Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Seeking Peace

Every year in my Mom and Dad's Christmas card, Mother includes a short story of hope that she has read at some point throughout the year. While going through some of my things last weekend, I came across this story sent to us several years ago. For some reason I didn't have it with all the others. Perhaps right now, I need it to stand out as a reminder to myself in how I should be traveling the path I'm walking right now.

Picture of Peace

There once was a king who offered a prize to the artist who would paint the best picture of peace. Many artists tried. The king looked at all the pictures. But there were only two he really liked, and he had to choose between them.

One picture was of a calm lake. The lake was a perfect mirror for peaceful towering mountains all around it. Overhead was a blue sky with fluffy white clouds. All who saw this picture thought that it was a perfect picture of peace.

The other picture had mountains, too. But these were rugged and bare. Above was an angry sky, from which rain fell and in which lightning played. Down the side of the mountain tumbled a foaming waterfall. This did not look peaceful at all.

But when the king looked closely, he saw behind the waterfall a tiny bush growing in a crack in the rock. In the bush a mother bird had built her nest. There, in the midst of the rush of angry water, was the mother bird on her nest - in perfect peace.

Which picture do you think won the prize? The king chose the second picture.

"Because," the king explained, "Peace does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble, or hard work. Peace means to be in the midst of all those things and still be calm in your heart. That is the real meaning of peace."

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

College Bound

Today I took my baby to college. It's a day I've been pushing to the back of my mind for a year. But life doesn't wait for us to be ready nor to catch up to what is brings. We have to ride the wave, no matter how big and try to keep our balance until we find the shore.

One more time, I share words that I left her in a card as I kissed her good-bye and waved from the door...

My Dear Angel,

Where do I begin? I am so proud of you for so many wonderful reasons! You have been a bright light in my life ever since I first held you in my arms. Your creative hand and considerate heart endear you to everyone who knows you, and your strong sense of right and wrong, fair and not, has served - and will serve - you well. I know that this is a time of mixed feelings and apprehension for you...and that is perfectly normal. Don't worry about knowing, or not knowing, all the answers right now. Life is a constant examination, and we are supposed to be continuously learning and growing along the way. Trust yourself and your instincts. You have wonderful judgment for each situation, and your gut feeling will tell you what to do. Always listen.

Open your mind and heart to new experiences that you know could be healthy in who you can be. If an art class looks fun, take it. If a part in a play calls for dancing, dance. Think of all the new things you've tried during high school and how well you did with them. Believe in yourself and you'll be surprised at how high you can fly! Never compromise who you are, and remember that those who truly love you will never ask you to. You will learn a great deal about what you believe in and what is important, and each lesson is valuable in who you are becoming.

Remember - Home is always here. We love you, unconditionally and completely and always will. I am just a phone call or letter away if you ever need anything. Though I will give you space to learn and grow on your own, if you ever need me, I'll be there in a heartbeat.

I will miss you terribly, but I'm excited for YOU and for the wonderful and fun things that I know lay ahead!
Have faith in God, have faith in yourself and know how very much you are loved.

Blessings to you my beautiful girl.
Love Always, Mom

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Healing the Sparrow

On my way into town this evening, I noticed an animal ahead crossing the road. By its movements it appeared to be a opossum, but as I drew closer I could tell that it was a small raccoon. It was either ill or wounded, its bony and fragile frame half limping, half dragging the width of the gravel road. My heart broke to see it struggling as it fell to the ground, quickly rising and making its way into the ditch.

I stopped along the roadside to see if I could make out its shape in the tall grass, but it had disappeared. Watching our dog tangle with a raccoon during a recent walk I knew better than to go in after it. But the vision of it suffering haunted me as I continued on my way.

How often do we as humans feel wounded and deserted, walking a lonely road by ourselves? Most people experience this at some point in their lives and it can be overwhelming. When we are struggling down that old dirt road feeling hurt and unloved, its easy to hide among the thrushes, licking our wounds and waiting for it all to pass.

But we are not alone. God is watching and waiting. He asks that we step out into the sunlight and let His healing hand touch our hearts and bring us peace. Sometimes it's difficult to ask for help, but by opening ourselves up and accepting His grace, we are given new life and new hope.

His eye is on the sparrow. And He watches over me.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

To the Party

My daughter and one of her friends share birthdays just four days apart. With their paths forking into different directions in the next two weeks, they decided to have one last bash to celebrate.

The group they hang out with are unique teenager in today's world. Instead of heading to a club, bar or places that others deem as 'cool', they chose to hang out here at home. Their friends gathered for movies, food and silly pictures. When the sun went down on a very hot day in Kansas, they formed teams and headed outside to play flashlight tag with the fireflies. And as evening turned into night, one young man brought out his guitar and sang as everyone gathered round.

There were golden friendships from years gone by, kids that my son and daughter have known and loved since they were small. And there were more recent friendships made in the years we've been here; all of them coming together at one time in one place to celebrate the exuberance of youth.

In the weeks ahead, everything changes. Seven of these beautiful, lively people will leave for college, branching off into new directions and forging new paths as they look to find who they are and where they fit in this wondrous world. Though having a house filled with eleven teenagers (two more came during the evening) requires patience, energy and a deaf ear at times, I wouldn't trade it for anything.
I know that all too soon the sound of silence will ring loudly within these walls.

Today I too, celebrate. And I savor these moments as they slip quickly by, capturing these days and for a time, stopping the clock.