Archives for category: Family

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

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

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

Blessings ~

Heather

“I thank my God every time I remember you. 

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

Philippians 1:3

 

 

 

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Thankful for …Reunions. Reunions of siblings who happen to be my children. Surprises of seeing a son who has been in California for 8 months who, with the help of his sister, surprised us with a sweet, sweet visit. (Heard banging at 6 something in the morning and came down to see them both in the kitchen waiting 🙂  Hope had gone to the airport at 4 to get Aus…  Sooo good to have him home for a time…Thankful that the trip coincided with birthdays of his younger sister and brother and included lots and lots of sweet surprises with family members who celebrated way more than birthdays. Thankful for my oh-so-different but oh-so-similar children who love each other and their differences and similarities. And thankful that we’ve had lots of time to catch up and sit on the deck and drink coffee, and laugh, and remember, and look forward a bit. My cup runneth over for sure…DSCN5545.jpg

Thankful for…once-full, now-spindly impatiens giving way to pansies as one season gives way to another. Thankful for the constant changing of seasons in the lives of those I love…. Am aware there are so very many transitions in the lives of 20-somethings…(and 5 of our 6 ‘children’ happen to be in this category right now, with the youngest only a few years away… )  Transitions are good as long as we’re reaching and moving forward. Momentum is good. Good not to fear change. Good to see the beauty in the old, but embrace the undiscovered things awaiting in the new.  Fear has a way of looking back, faith has a way of looking forward, empowering the now.New seasons in my life and the lives of those I hold dear that keep changing way more than four times a year. Praying for guidance with  doors opened and doors closed…and courage to run through them when they are open wide and wise, and to stay away when they are open wide but not so wise.  Prayer is a good good thing. So is counsel with those who know us. So is listening to our conscience and gut…and moms of course, ha!  (most times anyway 🙂 )

Thankful for …Laughter. Yes, out-of-control-laughter precipitated by familiarity that my new very favorite commercial brings up in me. Sometimes people may move at a bit of a s l o w e r pace than we might prefer.  I happen to work with a few of those children who are so very loved, but who definitely have their own pace.  Thankful for the awareness that my pace  doesn’t take precedence over another’s. Sometimes slowing down is a good thing…even when it feels a bit like this:

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I’m thankful for my youngest “child” who is now a co-manager for the basketball team. Thankful for this kid and for his friend, the other senior co-manager.  Tanner knows that connections and belonging are good, good things. He seeks them out. He knows that being a part of a team takes all kinds of skills, and that even though his best skills don’t include three point shots and lay-ups, he can still toss a ball or clean uniforms or take film of the games. Yep, love that we need all kinds of folks with all types of skills, and all kinds of paces (fast, medium, and even sloth-s l o w w w w ), for true community comes when we build on strengths, not play on weaknesses.  Oh, and I’m thinking we all have things that we’d be sloth s l o w w w at. Take me for instance… I might take a LOT more time to figure out a computer program than your average Joe, but if  you need a poem written or a dinner whipped up in 10 minutes, I might go at record speeds. Yeah, community allows for differences and celebration of strengths to be used for the common good.  Thankful my Tan man is finding his way.

Thankful for…provision on our most recent venture to Myrtle Beach. For old cars with no payments that sputter to the finish line of a 5 hour trip only to be welcomed and fixed by a family member who is anti-sloth-fast at mechanics and had the shop to do it. Thankful for brother-in-laws who are kind and patient and giving of their time to fix broken things. Thankful that that car could’ve broken down anywhere, but did it within an hour from where we needed to be. Thankful for humor and think time and sensors and lights on cars that give at least a little direction to this driver who had a husband on the other end of the line who called just as the car sputtered and ….STOPped. Yikes.  I like telling him about things AFTER they happen and are all fixed. Thankful that  I knew his anger was more fear and out of control frustration than anger…. Thankful for experience and years that remind me that things often only feel urgent and so incredibly heavy when the gravity of the situation outweighs the grace of provision in the midst of it. Thankful for a son who didn’t freak out but trusted my judgement in the middle of our little pit stop… He was just fine eating his lunch as his mom checked fluid levels and gages and sat ‘for a minute.’ Thankful for the perspective and realization that maybe I really am thankful for this old car after all! Yes, thankful for old cars with no payments and low insurance rates that can give reminders that we should be thankful for them too. Perspective is everything…

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Thankful for time walking with Tan man on the beach one morning. For walks and talks and sand and wind and crashing waves and the freshness that came with all of it. Thankful for freedom of running and laughing and watching birds fly every which way as Tan man charged on through.

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Thankful for…old friends and new who know your roots, your past, your beginnings, and for those who come later on the journey, and keep in step with you along the way. Thankful for times when that path seems narrow and bumpy and hard, and then respites, like today, when the path feels wide and smooth and dare I say, easy. Thankful for days when things just feel…easy.  But thankful that, like with my car, it’s all relative, in terms of what is or isn’t “easy”.  For what appears an easy path for some may be a difficult one for another.  We all have our own path. Our muscles and hearts and minds are prepared on prior paths for the paths ahead. Muscles developed on the not-so-easy paths are strong, ready, and prepared for the ones that might leave many by the way side. Thankful that path ahead is mine. Lots of choices to make even when you’re not a twenty something. Lots of opportunities taken or lost. Lots of amazing things to be involved in, and lots of things that also probably need to go by the wayside. Goals help to choose which is which goes or stays.  And prayer. Lots and lots of prayer.

Thankful for dark nights with skies full of stars and the reminder that we are part of something so much bigger than ourselves. Thankful for the realization that as I stepped outside one night to get a little perspective by looking up, that a son of mine was out doing the same thing. Yeah, it’s good to look up…and to see the vast grand sky, but to know that each star has its part, it’s little space to light up. Yep, a good reminder for sure. Thankful that morning light comes after the dark of night.

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Thankful for early morning walks, and quiet, and wind, and cold. For time to think and pray and process and just walk with no major tasks at hand. (Except maybe finding a way around a rabid raccoon…but that’s another story…yikes.  Big time yikes.)  Yep, love early morning walks…and then I love coming home to light and warmth and not-so-quiet.  Good to have a balance.

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Thankful for surprises like this bloom that keeps on blooming despite winds and storms and cold temperatures. Resilience is a good thing. It’s even better when that resilience is wrapped in a package that adds beauty to the world around it. Yeah, thankful for little things like flowers that beat the odds.

Thankful that I’ve got a full week ahead and a full week behind, but it’s quiet here right in the middle of it. It’s a gray, cold,drizzly Sunday afternoon with candles going,  dinner is on, and I have a must-read book that I must read by Tuesday. Deadlines, well, am not so thankful for those, but will push on through.  (The book is on trauma…yikes. tough read, but necessary for me in my position with some amazing students who are much like my mandevilla…trying to be resilient and beat the odds when surroundings make it difficult.)

Thankful for sweet readers who actually wade through these words…and the fact that we’re all in this together, and sometimes it’s the smallest of things that can remind us of that.

Blessings ~

Heather

But as for me, the nearness of God is my good;
I have made the Lord GOD my refuge,
That I may tell of all Your works.
Psalm 73:28
(…on a Sunday…been a full week…)
 

 

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blessings ~

Heather

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

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

Zephaniah 3:17

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

Philippians 2:15-16

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blessings~

Heather

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

 

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Yeah…thanks for the reminder Tan.

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

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

 

  “Love one another…”

John 13: 34

 

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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