Saturday, November 30, 2013


Growing up, one of our Christmas traditions was a treasure hunt. I was recalling this memory recently as I thought about treasure .
  One of us always had to hunt for something…and usually that something was a big gift to us. One year, my uncle sent all of us cousins on a treasure hunt of clues. Each clue was part of the puzzle and then we put it all together, only to have to solve a riddle. Long story short: he was taking us all toChicago for a weekend (the only time i have ever been there!). That was a treasure worth seeking.
  One year, mom sent me on a treasure hunt for my leather jacket. Also a big deal for me.

Sometimes, though, it was little things which were part of the treasure hunt. One year we sent mom on a treasure hunt for a trash can! (Which she totally loved!)

 The point is, seeking for treasure is fun. Everyone wants treasure. Everyone also wants to BE treasured.  I have pondered this much lately.

  To treasure is defined as:verb
  1. 1.
    keep carefully (a valuable or valued item).
    synonyms:cherish, hold dear, prize, value greatly;

    We all want to feel that way. We all want to be treasured, cherished, held dear and valued greatly. To know that someone loves us that much to consider us treasure. Sometimes, though, society makes this difficult. 

     Society holds us to "values" which are unachievable, and puts worth in places where it does not belong, such as beauty, status,or  position in a company or even how much we do in general. And the more we are immersed in society, the harder it becomes to see treasure from God's perspective : the heart, relationship with Him, how we love others, and who HE is shaping us to be. 

     This year, I have been learning and re-learning the lesson that no matter how I feel about myself, or even how others may feel about me, I am treasured by God. This is a very difficult application to put into practice, I admit. I am not very good at remembering this day in and day out. But when I allow myself to seek God earnestly, just as I would seek a treasure, He reminds me that I am a treasure to Him. 

    In Psalm 139, we are told :  
           Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out;
        you formed me in my mother’s womb.
    I thank you, High God—you’re breathtaking!
        Body and soul, I am marvelously made!
        I worship in adoration—what a creation!
    You know me inside and out,
        you know every bone in my body;
    You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit,
        how I was sculpted from nothing into something.
    Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth;
        all the stages of my life were spread out before you,
    The days of my life all prepared
        before I’d even lived one day.
    17-22 Your thoughts—how rare, how beautiful!
        God, I’ll never comprehend them!
    I couldn’t even begin to count them—
        any more than I could count the sand of the sea.

    Now there are some treasured thoughts there…. 

    This is a lesson I have to remind myself of day in and out, but it's worth relearning over and over to catch a glimpse of just how much I am treasured by Him. 

Sunday, November 24, 2013

The Worn out Bible of a Tireless Prayer Warrior

A tireless prayer warrior. That was my mom. I have titled a few blogs "The Singer" "Love for Words and Books" and things of that sort. But lately I have been remembering mom as the tireless prayer warrior. I found her many mornings and even afternoons, with her Bible open, scribbling notes, praying for many others about all occasions. Some days it was for us, her kids. Other days for her friends. Sometimes likely for her own heart, though those were held close to her.  I found her even praying the scriptures.
   Her Bible was well used. The black leather cover was worn from its moments of tirelessly being read. The binding on it was taped, having been opened and closed time and time again. The pages have been underlined, noted and worn thin.
  And lately, I have been reading through her Bible, so wishing I were sitting across from her to talk about it instead. Wishing I could hear her words of encouragement over a cup of coffee on a day so needed. But she left behind traces of her thoughts through her worn Bible pages. Evidence of her constant dependence on God and her thirst to know Him more every day. Reminders, even, to me, of what encouraged her which she would often times use to encourage me.
  She would humbly sit quietly before God , not seeking attention, only earnestly seeking Him.

She left a legacy for me to remember. Her worn out Bible tells a story about her deeply rooted life in Christ.

 It's nearly impossible to go through a holiday season and not think about mom. I told a friend recently that it doesn't get easier each year, it just gets different, not having mom. This year is different. We will be at dad's, where evidence of mom's life still lingers in corners. Memories will be risen which haven't been thought about for a bit of time, simply by being in their home. And yet that will be a wonderful experience, too. A time to laugh and make new memories; a time to remember; and a time to be thankful for what she instilled in each of us. I don't go into Thanksgiving sad per say, missing her. I go in thankful. There can be moments where that is a hard emotion to choose, but I am Thankful for all she taught me; thankful that she was a tireless prayer warrior; Thankful that she wore her Bible thin and I can now, 2 years even after she's gone, find her wisdom penned in the pages of her lifeline, God's Word.  I am thankful for all she taught me, and even today continues to do so.
  I am thankful that mom was a tireless prayer warrior and that she wore her Bible thin in the process.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Thank-FULL heart

Tis the season of the holidays and bustle of "Are you ready  for Christmas? " "Are your kids excited for the holidays?"
  The stores have all the Christmas decor up already.

But in our house, we are focusing on Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving is my absolute favorite holiday. I love this holiday because it is probably one of the least recognized ones….most are ready to skip around to Christmas already. I love this holiday because it's all about family- everyone together, without the focus of opening gifts and material things (not that I"m opposed to gifts, mind you, just that I like a holiday where that isn't a focus.) I love Thanksgiving for the food, the fall atmosphere, the football and the parade (watching Macy's parade is probably one of our biggest traditions for the day). But most of all, I love Thanksgiving for the very reason of it's name: being Thankful.

 I see on Facebook and other places where people are writing things once a day for which they are thankful. I wish that we would do that all year, and not just during this one month. I speak to myself here as well. Being thankful creates a FULL heart. I admit I get away from this aspect of life too often.

 In our busy lives, it can become so easy to focus on the bad of the day or the exhaustion of the moment or the irritation of another person interrupting….but what if we chose to look at the good in the day instead? To write down, for even just one week, all the little things which stood out in the day that were fun or happy or moments of recognizing God in all His beauty. I practiced this for a bit this year, but then allowed all the distractions to get in the way. But in looking back on some of the things which I wrote, here were a few. Even just reviewing these caused me to pause and be thank-full.
   -The click clack of my dog's excited feet on the wood floors
     -Braiding elizabeth's hair
        -Storm clouds
    -Cool breeze in the warm summer
        -Kisses from Michael for no reason
  -Warm brownies
 - God's perfect grace
      -My customer's interest in my life and asking about my day in a genuine manner.
 -Fog accents across the crescent moon; almost God's breath across the sky
       -Silly memories that come to mind about mom so often, such as the silly songs we'd sing like John Jacob Jingle Heimer Smith (sp???) and that list of songs continues….
 -Jumping on the trampoline and laughing at ridiculous things in the process

The list goes on. As I recall these things, a smile lights my face and gratitude fills my heart even yet again. I want to be thankful all year, not just in this season. The more thankful we are, the more Full we become. Try it….one thing at a time, one day at a time, it can likely become a new beautiful habit.


Friday, November 15, 2013

Gratitude from a child's perspective

I learn from my children more often than they know.
  Today my daughter's school called telling us she'd been to the nurses office and they thought she needed glasses. It was news to us, but nonetheless, we took her for an eye exam and lo and behold, she definitely needed them.

 During her meal with her daddy before the exam, her prayer was "Please don't let me have to get glasses."
 Then she went for her exam to find out she needed them.
   At dinner, her prayer was this: "Thank you for letting me find out I need glasses so I can see better."

It was in that moment when she really taught me something. She asked God for one thing, but when it turned out differently than she wanted, she still thanked God. She allowed herself to see Him in it, to find the good, to be thankful. She could have been mad, but she was grateful that she'll now be able to better see.
  An attitude of gratitude.

That is what I want to have.
That is the small, yet powerful, lesson my 11 year old reminded me of/taught me today.

 How many times do I ask God for something, only to have to wait….or be told no…or to see it pan out differently? And when that happens, do I thank Him? Honestly: usually not.
  And so I challenge myself and you in this season where everyone remembers what they are thankful for, to be thankful every day. To be thankful when it doesn't go my way. To thank God even when the answer is different from what I expect or want.
  To have an attitude of gratitude no matter what… day at a time.
After all, sometimes we need better glasses to see life more clearly. Gratitude can do that for us.

I am thankful for my daughter teaching me something quite valuable that as an adult I often times have abandoned.  

Thursday, November 14, 2013

When Jack Frost and I became friends

Jack Frost met me at the door this morning, as I stepped out to run.
  I literally opened the door to a burst of biting wind, and my dog sat down and looked at me like "Are we seriously going out in this??"

 I have never liked the cold weather. I dread its arrival every year, to be quite honest. When I lived in Florida, I always said I'd never move back to a cold place (never say never, by the way! often times God has other plans. ) My first year of running (2008), I did my training on a treadmill in the beginning of winter because I said I couldn't stand the cold. Then one morning, during a 6 mile run on the treadmill, I thought to myself how awful it was looking at the same spot for 6 miles, wondering when it would be over, instead of enjoying the running. So I broke down and bought the winter gear and said I'd try it out.
  That winter, I felt like I could say I was a runner for the first time. I ran in the snow. Sleet would freeze on my glasses (I quickly learned that it didn't matter if I needed them to see if the sleet was going to prevent that anyway ; I may as well leave them at home), my nose would run simply because of how cold it was, I discovered that spandex weren't so bad after all, and that there was a freedom in running in ridiculous winter condition/temperatures.

 Last year was a mild winter for  the most part, and I did not have to walk outside in dread many times. When this week rolled around (Now my training is back in swing after a brief break), and the weather man said the awful four letter word- s n o w- I was not excited. However, I pulled out my gear and prepared my mind for the task of braving the cold yet again.

 4 am arrived quickly and as I peeked out the window, Snow had indeed fallen. Even if it wasn't anything but a dusting, it was there nonetheless.

 I grabbed the leash, and initially my dog jumped in anticipation, knowing it meant I was taking him with me. However, when the door opened, I think he thought twice about his excitement. But we stepped out the door, and I said hello to Jack Frost for the first time this season.
  The hardest part about a run on a cold day is starting. Once I am going, there is beauty found in the cold temperatures. A silver lining, even, if you want to say. I am enjoying a moment most people are hating. I get to see God's beauty of the new season around me and soak in the moments of quiet because no one in their right mind is outside just having fun (especially at that hour!) I heard the crunch of frozen leaves under my feet. I saw grass draped with pure white dustings of softly fallen snow. I felt the sting of cold biting my cheeks, even as my warm breath puffed small clouds of steam onto my glasses. And one of my favorite parts about running in the wee morning hours: the beauty of the sky. There were streaks of grey painted across the black night, evidence of "Jack Frost" weaving his way into our lives again, through the hand of God's beauty. Stars sparkled at me, as if to shout, "Welcome to a new day! I'm so glad you are out and about." And the shining moon, blazing its light proudly among the streaks of grey. If I didn't run at that hour, I'd never enjoy those moments. God's beauty at a whole new level. Snow and cold and all.
  So, many ask me why I run even when it's so cold. Especially because most who know me know I really don't like the cold. My answer is: because I have seen the beauty in it. I have learned to enjoy every season and appreciate what each one brings. I have been drawn closer to God's creation simply by allowing myself to step more fully into it. I have even become friends with "jack frost" to a certain degree. I would not have those experiences if I didn't allow myself to step outside in those moments.
 My dog and I survived our first cold run of the year just fine; he was even ready to go the next day without hesitation. Perhaps he saw the beauty in Jack Frost as well…..
    So one season at a time, one run at a time, one day at a time, I have begun learning to enjoy each season. both in literal speaking, and in relation to life's seasons as well.
    I typically dread winter; this year, I choose to say "Welcome, Jack Frost. You have taught me new things about God's beauty."

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Looking backwards at the view from behind

Looking backwards or Looking behind.  Sometimes the view is even more gorgeous when we glance behind us and we appreciate it even more. My ever wonderful (but younger) brother reminded me of this this past weekend.

I was on my first trip ever alone without kids or husband. EVER. In 12 years of being married, I have never gone away alone for even a night. I was like a child on this experience, full of both excitement and a bit of fear. I had 3 different planes to catch, one with a very short windowed layover. I was so excited to be out on a new adventure. I walked through my first connecting flight's airport (Chicago O'Hare) and stood for a few moments in the crosswalk area just looking.
 People everywhere….buzz all around me…..a dinosaur replica!! and the list goes on for the sites I was seeing. I made my first connecting flight just fine, but then we sat on the tarmac for a bit too long and I knew I may not make the next one just as well. Lo and Behold, I did not. I missed my next flight. The situation grew worse when they had no more flights (which would take me to my final destination) and I had a crossroad decision to make. Long story short: I spent the next 5 hours alone in the LA airport waiting on my brother to drive there to pick me up as opposed to waiting the next 11 hours to arrive at the destination . My brother was a real trooper, driving all night to get me in LA and then 6 hours back to his home…..all so I could be there for 2 days with him and his new baby and his wonderful wife.

  This all to say that I was really upset at the onset of missing my flight. I was so mad. 2 minutes. That was all I missed it by. 2 stinkin' minutes!!!!
  But in the end, my brother and I had an amazing journey we would not have otherwise had: 6 hours together alone in a car, catching up on life, talking about God and politics and life crisis and emotions and everything that we haven't been able to talk about since we were teenagers because we haven't had that much time together! We drove across CA, Nevada, Arizona and finally arrived in UT. The entire time , as we talked, my eyes were wide as we drove across country I'd never seen. I felt like I was in a new world! Not to mention the wonderful company of my little brother .
    Quite literally I kept saying "This is so beautiful! Oh, look at that, Tim! Oh my, I've never seen mountains like this! Oh….look at that! What city is this? The  Desert….gorgeous! Who knew?? Tim, you didn't tell me it was this beautiful!"
 And he would smile and say "Do you want to stop for pictures?"  He was a trooper.
  I could gush on about the entire experience, but in the midst of the drive to his home through the wee early morning hours, when we stopped once for a short break, as I got out of the car and could fully see the view, I said to him " Wow…it's just as beautiful if not more from this side, already having come through it. " The car had to some degree blocked a bit of the majestic beauty surrounding me.
  My brother profoundly said "That's just like life. When we take time to look back at the view or what we just experienced, we see the beauty. In the midst of it, it's not always recognized."
   I loved that. And then I thought on that. How many times to I allow a "car" to block my view? Maybe a bad day; maybe a grumpy child; maybe exhaustion from my day; maybe something so small as a cake ruined or my inability to sew something simple and having to ask….. I allow those things to block the view of what can be beautiful moments . When I get past all that, I can look back and laugh and see what God was trying to teach me, show me, or allow me to experience. I can't truly see it in the moment because I was so annoyed by the interference. Even on my flight experience. I was annoyed at missing my plane. But had I not missed that flight, I would not have been able to soak in some of the gorgeous sights around me; I would not have had a really wonderful quality hour (or 6) with my brother. It was a beautiful thing to see looking back.
 So, all this to say…..enjoy the view. It might not be as pretty when you are in the center of it, but more often than not, in looking back, you can find beauty. Stop and appreciate it. (Speaking to myself here, too.). One day at a time, one experience at a time, He is teaching me this.
   Here are some of the views I enjoyed- some were taken on that photo stop. Some were just silly shots taken along the way.