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DSCN2995So the other morning, it was one of those mornings. You know, the ones where you can hear the lines of the childhood book, “Alexander and the Horrible, No-good, Very Bad Day” that list all the “awful ,horrible, no good very bad things” that happen to poor Alexander one day.   My list started like this:  I woke up late because I forgot to put the ringer on my phone so that the 5 different ringtones set apart at random minutes could go off. So, I rushed downstairs to get the much-needed coffee and when I opened the cabinet, two cups fell out right at me. I caught the mug with my hand, and sandwiched the plastic one between me and the counter before it fell. Definitely another rude awakening.

Then I made coffee in the Keurig, but the lid must not have been shut on the little canister thing I use and when I went to sip the coffee in the dimly lit kitchen, there were coffee grounds floating all over the top.That rude awakening was way worse than the cups or the waking up late.  Then  I turned on the brighter light and saw that the container for the lunch that I had packed the night before, was on the counter….empty. Somebody had eaten it late last night. (And my work friends know that I’m not the greatest at packing lunches for me…and that a 50 cent pack of crackers has been ‘lunch’ way more than I’d like to admit.)

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I remade the coffee, readjusted the mugs and cups in the cabinet, and flew up the stairs to get ready for the day. I didn’t say a word to my husband about the lunch..or lack there of. (I kind of had a feeling, a very strong suspicion, that he was the culprit.)

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I could list lots of faux pas of the morning because the day kept going on as it had started. I had forgotten about a meeting, and had some things not yet checked off my list that should’ve been checked off, and at 8:01, I get a phone call from my husband (the ringer was back on…but now should’ve been off because I was in the classroom with students.)  I was worried about why he was calling me at this time, so I pick up and he says, “I’m bringing you lunch today. Sorry….I ate yours last night.”

And I was glad that I hadn’t said anything about the empty container on the counter this morning.  Because if I had made some remark, not only would I not have gotten a better lunch than the one I had packed, I probably would’ve had a not-so-happy husband, and …. absolutely no lunch.

And I kept thinking about how there’s a flip side to everything.  I had tried to tell myself that on the way to work.  Not, ‘What the heck was Tanner thinking when he emptied the dishwasher last night and put too many mugs in the cabinet…”, but “I’m thankful Tan emptied the dishwasher.” Period. And the mug I caught could’ve fallen or hit me in the head or something, so I could be thankful for that. And not, “What the in the world is my problem that I forgot to set my 5 alarms?” But, I’m thankful I made it to work on time. And not, “Who does that?  Who eats his wife’s lunch and leaves the empty container for her to clean up?”  But, “I’m thankful that he cared enough to bring me lunch…lunch that was WAY better than the leftovers I had packed.”

So, yes, I was reminded that there’s a flip side to most everything. There’s a different angle, vantage point, perspective from which to see things in our 3D world. There’s often a negative dimension that has a positive dimension that takes a little bit more effort and squinting to see. Am thinking there’s also a spiritual dimension that sees things in the light of God’s grace.  Three-D.  And it’s funny how often the lens we see through is a bit one dimensional. We can tend toward one dimension or another. Some of us are a bit more positive in our view of things. We see that rose colored glass half-full. And some of us are a bit more negative and worry takes front and center stage in our view of things. But I love how scripture continually paints a picture of hope and positive perspective that points to a God who is in it ALL and can use it ALL for the good. When we bring it to Him, that is. Our faith, or lack there of surely colors our worlds, our views, our world view…

DSCN6460I don’t yet wear glasses. I wear readers sometimes because my arms are not quite long enough for my eyes to focus sometimes, ha! (But my husband ‘borrowed’ my readers as well…not sure where they are so have been holding things at a stretched arm’s length for awhile!) But I do know from having a son who wears glasses that they can get smudged and cloud the view a bit when you don’t take the time to clean them. I think reading God’s word, and spending time in prayer, seeking Him is like that daily cleaning of the lens of our hearts. He gives clarity, perspective that’s not just in the now, but sees beyond what’s seen, beyond the moment, to help see the flip side of things.

I often reference I Corinthians 13:12 that says,  “For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face.Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.”  I love that. Some versions say, “we see through a glass darkly”, like glasses that haven’t been cleaned or through a window of a dimly lit house. We see in part. We know in part. But….then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.”  What a great thing…to see with perspective..to know every angle of something so as to understand, to KNOW.  To KNOW, comprehend, and understand is a good thing. But to be known and understood?  That’s an amazing thing. DSCN2532

I think we can all sense when we’re known in a one dimensional way…when people see  us through their positive or negative lens.I’m sometimes amazed at how quick people are to judge, how rarely some folks realize that their view might be just a tad-bit one-dimensional. So often, these folks can make quick verdicts and later need to backtrack and re-view their initial judgements…  Three-Dimensional vision takes the perspective of having different vantage points, and that takes t  i  m  e . But to be known, seen, understood…in a way that sees that 3 D view of who we are…that’s a gift. Especially when the knowing comes with an appreciation, even a love of who we are as the whole package. Yes, that is a gift to be treasured and valued and invested in.

I have a globe in my classroom, a one-dimensional cut-out-of-posterboard globe. On it, I wrote, “How I see the world can change how the world sees me.”  I want my students to start recognizing that it takes time and effort to see with a clear view …to see beyond what themselves, and to see beyond what’s seen. I want them to see that the lens they see through is often clouded by our own experience, views, and perspective, and  that in order to see clearly, we need to take into account how others might be feeling or seeing things.  In the same way that a new pair of well-prescribed glasses can correct vision, seeing things through the lens of empathy can allow people to see a more accurate 3-D view of their world, of our world. And eyes of faith, well, that adds a whole new beautiful dimension.

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Well, the day ended up just fine, and the many not-so-perfect moments will be forgotten soon, but the lessons of the flip side? I hope it continues. I hope I’m constantly looking for the flip side, the other angle when things aren’t quite the scene that I’d choose.

And here’s one random visual that I thought I might not share, but it’s late and I’m tired, and so I don’t have much of a filter…so here goes 🙂  Pancakes. Love them. You know when you’re watching the bubbles pop on the pancake and you wait with anticipation to see the golden brown beauty when that spatula flips that pancake?  There’s nothing like that perfectly browned pancake, hot off the griddle, that’s been flipped at just the right time.  Well, am thinking that flipping at the right time is important. With pancakes, and with perspective. You see, if we aren’t in the habit of seeking out the flip side of things in the time that we see them, well, we miss the chance to change the scene in that moment. If I hadn’t sought out the ‘flip side’ the other morning, I could’ve created lots of fiascos with angry husbands and empty stomachs and teachers and students who were in the wake of my terrible no good very bad morning. But when we see the flip side, we can change the view. For us and for others. That’s a beautiful thing.

If we wait too long to see the flip side, well, it might just be like the very well done overly blackened pancake…a missed opportunity to enjoy something great.

Just a thought.

Well, gonna go set my alarm(sssss…..). Here’s to a good morning for you all…and  here’s to seeing the flip side when life gets a little topsy turvy. Remembering that God looks at us through eyes of grace, through the flip side of the Cross, that can help us change perspective on just about everything. Man sees a cross as death and endings and defeat. God allowed the flip side of the cross to bring life and victory and beginnings.  He’s the Master of the flip side. Am thinking that in the light of His grace, it’s a lot easier for us to see and to seek the flip side.

By His Grace~
Heather

“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.
 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 
 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”
2 Corinthians 4:16-18

 

 

 

 

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Wordless Wednesday

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Silent Sunday

 

Am in a few book studies these days… some professional, some devotional ❤   Am so aware that there’s always so much more to learn in order to grow and live well and love well… But I’m also letting myself sit in the knowledge that there IS always more, and will always be more…and that’s okay.   Thankful that I know more than I did yesterday, and hopefully will know more tomorrow than I do today.  Hoping that what I take in will be poured out in my own life…fleshed out in the opportunities that I’m given, and translated through my own  taken in and lived-out-version.

I love that we all have different takes on reading the same info…our own lives translate things in new versions of the same thing. I so believe God created each one of us so unique…and gave us gifts to be translated in our own ways…not carbon copies, but new and refreshing takes on age old truths and principles.  A few thoughts as I process lots of valuable info and realize sometimes I do bite off more than I can chew, but those times are often the very times when  more growth occurs. Hopefully so, anyway!   Oh, and my apologies from my oh-too-wordy self… for not being a rule follower today with the Silent Sunday.  I’ll do better next week 🙂

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Wordless Wednesday

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Silent Sunday

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Boiling Springs, North Carolina

So, at our school, in this fast-paced, filled-with-trauma world, we’re working on being mindful. “Mindfulness” has been a phrase that we’ve used a great deal in the past year. My realization? That this teacher, (wife, mom, friend, etc), can be a tad-bit distracted a lot of the time.  So often  I am more mindFULL than mindful. So am rethinking some things. Here  are some of my thoughts:

My growing definition of mindfulness- being fully present in the moment I’m in; vested in the now;  all in; aware of myself and those around me; tuned in; present in mind, heart, body, spirit; responsive to the present stimuli rather than reactive to past events or future fears;  focused on the task at hand; living in the minute that I’m living.

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Broad River Greenway

Realization #1- It’s tough to be mindful when I have a mind FULL of past present and future goals, fears, to-dos, etc.

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Ocean  Isle, North Carolina

Realization #2- Tuning out is as important as tuning in.Being mindful takes paring down what I’m focusing on.

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Boiling Springs, North Carolina

Realization #3 – Gotta figure what to filter in and filter out. Filters matter. Different filters are used for different things, circumstances, opportunities. Using spaghetti strainer-sized holes for a Keurig coffee filter won’t do. Will get lots of grounds in the coffee. Using a Keurig sized holes strainer for spaghetti won’t do. Water will overflow, won’t strain quick enough.  Strain.  Now that’s a word…’strain’. Here’s Google’s definition of strain:  “a device having holes punched in it or made of crossed wires for separating solid matter from a liquid.” Separating the solid from the liquid.  Separating the “what-matters” from the stuff to let go. Separating the value from the waste. Yeah, sounds like mindfulness to me.

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Winston Salem, North Carolina

Realization #4 – It’s a strain to strain. It takes work, determination, and willingness to fail, to filter out what’s not of value. It takes a willingness to let some things go. It takes perspective to know that the work of filtering will be worth the value of what’s left.

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Somewhere…

Realization #5 – Good things will be lost. There’s nutritive value lost in spaghetti water.  Yep. And that water could be used for lots more things. Yep. And I don’t want to be wasteful. Nope. But do I value my time and mission and purpose more than making sure that the spaghetti water  isn’t wasted?  Yep. Am I willing to accept that things and opportunities way more important than spaghetti water will be lost or wasted?  I’m working on my “yep” for that one, but definitely not all-there yet. Some things are more difficult to accept than others.

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Broad River GreenWay

Realization #6 – The ‘what’ and the ‘who’ I set my mind on matters. Big time. It directs the course. Like a steering wheel, like a path, like a boundary, the “what” and the “who” direct my steps.  As a Believer, I want my North Star to be Jesus. His truths. His Word. His Passion. Am believing that all else is spaghetti water. Am I mindFULL of that? Working on the “yep” for that one as well.

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Asheville, North Carolina

Realization #7 – Being present in the moment is greatly enhanced by the knowing that we’re just passing through, that our days are numbered.  If I’m honest with myself, I know that I’m slower to complete things when there’s no deadline. Even though I have had many ‘talks’ with my kids about not procrastinating, I’m still really bad about putting things off until  the ‘last minute’.  But the thing is, in this gift called life, we don’t know when our ‘last minute’ will be.  Our days are a gift. So our are minutes, our hours, our years. They are gifts.They are gifts to be enjoyed, to be valued and appreciated, and can be used in a way to impact those around us in beautiful and amazing ways…or not. Kind of depends on what we’re mindful (or mindFULL) of.

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Kings Mountain, North Carolina

Realization #8 – Being mindful is a beautiful gift to myself and those around me. Period. It just is. Even if it can create friction, for friction often comes when there’s a change in patterns. But I know I’d much rather be present and less distracted and fully there for those around me for sure.

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Home

Realizations #9  Sometimes the best gifts come wrapped in discipline. Am thinking this is one of those. It takes discipline to rethink habits and patterns and pursuits.  It takes discipline to put down the computer and pick up the pen. It takes discipline to sit quietly and not fill the voids when there’s an awkward awareness of the void. It takes discipline to get stronger in heart and mind and body and spirit.

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New Smyrna Beach, Florida

Realization #10 – Voids don’t have to be filled right away.  Voids get filled. Vacuums have a low pressure that make for the need for high pressure to move on in.  “Vacuum” comes from the Latin word “vacant”.  Empty.  So many of us have our lives and minds so filled to the brim that there are ‘No vacancy’ signs hanging all over us. And here’s the thing… We miss opportunities big time when we’re filled with fillers. When there’s a space like time or quiet, how often we quickly fill the voids with noise or cell phones or activity that is just a mere filler.

Sometimes we might need to sit with someone and let the quiet seep in before we fill the void with a cell phone or song or TV show. Sometimes we might need to let the uncomfortableness of a void sit for a bit so that we wait for a good filler as opposed to something to merely quiet the quiet. And it is true in so very many things that delayed gratification gives a much greater satisfied feeling and sense when the wait is finally over. So many things are worth the wait. Being slow to fill voids with fillers is something to be mindful of…

 

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Broad River Greenway

Realization #11- Mindfulness is not a 21st century hip trend, it’s been a pursuit and directive for the ages.     “As a man thinks within himself, so is he.” (Proverbs 23:7).  “Wherever you are, be all there.”  (Jim Elliot),”Life is not a matter of milestones, but of moments.” (Rose Kennedy), and here’s my favorite:  “A man paints with his brains, and not his hands.” (Michelangelo).

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Boone, North Carolina

Though I am no Michelangelo and can only marvel at his amazing works, am thinking that we all create masterpieces in life. They are born out of who we are. We leave traces behind of who we are, what we think, what we put our time and passion into.  I love how Michelangelo knew that his hands, his work, were merely extensions of his mind… Another quote by Michelangelo is “Every block of stone has a statue inside it and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it.”  Love that. I’m thinking that he spent a good bit of time and discipline to cultivate his gifts as painter and sculptor…that he was mindful of what he was doing at the time. Focused. Determined. I wonder what masterpieces might surface in our lives if we put our fillers down and picked up our own chisel of sorts?  I wonder.

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Home

And that word…wonder. That leads me to the last little thought or realization I have this morning….( I think it’s the last anyway…)

Realization #12 Mindfulness opens my eyes to the wonder around me and doesn’t put me in the center.  I don’t want a world that revolves around me and makes me, my pursuits, my hopes, dreams, accomplishments the end-all. That leads nowhere. Am thinking mindfulness only aids in helping people to see with awe the infinite wonder that is in the world around them…not only the world that is in them. Mindfulness leads not to an ego-centric view… but  an “out of sight” mentality, in the hippest sense of the word. Mindfulness allows us to see that there is much that  we don’t see,  and to appreciate what IS, right here, here now.

 

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Boiling Springs, North Carolina

The irony of being mindful is that it makes us all the more aware of the world around us as well as within us….and has an amazing way of connecting the two.

I can pray to be more mindful. I am praying and I have. But as Oswald Chambers said, “Some things go by kicking…” Am thinking this is one of those.

So there’s my list for this morning…am hoping that these realizations truly do become real…that they start surfacing in my life. I guess the first step has been made…recognizing and being mindful of what I’m shooting for.

Blessings to You and Yours~

Heather

 

“Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”

Psalm 90:12

 

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Wordless Wednesday

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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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Silent Sunday

 

 

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