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Weekly Photo Challenge

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So I love the saying, “Bloom where you’re planted.”

But my thought today?  It is simply ‘Grow where ya land…’  And this rogue Sunflower mustering up one little petal as it takes root in the gutter and reaches toward the sun…well the visual sums it up pretty perfectly. And it made me smile and inspired me and even gave me a little courage. I could write volumes on my thoughts…but will spare you of the unabridged version today…

Yeah, sometimes, we’ve just gotta grow where we land.

Oh, and hopefully we don’t land in too many gutters… just saying.  But if we ever do, well, just think on my sweet little pathetic but tenacious sunflower. Bloom…and if ya can’t bloom, well, just be sure to  g r O W 🙂

Blessings,

Heather

P.S. yeah, I know it’s time to clean the gutters 🙂

 

 

Weekly Photo Challenge~ Drifter

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baseball

Sometimes there are seasons of waiting.  Waiting when you see no signs of what you’re waiting for, but choosing to hope that it’s coming and that things are going on below the surface.

Here’s a visual for ya–This bench won’t be empty for long…and the field will be full of cleat-clad baseball players giving it all they’ve got.  But it’s still now.  Quiet. But the players are all out there…somewhere, and when the time is right, they’ll convene and practice and their friends and families will rally and shout and cheer them to victories and comfort them in defeat.  Yes, they are out there, but there’s a little more waiting, a little more orchestration of events that need to occur before it’s time….baseball season.

I’ve seen it time and time again, how we wait and wait and wonder if God is hearing our prayers…let alone answering.  But then, after a period of time, it’s as though all variables come together and series of events are interwoven to bring about the perfect scenario of answered prayer that is bigger than what we can imagine.  He’s kind of like that master mind coach working out all the details when all the spectators see is a snow-covered empty field. (We rarely see the things a coach does…Assembling a team, getting uniforms, try outs, setting up a schedule, getting coaches, refs, etc. etc. etc., but we trust that these things will get done.)   Yes, things are going on that we can’t see for sure.  Funny how we think we should see things that are just not ours to see or understand.

I love the verse that says, “For the vision awaits the appointed time, it hastens toward the end and it will not fail. Though it linger, wait for it.  It will certainly come and not delay.” Habakkuk 2:3   God knows the what and how of answered prayer.  It is ours to will to wait…to rest, to know that though all we may see is a snow-covered field, that in time, the snow will melt, the people will convene and what God ordains best will happen.  Just a few rambling thoughts on the season of waiting for this weekly photo challenge.

 

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/photo-challenges/seasons/

ordinary

Ordinary ~  a walk at the Broad River Greenway.

Extra-ordinary ~ time well spent with two sons on a beautiful October day, catching up on what hasn’t been said on the phone calls and texts while he’s been away at college.  Yep, thankful for extraordinary moments on ordinary days.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_photo_challenge/extraordinary/

dad 31

Boundaries.  They keep things in.  They keep things out. Sometimes they protect, sometimes they guide.  Sometimes they are chosen for us.  Sometimes we choose them for ourselves.

I love the visual of being on a narrow path…with few choices, clear disciplines, parameters born of conviction which one day….one day…after much discipline, and choosing to be hemmed in… leads to  w i d e  o p e n  s p a c e s.  Seems to me that’s what happens when we choose wisely.  I’ve shared with my kids so many times that if they are wise in these early years, their options, ability to choose, freedoms will multiply as they get older.  They’ll go from walking on narrow paths to wide open spaces.  I just love that visual…and that truth.  Am hoping that for my kids, and hope they want that for themselves as well.

Because… if they choose to walk on a broad path now and listen to the culture that says to “do what you want whenever you want however you feel”, well, it will lead from wide open spaces…to… narrow paths which continue to narrow.  For the consequences of choices have a way of catching up with us.  If we’re wise, they lead to new freedoms, options, choices.  If not, they lead to a narrowing of our choices, our freedoms in our lives. When we choose boundaries early on, we get freedom, beautiful freedom, later.  When we choose undisciplined lives, we get boundaries imposed upon us.

I guess as a mom of teens and twenties in a culture that equates freedom with the ability to do whatever you feel like, the word “boundaries” brings up a lot in my heart and mind. I’ve said the words, I mean, we’ve had the conversations…  But each of us makes our own choices for sure, and finds our own destinations. People can lead and guide,but ultimately, we choose our own path. I know I did, and learned so much…some lessons so the hard way. I know the joys of seeing vast open spaces, and also the despair of having very limited options as a result of making stupid decisions.  But, you know that feeling when you walk to the beach on a planked boardwalk that is so narrow that two people can barely pass, and then…then you come to the end of that boardwalk and see the ocean which takes up the whole horizon and the beauty is just breathtaking?  I kinda think that’s a picture of what God wants for us, and what I’m praying for in my life and those I love. I’m learning to walk that narrow path in order to enjoy the amazing view. Yep, praying for wise boundaries that lead to wide open spaces…as vast as the ocean is wide.

Blessings ~

H

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_photo_challenge/boundaries/

pebbles

Pebbles.  A millions little pieces that can become the ground we walk on.  As a child, I knew the feeling of walking barefoot on little pebbles, for we had pebbles that filled the spaces around the back of our home.  We played in pebbles by making mounds, we smoothed the pebbles with rakes, we threw and scattered the pebbles with buckets and dump trucks and were strongly reminded to make sure the pebbles get back to the area within the brick and not in the grass. I love the feeling of those little smooth pebbles under my feet…if it’s a group of them that is.  If it’s one pebble on a concrete porch or kitchen floor, then it sure doesn’t feel great at all.

Rocks were a love of mine as well as I was intrigued, even at a  young age, by the designs and composition of rocks.  Fools gold and mica were always a fun find and I secretly hoped that one day while looking for crawdads under creek smoothed rocks that, maybe, just maybe, we’d find some real gold.  My grandfather knew of my interest in rocks and would bring me back samples marked with their origin.  His visits to the Grand Canyon and Painted Desert afforded treasures which he brought back home. My favorite little treasure however, was from the black sand beaches of Hawaii.  It is not permitted to bring back the sand, but somehow, my grandfather managed to gather the sand that had “accidentally gotten in his shoes”.  I still have that little bottle of sand from the beaches of Hawaii.

As a child, one of my favorite things was to play in the creek and build little dams. We lived near a golf course and would hunt frogs and crawdads as well as golf balls, but when there were none to be found, we’d build dams in the creek.  How fun it was when we got to go to our friends’ house who had a big mountain “creek” in their back yard.  We were busy for hours constructing dams and watching how we could change the flow of the water.  That’s a powerful feeling for a little kid and what a feeling of accomplishment it was to build little pools in the water.  Of course, they were all temporary, but oh, the fun we had in the building.

I built a rock wall at the dream land that we had purchased years ago.  It was on the lake.  It was a work in progress and a labor of love.  I should have LABOR in capital letters as they weren’t merely rocks that were part of this wall, but really some could’ve been classified as boulders.  I would move these in centimeters with the greatest of effort and ingenuity ONLY when no one was watching!  I’d be asked, “How’d ya move that, Mom?!”, and would smile and think, if you only knew!  Another fun memory was paying the kids ten cents a rock and 25 cents for the bigger ones.  This kept my lively brood pretty active at the lake when they were done with fishing and swimming.  I could see the business minds in a few of my children pretty quickly with this mission as their dimes and quarters sure added up, as the rock wall was built up with their finds.

Not sure why I’m going on and on about rocks.  But as a big mission of this blog is to kind of share with my kids thoughts and beliefs, memories and hopes, well, I’m just going to go with it.  So here comes another memory.  In college and in the early years of working, I loved to go hiking.  I especially liked walking the trails less traveled, those which you must be strategic to navigate, the trails where you’re rock climbing without the belay rope. I love the challenge.  I love the beauty.  I love the jumps to safety and the feeling of a mission accomplished. I love the climb.

And now?  Well, these days, I’m not rock climbing, or walking on those pebbles outside of the home I grew up in. I don’t hunt for crawdads under rocks or build dams in creeks.  The rock wall is long since buried, but I do still have that sweet little rock collection from my Papa  Les, including the black sand from Hawaii.  But my favorite rock collection these days is in a large bowl.  Years ago, I started putting a rock in a jar for the answered prayers in our family. At first, I wrote down some of the answers in a little prayer journal, but that got lost.  I’ve started a new one each year and love to see the little pebbles just pile up, a real visual of how God is so very present in our every day lives and how He truly does answer prayer.

I’ve shared prayer jars with some of my friends, and I can still remember my friend Janet.  When she opened the gift and I explained the meaning, she just smiled and proceeded to pour a bunch of marbles in the jar!  I smiled as she said that He has answered so many prayers already!  She was battling cancer and God did so many beautiful things in her life during that time.  He made His presence known.  With prayer, sometimes the answer is yes.  Sometimes no. Sometimes wait, there’s something so much better.  But He answers, and just like my rock wall, the dam, the group of pebbles, a collection of rocks that represent answered prayer is a beautiful thing to see.  It is for me.  We are to call to mind His blessings.  The Old Testament speaks of building monuments to remember His deeds.  And rocks?  These rocks, and these little pebbles, can be such a reminder of His blessings…for we are reminded that if we don’t praise Him, the rocks indeed will.  Praising God that even rocks have value and meaning.  If they do, how much more do we?

Blessings ~

Heather

P.S. If you’re wondering how this all fits in the monochromatic theme, well, you’re probably in good company because I forgot that little detail!  But it was in my mind all along, because, in most of the analogies, the rocks are grouped together and become one.  Kind of like the picture of the pebbles I shared…they are many different shades, but they are one group of whitish pebbles. The rocks of the dam were many, but together, they were a powerful one.  The stones in the jar are many, and they are one beautiful message of One who answers prayer.  I can see the individual rocks or I can see the whole picture.  I can see the individual hues, or I can see the one color…And I know it’s a stretch, but that, that is how all of these memories of rocks hopefully fit into this monochromatic theme for the weekly photo challenge!

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_photo_challenge/monochromatic/

beneath my feet

To climb is to hope

To reach is to believe

To step is to have faith

To dream is to conceive

For as a man thinks

in his heart, so he believes

And what a man pursues

So often starts in dreams

So dream the dream my daughter,

and climb and hope and see

But keep your feet planted firm

In what you have received

For firm is the foundation

of faith for for those who turn

To God for their direction

To God for grace unearned

So dream and pray with passion

Let your actions speak

Live safely within boundaries

For that is when we’re free.

So dream the dream my daughter

Your gifts are not just your own

For there’s a world that’s quaking

that needs  a world of hope

So climb and hope and reach

but always be still and know

It is God who gives the dreams

It is He who is our Hope

As we follow He will lead

Yes in Him, there’s always Hope

In Him, there’s always Hope.

*Psalm 121*

Photo:  Hope walking up the steps

Blue Ridge Parkway somewhere between Blowing Rock and Boone, NC

August 4, 2015

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_photo_challenge/beneath-your-feet/

moss island

I love the photo challenge for this week:  inspiration.    One of the things that I am so energized by is just the incredible beauty of creation.  This photo was taken in New Smyrna Beach Florida.  I don’t recall whether it was on an island, or just off the coast, but it was a glimpse into days gone by. The colors and textures blended together so beautifully …moss, leaves, bark, petals, sky, branches…and bright colors. There was a historic house on the property with an old tennis court, and huge live oaks.  It felt like walking back in to time.  The only things that were NOT inspiring were the huge mosquitos that swarmed and helped to shorten the stay!  I guess they inspired us to exercise (RUN!)

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_photo_challenge/inspiration/

closeup

Well, I know that this probably wasn’t what was intended for this photo challenge.  I realize that most of the photos will be small images enlarged to see every little detail.  But I had come across this photo last week and just love it and think that it fits in the “close up” category as well!  You see, these little guys are on their first family (with just mom and dad and siblings) vacation to  the beach.  All that day, we had talked about going crab hunting at night.  They had their own flashlights with their names and their own little symbol drawn on them.  They had their jackets and shoes on cause it was a little chilly and then again if there are lots of crabs, you don’t want them to be finding your feet! It was a sweet, sweet night…the first of many crab hunts to come in the days and years to come.  (in fact these two brothers now in their mid-twenties have just been to the beach recently and said they were looking for crabs at night as well…but this time it was to use them for bait…not just to learn more about their always-opening up little world.)

There is nothing like the natural curiosity of children.  They see wonder at every turn.  They learn and appreciate things we take for granted.  They stop what they are doing to engage in their little ever-widening worlds. Children help us to see the wonder and joy of what we may overlook in the day to day.  There are those children as well, who want to be sure that the adults in their lives take notice of what these little people have taken notice of…and respond as these little people see fit!

When my oldest was learning to talk, he loved to see trucks.  “There’s a truck.”  “There’s a truck.”  “There’s a truck.”  It NEVER got old for him.  Me, on the other hand did not really appreciate feeling the need to give him the awaited response.  “Yes, Zac, there’s a truck.”  “Yes, Zac, there’s a truck.”  You get the picture.  But what I so did appreciate was his desire to engage in his world, and then communicate about it with me.  THAT is a crucial, yet often overlooked piece of parenting: It’s in the little moments of the day that the big solid rock foundation of communication is formed.  Sometimes we think the most important communication is in the big heartfelt  moments.  But, as I look back, I think a lot of the sweetest moments, and again, the foundation of having good communication, is built in the day to day, “There’s-a-truck-yes-I-see-the-truck” moments.

There are definitely times for quiet and I think children should have a lot of quiet time so that external noise doesn’t direct and zap their curiosity and ability to think and wonder and engage.  But I do think that there are times when I wish I hadn’t shushed my kids…when I was a tired mom who just wanted quiet at whatever cost.  (Usually, it is my recollection that things always got louder on those days!)  Sometimes the cost was the child’s knowing to the core of their being that their mom wanted to hear what they had to say.  That’s a pretty heavy price.

But I’m thankful that, just like my boys who observed their little world close up with flashlights and magnifying glasses and eyes wide open with wonder, I can closely look back at situations and understand a bit more, learn a bit, and then see how God’s grace just fills in the gaps.  As my kids one by one are ‘leaving the nest’, I find myself looking back at memories, incidents, and either smiling or just wishing I could have a do-over in some situations.  But, thank God, there is grace.  Rather than use a magnifying glass of scrutiny over past victories and defeats, I am looking back, like through a window…seeing in part, remembering, feeling, but not camping out there.  Memories are a good thing.  They can make us smile and feel joy, or they can make us run to the One who can fill in the gaps with the Grace that only God can give.

There is grace for my children. There is grace for me. Thank God for His grace.  And thank God for the curiosity of a child who examines his world with eyes of wonder and faith and knows that he doesn’t have to have it all figured out.  Praying to have eyes like that…and to trust that even though I will never have everything all “figured out”, that God so does, and I can put my trust in Him.  Oh, and one more thought.  I think the ‘there’s a truck’ scenario can be very similar to what God hears sometimes,…but I’m so thankful that as I pray I can confidently know that He hears and He cares and knows the need before I even ask Him.  “Yes, Heather…there’s a truck.”

Blessings ~

Heather

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_photo_challenge/close-up/

half and half

Well, I cropped half of this photo because yours truly is so not photogenic at times and my girl Hope is.  But when I looked at the picture, I just smiled, cause, even though I’m not in the photo, I am. See that hand right there that’s on my girl’s shoulder?  Well, whether I’m in the photo or not, I’m there.  She knows it.   You see, my babies are all leaving the nest.  Three will be leaving in about a month…one to the coast, one to the mountains, and one to… Sweden.  I won’t be in those photos that they send from their little new corner of the world, but then again, I will be.  Because half of my heart belongs to them.  Half of my heart divided six ways.  No, it’s not perfect math, but it is so perfectly true.  A mom’s heart can be divided in many, many “halves”.

To further the analogy a bit…I love that just as a mom’s heart goes with her children, or a husband’s with his wife, a friend’s with a friend, etc, God is so the unseen presence in the photos of our lives.  He is so much more than omnipresent.  He loves in a way that moms could only hope to love.  He knows us in a way that is deeper than we know ourselves. He has great plans for us that could exceed what we think or imagine.  It is but ours to recognize that unseen yet so very seen Presence in our lives. And in the same way that math concepts don’t transfer over into the divisions of the heart, I have a feeling that the infinite and unmeasurable love of God divides and multiplies at the same time.  That’s kind of how love is…the more it is divided, the more it is multiplied.  Love that.

Oh, and love kind of throws science out the window as well because it goes wherever our hearts are, whether we are there or not. Yep, even for we moms that stay home as our children venture out, our hearts and love can travel to countless places…such as the coast, the mountains, or even…Sweden.  Thankful for that, because as moms know, more and more of the photos are merely of our ‘better halves”…who are now living their lives wholly on their own. May they sense their loved ones’ hands on their shoulders, and the presence of the “Everlasting Arms’ wherever they may be.

Blessings~
Heather

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed,

for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

Joshua 1:8

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