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.

Accepting Defeat

This summer we were considerably behind in our mountain adventures.

One mountaintop we’ve all yearned to return to was the one we’d climbed first, Mt. Washburn.

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We’ve tried several times this summer, but have been turned back by blizzards, broken cars, and other trivial things. :)

This was our last shot before winter and we really wanted to do it.

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Our favorite trail was closed, so we approached the peak from the other side.  Our hike started pleasantly enough, though cold and windy.

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As we climbed, though, the wind became increasingly dangerous.  The snow and ice on the trail gradually became more pronounced until it was about knee deep for the kids in some places.

 

We came out from a switchback into an very exposed section.  The snow was deep and the wind was stronger than any I have  ever felt.  We were only a quarter mile from the summit.  We could see it in front of us, so close we could nearly touch it.

I made the kids sit down, pressed against the rocks for a moment.  We’d already climbed three miles and nearly 1500 feet in elevation.  We were so close.  But I closed my eyes to block the view of what I wanted, in order to hear the voice that I needed to hear, the one that was not my own.

It was just unsafe and frankly stupid to push forward at the edge of a mountain in that wind.  We turned back.  We were quiet.  After getting so close, we all felt defeat.

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But as we came down, I watched my girls.  They had paired up and were holding hands for strength against the wind.  Whether we succeed or fail isn’t always the important thing.

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Sometimes, it’s how we accept the defeats that come that matters.  We accepted it together, hand in hand.  We moved down to safety and made a snowman.

I pondered on the way down.  Our life is different than most.  But anyone who thinks that God has only one way to give us the experience we need, to become who we need to become, frankly does not know Him at all.

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Feeling grateful for the way He teaches me.

Slowing down

The pace of our life has been changing over these last few months.

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It is easy for me to get down on myself when I’m not accomplishing all that I feel I should be.

This is when I’m grateful for being outside.

The simpleness of the sharper air, the crisp bite of pine…these serve as simple reminders to focus on the most important things and let the rest go for now.

No amount of rush and accomplishment will replace the quiet in our woods and our home right now, and who we are becoming in them.

Seasons

It’s taken me a long time, but I am so glad that I’ve finally learned the secret to being happy in life.

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It’s to be grateful for each season in its time.

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There is always something different to look forward to, to wish for, to hope for.

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Always some change we wish would come.

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Always a past we yearn to visit once more.

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Being grateful in the moment is where the joy is found.

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Though life is in a great state of flux right now, I find myself relatively quiet.

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Deep contentment is settling on me, as I see that all of the paths that were unsure have led to this very sure moment.

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Autumn is always a time of change for me, and this year is no different.

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The weather seems to remind me constantly of this.

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One day there is rain.

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The next, snow.

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The next, golden sunshine.

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“The joy we feel has little to do with the circumstances of our lives, but everything to do with the focus of our lives.”

-Russell M. Nelson

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First snow

And just like that, life changes.

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It’s snowed here all day.

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We have plenty of autumn left, but it will blend so gently with winter from here on out.

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This marks the beginning of the quiet.

The snow falling outside of my window naturally slows my heart.

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This is beginning of the season of light and warmth.

I love our life, our traditions.

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Like Santa leaving new slippers on the day of the first snow.

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Like warm fires and cocoa and blankets and movies.

Somehow, the snow tucks us in and makes us safe.  I feel a peace today that I have been seeking for days.

I’m ready for the change.  Different seasons help different parts of us grow.  They each seem to come just at the right time.