Happy Father’s Day.

Blessings ~

Heather

 

“As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him.”

Psalm 103:13

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