Abase and abound

It has been a brief season of sweet rest.  Though nothing has happened to change it, I can feel my heart being pulled again.

I can feel the possibility of decision and change coming.  My heart has ached with raw emotion the past week…a constant recommitment to a path that is different than once hoped.  A decision to be glad in spite of sorrow.  Such a good decision, but never easy or without that raw feeling of new skin on a changed heart.

I’ve learned that asking, seeking, and knocking mean different things than I once thought.  “Knock and it shall be opened…” It doesn’t always mean that if you ask, you will be given.

“What man among you, having a son, and he shall be standing out, and shall say, Father, open thy house that I may come in and sup with thee, will not say, Come in, my son; for mine is thine, and thine is mine?” – JST Matthew 7:17

I think that, instead, it means that if you knock, whatever the answer is, it will be what brings you in to Him.  Sometimes, that may be exactly the opposite of what you asked.  But you will be with Him.  And that, above all, is where I want to be.

“…for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.

“I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.

“I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” – Phil. 4: 11-13

I’ve been thinking a lot about Paul and about what he said about knowing how to both be abased, and how to abound, about living fully, whatever comes my way.  It is a gift to know how to fully humble and submit, and it is a gift to know how to accept abundance and enjoy it in its moment.  The greatest gift is to do both at once, for they are twinborn.

Be full with what you have…be hungry for what you lack or long for that brings you in to Him.

Knock and it shall be opened.

Snowflakes

My heart was so heavy with so many things the other day.  I went out into the snow with the girls.

I took them to their favorite hill.  I wonder sometimes how many of their memories will involve flying down a hill or dragging an increasingly heavy sled back through the woods to their cabin.  Many, I hope.

As the girls flew over and over down the enormous hill, I laid down in the snow and looked up into heaven.

Flakes fell from the vastness above and tiny darts of ice fell and melted on my face.  Each one had travelled so far to tell me that all was well.

Every moment in my life, every uncontrollable circumstance, every decision, every effort, every struggle, had led to that quiet moment in the snow.  And that quiet moment was leading to every moment that would follow thereafter.

That moment was perfect, encapsulating everything we have worked to become.  That one moment would lead to more, and all would be well.

Mountain mansions

In the mornings, when I walk the dog, I watch the sun brighten the trees and listen to the birds calling and flitting through the branches.  I walk the snow-lined paths and breathe the air.

In the summer, more people will be around, but for now, it’s just us.  I try to drink it in.

The Yellowstone area woods called me here, and they have taken me in and changed me.  I feel like the tiniest part of this vast forest, so happy to be where I am meant to be.

We make this beautiful little home more ours everyday.  At night, I go out and look up at the stars.  Nowhere in the world has stars like these.  It feels incredible to sit by the fire at night and know that I am home, home at last.

“Fear nothing. No town park you have been accustomed to saunter in is so free from danger as the Yellowstone. It is a hard place to leave...You may be a little cold some nights, on mountain tops above the timber-line, but you will see the stars, and by and by you can sleep enough in your town bed, or at least in your grave. Keep awake while you may in mountain mansions so rare.”

- John Muir

Quiet

Time has slowed down lately.

Boxes are being unpacked slowly, old treasures rediscovered.

Most of them can wait, though.  I’m in no rush.

This babe turned seven this week.  Seven.

Seven years ago, on a bleak, February day, she came into the world.  Robed in sorrow and pain, a babe of light was in my arms.

She has taken me on a seven-year journey.  She doesn’t know it, but she has changed everything.  I know I write this every year, but each one of her birthdays is like a celebration of life.  She is a gift from Heaven, a mercy, a miracle.  Everyone who meets her is made glad.  She is pure.

Today I watched her.

She sat for hours, very still, in the snow, near her bird feeder, birdseed in hand, just waiting.

She watched the little mountain chickadees dance around her.  She called to them, and they did not fear her.

She kept her hand outstretched, breathlessly waiting.  Finally, after hours, it happened.  A little bird flitted from a branch to her small hand, ate a seed, and then flew away.  She told me that it only lasted a moment, but it felt like it lasted forever.

Tonight, I feel so blessed.  Blessed and so grateful.  Grateful for a quiet life, and the peace in my heart (largely because of this child) that life is precious and not to be wasted on rushing.  Goodnight, friends.

Glimpses of home

Home.

That word has held so many different meanings for me this year, each of them special.

But this is the sweetest of all.

A place that I know I belong.  My mountains, my woods.

I don’t have many pictures yet.  Just tiny glimpses that have made us grab the camera here and there.

More soon, as we move in and make it our own.

We’re home.

 

Moments

My mind has been consumed by tiny moments lately.  In many ways, time seems slower and clearer for me these days.

We’re in a moment right now…one of those incredibly rare, sacred moments in our lives where everything is okay.  Everything is working out perfectly.  Everything is moving along so smoothly.

Here’s the thing about moments like this.  Well, two things.

1) It’s tempting in a moment like this to become afraid.  Afraid that things are too good, too right, too perfect…waiting every day for the other shoe to drop.  That fear destroys the quiet, holy blessing of a moment like this in our lives.  This moment is a blessing, a reprieve, a gift, an assurance that our path is right.  Worry kills the joy of it, whether the moment is 2 seconds or 2 months.  We should enjoy the blissful moments for what they are, and be glad they’ve come.

2) Moments like this are made in halves: Half is made by Heaven, an outpouring of blessings.  The other half is made by us: accepting the blessings that have come.  Everything, everything, (well, except for the town where we will make our home) is different than I had planned it a year ago, even a few months ago.   We are choosing to walk the new path and be glad.  We could rant and cry that nothing is as we wanted it.  Or, we could be glad of the hand of Heaven in our lives, and see that hand for what it is and the mercy it has poured out on us.

My mountain

“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

IMAG2304

I climbed a figurative mountain a while ago.

I finally reached the top, but then I had to come back down.  And just like each literal mountain I have ever climbed, the descent is almost as hard in many, many spots.

I’m down.  Finally, I am down.  I gave everything to it and I am down.  Every time you reach the bottom of a mountain you just climbed, the entire world looks different.  Perspective will never be the same.

This is the biggest mountain I have climbed, ever.  I will never be the same…but that was the whole point.  I climbed a mountain, and my prayer was answered.

Even them will I bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer.
-Isaiah 56:7

“The greatest adventure is what lies ahead.”

I mentioned it before, but we’re back.

Back in beautiful Idaho, a place that is truly home to us.

We missed it every day.  But though we missed home, we had a long winter adventure planned out, so many places we would see…

But interestingly, everything changed.  We began to feel so strongly that it was time to get back home.  We accelerated our list and cut it down to the few most important things, and then we hurried home.

Even though coming back meant camping in true winter and ice and snow (don’t worry, we’re toasty and fine!!), it felt so compellingly right that we couldn’t stay.

We had planned to build a home next summer, but even that changed.  We felt prompted to buy a home now, and we moved forward.  That is a long and special story of its own, but long story short, we are zooming right along in the process of buying a sweet little home in the woods.

Everything feels so very right, and my heart is at peace.  This year has been one of tremendous growth for me, and I am just beginning to see the incredible path that has been laid out in front of me.

So, as my heart turns to the new year and all of the joys it holds for our family, I bid farewell to a year of staggering climbs, and keep in my heart the lessons learned and the change that has come.  I am entirely new.

Just a little look back at our family’s coastal adventure:

And now, forward on our wonderful path we go.

Tender mercies

Christmas and all of its joys has blessed us this week.

As time has rushed onward, the glow remains, but the days march on.

It’s still living in my heart, though, as I see my girls pulling together, as I feel help from beyond, and as I see a multitude of tender mercies in my life.

Christmas is a miracle.

It opens our eyes to what we have.

It also opens our hearts to what we could be, and I think that’s why, sometimes, I feel down after Christmas.  I see how far I have to go.

This year, though, I see so much more clearly that the Lord is there, ready to lift me there.

This month has been a rush of blessings.

Seeing them poured out has opened my eyes to the fact that they’ve been poured out all along.

But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

Isa. 40:31

Savior

Our winter plans changed, but more on that soon.  When we left Washington, we made the long trip back to Idaho.  The first night we were here, we went to the nearby Temple and walked the grounds.

The simple Nativity scene was affecting.

The thought of a tiny, perfect son, come to save, change, and rescue.  It has affected me more this Christmas than it ever has.

We were tired, worn, and unwashed..it had been a very long trip.  The girls wanted to go into the Visitor’s Center to see the Christus.  I felt keenly aware of my physical appearance.  I hadn’t had a shower in days.  My matted hair beneath my stocking cap had been hiding there for goodness knows how long.  I had worn the same clothes for 72 hours straight.

I removed the hat hiding my hair and approached the statue.  I was afraid I’d feel so unworthy and unclean…not only physically, but in so many other ways.  I have wrestled with my broken heart and the new person I have so desperately been fighting to become.  I barely lifted my eyes, but longed to be nearer.

This Christus is able to be touched, which is rare and nice.  The girls, especially the young ones, ran to Him.  My sweet four-year-old said, “I want to hold His hand.”  I went with her, and as I stood close, watching her hug the Savior and hold His hand, I felt washed clean and made new.  I felt that He saw nothing, nothing, about my hair or my clothes.  But I knew He saw everything inside of me.  He saw my sorrow and my joy, and all that those things were helping me to become.

I used to worry that I’d feel so completely unworthy when I finally met Him, forgetting completely that He loves me perfectly and that He did everything He did to wash me clean of all I have left behind me.  I’m not worried anymore.

Since then, I have been different.  My eyes have been so open to the love and the help of the Lord in my life.  In the past two weeks, time and time again the tiniest miracles have happened, little things that showed me that He knows exactly what is in my heart and that He knows exactly who and what I need, right in that moment.

Tonight, the girls are tucked snug in their beds.

Quiet reigns in our tiny home, and I alone am awake, with thoughts of Christmas.  Snow is falling outside and I can hear each flake as it falls from heaven to the roof.

This silent and holy night is a gift, just as this year has been.  A chance to become new.

In my wilderness
I’m not comfortless.
He is there–
Savior.

Holy Counselor,
Friend and Rescuer,
He is Hope–
Savior.

In forgiveness
He is wondrous.
He is love–
Savior.

He will hear me,
Comfort, cheer me.
Loves me dearly–
Savior.

And I’ll praise Him evermore
He opened Heaven’s door
Give my heart to Him–
He let me in.

In His kindness
He is gladness
He is joy–
Savior.

Gave His life for me
Paid the price for me
He is my
Savior.

-Melanie and Roger Hoffman
(Download or listen to this beautiful song here for free–legally!)

Merry Christmas, dear ones.  May you feel His incredible love today.