Pure souls

We are blessed to know so few truly pure souls in our lives, but when we meet one, we know it instantly, don’t we?

We have an angel on earth in our home.  She has changed us all and taught us gently for eight years.  Her little heart is so pure that her face radiates light.  There is no mistaking it.  For me, it is not possible to look into her eyes and not want to be better.

It is she who taught me that life is more precious than we understand and that we have so much to do.  She was the hand of heaven reaching down to lift me to something higher.

This weekend, she did the same thing again.  She was baptized, and after all of the work and preparation and planning, in the end, I was an awed bystander at the light beaming forth.  This little soul who talks to birds and calls them to her, this little spirit allowed to be with us, changed us all this week.

She audibly gasped as she came out of the water.  It was like witnessing the birth of a nearly perfect being.  I didn’t think she could become more special than she already was, but somehow, in her light, I am changed again.  I don’t deserve her…what a perfect example of mercy.

Life is so short.  There is so much to do.  She has taught me that there is power and help to do it.  She has taught me that heaven is so close we can touch it, and that those who seek will indeed find.

The real work

Christmas has come, and is gone.

All of its light filled me and spilled over.

It was the sweetest Christmas we have ever had.

Christmas may be gone, but now the real work of Christmas begins.

I feel lit inside like never before.  I feel certain, for the first time in my life, that I am finally doing what I absolutely am meant to do.  It is at once a deep thrill and a peace that passeth understanding.

Light

Christmas is just days away.

The snow has fallen and fallen, blanketing our woods in feet of snow.

Magic and light live in our trees.

It’s Christmas in our cabin.

My heart aches with the blessed emptiness it has been given this time of year…that cavity carved out by sorrow that has become a receptacle of light and the love of my Savior that only deep sorrow allows us to find.

I thought that once I visited the refugee center with the girls, I would feel more at ease in my heart.  I thought that I would rest more, knowing I had done all that I could.

Instead, I found I’ve only just begun.  A new chapter of my life is starting and I am filled with the knowledge that my purpose is becoming more clear each day.  As I walk towards the light, letting the scales of my own will fall away, I find that I am becoming lighter.  I am no longer walking.  I am running.

I’m taking this Christmas time with my family, celebrating the child that delivered me.  But after that brief rest, I am coming back, stronger than before, and I will never stop moving.

Light over darkness

I’ve been trying for a couple of days to find the words for our visit to the refugee center.

I wish I could have taken each one of my friends (the ones who are are so afraid or angry right now) with us. This isn’t the first time I’ve visited a refugee center. I’ve met lots of refugees. But this is the first time I’ve visited them when they are being made to feel so unwelcome in our country. For that reason, I wasn’t sure what to expect.

The girls couldn’t wait to meet people. Though shy, they each had questions that they wanted to ask. Though these pictures are only a small snapshot of our experience that day, and though it is only representative of a tiny handful of refugees served by the CSIRP, I want you to see these people.

My girls made new friends. They met men from Iran who told them of the beautiful mountains of their home. A friend from Iraq had tears in his eyes because children from America wanted to meet him to find out what he was like, instead of listening to what was said on the news. He told them of the two rivers of his country, and about fishing. Friends from Congo told them about cassava and green bananas, carvings in wood, and the good people that filled their country in spite of the extreme violence. They met a whole family born in refugee camps and new friends from Sudan. They learned where Eritrea is. They learned that snow is new to a lot of people. :)

The girls filled that conference room with boxes, boxes of things donated by YOU, our friends. Words can’t express our gratitude. All of your love filled the room and overflowed. I am without expression. (There are some of you I will tell some special stories to.) Tonight, many children will unwrap presents that will be given to them at their first American Christmas party, because of you. Words escape me…you are wonderful people!

These people love America. They love it. They love America more than I do. I have never known what makes people say that they want to come here and change us. They are so thrilled that there is a country like America.

One of my new friends said this: “America is a place to heal and to forget the terrible things in the world. I hope Americans thank God every day for this wonderful country. It is a place of peace. The people have such kind hearts. I can sleep here because I know I am safe. I couldn’t sleep in my country. God blessed me by sending me here, and I love America very much. I think that people are afraid of us only because they are blessed to live in a place where they don’t have to be scared. And it is such a blessing that there is a place where people aren’t afraid. I am so happy for them that they have always lived in this place! I am so happy that, by the grace of God, I live here, now.”

So for all of you who fear our new neighbors so very much, please know this: you are wrong. I’m sorry to put it so bluntly, but you are wrong. And those who are opening your hearts to new friends: you are RIGHT! You are so very right.

For the love of everything, please. Don’t get your information solely from people who want to make you afraid. Don’t get your information solely from people who will benefit financially or socially by telling you to believe something that in your heart cannot sit right. Be brave. Open your door and step outside. Be open to considering more than one idea.

Love thy neighbor. Faith over fear. Light over darkness. Love over everything.

He is here

Our baby Jesus is missing.

We’ve found everything else.  The lights, the stable, Mary and Joseph.

But baby Jesus is missing.

As I’ve looked for Him all week, I’ve cried quiet tears about how appropriate it is right now that He is the one that is missing.  Peace is gone from the earth, and the whole world seems mad.

As we have looked, I have let the girls put things where they want and lights and glitter are everywhere.

The stable has moved all over the place and most of the girls have spent time with their other little toys in it.

As I have watched each of them be drawn to the stable, I have been struck.  He is not missing.  He is there.

He is in little hearts, aching for Him to be found.  He is in the glow of the fireplace and the laughter and the lights.

He is in the warmth of our happy little cabin, and though it is unfinished, somehow, His love completes it.

He is in the stable, where little hands have played for days.  He is in the hearts of the people who are working miracles in our lives.

He is here.

Thankful

A lot has changed, and I have felt like I’ve been floundering in deeper water, unsure of exactly what to do, and overwhelmed by the tide of meanness and sorrow and just plain ignorance in the world.

I went to the woods by myself.  I hiked about a mile and a half on the trail, and then I left the trail and plunged into the deeper snow.  I went further into the woods, aiming myself at the river I knew was back there.

The snow was falling and the world became white and silent.

Finally, I reached the river and I sat in the snow and listened to it go by.  Water in the silence of the woods.

I prayed…I spoke out loud to God and asked for His help.  Then I laid in the snow and closed my eyes.  The snow was falling harder, and I let it fall and cover me like a blanket.  I breathed deep and slow and listened to the sound of each tiny, perfect snowflake landing.

I did not feel the cold, only the assurance that I have always had help and that I already knew the answer.  It was time to stop being afraid and move forward.

When I rose from the snow, I felt like myself again.  My eyes were restored and I laughed aloud.  I know the Lord, and He knows me, and whatever crazy thing goes on in this world, He will help me to play my small part as best as I can.

“And I…did go into the mount oft, and I did pray oft unto the Lord; wherefore the Lord showed unto me great things.”

-1 Nephi 18:3

 

Choosing love

“In the name of what?”

As I have watched what has happened to America following the attacks, I have been stunned.  I feel like I am screaming in the corner, begging so many of my friends to have sense.  As the frenzy has turned us ever further from love and ever deeper into fear, I, too, feel the need to scream of our country’s actions, “Not in my name.”

In spite of the fact that Paris has allowed even more refugees to come since the attacks, the American world is going crazy and I feel like a tide is washing over me, and though I haven’t given in to the fear that so many are feeling, I have felt an overwhelming despair at what is happening.

I keep thinking of my friends in Denver.  Refugees who always calmed me and helped me see the bigger picture.  Mamas.  Women with more strength than I have ever had.  I miss them.  I wonder how this is making them feel.

As usual, my girls are pulling me back from the dark.

When we told them about what was happening, they instantly leapt to action.  Children are wonderful.  They do not despair.  They move.

The girls asked where our nearest refugees are and what they could do for them.  They started putting lists together, doing research, making fliers, and knitting scarves.

They chose love and action, not despair and fear.

Home for the

 

The faith of a child can still change the world.

Choose love.

Giving up

Good-bye, autumn.

Each fall is a thrill for me.  I am never so happy as I am in the fall.  The air is cool, the mountains are quiet, and the leaves give their last gift and fall.

Fall always seems to be the time of my greatest growth.  It seems to be the time that my heart is ready and I turn more fully.

The past two years have been more important than probably any years that came before them.  Like the leaves of a tree, all of myself that I knew has fallen away and left the bare trunk of me exposed to myself.

I have been surprised this autumn as more has been asked.  I say that as though a demanding overlord has required my payment.  That is not it at all.  I have found that my heart is unable to rest.  I have yearned to be more, to be the best of myself that I can possibly offer.

As my heart has become more willing, more has been required of me.

I have been led onto paths of great uncertainty and paths that have required all my faith, both figurative and literal.

As I have given up things that have been so dear to me I didn’t know how I ever could, I have been amazed at the result.

Where I expected to see an emptiness after something has been given up, I have instead seen a glimpse of what it covered up…a small window into a deeper, more pure version of myself.

I have climbed mountains and sought the Lord, and I have found Him.

Changes are coming and they are more beautiful than what I held onto.  My heart bursts with Love for a Savior who is helping me give up.  I am no longer sorry for what I have given up.  Instead, I am so grateful that it was asked.

And now, I boldly welcome the winter that my heart has waited for all along.

Thank you for the comments, emails, phone calls, everything…I’ve been absent from my blog during this time of change and I am so grateful to all who have checked in.  It means more than you know.  :)

Faith and Fall

“There is at least a punky spark in my heart and it may blaze in this autumn gold, fanned by the King.” – John Muir

Fall burst in all its glory a little early this year.

There are times that I feel that autumn was made just for me.

Each year, my heart quickens and seems to both settle and pound at the burst of color and cool.

Perhaps it is because I am an autumn baby, but I feel like I am reborn each fall.

The lower sun illuminates the mountain gold, and the air becomes cooler.

Rain falls with more purpose.

All animals, from the largest bears to the smallest chipmunks, are at their most active right now, preparing for the long winter ahead.

As our wildflowers are dying and our mountains are preparing to sleep under a blanket of cold, I am coming to life.

Autumn always calls to my heart to wake up and be more.

But this year, it seems to be calling me fully back to life.

I feel more of a sense of purpose and drive than I have ever felt.

Faith is what has changed everything.

Faith that though there are long, cold times, there is so much life and it is worth living.

There are things to do and we will have help to do them.

Faith is a choice, but once that choice is made, the help to make it comes.

Now pardon me while I revel in being the mother of absolutely gorgeous children.

 

 

Stargazing

The woods are getting quiet again.

Nights are getting cold, making the quiet sky bright with stars.

Matt and I have been doing a lot of stargazing.

It reminds me of two years ago, when we first moved here. We would sit under the stars in awe, grateful every second that we had chosen to make our home here.

“When one is alone at night in the depths of these woods, the stillness is at once awful and sublime. Every leaf seems to speak.”
-John Muir