Fog and Light and my crabby, morning self

I like fog.

Maybe because I grew up on the Pacific coast, is why.  Rain assaults you, but fog wraps around like a protective layer… it comforts me… it calms me… it reactivates my hair product.

I also like to photograph fog.  As you might imagine, some shots aren’t too exciting.  But several mornings ago I got a good one.

From a second story window I saw the fog lacing thru the trees, hovering over the grass.  I grabbed my camera and headed down to the back deck.  The neighbor’s porch light caught my eye and later, after I downloaded to my computer, I saw the full picture.  It’s kind of half and half… fog below, blue sky above.  Love pictures like that.  Kind of a two for one.

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There is a type of fog, however, which I do not like.

It’s the kind that mysteriously settles on my brain overnight.  A fog which only lets in the endless to-do list, concerns for loved ones and difficult circumstances… all of which run on repeat cycle as I lay in the dark.

Maybe it’s the aging process, the stress load or the late night snack (which I’m trying not to do anymore), but more often than not my morning starts that way.

I force myself to thank God for a new day.  I force my feet to hit the floor.  I don’t really feel like doing either one.  Then I head for the coffee pot.

I know that doesn’t sound very nice.  But I am supremely grateful for a God who loves my often ungrateful self.

After some quiet, some reading, some prayer… all sloshed together with good coffee, the foggy and light parts in my head begin to focus.  This morning process is summed up in these words from The Message, “Let petitions and praises (or foggy parts and light parts, maybe?) shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns.  Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down.  It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life”.  Philippians 4:6-7.

Shape your worries into prayers – I love that.

I don’t think God is all that concerned over how I might feel in the morning, or even if I’m less than civil in those first moments.

I think he’s patiently waiting for me to sit before him, say hello and share words from my heart that he can work with… to bring in the light.

 

 

 

Found

A mom can find her kid. Even in a crowd.

I could find Andrew on the football field by watching for arms and legs. I can spot Daniel by the sound of his laugh. And Ian’s voice draws my attention. Much like his dad’s, it’s distinctive and pleasing.  And as with Andrew, if he’s moving, I can find David.

Several years ago, Doug and I flew across country to meet David. His back to back deployments to Afghanistan and Iraq had taken a toll on this mom.  I needed to see his face.

Normally, crowds distress me and I’m never one to push to the front of any line. Ever.  But once the soldiers were in the building and their commander began to speak, I couldn’t wait.  I made my way to the front, held out my camera and took the shot. Other cameras flashed around me and I wasn’t sure what I’d get.

It turned out to be one of my favorites.

~ I found you – I see you – you’re OK ~ David in crowd

I’m always amazed at the ways God finds me. It can be a phone call from someone with just the right words, a scripture that jumps off the page, a series of events that fall into place… or that unexplainable peace He gives when they don’t.

I have a persistent memory that floats in my head… a million years ago, or maybe 35-ish, I sat in a coffee shop in Anchorage, Alaska. It was middle of winter and my two sons (at the time) and I had come inside for hot chocolate.  Since we didn’t get to the “big city” all that often, the boys and I tagged along with Doug who had come in for an interview.

Jobs seemed to come and go all too often. We were always struggling.  I’d been questioning if we were doing right by our boys.  I missed family living so far away.  And did I mention… it was winter in Alaska.  Serious case of cabin fever had set in.

Honestly, I don’t remember many specifics from that day, or even if Doug got that job. What I do remember is an older couple who sat at the table next to us. Out of the blue the woman tells me she could see we belonged to one another… same beautiful smiles, same beautiful eyes.

She was sweet and motherly.  She talked to me like we were old friends.  Our conversation was brief, but as they left she put her arm around my shoulder… kind of a side-ways hug. Her parting words were that I was blessed with a beautiful family… that everything will be alright… to enjoy every single moment with my children, no matter the circumstance.

They paid for our hot chocolate.

At the time I felt so grateful.  Touched that a complete stranger would be so kind.  Amazed that she knew exactly what I needed to hear.

As years have passed, I’ve drawn a few more gifts from that memory, like that “kid in a crowd” thing. If a mom can find hers, how much more our Heavenly Father?

…and becoming more like that unknown woman.  God chose to use her arms to hug and her words to encourage.  And she let Him.

…but mostly, it’s not so much God “finding” me. He already knows where I am.  It’s reminding myself every day, or every hour if need be, that I am “found”.

after doubt has had it’s way… write

“Honey, I can’t stop moving cause I might not get going again”, my grandpa often said.  I thought he was talking about going for a walk, or wrangling horses, or making hot dog and parmesan cheese tacos.  Turns out his observation applies to much, much more…

Like writing words on paper… which sounds kind of wimpy compared to what he used to do.

So in my effort to begin again, I join this community of writers talking about overcoming writers doubt.  You will find their inspiring essays at The Positive Writer, hosted by Bryan Hutchinson.

Months ago I hit the Pause button on my writing.  The blog posts were getting farther apart, they were more fluff than substance and the angst I felt at hitting the Publish button didn’t seem worth it.

I’ve never been a tower of self-confidence anyway.  And after a few years of caregiving in an awkward family environment, I doubted my ability on almost every level.  Writing was no exception.

I still wrote down blog post ideas.  I jotted chapter details for the book I will write.  But my journal was the only place that saw my words every day.  Private words between me and God.  Prayers really.

When I tried to write other things I found myself dissecting every word, every thought behind the word, judging who might be offended, who might think me weird. It got so bad I began to censor what was entered in my journal.  I mean, what would “they” think if “they” somehow read this stuff?

ENOUGH.

What I had really done was hit the Mute button, not the Pause button.

I muted my own voice. 

And when your writing focus is memoir… that doesn’t give you much to work with.

For me, the battle with self-doubt as a writer is a spiritual one.  It’s called – the fear of man.

Lately I’ve been studying Philippians 4: 8-9. “Fix your thoughts on what is true and honorable and right.  Think about things that are pure and lovely and admirable….”.

As lovely as those words are, I used to think of them as too Pollyanna-ish.  But the more I reflect, the more able I am to attach pictures of my story to them… even the hard parts of the story.

It’s become a way to identify the endless list of what I’m grateful for AND given me a new way to look at the dark days.

I catch glimpses of God’s mercy poking thru the rubble of a messy life.

I see His light shine thru and I want to share it.

I’m using these verses as a framework for what I write.  And that’s a good thing, because later on in those scriptures it admonishes us to put into practice what has been seen, heard and learned.   As I learn to filter the good, the bad and the ugly thru them, I’m less concerned about what any man thinks.

I am more compelled to share a loving God who is always with me, even when I doubt… I am compelled to accept who he created me to be… and I acknowledge it’s not for me to worry about what “they” might think.  He’s well able to take care of that.

This battle is not new.  I’ve spoken of it before.  And it will appear again.

But each time I face it I become stronger.  The more focused I am on the truth of God’s presence with me, the easier it is to click the correct button….

PUBLISH

Light

if you were here….

I would tell you everything will be ok…

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…and I’m sorry this injustice has come your way.

But it is the way of this imperfect world.

I would tell you that no matter how pure your motive or the depth of sacrifice you make… there will be whiners and haters, those who judge, those who twist words.

They fear you because they fear change.  And the political correctness they worship was designed to shut you up, lull us all to sleep and bury the truth.

I would tell you to pay them no mind.  They are not willing to stand face to face with you in the heat of the day… so their words are meaningless.

The real truth is… they need you.

We all need you… the one who will say the hard words, who will do the hard thing.  Because every time you do you keep goodness and hope alive… and every time you do you encourage me to stand taller and speak louder.

Keep on keeping on as the brave one God designed you to be.

We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed and broken.  We are perplexed, but we don’t give up and quit.  We are hunted down, but God never abandons us.  We get knocked down, but we get up again and keep going.  2 Corinthians 4:8-9

Threshold of a New Day

Most every day starts in the very same room… at the very same window… sipping coffee from the very same mug.  And it’s always early because I don’t want to miss a moment… not one moment as the sky lights up before me.

Some mornings, like this one, there’s no choice but to throw on coat over pajamas and head out to it.

In quiet, in peace, I wait in expectation….

my soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen for the morning ~~Psalm 130:6

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~~~Weekly Photo Challenge~~~

Weekly Photo Challenge: Reflections

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I wish I could capture the day beginning… the sky opening… what I see on my early riser mornings with first cup of coffee.  But that would take a different kind of photography, way beyond my skill level.  Plus, I’d have to get dressed and go outside!

A close second to that wish is a day captured last week.  The husband and I drove to a place where the big river meets the bigger sea… and found a park we’d never seen before.

He, typically, walked straight thru to the other side, snapping panoramic photos of the water and the sand dunes.

I, typically, stayed inside photographing an old building… pawed thru a patch of clover to find a four-leafed one.

But when I stepped into the gazebo, I felt the words…. Look Beyond…

Light.  Wide open space.  Possibility.

Breathing room… where thoughts untangle and fear melts.

Weekly Photo Challenge link