Archives for posts with tag: Faith

DSCN8536.jpg

“Don’t dig up in doubt what you planted in faith.”  ~ Elisabeth Elliot

DSCN8657.jpg

Giving myself 15 minutes to write what I’m thankful for for this week…so here goes…

Thankful for Sky.  For wide open spaces. For sunsets and endings to days.  Good to have endings so that we can have beginnings.

Thankful for sons on the way home from different places & different ventures, a daughter on the way out to see family, and me sitting right there in the middle of the comings and goings being thankful that I get to see them as they come and they go. Thankful they have places to go to do their thing, but that there’s a magnet of family to come home to.

Thankful for friends. For truths shared. Encouragement. Laughter. Gut-level prayers sent up, and the ‘you’re not in this alone’ reality that sweet friendship brings to both sides. Internal perspective has a way of changing external views. So very thankful for friendships that help me see things through the lens of faith.

Thankful for stark realities of death that lead to beautiful awareness of LIFE and the gift of each day. That the darkest moments one one’s life can lead to wake up calls of living well in so many more lives. Thankful that the Bible speaks of deep gut-level HOPE that doesn’t let us or loved ones go in times of loss.

Thankful for stupid videos that my son shares that make me laugh like crazy….and make me admit that his quite goofy sense of humor may have come from someone.

Thankful for evening walks after the rain.

DSCN8653

Thankful for triple chocolate gelato (almost as good as the pistachio)…and for a son who eats a lot of it so that his mom isn’t tempted to eat more. Thankful for the memory of a year ago…eating my first gelato on a small island in the Archipelagos of Sweden…and for the son who was determined to help me check some things off of my bucket list.

Thankful for a ridiculously cluttered garage that is becoming less cluttered, and for the many moments in the past week of finding lost treasures of notes from kids, family photos, and little reminders of different stages of our family. Thankful for the laughter and cleansing tears shed in the reminders, and for the laughter and smiles from my kids as they get unexpected photos popping up on their phones with “remember when” messages from a mom who is trying hard to hold things loosely, but hold tightly to the things that matter.

IMG_5109

Bookmark Josh made years and years ago 🙂

Thankful for a misty rain that watered the plants that I had forgotten to.

DSCN8683.jpg

Morning Glory

Thankful that God’s mercy is new every morning.

Thankful for spinakopita and Greek salad and lunch with coworkers.

Thankful for time with my girl of laughter and talking and accomplishing daily tasks as a team…always feels so good to be part of a team working towards a common goal. Thankful for her feisty self that has a heart of compassion and wisdom underneath all that beauty and spunk.

Thankful for calls from sons…and catching up and laughing and connecting…and the little things that remind me that even though they are now men with lives of their own, they are so the same little guys with the same eyes that I looked into when they were young.

Thankful for my husband’s determination to provide for our family, and for the humility and wisdom to keep pressing on when things aren’t anywhere near easy street.

Thankful for walks with friends and wise decisions to meet at the River Trail instead of DQ.

IMG_5119

Carolina Thread Trail

Thankful for good reports from family members and the reminder that we all aren’t quite as invincible as we may think.

Thankful for new books to read and the desire to learn and grow. For me from the library, and for my youngest from Young Life youth leader. Yep Thankful for people investing in my kids big time.

IMG_5124

Thankful for quiet mornings, coffee, and for the missions and checklists for the day.

Thankful for “Thankful Thursday” posts and for the way being grateful for the little things has a way of empowering me to tackle the big things/tasks of the day.

Welp, my 15 minutes (stretched to 20 actually) are up.  Thankful for those who take the time to read these words, and for the many connections we all have. Thankful for words that bridge connections.  ❤

Hope your day is full of many, many…. Blessings ~

Heather

 

“..give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”  I Thessalonians 5:18

Thankful Thursday

 

DSCN8632.jpg

Boiling Springs, NC  June 24th, 2017

“Faith is to believe what you do not see…the reward of faith is to see what you believe.”

~Saint Augustine

 

Silent Sunday

 

 

I read this quote by Amy Carmichael the other day. Love the truth and simplicity of it.

“We say, then, to anyone who is under trial,

give Him time to steep the soul in His eternal truth.

Screen Shot 2017-06-12 at 8.08.21 PM

Go into the open air, look up into the depths of the sky,

DSCN3202

Wrightsville Beach, NC

or out upon the wideness of the sea,

DSCN3223

Wrightsville Beach, NC

mm12

Malmo, Sweden

DSCN3159

Wrightsville Beach, NC

or on the strength of the hills that is His also; or, if bound in the body, go forth in the spirit; spirit is not bound.

IMG_4781

Shelby, NC

hopeoct17

Boone, NC

tues64

Stockholm, Sweden

arch24

Archipelagos, Sweden

 

silentsunday

Boiling Springs, NC

dayone65

Stockholm, Sweden

DSCN5387

Shelby, NC

Give Him time and, ……as surely as dawn follows night,

DSCN3063

Shelby, NC

there will break upon the heart a sense of certainty that cannot be shaken.”

old10

Malmo, Sweden

DSCN4513

Backyard 🙂

oct1610

Boone, NC

– Amy Carmichael
Faith is perspective. It is belief. And sometimes a little stepping back to get some breathing room can do wonders for fueling faith, because in stepping back, we can better see the Wonder of the One we have faith in.  It’s not about faith in faith. It’s about faith in Him, the One True God.
The Heavens declare His wonder…and when I share in the wonder, well, my view changes my worldview, my worship changes my worry, my wonder changes the One I’m focusing on.  Yeah, am thinking Amy Carmichael had it so right when she wrote the above quote.   A little stepping back and looking up and looking out can awake in my heart “a certainty that cannot be shaken…”  Actually, for me, sometimes that certainty is shaken…but the good news is My God never is. Love that. When I show up, He is already there.  Just a few reminders to my self …

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

Hebrews 11;1

DSCN3429

“…now faith is confidence in what we hope for,

and assurance about what we do not yet see.”

Hebrews 11:1

I love that verse. And more than that, I love the truth that faith is about what is unseen, but…there are signs all around that can be seen.  Just like Melanie’s reflection in the water, I can see in part…I can see her feet, but there reflecting in the water is the confirmation that there’s a whole lot more to the picture than what I can see.

Praying today for eyes wide open to see the ‘reflections’. To see the signs that point to the truth that God is who He says He is, and that what is seen with our eyes, is only a teeny tiny part of our reality.  Am so  mindful of people going through some really tough  things, and am hopeful that they catch glimpses of the beautiful truth that God is so very present even when we can’t see Him. We might not see Him face to face..but we sure can see signs of His goodness, His truth, His Presence all around. Praying that the reflection of who He is becomes so very visible to those who need to know that they are not alone. It just takes a little tweaking of the vision, a little determination to see beyond what’s seen. It just takes a little faith.

“For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part;

then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.”  

1 Corinthians 13:12

Blessings ~

Heather

The Daily Post ~ “Reflecting”

going homeSo, for 9 days,  “home” had been a beautiful room with flowers on the windowsill,  a view of my favorite little pink bike, and the most comfortable bed I think I’ve ever slept in.  It has been a respite, a gift, a treasure that I will look back and think on with gratitude and laughter and an awe that no words can fill.   And I’m thankful for that because it is day ten of ten. I held back tears as I looked at the flowers that Austin had given to me in the train station on day one.  It has long been said that “all good things must come to an end.”  I don’t know for sure about that, but I do know that these flowers seemed to state what I knew…my time there was coming to a close.

I packed and repacked my bag because on the airline that I was traveling on, there were some pretty strict regulations and I didn’t want it to go over the weight limit. (Correction, my suitcase, not me.)  Austin volunteered to carry the bag that whole morning because he knew that I’d have to carry it throughout the trip and even though it was under 15 pounds, it didn’t have wheels and so it got heavy pretty quickly. I accepted that gift and enjoyed just walking seeing the sights one last time.   We needed to be at the airport by 10:30, and decided to do breakfast at a nice little place on the square that I had come to feel was my little home base of sorts. This was the area where we rode bikes through the first day, caught the ferry to the archipelagos, and walked around on one of the first days there.

home9

We ate at a cute little place that had been overflowing with partying sports fans the night before, but was now a sweet little breakfast cafe.  Of course, we chose to sit outside.home4

We both ordered Swedish waffles with berries and cream and cafe latte.  Was so incredibly good.  home5

We ate a leisurely breakfast, for, after all, we had PLENTY of time before I had to catch my flight and we were ahead of schedule.  We left and walked to the train station.

home8

I found myself doing the kind of “Good night, Moon” talk in my head. “Good bye sail boats.”  “Good-bye statue of the beautiful man”, “Good bye bikes”, “Good bye geraniums in every window and life saver at every 2 inches of water”….”Good bye tall, beautiful people”, “Good bye art and beauty at every turn…”  “Good bye bikes”…the list goes on.  We even saw a poster in the train station for the Nick Brandt exhibit, “Inherit the Dust” that we had seen at the Fotagrafiska museum.  “Good bye Nick Brandt”.

home3

But one thing that was not on the list was , “good bye Aus.”  That was just too tough to think about. Wasn’t going to go there. Not yet. No way.  (p.s.  note in photo, Austin has his back pack and my bag at this point).

So, we got on the train and as we passed through the turn-stall, I saw a woman rushing to get to the train on time.  I felt  so sorry for her and thought, “Boy, I’m sure glad that I’m not her.  Feels so good to not have to rush….” Ha.  That would end up coming back to haunt me for sure!  When we got on the train we even had 2 seats next to each other which was rare.  We ended up at the airport a half hour ahead of schedule. We were there at 10:00 and had hoped to be there by 10:30.

But as the train came to a halt at Arlanda Airport, I looked down at my itinerary. We were just getting up and I said, “Aus, why does this say Vestra? Is it Arlanda/Vestra?”  And Austin had a look on his face that I’ve rarely seen, but it was pretty terrifying. Turns out, there was good reason for terror.  We were at the wrong airport.   Yep.  That poor woman that I had felt so sorry for and seen rushing was probably in a way better situation than yours truly. Deep breaths.

So, the next few minutes would’ve been a great comedy sketch big time. Aus feverishly searched through his iPad to see what we could do to get to the other airport on time, and then the only person that was left by the tracks was the one who had checked our tickets, so I asked him what would be best.  The consensus was that a taxi was the only option.  So, Austin and I quickly left the train and ran up two flights of the escalator (that looked like a mountain…) and then as we found our way to the taxis, I looked and I realized something was missing.  My bag.  Oops.  I was like, “Austin, where’s my bag?” (I saw that look again…)  So…we ran down the same two flights of the escalator (mountain), and then found that the train had left.  So, you’ve got it…back up the steps with no bag.  Ah well.

Austin seemed to be doing fine with the running part.  Just fine. But me?  I used to pride myself in being an alright runner.  Ha.  Funny.  Really funny. That was a long, long  time ago. What we don’t use, we lose.  (Gotta find that back….) But my kids don’t have a stubborn streak just from their Dad.  I definitely get credit there too, so I pushed through but was relieved when we finally got a taxi.   The driver was really kind and said, not to worry, we’d get there in enough time even though it would take an hour and 20 minutes to get there.  Yikes.  But we did get there.  In enough time even.   But it was the most expensive cab ride ever.  Ah well again. Deep breath again.  New airline tickets would’ve been way more expensive for sure. Gotta keep things in perspective here.  With cab rides.  With lost bags.  With saying good bye to ones we love.

So, we got there, and then, I had to say that dreaded “Good bye” to Aus. Relief had washed over both of us that we had gotten there on time, and so it made the see ya later so much easier. I told him to go and make sure he got his bus ticket back to Stockholm and he did, and then he waited as I went through Customs.  Nope, he didn’t have to wait until I got through the gate.  And I never had to when I dropped him off at the airport.  But it just doesn’t seem quite okay to leave when your child is still in your sights for a bit when you won’t be seeing them for a long time. Maybe when the roles are reversed, it feels the same.  Yes, I shed a few tears, but it was all gratitude.  100%.

Now back to that role reversal thing. All week, I had taken off the boss, manager, teller-of-what-to-do hat, and LOVED having a break from that.  And Austin had put the hat on.  With plans, with decisions, with arrangements, Austin had taken care of the big and little details. And so, come Thursday morning, I didn’t even think twice about which airport we’d need to be at.  I just defaulted to Austin.  It wasn’t even a thought.  And that was so my fault to default to someone else.  So thankful that we worked it out for sure, but it was a lesson for me to always be vigilant. Always.  Even when the hats are off, I’ve gotta be aware.

The views as I left Sweden made me smile.  Islands.  Water.  Clouds.  Beautiful Sweden, these ten days were amazing.

home13home12

On the flight, we flew over lots of COLD mountains.

home5

They were beautiful. I so enjoyed the first part of the flight.  I was sitting with two women who were so intelligent and entertaining.  They were both black women, one from California, and one from Nigeria, who were very vocal about their thoughts on social justices and injustices and I so enjoyed getting to know them and laugh and share with these two ‘strangers’ who were so easy to connect with. ( I only make the distinction that they were women of color because we had more in common that not, and in today’s social climate, I wanted to say that. I felt so connected through laughter, conversation, and sharing of experience…ethnicity was not a barrier…) But half way through the trip, I realized that we were running way behind schedule. (Oh, and the time zone thing tripped me up again big-time.  I didn’t know whether we were adding or taking away hours, so it took me a bit to realize how late we were going to be. )

So, I wish  that I could say that the airport fiasco was the most stressful part of the trip.  It wasn’t. AT ALL.  The problem with that was that the window of time I had between my arrival time and the check in time for the gate from Boston to Charlotte was originally less than 2 hours. Had to go through Customs and all that.  Well, with the flight delay, I had less than an hour to get through Customs and board my plane which would begin boarding within half an hour.

So….I asked the flight attendant if I could move up seats. I was in row 22 and I knew that waiting for all to get off would waste precious minutes.  She checked to see if there was a seat up close and 4 B was open.  So down the aisle I go.  I then excused myself as I sat between two young twenty-something women.  I said, “Excuse me.  I moved up because I’m concerned about missing my connecting flight.”  The girl to my right said, “Me too, mine takes off at 7:30.”  I smiled and said…”Mine is at 7:15″.

She was  very tall, lean, and beautiful. I felt short even sitting next to her.  Her physique looked very Swedish, but she had dark features. Turns out that her mother is American and her father is Swedish.  She was living in London and coming home for her brother’s wedding.  Anyway, when the plane stopped, we began our little RUNNNN! through the airport.

I could’ve felt as though I had nothing to offer.  She with her long legs, sneakers, and ease with running was helping me (much shorter me with flip flops and 20 some years on her) to navigate through the airport, etc.  But I DID have something to offer. I really did.  You see my flip flops don’t flop when I run, they CLOP.  And they CLOP LOUDLY.   So as we’re running past passengers, she with her quiet graceful, long-legged strides, and me?  Me with my loud CLOP-CLOP-CLOP of my leather bound flip flops.  Yes, I did indeed  had something to offer because people were clearing the aisle as they heard me coming, probably wondering what the in the world that sound was. I think it helped us make pretty good time if I do say so myself.

We got through Customs part one and two and then ran to her gate, and then mine was further.   I thanked her and told her I didn’t know if she believed in God but I do and I just feel like she was such an answer, provision, for my prayer to get to the gate in time.  She smiled (gracefully of course) and we both RAN our separate ways.

It was a little after 7 and my flight was to take off at 7:15.  I tried the first KIOSK I could find to check in, and ….bad news, it denied issuing a boarding pass.  Too Late?  I ran faster.  And then…then I try to find Gate B 8 and the hall stops before 8 and starts up in the teens, so it was missing some gates which included Gate B8.  What in the world? This was so not good. Not good at all.  Anyway, turns out B8 was across two roads/drop offs, and as I ran through, well, I saw one car, but then…didn’t see that one, and had a near miss with a car.  Really close call.  Stupid move.  Catching a flight isn’t worth getting hit by a car. I was probably not looking so graceful then either, mind you.

There were other details, but I’m sure you travelers have lots of stories like these and I can end by saying that as I rushed up to Gate B8, the flight attendants hadn’t even the begun boarding process.  Turns out there was a pretty big delay on this one as well. The flight attendant seemed so calm and kind and smiled as my sweaty  and oh-so-relieved self checked in.

As I waited, I stood by the window.  This is what I saw.

home25The sun was beginning to go down, and the sky was just beautiful. I felt so relieved as I didn’t want to have tax my family with the cost of another airline ticket.  Do you know what thought occurred to me as I saw everyone around me with their carry ons and luggage?  That if my bag hadn’t been left on the train, I don’t know if I would’ve made it to the gate on time.  My long-legged  beautiful friend might just have had to abandon me if my short flip-flopped self had been lagging a 15 p0und bag. Even with my help of my loud flip flops sounding the alarm that we were coming through, she might just have had to ditch me. And it would’ve taken a lot longer for me to find where I needed to go.

I don’t pretend to know what God does or doesn’t do, but my faith allows me to believe that so often what I may see as a nuisance may just very well His provision, His care, His hand, for something that’s ahead of me.  It amazes me, encourages me, and allows me to breathe when life gets crazy. (And life sure as a way of getting crazy…)  The unseen Hand of God is often so visible…  I boarded the plane and got a window seat. And here’s what I saw then…(There it is again. That visible, invisible Hand…)

home22.JPG

“Good bye, Boston.”

And as we rose above the city, I saw the river and sail boats and small islands. And I thought about how beautiful they were there in Massachusetts,

home11

and how beautiful they were there in Sweden.

arch4

I thought about how cool it is that no matter where we are, there are so many things that are so the same in landscape, in buildings, in people.

Had it been an easy travel day, my focus would have been how incredibly hard it was to leave Austin.  It so would’ve been.  But boy oh boy how the circumstances changed my urgent desire to get home.  Although it was still so hard to say goodbye, the difficulty sure helped to keep things in perspective.  This wasn’t home…this was just a passing through.  And in order to get home, I couldn’t depend on me alone.  I needed others to help me get there. It was such a blessing after such a crazy day of travel to walk down the steps at the airport and see my husband and Tanner waiting for me.  Home.  And maybe that’s part of the beauty of traveling…an appreciation for what’s “out there”, but a renewed, brand new appreciation for what has been there all along.

Blessings ~
Heather

P.S.  (always…)  I can’t help but think of the analogy here…as a believer in Christ, am thinking I’m not Home yet.  And maybe the trials, the unrest, the struggles in this life in the here and now, can give a realization that, you know, we’re not really Home yet. As huge of a gift that Life is, could it be that we were created for more?  The Bible says we are and we were. home11 I pray that we’d always be aware of the Unseen Hand reminding us that we were created for so much more, and that we will be thankful for all of the amazing reminders that He has in our paths, right here, right now. home8Thank you, Austin.  No words for how blessed I am.  And that’s saying a lot (for your quite wordy mom).  Love you (and all of you kids) way more than words can say.  Keep doing  your thing knowing that God goes before you and behind and is right there in the middle of it all. ❤

 

Oh, and a little addendum.  I got a call from Austin a few weeks after I returned home.  He said, “Mom, there’s a  UNESCO conference in NY I want to go to, and I’m thinking about coming HOME to see everyone for about a week…what do you think?”  So guess who came home with my crazy looking bag over his shoulder and very few clothes because he brought mine?   Yep…this kid.(He had called the train station and picked up my bag the day after I left. Huge relief!)  We had the most amazing week with family.  Life is short. So thankful for time spent with people we love!

 

 

Ten Days (Part One)

Ten Days (Part Two)

Ten Days (Part Three)

Ten Days (Part Four)

forgetmenot

So, there’s this little purplish-blue flower that can be seen on wooded paths amidst the moss and leaves on the ground. It can be found in fields, or in the grass.  Forget-me-nots can crop up in a wide variety of settings.

The other day, I was in the mountains  on a little woodland trail.  There were beautiful blooms on rhododendrons that immediately drew my eye to their beauty.  There were stately trees that had been there for a hundred years, and little yellow buttercups, wispy and delicate,  that tickled my ankles as I walked. But amidst the beautiful landscape, with all of the colors and beauty, there were these little flowers that could easily go unnoticed.  I so love that they are called ‘forget-me-nots’, because amidst all of the  grand and glorious, bold and beautiful things in the landscape, it’d be easy to walk on by and never see these delicate little flowers of blue cushioned in the center of a circle of green leaves.

They could definitely go unnoticed, but they are absolutely beautiful.  Upon close examination, one would see that there are often little patterns of stripes, and accents of white with a splash of yellow in the center.  They’re just beautiful.   But in our world, being beautiful (internally or externally) doesn’t mean that you’ll be noticed.  Lots of times, the wholesome beauty, the natural, the gentle, the kind, goes so under the radar.  Because in our world, particularly, in the present culture of the US, (Yep, the “us”), it seems that the degrading, vile, totally tainted stuff is the stuff on the radar. It’s the stuff with the ratings.  It’s the stuff that shocks…and how amazing the amount it takes to shock these days.  Talk about desensitization. Anyway, the tainted stuff on the radar is glorified.  It’s  so on the radar not to be condemned, mind you,  but to be condoned.  (And those who discern, dare I say judge, who shine a light on darkness are seen as having a lack of acceptance, a lack of compassion. I believe it’s just the opposite, but that’s a whole other subject, a whole other “rant” and it was so not my attention to rant.  Please excuse the rabbit trail…)

Ok, back to the forget-me-nots (and I’ll try to forget-not what in the world I’m talking about, because I promise, I did have a point I wanted to share!) These little blue flowers spring up anywhere.  Some are perennials, some are annuals, and they come in yellows and blues.  They are here for a little while, then the flowers fade until a later time.  So, if you miss them, those little blue blooms are gone for a time.

So, here’s the thing.  Like little blue forget-me-nots, there are little reminders of God’s grace all around.  Sometimes, they are loud and bold like the stately trees or the beautiful sunset.  But sometimes…sometimes they look like little blue flowers that you’ve just gotta search for.  Sometimes we’ve gotta stop by the path and kneel down to see these little gems.  Sometimes we’ve gotta take a moment to look for them. We have to be deliberate. Because, when we’re rushing through life with all the demands and busy-ness, it’s so easy to miss the reminders, the encouragement, the joy. And those are things that feed us, that give us the encouragement to keep pressing on.  Sure, we can ‘keep on keeping on’ without them, but it sure is a heck of a lot more fun when we are aware of God’s Presence in the big and the little.  It’s like the ‘wind in our sails’ so to speak.  Sure, you can row a sailboat if you need to, but it was designed to be driven by wind.  We were designed to be filled by the Presence of God, to be encouraged.  Yes, we can choose to be windless, but the journey sure looks and feels different when we try to row our own boat.  This is one of the reasons why it’s so important to stay in the Word.  To hear grace day by day.  To hear truth and parameters that set free.  To refocus, and rejuvenate oneself as we face the whats of the day with the important whys. The Word speaks and fills and reminds us of who we are.

And when we are reminded of who we are, whose we are, well, it might just make us more aware of His creation whispering in our ear the encouragement to keep on keeping on.  We might be much more prone to see the little blue forget-me-nots in our world because we will be so aware and in touch with the truth that He has forgotten us not.   Truly, He has forgotten us not.  And knowing that changes everything.  It helps us to forget others not.  It helps us to slow down a bit and not strive so daggone much.  It helps us to be deliberate about remembering that He is with us and we are so not alone in a world where it’s very easy to feel detached, fragmented, disconnected.

So, here’s to having eyes to see His hand of blessings in our lives, this week, this day, this minute.  Here’s to being mindful of His goodness.  Here’s to being grateful for the little things and constantly cognizant of the fact that they are all around us if we would but have the eyes to see (and even if we wouldn’t…) Here’s to knowing that if we aren’t opening our eyes of our heart to see them, that, just like those little delicate flowers, they may fade away without us even knowing they were there.  If we are breathing, there are things to be thankful for, and being aware of that gives us strength to face the things that we are not so thankful for.   Here’s to forgetting not the benefits of the Lord and being so very thankful that He forgets-us-not.  Those little reminders are all around.  Praying to have the eyes to see them.

Blessings ~

Heather

P.S.  May your days be full of them 🙂

boone3

“Praise the Lord, my soul;

all my inmost being, praise his holy name.

Praise the Lord, my soul,

and forget not all his benefits—

who forgives all your sins

and heals all your diseases,

who redeems your life from the pit

and crowns you with love and compassion,

who satisfies your desires with good things

so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s…”

For more of this chapter, click link.  It’s worth it 🙂

Psalm 103

snowday6

I’ve always loved snow days.  As a child, the anticipation of snow was always fun.  I grew up in Maryland where there was some snow, but not a lot, so snow days were fun and out of the ordinary.  They were filled with sledding on the nearby golf course, making snow men, and that never-ending attempt to finally build an igloo.  If Eskimos could do it…why couldn’t our neighborhood clan? I never did check that off of my childhood bucket list of sorts!

Later, as a mom, I just loved snow days.  I loved the anticipation of having the kids stay home and enjoy the snow.  With so many little ones in the house, it was quite a challenge to keep them bundled up.  Seems like by the time I got everybody out the door, one of them was ready to come back on in.  The dryer was always running, hot chocolate was a must, and watching a movie was always sweet when the kids were all so tired from playing in the snow that they’d watch in silence, then fall off to sleep, on the couch, on the floor, in a chair.

Now, as a teacher, I must say, I continue to look forward to those snow days, quite a bit actually! I’m worse than my own kids with watching the weather reports to see if we might get a day to catch up.  I love having days when we can just have a pass and not go anywhere and hunker down and enjoy the time here and get caught up on that long list of things I haven’t checked off yet.

So, this snow day started out pretty well…

snowday18…it’s not every day that your husband brings ya breakfast in bed.  I think he felt guilty cause he indulged in the danish that we were supposed to have for Sunday morning pre-church.  Not much of it left, I’m afraid, but at least he shared a piece!  Everything tastes better when eaten in bed with a hot cup of coffee.

So after that indulgent breakfast, I got up and the snow was so beautiful that I really felt like going for a walk, and believe it or not, the man who delivered my morning breakfast said yes he’d go for a walk, too.  So I put on lots of layers and grabbed my boots from the garage that hadn’t been worn in quite awhile and we braved the cold.

And here are a few thoughts from a walk in the snow…

snowday12snowday41snowday24

We all leave traces behind.  Everyday.  Snow or not.  Foot prints.  Tire treads.  We all leave our mark in this world.  Every single solitary day.  Sometimes we see and feel and know the traces, the impact.  Sometimes we don’t.  Am thinking I want my ‘footprints’ to be productive, constructive, even beautiful.  And when they aren’t?  Well, thank goodness for figurative snow that melts and time that heals and forgives and removes and even, yes, redeems.  And about that?…here’s another thought about snow.

snowday11

It is white. Quite an observation, I know.  But yes, it is white, bright, and reflects light like crazy.  It covers. It fills in the gaps.  Even things that seem to be white in our everyday lives often appear a bit beige or yellowish when compared to the incredible white of snow.  And that’s a beautiful thing.  Especially when you think about this verse…

“‘Come now let us settle the matter,’ says the Lord.

‘Though your sins be as scarlet, they will be white as snow.'”

Isaiah 1:18

Yep.  White as snow is a good thing.  A beautiful thing.  An amazing, redemptive thing that God can cover us with grace like a bright white light blanket of snow.  Fresh.  New.  White as winter snow.

snowday5snowday4snowday13

And here?  Here is scarlet.  Red.  Blood red.  Bold.  Standing out. Sometimes red is beautiful when it’s berries on a bush in the thick of winter, when so much of the world is grey.  But sometimes? Sometimes red isn’t so great, especially when it’s alluding to the sin that can fill us and course through us like the blood in our veins. Sin destroys like a cancer.  It invades.  It takes over.  But so does God’s grace.  It just needs an invitation to come and take over and cover and make new.  God’s forgiveness covers and redeems. It was bought with a price…red…the blood of Christ. Our redemption for our scarlet sins were purchased by the blood of Christ and His righteousness.  His righteousness, white as snow.  Our forgiveness, white as snow.  Yes, white as snow is a beautiful picture of redemption.

So as Buddy and I are walking, we were pretty quiet, except for when I talked, of course.   Hope asked us to take a selfie.  Neither one of us are accomplished at that at all.  In fact, I pretty much cut myself out of the selfie….so here’s Buddy.

snowday8

She wanted us to send her a photo and texted hilarious laughter at our attempt.  Anyway, we stopped for that…and then came upon this tree.  I couldn’t resist sharing a funny story with him when I saw this next scene… and sorry, can’t resist now!

snowday20

When the kids were little, we would sometimes have to drive on a road where there was a sewer plant, and some days, boy did it stink.  So, on those days, the kids learned that there was such a thing as a sewer plant that stunk to the high heavens, but I obviously never did explain what a sewer plant actually was, because one day, I was asked a question.  We were out of town and standing on a deck that was two stories high, and we were eye to high with a pine tree full of these beautiful pine cones.  Well, I think the pine cones reminded this young 4 year old Josh of  a stinky something, because his first question as he looked closely at these brown pine cones was, “Mommy, is that a sewer plant?”  Needless to say, it was all I could do to not laugh out loud.  But I so loved the connections this little guy was making. He was curious about his world and was listening when his mom said random stuff in the car about this or that.  And at that point, this mom realized I did need to ensure that I gave further explanations to a lot of those random things I said during countless hours in the car.  Anyway, Buddy heard that story for the first time.  We’ve missed a lot of stories shared through the years, but am thankful there’s still time to share.  Okay. On to the next little observation on our walk….

 

 

 

snowday22

So this observation?  It’s good to double-check… just saying! Of course life is full of mistakes, and faux pas (which I have spelled ‘fopaws’ in the past!), and errors and inaccuracies and miscalculations.  But, it’s just good to have a team that looks out for each other and is willing to correct mistakes.  Accountability and constructive criticism are good things because they can keep us from walking around making the same mistakes day after day, year after year, for the rest of our lives.  Accountability says, “Oops…you spelled that wrong.”  And humility says, “Oh, you’re right.  Thank you!”  Refusing correction because of pride, well…it can end up being pretty humbling, cause we’re walking around and our signs are saying Sheirff Allen Rd. when they should say Sheriff Allen.  Yep, accountability, humility, learning from mistakes, they keep things right and good and fresh.  It helps us to keep moving on to the next lesson instead of staying camped out in the same one we’ve refused to learn from time and time again.

snowday10

Next little observation, that kind of continues the one before….fragile can be beautiful.  This little tree  was bending with the weight of the snow. It is bending, not breaking.  Sometimes life can feel like that can’t it?  We have a heavy load, and it bears down on us, and we bend.  We tire. But we press on and bear the weight.  And do you know what?  I don’t know about trees…but I know that sometimes, weight bearing can make us stronger.  When the weight is lifted, we realize how much we’ve been bearing and how we are stronger, and have somehow grown from the bearing of the weight.  I love the verse that says,

“A bruised reed He will not break,

and a smoldering wick He will not snuff out.

He will bring justice to those who have been wronged.”

 Isaiah 42:3

Sometimes we can feel like that bruised reed or like  this little light of mine is just a flicker of a flame about to be snuffed out.  I’m thankful that God knows our needs.  He knows the weights we bear better than we do and He loves us through them.  He bears our weights.  Oh, and how awesome is it to have friends who come alongside and encourage and help bear the loads and fan the flames when we’re a bit spent.  I am so thankful for the many precious people like that in my life. And I want to be one of those people as well.  A fanner of the flame.  A bearer of the load.  A friend who sees the fragile areas and doesn’t condemn them..just comes along and strengthens them.

So, we walked and saw beautiful sights.  The snow crunched under our feet with each step, but other than that, there were very few sounds other than an occasional gust of cold wind.

snowday48

 

snowday23

One more little observation from this walk in the snow.  You see that mailbox?  As I saw this scene, it looked a bit nostalgic…a picture of days gone by.  I thought about how when I was younger, I’d love running to the mailbox to get the mail.  Especially around birthdays. Receiving mail was a good thing.  There was anticipation, but if nothing was there, there was a little twinge of disappointment.  Well, it made me think of all of the many, many, many mailboxes that our kids these days have.  They have facebook messages, twitter, email, instagram, phone, text, etc., and etc….and there’s anticipation for wanting someone to connect, to send a message.  In days past, the trip to the mailbox was once per day.  But now?  Now, it’s constant and momentary…and days are filled with a surplus or vacuum of those “messages”.  And I so feel for the kids who are just ‘waiting for the mail’…the next message that says I belong or I matter, or someone is thinking of me. I long for this generation to know that they matter, they are connected, they are thought of. But people fail.  God doesn’t.  On those days when the mailbox is empty, the loads are heavy, the wind is cold…would that we would know that God cares for us and calls us to draw near to Him.  Our walks in life are all different, and the traces we leave are so unique, but the God who loves  us calls us to a walk with Him.  To a walk with purpose, beauty, and hope.  We can go it on our own, but somehow, I think leaving our Creator behind would somehow be missing the beauty and the mission of it all.

So there you have it.  A few random, scattered thoughts that occurred to me on my walk in the snow with my husband.  Don’t worry…poor Buddy didn’t have to listen to all of my random ramblings as though captive on our little walk.  I have learned through the years to limit sharing my little observations and only share some of my random thoughts and stories.  And you?  I hope I haven’t bored you.  I just figure that this is voluntary and you’ve chosen to walk alongside for this little bit. Hope you’ve enjoyed the little talk from this little walk.  I’m thankful for those of you who read ….that you say ‘yes’ when invited to share in the journey.

Blessings ~
Heather

 

 

 

 

Evi.JPGEvi

A week ago, our house was filled from top to bottom with a toxic yellow gray smoke that originated from a hot oil fire on the stove.  It wasn’t the oil fire that the smoke was from.  The smoke came from the melted, yep, MELTED microwave that the oil fire had fried.

I was the culprit.

Yep, me.  Usually careful, safety conscious, mom of a me was the culprit. I was wiped out when I had come home from a full day of school in a season of state audits, health concerns, and financial challenges.  So, I came home from school one day at 4 and did what I never do.  I took a nap. My husband made a simple dinner that included home fries and hot dogs, so I didn’t need to worry about cooking that night. I slept like a baby, and then woke up at 8 and did laundry and all of the job at home after the job at school stuff.

By about 10:30, I realized I was hungry and hadn’t eaten dinner. So, I thought that home fries sounded really good.Am not usually big on fried food, but the sliced potato was sitting right on a plate on the counter and I thought that I might as well finish it off.  I turned the stove on and waited for the oil in the pan to get hot.  I waited a minute, and then got side tracked with something.  Not sure what it was. Maybe the dinger on the dryer or a text or an “oops”, I forgot to do that.  But I got sidetracked, and pretty soon, forgot about that oil that was on its way to hot.  In fact, I got sidetracked all the way to the couch and laid down.

I woke up and thought, “What is Josh cooking?”  You see, my son has a kitchen downstairs and sometimes cooks late at night.  I shut my eyes again, but pretty soon, I heard a loud bang.  I jumped up and realized there was smoke filling the living room, and then I ran to the kitchen.  Melted chards of glass greeted my feet as I ran to the sink to get water to put out the fire.(Turns out the glass door from the microwave had burst…) My first words were “no, oh no, oh NO, OH NO, OH NOOOO!”…. as I had absolutely no doubt that our house was on its way to going up in flames.  I threw  water on the walls and ceiling, and screamed for my husband with everything in me.  He was asleep upstairs.  “BUDDDDYYY!! CAll 9-1-1!!! Call 9-11!  BUDDYYYYY!”

He came running down, and reminded me to put the lid on the hot oil pan and pretty soon, the flames that had reached the ceiling and burned the microwave and cabinets had died down.  Then came the smoke that filled our home with toxic fumes from the melted microwave.  Anyway, there will be a lot of details in coming weeks and months of cleaning up the damage, but there’s something that I hope forever stays with me from this incident. There’s an awareness that I hope I never lose sight of.

You see, I’m usually pretty steady.  My six kids have trained me.  My recovering alcoholic husband has trained me.  Our lives have been full, very, very full.  Full of amazing moments, and full of intense, terrifying times.  I have stood by the side of an ambulance and watched my son emerge seizing and curled up after he suffered cardiac arrest and was “out” for 5 minutes.  I have seen the red lights of an ambulance with my daughter inside after 4 deer ran in front of her car, she swerved, and flipped the car three times. I stayed steady. I have seen the photos of a car that nobody should’ve survived…a son that had a terrible car accident in which the car flipped 6 times ended up topping a tree 15 feet up. I stayed steady. Months later he showed me the sight and there were still metal parts in the trees.  I stayed steady. Tears rolling down my face, but I stayed steady.  I have birthed babies without pain medication and compartmentalized pain.  I have had 6 teenagers in the house…and stayed steady (for the most part!!) But the night of the fire?   Not steady a bit.  Nope, not one little tiny bit. I was crying oUT LOUD!!

Yep, I was crying out loud.  Not crying with tears, but screaming with passion for help. The photo used above is of a little one photographed a few weeks back.  Not sure what was going on in her little mind, but she was crying out loud with everything she had.  And even though it may have seemed a bit calloused of me to take a photo of her in this moment, I’m so thankful I have the shot because it’s such a visual of crying out loud. And when she did?  I just wanted to rush in and pick her up and meet those little needs.  She was too cute. As she was crying out loud, her needs were bound to be met.  I know God knows the needs before we do…but maybe, sometimes,  the crying out is more for our awareness than His.  Maybe our crying out emphasizes the dependence we have and our awareness that maybe we aren’t so very self-sufficient after all.  So yes, like Little Evi, I was absolutely crying out loud.

And the lesson?  Sometimes I need to absolutely CRY OUT LOUD.  I realized the next day that I hadn’t even breathed a prayer as I fought that fire. (Or,  maybe it was all prayer, but it wasn’t conscious.)  But I was trying to handle it all on my own and realized I couldn’t.  I called my husband.  I called him to call 9-11.  I cried out as loud as I had ever cried in my life.  The next morning, my husband said, “Heather, I don’t think I’ve ever heard you scream like that.”  I told him, “I don’t think I ever have screamed like that in my life.  Ever.”

And maybe that’s part of my problem. Maybe I need to do a lot more crying out loud.  Maybe there are areas of my life that I need to see as so beyond my control that I need to cry out for Jesus to save and heal and repair.  Maybe there are times when staying steady is so not the right thing. Maybe faith doesn’t always look like staying steady but looks like a frantic woman crying out to the Lord for help.  Maybe crying out loud is just what Jesus wants me to do. Sometimes faith is quiet, reserved, steady, handling situations with grace.  But sometimes, maybe sometimes, faith is like the woman screaming for help to someone who can help her.  Maybe sometimes faith is knowing the intensity of the need, the awareness that I can’t meet that need, and absolutely CRYING OUT LOUD to the ONLY one who can meet that need.

So, there’s my lesson, my beautiful, beautiful lesson from the stupid destructive fire that should never have happened had I not been so daggone tired and a bit hungry at 10:30 at night. But, God uses it all. He draws me nearer in the fire.  He uses pain to help me see His hand.  His hand of protection. His hand of provision.  His hand that comforts and leads and guides.  He uses all things in our lives if we would but bring them to Him. He teaches me through these moments and helps me see that He is the steady one, steady steadfast one, and I am so not.

And me?  I’m stepping up the ‘bringing things to Him’.  I’m stepping them up and being so very thankful that in the midst of ANY thing, there is One whom I can run to with all of the needs, the pains, the joys, and the moments of this amazing and ordinary life.  I am so very thankful that when I cry out, there is One who hears, who comes, who rushes in to meet the need, sometimes in ways that I would never expect or want, but meets the need, nonetheless.  If I am His, then my story is part of His Glory.  My story is part of His Glory of showing up and being all there when all I bring is need. I bring need.  He fills, moves, comforts, inspires, and leads. He is the steady one, and I can rest in that.

Blessings~

Heather

Oh and one more thought.  Our world is in dire, dire need.  There’s destruction and intense needs at every single solitary turn.  It is difficult not to see it.  Am thinking that crying out…really CRY-ing OUT,  is a good thing.

 

“Trust in Him at all times, O people.  Pour out your heart before Him;  God is a refuge for us.”  Psalm 62:8

 

Greeting Card available with this photo and “this too shall pass” theme available at Greeting Card – This Too Shall Pass $2.50

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Screen Shot 2017-04-04 at 2.02.55 PM.png

You can see it in the distance

the sun over the hill

Though the fog offers resistance

The sun shines through still

Though the fog may be prevailing

Though the way is not clearly seen

There’s a knowing, there’s a growing of

Seeing through the trees

The forest that is darkened

The fog that fills and fades

Will be burned away in time

Till true sight is what remains

Faith sees through the trees

And faces one step at a time

Faith fixes  eyes on things unseen

And Believes God for His Light to shine

In time…

12-13-15

 

The morning fog was so thick this morning, and so beautiful.  Kept thinking about faith and how fog is such a picture of how so much of life and the steps we take depends on whether or not we walk by faith, or we try to control the uncontrollable and frustrate ourselves, waste time, and create so much turmoil merely because we can’t control some things or see the way ahead.

I can’t make the fog lift any more than I can change some things that are out of control in my life. (Of course, this isn’t referring to things that I should and can control and be responsible for, but for those that I have no control over.)  But I can trust that God will give me the faith to keep moving forward one step at a time when I don’t have visibility for the mile ahead. I can trust Him for this minute when I don’t know what tomorrow brings.

The fog is beautiful, too.  And the “fog” in our lives can create beauty as well because as we move forward, we grow in faith.  We’re more slow and deliberate with our steps, and for me…I just get this picture of clinging to Jesus…clinging closer in the fog than I would need to if I knew that everything was just hunky-dory and  that I had everything under control.

Just a few thoughts on faith in the fog…yet again!

“So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, for what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” 

2 Corinthians 4 (yet again!)  

 

 

%d bloggers like this: