Archives for posts with tag: hope

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Anxiety. If you listen, or scroll, or read for any amount of time these days, that word will most likely pop up pretty quickly. Worry, anxiety, depression…these are battles  of the mind and heart that so many face in their lives. About a month ago, I was dealing with a lot of worry about a current situation in our lives. I couldn’t see how things would play out and it was really eating at me from the inside. It was pretty all-consuming, and I was making bold attempts to not feed the worry (cause yep, as I’ve said ad nauseum, “What we feed grows…”), but I was having a tough time. Worry seemed to be winning. But then, then… I read this quote: “Faith is rest, because it believes the work is done.” (Dan Bailey).

I stopped.  Rest.  I’m not sure why it hit me so incredibly hard, but it did. I smiled big.  Faith, belief leads to rest.  Not just rest like a nap. Rest like a quieting of the heart’s hamster wheel of worry. Rest like an ability to be ‘all in’ in the moment we’re in because we’re not pondering what the future will hold. Rest like a holding out of our empty hands instead of wringing them in anxious waiting. Rest in the soul that allows me to go all out in the daily stuff of life. Rest that says, “You’ve got this” not to me, but to the One who really does. God has got this.

He knew what would come before I did. He knows what is to come. And He’s right there in the middle of it all. When we take those situations, heartaches, worries to Him and lay it down, we make room for Him to do what we can’t. When we trust Him with it all, it frees us up to be wholly devoted to Him in the big and little stuff of our daily lives.

We are much more present living life with the people in our midst, working hard, loving well and reaching those in our world, when we’re not so busy trying to keep the world spinning…or worrying about it not spinning.  So, “Faith is Rest”.  Trusting is Resting. That’s been my new ‘go-to’ when worry crops up. Trusting is resting. Trusting is resting.  When fears for my (adult) child crop up.  Trusting is resting.  When the uncertainty of future weighs on heart and mind. Trusting is resting. When my friend and her family were in a car accident yesterday and her neck was fractured. Tears were flowing, but my heart was knowing that God is in control and because of that I can trust Him with her and her family. Why?  Because trusting is resting. Trusting is resting. Trusting is resting. That’s what I spoke to my heart.  Truth. And Truth sets us free to rest in our hearts in situations that are difficult, trying, even terrifying.

If I believe God is who He says He is, I can trust Him with it all.  And the cool thing is?  He can use it all. For our good, For His Glory, He can use it all as we lay it at His feet. We put our spinning worlds down, and He, the Creator of All, can get our wobbly worlds back in sync.  When we put our worries into praying with faith, knowing that God can use it all, we put the reigns back in the hands of the One who Loves and Knows and sees beyond what we ever could. He’s a bit more adept at spinning the World than I am. That sun comes up every single solitary morning whether I see it (or worry about it!) or not. Just saying.

So, when worries crop up (daily, hourly, even momentarily!), am learning to speak truth to myself…to remind myself that I can trust God with it all.  Trusting is resting in His Sovereign Will, in His undying Love.  Trusting is Resting.

Blessings~

Heather

“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God. And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who[i] have been called according to his purpose.”  

Romans 8:26-28

P.S. ( Always, right?  Sorry!)

Romans 8  I have  to include the link to whole chapter of Romans 8. It is so incredibly rich on any given day, but it is especially full when battling fears. No condemnation. He works all things for our good. He loves us. He has provided.  Yes, rich words and Truths indeed that can fill the heart that needs to remember who they trust and why they can rest.

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“Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?”

Matthew 6:26

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Blessings ~

Heather

“We love because He first loved us.”

1 John 4:19

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

2 Corinthians 4:6

dscn9294So, a few years back,  I made a wreath…a Christmas wreath. It was simple-only consisted of the greens, a few pine cones, a purple sheer ribbon, and …lights.  It was simple, but for some reason, it brought me lots of profound joy. Yep. Just did. It just reminded me of the good things of the season, the simple good things and it was there to welcome friends and family home.  Here’s the blog link for that…Reading it will add to the understanding of what I’m about to write..  …the little things…, but it’s not necessary.

So, for the past few years, I’ve just enjoyed having that wreath ready to go on the door. Other than the little ceramic Christmas tree, and the year-round lights around my kids’ photos, well, the wreath has been the first thing to go up.  dscn9350

So, two nights ago, I got the wreath, put it on the door, plugged it in and …voila!…NOT. Nope, nope, nope….no lights turned on.  So I tried again.  Maybe a different extension cord, maybe…nope, nope, nope.  And instead of that wreath giving me joy, it just kind of sat there, cold and dark and I just stood there in the cold and dark, disappointed. Not quite what I thought my favorite wreath would bring out.

So yesterday, I bought a $2.25 pack of lights, and when I had the house to myself, I turned up the music and set out to fix this wreath…because  the light added so much to that little wreath.  Well, it was a ‘pre-lit’ wreath…and so it had about 100 or more little plastic tab things that held the lights into the wreath. By the time I realized how big of a job this was to undo those tightly held tab things from that wreath, well, it was too late to turn back.  dscn9275

It might not look like much, but trust me…there were tons of those little tab-things and it was no small feat to get the lights off. I’m talking over-an-hour-no-small-feat.  And as I was taking them off, there it was.  The culprit.  The teeny tiny little culprit that had stripped my favorite wreath of it’s brightness. I’m sure you probably guessed that, well, one of the bulbs was cracked.  And because of that, the whole string, every strand attached to that wreath by 100-some TIGHT tabs, was robbed of it’s light because one bulb was out.

And it hit me. And I smiled, cause I love how deeper truths can settle in as we see the ordinary stuff of life and how things work. It hit me that when one bulb is out, all are out. When one missing piece isn’t there, it impacts the whole deal.

We have all sorts of traditions, to-do lists, hopes, dreams, festivities, expectations and things wrapped up in our Christmas celebrations don’t we?  All sorts of expectations are in our heads as we try to prepare for the big day.  But if Jesus isn’t part of it, well, we’re just kind of putting a dull, dark wreath on our door that has the potential to shine a warm and welcoming glow for all who come to our homes.  That one missing piece, that one missing bulb that can make all the difference is Jesus.  Because Jesus…isn’t just a myth or a man or a reason to have a holiday.

Jesus is a Savior.  Redeemer. King.   A Savior of me, Redeemer of me, Light of my World.  And when I can see through all of the other things to the heart of Christmas, well, it adds joy and meaning and light and life and a smile on my face as I do the stuff.  It helps me see the reason for celebrating.  Not just that, It helps me celebrate instead of just checking through my to-do lists and dreading the countdown of this Advent season.

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I do love Christmas. I promise I do. But to be honest, I often dread a lot of it.  The expectations and busy-ness and financial demands…it all seems so very distant from a Star in the night sky , a simple stable, manger in a straw, and a Savior coming in the form of a baby.  Yeah. And I know there’s a bridge, a balance between doing too much and not enough, but I think it’s more than that. For me, I don’t want to lose the Countdown with dread…I want to celebrate the advent with joy. Way too often, I’m like a dark wreath that has all the right things on the check list, but the joy, the light, the spirit of it all is gone. Maybe that’s why I smiled as I saw that broken bulb.  I needed to be reminded of the obvious….that if I’m celebrating Him and His Life, then the other things will fall into place.  They just will.

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So, if things are feeling rushed and dull and hard and busy and kind of futile as you approach or even dread the 25th, maybe you can remember me and my wreath. Maybe you can think on that one bulb that made all the other bulbs go dark…  Maybe we can all pray and ask God to help us to truly grow in our awareness of God’s love for us that was so beautifully demonstrated in the coming of Jesus.  Maybe the difference in the light that we’re able to shine out lies in the light that we’ve allowed to shine in our own hearts.Just a few thoughts on wreaths, lights, and anticipation of Christmas.

Blessings~

Heather

P.S.  I finished the wreath.  Love it. It’s on now, along with the ceramic little tree and a lemon verbena candle.  Lights shining all around, Light shining in ❤

LIGHT VALUE OF ONE

‘The people living in darkness
    have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of the shadow of death
    a light has dawned.”

Matthew 4:16

 

 

“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”  

I Peter 2:9

 

 

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I hadn’t been to the beach for awhile, so I just couldn’t pass up the chance to breathe in a little ocean air over Thanksgiving break while we were visiting family who live near the coast. Even just a little time at the beach was better than nothing, for sure.  My niece was ‘bored’, so she came with me and I’m so glad she did.We walked and talked and saw lots of people there who seemed to be getting their ocean air fix as well. There were couples walking hand in hand. There were people walking their dogs. There were some teenagers in the waves swimming, and older folks just walking barefoot in the sand and dipping their toes in the ocean every once in a while like yours truly.  But then, I saw these two boys and I just had to smile.

futility2 It brought me back to a place in time when my kids were little and would do much the same thing.These two boys with rake and shovel in hand, were digging as fast as their little bodies would go.  They didn’t talk much at all, just kept their noses down and worked and worked to accomplish the goal that they had set. To be honest, I’m not sure what that goal was, but the determination in their little bodies and faces sure made it apparent that they knew what the goal was and that’s what mattered! (I’m thinking it was probably trenches and ponds and dams…I think those are sometimes more fun than castles anyway…)

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Now to the rational mind, this kind of thing was just a lesson in futility.  I mean, what can two boys with two shovels and determination do to make a difference with the waves and the wind? I mean, obviously whatever they did would disappear and be swallowed up in the waves when the tide came in, right?

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Of course it would. I mean, everyone knows that the things we build in the sand will often not last for hours, let alone a day.

left-behind7But it seems that young boys often have a good grasp of what we adults can often forget. Working side by side with a common goal is fun.  Work and play can be interchangeable.  Making a difference in our little area is making a difference period. Trenches and ponds and castles of sand can be rebuilt again, and again, and again.  Failure helps us think critically.  Challenges help us grow.  The ocean comes in just one wave at a time, and fills the gaps one wave at a time. Ocean water can be guided by little shovels. That’s some pretty powerful stuff for two little boys against the landscape of a vast ocean.

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So much of our work, our adult ‘stuff’, our so-very-important projects, well, aren’t they oftentimes a bit like castles in the sand?  They matter, they are appreciated for awhile, but then, they disappear into the landscape as if they were never even there, like sand castles swallowed up in a wave. Life is so very full of loss. It just is. Relational, Material, Financial, Professional, Physical, Medical,….we all have our own areas where we can point to our losses…when what we worked towards or for, is all of a sudden, or gradually, swallowed up till there’s very little recognition left. Castles built. Castles lost.

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But here’s a little something these boys reminded me of… the beauty of the process is as significant (or maybe even more significant) than the accomplishment of the product. It just is. For oftentimes, the stuff that outlasts winds and waves is the stuff that no one can see, the “stuff” that makes us who we are, the relational, untouchable “stuff” that no one can take away. 

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Our lives leave traces behind.  Legacies.  Not just when we die.  When we live. Day by day, moment by moment, we matter.  (Way more than stuff).  These little boys I didn’t even know inspired me. (Who knows, maybe they’ll even inspire you!)  And no matter what material “products” we attain or lose, who we are in the use (or misuse) of those acquisitions is what makes the difference.  How we impact others…. what light we shine or don’t shine…that’s where the impact lies. And it’s often in the processes, the hard day in, day out work, that we grow and change and inspire without even realizing it.I’m pretty certain those hardworking little fellows didn’t even realize I was there…let alone that their little hearts were encouraging mine. The insignificant little things are often the significant big things. Hopefully so.

Those little boys were most likely not cognizant of the fact that their little heart and minds and hearts were so growing in the process of digging the trenches.  They were focused on the goal, the task, the team effort. But that’s the beauty of working hard…so often it’s not about what we work for, but about the amazing growth that occurs during the process that makes all the difference in how we do or do not impact those around us.

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So, here’s to so enjoying our castles in the sand… working for them, using them, sharing them, admiring them, but also, letting go of them when times of loss may come.  Because castles in the sand?  They are temporary…but those things we can’t see…the intangibles of who we are, what we are, who God is, and what we do for Him…that, THAT is what lasts and what no one can take away.

One of my all time favorite verses is 2 Corinthians 4:17-18. It says, “For our light and temporary affliction is producing for us an eternal glory that far outweighs our troubles.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.” A dear friend of mine and I have reminded each other of this verse time and time again.  Through day to day struggles. Through marital issues. Through births and raising of children. Through relational challenges.  Through financial strain.  Through the death of her child (yes, even that…) Through, through, through…one thing remains.  Through castles built. Through castles lost. Through castles restored.

We can hope in the midst of any of those stages because we have faith in the Unseen God who is and loves and redeems.

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We can press on with our little rakes and shovels with faith and tenacity and hope because we believe He IS.  The work He does in our lives is about so much more than end results like castles.  His work in our lives is about knowing and serving Him in the midst of what we face each day with determined and child like faith. pier6.JPG

Keep pressing on, friend. Even when you can’t see the results, maybe there’s something more than ‘results’ going on. Just a reminder inspired by two hardworking and determined boys, a rake and a shovel, and a sea of sand and waves.  

Blessings ~

Heather

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters,  since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward.

It is the Lord Christ you are serving.”

 Colossians 3:23-24

silentsunday“Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life.”

Psalm 143:8

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Hope

Silent Sunday

I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
    where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
    the Maker of heaven and earth.

 He will not let your foot slip—
    he who watches over you will not slumber;
 indeed, he who watches over Israel
    will neither slumber nor sleep.

 The Lord watches over you—
    the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
 the sun will not harm you by day,
    nor the moon by night.

 The Lord will keep you from all harm—
    he will watch over your life;
 the Lord will watch over your coming and going
    both now and forevermore.

Psalm 121

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.

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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.

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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”.

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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.

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

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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…)

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“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,

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and how beautiful they were there in Sweden.

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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)

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So, the problems today are rampant.  Watch the news for 5 minutes and it can be so  overwhelming if you let yourself really take in what’s being reported.  And the political climate?  Honestly, I don’t even want to go there.  There’s so much distrust, disrespect, and disarray…and the games being played are so obvious to the average citizen. I’ve never felt quite so disconcerted with it all and have always taken the privilege to vote as a gift and responsibility.  But now?  I find myself rolling my eyes when the candidates start their little rhetorical games as the problems in our state, in our nation, in our world, just seem to be grow so incredibly big. Giant. Astronomically Huge.

And what can one person do?  That’s the thing that concerns me about all of this. The problems are so embedded and intertwined and “solutions” go so far to the left or right we never find common ground,  we never find viable solutions.  Give. Take. Never Share.  All. Nothing. Very little compromise and reason from all sides.  I am not going to get into my religious or political views now because I just wanted to share something that was a light bulb of sorts for me this week.  And I’m thinking it can apply to every one of us no matter where we stand on the spectrum of political and religious views.

I was driving past the mall and saw a very skinny, long-haired, bearded man who looked like he hadn’t showered in quite a while.  He was holding up a sign that said “Homeless”. I had a lot of thoughts rush through my mind.  You know the kind.  “I can’t give him money because he’ll probably use it on drugs.” or “Me stopping wouldn’t make a difference anyway.”  or “It’ll take 15 minutes to go get him something and come back and I’m in a rush…”  But I took the 15 minutes.   Just got him some bottles of water, peanuts and granola bars. But do you know what the pervading thoughts and feelings were as I drove back to give him the little offering?  Embarrassment that the gift was so small and that maybe I should just turn around because it’s so small.  But I trudged on and continued to  feel this very real sense of feeling that it’s almost humiliating to give him something so small when the problem is so big.

As I turned into the mall, a person in the car  in front of me  was giving him some money.  He said thank you and walked back to the curb.  And then it was my turn. I hoped that the person in front of me was able to give him more than I was about to give.  I pulled up and handed him the bag as I started to say, “I’m sorry it’s not…” but I didn’t finish my sentence because he said, “OHHH!  Thank you so much!! THANK You!”  It was a 90 degree day where the sticky hot air must’ve been exhausting him and the feel of the cold water bottle in his hand was what he needed at that moment.  At that moment.  And at that moment I felt a flood of relief and a different kind of emotion.  Thankful.  A new sense of Hope.  An understanding like that of a dim lightbulb being turned up to illuminate more…

Because yes, yes,yes, the problems are so big.  But then again, some of the needs are also so small.  And in that moment, some needs…some very temporary, very small needs were met. I almost didn’t bring him water. I mean, I couldn’t solve the homelessness, the poverty, the isolation …and so I almost turned around.  Would he be thirsty and hungry again in a short period of time?  Yes.    But for this moment, something was done.  So this is why I felt hopeful—even though the problems are so incredibly big, that doesn’t mean that our little cups of water can’t make a difference for one person, in one moment.  And I want to have the courage to bring my small offering rather than no offering at all. 

I’m so concerned about our nation, our world.  There’s a growing sense of such disdain for politics and being involved because the problems are glaringly apparent and the solutions are not. I’m concerned for young people as they throw up their hands and say that they aren’t going to vote because they don’t have any respect for the candidates and ‘it won’t make any difference anyway’.  But for me, today, I felt a glimmer of hope that maybe differences can be made in a small way, and I got a very real visual of what that can look like. I heard the joy and saw the look in the man’s eyes that said it made a teeny tiny difference at that time.

I’ve joked (but I’m serious) that my kids can put “She did what she could” as an epitaph on my tombstone. There are countless things that I will absolutely never be able to do or accomplish, for them, for me, for the world around me.  But I have to daily ask the question, am I doing what I can in the here and now?  And if I am, maybe it will make a teeny tiny small difference in the lives of those around me.  I am so incredibly thankful for the reminder that even little things can make a difference. Even if it’s a little difference, it’s a difference. Thankful for that.  Just some thoughts to continue to ponder…

Blessings ~

Heather

P.S.  There are those who will speak loudly with messages much like that which I was telling myself as I drove back to the mall.  The “it won’t make a difference-” sayers.   The there’s “no solution” -tellers, and “might-as-well-nots”.  They can be very loud. Very very loud.  And deeply discouraging.  Am thinking we need to turn down the volume on those messages, whether they are own internal voices, or external, because, bottom-line, in order to make any kind of difference, there’s gotta be HOPE that the difference can be made in the first place.  That’s what the homeless man’s smile and “OHHH!” did for me. It turned up the volume to the ‘might as well’ thoughts  and ignited hope in making a little difference. Hope is a key ingredient for any change for sure.

P.P.S.  There are also those who will tell us exactly when and how we should give the cold cup of water.  This can be well-meaning. It can be offering wisdom.  But it can lead to a lack of doing anything and cause paralysis as well.  I am all for wisdom, but advice will often vary  with the giver  and it can lead to apathy for fear of never doing it “just right.”  When this is the case, maybe we need to take that with a grain of salt. Just a thought.

P.P.P.S.  Oh brother.  Sorry.  But just gotta share one more thing.  I just got back from running a lot of errands. Last stop was the gas station.  For some reason, when I tried to run my card through it said “See attendant”.  So I went in and immediately there was a man following  very closely behind me who told me I was beautiful, asked if I was married, etc. (No taking this as a compliment -it was obvious that he was intoxicated.) He started asking a lot of questions. He knew I was a teacher, and although I don’t know  him, I recognized him as a parent from school. He was pretty aggressive with his words.  Of course, it was taking a long time for my card to work.  I didn’t feel threatened, but was feeling uncomfortable.  When  the card finally worked and I walked out to pump gas, a man was waiting outside the door.  He smiled and said, “I just wanted to make sure that you made it out okay.”  I said thank you.  Probably looked awkward and then went to pump my gas.  He pulled around as I was pumping gas and said, “I don’t usually get involved, but I was really uncomfortable with how he was talking to you.” I thanked him and thought, he probably went through the same little battle of the will that I had gone through with the homeless man.  He listened to his gut and probably heard the same, “don’t get involved” thoughts that can easily prevail.  But because he did get involved, I felt encouraged a bit safer. I really did.  I don’t think anything would’ve happened, but it felt so good to feel that someone was watching out for things at that moment.  At that moment, a need was met. I guess I didn’t realize how uncomfortable I was feeling until I felt the relief wash over me, and that was only because the man was willing to step up when he saw a need. Collectively, we have so many needs.   And yet, collectively, we have so many ways to help meet those needs.

I’ll probably have a lot more p.p.p.p.s- es through the day, but will leave it at that.  This is not comprehensive by any means…just a few thoughts on big problems, little solutions and the hope that bridges the gap between the two.  Here’s to choosing hope.

 

“For I know the things I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil to give you a future and a hope.”

Jeremiah 29:11

“Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.”

Proverbs 13:12

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blessings ~

Heather

 

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

Psalm 34:8

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

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