31 July 2014
Wake up oh sleeper!
Rise and get moving.
What is it that ails you so that you are not making something? Creating something? Moving forward?
You have this moment. Right here.
You are not guaranteed to have another.
The dream is sitting on your heart, waiting to be given some air. Let it out and chase it through the breezy, open fields to see where it leads. Give it room to breath. A higher space to look up at. If you always keep it hidden and secret, you will never get to see all the potential that is practically steaming out your ears. It's aching to be free.
Examine your heart to ensure it is a dream of yours and not someone else's borrowed. Your dream is beautiful and personal. Just as you and your creative nature is unique, so then shall be your dreams and pursuits.
Don't look at anyone else and think your life should look just like that. When you do that you mask your own potential and talents. Search your heart and pray for guidance to discover if you do not know. God will show you the gifts He has given you, so that you can use them to the glory of His name.
30 July 2014
Do you think I might grow taller? It is such a silly question, I know. I catch myself thinking this strange thought one evening when a reminder goes off in my head that I am thirty. I probably won't be growing any taller.
But that is the state of mind I am always in. Thinking impossible things as I drift off to sleep. Will I grow? Will I learn more? Feeling giddy at the thought of class and learning I imagine myself at a desk equipped with a freshly sharpened pencil and a clean page in my spiral notebook. Ready and eager to learn, I always was eager to learn, and always will be. It is a marvel, to me, that we can absorb so much just by listening to one who is wiser. Then make scribbles in a notebook with bullet points and underlines.
It doesn't require much to teach. Just a mode of communicating it. But it requires one who us willing to listen and acquire. Isn't it marvelous how we can share knowledge with one another and enrich each other's lives?
I have the attitude that I will never be full or done with learning. I have so much more to learn. I will always be a sponge for wisdom and knowledge.
These are the thoughts I had while I drifted off to sleep the other night.
29 July 2014
I used to wonder if it were seemly for one heart to reside in two places at once, to pine for the one while enjoying the comforts of the other.
- Lanier Ivester
These days have been full of sunshine and heat. Gosh, it is hot. The seasonal change of Autumn seems light-years away. Will it ever come? One day, when the Autumn weather visits us again I will be reflecting on and on about the things I only dream about now. Like a wisp of smoke I try to grasp at, only eventually holding onto a tiny bit of seasonal wonderment. And in those moments my reflections turn heavenward to God's blessings. Why doesn't God bless us with seasons here and cooler weather? I could wonder at this for ages, and receive no answer other than one word - variety.
The nature of God's nature is that of variety and loveliness that comes along with that, leaving no two places exactly the same.
Perhaps that is why we are always longing for somewhere else. We want what we don't have and dream about other places without fully appreciating where we are at this moment. And that leads to another wonderment - will heaven be all of what we always longed for? Yes.
We are never fully satisfied here. We know (or maybe wonder) if there is something better than what we have here. There must be. Our emptiness here is present and filled by God's love but we cannot grasp that. We cannot hold onto it because we cannot see Him. And yet He colours in our picture everyday with hints of His kingdom. We don't even know, we cannot even imagine the beauty of the heavenly realm. It will be deeper and more wonderful than we could imagine.
We know that will come one day. And we wait. We wait on the tips of our toes in anticipation of what is to come. We write about it. We dream about it. We ponder about it. He will come and we will know the answers to our questions. Or perhaps the questions will become obsolete. Or maybe even the questions will become the answers. It could be something we never thought of.
28 July 2014
A morning begins right with a good cup of coffee and a good atmosphere. On Saturday morning I took my quiet, introverted self out of my coziness to the downtown farmer's market and Mitchell's Coffee Shop. I parked along the street and walked through the farmer's market without stopping because it was so brutally hot and humid. I was even there early, a little after 9 AM. I got a cappuccino at Mitchell's and sat at the bar along the front windows so I could look out to the street and the people meandering through the market. It wasn't too busy, but it was so hot.
But it was nice in the coffee shop from the inside looking out. There was a common chatter in the background. My soul was full of thankfulness. Enjoying moments of quiet in a public place stretches me and my writing, which is a good thing. Normally, it is all too easy for me to make my own coffee at home, stay in my cosy place sipping coffee and writing, and then getting busy with errands.
This weekend, though, I was doing something different.
Something I love about this block downtown is the brick buildings. They age nicely. They change colour in the different shades of light and shadows. And they don't remind me of Florida. They are not tropical. They invoke a more Autumnal feeling with their earthly tones. Autumn seems like a distant beauty that my heart always longs for.
But for today, I will admire the beauty of the buildings, the sky, the colours before me, the coffee in my cup, the words that keep flowing to me as I continue to write, and the love that is ever-present in my life.
25 July 2014
...but as often as I try to fit the reality with nearer words, I find myself in danger of losing the things themselves, and feel like one in process of awaking from a dream, with the thing that seemed familiar gradually yet swiftly changing through a succession of forms until its very nature is no longer recognisable.
- Lilith, by George MacDonald
Rarely does a book capture me so much that I spend the weekend with my nose hovering over the pages as I travel with Mr. Vane through the mirror in his big, old house into another world. This is the kind of imaginative story (likened to Alice in Wonderland, which, as an interesting side-note, MacDonald and Lewis Carroll were good friends) that dabbles in word-play but with deeper roots, a darker story line with evil that puts every living thing in danger. It is definitely my favourite George MacDonald book.
"The strange thing to you," he went on thoughtfully, "will be, that the more doors you go out of, the farther you get in!"
"Oblige me by telling me where I am."
"That is impossible. You know nothing about whereness. The only way to come to know where you are is to begin to make yourself at home."
Lilith was first published in 1895. I am fascinated to learn that MacDonald was good friends with Lewis Carroll and they spent a lot of time together talking literature and theology. Lilith came before Alice in Wonderland, and there are many influences from Lilith. In both stories, for example, the protagonist steps through a looking glass into another world, but in each case they were drawn into it and were not seeking it. The world they step into is full of bizarre creatures and experiences, with many lessons to be learned. In each book the main character has a child-likeness and naiveté, so they trust others without a second thought, which sometimes leads them into trouble. When Carroll was looking for opinions on his stories, he asked MacDonald to read Alice in Wonderland, which he brought it to his children and read it to them out loud.
"...Only good where evil was, is evil dead. An evil thing must live with its evil until it chooses to be good. That alone is the slaying of evil."
Lilith, unlike Alice in Wonderland, is not a children's book. It was written for adults. So it has complexities and darkness that capture you much more deeply than a story catered to children. This book is such a treasure. This story (and MacDonald's others) deeply influenced two of my favourite authors - G.K. Chesterton and C.S. Lewis. Since I know their writings well, I really enjoyed seeing hints and influences as I read Lilith that would show up in varied ways in the 1900's through Chesterton and Lewis.
"What does it all mean?" I said.
"A good question!" he rejoined: "nobody knows what anything is; a man can learn only what a thing means! Whether he do, depends on the use he is making of it."
Anyone who knows me a little bit knows my affinity toward British writers, good fantasy stories that have deeper meanings, beautiful language, adventure, and deep thoughts. And this book does not disappoint. This is one that I want to read again, and soon.
The dark rocks drank like sponges the rays that showered upon them: the great world soaked up the light, and sent out the living.
23 July 2014
Knowing what is right is like
deep water in the heart;
a wise person draws from
The well within.
- Proverbs 20.5
A melancholy evening is adorned with lugubrious raindrops speckling my windows. I sit from a cosy perspective watching them fall and gather on the glass, sliding down, down, down as more continue to fall in their mechanical way. Unrelenting, yet soft. Soaking into all things slowly, almost unassumingly so. You might barely notice, or not notice at all.
The water soaks into me. But I am not wet. I am refreshed with the Lord soaking me thoroughly with His love. Through and through His rain is unrelenting, and yet soft on our hearts. A gentleness this world does not give freely.
I need it. Even on good days. I need the soaking rain. I want wisdom to soak in deep so that it emerges in every aspect of my daily life.
Lord, draw near.
22 July 2014
Never be afraid to show mercy,
for if God gives it freely to me
then I can show it to others
Sometimes I don't know how to respond verbally or in the moment to something that frustrates me, so I write about it in my journal and come up with words that may or may not be encouraging later. Then I ponder and muse upon the situation and let my thoughts meander in my journal for awhile. The freedom in my writing is such that I don't have to fret about offending anyone because the pages in my journal won't see the light of day.
There are days when I try to understand some people and cannot. When I think about the way they act and the choices they make I get so frustrated. And yet I know it's not my place to dwell in that and wish change upon someone. For I cannot change anyone and why would I? I have no authority.
It's my place to show mercy.
No matter what wrong has been done to me, or to someone else close to me, I am to look to how Jesus would react. He would show mercy.
I know this.
I also know that even more than showing mercy we are supposed to pray for our enemies. How many of us do this? We don't even pray for our friends! My heart is impacted by this because mercy is not always my first response. But it should be.
So I am reminding myself to not be afraid to show mercy. There should be no fear in mercy, or it is not mercy. It is a way of trusting God to take care of matters. It is what Jesus did and continues to do.
21 July 2014
Living a life in Christ is to live in active stillness.
Morning coffee cools in my white cup and saucer on my coffee table. After church I came back and lingered over some Scripture. The morning light is bright. I just downloaded a Bible and devotional app on my phone and read through one day's post. It is time to be still. It is a good morning.
I feel dull when I don't make time to be still. Seems like a paradox, right? You'd think being still could include hours in front of the television droning repetitive shows and annoyingly catchy commercial tunes. But this stillness is about being mindful -- with a heart open to the love Christ dwells in.
I went to the early traditional service this morning. To me, there is something refreshing to the soul about the early morning. It is before the chatter of my mind wakes up. So the message and the music can sink deeper. This morning there was a clarinet/organ piece played and it was beautiful. The melodic notes from both instruments played off one another in a song that reached deeper than just my ears. My heart started humming along, joining in a lovely few minutes of music. Every time I get to experience live instruments being played like that I am drawn into the music and moved by it. The young, talented clarinet player created a beauty that mingled through the air of the sanctuary and I was deeply thankful for such an enjoyable experience.
Then I thought about all the instruments that humanity has invented and the lovely sounds those instruments can produce, and how that is just a foretaste of the symphonic elements that God has in the heavenly realm. There are sounds & melodies & harmonies that we don't even know; that we haven't ever heard because what we have on earth is a glimpse.
That is because what heaven holds is so much more.
There's a reason we are moved by music.
There's a reason our hearts are warmed by a kind, handwritten note.
There's a reason time spent with someone dear is so enjoyable.
There's a reason why beauty in nature grabs our imaginations.
It's all because we are made with these lovely things in our hearts. Things that won't be fully satisfied in this earthly realm, but in new creation it will all unfold in perfection as it was meant to be. No restraints of earth will then hold it back.
And for now, the mystery that surrounds these lovely glimpses should remain alive. As glittering examples in our lives.
18 July 2014
My collection may be random, but here are some of my favourite photographs I have taken recently. Mostly these are from home or in North Carolina. Now that I have an iPhone I have much better editing capabilities (through my favourite apps Instagram and VSCO Cam) and I am enjoying that so much. I must admit, I really like my iPhone and am super happy I got it. I have always been one who is eager to take good photos and my phone allows me to do that with the additional perks of good editing apps. I find that I am loving how my photos turn out with just a couple of minor edits.
It is just simply fun to me: taking photographs that are lovely and that invoke good feelings. I tend to lean toward a softer images with a touch of contrast. Warm, earth tones are my preference. I really love that I get to use my photos here on my blog to share with others. It allows me to stretch my writing imagination as well as my photography imagination!
17 July 2014
Rainy evening brings
a bright day beginning;
exuberant as the sunshine
and feeling the richness
of God's blessings;
storing up in my heart
a loveliness I can't impart.
Only truth and wisdom
break through my guarded heart,
choosing words that do good,
without harsh or bitter bite.
Thoughtful musings before
will produce an added dose
16 July 2014
A God-shaped life is a flourishing tree.
- Proverbs 11.28
Coming back from a vacation forces me to shift back to remembering how to breathe deeply. Daily life moves quickly and tasks at hand are always pressing on you.
And I sometimes forget to breathe deeply.
And by that I mean, slow down and notice the little things.
When I go away to new scenery, no matter what it is - it could be a roadside diner, a mountain town, or a deserted building along the way, I scrutinize the scene and the details of it. I analyse textures in my mind and outlines the buildings with my eyes. I take note of the feeling of the place and decide whether I like it or not. I notice the people and how they talk (do they have an accent?) and how friendly they are (do they look at you and smile or completely keep their eyes cast down?). I notice if the air smells fresh or stuffy.
Don't you do this when you experience a new place? Or even a familiar place that you haven't been to in a while? I suspect that is part of why I love to travel so much. It gives me ample opportunities to experience and scrutinize my surroundings on a daily and hourly basis.
Do you focus on a certain thing? Such as people? Do you smile at a strong southern accent? Do you chuckle in the coffee shop when an older man asks the barista what a latte is?
God has give us variety in our lives and landscapes, and I want to experience it. These experiences help us grow into more welcoming people by forcing us to dwell in and appreciate a certain location and what it has to offer. Sometimes, it is even better than what you had imagined.
15 July 2014
I honestly think in order to be a writer, you have to learn to be reverent. If not, why are you writing? Why are you here?
Let's think of reverence as awe, as presence in and openness to the world.
- Anne Lamott
Writing is my indulgence.
I seek it every day. To record what I see, what I feel, and what I experience with other senses. It is something I have always loved to do. Observe. Record.
My tendency to adventure and seek new landscapes is so I can write about it. I come to such a joy in translating what I see to words on a page. Thoughts as I gaze at a scene made to inked-in memories. All of that provides countless opportunities, scenarios, and topics that inspire writing.
Indeed, my soul is a writing soul.
I dabble in words and seek new scenes.
I look out upon a landscape and hear poetry forming in my head. Words come gently as I stand on a mountain top or walk by rows of trees neatly tucked along a path. Nature's symmetric lines bring an abundance of thoughts, dreamy or insightful, but sometimes hard to grasp. There's no absolute guarantee it will be easy at that moment.
But when given the time, I let the quiet sounds, gentle upon the soul, sink into my background as the words navigate their way to the page more thoughtfully. The practice of writing is what improves the writer, even when it seems like I am grasping at words that flutter by too quickly.
The discipline of slowing down to write helps me expand my use of vocabulary and vary my sentence structure. It gives me the ample time to be selective in my word usage, which usually results in a more coherent piece.
Sometimes it works. And I use it.
Sometimes it will stay tucked away inside my journal.
But I will always try. It would be a detriment to myself not to. I am one who loves to learn, grow, and improve. It is part of my nature, deep inside. I won't just settle for okay. Complacency is my enemy.
So here are my pages of practice.
Some may be inspiring. Some not as much.
One thing I do know - I will always keep writing.
14 July 2014
I filled my wallet with white stones,
I took three foxgloves in my hand,
I slung my shoes across my back,
And so I went to fairyland.
- G.K. Chesterton
As we drove up our mountain to our home one day my eyes gazed to the left where down the steep slope as far as my eyes could reach, were tall, elegant trees and an abundance of foliage, with shafts of late afternoon light casting an elvish glow. For a few moments I was caught in a scene of the departing elves, travelling through the land to the Grey Havens. I could almost hear their gentle song of woods and trees.
A peaceful quality came over me, sequestered in the hilly landscape with trees taller than our view and an ancient feeling left behind. No sound was heard. No rustle of feet, but I am sure some elves were passing nearby wearing thin, flowing gowns that melted into the slanting light.
A glimpse perceived, but not a second chance. Look again and it is only a breeze shifting the leaves along the path. Are they well traveled by the wood-folk?
In an ancient place we pass through a land inhabited by old stories and dreamy light, with possibilities endless of both sadness and delight.
The light through the trees shifted as we climbed the mountain and soon I was taken out of the dream and dropped back to life when the car jolted to a stop. But as I stepped out of the car I caught a faint glimmer out of the corner of my eye, in the direction of woods, which I suspect was a flowing elvish gown passing along some ancient paths into the depths of the woods.
11 July 2014
Sweetreats ice cream is the best. It was essential that we visited at least every other day. You choose your ingredients and they mix it smooth in a machine so it's creamy and perfectly refreshing. You get your ice cream and sit outside enjoying every bit. My favourite ingredients of the week - banana and fudge, every time.
Lots of play time for my baby niece. Her Dad likes to torture her with towers, when all she wants is her little princess toy.
Ellie and her Mom enjoying our gorgeous scenery, above the clouds.
I spent some time at Buck's Coffee Shop, downtown, with a good cappuccino, and taking a little time to check in with my work (just a little).
A short walk down to Dry Falls, one of our favourite waterfalls to visit when we come up to this area. We've come here since I was little, so I am always fond of visiting this spot.
You can walk behind the waterfall and feel the cool mist of water. It's a neat perspective to be behind the waterfall and hear the roar of water above your head.
Everything was so lush and rainforest-like with lichen and moss growing everywhere. The temperature was cool. The scenery stunning.
Ellie walking behind the waterfall with her Uncle and Dad. So sweet.
Mum visiting with Ellie on our balcony. It was too beautiful outside to stay inside for snacks.
Our dinner out on the balcony, with a lovely view.
Jason and Renee enjoying some lovely weather and lovely views.
Walking around our property was delightful. Mossy grass and lush green was everywhere. It was quiet and peaceful.
10 July 2014
The sun is breaking up
foggy layers that are
gliding up the mountain
and through our open windows.
Or is it that the mountain
itself is rising and shifting
the patterns of wind,
casting the greyness northward?
Evidence of God's creative mind
is drifting by and rising with
endless sights of mountains,
far as eyes can reach.
Only the hawks that gracefully
soar past our balcony know
The secrets of the mountains
I remain silent, in awe, in respect
of God's majestic beauty
that our world displays poetically,
artistically, visually, whole-heartedly.
09 July 2014
God delights in concealing things;
Scientists delight in discovering things.
- Proverbs 25.2
When things just aren't going your way, the world seems like it is fighting you. Everything becomes a nuisance. The sun is hot. The winds makes everything unsettled. Questions become annoying.
In those moments, we lose sight of what is important causing us to miss moments of enjoyment.
My family discovered many unpleasant things on our vacation. Our house had many issues we had to deal with. Things that added stress to our week which was supposed to be a week to de-stress us. More and more kept happening. We could have fallen into the trap of being miserable about the things that were going wrong, but I think we made the best of what we had by relaxing, cooking meals, playing games, and laughing along with sweet Elliott.
Here is what I determined. For the things that popped up as a speed bump to our glorious vision of vacation, look at the positives. Are you alive on a beautiful day? Yes. Can you gaze out at some lovely landscape? Yes. Did you make a cup of coffee to enjoy? Yes. Are you here with family? Yes. Did your baby niece just make you smile and laugh? Yes.
I see in myself the tendency to get stressed until I stop and reset my mind to remember that all shall be well. It also helps to acknowledge that the situations are out of your control. And all shall be well.
The challenges we face are things that will test and strengthen us, and getting through it will help is grow, learn, and become more wise.
08 July 2014
I think my favourite spot is this breakfast nook. It is a simple round table with wooden chairs by windows and a glass door. All these remain open all day and night until we go to bed. The sunlight and cool mountain air can thereby keep this spot comfortable. Plus, the view of the mountains, of course.
A lot of good thinking happens here, I do believe. Something about the fresh morning air in combination with the delightful sunlight and an awake mind. If the house is quiet that's even better. More thinking, more churning of the mind, more writing.
It's my favourite part of the day. The morning hours.
In the morning:
The house is the most quiet
The air is the most crisp and fresh
My mind is awake and vibrant
The mountains haven't grown shadowy
The trees rustle gently
The coffee is brewing
My pen moves across the pages with ease
Books open to me and pages breeze by
This breakfast nook is attached to the kitchen, living room, and has a door to the balcony, so it can be a busy spot. But in the morning before everyone wakes it is a perfect spot with windows and doors open. I can sit here at the table on yellow-antiqued wood chairs painted with muted flowers, with coffee and books on the table, and a refreshed mind. Slowly as the morning progresses, family members will come through to make breakfast. My baby niece will walk in with her bright smiles and a book in hand. Even she gets it. It's the spot for thinking and reading.