The Sunset Tree, in all its brilliance, has held so many rainbows high on the horizon, so many sunsets in the forever stretching western Kansas sky. The weight of that glory from a million sunsets and a few hundred rainbows was too heavy, as the trees arms grew tired with wind whistling at her back […]
Most of us know or have heard reference at some point in our lives to Psalm 23. Bits and pieces come to us when we are feeling afraid, alone, or like we are being attacked by alien spaceships in War of the Worlds. Ha–I am not joking that part of my subconscious sees the Priest in the old War of the Worlds movie walking toward the evil-eyed spaceship quoting the 23rd psalm. Then he gets zapped and turns to dust. It scared me to death as a kid. I always wondered why he was not using his brain and kept walking toward the ship instead of away. At that point in the movie, I think the behavior of the aliens pretty consistently proved they were bad guys…so, while all of you are reading through psalm 23 with floating streams and quiet places and vivid images of gentle shepherds leading their sheep through grassy knolls, I’m thinking about the poor priest who got turned to dust.
I’m thinking that alien space ships were not on King David’s radar when he wrote his prayer to God, but maybe something like it. A deeply distressing time that brought him to his knees, seeking the comfort his true Shepherd could bring.
So, however we get to Psalm 23 and whatever makes us think about it, the truth is the same. God, our good, good God, will lead us in quiet places and walk with us in silence while the peace of the streams bring life back into our weary souls. Nowhere in Psalm 23 does it say “Then God shouted at me because I’ve been such an idiot”, or “God threw me into the quiet stream and held my head under until I gurggled” I give up!”
What this Psalm DOES say, all our own vivid imagery and associations with this familiar passage aside, is:
The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
Take a deep breath, breath in the Hope of a loving God who will walk quietly with you wherever you are on your path. Know He’s with you. Breathe and Hope.
A few weeks ago while the girls were at school, I jumped in the jeep, drove down long country roads until I found a piece of Heaven on Earth–The most amazing sunflower field I’ve ever seen–well, the only sunflower field I’ve ever seen, but that’s beside the point. I knew there was no way I could capture the vastness of the yellows and greens meeting the clouds with their tips standing tall all the way to the horizon. Being a photographer, that was a little disappointing. I wanted to share it allwith everybody. Some things just are not reproducible. I had to let it go. I just stood for a long, long time and stared, allowing all of my senses to take in the glory of it all. Breathing it in, I realized I was breathing in joy, and new life.
Everything around me in Kansas is new. The sunflower fields, the white, fluffy clouds, the stunning sunsets and sunrises that surprise me almost every day…the giant spiders, frogs in my garden, the Royals, Chiefs, and lots and lots of old barns and pioneer settlements.
I. Love. Kansas. Really, I do. Breathing new air has been good for my soul. I find myself coming alive a bit more every day. I’m grateful for new friends, a new church and the schools our girls attend.
Do I miss Indiana? Every single day. I miss my friends who are like family. I miss the familiarity of everything and not having to figure out new stuff every day. I miss apple orchards and blueberry picking. I miss Lake Michigan, the rolling dunes, and the lighthouses most of all.
The bright memories of our old home mixed with the awakening of my soul in a new place are good indeed.
Standing in the sunflower fields made me fall in love with my Creator God all over again. When I see what an amazing artist He is, I am humbled and I feel loved, knowing that He made things like sunflower fields for me to breathe new air and make my soul come alive.
I am so grateful for new life. Grateful for the hope that change can bring.
Look around you…even if it’s not a ginormous sunflower field…look at the clouds. Marvel at the sky. Catch a frog and look her eye to eye, and then kindly let her go back to whatever girl frogs do in gardens.
Feel the Creator’s love for you in the endless beauty that is Nature, that is the air you breathe everyday.
So, suddenly here we are, over the rainbow…in Kansas! Who would have ever thought that we would end up in Kansas? I wouldn’t have! For all the people that live here in Kansas, I am ashamed to say the only perception I had of Kansas was a black and white one from my childhood-Dorothy’s Kansas with farms and cyclones and crazy wizards living in trailers in the middle of nowhere.
I have been overwhelmed by the beauty of this place, the blue’s are more blue, the green’s are more green. We live a few miles from several parks that are breathtaking in their beauty. There are bluebirds everywhere, coyotes, and SNAKES! We’ve had so many adventures in the month that we’ve lived here. It’s been wild and wonderful.
Before Rob and I came to Westside to interview for his position, a friend texted me and said, “What do you think about moving to Kansas?” I replied sarcastically “I am NOT moving to Kansas”.
Famous last words. Ha.
The girls enjoyed getting to know their new schools for the last few weeks of the school year. It was a bit hectic exiting their old schools and entering the new, all at the end of the school year and during a cross country move, but on the other side of it all, we are glad we made the decision. They were each able to make some friends, as well as learn their way around their new schools and our neighborhood.
We love our new house. Belle’s school is just outside of our back gate, which means she can get to school in under a minute in the mornings, but it also means we have a gigantic playground in our back yard, and a beautiful path to walk in the evenings. We are beyond grateful.
We have also been getting to know our new church, Westside Family Church. It is one amazing place, with a wonderful staff and tons of extremely friendly people. Learning everyone’s names has been a challenge, especially in my now old age of 41, but people have been very gracious and patient. 🙂
We are still waiting for our house in Granger to sell, so if you know anyone who is interested in a fabulous house in Granger in an amazing school district, let us know! Also, if you are a person who prays, ask God to send the right family to love that house and neighborhood as much as we did.
We are grateful for all the love and support of our friends and family in this time of transition. It’s been an amazing ride to the other side of the rainbow, but we are happy, settling in, and finding our footing here as we march forward together as a family on this new adventure.
“Look at your glass as half full, not half empty. When life gives you lemons, make lemonade, When one door closes, another will open…”
You’ve heard these lame excuses for encouragement. We all have said them, hoped to believe them. Hoped they might help someone look on the brighter side of things. We were trying to help because we didn’t know what else to say or what hope there really was to offer a really dismal and bleak situation.
But deep down, we all know that sometimes the dumb glass is just half empty. We hate lemonade, have no time to make it anyway, and the door was just slammed in our face. Sometimes life is just painful and hard and we just want everyone and their trite sayings to go away and let us sulk the day away.
In times like these, I am encouraged by those who encourage me to move beyond what is trite, and on to what is holy. I’m encouraged by those who encourage me to THRIVE despite my circumstances. In the matter of a few months time, our whole lives have been shaken and stirred. Just to name a few of the more obvious tough circumstances:
Rob resigned his job with Granger Community Church, after serving with them for 21 years.
Two days later, I fell down one step, yes. ONE step. I tore my calf muscle, sprained my knee and ankle, and tore my ankle tendon 90%. I had surgery, a cast, have been almost completely immobile for 4 months.
A few weeks after I fell, Rob’s dad passed away. His death devastated our family. Our girls have never known real grief. Walking them through this new grief was one of the most difficult things we’ve ever done as parents.
In the middle of all these life-changes, I have discovered a few things to be true:
We are family. And that is enough. Who we are when no one is looking has turned out to be my favorite “us” there is. I’m a housebound wife. A shut-in, a person who can’t walk in the park to rejuvenate my soul. My husband, a temporarily unemployed pastor. We are just us. Just Rob and Michelle and Madeline and Whitney and Isabelle. They are not pastorskids and I am not a pastorswife.
Who we are when no one else is around is what counts. We are discovering our inner uniqueness, apart from the blaring lights and noise, the applause of men and women–Good, kind, true men and women. There’s nothing wrong with being a pastor or a pastor’s wife or a pastors kid, but these things do not bring us value or worth or importance. Who we are is who we are being made to be, day by day.
I can make my life better just by sitting here. I started practicing Zentangle doodles and have found myself and my soul a new creative outlet. I spent several of the hours laying in my bed recovering from my surgery praying for every tween and teen girl that had been to our house to visit our girls that signed my cast. Their names blared up at me in bold neon letters, praying for them by name was a gift.
I’ve realized more than ever that every minute I have with my family counts. Losing a family member so dear has caused us all to hold each other closer–Every day. Every minute is special. In the chaos of our day to day, I have found myself hugging my husband more, speaking words of light and light into each of my girls, making our time together matter by taking the time to notice them, really, really notice.
Many times during these past few months, I have asked Jesus to end this what feels like to be never-ending series of trials. I’ve asked Him To make everything better, to take away the pain, both the physical aspect and the heartache.
However, I am starting to see the deeper lessons of deeper living, of what it means to THRIVE through trials and hard times.…I think it’s been worth it for all of us–Actually, I know it has been.
We are as a family learning to linger over love longer, to talk deeper, to live fuller…
They way God has orchestrated our circumstances is certainly not how I would have, but He has taught me to THRIVE despite anything that comes my way:
That in anything,
He has the power to give me strength.
That HE is all about me living life abundantly. He said that’s what He came for.
Jesus is teaching me how to live– In anything, for anything, through anything.
Wherever you are, whatever your mess is, your sadness, your grief, or just your ordinary day to day living. Thrive from where you are. Ask God. Ask yourself. “How can I live better? How can my life be richer? How can I feel stronger?”
I can promise you He will show you. He promised us in the Bible, John 10:10 to be exact: “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. “
Trust Him. Ask Him. Wait and see and THRIVE.
“This post was inspired by Casting Crowns new album “Thrive” available
I’ve enjoyed Autumn so much this year. Where we live, right on the edge of Michigan, in our corner of Indiana, we have lots of trees. I remember when Rob and I moved to this area 20 years ago from Chicago, thinking about how many trees there were everywhere and how beautiful they were. I still think that, and have come to enjoy their beauty even more.
My favorite thing is to go out with my camera and walk, looking for changes in the trees and flowers. Seasons change. Change is beautiful. Change should be treasured and noticed and captured for it’s unique beauty.
We have a lot of change going on in our lives right now. And you know what? It’s not easy. But I am finding it is beautiful–Because we are learning things about ourselves and each other that we never knew before. Stuff that skimmed on the surface before is now plain as day because we have been given the opportunity to slow down a bit and focus on change. We are so grateful for the grace of change and the beauty we are learning in it all.
Embracing the change of seasons in our own lives has been highlighted by the stunning leaves of autumn all around us. Breathing it all in. Slowing down. Watching and Waiting.