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.

 

Water

 

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Summer has gone, and I’ve not even written.

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This summer has been an intense spiritual experience full of more love, friendship, faith, and choice than I have ever known.

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It’s been a summer spent in the water.

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Interestingly, I’ve always been afraid of water until now.

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This summer, I’ve found answers, light, and peace, while facing some of my deepest fears, which have had nothing to do with water at all.

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I keep thinking of Peter, when we was told to “launch out into the deep” and let down his nets.  (Luke 5:4)

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I committed to myself that I would do that, some time ago… And I have.

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What I’ve found in the deep has been more incredible than anything I could have imagined.

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Without the water, there is no life.

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I know I’m not being too specific, though I hope soon to be.

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I can feel Heaven smiling down, saying, “I told you there was more to the story.”

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I’m so grateful for the courage to wade in.

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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