Christmas: A Season of Hope

Christmas: A Season of Hope

When I originally started my blog, it was a way to practice my descriptive writing. I never expected anyone to read it nor that it would develop into what it has. But as each inspired piece of writing has come out of me, I realized that most of what I wrote was about Hope.  As I have come through this 8 year journey since I began my blog, I have found many ways to endure difficult times and crises in small, everyday ways.

Every year for the past 9 years, I have had the same Christmas wish.  I won’t reveal what that is, because it’s too personal to me, but I will say that it has not yet happened. Yet every Christmas finds me gazing on that one star and making that one whispered wish.  Why?  Because Christmas is the season of Hope.  Hope that those promises made to us long ago will come to pass.  Hope that when we wake on that sacred day, that we will find some hint of our most treasured and beautiful desires coming true.

There are times I feel that it will never happen.  I lose faith…I lose hope.  Yes, it’s ironic that the woman who writes about hope sometimes feels it slipping away from her.  But we are all human, we all have our good and bad days.  And had I never experienced disappointment, how could I know the joy that comes from a hope fulfilled?

I can say that every time I come to the end of my rope, something happens to give me the strength to keep going.  It might be as small as a hug to something as large as an unexpected financial gift, but whatever it is, I see it as Heavenly Father’s way of saying “I’m aware of you, little one.  I know you’re struggling, but I am here.  I will not fail you. Be still and know that I am God.”

So here I am…still and quiet, listening, waiting and yes…hoping.

Merry Christmas my beautiful friends! May you all find your dearest hopes come to pass this New Year…

 

A Humbling Lesson in Gratitude

A Humbling Lesson in Gratitude

So yesterday, I was having a bit of a Grinch moment.  I was frustrated about several things and then while trying to go somewhere last night, my car got stuck in a snowbank in my driveway.  Frustrated and upset and tired of not having a significant other to help out, I slammed the door and went inside and decided to deal with it the next morning.  About 8:30 pm, I received a text from my landlady upstairs stating that someone was shoveling out my car.  I went up and it was my wonderful neighbor.  He had shoveled my entire driveway and then he helped me to get my car out of the snowbank.

Feeling very grateful to him and a bit embarrassed about my earlier complaints, I went back inside.  As I laid down, I pondered about many things in my life until I finally fell asleep.  It was then I had a humbling dream. I dreamt that I was getting ready to move to another city with my sister and my Dad and some other members of the family.  We were all going to leave at a specific time.  I had to run an errand to another section of town and promised I would be back before they all left.

This is where the dream took an interesting turn.  I had to drive to a part of town that wasn’t that safe when my car ran out of gas.  Knowing I was going to be late, I tried to make a call on my cell phone, but found all the data had been used up and there was no Wi-Fi.  I tried to borrow someone else’s phone, but it didn’t work.  Not long after, someone stole my purse.  With no money and my cell phone not working, I couldn’t call for help.

I wandered a few blocks into a neighborhood where hundreds of people lined the streets.  They were of every color, race, nationality and country.  Some had obviously been rich at one point as their clothing shown, but they had fled with just the clothes on their back.  I soon realized most of them were homeless locals and refugees.  I sat with one of the men asking if he had a phone and his phone didn’t work either.  I asked him why they were all waiting around and they said they were all waiting for places to sleep.  I looked around at the beds that had 2, 3 or sometimes 4 people to them and began to feel deeply humbled.  It was at this time that I found both my cell phone and even my shoes had disappeared.

Essentially, I was like these people.  I had no money, no shoes to walk anywhere, no car, no phone to call for help.  I was just like them and I realized how easy it was to have your life turn around so quickly.  As I partook of the breakfast food being served by volunteers, my sister came.  She had somehow found me and I knew I was going to be ok.  But as I left the building with the hundreds of refugees, I began to sing a hymn.  I don’t remember what it was, but it was a hymn of gratitude.  My sister joined me and soon, everyone there was singing this song.  For a moment, though these people were homeless, we were all grateful for what we did have.

I woke up from this dream and realized immediately the lesson that my Heavenly Father was trying to teach me.  We are all refugees in a way.  We owe our last breath to Heavenly Father for He has given us everything and can take everything away.  He does so to teach us powerful and important lessons in humility and gratitude and to rekindle that flame to serve.  How could we be grateful for an old car if we did not have to walk and take the bus?  How could we be grateful for warm shoes to cover our feet if we at one time didn’t have them?  How could we be grateful for our peaceful sanctuaries of home if we didn’t know the fear of losing that at one point? Once upon a time, even the King of all Kings was homeless as he was born and laid in a manger.

Mary and JesusYes, I am grateful.  I am thankful for the warm blankets on my bed and a warm home to sleep in, for the kindness of neighbors, for the love of family, for an old car that works and gets me to places I need to go, for a job that helps me pay my bills, for the food I have, for understanding friends, and most of all, for Jesus Christ whose birth we celebrate at this wonderful time of the year.

As the song below says, there’s so much to be thankful for…

The Season of Light and Gratitude

The Season of Light and Gratitude

(There will be more installments of my adventures to come, but for now, my heart simply couldn’t hold the joy of the season inside any longer!)

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When I think of Thanksgiving, I also think of Christmas, because the two holidays are so completely intertwined.  Not in the materialistic or commercial way some people think, but because of the dear meanings they hold to me.

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Dealing with a bit of jet lag and waking up at 2 am, I couldn’t get my mind to shut off.  Having recently returned from England, I was already full of happiness after seeing my family again after a month. Though I laid there trying to sleep, I found myself humming a Christmas song and feeling like a child full of excitement. 

Nope, there would be no sleeping for me.  I threw back the covers, pulled out the Christmas decorations, put on the music (quietly so as not to disturb my upstairs landlady) and began to put them up feeling a bit giddy.

Season of Light

With each unwrapping, I couldn’t stop smiling.  Every ornament and decoration held beautiful memories of family and friendships and love.  I hadn’t opened this particular box for several years and I had forgotten.  I put on one of my favorite Christmas CD’s and the familiar music brought tears to my eyes.  I felt joy bubble up inside of me and could only describe it as pure gratitude and love.

The Savior and the child

Gratitude for nature in all of its glories.  Gratitude for my own small home and the peace I feel every time I open the door and step inside.  Gratitude for each and every miracle of love I have received over my lifetime from my family and friends near and far.  And most of all, gratitude for my Savior, Jesus Christ, whom I celebrate with joy and wonder this season.

How could Thanksgiving not be interwoven with Christmas?  A grateful heart finds joy in giving and a giving heart finds joy in selflessly serving with love.  For the recipient, the act of love warms their lives with gratitude.  The circle is complete.  So for those who wish to put up their Christmas decorations alongside their Thanksgiving decorations, you are really just celebrating the joy that comes from the Season of Light, Love, Gratitude and Giving.  What could be more wonderful than that?

Night and Thanksgiving

In the Meantime…

In the Meantime…

Patience Melissa…patience.  The words are whispered into my heart yet again.  The reminder comes as my weary heart waits.  Waiting for the promises that have yet to bear fruit.  But in the meantime, I find purpose in lifting aching hearts and heavy hands.  Words of comfort that have lifted my own burdens find their way to my memory in time to help another.  As I battle with the everyday, struggling to achieve my long-held dreams, inspirations come and I find myself walking a very different path.

Our individual missions are unique, but each one is so important.  We are each struggling to find our destiny, but in the meantime…fulfilling it in every way.  Sometimes our journeys make little sense, but they make perfect sense to One who sees the puzzle piece we are in the bigger picture.

I did not write these lyrics nor this song below, but every word speaks to me in a way few songs do.  It is aimed at women, but it can include all of us.  We all have dreams to be so much more than we are,  but in the meantime, we are becoming exactly who we are meant to be.

Sending my love to you all.

In the Meantime – Jenny Jordan Frogley

In her heart she holds the dreams…
That she’s carried since the day she turned 13.
Of all that she would be when she was grown,
Of all that she would do when she was finally on her own.
She dreamed she’d fly…
She’s still waiting for the chance to try,
But in the meantime she’s a mother, and a daughter, and a wife…
Doing all she can to stay above the daily grind
And she wonders when she’ll ever have more meaning in her life.
She doesn’t know she’s being molded and refined…
In the meantime.
Someday she’ll go back to school
When the carpools and the soccer games are through.
Because deep inside, she’s still the girl
Who always felt the fire to make a difference in the world.
She dreams she’ll soar…
When she finally has the time to do more.
But in the meantime…
She’s a sister and a teacher and a friend.
Hours turn into days that turn to years that never end.
And she wonders when she’ll ever really find herself again…
She’s becoming one on whom God can depend… 
In the meantime.
Heaven feels the joy of every victory in her life.
And heaven hears her heart before she cries…
But somewhere in the middle of the triumphs and the trials,
she’s becoming sanctified.
But in the meantime,
She’s an answer and a blessing and a gift
To every empty, aching heart that only she can lift.

Still she wonders if she’ll ever get to see where heaven is.
If she could only see her mansion waiting there.
If she could only feel how much her Father cares…
She would know she’s being perfectly prepared…
In the meantime…

The Light Will Come

The Light Will Come

“The message of this moment is so clear
And as certain as the rising of the sun
If your world is filled with darkness, doubt, and fear
Just hold on, hold on, the light will come…” (Song by Michael McLean)

This song (which will be posted below) was written over 20 years ago.  The first time I heard it, it lifted me up in a very difficult time.  In the past few months, I have been wading through some very painful, personal struggles.  I have been spending a great deal of time in reflection and struggling with inspirations I had that didn’t seem to make any sense.  My head was fighting with my heart and I didn’t even realize it.  I had made some decisions that seemed practical  and logical, but why then did I grow sadder and more upset and angrier with each passing day?  My cynicism and bitterness began to grow and I began not to care much about anything around me.

This just came to a head a few days ago when I felt in complete despair.  I knew in my mind that the feelings I had of hopelessness and heaviness were obviously from a dark force, but they wouldn’t go away.  Finally, during a quiet moment, I remembered a strong answer to prayer that I had received and I paused and began to think about it, remembering other promises that had been made to me by Heavenly Father.  I then laid my head on the table where I was sitting and prayed.

And then it came…light, peace and sweet joy.  I had impressions so strong that there was no doubt in my mind where they came from.  Every dark and negative feeling was literally washed away…just gone and I couldn’t even remember them.  I was given direct answers to questions that had been plaguing me and direction that I had not thought of taking, but the moment I heard it, I knew it was right.  I felt (and still feel) both excited and peaceful, as if some great burden has been lifted off my shoulders.  How and when these things will come about, I do not know, but I know this…they will come.

The light will always come.  Always.  Often you have to fight through the darkness to get those answers, but oh…when that sweet relief comes, all I want to do is get down on my knees and thank God for it.

As the song says…
“If you feel trapped inside a never-ending night
If you’ve forgotten how it feels to feel the light
If you’re half-crazy, thinking you’re the only one
Who’s afraid the light will never really come
Just hold on, hold on, the light will come…”

Hold on, my friends…that sweet joy and peace will once again become yours if you seek it. It may not come instantly, but it WILL come. That’s a promise.

In His Eyes…

In His Eyes…

I ran across this in an article I was reading the other day and it resonated so deeply with me that I cried while reading it.  I wanted to share it with all those who wonder if we are “enough.”  Yes…we are all “enough” and so much more in His eyes.  I hold this knowledge close to my heart when the world tears me down.  I hope it helps lift you, too.

Out of all the phenomenal and unbelievable creations God made, He took the time to make me. A small, seemingly insignificant, ordinary human who didn’t realize how extraordinary she actually was. A human uniquely set apart from all others. A human who was given her own, specific plan. A human with boundless potential and a divine destiny.

Me.

It was this moment when I finally and full-heartedly believed that “the worth of souls is great in the sight of God”. I realized that He truly thinks the world of me, and I have just the right amount of “enoughness” in His eyes.’

~Chakell Wardleigh~

 

“In England’s Green and Pleasant Land”

“In England’s Green and Pleasant Land”

Corfe Bridge

“And did those feet in ancient time,
Walk upon Englands mountains green:
And was the holy Lamb of God,
On Englands pleasant pastures seen!

I will not cease from Mental Fight,
Nor shall my Sword sleep in my hand:
Till we have built Jerusalem,
In Englands green & pleasant Land.”
~By William Blake~

As most of you know, I have been back and forth to England many times over the past 9 years. People have often asked me what it is I love about the place and why I always wanted to go back.  There are many reasons, but I believe the main one has to do with this beautiful feeling of being “home.”

The Priory

As a child, I grew up in the Spokane, Washington area among rolling green hills, mountains and lakes. I spent many happy memories wandering through farm fields, playing by streams, and going to the park.  I was happiest laying on the grass under green and leafy trees on a warm summer’s day.  The scent of sun-warmed blossoms drifted on the breeze and in my imagination, I adventured through many distant lands.

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When I first stood on a hill overlooking “the green and pleasant” countryside of England, I felt as though I had found those “distant lands” that I once imagined as a child.  My soul felt at home in a way I hadn’t felt for a long time.

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But why?  I had never been here before.  Why would I feel at “home” in a place that I had never lived in?  Over time, I concluded that it was because I must have wandered its lands as a spirit before I was born.  Had I rambled the pastoral hills with my ancestors? Had I lived in those ruins that so spoke to my soul?  Had my spiritual feet traversed the beaches, fields and moors?

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Was that why the flowers in their ethereal blues and sunny yellows were so familiar to me?

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When I stood upon the ruins of a castle wall, is that why I felt as if I had somehow been there before?

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Is that why I felt such passion when I tenderly caressed the ancient stones?

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When I walked along coasts of jagged rocks and watched the ocean crash on the shore below, is that why I felt a longing for something I could not put a name to?

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Was it the mystery of history that spoke to my romantic soul? Was it me or my ancestors that whispered “Welcome home…”

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Though that chapter of my life is now closed, I will continue to carry with me the memories of extraordinary adventures, dreams fulfilled and lifelong friendships made.  I will always treasure my journey in “England’s green and pleasant land…” and maybe one day, I will once again traverse the well-known paths with those who have gone long before.

(All pictures by me in England, Wales and Cornwall 2015, 2018 & 2019.)