Dreams of a simple girl

My childhood days were spent immersed in an imaginary world, much like I suppose most of yours were spent as a child. I could never think enough on Little House on the Prairie. Nothing was better than exploring the creek, donning a handmade dress and bonnet, being “Laura,” and cooking with rice and flour (and water) in a play iron kettle, all with a best friend who loved it as much as I did.

My parents, God bless them, and my sweet grandmother encouraged the imagination (and trips to old-fashioned stores and towns) which grew…and grew…and grew…within my soul. And I mean soul. My love for the frontier has never died and has never grown old.

 

I expect

IT NEVER WILL.

 

These ever-burgeoning memories in my heart propel me to write. Now that we’ve had Dances with Wolves, Open Range, and Last of the Mohicans, my ideas for stories have ignited. The hope to write a book blossomed. The idea became concrete a couple years ago, although in unpublished, unqueried form. The craft is more refined every day.

But has a very, very long way to go.

The PASSION for the frontier pleases my soul. It didn’t stop at aged seven or eight, or even twelve. It delights my writer’s heart now. I see how, even eighteen years ago, when history met nature met a young teen girl on hikes with her father…met a simple, green journal.  Armed with this sketchbook, I traveled Beaver Creek State Park with my father and captured the nuances of NATURE and the beauty of God’s creation. Why?

It is what I love.

 

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These treasures, after all these years…

Pressed, molded into my mind for another day. Captured. Threads creating a tapestry of ideas.

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Portraits and places to go, even if only visited in a book.

 

 

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Eighteen years ago, these things were the way I saw God’s handiwork, in the world around me and in my own life. They were my hopes and dreams, a defining of Amy.

 

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A standard of thought. A stretch of the imagination. A bonding with my like-minded father.

 

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An exploration of light and shadow, pencil and color, prose and prayer…

I miss doing this, but perhaps I’ve accomplished these things in another way as I teach my children, pray with not a soul in sight, or walk my children to church.

 

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What are the untold stories of these lands?

Eighteen years later, I still don’t know them all but I am still inspired to pen a few ideas of my own.

These pages, recorded in my teen years, were a simple girl’s dreams but they’ve become a dreaming mother’s treasures.

Tell me, do you still hold on to dreams of a time gone by? Are you fulfilling them? Have you been given new hopes? I’d love to hear about them!

 

 

 

 

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And on this day

 

Today, my daughter turns eleven years old. Eleven.

Here, she is totally and completely toddler and totally and completely enraptured with “baas” (baths), Daddy, and piggy-back rides.

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Today, my daughter is on her way, gaining on the mark of the preteen. Eleven.

Here, she is laughter and learning and leaping, a constant whir of motion and joy.

 

 

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Today, she told me “I feel more grown up.” Grandma bought her makeup.

Here, she is free-spirited and finding more about herself everyday, and ever so beautiful.

 

 

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Today, she thinks upon her life and celebrates, friends and family around her. We surround her with our love. YOU surround her with love and your ever-faithful presence.

Here, You take delight in her, a masterpiece crafted by Your hands. She contemplates quietly. This is her way.

 

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Today…we thank you, Lord, for this gift of celebration for a most remarkable young lady.

Here…we pray for the life she is to lead and your leading her all the way.

Happy birthday, sweet Ella girl. May this Easter be one of such celebration for you!

 

 

 

 

Happy Easter…and thoughts on a Psalm

There is something to be said about rereading scripture.

That time will come when the Word emanates fresh and sparkling new and you are struck speechless by its profound and oh-so-precious thoughts once again. Struck speechless and, perhaps, a bit in awe that the words you’ve read over- and over- have been uncurled from their seemingly original form and restyled. I think of how so many things of my life are mundane and ordinary. God’s word is not like that, and thankfully so. Yesterday, I was reminded of Psalm 22, thanks to this blog post. I had such a moment of scriptural clarity that I had to look at the book I was reading to ensure that, yes, it was the Holy Bible. What book other than HIS book could ever sweep you off your feet, kindle change in your life in such an original fashion, yet stand the depths and hardships of time? WHAT OTHER BOOK?

And what other author than the AUTHOR of life himself?

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Yet…HE IS.

Hallelujah, friend.

I want to share what I reflected upon as I read the Psalms, having one of those beautiful “aha!” moments of insight. I am no theologian. I am merely a woman opening her heart up to God’s voice and desiring to be obedient. These past few weeks, as challenging as they’ve been, lovingly refined my heart. They continue still through this Psalm as parallels were brought to my mind between David’s words and Christ’s death on the cross. The bolded phrases I’ve written below- there are certainly more parallels within these verses, but these impacted my heart and soul. Oh, these were heart-aching moments for me, feeling God’s words in such a new and real way.  I pray that perhaps He speaks to you this Easter in a way you’ve never experienced before. I believe that God loves to surprise us and bless us, and what better way to do that than through His very word?!

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
    Why are you so far from helping me, from the words of my groaning?
O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer;
    and by night, but find no rest.

Yet you are holy,
    enthroned on the praises of Israel.
In you our ancestors trusted;
    they trusted, and you delivered them.
To you they cried, and were saved;
    in you they trusted, and were not put to shame.

But I am a worm, and not human;
    scorned by others, and despised by the people.
All who see me mock at me;
    they make mouths at me, they shake their heads;
“Commit your cause to the Lord; let him deliver—
    let him rescue the one in whom he delights!”

Yet it was you who took me from the womb;
    you kept me safe on my mother’s breast.

“TRULY I TELL YOU, TODAY YOU WILL BE WITH ME IN PARADISE.”

On you I was cast from my birth,
    and since my mother bore me you have been my God.
Do not be far from me,
    for trouble is near
    and there is no one to help.

Many bulls encircle me,
    strong bulls of Bashan surround me;
they open wide their mouths at me,
    like a ravening and roaring lion.

 I am poured out like water,
    and all my bones are out of joint;
my heart is like wax;
    it is melted within my breast;
my mouth is dried up like a potsherd,
    and my tongue sticks to my jaws;
    you lay me in the dust of death.

 For dogs are all around me;
    a company of evildoers encircles me.
My hands and feet have shriveled;
I can count all my bones.
They stare and gloat over me;
they divide my clothes among themselves,
    and for my clothing they cast lots.

 But you, O Lord, do not be far away!
    O my help, come quickly to my aid!
Deliver my soul from the sword,
    my life from the power of the dog!
Save me from the mouth of the lion!

From the horns of the wild oxen you have rescued me.

“AND THEY CLOTHED HIM IN A PURPLE CLOAK;

AND AFTER TWISTING SOME THORNS INTO A CROWN,

THEY PUT IT ON HIM.”

 I will tell of your name to my brothers and sisters;
    in the midst of the congregation I will praise you:
You who fear the Lord, praise him!
    All you offspring of Jacob, glorify him;
    stand in awe of him, all you offspring of Israel!
For he did not despise or abhor
    the affliction of the afflicted;

he did not hide his face from me,
    but heard when I cried to him.

“THEN HE SAID TO THOMAS,

“PUT YOUR FINGER HERE AND SEE MY HANDS.

REACH OUT YOUR HAND AND PUT IT IN MY SIDE.”

 From you comes my praise in the great congregation;
    my vows I will pay before those who fear him.
The poor shall eat and be satisfied;
    those who seek him shall praise the Lord.
    May your hearts live forever!

 All the ends of the earth shall remember
    and turn to the Lord;
and all the families of the nations
    shall worship before him.

“AND THE CURTAIN OF THE TEMPLE WAS TORN IN TWO, FROM TOP TO BOTTOM.”

 For dominion belongs to the Lord,
    and he rules over the nations.

To him, indeed, shall all who sleep in the earth bow down;
    before him shall bow all who go down to the dust,
    and I shall live for him.

“BUT GOD DEMONSTRATES HIS OWN LOVE FOR US IN THIS;

WHILE WE WERE STILL SINNERS,

CHRIST DIED FOR US.”

Posterity will serve him;
    future generations will be told about the Lord,
and proclaim his deliverance to a people yet unborn,
    saying that he has done it.

“TRULY THIS MAN WAS GOD’S SON!”

Hallelujah, Amen.

May you have a Blessed Easter.

What I gave up for Lent…

 

Absolutely, positively…

 

NOTHING.

 

There. I said it.  I tearfully admitted this to a precious new friend, Ashlie, at the retreat I attended two weekends ago. It felt like a grand (and awful) confession.

 

BUT IT WASN’T.

 

It doesn’t need to be, even though it nags and haunts me certain moments throughout this forty day period prior to Easter.

I want to have these “holy” things to commemorate my relationship with the Lord. How could I pass up this opportunity? WHY did I abandon such a simple (or not so simple) spiritual challenge? Why do I even HAVE to feel guilty?

Is this GUILT for sacrificing NOTHING when HE SACRIFICED ALL pleasing to him? Is it truly what He wants for me? Do you suffer from the same? Do you? OR do you have this all figured out, maybe for at least this year? Tell me, please! I’m a curious sort.
And then I am reminded:

 

“It is well to have specifically holy places, and things, and days, for, without these focal points or reminders, the belief that is holy and “big with God” will soon dwindle into a mere sentiment.”

(C.S. Lewis)

 

Celebrations and places and things are wonderful and pleasing and helpful. But when they come to be THIS for me, or for you, what should we do about it?

 

For the past two weeks, I’ve prayed. PRAYED my heart out to the Lord.

 

For, yes, NOTHING. That is what I gave up…and do you know why? As I poured out my thoughts to this new, sweet, and gracious friend, she was the one to explain it to me.

 

I feel absolutely,

positively

EMPTY.

And it was time (if it was His time…I hope it is the time) for the Lord to fill me up. She said it more eloquently than I am writing it here, mind you. And ever since then, I’ve thought about her words of wisdom and sweet offerings of encouragement.

She was right. I feel empty.

I have nothing left. I didn’t feel like I could give up a single thing.

This past year brought valley upon valley and mountain upon mountain. In my state of severe fatigue, I lost touch with friends and with the concept of “social life.” Reading became a chore rather than remaining a beloved, necessary hobby. After getting one or two pages into a book, I’d have to set it relunctantly aside. It was a different language and my brain couldn’t handle this new language. This process exacerbated whatever difficulty I already had homeschooling my children from a neck injury, but I pushed through, growing emptier with each day. What else could I do? I struggled with writing, being unable to write what I wanted to write for just as long or longer. I grieved the loss of my beloved cat of fifteen years. Two months later in December, on the day before my birthday, my BELOVED grandmother passed through Heaven’s gates. Physical pain hindered me from caring for my home and family, school and social activities the way I expected and desired. I stopped playing the piano or keyboard at church. Limitations shoved me into my living room chair for weeks…months. Expectations shoved me into acceptance, but I clung to my trust in the Lord despite what seemed to be draining from my life.

 

Empty. Barren. NOTHING.

LORD, I have NOTHING left. Don’t you hear me? But, Lent?

 

And through the waiting and the silence I think about that emptiness I feel. It is real but is that REALLY who I am?

A woman with nothing?

 

Who, being in very nature God,
    did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
 rather, he made himself nothing
    by taking the very nature of a servant,
    being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
    he humbled himself
    by becoming obedient to death—
        even death on a cross!

 

As I ponder how I am coming to the Lord to celebrate His resurrection, I know I am empty…empty still.

 

BUT HE CAN FILL ME.  HE IS ALL I NEED.

 

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I want to expect great things this Easter, for what He has done for me makes this NOTHING of mine disappear. He’s covered it. His death, blood, and then life is greater than this feeling I have.

 

So what do I give? In my frail, human mind, I have nothing to spare. But truly, He’s given ME all I need. A home, my family, nourishment, warmth, joy. But I can’t discount what I’ve been through. These days of “taking away” have been real and raw but His LOVE covers the mess that is there, the barrenness and desolation of my heart.

 

I cry, “Empty!”

He answers.

 

WHAT DO I GIVE?

 

I give him MY ALL. I give him this feeling of immeasurable unworthiness. I give absolutely everything EVEN IF IT IS NOTHING (even if it is nothing) because that is my deepest desire.

Thank you, Jesus.

Fill my cup.

 

You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand. ~Psalm 16:11

 

 

 

 

Don’t Discard the Day

 

Don’t discard the day which begins with LIGHT  falling

upon your face,

guiding your way,

urging you to love life with JOY abounding,

an OFFERING of play and laughter

for young and OLD like.

 

It has a place, dear one.

 

Remember.

 

 

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Don’t discard the day which brings quietly and softly

a RETROSPECTIVE,

a pause in the moment,

a delight in your surroundings.

 

 

“Be still and know that I am God.”

 

We will learn in quietness and stillness of heart.

 

 

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Don’t discard the day that finds you alone,

 

or LOST,

or wanting,

or hurting,

or amidst a sea of lost hopes.

 

Savor the steps you take. Trust. Hold on.

“Consider it all joy.”

 

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Don’t discard the day which awakens you to TEARS

rather than a morning sun or perfect glory.

 

What beautiful blessings there are despite the storm.

What beautiful blessings there are WITHIN the storm.

 

Don’t discard the day…

 

 

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…that gives fresh, blessed opportunity for brotherly love along the way.

 

“The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Where shadow meets light

 

In honor of this being my first post on this particular blog, I will take a moment to explain my blogging journey. I wrote my first blog post way back in 2006. Yes, 2006! I can’t believe it’s been eight years! I couldn’t pass up the newest craze and venue to share stories and photographs of my children with close family and friends. A writer at heart, I took the opportunity to share deeper things. Through time, blogging morphed into a way to socialize with like-minded scrapbookers, friends I still engage with to this day. What a blessing those friendships have been to me. After I began homeschooling, however, blogging became more of a chore but I made my best attempt. Soon,  I had to share a random photograph or review books as the only way to maintain my blog! The very last post on my blog is a book review and not a very good one at that. My favorite author, Laura Frantz, deserved more than what I was able to write at the time.  I’ve experienced guilt for the posts I’ve written poorly and the posts I’ve not written at all!!!

This past year, I’ve struggled with various health issues, including insomnia. Who knew that hair loss, dizziness, and lack of clarity were side effects? These things were (and still are) issues for me. Blogging is a challenge. How can I write meaningful things if I can’t connect the dots in my own mind? Truly, I am more comfortable in my own little world of fiction writing. Blogging hasn’t always been a challenge for me and I pray that someday that ease returns.

Now, I won’t be sharing my old blogs publicly but if you would like a taste of my past, I will share if asked. The only way I am inclined to try my hand at blogging again is if I begin anew…so here we are. So here YOU are, with a writer of fiction, not inspirational pieces. Some days, my brain doesn’t cooperate with me and I succumb to a fibromyalgia fog. Bear with me, friends. I am apt to share a photograph of my children and brief devotionals and longer posts concerning what God has taught me within the valleys and shadows of life.

Yes, here we are…from His shadowlands, where shadow meets light.  Let me explain…

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I’ll tell you a little secret. My other two blogs and their titles were a little more optimistic in their essence…this one is rooted in the dark places, where God has shown me more than in those brilliant times of my life. I feel strongly that this is to be my blog name and I will take comfort in God’s leading. I stand confident! I love what I came across today in my Bible, a note by C.S. Lewis:

“The shadows have indicated…something more about the light.”

What have we learned about the Lord by being in the shadows? Endurance? Long-suffering? Patience? Hope? I can honestly say I don’t think I’ve learned any of those things lounging in the sand beside beautiful, calm waters and under a brilliant sun. After my daughter was born a mere eleven years ago, I began traveling the road of post-partum depression and up until about a year ago, took medication. This was supposed to be the happiest time of my life, right? Having a child, then another, and another. Except, I can’t even remember the first six months of Ella’s life. I don’t recall those minute details a new mom is supposed to remember. I passed on library trips and various “mom and me” classes because I couldn’t get with it.  I could say more but I think I will share the rest for another time. My point is this…I feel the Lord’s presence most when I can’t see Him beside me.

It is the still, small voice. The hand at the small of my back guiding me. The loving arms carrying me through the valley and up the mountain. He never abandons, never deceives, never lacks.

When light is hidden but secrets shine in their own peculiar way…where we leave despair and depression…where we strain our fingers reaching towards fragments of light, desperate with each breath…those are shadows.

But how do we see God when we seem so firmly planted in the dark? The shadows cannot rid themselves of the Lord. He made them just as He created the light. He walks beside me, holds my hand, and whispers peace. As I continue my blogging journey, I pray my feeble words will do what the Lord desires them to do. I give my words and this blog over to Him, every step of the way.