Horizons

I’ve learned more about faith and miracles lately than ever before in my life.

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I think about Peter so often these days, from the Bible.  He wanted to be with Christ so badly.  Sometimes he was afraid of the process or the price.  But there was never a reason to fear…for Christ was right there with him.

I look back on the past two years and see how I’ve run away and come back home.  The horizons of my hopes were pushed back, so far I could not see them.  Storms have shown me His perfect mastery and brought me home, to a better home than I could have imagined.

Only now am I truly beginning to see.

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Grief and Joy

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Of all the things my many Congolese friends have taught me (and there are many), one of the greatest is the blessing of mourning with those that mourn. They’ve taught me why, and how.

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I’ve learned from people who have lost absolutely everything that there really is nothing you can say.  And that’s okay.

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Being there is what counts.

Why do we so often hide our grief?  A brave face may be one of our biggest downfalls as a western society.  Grief and joy are intertwined.  By sharing them both, we rise again together.

Wild wind

With the coming of spring, and then summer, the wind changes.

I can always feel it, usually on a certain day.

The wind is no longer bitter, driving me inward, but wild, calling me out.

This time of year, I cannot keep my feet from searching, and the warm wind calls my heart and reminds me that there is so much to do.  So much.

Rivers to swim.  Mountains to climb.

Spring

It’s spring.  We’ve still got plenty of snow, but the air is warmer and the snow is melting a little more each day.  Our roads are a mix of lots of mud and lots of ice.

Though I always mourn the passing of winter, the loss of quiet in our little mountain, I cannot help but feel the thrill of an earth returning to life.

The small patches of earth that are showing through are wild with the smell of possibility.

The sun shines longer and more insistently, telling me each day to be brave and get ready for new mountains.

The cranes have returned and their wild call echoes through the pines.

Water rushes in the rivers as the melt is progressing.  Soon the park roads will open again and we’ll see the waterfalls bursting their borders.

My own heart is beating with more courage and new determination, to overcome all that I once was and to become a new and reborn person.

I always see my children differently this time of year.  Their little hearts quicken, as well, and new purpose comes into their eyes.  Our winter has hardly been a sedate one, but somehow, spring asks more of us.

What a miracle it is to have daughters.

Our oldest is nearly 13.  It’s almost like having a new baby again.  I find myself wanting to watch her all the time, because she seems to grow and change with each passing day, even minute.  I am so proud as I see her try new things, but I love the moments when we are all tucked safely in together at night.

“Spring work is going on with joyful enthusiasm.” – John Muir

 

There.

Today has been a sober day.

It’s my little girl’s birthday. She’s six. It was a wonderful day…absolutely perfect.  She was so happy, so full of life.

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At the same time we were celebrating, our good friends were saying goodbye to their six-year-old son. His battle with cancer came to an end tonight.

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The stark difference shocked me and has made my heart ache.

Tonight, as my daughter was praying, she enthusiastically prayed for help to carefully get the crystals out in her new crystal mining kit she’d gotten for her birthday from her grandparents.  It was such a sweet and pure prayer.

In that moment, I knew, I absolutely knew that her Father heard her prayer.

The same God who had His arms wrapped around my aching friends had His arms wrapped around my innocent and carefree child.  He is simply there.

I don’t have a lot of words tonight.  I just wanted to say these things, and remember that moment.  I wanted to remember my God, my kind Father, who is always there.  He is there when we are happy.  He is there when we are sad.  Somehow, He is always, always there.  I just want to say tonight that I absolutely know that.

“Innumerable are they unto man; but all things are numbered unto me, for they are mine and I know them.” – Moses 1:35

 

 

Perfect

The other week, I posted a picture on instagram:

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It was a picture the girls had taken while they were out trying to discover what animal some tracks in our yard belonged to.  It’s bothered me ever since.

The picture + the caption made it seem like we had had the most perfect, ethereal day tromping through the woods and learning constantly.

The truth was something different.  We had been having a terrible day.  We were all grumpy, the house was a mess, and I was overwhelmed by inadequacy.

So, we decided to start over.  We knew we needed light and air.  We put on our snow clothes and went outside, leaving the mess behind.

That is how it became a perfect day.  Choosing to start again and discover what we could become next.

The winter is waning.  Our spring is coming early.

The light is growing each day and the snow is beginning to melt.

We are sad at the quiet of winter passing.  But it reminds us that life is so fast, so fleeting.

There is no time to waste on being less than we could be.

I am nowhere near the person I want so badly to become.

But I am better today than I was yesterday, and if I keep moving, I know I’ll catch glimpses of her every once in a while.

 

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.