Archives for posts with tag: Parenthood

“A ship in the harbor is safe.

But that’s not what ships are for.”

William G.T  Shedd

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Wrightsville, Beach, North Carolina April 7th, 2017

I saw some ships today, and some smaller vessels on the water. They were coming in to the harbor just as the sun was going down. My son and I watched as the boats in the distance moved a little closer in to the dock.

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It was windy and cold, but beautiful on the patio as we ate.  Hot Clam chowder tasted really good on a chilly day like this. But we definitely preferred the view with the cold over the comfort without the view. We watched (and shivered) as the ships came in and the sun went down.

I know that ships are meant to sail. Some are meant to be on the high seas and others are meant to be a little closer to shore. But all are meant to venture out from the safety of the harbor. Yeah, I get that. I do.

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Ocean Isle, North Carolina April 8, 2017   (Zac)

And anchors help to provide stability out on the seas. And there are times to use anchors, and times when anchors are dangerous. And moorings are meant to keep one safe in the harbor. Moorings need to be tied tightly at the right times, and loosened when it’s time to set sail.

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Chase, Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina , April 7th, 2017

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Zac, Ocean Isle, North Carolina April 8th, 2017

My  “ships” are all venturing out these days. Only have one who is ‘safely in the harbor’ of our home, but all of the others, well, they are venturing out, all at different distances, different speeds, different tracks, but all venturing out nonetheless.

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Chase and Josh, Wilmington, North Carolina April 7, 2017

And I’m proud and thankful for the courses that they are on. And at times I’m fearful of the storms blowing in and the potential dangers that they have faced, are facing, and will face on their journeys.

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But I remind myself that ships…ships were meant to sail. Birds were meant to fly.

DSCN3273 Children were meant to grow up and become independent, to use their gifts and give it all ‘out there’. And they are not alone ‘out there’. I’ve gotta remember that.

DSCN3203And the fact that my ‘ships’ are out sailing, well, it makes me so thankful for times when they get to come back in to the harbor, so to speak.  It makes me thankful when the moorings are tied, and they are safe in my sights for a little while.

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Chase, Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina April 7th, 2017

And we can talk about the journeys and the trials that have been, and maybe prepare a bit for the ones that are to come.  I love that ships don’t have to be tied to a specific dock to be safe…it just takes that connection, that mooring, that link to that holds them close to shore.

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Chase, Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina, April 7th, 2017

So, the past few days have been precious, because, well, it’s felt like my sailing ships (3 out of 6, anyway…)  and I docked for a bit. ( And we were reminded that home is so much more than a place and family is a gift, and God is good and present and available on high seas and safe docks, college campuses and work environments.

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Zac and Melanie, Ocean Isle, North Carolina April 8th, 2017

And I’m catching glimpses of their world and am thankful for where these ‘ships’ have sailed.  And I’m thankful for moorings that look like cups of coffee and walks on beach and ‘remember when’s. I’m thankful for moorings that look like  T   I   M   E…not stuff, but   T   I   M   E, and conversations that don’t always include lots of words, but might include lots of listening. And prayers prayed sometimes out loud and sometimes not. I’m thankful for moorings  that look like warm chocolate chip cookies, kale smoothies, clam chowder in the cold, or walks on the beach.  I’m thankful for moorings that look like truths stated and not danced around and hugs afterward. I’m thankful for moorings that look like laughing at ourselves and not having to be anything but what we are in that moment. And I’m just thankful for moorings, connections with these ships that were entrusted to me so long ago.

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And I’m aware I’m so not the Captain. My job isn’t to steer the ship. It’s to trust the One who is steering, and encourage those ships to listen, to yield, to the Captain. Am thinking in this stage of my life, my privilege is to focus on the moorings…so that in the midst of all the venturing out, there’s always a connection, a safe place to dock when those venturing ships need a reminder of why they’re venturing out in the first place. After all, ships were meant to sail…

Blessings~

Heather

“Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up”

Deuteronomy 11:18-19 

I love the zoom lens on my camera. The lens will go from a close up of one thing to a close up of another thing in the push of a button and then back again in a heartbeat. The camera is still pointed at the exact same place, but the whole perspective changes. (Nothing else changes, only the perspective…)

So this morning as I held up my camera, my view which started out as this…a tree just beginning to bud…

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….turned to this…blooms…full pink blossoms…in the push of a button. Voila!

DSCN2935.jpgAm thinking two things.

First, what we zoom into is what we see. There are a myriad of lenses to look through. Where we fix our gaze is what we see. Faith helps us fix our eyes on the unseen…to trust in God, and that filter can become a lens that helps us see the beauty beyond the bare. I don’t know about  you, but there’s a  lot of “bare” to see in my world. Zooming in helps me see the beauty…and the presence of God in the midst of it all.

Second…that our human eyes (and hearts) can only see so much, even with zoom lenses…. And that what we may see as bare branches and a teeny tiny bit of growth, God may look beyond to see as the beautiful thing that is yet to be.  He knows what is to come and He loves us right in the middle of it all. That’s a beautiful thing that I’m zooming in on today.

Blessings ~

Heather

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

2 Corinthians 4: 16-18

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So, my son and I went to Verizon today. I usually dread it because of the wait time, but it was only a 15-minute wait tonight, so I just walked around and looked at the oh-so-upgraded phones that dwarf my little iPhone 4s (which I am a proud carrier of by the way.) Anyway, as I looked at one of the phones, it was kind of in the case catty-corner and so I tried to straighten it, to fix it….

Wrong move.

I soon saw flashing lights and heard an awful alarm sound.  Oops.  Big oops. And then I saw a man running around the store looking for the turn-off-the-alarm-key.  And then I raised my hand and smiled and said that this phone over here was the one ‘ringing’. Ha. He waved back and did not look in the least bit concerned that I was a threat to his phone or to him. (Maybe I should be offended by that, but I so was not…)

Now years ago, I would have been ultra-embarrassed and possibly mortified by setting off an alarm in the store. The running-around-man finally found the key and he smiled and said, “No worries. It happens all the time.”  And maybe, that’s part of the reason why I wasn’t embarrassed. (Well, I was a little embarrassed, but not totally mortified.)  Maybe it was partly because I have made enough mistakes  (they ‘happen all the time’) to know what are those mistakes to stress over and what are those to just laugh at myself about and move on.  We all got a good laugh (yes, at my expense), and thankfully within about 3 minutes, we moved on.

But after the fact, I did decide that I would no longer browse the phones, but would rather choose to sit with my hands to myself  and wait. I think it was a good choice, as no other alarms went off in the meantime. (That’s the beauty of making mistakes…learning from them!)  But as I was sitting there I kept thinking about the whole propensity to fix things.  Sometimes we moms get in that mode of ‘fixing’. Fixing collars, fixing hair, fixing this, fixing that, (even catty-corner phones).  Sometimes we wives do as well. Trying to fix an unwilling ‘fixee’ might turn out to be a dangerous path. Depending on who is or is not wanting to be fixed, it can really backfire. A lot. I can remember a dear mentor of mine joking (sort of)  with her husband in her strong New York accent  “You’re not my Holy Spirit…” And that’s the bottom line. There’s a readiness factor in being fixed. Sometimes pre-mature fixing only slows the process and builds resistance.

So here’s my two cents. Sometimes, it’s so not my place to fix things or people. It’s my place to observe, to see, to pray through, but to not try to wade into the waters of fixing things that aren’t mine to fix. It can create lots more chaos. Sometimes that chaos might involve damaged relationships or enablement of wrong patterns, or heeding off natural consequences that would be the best teacher.  And sometimes trying to fix things might create chaos that comes with alarms and bells and people running around crazy trying to undo the ‘fixing’.

So, my two cents says, that fixing things that I am responsible for…am all for it.  But when it comes to fixing things that other people are responsible for, well, maybe it’s best to sit back, pray, and keep my hands to myself. We all have our own paths to walk…and our own mistakes to learn from. Take it from me and my little trip to Verizon.

Blessings~

Heather

P.S.  There may be some of you who were concerned about Tanner’s embarrassment or mortification factor. He handled it just fine. Am thinking he’s had some practice with not being embarrassed by his mom’s blunders (although this was the first one involving flashing lights and alarms. oops…I mean it was only the second one involving alarms and lights …there was that speeding ticket…). My little blunders have helped teach my teenagers to let it roll…and Grace abounds 🙂

P.P.S. And of course, there are definite times of helping, fixing, and aiding…but one thing I always need to remember is to make sure I’m working on fixing the stuff in myself before I try to fix the same issue in someone else. Walking alongside and mutual encouragement /accountability is a lot different than “fixing”.  Like Jesus said in Matthew 7, we’ve gotta make sure we have the plank out of our own eye before we try to take a speck out of another’s. Humility can be a huge advantage when the time for fixing does arise. My two (more) cents.

 

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I planted some seeds in a pot today. The pot has seen so many flowers through the years, but most times, they’ve been the  pre-grown kind I just pick up at Wal-mart and stick in a pot. But these?  These little seeds are going to take a little time to grow.

I took out the little hand shovel and dug a hole, put some seeds in and for now will wait to hopefully see some little sprouts grow. Impatiens seeds (for those who are  not so very ‘patiens’…) takes only about 21 days to germinate.  So, it won’t be long until we see the sprouts break the surface of the soil and begin their debut. I’m so looking forward to seeing these simple little carefree beauties bloom.

And do you know what?  When they start to flower and bloom and fill up that pot…they won’t be daisies or tulips or lilies.  They’ll be impatiens. That’s what I planted after all.

Because what we sow is what we reap.  Not always right away. Sometimes there’s a short germination period, and sometimes it takes years and years to see what we’ve planted  reach the surface and bloom.  But the principle stands….what we sow, we reap.

Daisies beget daisies. Verbena begets verbena. Willows beget willows. Violets beget violets.  Impatiens beget impatiens.

And…much more importantly…Kindness plants seeds of kindness. Hope breeds hope. Lies beget lies and distrust. Love multiplies love. Stealing multiplies voids and needs. Yep, what we sow, we reap.  Not always right away, because, yes, even with these, there can be  years and years of waiting (or dreading depending on what we’ve planted), because like seeds, the way we treat people are seeds sown that may take a little time to germinate.  But, what we sow we reap.

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Am thinking I’m glad that I like impatiens. I’m glad (hoping) that I will see the beauty of that sow~reap principle before my eyes every day this summer.  Why?  Because I want to be reminded to sow well. To be diligent about planting seeds that will reap a harvest that blesses others and honors God. A harvest that gives. And I want to be diligent about tossing the seeds and actions that I don’t want to multiply in my life or in the lives of others. I definitely don’t want to be multiplying negative stuff. The world is full of enough of that.And it definitely takes diligence and honesty and tenacity to see the yuck in my own life. Gotta see it before I can toss it. And I’ve gotta plant the good stuff before it will grow.

Here’s to reaping what we sow, and sowing well because we know that daisies beget daisies, verbena begets verbena, and impatiens beget impatiens. Am hoping that this summer my pots will be full of impatiens…and my own little world will be blessed by the harvest that comes from the seeds I choose to plant in my life and the lives of those around me. Yep ~ am so thankful for the reminders that these little seeds gave me today…hope you are too!  Happy Planting, friend.

Blessings~

Heather

“Plant the good seeds of righteousness, and you will harvest a crop of love.

Plow up the hard ground of your hearts, for now is the time to seek the LORD,

that he may come and shower righteousness upon you.”

Hosea 10:12

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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

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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…

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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!)  

 

 

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So, today, as I walked out of work, I looked up.  What I saw when I looked up made me breathe a deep sigh and smile a bit, for there in the sky was actually a bit of blue.  Haven’t seen blue in the sky for quite awhile it feels like, and this was “Carolina blue”, no less.  And for some reason, it just gave me a lot of hope, because that little bit of blue?  It was a gentle visual reminder to me that there IS hope.

The past few weeks, well, they have been challenging to say the least.  Seems like it’s been raining and pouring in more ways than the weather, that’s for sure. Car troubles, relational issues, financial stretches to the max, sickness, fear, fatigue, work overload, and decisions pending, health concerns, and well, they have all hit at once.  I know these are the ordinary challenges we face…I mean, that’s just life.  But when they hit at once?  Well, it makes you feel like the cloud that surrounds is just never going to lift.  So, when I saw that little bit of blue?  Boy, was that a sight for sore eyes.

So, I got in the car (my son’s car, for my car broke down in the mountains last week and we were waiting on the estimate of how much the repair would be), and I was actually thankful for a lot of things.  One of them was the ‘extra’ car to drive.  We’re trying to sell my son’s car as he’s out of the country for a year and won’t be needing it in Sweden!  Anyway, I was really making a conscious effort to be thankful, (so why were the tears starting to roll?) Before I made it to the first errand, my husband called and gave me the news about the car.  Repair?  Well, more like an overhaul.   Verdict:  the car repair will probably cost more than the value of the car.  Heavy sigh.  But do you know what was really cool?  My husband was steady.  He was encouraging.  “i know it’s tough now, Heath, just hang in there.”  And the tears that were a drizzle turned to a pour because honestly? Honestly the tears weren’t about the car or the struggles or the being stretched to the limit feeling.  The tears were falling because I was allowed to let down.  I was given the grace to be, to be loved in the midst of the crap, and to be assured, that no matter what, we’ll get through.  It’s going to be okay.  Blue skies ahead.  (Maybe teeny tiny bits of blue sky far far ahead, but blue skies ahead, nonetheless.)

And it is. Going to be okay, that is.

Because I know, that life is full of the crazy roller coaster ups and downs and with our large family and some of the residual effects of destructive patterns that take a toll, well, there’s always going to be a lot of “stuff” to deal with.  But the cool thing is, in the midst of it all, there are so very many things to be incredibly thankful for.  So on this “Thankful Thursday”, here are a few from the past week:

I’m thankful for the beauty these eyes had seen as I drove up to the mountains (when the car was actually drivable, pre-breakdown!)  There’s nothing like being in the mountains in the Fall with the brilliant colors.  I’m also thankful for the truth that even though it seems like it’s been ages since we’ve seen blue sky…it hasn’t been as long as it feels.  In fact, I have absolute proof that there were very blue skies exactly 7 days ago when I went to get my daughter in Boone.  This photo was pre-breakdown. Would you just look at that blue sky?  Now, that’s a blue sky!  Beautiful, and only a short week ago.  Sometimes my perception is so off.  Waiting for blue sky is a lot easier when we choose to keep perspective, knowing that feelings aren’t necessary reality.

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Birthdays of my 4th and 5th children, Chase and Hope, and time to celebrate them as a family.  Thankfulness that on their birthdays, these college students wanted to be with family on the weekend, and when they were home that they said the “it’s so good to be home, mom” words.  They didn’t just think it.  They said it. And my heart was so encouraged.  Yep, it was so good to have them home. Yes, am so thankful for family, for memories of the precious kids they were and the young adults they are.

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For memories.  I’m thankful for parents who came when the car broke down and we really needed a lift for an hour leg of the journey from where the car broke down to home.  And I’m thankful for the time spent in the car.  I’m thankful for the second leg of the journey driven by my son who had just driven 6 hours from the coast and then didn’t hesitate to go an hour more.  “No problem, mom,” he says.  Yeah.  Lots to be thankful for.  And then, to hear the loud laughter in the car as we shared stories in the car of when they were little. It was the kind of laughter that makes your stomach hurt and your eyes water.  Yeah, the beauty of the time together just laughing and listening to music,…you can’t beat that. I’m thankful for more memories that came as I looked through photos.  I’m so incredibly thankful for the joys and aches of being a mom. It’s made me cling to my bit of blue more than just about anything else in my life.  Here’s one of the frames of photos I found.  These are the first four of our six gifts… Precious, precious gifts…

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I’m thankful for phone calls from abroad and for struggles and honesty and solutions sought.  I’m thankful for growing pains and for impact, incredible impact that comes with vulnerability.  But sometimes it just feels vulnerable.  I’m thankful for prayer and that we can cast our cares on Jesus for he cares for us.  I”m thankful He is present with my children when I am not. He leads.  I know He knows what He’s doing.  I’m trusting Him with the ones I love the most.

I’m thankful for lasagne prepared by precious hands of a mother who knows about all the details of caring for a family.  I’m thankful that my mom’s lasagne is the best ever, and that she shared it with our family on this birthday weekend. I’m thankful that we could eat and enjoy and that her time spent preparing gave me time to spend with my family instead of preparing dinner.

I’m thankful for memories of friendships shared, encouraging words of friends, laughter, and scripture that shouts to the mountaintops of hope.  I’m thankful for creative outlets and song and words that come out and somehow bring clarity of heart and mind and healing at the same time. I’m thankful for that moment in the car tonight when I was allowed to be vulnerable and loved and given grace, and I’m so thankful that God so calls us to be his children—reliant, dependent, and LOVED.  You know, when my kids came home and wanted to be home, well, it just felt so good…to them and to me.  I think that’s such a visual of who God is to us.  He wants to be our Home, our safe place, our respite, in the here and now.  And the eternal Heaven that we speak of?  It’s so  not about clouds and harps and angels’ wings. It’s about being in His Presence, the Lord of all. It’s about being accepted as we are because of who He is.  Yes, He wants to be our Home every day.  It’s not about a place, it’s about His Presence.  Yes, that’s an amazing thing to be thankful for.

I”m thankful for truth and the word of God, and hope, hope that looks like a bit of blue in a sea of gray. I’m thankful that there always is hope no matter what, not because of me, but because of who God is. I’m thankful that God gives us gentle reminders of His presence, and opportunities to allow us to press in to Him, to know our need, to let down when we’re always having to gear up. I’m thankful for the “out of the blue” text from a cousin and the precious reminder to “keep chopping”, a phrase that our grandfather always used to say that I probably hadn’t heard in 15 years.  Keep chopping.  Keep pressing on.  Keep your eyes on that bit of blue. That bit of blue?  That hope in the distance?  In Christ, it is a reality.  The blue is the end of the story, the clouds are the here and now. The blue is the eternal glory, the light at the end of the tunnel, the finish line to the race.  So endurance and perseverance and tenacious holding on to hope is sometimes necessary.  But, that bit of blue is worth it. It is so incredibly worth it.

Keeping my eyes on the bit of blue.  Hope you are, too, friend.

Blessings~

Heather

P. S.  It’s not an exaggeration to say I’ve listened to this song at least 30 times today. If you have a few minutes to listen, it’s worth it.  (Natalie Grant, King of the World)

“So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”

2 Corinthians 4:16-18

Amen.

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endings2

It was another beautiful Carolina sunset last night.  I was in the car with four of my children traveling back home after we had spent a fun time with their grandparents.  As the summer winds down, I’m so aware that there are very few days left of the long anticipated break that we’ve so enjoyed.  It’s the first time that almost all of my kids have been together in our home in over 4 years, and it’s been really sweet.  But in a few weeks, I know that this time will be coming to an end.  Three will be moving out to ‘do their thing’, and I’ll be going back to school to teach.

So, knowing that the time is limited, each day is precious. I find myself getting up earlier and earlier…as if I just don’t want to miss a minute of the day.  There are always a million details, and yet, I find myself resting a bit, observing, and enjoying the time with these ones here at our house.  If they ask me to do something, I do my best to go.  The to do list will get done.  But the time together won’t always be here, so time together is time well spent.  Even when it’s not easy…conversations that need to be had or discussions or working through things,…that’s movement toward the right thing cause it’s movement toward each other.  Thankful for relationships that are real. Not perfect.  Real, and full of hope and promise.

The sunset reminds me that the ending is coming.  I love the visual of knowing that after the sunsets, it will rise again.  With endings come beginnings.  Each one looks different, but each sunrise is a reminder that we get fresh starts and even if it’s not the same, it’s a gift, and we need to enjoy the time we have while we have it…whether it’s on the journey together, or apart….that sun is going to rise in the morning and set in the evening wherever we are, and pretty soon, ‘where we are’ will be in Wilmington, NC, Boone, NC, Myrtle Beach, NC, and ….Sweden.   But as I said, the sun will always rise in the morning and set in the evening except…except… for maybe in Alaska or….Sweden.  In Sweden, the sun might just set at 3:00 in the afternoon, but thank goodness for lights and candles and the fact that it will rise in the morning! (even if it does rise at 4 in the morning!)  Here’s to sunrises and sunsets wherever our paths may lead…and the letting go in wherever our children’s paths may lead.

Blessings~

Heather

Note*  This was written a few short weeks ago, and since that time, the kids have all transitioned out….one to Boone, one to Wilmington, and one, now…today…is en route to …Sweden. My house is a bit emptier…(but trust me, they’ve left behind plenty of clean up projects created in the flurry of packing and moving out!) Praying for joy in the journeys of these new beginnings and so very thankful for tearful endings, because it’s never easy to say goodbye to those we love… Trusting  God that He goes before them, and will pick up the pieces (and dry the tears) of those left behind.

mossand bark\

Here’s a thought:  in the same way that moss will often fill in the gaps between trees and rocks, God so often fills in the gaps, the voids, in our lives.  I think it’s all a matter of not letting other “fillers” in.  Like for instance, when there’s an ache, a loneliness, a need that we try to fill in a way that is not in God’s timing, it seems as though the void or the chasm grows.  But when we bring our aches, our needs, our pains to Jesus, He has a way of filling in the gaps in a way that may not look like what we had hoped, but that is so much bigger and better and a long term fix rather than a short term band-aid.

“Delight yourselves in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.”  (Psalm 37:4)  That verse is often interpreted to mean that God will give you whatever you want.  But the want, the desire, the pursuit?  That first needs to be God.  To delight in God and His ways, His agenda, His will.  But the cool thing is is that it seems that as we delight in the Lord,…we choose to pursue Him, that that long lists of wants that are pretty daggone temporal, fade away.  God fills in the gaps with His presence and becomes the glue that makes those voids fade away and makes us whole.  Not fragmented pieces of this or that pursuit, but whole.

Life is full of voids.  Full of them.  But how cool is it that  God can fill each and every one with His plans, His purpose, His presence.  I am trying to recognize and get the “fillers” out of my life with hopes that more  and more, little by little, what God intends and what I intend walk hand in hand.  This walk of faith is full of uncertainties, but the older I get the more I see that He waits.  He waits for us to come to Him.  Sometimes in His severe mercy He even creates voids to help us to see our need for Him.  Would that we would come to Him right away with those voids.  Just like a little child that knows to cry out RIGHT when something happens…instantaneously!  Seems the older children get, the more the wait time, and the more the weight and the void, created by trying to do things totally on our own when we need a hand. Would that we would run to God RIGHT away with our needs, our voids, our brokenness.

A few ramblings as I’m choosing to be thankful and hopeful and seeking Him with the many many needs that I see in my life and my children’s lives.  These years of the teens and twenties are so not easy…a million transitions.  But God goes before us and He picks up the pieces behind, and He walks with us in the midst and will fill in the gaps.  Praying that for my little world today.

Blessings ~

Heather

P.S.  The youth pastor preached on Psalm 37 on Sunday.  It was so good. The psalm says 3 times, “DO NOT FRET”.  Do not fill your voids with worry, agitation, fret.  We are to trust, delight, commit, rest.  Hmmm.  Psalm 37 is a really good read if you have time today!  I know I’ll be filling some of my time with those words that I so need to read again.

Photo taken in Banner Elk, North Carolina

July 2015

half and half

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

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

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

Blessings~
Heather

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

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

Joshua 1:8

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