Water

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“May what I do flow from me like a river, no forcing and no holding back, the way it is with children.”
– Rainer Maria Rilke

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It’s strange to think that I was once rather frightened of water.

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The past few years have led me to seek it out.

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I’ve fallen in love with the flow and the pattern of the water.

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It doesn’t fight the path set out for it.

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But as it follows the path, it gently but drastically changes the world.

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“To have faith is to trust yourself to the water. When you swim you don’t grab hold of the water, because if you do you will sink and drown. Instead you relax, and float.”
– Alan Watts

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It’s okay to be happy now.

This winter was long. It has been cold and deep, and for some reason, it seems to have held on tighter than some. I think when you’re waiting for completeness, the wait can seem colder and longer. It’s tempting to feel that you will never be happy until you arrive at that place.

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I’ve learned, though, that the real secret to life is to find a way to be happy now.

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Over the past few weeks, the girls and I have gotten out into Yellowstone again.

We’ve watched Old Faithful in a blizzard and set up our little camp stove in snowstorms.

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The colder it is, the more hot chocolate we make, and somehow, we are almost as happy as if the sun were shining.

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Things don’t have to be perfect or even close to finished. But it’s okay to be happy now.

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The sun is starting to shine this week and I think the snow may be almost behind us. The bikes have come out and many, many campfires are before us. But I am so grateful we smiled in the blizzards, too.

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Spring snow

Spring snow is something that always comes, yet always surprises, somehow.  After a long winter, once things have begun to melt, it seems that the time for snow is done for a while.  It always comes in earnest, though, surprising us with white mornings and deeper mud than the day before.  It can seem like a step backward.

I try to enjoy the weather we have while we’re having it, so today I visited the river.  The water was so silent, all I could hear was the bow breaking the water and little splashes of snowflakes on the surface.

Tonight I went out into the dark and the snow.  It was so still, it was as though I could hear every single flake land on each individual pine needle.  All of those snowflakes, all of those branches.  An uncountable number, yet all falling to just the branch they were meant to.  I could feel that God knew all of them.

As He knows me.

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Adopting

This weekend has brought back some strong memories.

This weekend three years ago left me completely devastated.  I had asked for a mountain to climb, and I’d been given one.  After the initial shock wore off, I found myself oscillating between amazement that I’d been given such an experience and total sorrow.  I did everything that year.  I wept and I laughed.  I feared and I trusted.  I ran away and I came home to stay.

The following three years, and every one that will come after, have been and will be shaped by that one experience and my choices afterward.

Now, three years later, I am amazed at where I am and what the Lord has given me.  In the past years, I have learned to want what He wants, to trust Him and to let go of the rest (even when it hurts).  I need to be writing these things again.  I find that often, when an experience is so personal, I sometimes stop writing on my blog for a while, because everything is just too close.  But I keep feeling prompted to write more, so that I can remember, and my children can remember.

So here we go.  Our newest journey is this: we’re adopting.  I can’t believe I haven’t written about it here yet. So much has happened these past months to change our family and to draw us closer than we’ve ever been.

I’m surprised by joy that this is our path.   I’m also floored by the ache and the sorrow of it all sometimes.  We’ve been going through everything that adoption entails for about ten months now, and we’re still searching and will continue to.  It’s hard to imagine that for many people, this difficult journey lasts for years.  It is the most humbling, challenging experience at times.  There are few journeys I have been on that have caused more fear, worry, and sadness.  But I know that it is also a journey that, in time, will lead to the greatest joy I’ve ever known.

A friend asked me the other day if I could change all of this and just get pregnant again, would I do it. My answer surprised me. I wouldn’t. Even right now, little one, when I ache for you and worry about where you are, and when I haven’t even held you yet. Because I know that I will give you everything I have and everything I am, but that there are parts of you that I cannot give you. Those things will come from your mom and they will be a part of who you are. I would never change those things about you, Love. I will cherish them.

I would never change my own journey, either, even remembering the pain I went through.  I used to beg for it to be reversed.  But if it had been, I would never know the depth of Christ’s love that I now know.  I wouldn’t trade anything.  Deeper pain leads to greater joy.

In the meantime, I will wait and hope and pray with all my heart. Though this journey is hard, I will gladly travel it to get to you.

So, sweet reader, if you know of anyone who is looking, please, oh please, send them our way.

Journeys

I got up before everyone else the other day.  I got breakfast ready early and started to prepare.

Matt drove me to the woods near the river and backed up into five feet of snow.  I crawled out onto the bank and put on my snowshoes.  I pulled the kayak out of the back and pulled it behind me through the trees and snow until I reached the river.

I took off my snowshoes and strapped them into the back of the kayak.  I lowered it down into the water, then jumped in after it.

As soon as the water began to carry me away and the free air hit my face, I was home.  All was silent except my paddles in the water and the moose running ahead of me.  It was cold and perfect.

I floated down for a while and then turned to paddle back upstream.  Though the river was calm, it was a good deal of work since I’m out of practice.  My arms burned and my breathing was quicker.  When I finally arrived back to where I put in, the bank was too high to lift the kayak out, so I paddled around until I found a lower spot.  I got out in the mud and snow and lifted my kayak out of the river.  I climbed up the snow bank after it and put my snowshoes back on.

It was perfect.  I was happy every second.

It struck me…the whole morning was a journey.  It was a lot more difficult than simply waking up and dumping my kayak in the river.  Every step and every moment was something I really had to work for.  But I was overjoyed to do it, because I so badly wanted to be out there.

On how many journeys in life do I find myself smiling while paddling upstream or trudging through the snow?  Probably not too many.  :)  I’ve been on a journey this winter that has required a great deal of my faith, diligence, and choice.  I don’t think I’ve smiled about it too often.  But as I look back at this weekend’s journey through the water, I am reminded that journeys are worth the work, and hopefully I will start to smile more as I keep walking toward my life’s river.

Snow

Well, for all our waiting, December pummeled us with snow. Snow and cold and sorrow and joy.

I’ve been a little lost in it all. The month started with an absolutely exhausting and heart rending visit to the refugee center. I’m forever changed, again and again, by courageous people and my need to do better.

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The month also brought the most sacred sorrow. I found myself in the ICU with a little boy I dearly loved, holding his hand and thanking him for how he’s changed my life. His funeral was the day before Christmas Eve.

In between, there have been other storms intermingled with the snow blowing outside. There is no way to say how much Christmas meant to me this year. It was such a sad and beautiful Christmas. I love my little life, and I’m so grateful for my little family. I don’t know how to say it eloquently, but I just do.

Divine delays

Our snow waited to really fall this year. We kept thinking it would come, that we’d have an early, hard winter. (Up here, that’s a good thing.)

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But it just kept waiting.  Temperatures stayed warm and rain came, but any real snow was delayed.

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When you’re waiting for something, something good, it’s hard to feel complete without it.  Part of you is missing, and if you let it, hope starts to drain away.  It’s easy to become consumed by what’s not there, instead of what is.

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But sometimes, heaven is found in the waiting.  Sometimes, delays are divine.

For in every delay, there is a purpose.

Finally, our snow has come in force, and we are getting blanketed in love from Heaven.

There are other delays, though, and they make my heart ache with a yearning to be done with this soul-stretching time.

But I’ve found that Christ is not in the destination nearly as much as He is along the path.  Joy is found right now, not in completion and settledness.  It is found in moments.

Small, fleeting moments of joy.  And the more I thank Heaven for them, the more moments I find.

I know that eventually, the snow does come.  Eventually, all is made right.  But until then, deep breaths, hope in spite of all else, courage, and a thankful heart.

Essential

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Lately, when I would expect to find myself depleted, I find myself strengthened.

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More and more, my life is a lesson in essentialism.

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I can see more clearly each day which things in my life are essential, and which are not.  And those that are not are simply falling away as I press forward.

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That is the only way that I have found to accomplish all that I must.  Some things simply have to go.  Some things just do not matter as much as others.  Some voices simply have to be hushed.

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I used to think that there was no way to accomplish everything.  Now I see that “everything” means something different than it once did.

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I am not worthy of the gifts of my life.  I am starkly aware of that lately.  I believe that is the next step in my life, to let not only activity fall away, but parts of myself that are frankly unworthy of the light I feel called toward.

Pathless Woods

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“There is a pleasure in the pathless woods,
There is a rapture on the lonely shore…”
– Byron

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I am so grateful for a life in which I feel called to act, to go, to move, to be, to rest, to listen.

I’m grateful for the road less travelled. I’m grateful for pathless woods that only One knows the way through, and that I am allowed the blessed privilege to travel.

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Secret Hiding Places

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I’ve been in a hard place all week.

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It seems like everything is about to change, and yet nothing is changing.

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It’s always hard to both wait and progress, all at the same time.

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Some days I am thankful for secret hiding places in the woods.

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Here, everything is still, yet everything is changing.

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Much like me.

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Faith is a constant decision.

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It cannot be based on how quickly things happen or when.

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It’s all about finding the balance between never accepting mediocrity while being at peace with the Lord’s timing.

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I can’t think of a better place to learn that than in my home in the woods.

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Everyone should have a safe retreat, a place to go and choose faith again and again.

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A place where wild things are allowed to grow and be.