Archives for posts with tag: Broad River Greenway

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I think I finally understand the meaning of “Speak softly and carry a big stick.”  FDR may have been coming at it from a different set of circumstances and perspective (global perspective vs. just-me, myself, and I perspective)…  But I really get it. And a man in a red coat on a woodsy path, along with a hugely oversized raccoon helped me “get it”, and speak it and do it…”speak softly and carry a big stick”, that is!

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You see, I went for a long walk the other morning.  Was beautiful. I wanted to see the sunrise in the morning, but it was cloudy at 7 a.m., so I went down by the river where I often go. And I walked, and I sang, (didn’t think any humans were there to hear me 🙂  ) , and I prayed, and thought, and took photos.

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I walked a long time, and went further down the path than I had ever gone. On the way, I questioned my wisdom a few times because it’s deer season in the south, and there were gunshots coming from across the river…close gunshots…and I was easily heard in the rustling of the leaves with each step. But am guessing I was not so easily seen with a gray sweatshirt on.  Red would’ve been a much better choice I decided.

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And then I heard a crazy, crazy animal scream at the top of a ravine, and my first thought was, “I wonder if there are mountain lions or cougars in these hills”. And then there was the moment when I got to what appeared to be the end of a path…it opened up onto a hill …but there was a house there, with abandoned vehicles, sheds, and a very big and quite concerned  dog with a low and loud bark. He made it obvious that I was an intruder. I kind of decided that although there was another marker pointing to a path on the hill top (Jolly Mountain), that it might be a wise thing to turn around. And after taking a few shots (photos, ha!) in the clearing, I turned around.

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So, exaggerated or not, these present and possible dangers probably made my heart rate go up quite a bit more than the walk itself. (My Fitbit can attest to that!) But those first few seeming threats were NOTHING compared to what would  meet me on the trail on the walk back.

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I was walking along and lost in thought when I saw a man about 1/8 mile away. He was wearing a red down coat and was standing still, looking my way, and staring.  Self-defense tactics that my husband had shared with me in his undercover narc days surfaced a bit in my brain, and soon gave way to confusion as the man in the red coat started yelling something at me.  So I stopped the rustling of the leaves and listened. And finally, I heard…and then,…I saw.

On the path between he and I was a HUGE, I mean HUGE raccoon. And it was daytime, and that concerned me a bit. Nocturnal animals should be asleep by now. It concerned the man in the red down jacket too. “I think he’s rabid…be really careful!!!”  So, the man in the red down jacket was no threat, but there might be a much scarier threat lurking. (My husband’s self-defense tips just wouldn’t apply to defend against a crazed raccoon…)

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So…Hmm. Okay.  I kind of froze. Not out of total fear, but I needed a bit of think time.  And a stick. I needed a stick.  (The man yelled that, too. “YOU MIGHT WANT TO GET A STICK!!” he yells…not softly at all.)  And he walked on further, and then stopped to see if I’d make it by this huge raccoon in the middle of the path. (He was kind to wait, but to be honest, I kind of wanted this man who I originally thought was a threat, to do the chivalrous and self-sacrificing act of actually coming to rescue me and ensure that I was safe…,ha. And that’s hard to admit for me and my seemingly-independent self. )

So…I walked softly, prayed softly, (but heartily), and got a big stick.

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…and I walked on toward the raccoon and when I got a little bit close, I proceeded to take the ‘high road’, and as the raccoon went toward the river, I walked way up off the beaten path on higher ground. Thankfully, as I walked on by,  the raccoon disappeared into a hole just beyond the lower side of the path. The man  in the red coat walked on, and I breathed a prayer of thanks,…quickened my pace,… and continued to hold on to that stick, and decided to ‘walk with purpose’ rather than linger and take photos.

Sometimes real threats are all around us and we don’t even know it. We can be surrounded by things that might or might not be dangerous. We can be aware of them, or totally oblivious to them.In this oft-crazy world, it seems as though it’s getting easier and easier to live in fear. But fear  often lives in the what might happen. Faith walks in the now.  I’m thinking faith walks hand in hand with fear sometimes. I mean, my heart was pumping, and what if’s were popping up in my head.  I love the Elisabeth Elliot quote that says, “Sometimes fear does not subside and I must choose to do it afraid.”  Lots of times for this girl. Walking past this seeming threat of a possibly-rabid raccoon is way low on the list of things I’ve needed to “choose to do afraid”.   But it really reminded me of the toll that fear can take on us.

I’m thinking it’s a good thing to be equipped to battle our fears…with tenacity, wisdom, smarts, and …sticks…tools to help us guard our hearts and minds and bodies.  Sometimes we can guard against very present dangers. We wear seat belts. We take vitamins. We go inside during lightning storms and in the basement in the threat of a tornado. We take preventive measures to protect our children, adult or not.  Caution is a good thing…as long as we continue living and stretching and moving forward.

Fear can bring on a state of paralysis where we’re so afraid to move to the left or the right that we never take a step at all. I’ve been there. (Even on my walk I had a ‘moment’!)  It seems to me that the paralysis sets in when I feel as though I’m a bit at the mercy of a situation…or a rabid raccoon or barking dog or man on a path yelling at me.  But thankfully, we can arm ourselves with more than sticks.

The Bible talks about the battles we face being against principalities, against things that are forces that can’t be seen. Sticks won’t do much in this battle. But the “armor” that is spoken of in Ephesians 6 can battle those unseen things.  The ‘belt of truth’ (focusing on what is True rather than the feelings or exaggerated ‘what ifs ‘ , etc.)  , ‘the breastplate of righteousness’ (walking with integrity, making good choices protects people in countless ways….) , the ‘shoes of the gospel of peace’ (God’s grace changes everything…everything, and allows us to walk in places with a new perspective) , ‘the shield of faith’ (He can do what I can’t, that’s for sure. I can focus on fear, or faith…faith shield and protects my heart), ‘the helmet of salvation’ (Grace protects my mind and changes the way I think..), and ‘the sword of the Spirit’ (The unseen can only be battled with the Unseen…can do what I can’t) …these all combat and protect the heart and mind in a world where there’s way more to lose than the physical.

I don’t know what real or present dangers you are facing. These tiny ‘threats’ on my walk were nothing compared to some of the battles we all face with real and legitimate fears for ourselves, for friends, for spouses and parents and children.  But I think there’s wisdom to really prepare our hearts, minds and bodies to be aware of what’s around us. It’s a good, good thing to control what we can, and trust God with what we can’t. I thought back to my walk and how the whole time was spent in solitude….with no humans in sight at all, until the man in the red coat. It struck me that if I had been taking photos and not paying attention, this scenario could’ve turned out quite differently, because that raccoon was there, and I could’ve truly been oblivious to its presence until I was right next to it. But thanks to the warning of the loud man in the red coat, well, the danger was heeded off. I wonder how many things we’re guarded from daily, hourly, momentarily that we’re not even aware of. Yes, it’s good to control what we can, but I’m so thankful that there’s often  much protection than we’ll ever be aware of.

So, thought for the day?  Yes, “speak softly and carry a big stick…”  is good advice. For leaders of countries for sure…*sigh*, and for me. Navigating through volatile and heated situations and dangers is cause for self-control and wisdom and respect….and then, only if necessary, muscles and sticks to guard, guard, guard, protect, protect, protect, but not aggressively trample and destroy. In the woods, in homes, work places and amongst nations, am thinking FDR knew what he was talking about.

Just a few thoughts which surfaced on my LONG walk on a cold November morning.

Blessings to you and yours ~
Heather

 

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this world’s darkness, and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.  Therefore take up the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes,  you will be able to stand your ground, and having done everything, to stand….”

Ephesians 6:12

 

 

 

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It’s happened quite a few times in the past few weeks. After dinner and a day of teaching, I’ll get in the car to run a few errands, and find that the car isn’t going from point A to point B in an efficient way. Nope,not at all. It seems to take the long way and end up gravitating to one of a few places with wide open spaces where I can see the sun going down..kind of melting into the horizon.

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I don’t know what it is. Of course, there’s nothing like seeing a good sunset. It’s beautiful and calming, and always changing. No two are ever the same. It’s also a reminder that there’s way more ‘out there’ than my little microcosm. Lots lots more. Of course there is. But being reminded of it by appreciating how vast our world is and how small I am, well, it helps get things in perspective in such a freeing way.  Yeah, these little diversions aren’t a waste of time.

I can remember when my kids were little there were those moments in a day when they’d be playing and then just out of the blue run to me and give me a hug or kisses or flowers or reach for my hand. I remember so many of these sweet moments of them kind of touching base and then quickly returning to their play…, and those little diversions….those are what my sunset diversions are to me.  In the same way that my kids ran to me, it’s like me taking that time out of my day to just run to God and acknowledge Him, thank Him, experience Him. It’s an intentional time to be grateful for the grace to see another day, for the beauty that is so easy to overlook, for the many many things in my life I have to be thankful for. The needs and deficits can have a way of making themselves known…They can scream loud in a day. Yes, needs are like the squeaky wheels that demand to be recognized. But when I take a little time to recognize the awesome things that can be taken for granted, well, it just helps me exhale and breathe a little better for sure.

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I love the verse that says, “Taste and see that the Lord is good.”  It’s not just saying Know….or think on…or believe…the verse is saying taste, see.…experience…savor. Savor the favor. Savor the moments. Savor the grace. Savor, taste, enjoy.  Acknowledge that He is good. Acknowledge and experience His Presence. And somehow, I think that awareness that God is good, that savoring of His grace, so strengthens us  when it comes time to address the squeaky wheels and needs and drudgery that can be in a day. And there sure can be a lot of that in a day. But there sure is always a lot to savor too. Sometimes we may just have to take some diversions to see it…Love that. Thankful for that. Strengthened by that 🙂

Blessings ~

Heather

 

“From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets,

the name of the LORD is to be praised.”

Psalm 113:3

I can hear it before I see it.  Some days it’s louder and faster and more powerful. Other days it’s slower and  more quiet and peaceful. But I can always hear it before I see it. DSCN1597.jpg

I know plants can’t hear. But I’m sure there’s some sense of the water raging by.

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And spiders hanging by threads inches from the waters edge….I’m sure that they are aware of the powerful force of the waves beneath them.

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And rocks,…more like boulders, that have been there in the midst of the water’s flow…they stand still as the river rages on.  I’m sure there’s erosion, but it’s a little by little wearing down.  It’s a standing in the midst of the raging waters…they’re still standing steady, well-grounded, as the waters rage on.

 

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The rock stands the test of time, but the flower…not so much. But then again perennials come back year after year, and if not perennial, well seeds reproduce and the flower lives on through its seed. But in its short life time as this flower?  The delicate presence remains delicate and beautiful and present no matter the flow of the river a few feet from the ground where it has grown.

As my camera lens was  zooming in on the plant, the spider, the rock and the flower, these objects came into focus, into clear view.  But the more I focused in on the objects, the more the fast-moving waters became blurred. I loved looking through the lens and seeing the objects standing still in the midst of a world of water rushing by. And I loved it for a few reasons.

Sometimes life can feel like the world around us is in fast forward overdrive motion. And we can be tempted to focus on those waters. And it might cause us to lose focus…to lose a sense of a clear view of who we are and what our purpose might be. Yeah, raging waters, spinning worlds,…they move fast. But that doesn’t mean the rock does. Or the flower. Or the plant, or even the tiny spider hanging on its web. Yes, I loved seeing the steady standing still of the objects as the water rushed by.

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And I love seeing people stand strong and steady in the midst of the storms in their lives. I’ve witnessed it quite a few times just this week in ordinary souls who choose to stand strong when their worlds come crashing down with difficult news or circumstances.   Steady hearts stay focused. But not on rushing winds or raging waves. Steady hearts stay grounded in truth.  In love. In hope beyond themselves. Staying steady and faithful in a world that encourages people to bail on beliefs and get caught up in the waves of the next momentary trip,…staying steady in this world encourages people to have hope and maybe stay steady themselves. Yeah, it all seems to depend on where the focus lies… on lies or truth…on hope or defeat…on integrity or momentary choices that can get us caught up in a current we had never intended to ride. A wavering heart can lead to wind-and-wave-driven feet. Steady heart….steady feet.

Well, these feet were so thankful for the walk and exercise, and the FitBit was congratulatory when I hit my steps goal. But am most thankful for the encouragement that comes when there’s a little time to reflect, to think, to see, to wonder. Am thankful that God’s Creation speaks (LOUDLY) of His Presence, and that His steadfast love can keep the most wavering of hearts steady when they are stayed upon, focused upon Him.

Blessings~

Heather

P.S. I can hear the river before I see it. And the cool thing is, I can hear the Word of God and ‘see’ with eyes of faith things come to life before I see them. I can trust, believe, stay steady and hold on tight to the Truth…and I believe….that then it’s just  a short walk or a long walk until I see it fleshed out in my life or the lives of those around me. Sometimes hearing comes before seeing, and believing comes before the answer is seen. But much in the same way that i can hear the waters rushing and then know the river is there, I can read the Truths of scripture and trust God with each prayer…because it’s only a matter of time before I catch glimpses of the answer…or better yet, catch glimpses of Him in the midst of it all.

“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering,

for he who promised is faithful.”

Hebrews 10:23

“The grass withers and the flowers fade, but the Word of Lord endures forever.”

Isaiah 40:8

 “Be on guard. Stand firm in the faith. Be courageous. Be strong.”

1 Corinthians 16:13

 

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…down by the riverside…

Wordless Wednesday

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