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

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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.

Farewell to Washington

Washington has been a beautiful, glorious rest.

From the sweet family we’ve spent time with, to the kind and gentle people we’ve loved, to the majestic mountains and woods.

Every day has been restful, a blessing in the midst of all of our decisions and emotions this month.

We’ve had to drive to find it most days. but we’ve even had the gift of a bit of Christmas snow.

We’ve had time to figure things out and find peace, and for that, I will always be grateful.

Like mountains shrouded in coming snow, our paths are sometimes unclear.

But we can be certain that a glorious path lies ahead of us, just beyond what we can see.

That’s what faith is all about.

I’m grateful for this place and all it has taught me.

Though it was only meant to be a small part of our journey, I’ll have it in my pocket wherever I go.

Our people

I’ve written so much about this year without writing about it at all.  I’m sorry about that.

This week, so much has come to a defining point for me.  There is so much this week that might have been.  I find myself, at every moment, choosing, again and again, God over myself.  That’s good.  It’s a good place for me to be.

“Grief is messy.”  Grief, at the core, makes me want to run.

We have been celebrating Christmas and all its joys this week with the town that we are currently visiting.  At first glance, it is almost sad.  We are longing for home.  This isn’t our town.  These aren’t our people.

But, if I’ve learned anything on our journey, I’ve learned that they are all our people.

I’ve learned, more than ever, that everyone has a story, and everyone is connected, and that we belong to each other.  People are good and kind, and too often, we cut ourselves off from each other in an effort to save face or be strong.

The more we travel, the more I sit back quietly and listen.  I listen hungrily to all of the voices around me.  Some I’ve come to know more intimately, some I’ve passed in the shop and will never see again.  But each has left a piece of themselves with me.

I sat in church last Sunday with our grandparents, in a chapel full of people I have never met.  I cried as I listened to them share their joys and their deep, deep sorrows, asking for one another’s prayers.

 

I think when we run away emotionally, we forget that we have each other.  We forget that we are connected and that we all hurt and that we all want to help.

That’s one thing I’ve learned from all of this.  One of the great healing gifts we have is each other.

I have been floored lately, as so many people have contacted me in some way to let me know that they have been reading in this space.  So, to each of you who have listened to me this year, thank you for being part of me.  Merry Christmas, my friends.

Cascading

“Another glorious day, the air as delicious to the lungs as nectar to the tongue.”

-John Muir

I believe our parks have two great secrets.  One is nighttime.

The other is winter.

I have dreamed of seeing the Cascades for years.  The girls and I had the park entirely to ourselves…miles and miles of frozen cascades.

We were lost in wonder.

Time stood still.

It was a moment of rest, a glimpse of heaven and who we really are.

“By forces seemingly antagonistic and destructive Nature accomplishes her beneficent designs — now a flood of fire, now a flood of ice, now a flood of water; and again in the fullness of time an outburst of organic life.”

-John Muir

Family

The weekend was magical.

We took a trip to Whidbey Island, a place made special by those who live there.

Great-grandparents were loved and soaked up as much as possible in the short time we had.

I can’t begin to describe the healing love of family this week.

As my own heart has worried over various trials in our life, I have been swept up in genuine love this weekend.

 

Sitting in church together, kids helping spin salad.

Visiting around the table, hugging lots of teddy bears.

Sharing stories, trying not to slip on ice.

Laughing till we cried at trying to get a picture together.

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Tearful goodbyes and happy, happy memories stored away.

Arriving home tired, to then find exciting help from my mom with a Christmas present I am making the kids, as well as a box filled to the brim with Christmas magic from Matt’s mom.

Ornaments for our sweet, tiny tree.

I cried, truly, unwrapping them, because of the warm embrace of love I felt, from those who love and know us.

Each one a sweet memory of home and what we love.

Christmas and family are in my heart tonight, though I am far from home and loved ones again.

Love remains.