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The Colors Of Joy

There is new life all around us. Nature bursting at the seams with birdsong and lilacs and green grass and fruit blossoms. Shy buds opening slowly, unfurling tender blooms. 
  
 

Tiny herbs lifting fragrant savory green heads toward the sunshine.

  
And a table for two that My Love surprised me with for Mother’s Day.

  
True beauty is not having everything perfect but seeing past the imperfections to the blessings tucked into the bursting life that transforms the brown. It’s in loving the joy tucked into corners of life. Welcoming  happiness into your front door.

  
Painting by the River with your paint loving son.

  
And although you have no idea what you are doing with the water colors, the beautiful mess they make is joy in itself. And you feel like an artist.

  
Real joy is sitting quietly watching these two together.

  
And somehow, I eke up joy in thinking of Kierra’s joy in Heaven. Not the giddy funny type of joy. Not a joy most people recognize as joy. Just a deep deep feeling that mingles with saddens and loneliness and comes out in pure white peace.

  
I wish you a blessed Spring!

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The Winged Ones

I wonder if there are birds in Heaven. I wonder if they are more exotic then any winged one ever spotted in the history of the world. I bet they are.

Tonight we grabbed our bonocs and bird book and a little snack and headed out to do some bird watching. Freeze Out Lake is just a few miles from our house. And yes, it’s named Freeze Out since it quite often freezes solid in the winter.  Shallow acres of water that lie in wide open spaces of  ranch land. Cat tails and marshy areas make it a perfect bird habitat. We’ve been crazy busy the last while with spring clean ups and spring activities and dawn to dark schedules. Bird watching is a super relaxing way to spend a perfect Sunday evening.

I married a very handsome guy who has been bird watching since childhood. He amazes me. I see a flash of fowl and He identifies it before I can even comprehend if it was a hawk or a starling :)  and I mean names like Lesser Scoop and Marbeled Godwit and American Avocet. Yeah….I’m lost already and I just got back from a night of watching these amazing creatures.

 Kobe’s friend gave him a little pair of bonoculars and He carries them all around like a little explorer. I should have lived in Montana long enough to know to remember Kobe’s boots when we head out for wild life watching:) I still haven’t discovered the master trick of toughening up a sweet sensitive little boy….so until then we’ll do our best to take it slow and let life teach him that he won’t die from a tiny scraped knee :)

  
      Nature is so full of Gods amazing artsy creations! Stephen identified over thirty birds and Kobe and I saw some beautiful creatures we didn’t even know existed.


I think we need to go again real soon…..all those lovely bird songs are enough to soothe any soul! You really need to hear a Western Meadow Lark, see wild Pelicans scoop into the water, watch Blackneck Stilts, like mini Flamingos, stalking their prey and sit quietly in enthrall wander of the Cinnamon Teal’s amazing rich colors all blended into a gorgeous deep coat of feathers. I wish we had given Kobe a middle name of Teal :)

When we got home we found a tiny sparrow, lying too quietly in our flower bed under the big living room window. Kobe had to keep going outside in the dusk to check on the ‘poor bird’ .  I thought of all those happy flitting winged creatures over Freezeout Lake tonight and this tiny one lying so cold and broken and it didn’t seem fair. Then I remembered Jesus’ words while He walked on earth among death and coldness and heartache.


“Not a single sparrow can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it. And the very hairs of your head are numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God then a whole flock of sparrows!” Matthew 10

I love how He said those simple words….”So don’t be afraid.” We don’t need to fear this life or our certain death. Or the glorious return of our Saviour. We don’t need to fear about what will happen in the near or far future. What will happen to mankind when perverse nature rules and violence and sin take the upper hand. What will happen if sickness is not healed and bills do not cease and hearts are still broken. He sees every little and big thing in our life.

We are so valuable to His heart. So very very valuable.

He holds OUR hearts in His scarred hands

our names etched into His palms

“My Saviour holds my treasure

And He will walk with me!”

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When God Sends His Love

I’ve been sad the last few weeks. Just a rather lonely sad.
Not to worry….there is no one to fault for this:)
There is just a sad ache that wants to hover over my heart. Sometimes this old world has too many aches and pains for our dusty humaness. Its those
days that I try to apply Gods grace in fresh ways and remember that His strength is made perfect in my own weakness of spirit and heart.
The other morning after working night shift, I stopped at Albertonson’s to quickly check for one little item. As usual, I didn’t grab a cart or a basket since I planned to be in and out in a flash. But there were good sales staring me in the face on my first steps inside the door not to mention coupons for milk! So I grabbed a basket and hurried through the store. I was super weary and so very ready to get home to my comfy house. I was juggling a basket, a gallon of milk and a treasured pack of chicken breast when a kind faced gentleman stepped over to me.
He was dressed in clean well worn navy work clothes with the name Frank (i think;) sewn in deep gold script over his left pocket space. He had clean cut salt and pepper hair with a beard . Wire rimmed glasses fit nicely to his inconspicuous face.
“I’m going your way.” He stated kindly. “What may I carry for you?” His open  gesture showed two fingers missing from his right hand and my mind briefly wandered.
I did a double take of him as he stood a respectful distance away waiting patiently. And I suddenly realized how very tired my arms were and how my legs felt so heavy. Trains of thoughts ran through my brain in split second synchrony.
Was he a stalker?
Did he actually mean what he said?
Couldn’t i handle it alone?
But if he OFFERED…why not let him?
I decided to take his offer.
“You may take this.” I  smiled, handing him the milk.
He carried my chicken breast too. And I set off to find my last item.
“I want to thank you for letting me help you.” He stated simply. ” I ask lots of people if I may help them. Usually no one let’s me. They’re all fine on their own.”
I realized if I had not been so weary, I would likely have brushed him off as well with the trite “I’m fine.”
We walked to the front of the store making a bit of small talk. When we reached the checkouts, he kindly placed my items on the belt .
“Thank you so much! God bless you!” I told him.
He just smiled and turned his back to walk away.
I wish I had the presence of mind to see if he vanished. I wish I knew who he was and why he chose to carry a strangers groceries.
But I do know i felt so very very blessed.
It felt like a confirmation from God that He really cared about me and my day. That in my physical weakness He would always give me enough strength . 
I was reminded to believe that His grace is enough. Always enough.

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Whether I am slogging through the grocery store, chasing my three year old or missing our daughter… God is there…only a whispered prayer away…and when that seems hard to believe , He might just send me an angel gentleman named Frank.

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Partakers Of His Suffering

 

How deep the Father’s love for us,

How vast beyond all measure

That He should give His only Son

To make a wretch His treasure


How great the pain of searing loss,

The Father turns His face away

As wounds which mar the chosen One,

Bring many sons to glory


Behold the Man upon a cross,

My sin upon His shoulders

Ashamed I hear my mocking voice,

Call out among the scoffers


It was my sin that held Him there

Until it was accomplished

His dying breath has brought me life

I know that it is finished


I will not boast in anything

No gifts, no power, no wisdom

But I will boast in Jesus Christ

His death and resurrection


Why should I gain from His reward?

I cannot give an answer

But this I know with all my heart

His wounds have paid my ransom

I attended a woman’s retreat recently in the lovely area of Flathead Lake. Bracing mountain air, whispers of wind in pines, snow capped mountain peaks, and delightful lakes tucked in surprising valleys. 

  

The theme of the retreat seemed to fit well with this Easter weekend. 

Partakers of His suffering….called to Holiness.

When I think of holiness I often think of something beyond my grasp. Something only found in Heaven or the inner sanctuary of the tabernacle. Something I can never attain to. 

I learned that holiness comes from simply giving my life to my Creator. I learned that suffering brings us to Christ….that we might be partakers of His holiness.  I have so much to learn on this subject yet. And part of me wants to hide my face and not look into the depth of it.

 Because it might hurt. And it DOES hurt.

 Because it seems so contrary to my human nature. 

Because I feel so unworthy of a holy, loving God reaching out His grace to me.

We had some wonderful speakers that spoke of pain and holiness and allowing suffering to change us into what Christ longs for us to experience. When we give everything in our life over to Jesus and ask Him to use us for His glory, He sometimes takes us to places we think are absolutely unfair and ridiculous and asking WAY too much of us. I know….I hate to admit that’s how I’ve felt already. He gave His LIFE for me….nothing is too much to give back to Him. But in my human mind, I hold up all kinds of restrictions and requests and appeals and think I know what would glorify God the most and how He should run my life. 

One quote in particular stood out to me ” God does not judge me by the outcome of my circumstances, but by my faith” -Wendy Good

In other words, life may not go AT ALL as you planned. You may have the absolute BEST plans laid out and you are just waiting for the Lords blessing to come pouring out on your amazing plans….and they fall apart. This does not mean God was not in your plans. It doesn’t mean He doesn’t care about you.

As Wendy shared…”we don’t get to pick if we have a happy marriage” 

(yes, we do everything in our power to make it happy, but it’s up to our partner to make it happy also)

We don’t get to pick if our children die. ….

If we are healthy and talented…..

“But we can believe that the life we are living now…

God has a plan for it.

We are not living a messed up alternative.”

And that frees us to live to the fullest. To leave our hurts at Jesus feet. To tell Him about them and trust Him to bring glory to His name …to ‘use our body as a living sacrifice’ . To take our pain and the circumstances we did not ask for in our life and use it for some greater glory. 

Here’s a bit of my testimony. You can paraphrase it to your own situation in life…

Psalm 119:26

“I told You my plans

(Healthy children. Putting roots down and raising a family)

And You answered

(Incurable genetic disorder. Moving across country and trying to find where God wants us)

Now teach me Your decrees!

(What do you want of me, O God?)

Help me UNDERSTAND the meaning of Your commandments and I will meditate on Your wonderful deeds!”

(Look for spots of Life that have Glorified Him and brought PRAISE to His name!)

  

Just as Wendy brought out…sometimes we let our young children win a game of checkers and sometimes we let them lose…it’s not about the winning or losing….God cares more about OUR CHARACTER then if we win or lose.” 

He really DOES have a greater glory in mind.

 It’s not easy to live this life of giving myself and my Loved ones and my plans to God. But I just KNOW it is worth it. I just KNOW Kierra would agree with me! :)

Praying for peace to your heart.

Pray the same for mine? :)

5

To Dream Again

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Three years ago, my friend dedicated this photo to me with the words…

“God loves lining up the details in our lives…”

Three years ago. This was us.

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Living in the hospital. Kierra fighting RSV.

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Spending every moment we could together as a family. Finding joy in small things like smiles and beautiful silky hair.

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Our lives didn’t feel very lined up at the time. It was more like an unending bad dream. We clung to God and hope and getting through the day and not worrying about much else. Straight lines of what God had in mind for us flooded us instead like a typhoon rain with no guarantee that it would end any time soon. Questions swirled around our very existence and we wondered what God was thinking. Or if he was even paying any attention at all to our daughter.

Three years later I look back and still don’t understand everything God had in mind for us. But I know one thing for certain.

In Christ alone, my HOPE is found!

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He never turned His back or walked away through my questions and tears and fears and grief. He sent rainbows of every description over the past year since Kierra ran to Jesus.

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there”s a tiny piece in this one away out in the distance.

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Bits and pieces of rainbows shone through the showers this year more then I’ve ever seen before. Even double rainbows spread amazing arches. It was like God was holding out His hand. Convincing  me He really DID have a plan. Assuring me that I could trust Him.

Today I sat in the Pediatric unit of the very hospital I was in 3 years ago to the very day. But this time I was tapping away on a computer, doing more learning in becoming an CNA.  I know without a shadow of a doubt that God really IS lining up details in our lives.

As I drove over the wide open spaces toward my first interview with the director of nursing the other week, I wiped tears from my eyes. My heart was so peaceful. So bursting with peace. I could nearly feel God’s hand on my shoulder helping me the last two moths. I could feel Steve’s support and love encouraging me to keep learning and going and trusting God when studying got difficult.

But at the same time, I wept for what might have been. For what was five years ago. A mommy heart waiting to meet her daughter. Ready with so many dreams and hopes and exciting things to do and teach and experience in life.

One of my biggest struggles in having a child with severe health issues and in having to say Goodbye too soon was coming to grips with my broken dreams. I felt like because my dreams were shattered, that they didn’t mean anything. That God had a bit of iron in His hand to break my heart. The very heart He had created  that had dreamed of having sweet children for as long as I can remember. Why couldn’t I be the one who didn’t especially dream of kids? Who wasn’t crazy over babies and toddlers and sippy cups and blankys?

Why would God give me a dream only to break it?

Was it safe to ever hope for anything again? Maybe I should just expect my husband to die, our house to burn down, and my son get  bit by a rabid raccoon. I may as well have terminal cancer too. Expect nothing and you will be happily surprised.

But God actually doesn’t work that way. I’m His child. He loves me enough to pull me up out of my funk and get me looking at the cup half full. He gives me family and friends and encouraging rainbows and a husband who loves Him too.

I still don’t have answers to my questions. But I do know one thing. It almost hurts to admit it. But it was so real to me that day, that I have to share it.

I was living a dream.

To you who are huddling with broken dream fragments clasped in your bleeding hands….there is HOPE. You don’t have to feel it right now. But turn your heart toward the sunshine and eventually the warmth and healing of our Son will do an amazing work that even you can’t comprehend right now.

Because driving to an interview that day, my stomach tied up in knots, i realized something

I truly was dreaming again. And I didn’t even know it. I was LIVING a dream. I was experiencing a dream come true! And I hadn’t even planned on it. I was being given a chance to work at a hospital., To help hurting people. To touch finger prints of God all over the hard of this earth.

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I was having a dream coming true that had been buried so deep in me that I scarcely knew it existed.

Somehow, the torrential rains of the last years were slowing. There was hope.life.dreams coming from them.

The details were lining up and though they still didn’t look all neat and tidy to me yet (i’m a woman with emotions that jump all over…so will they EVER look lined up exactly straight? i doubt it!) I know that from God’s point of view He is lining them up to create a pattern of beauty.

 It hurt to realize I truly was living a dream…

because I lost a dream…

But maybe that’s the mystery The Dream Giver will reveal someday when He wipes away the tears from our human eyes and we SEE His glory!

And HIS DREAM.

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He Went All Out

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God went all out this year already.

We chased the most gorgeous sunset the other night. It literally filled the air with pink and soft and beauty. I felt like I was dreaming.

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lone, wind-screwed tree turned into a work of art.

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stretching miles of  blending sky

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it even graced the

 plain fortress of dried autumn, stacked high for winter’s cold

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The heavenly Creator unleashed His palette of pink. Carmine,salmon and magenta.

He’s the Lover that creates so much  beauty for us, that we are silent in the majesty. Wrapped in the rosy hues of His peace. Entranced by the  vastness and glory of it all.

I think its His promise that no matter how bleak and cold the remaining days of winter drag, He has an amazing springtime coming.

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And until then, each sunrise speaks of His new mercies. His unfailing love.

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Even in the middle of man made structures and walls and glass panes and  electric lines and our own complicated messes that stand between us and nature…His glory won’t be stopped.

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Life can’t beat us. Circumstances can’t control us. Our God won’t stop at ANYTHING to display His power. Nothing. ABSOLUTELY NOTHING is too difficult for Him. His love always shines through!

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I just love when God shows off!

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Of Three Year Old Paintings.

I’ve been paranoid of my keyboard. Don’t ask me why because I’m not sure myself. But I know I must type to break the power it is taunting over me.:)

We survived a year. We got through the first anniversary of Kierra’s great triumphant ushering into Heaven. I won’t pretend it was easy or pretty. I didn’t always think very kind thoughts toward my Heavenly Father. I cried some pretty big crocodile tears. But I also found peace and hope and love holding me at the end of the night.

It’s not like the night is totally over. It never will be until we live forever with the Son who is the LIGHT and there is NO NIGHT there. The night time of the soul is never my favorite part of life to grope through. But if we had no night here on earth, there would be no morning. No dawning. No fresh hope and courage and the knowledge that if God got you through this far, He has no intention of leaving you to face any darkness alone without His arms to carry you.

There were some AMAZING sunrises and sunsets in January. I will post some of the miraculous colors later. But it’s after 10 PM and I should be in bed. I just had to write a few lines to break this silent spell that is trying to take me captive. The last few days have actually been good. Steve and Kobe and I are all healthy and happy. Despite all the exciting things God has been surprising me with in my life, I still have this restless feeling. I think I’m simply homesick. For Heaven. And Kierra. And my Jesus.

I sat here tonight, curled up on our broken overstuffed chair that Kierra always used to hang out in and looked through her paintings. I was hoping it would make me feel closer to her. I was longing for one little touchable wonderful thing that was totally HER.

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Like these sweet brush strokes.

They made me happy and I remembered how pleased she was to paint them. How she beamed and wiggled when Stephen complimented her on how awesome it was. But part of me was sad too. Because everything she did was through me. I helped her hold her brush. I dipped it in paint. I nudged her hand forward to swipe across the page.

And an awful lonely feeling plagued me. What had she left that that was truly her? What had she done that was JUST Kierra? I sat here, feeling lost and lonely and a bit upset at God. He had seen her first steps. Heard her first sentence. Didn’t I deserve that as a Mommy? Wasn’t she MY little girl? The one I had seen on the ultrasound, and heard her first cry? Gazed into her tiny scrunchy face? And felt my heart melt?

And it felt like there was nothing but memories left for me. Sometimes the grip of pain tries really, really hard to suck the breath clear out of the lungs.

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I founds these words in her art book. And while I scripted them and drew the sun, I know without a shadow of a doubt that those are typical Kierra scribbles below.

I felt God whisper to me that I am more like Kierra then I will ever know. We all are.

“For in Him we LIVE and MOVE and have our being.”… KJV Bible

We couldn’t lift one little bitty finger or breath one whoosh of lung if it weren’t for our God. HE gives us the power and potential that carries us through our days. From when we wake to when we are asleep and all the time that morphs together between those hours. We are in His. In His total control. (And we think we have so much control over our bodies and emotions:). :)

HE gives us the courage and creativity to paint the canvas of our lives. HE gives us the intellect and laughter and compassion to live out our dreams. It’s all a Master piece. And while He never forces us to color in the lines, He does give us grace to allow Him to create beauty from our scribbling.

I think someday HE will make it up to us. (As if we are indebted to Him.) I can NEVER repay Him for the change and grace and forgiveness He has brought to my heart.

But honestly. I still sometimes feel a bit cheated that I never got to see my daughter fully express herself. You know what? Gods got a reason for what He does.

He never causes pain without some purpose. He does not waste tears or shrug off our grief. He has something “out of this world” beautiful in mind for you and me! He has a surprise we can’t begin to imagine. He created us exactly the way He wanted us. With our own unique longings and dreams and talents. Because we were created to glorify Him here on Earth…but ultimately , we were MADE for HEAVEN!!
And thats where we will find our deepest longings filled!!!
My little Kierra is living the dream! I can’t wait to join her!

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