Music in the Silence

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In our backyard stand two metal chairs….in the snow. For some reason they did not get put away for the season and just stayed out there like sturdy sentinels of the backyard fire-pit. (Yes there is a fire-pit buried under the snow.)

I took my backyard photos in the silence of a sunlit winter afternoon. After pondering a bit I decided that silence can be slightly deceptive. It looks so quiet and white back there in the wintertime. What you don’t see is the dormant grass under the snow just waiting for warmth and sunlight to melt the snow so it can spring up into a lush green carpet.

The flowers in the flower patch are waiting patiently for their time to break free of cold frozen soil and once again grow and bloom gloriously this coming summer. The evergreen trees stand quietly, preparing for families of robins, mornings doves and blue-jays that will nest in their branches.

What you don’t hear are the rustlings of the little creatures that burrow in tunnels beneath the snow. You also don’t hear the echos of the summers’ past. Those humid days where bees fly lazily past in search of the next brightly colored flower….the crackle of logs burning in the fire-pit with flames leaping into the sky.

You don’t smell the the smoke from that fire or taste the charred marshmallows toasted over it’s flickering flames. If you close your eyes, to the whiteness of the snow, you can almost conjure up visions of last summer and hear and see it all again.

I think it might be the same for so many things. What we perceive, when just looking at a person, is probably totally different from the reality of that person. We have no idea of the roads they have traveled, the places they have visited or the feelings locked away in the depths of their hearts and minds.

When faced with situations that seem beyond our control it is good to listen…. to be still and know…to listen to the silence and the song it is singing. Underneath the silence runs a melody that is filled with life and hope. It is giving a chance to breathe in and breathe out and know that life, like the dormant grass, is waiting to come back lush, green and vibrant.

For now….those two metal chairs sitting in the snow by a buried fire-pit are a reminder….silence may not be so silent after all if you just listen closely. Things are not always as they appear on the surface.  There are so many layers that are not obvious at first glance and first listening.

If you want to truly know something….listen with more than your ears….look with more than your eyes.  Listen and look with your heart and your memories to find the music that silence is singing.

 

 

I’ve begun to realize that you can listen to silence and learn from it. It has a quality and a dimension all its own.
Chaim Potok

 

We need to pay heed to the many silences in our lives….
each silence has a character of its own.
~Kent Nerburn,
“The Eloquence of Silence,” Small Graces: The Quiet Gifts of Everyday Life, 1998

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Finding the Beauty

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The other morning my sister sent a photo to our “Cruise 2018” group; of her feet in the snow.  Her caption was, “This doesn’t look like sand!”  Her photo was in response to the snowfall that we had just had in our area.

Yesterday it started snowing here and snowed through the night. Schools were started two hours late to give the road crews a chance to clear the blacktops, highways and gravel roads that buses needed to travel.

It was a jolt back into the reality of winter in the Midwest.  Once again, I had to tend to the girls and shovel trails through the snow so they would be able to get here and there outside.  The sun was shining brightly and it was quietly beautiful…..but oh so cold. The world was brilliantly white…so white it almost hurt your eyes to look.

I am finding it hard to wrap my mind around the fact that just one week ago I was basking in temperatures of 80 degrees and sitting on beautiful sandy beaches. It seems a long time ago and yet it also seems as if it was just yesterday. I am not quite sure how that can be…but it just is.

 

I love the fact that this world holds such a variety of beautiful things. Pristine snowfalls, days so cold you can see your breath, shells that come in all shapes, colors and sizes and the sound of waves rushing up on the beach with gulls swirling overhead.

The pure whiteness of a new snowfall is a totally different kind of beauty than last week where waves washed the beach and deposited sea shells at our feet. I did take some beach sand and shells home with me from Mexico and have them drying on a tray in my kitchen.

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It is a wonderful reminder of our week in the sun. It is a great reminder of the time spent with some of the women in my family…….a time spent catching up with each others’ lives.  (The eight of us represented five different states – Iowa, Missouri, Nebraska, Kansas and Texas.)

Those shells and that sand are a reminder that the simple things in life matter so much and mean so much. They are a reminder not to overlook the joy of time spent with those you love…..to open your eyes to what God has put before you…whether it is cold, pure white snow or the warmth of sun-kissed sand.

Take the time this weekend to let your soul soak in the beauty around you and bask in the warmth of friends and family. You may have to look closely to find the beauty…..it might look more like snow than sand….but it is hiding there somewhere!

 

“Earth’s crammed with heaven.”
– Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Aurora Leigh

Everybody needs beauty as well as bread,
places to play in and pray in,
where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul.
John Muir

Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/john_muir_104245

Weathering the Storm

 

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Yesterday was the first time in a long time that my girls have not been let outside. The weatherman had been warning us of a coming blizzard that was set to start during the night on Sunday.

They couldn’t quite nail down how much snow they thought we would get, but they were very sure that what we got; would be blown around by very gusty winds. They were definitely right on the gusty winds.

To be honest…I still have no idea how much snow we actually had. It is kind of hard to tell when it is coming down horizontally and doesn’t seem to land anywhere. The horizon had a foggy look because of the blowing snow.IMG_5058

I took my pictures through the windows because it just wasn’t that pleasant to be standing outside being pelted by snowflakes. These were not the nice soft snowflakes that bring back memories of Christmas snows.  These flakes were kind of vicious and more than a little mean.

The flakes were driven by the wind and left bare, burnished places on the yard. They polished the little patches of ice and slowly mounded in hard packed drifts in grassy areas and against fence lines.

School classes were cancelled, businesses shut the doors early and interstates and highways were closed due to low visibility and accidents. Sometime during the night, last night, the winds quit and we woke to a much quieter scene and knew we had weathered the blizzard.

There wasn’t too much scooping to be done….thankfully. And it wasn’t that cold to be out there doing that job. This morning I grabbed the scoop and headed for the chicken coop. I figured the girls were going to be pretty happy to be let out….and I was right!

I did have to scoop them out so they could make it through the little door. For some reason the snow seemed to land in their chicken run and cover that little door. I was glad for all the bare patches left by the wind. There was no need to scoop trails everywhere for easier walking.

I am grateful that we did not get the 12 inches of snow that some people did. I do have to confess, that there is a wonderful beauty in the snowdrifts that are located around the outbuildings. That gusty wind was like a sculptor (a noisy sculptor)…..carving the drifts into strange, beautiful forms.

I am also grateful that every day is one day closer to Spring! That thought makes the cold and snow easier to take. It makes it easier to see the beauty in the snowdrifts and to enjoy the howling of the wind as it swirls around the corners of our home.

As I shoveled the snow onto the stalks of my perennials this morning I had to smile. I knew that this “white stuff” was going to eventually water those dead looking stalks and come Spring; help bring them back to life.

It is a wonderful thing to be able to experience the seasons of nature. They put me in mind of how closely those season parallel the seasons of life we go through. It is good to know that after the blizzard; the warmth will return, the grass will once again be green and the flowers will bloom.

Under the snowdrifts the blossoms are sleeping,
Dreaming their dreams of sunshine and June,
Down in the hush of their quiet they’re keeping
Trills from the throstle’s wild summer-sung tune.

Harriet Elizabeth Prescott Spofford

 

 

 

Packing up the Tree

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We finally did it….we finally took down the Christmas tree and packed up the ornaments. Yes….I know that Christmas was what…….three weeks ago? The only excuse I have is that this is how we roll over at our place.

It has always been this way in our home. We have never gotten the tree and all it’s ornaments up the day after Thanksgiving. It has always been a week or so later. I am not sure why….it is just the way it is around here.

Due to the fact we get our Christmas decorations up later than most people; I am thinking it is only fair we also take them down later than most people. Our festive decorations probably stay up the same length of time as other peoples’…..we just start later and finish later.

I only recall one year when the tree came down before New Year’s Eve. The reason for that was because we were entertaining and hosting a party at our home that year and the tree just took up way to much room in the living room.

For some reason it seems to take way less time to take those decorations down and pack them away than it does to put them all up. Makes me wonder if I spend too much time with ornament placement on my tree? Or, maybe it could be the fact you really don’t have to check the lights when taking them OFF the tree?

My frontroom does look a lot larger now than it did yesterday when the tree was taking up an entire corner….the downside is…it doesn’t look as festive and warm either! I have heard of people leaving their tree up and decorating it for other holidays, like Valentines or Easter.  I am not quite ready to do that as I really want my couch back in the room.

I kind of think my husband and I have a tough time letting go of the Christmas tree because Christmas is such a great time of family gatherings. For us it is the time our kids come home and we get to spend some time with them and the grandkids.

During the Christmas season we see friends and family that aren’t around other times of the year. We play games, open gifts, eat lots of great food and we get to celebrate that our Savior was born.

Maybe it kind of feels like when we pack up the tree, we pack up all those good things. Instead of looking at it that way, maybe I need to be looking at it from another angle. I think I need to be remembering that it isn’t the tree or the decorations that made the season so special…..it is the people we shared it with and the reason for that sharing.

Perhaps that is why New Years follows so closely….so we realize we get to have another year of joy…another year of sharing…another year of celebrating what makes life worth living. May you be blessed in the sharing, the celebrating and the living!

Some Christmas tree ornaments
do more than glitter and glow,
they represent a gift of love given a long time ago.
Tom Baker

 

 

Morning Anticipation

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Today was a beautiful day! We seem to have finally turned the corner with warmer weather. We made it into the thirties today for temperatures and with the sun shining it felt downright balmy. (When thirties feel balmy…you know it has been cold!)

I went outside this morning, as the sun was coming up, to let the girls out of the coop. I wanted them to enjoy the beautiful weather as long as they could. When I stepped out of the door and actually took a look around me, I realized that I needed to go back in the house for my camera.

By the time I made it to the coop the girls were eager to get out and were all waiting for me to open the door to their run. They were not patient waiters but protested loudly that I was taking too long. I don’t think they understood just how much I was enjoying being outside, watching the sun turn the world into a twinkling shimmery place.

They had no concept of what a pleasure it was to stand there and take it all in….the haze over the river, the sparkle of the frost on the trees, the quiet of the morning waiting in expectation for the day to come.

Mornings like this one give the illusion of all things being possible. There is hushed anticipation as the world warms up and slowly awakens. Even the starlings, perched at the top of the tree in the front yard were expressing appreciation for the new day.

Days that start like this are a gift. They make me slow down and really see what a picture God has painted on the landscape.  The peace it brings is almost a tangible, touchable thing.

I never tire of the view I have been gifted with. No matter where you look there is beauty. It would seem the view is the same but there are so many subtle changes as the sun rises and sets.  The different seasons all hold a magic that turns the same landscape into such a variety of pictures.

Nature is such a reflection of life. We look like the same person but there are so many facets to each of us. Circumstances mold us much as the seasons change the landscape.  Some days we sparkle and twinkle in the sunlight and some days we seem cloaked in shadows. The wonderful thing is that no matter where we are at……it will change!

The quiet of the morning seems to grant permission to stop, be still and just absorb the moment. It gives that space of time to clear our heads, ponder thoughts and open our hearts for the blessing of a new day.

May your week be blessed with anticipation for what each day will bring. May you experience the joy of the possibilities this life holds and may this season of life find you sparkling in the sunlight.

 He has made everything beautiful in its time.
He has also set eternity in the human heart;
yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.
Ecclesiastes 3:11

New Year….New Choices

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Sometimes I wonder about that saying that goes something like this: The older you get….the wiser you get. I am not really sure that is total truth or just wishful thinking.

This past holiday weekend, I think we have been living in the deep freezer in our area of the country. When you have a high of -9º for the day, it certainly feels like a deep freezer….and when it gets to -24º, it is a certainty.

My husband and I always wonder aloud why we stay living here. I think the answer is somewhere between the fact that this is where we raised our family and this is where we are surrounded by familiar people and things.

Even with the terribly cold temperature there is the comforting thought of knowing that this weather cannot last because it never has. There is the wonderful knowing that if we survive this arctic blast…..spring and summer really are just around the corner.

I think that is what is so great about the New Year holiday. You know the weather more than likely will be extremely cold in an ugly way….but there is also the knowledge that it is the New Year and it will change. You also know that this is the start of another year to possibly do things in life better….so the weather is just an inconvenience.

New Years is kind of like a do over. It is a season of hope that if things have been bad last year….they will get better…..it is a season of realizing that you have made it through the past year and it’s challenges so there is really no reason you cannot make it through the coming year.

New Years is a promise of wonderful things to come, time to remember all the great things of the year that has just passed and choices to be made and the fact you will get to make those choices. You can choose joy in the little things over stress about things you cannot change. You get to choose to live instead of just survive. It is really an amazing gift to be able to make those choices.

Our New Years Eve party, this past year, had a theme of the Rainbow and the promises Bible coloring cardthat come with that rainbow. We did have to grin that our rainbow theme was the old-school rainbow idea that speaks of God’s love and His covenant with us…..not the new version the world has turned it into. We were asked to wear bright colors for the event.

Even though it was cold we did go to the party, and thoroughly enjoyed playing board games with colorful pieces, coloring with pencil colors, eating rainbow colored food, and spending time in great conversation with friends. We wondered about how wise we really were, heading off into the night when temperatures dropped to 20+ below! Sometimes you just have to make the choice to leave your cozy fire, brave the cold and enjoy the gift of gathering.

May this New Year bring hope, love and friends to spend time with. May you be blessed by the living of life and the days to do so. I pray your hearts are warm on the coldest of days and during the bleakest of times.   And may you choose joy in those times and life….every day of the coming year. Blessings to you in the New Year.

 

Today I choose life.
Every morning when I wake up I can choose joy, happiness, negativity, pain…
To feel the freedom that comes from
being able to continue to make mistakes and choices
– today I choose to feel life,
not to deny my humanity but embrace it.
Kevyn Aucoin

Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/kevyn_aucoin_358534?src=t_joy

 

Sticking Close

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I have spent the day finding my house back. By that I mean….clearing off the counters, putting away dishes used for Christmas, storing away bedding till the next time the family comes and picking up small Lego pieces from some of the oddest places.

When I got to the crate that held the nativity set I had to grin. This year we chose to let the grand-kids help set up the nativity set…..not because it was in the original plan, but because I had run out of time to get all my Christmas decorations put up this year.

As I read Luke 2, my husband handed out the pieces as they were mentioned. The virgin Mary was placed gently, by small hands, on the crate, followed by the donkey and Joseph. As the story unfolded the pieces found their way to their places. (We did realize that the wise men were not mentioned in that chapter but we gave them a spot anyway.)

For me, reading that chapter was a time I will always cherish. I got to see the events of that miraculous night, through the eyes of a child in all its’ wonder and joy. They did wonder why my set did not have the angels and the heavenly host or camels for the wise men……and I had no answer for that one. (I later headed over to Amazon and E bay to see if I could find some, but obviously my set has been long discontinued.)

The thing I noticed about the placement of those involved in the Christmas story was how very close my grandchildren had placed them together. They were all huddled as close as they could get to the baby Jesus.

Their closeness made me grin but it also made me stop and think. What if we all huddled and stuck that close to Jesus? What if we lived life with the wonder of a child and the simple faith they display? I have a feeling this world would be a much more peaceful place if that were the case.

I love all the little reminders, in my home, that my family has been here…..candy canes have disappeared off the tree.  I love the fact we had a few hours to spend all together….all at the same time. I am humbled by the grace displayed by my children and by their willingness to make this day special when we gather.

May we all “stick close” this coming year. May we all be blessed with grace and all the little reminders of those we love. Blessings to you all!

 

“While we try to teach our children all about life,
our children teach us what life is all about.” 
― Angela Schwindt

 

“You can kiss your family and friends good-bye and put miles between you,
but at the same time you carry them with you in your heart, your mind,
your stomach, because you do not just live in a world but a world lives in you.” 

― Frederick Buechner