Archives for category: Thankful Thursday

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Can you guess which one of these baseball players is mine? Ha.  Yep. Stirrup-clad guy front and center.

So on this ‘Thankful Thursday’ am thankful for courage to stand out. Maybe when we don’t ‘stand out’ in baseball, well, we find other ways to find our niche’. Here’s to kids finding their niche’ and being stand outs in new ways. Here’s to self-expression that quietly and loudly says, “I’m not afraid to be different.”  We can be part of a team, part of a whole, and still maintain authenticity and originality. Take it from my Tanner. He’s been paving his own road from day one. Love that.

 

Thankful Thursday

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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and then…they come…

the quiet and serene…

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…the sassy…

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

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

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

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

Blessings,

Heather

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

Blessings for today ~

Heather

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

“Live It Well” by Switchfoot

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

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

Matthew 6: 25-34

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On this Thankful Thursday (actually, it’s finally being posted on a Saturday…better late than never..)… I’m thankful for flowers (weeds) by the side of the road that beckoned me to stop and breathe for a few minutes.

I’m thankful for the sun on my face and the wind through my hair. I’m thankful for the solid ground under my feet and vast sky beyond the field and the awareness that like those flowers (weeds), I’m pretty small in this vast, vast world.

I’m even thankful for the stressors that push us to find the respites. And for the respites that sometimes show up in unexpected places, like roadside ditches where a few little flowers (weeds) are blooming with a beautiful sunset in the background.

I’m grateful for the truth that  when we’re fully-alive and fully-living and fully-putting-ourselves-out-there, well, there will be pain…and heartache…and uncertainty and struggle.  There will be loss, and hurt, and defeat. But there will also be victories won, big and little. There will be muscles made and skills honed and fortitude grown in the struggles if we don’t lose heart, if we don’t give up. That’s the key isn’t it? To not lose heart?  To keep on keepin’ on.  To keep on putting one foot in front of the other…

I’m thankful that one of the very things that might help us to not give up or give in or lose heart could be as simple as a phone call, a letter, an I’m thinking of you text, or a glimpse of some roadside flowers (weeds) that glow in the mellow tones of the sunset on a warm March day.

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I’m thankful that although sometimes stopping and breathing and taking in the sunset might take moments from our days, it adds energy and hope and light and joy and value to the rest of the moments of our day because, those moments of taking it all in? They help to process, to see things in a different light.

I’m thankful that my children (who happen to be adults ) whom I adore are living and pushing and stretching. And even though it is so incredibly difficult to watch at times,  I am thankful for the growing pains, the casualties, the falling downs and getting-back-up and the tenacity and compassion and gratitude that can result from those moments. I’m praying that they always have hope to get back up in a world that is pretty good at pushing down.

And I’m hopeful that irregardless of how many times my  kids fall down and need to get back up,…I’m hopeful that they will be those who help lift up, not push down. That they will be little respites to those in need. That they will love because they know they are so loved.  A lot of people don’t know that to the core. I pray they KNOW it, and live it out of the love that they have received. Not just familial love.  Supernatural, all-consuming love from the God who knows every falling down, every gift, every scar, every fabric of their being. The God who Loves them and knows them to the core…and calls them to know Him more.  He’s the Ultimate lifter of our heads, of our hearts, of our hands.

God’s infinite, all-consuming grace seems so clear and present in these little snip-its of time that I take to see it. It is mine to show up and open my eyes to see and hears to hear and heart to just feel….and He always shows up.  Sometimes in flowers. Sometimes in weeds. And sometimes it’s not about what they are, but just about how I see them in the Light of grace.  And it’s a bit ironic that I often see those things more clearly on tougher days because on those days?…On those days I am aware of my need, and I’m looking, seeking, knowing that I need to take time to find the reminders of grace. What we seek, we often find.

Oh, and am thinking that more than anything…in this crazy, chaotic, rushed and so often angry world where the ground doesn’t seem so stable and the future doesn’t seem so clear?…Well, knowing that He sees us in a different light and loves us through it all and beckons us to dare to LIVE a life counter to so much of what we see….that knowledge beckons me on to know that regardless of what I see to the left or the right, He’s with me  in the middle of it all. And sometimes all it takes to be reminded of that is to take a few moments to stop and see.  Yes, what we seek we often find. When we see things through the eyes of grace, there’s very little room for seeing weeds as anything but beautiful, beautiful flowers.   And the cool thing is that in Christ, God sees us through eyes of grace. Kind of like looking at us and seeing it all, but treasuring us as a beautiful flower. Knowing that we are loved like that can change the perspective on any landscape we face…be it on mountaintops, valleys, or roadside ditches.

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Blessings ~

Heather

“We love because He first loved us.”

1 John 4:19

“For God, who said, “Let there be light in the darkness,” has made this light shine in our hearts so we could know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ.”

2 Corinthians 4:6

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Red tires. Red feet.

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blessings to You and Yours~

Heather

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

daythree5Okay, so here comes round two of the awesome trip to Sweden to see Austin. As beautiful and sunny and exciting as day one and two were, day three was, in a good kind of way, the converse of that.  It was cold, foggy and at times rainy, and we moved at a much slower pace.  We started out by visiting the library where Aus has spent quite a good amount of time in the past ten months.  (I didn’t feel too sorry for him.) It was absolutely stunning.  He was able to concentrate on getting some work done. But me?  Nope.  Although I was trying to work on a grant proposal, I was very distracted by the beauty all around and was having a tough time focusing. (Irony is that the grant has to do with helping meet the needs of students with attention deficit.   Hmm.  Fancy that.)

daythree1daythree3daythree2Austin seemed to get a lot done and I  focused just enough to feel like I had accomplished a little something. After about an hour we left and ventured out to see the Fotografiska museum, a museum with Photographic Exhibits.  (Oh, and just for a reminder…”venturing out” doesn’t mean hopping in your car and going from point A to point B.  It means walking to the train, then taking the train to the bus, and then walking , which can include climbing a mountain of steps, from the bus to point D.Just keeping it real, here!)  So yes, we “ventured out” and made our way to the museum.

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(See?  I rest my case. Mountain of steps it is…one side up, one side down.) But on the other side of the ‘mountain’ was our destination, “Fotografiska” as well as a beautiful view of the city in a foggy haze. museumWhen we went inside, the exhibit we saw was Nick Brandt’s “Inherit the Dust”.  As gray as it was outside, it felt even more gray inside. Black and whites of animals and the landscape that has become wastelands filled the huge photographs in the rooms.  It was so quiet except for the sound of the video running of Nick Brandt himself, his calm voice with a British accent telling how the idea was conceived, and how he and his team laboriously gave birth to the project.  Was absolutely amazing, moving, informative, and not a little depressing to be honest.  (If you get a chance,  you can check it out online at Nick Brandt’s “Inherit the Dust” . )  There were other exhibits, one having to do with  the Deep South after a major flood, and another having to do with Syrian Refugees. The wheels in my head were turning after seeing those images and I so appreciated the beauty of the craft and the heart of conveying  a message via photos.  But the content was heavy and stuck with us. So, yes, it was gray outside and gray inside.  Wouldn’t have seemed quite right to walk outside and see the sun after seeing all that we saw.  daythree4

And we didn’t have to, because it was still very gray as we left the museum and once again climbed our little mountain to reach the next bus.  And the next bus was going to take us to a restaurant called “Meatballs”.  Yep.  Swedish Meatballs it is.  Not sure if we were eating moose or reindeer, venison (does reindeer meat count as venison?), or beef,or a mix of all things mentioned. (Note to self- sometimes being “brave” is easier if we don’t think so much.  Especially about what we’re eating.) So I disengaged the brain trying to figure out what meat it was, and just enjoyed the time. The atmosphere was great, company better, and food was really good too.  My favorite thing was there was free coffee and cookies for dessert. Can’t beat that. Also loved the potatoes.  (I mean, potatoes are just…well, potatoes.  No guessing there.)

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So, we continued exploring the city.  We passed the “Koncerthuset”, where the Nobel Peace Prize Award Ceremonies were held. It was such a crazy good privilege that Austin and the other Fulbright Scholars were all able to attend the ceremony last December (had to include photo of Aus that night), so seeing the building where it was held was so cool.    The birds seemed to like it as well. The photo doesn’t do it justice as there were trucks parked in front and I couldn’t get a good shot.

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Austin NobelWe continued walking, browsing stores, stopped at a coffee shop, and then took some time to sit for a bit at the reflecting pool.  Was beautiful.deepinthought Still gray outside.  Aus was still deep in thought…had some heavy decisions to make regarding future prospects and it seemed to be weighing on him. We talked about it some.  But sometimes you can’t talk it all through…it just takes some time for that fog to clear.  daythree8

Or sometimes, there can be major disruptions that snap us out of that fog.  And this time, we can thank this loud, angry seagull for the  very loud and clear interruption.daythreeseagullHe and another gull were fighting over food. Am thinking he probably won, but we didn’t wait to find out.  We got up and walked on.  We came to a beautiful garden and took some photos.daythree13daythree10We even got one of me.  Correction.  Bunches of me, but we won’t post those. I’m definitely not too great at selfies or posing for photos.  Much prefer to be behind the camera. Case in point, above photo. Ah well, I’m thankful I can laugh at myself. (My kids can too, so feel free!)   I hope that the General who is portrayed in the statue that was directly in front of me has (had) a sense of humor as well.  He looked so majestic in the silhouette that I first took of him. daythree9Yes, so majestic, stately, deserving honor.  But then…there were some not so flattering shots I took as well.  daythree11daythree12Hmmm…I guess we all have those unflattering times when we’re not seen in our best light. Light changes everything.  I think he’d feel better if he saw all the throw-away poses of me.  (And I didn’t even need any birds help, for sure! )

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daythreepurpleAs you can see, the fog was lifting, and the sun was beginning to shine through. Not just outside.  Loved that. We stood for awhile at the bridge and took it all in. There were swans going back and forth from one end of the waterway to the other.  This was where the Baltic Sea met the inner waterways through the city, and the tide seemed to be coming in. The swans looked like they were on hyper-speed as they rode the currents.  daythree18

daythreepurple3Floating in the water, floating in the air, there are birds all around in Stockholm.

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Austin walked on ahead of me, and I captured some cool silhouettes of him.  daythree20

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I love this one. He’s had meetings in the building in back of him as well.  daythree26Same building. Different lighting.  Light changes everything. Day three ended peacefully.

But then came day four.  Didn’t start peacefully AT ALL.  And that was ALL my fault.Mea culpa big-time.  You see, this jet-lag-time-zone thing was starting to catch up with me.  In the morning, we were due to catch a train at 9:15.  Well, my phone and computer had different times…one had switched to Swedish time, one was still on NC time, so when I woke up and saw that the clock said “11:11”, well, for some reason, I thought it was 11:11 a.m. After all, it was light outside.  I went and shared the bad news with Aus that for some reason, we had missed the alarm and thus missed our train. (The train trip that you have to get tickets 2 weeks in advance for.) Poor guy.  He took a minute, thought, looked at his clock, and he’s like “Mom, it’s a little after 5 in the morning.”  He sees a look of confusion on my face.  Then relief. Phew. Then  comes embarassment and still total confusion about the time situation. Turns out my clock had said 11:11 p.m. for NC time. I apologized profusely and he laughed and we were both relieved we didn’t miss the train.  Went back to sleep (not really), and then got ready for train.   Had our first “RUNNNNNN!” session in trying to catch the first train to get the LONG trip train, and made it just in time.  I am so not a graceful runner (more on that later!).  Especially with flip flops and a heavy bag.  But we made it for both trains. Next Stop, Malmo, Sweden.

dayfour3The train ride was peaceful.  Not sure why I was so tired…hmmm…but I did sleep a bit on the train.  The views were beautiful and interesting. Lots of rolling hills, white birch trees, and little towns and trains stations. dayfour2dayfour1Then, after 6 hours on the train, we were there.  Malmo, Sweden.  Home of rocky beaches, interesting architecture, the tallest building in Sweden, (the “Turning Torso”), and gateway to Copenhagen.  We went to the train station and took a bus, then walked to the apartment.  Views?  YES.Front View: Baltic Sea with lighthouse to the right and Copenhagen straight ahead.

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Back porch view: Turning Torso, the tallest building in Sweden.

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We put our bags down, spoke a bit with the  fun-loving Norwegian owner, then set out to see Malmo. (Aus doesn’t waste any time!)

The wind was blowing, the sun was shining, and it was absolutely beautiful.  There was a wonderful mix of the old and the new, but it all seemed to fit.  Here’s some of the old:dayfour20

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And here’s some of the new…malmo18malmo15malmo17

It was the Friday before Father’s Day, so I found myself tuning into dads and their little ones.  Here are some of the photos taken on the center square in Malmo.dads3dads2dads9dads5dads4Dads are dads. Kids are kids. No matter what ground they’re standing on.  Love that.

We made our way back to the apartment, but stopped by the shoreline first.   Was beautiful.  The water was active with ships coming in, the wind was blowing, there was a chill in the air, but some people were still braving the cold and diving into the cold waters from the dock.  The sun was slowly going down and so the photos were all silhouettes, my favorite. malmo21dayfour27dayfour30dayfour31dayfour32dayfour33

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The sun was setting as we walked back to the apartment.  I sunk down into a comfortable chaise lounge, pulled up a comfortable blanket, and watched as the sun descended.  As stressful as the day started with my silly, silly alarm stating that we missed the train, it sure ended peacefully, blissfully, comfortably, with the view just speaking loudly.  Yes, “the heavens declare the glory of God.”  Saw it.  Felt it.  Filled with gratitude for it, and for another day filled with the stressors, the comforts and all the inbetween.  Next stop…Copenhagen.dayfour36

And with that…well, am guessing the photo threshold has been definitely reached once again.  Thanks for staying along for the ride.  Am thinking I’ll end up doing a part three of this whole thing because I realize once again that “abridged” is not my middle name (my kids could definitely attest to that!) and I really want to share some of the amazing sights we saw in Copenhagen, the Archipelagos, and Stockholm.   Good Night, friends. May your sleep be sweet and you wake up with an alarm clock set to your  time zone!

Blessings ~

Heather

 

“The heavens declare the glory of  God, the skies proclaim the work of His hands. “

Psalm 19:1

 

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

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Just got back in from seeing the sunset as my son (pre-drivers licensed son) drove us around town to run a few errands.  I sat in the passenger seat trying to encourage him to leave at least an inch or two for mailboxes, and practiced my breathing.  He’s my last of 6 children to teach how to drive, and well, let’s just say we need quite a few more hours of practice driving under his belt before he goes for his test.  But overall, we’re making progress because I didn’t feel quite so much the need to will the car to stay on the road and I was able to take some photos as we  (oops, I mean “he” ) drove.

The week had lots of highlights.  There was lots and lots of time well spent with four of my six children.  And do you know what some of my favorite moments were?  Coming into the kitchen and seeing all 4 of them sitting on the deck talking …for hours.  Yep, I’d say that’s time well spent.  Then they took goofy pictures and laughed. hopeandboys5

This next photo was taken when I had just finished talking with their brother in Sweden and shared some crazy news with them about some of his fun adventures…Here’s their reaction…hopeandboys1

….and then, here’s the traditional posed shot…

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Hope and Josh got to catch up after not seeing each other for a long time…

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Yep.  Thankful as all get out.  I also got to see my parents after not seeing them since Christmas, and that was time well spent as well. So fun.

There were some sweet surprises this week.  On the way back home from church, we saw a doe and a fawn…still had spots.  I was amazed at how tiny the little guy was, and he didn’t get more than a few inches away from his mother.  When I stopped to watch, they watched right back, and I was amazed at the lack of fear.  I even had time to grab my camera and take a photo.  deer

The mama doe sure looks proud and protective.  I know just how she feels…

So after the weekend, Monday was full of fun as we celebrated with students at school.  We had awards ceremonies and parties and celebrated victories. One of my favorite moments was when our therapy dog, Skye, granted us one last visit. She comes twice a month to my classroom for reading, but mainly, it’s for connection. So many of my students have some difficult backgrounds and are pretty emotionally detached.  Sweet Skye helps bridge those gaps for a lot of the students, but especially for one little guy. He hardly smiled, except when Skye was around, and he was totally engaged when reading to her.  So on this last day of school, he got to hug her and walk her one more time and we all were thankful for the time well spent. thankfulthurs22

The next day the staff corralled children and tried to keep them occupied which wasn’t easy without much structure in the day.  At 11:00 the teachers lined up and waved gleefully at the buses leaving the campus.  (Dare I say that some of the teachers even danced!!)  And then, we as a staff were off to…an entertainment center to celebrate as a team!  I almost missed out on the fun because my list of “to-dos” was longer than I could stand, but reluctantly went because this team of teachers and staff are a team worth celebrating with.  And I’m so glad I went.  We got to choose from bowling and putt-putt and laser tag, and I chose…laser tag!  Was so much fun I couldn’t stand it! And I came home and announced to my boys that we should all go as a family soon so I can show them my skills, ha!  They laughed so hard and seemed shocked that I’d choose laser tag over bowling or putt-putt. Not sure if I should be offended by that or not, but I’ll let it go for now.

I also got to hold a sweet little brand new baby boy. Has been a while since I’ve held a little one in my arms.  And, it so reminded me of all of the little movements and mannerisms that little ones have.  The sights, the sounds, the smells…nothing like a baby.  I got to hold the little guy for awhile, and when I gave him back found myself just thanking God that I got to be a mom for all those years with little ones in my arms and at my feet. They’re so grown up, now, but my heart and mind can go back to those days in a moment’s notice.  Sweet sweet memories.  Well, most of them, anyway!

So, the next day, Tan’s baseball game was cancelled and  I felt relieved that there was a little space in my day.  We (he) drove, and we ended up down at the Greenway for a walk.  It was absolutely beautiful, and so fun to spend time catching up with Tanner.

The sun was just going down and seemed to dance on the water.  Loved our time.  We even got to see one of his favorite teachers who also happens to be the mom of one of my older children’s friends.  Was so good to see her and catch up a bit. Yep, lots to be thankful for.

The next day, the game wasn’t cancelled and we got to enjoy a good game.  Well, actually, it might not be classified as a ‘good’ game cause we lost 16 to 2.  But boy oh boy did we cheer for those two runs, and every victory.  One of the little victories was a catch that Tan made out in left field!  (It was after missing two out there and when the ball started flying over shortstop my heart started praying like crazy that he’d make the catch.)  He made it and I said “Phew” and a grandmother sitting near me on the bleachers smiled a sweet smile at me and said, “I bet these kids prayer lives are getting pretty strong out there.”  Yep.  Probably so.  And probably their parents’ as well…Oh, and it was cool to hear, “You got this kid” when the “kid” saying it was my kid coaching his younger brother.  Chase is out there for every game helping the  team.  Love that. He’s the one in the photo holding the clipboard and giving me a goofy look.  I guess that’s what I get when I ask to take his picture…

So, that brings me to today, and the ride with Tan, and the conversations.  He and his teen-aged bearded scruffy self did pretty well driving.

We made it home. Another big “Phew” for sure.  At times it doesn’t feel like such a small miracle, especially when there are 6 cars behind you and your son seems to be looking at them in the rear view mirror more than he’s looking straight ahead.  Great analogy…not good to spend more time looking back than living in the moment of the day and moving forward.  Nope, not good at all, especially when the car seems to have a magnet drawn to all of those perfectly straight mailboxes centimeters away from an encounter with a moving vehicle. So, yes, more praying through things.  The little and the big.  Thankful God doesn’t discriminate between the two, but hears it all and says, “Cast your cares on Him for He cares for you.”  Love, Love, Love that.  thankfulthurs23

So,  I have a heart of gratitude. Period.  For this moment, right here, right now, and those moments in the week when I’m so aware that life is a gift. Period. Sometimes the moments lead me to pray hard hard hard urgent prayers, and sometimes, they lead me to just thank God big time.  And sometimes, I just find myself clinging to the fact that I am clueless about the next minute ahead but thankful that God isn’t.  And that chases fears away…sometimes quickly, sometimes not. Amazing the catalysts for prayer like baseball and driving.  Praying that God will use the moments of our days to bless and build up and move forward.  Thankful that the ordinary is extraordinary when seen through eyes of faith knowing that we are not alone and not just our own. How big is that truth?  I don’t think that any of us can really grasp the enormity of that.  But thankful for the glimpses.

Well, I’ll close for now.  Thanks for sharing in my little stories of the week..

Blessings ~

Heather

 

“Taste and see that the Lord is good.  Blessed is the one who takes refuge in Him.”

Psalm 34:8

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/events/thankful-thursday/

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2 Corinthians 14

 
Thankful1So, the ride home the other day was beautiful. Lately, the sun has been down by the time I am driving home from work, so it was awesome to see the light for sure. I intentionally left work a bit early and called my son…the one who is home from college and leaves in a few days…the one who I have seen off and on, but who has been really busy.

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I called him and say, “Hey, do you want to go for a walk with me at the GreenWay?”  And leaving work became so worthwhile cause he said yes and in a few minutes, I was dropping by home to pick him up.  One short stop to McDonalds for a strawberry-banana smoothie, and we were on our way.

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So…we walked…and talked and caught up.

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The sun was still above the horizon, thankfully.  We took it all in.thankful4

Here’s my view of his view…

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…yep… it was definitely time well spent.  It’s funny how there are certain times I can look at my adult children and see them standing there being 19, but I’m remembering them being 5…same eyes…same expression…same connection.  yep.  time well spent.

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…of course, the cell phone was along for the ride, as well as the strawberry-banana smoothie…

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…We’ve taken photos here with his brother, Aus… on a Spring day.  Same tree hanging over the water, same view.  It’s there when we’re out doing our thing, and there when we come back.  It’s a great place for them to sit….kind of like a bench hanging over the water.

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…as we walk, we pass lots of visual reminders of change.  The remnants of a fire years ago….the way that life goes on.  Life sure has lots of loss, but we press on, move on, and keep growing.  As he has gotten older, he knows a thing or two about change and loss.  I’m so thankful for the conversation, relationship, and grace that helps to keep things in perspective, helps us see loss in a different light….helps us see and seek the joy in the middle of it.

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I’m thankful for truth that rocks and mountains were meant to climb, and for the desire to climb them that was so there when he was little and is even more there now that he’s older.  Praying that he keeps reaching and climbing. Always…and enjoys the view. “Wow…you can see everything up here!” he says.  So his mom ventures to climb the rock as well. Yep, thankful for those who climb and reach and in so doing, encourage others, (even their moms ) to climb.

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I’m thankful for visual reminders and verses that come to mind ‘out of the blue’ as we see things.  Here’s one:  “The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my Deliverer’ my God is my Rock in whom I take refuge…” (Psalm 18:2)

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Thankful for rushing water that’s loud and cold and clear.

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Thankful for the visual of how the ridges on the rocks underneath determine the waves on the surface. That’s another blog, but something I’ve been thinking about.  Fun to talk about as we watch all the big and little waves on a day when the river was overflowing.

So on this Thankful Thursday, there are so many things to be thankful for.  Love so much catching up with my children, and what’s going on not just on the surface, but underneath it all.  So so very thankful that they are a gift, and that even though there are times when they won’t say “Yes” to taking a walk, that there are precious moments when they do.  And when they do?  I’m all in!

Oh, and can’t beat that that night my girl Hope had a wonderful chai latte waiting for me…even labeled it….

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Yep. It was a good day….

 

“Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good. His love endures forever.

Let the redeemed of the Lord tell their story…”

Psalm 107:1-2

 

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/events/thankful-thursday/

 

 

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So, today, as I walked out of work, I looked up.  What I saw when I looked up made me breathe a deep sigh and smile a bit, for there in the sky was actually a bit of blue.  Haven’t seen blue in the sky for quite awhile it feels like, and this was “Carolina blue”, no less.  And for some reason, it just gave me a lot of hope, because that little bit of blue?  It was a gentle visual reminder to me that there IS hope.

The past few weeks, well, they have been challenging to say the least.  Seems like it’s been raining and pouring in more ways than the weather, that’s for sure. Car troubles, relational issues, financial stretches to the max, sickness, fear, fatigue, work overload, and decisions pending, health concerns, and well, they have all hit at once.  I know these are the ordinary challenges we face…I mean, that’s just life.  But when they hit at once?  Well, it makes you feel like the cloud that surrounds is just never going to lift.  So, when I saw that little bit of blue?  Boy, was that a sight for sore eyes.

So, I got in the car (my son’s car, for my car broke down in the mountains last week and we were waiting on the estimate of how much the repair would be), and I was actually thankful for a lot of things.  One of them was the ‘extra’ car to drive.  We’re trying to sell my son’s car as he’s out of the country for a year and won’t be needing it in Sweden!  Anyway, I was really making a conscious effort to be thankful, (so why were the tears starting to roll?) Before I made it to the first errand, my husband called and gave me the news about the car.  Repair?  Well, more like an overhaul.   Verdict:  the car repair will probably cost more than the value of the car.  Heavy sigh.  But do you know what was really cool?  My husband was steady.  He was encouraging.  “i know it’s tough now, Heath, just hang in there.”  And the tears that were a drizzle turned to a pour because honestly? Honestly the tears weren’t about the car or the struggles or the being stretched to the limit feeling.  The tears were falling because I was allowed to let down.  I was given the grace to be, to be loved in the midst of the crap, and to be assured, that no matter what, we’ll get through.  It’s going to be okay.  Blue skies ahead.  (Maybe teeny tiny bits of blue sky far far ahead, but blue skies ahead, nonetheless.)

And it is. Going to be okay, that is.

Because I know, that life is full of the crazy roller coaster ups and downs and with our large family and some of the residual effects of destructive patterns that take a toll, well, there’s always going to be a lot of “stuff” to deal with.  But the cool thing is, in the midst of it all, there are so very many things to be incredibly thankful for.  So on this “Thankful Thursday”, here are a few from the past week:

I’m thankful for the beauty these eyes had seen as I drove up to the mountains (when the car was actually drivable, pre-breakdown!)  There’s nothing like being in the mountains in the Fall with the brilliant colors.  I’m also thankful for the truth that even though it seems like it’s been ages since we’ve seen blue sky…it hasn’t been as long as it feels.  In fact, I have absolute proof that there were very blue skies exactly 7 days ago when I went to get my daughter in Boone.  This photo was pre-breakdown. Would you just look at that blue sky?  Now, that’s a blue sky!  Beautiful, and only a short week ago.  Sometimes my perception is so off.  Waiting for blue sky is a lot easier when we choose to keep perspective, knowing that feelings aren’t necessary reality.

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Birthdays of my 4th and 5th children, Chase and Hope, and time to celebrate them as a family.  Thankfulness that on their birthdays, these college students wanted to be with family on the weekend, and when they were home that they said the “it’s so good to be home, mom” words.  They didn’t just think it.  They said it. And my heart was so encouraged.  Yep, it was so good to have them home. Yes, am so thankful for family, for memories of the precious kids they were and the young adults they are.

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For memories.  I’m thankful for parents who came when the car broke down and we really needed a lift for an hour leg of the journey from where the car broke down to home.  And I’m thankful for the time spent in the car.  I’m thankful for the second leg of the journey driven by my son who had just driven 6 hours from the coast and then didn’t hesitate to go an hour more.  “No problem, mom,” he says.  Yeah.  Lots to be thankful for.  And then, to hear the loud laughter in the car as we shared stories in the car of when they were little. It was the kind of laughter that makes your stomach hurt and your eyes water.  Yeah, the beauty of the time together just laughing and listening to music,…you can’t beat that. I’m thankful for more memories that came as I looked through photos.  I’m so incredibly thankful for the joys and aches of being a mom. It’s made me cling to my bit of blue more than just about anything else in my life.  Here’s one of the frames of photos I found.  These are the first four of our six gifts… Precious, precious gifts…

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I’m thankful for phone calls from abroad and for struggles and honesty and solutions sought.  I’m thankful for growing pains and for impact, incredible impact that comes with vulnerability.  But sometimes it just feels vulnerable.  I’m thankful for prayer and that we can cast our cares on Jesus for he cares for us.  I”m thankful He is present with my children when I am not. He leads.  I know He knows what He’s doing.  I’m trusting Him with the ones I love the most.

I’m thankful for lasagne prepared by precious hands of a mother who knows about all the details of caring for a family.  I’m thankful that my mom’s lasagne is the best ever, and that she shared it with our family on this birthday weekend. I’m thankful that we could eat and enjoy and that her time spent preparing gave me time to spend with my family instead of preparing dinner.

I’m thankful for memories of friendships shared, encouraging words of friends, laughter, and scripture that shouts to the mountaintops of hope.  I’m thankful for creative outlets and song and words that come out and somehow bring clarity of heart and mind and healing at the same time. I’m thankful for that moment in the car tonight when I was allowed to be vulnerable and loved and given grace, and I’m so thankful that God so calls us to be his children—reliant, dependent, and LOVED.  You know, when my kids came home and wanted to be home, well, it just felt so good…to them and to me.  I think that’s such a visual of who God is to us.  He wants to be our Home, our safe place, our respite, in the here and now.  And the eternal Heaven that we speak of?  It’s so  not about clouds and harps and angels’ wings. It’s about being in His Presence, the Lord of all. It’s about being accepted as we are because of who He is.  Yes, He wants to be our Home every day.  It’s not about a place, it’s about His Presence.  Yes, that’s an amazing thing to be thankful for.

I”m thankful for truth and the word of God, and hope, hope that looks like a bit of blue in a sea of gray. I’m thankful that there always is hope no matter what, not because of me, but because of who God is. I’m thankful that God gives us gentle reminders of His presence, and opportunities to allow us to press in to Him, to know our need, to let down when we’re always having to gear up. I’m thankful for the “out of the blue” text from a cousin and the precious reminder to “keep chopping”, a phrase that our grandfather always used to say that I probably hadn’t heard in 15 years.  Keep chopping.  Keep pressing on.  Keep your eyes on that bit of blue. That bit of blue?  That hope in the distance?  In Christ, it is a reality.  The blue is the end of the story, the clouds are the here and now. The blue is the eternal glory, the light at the end of the tunnel, the finish line to the race.  So endurance and perseverance and tenacious holding on to hope is sometimes necessary.  But, that bit of blue is worth it. It is so incredibly worth it.

Keeping my eyes on the bit of blue.  Hope you are, too, friend.

Blessings~

Heather

P. S.  It’s not an exaggeration to say I’ve listened to this song at least 30 times today. If you have a few minutes to listen, it’s worth it.  (Natalie Grant, King of the World)

“So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”

2 Corinthians 4:16-18

Amen.

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