Christmastime

“You can’t separate Bethlehem from Gethsemane or the hasty flight into Egypt from the slow journey to the summit of Calvary. It’s of one piece. It is a single plan. It considers ‘the fall and rising again of many in Israel,’ but always in that order.”

“Christmas is joyful not because it is a season or decade or lifetime without pain and privation, but precisely because life does hold those moments for us. And that baby, […the] Only Begotten Son in the flesh, born ‘away in a manger, [with] no crib for his bed,’ makes all the difference in the world, all the difference in time and eternity, all the difference everywhere, worlds without number, a lot farther than your eye can see.”

“Perhaps the joy [my parents] felt that day at my birth was to be inextricably, inseparably, eternally linked with my sorrow at their passing—that we could never expect to have the one without the other.”

“In this life no one can have real love without eventually dealing with real loss, and we certainly can’t rejoice over one’s birth and the joy of living unless we are prepared to understand and accommodate and accept with some grace the inevitability—including the untimeliness—of difficulty and trouble and death. These are God’s gifts to us—birth and life and death and salvation, the whole divine experience in all its richness and complexity.”

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). True fathers and mothers were all alike, I realized; coming up with the best gifts imaginable at what is often terrible personal cost—and I am obviously not speaking of material gifts or monetary costs.”

“I got a little refresher course in the plan of salvation and a powerful reminder of why this is “the season to be jolly,” and why any Christmas is a time of comfort, whatever our circumstances may be. In the same breath I was also reminded that life will not always be as cozy as “chestnuts roasting on an open fire” or an unending splendor while we stroll, “walking in a winter wonderland.” No, life will have its valleys and peaks, its moments for the fall and rising in the lives of all of God’s children. So now it is old Simeon’s joyful embrace of that little baby just before his own death that is one of the images I try to remember at Christmas.”

– Jeffrey R. Holland

Free

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

– Wendell Berry

Evidence

The snow is coming down now, in earnest this time. I’m so grateful that it’s here, but the cold snowy season always seems to bring such sorrow in the world, as well.

I think that, in the snowy seasons, it’s good to look around for the evidence of blessings…the reminders that the way has been softened and made light, and that we are being watched over.

I’ll still kayak the rivers this winter, but I think my lake time is up. Sitting on the edge of the water recently, looking at the stickers on my boat, made me smile. It was a good summer. A long, hard summer filled with so many challenges…but so many blessings, too. The reminder has made me ready for winter.

So much ugliness, so much sorrow seems to flow over the earth right now. I feel like peace is gone. It’s time to look around, find the light, find the evidence of good, and shine it forth.

Confidence

I am at a point in my journey through life that I can see that all of it, everything, has led to what I am doing and who I am right now.

I remember a point in my life when I was living in a place where I was so different from everyone around me. I was in completely different circumstances and I was embarrassed all the time.  I was so uncomfortable in my own skin. I couldn’t bear the feeling. I remember praying one night, pleading that I would be blessed with confidence and courage.

Well, He didn’t give me confidence. He gave me a heart willing to follow, and the journey of my live truly began.  As I have followed Him, I have come to understand who I am in His eyes. I am His daughter, and I can do anything He guides me to do.  I don’t have to prove myself to anyone.

The confidence and courage have come in amounts I never dreamed, and have led to a life I never could have imagined. All that once mattered has fallen away, and the light of who I truly am is shining brighter.

 

First snow and miles to go

Our first snow came this week.  It’s been lovely.

I think that living here year-round has taught me so many things, but the most important is that I can choose joy no matter the weather.

Some are happy about the snow.  Some are not.  Some wish it would stay, some wish it away.  The truth of the matter is that all of these things will happen in time, and if we spend all of our time while we have snow wishing it would shine, and all of our time while it shines wishing for snow, the sad truth is that we will never be tremendously happy.

Usually in life, we are waiting, even longing, for something.  But I think that, if we can keep living while looking ahead, we can be happy.

The woods are lovely, dark, and deep,

But I have promises to keep,

And miles to go before I sleep.

-Robert Frost

Love is deep as the road is long

I haven’t written in such a long time, but I keep feeling called back.

This has been the year.  Everything has led to this time.

I could never have imagined how the wait with adoption would feel.  I could never have imagined how I would change, how I would learn, and what faith would mean now.

Trials have been greater, but inspiration is coming more clearly, quickly, and in focus.

The things that matter are more prominent, and those that don’t are falling away.

I can feel this little spirit who wants to be found.  I know it will happen.  I know it.

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.