I once tried to write a story about a princess that fell in love with a village man, but he got drafted to go to war and she ran away from the castle to find him and proclaim her love to this man who was a near stranger. I never finished it, but I had a battle scene and I had no idea how to write that. I asked a couple of my brothers for help and they gave me a couple paragraphs but even then, it made no sense. Slashing bad guys, swinging swords, bows and arrows, riding and horses and blood and dying people. What can be more boring to write about.
But the point of all that, is that while I didn’t know the right way about how to write about battles and fighting, I can relate in real life. I don’t always fight and battle life the right way. Recently for a couple weeks I was finding myself constantly trying to tell God how I wanted things to go in life. Whether it was related to my job, friends, future desires or my car, I wanted it my way. I constantly kept trying to take the wheel and drive the car. I kept trying to put myself on the throne. I kept picking up my sword, striding towards the war, tipping my chin up and saying, “Stand back, I got this, I know how to take down the enemy.”
And instead of winning the battle I tripped over my feet and got wounded in the process. So after picking myself up from that rough ground and limping away with my shattered pride, it dawned on me that I was being ridiculous trying to fight these issues that were arising. These battles were not mine to fight.
Let me take that back slightly. I’m not to be out on the front lines leading this battle. It hit me hard that while complaining to God, telling him how life had to go, advising him on how to handle the things that were going wrong, I was losing a part of my loving self. I was being judgemental. I was being stressed out. I was getting angry. I wasn’t actually allowing him to work and move because I was in the way.
The past few weeks, our Pastor has talked about seeking the Lord, serving him and following him daily. It’s been hitting me big time and I’ve been trying to make daily life changes to be sure that I’m spending more time with God. In doing that, I’ve had to continue opening the door to letting God take over the battle. Honestly it’s a battle in itself as I still want to advise him in how to handle situations. But I was talking to my mom about it and she reminded me that before Jesus went to the cross, he was praying and basically told God, “Take this cup from me. But not my will, yours be done.” And I’ve been trying to remind myself that I can do the same. After I’ve told God that I don’t like something, I ask him that his will is done. His good and pleasing and perfect will. Because ultimately he knows best.
And that’s where I’m at. Trying to make sure I’m lying my sword down, bending my knee battling with prayer. I’m not perfect and I mess up a lot. But there’s a freedom in praying and releasing the hard stuff to God. It’s been making my faith grow because I have to trust him to work out it, even though it may not look my way or go the direction I think it will. I get to tell God how I feel. I can sob, sing, be angry or just be still and listen. He’s not going anywhere. He’s a big God and can handle my mess of emotions. And he knows my heart better then me. He forgives me constantly for the way I think I’m better then others. He helps me humble myself and serve him.
I’ve had several people recently encourage me by saying that I’m a light. God’s got a plan for my life. And my simple yes of obedience can change the world in ways I can never imagine. I’ve been clinging to God’s word and what he speaks over me. His promises to never leave me or forsake me are holding me up. He’s the rock I stand on daily and honestly He is the only reason I’ve made it this far.
I think it’s hard to explain to people how I’m doing when on the outward appearance I’m doing great. I started to work after a two week break and I love nannying again. Alabama is full of beautiful souls and I’ve been loving meeting new people, especially young women my age. I have been enjoying the weather warming up and flowers that bloom all around us. I’ve been reading non-fiction, fiction, my bible, books for Sunday small group and children’s books to the kids. I get to kick my feet up and watch movies. I spent a night this past weekend making cookies at 2 AM…(You only live once and I’d never made cookies in the middle of the night soooooo…) I’ve been cleaning, cooking, playing with cars in the sunshine, helping Juju learn to ride a bike, hunting down nature with Noah and just loving life. But internally I feel so messed up. I think I understand a little how people can be so depressed but look so happy. I don’t want to give the impression I’m depressed. I’m quite happy and loving life and thankful to be where I’m at. There is just life stress, a little discontentment, frustrations over things I can’t change, people from my other homes that I’ve been missing and other little stuff that I deal with but one would never know unless they could peak into my brain.
But like I keep reminding myself, God is in control of these things. God has a plan. God is using me in ways that I’m not always aware of. And God is gonna bless me through the trials that I persevere through. Whether I see it now or in Heaven one day, he doesn’t forget his children who are faithful and continue to love like him. The truth through? Easier said then done!
I’ve been so thankful for the all that God has been teaching me and helping me through. While I still have days that I’m biting at the bit to charge head first into the problems that arise and take charge or control, I’m learning that I need to stop and allow God to take that part. My job is pray, listen and love. Seek him and his will. I need to step back and kneel. He’s got the rest under control.
The past couple weeks were so long and hard. BUT I’M FREEEEEEE!!! (Well, for a a little) Lizzy finally finished the job she was on and the next one will start next week. I just got to say, she’s a strong woman to go through the hectic schedule of this past show and come out alive. She deserves the break between films.
I’m also very excited to have some down time. I have no idea what I’m going to do with this new long freedom, but I’m looking forward to getting out and exploring, catching up on phone calls with family and friends, reading books uninterrupted, getting my taxes done (I started that today) and writing in my journal. We’ll see how much I can accomplish during this lazy time.
As to the blessings that God has been giving me, let me take a few steps back and share a few stories. Over the course of several months of attending my church, 7 Mile Ministry, just down the road from me, I got to know a girl, Anna. She leads worship, has a beautiful heart that loves the Lord and a very sweet girl. We finally exchanged numbers, and met up for a late lunch at Moe’s. What I thought would be an hour or so talk turned into close to 3 hours of us talking about life, share stories, and laughing together. We probably would have talked longer, except I had to go. That evening she told me that she has a small group she goes to and invited me to go. Girls my age? Going through a devo book? A safe place to make friends? Learning about God? I was all in.
After we parted way, I drove out to Corner High School and got to see my talented friend, Alyssa, perform in the musical, Willie Wanka. She played Violet (I can’t
seem to find the paper for what her last name is) But she was a young cowgirl style girl who loved to chew gum. She put aside the gum long enough to eat the chocolate, and was rewarded with finding a golden ticket to join the tour of Willie Wanka’s candy factory. Inside she turned into a giant blueberry after eating special gum that Mr. Wanka had not yet perfected. Alyssa did a wonderful job, singing clearly and constantly smiling on the stage. I love watching musicals, but knowing people on the stage makes it all the more special.
Then on Sunday, I went to church. Every Sunday I have been so filled. And my constant prayer is that I seek the Lord, worship and learn and grow throughout the week. With being busy, making choices to do other things, or be distracted and forgetful in life, I find myself sometimes putting that quiet time with the Lord to the side. But spirit’s constant nudge is there, reminding me that I need God more then just Sundays. It’s like I have a bucket that Jesus fills on Sunday, but then come Monday, I’m a little more empty and I try to keep as much of the bucket as I can without making more effort to allow God to keep filling it throughout the week. But by Sunday I’m thirsty again and want more and more and more.
Our Pastor spoke this week about living by faith, not by sight. I’ve always viewed myself like Thomas, one of the disciples who followed Jesus. Thomas told the others, that unless he touched the scarred hands and spear pierced sides of Jesus, he wouldn’t believe that He raised from the dead. And Jesus appeared and told them “…have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (John 20:29) While I do believe without seeing, I have times, a lot of times, where I doubt. But more so recently then ever before in my life, I’ve been finding myself trusting and believing God in ways that I
never have in the past. Not because I can see what he’s doing, but because I believe what he’s going to do before I’ve even gotten it. And I feel so blessed from it. After church, I went home, grabbed a book and had lunch at Panara bread. It was a good time to sit back, read, and think about some things in life that I’ve put on the shelf. After that, I came back for a bit, had a nap, then took off for the small group Anna had invited me to. It was not as small as I thought it would be.
The girl’s house was about 15 minutes, so it was a nice drive. Other then being dark and going through unknown back roads. I see myself enjoying the drive in the future when it lightens up more, as it seemed to be more country out that way. (I enjoy seeing the farm lands….especially when they cows)
Anyways, this “small group” ended up being 13 girls, including myself. I was laughing to myself because I hate speaking up with just 5 people in a group, so I wasn’t sure what I would get out with over double that. Not everyone knew each other, which meant I wasn’t suddenly a “new girl” to the group. We went around, told our name, whether we were in school or working or both, and what our favorite scent was. (It’s a girl thing) After that, a girl, Caroline gave each of us a random question that she came up with. I ended up being last (my least favorite place in line) And shared my name and that I was a live-in Nanny. All 13 girls exploded into questions and comments. I nodded to people that I did laundry, that I did the dishes, that I did make meals and that I actually live in the house with the family. I shared a little how I work for a single mom who works on the movie sets here in Birmingham. I went on to tell them that this next film she’s with will be having Chris Evens in it. (The man who plays Captain America). The room exploded again. I just sat there and grinned. I didn’t even get to tell them about the other two famous actors, Robert Pattinson (who played Edward Collins in the Twilight series) and Tom Holland (who acted as Peter Parker in the newest Spiderman movies) Yeah, my boss gets to meet some pretty famous people! I also didn’t get to share my favorite scent, which is nature/outdoor (freshly cut grass, fresh air especially after a rain shower, a field of cow patties, etc)
Anyways, back to the small group. After going around and introducing ourselves Rachel, the leader, explained about the book she wanted to go through. She said that in the past they had done books of the bible, but she had read though this one book and really felt the Lord leading her to go more in depth with the group. The book is called Uninvited by Lysa TerKeurst. It’s about living loved when you feel less than, left out and lonely. I was able to get a copy while there and I’m really looking forward to reading it. After that, we had some time of worship then branched off into small groups and just talked about life. (Nothing serious, just that girlie stuff like best places to get nails done, where we worked, more about ourselves and all that jazz)
I left so full. And the whole ride home, I told God how thankful I was for the church I get to attend and be a part of, for the word that is taught and worship that is brought. I’m thankful for the people I’ve gotten to meet in the church, the friend’s I’ve made and now this small group that I’ve gotten to attend. Looking at my life from even just 7 months ago, I felt so lost and confused. I didn’t know where I was headed in life (well I guess I still don’t) But I had no idea where the Lord could lead me. When the doors to Alabama opened I struggled with the peace I felt and the reality of moving again.
I haven’t regretted moving for a second. As soon as I stepped off that plane and into the welcoming hugs of strangers I knew that I was in the place I needed to be. After the first night Lizzy was gone and I cried because I didn’t know what I was doing here, I began to have doubts. But after successfully getting Juliette to sleep the next night, I knew once again, that this was where God was placing me. Not just to help an amazing mama by watching her kiddos, but also because God wanted me to come into people’s lives down here. God wanted to use me to bless others, outside of my job. To be a friend. To join a church. To love those who came into my life.
I’m soooooooooo excited to see where the Lord is going to walk me these next few weeks. I prayed the whole way home from the small group that God would give me Sunday nights off. I wanted to go back so much, but with Lizzy’s job being different from the normal 8 to 5 hour, Monday to Friday schedule, I knew the only way I would be able to make it would be through lots of prayer. And guess what?!?!?! I talked to Lizzy and she said she’s working Monday-Friday, and occasional Saturdays, but she’s *suppose* to have EVERY SINGLE SUNDAY OFF!!!!! WHHHHHHHAAAAAA!!!!! This girl (ME) is sooooooooooooooooooooooo excited!!!!
God has been so good to me. While driving home the other night, I was thinking about how busy I can get, or stressful life can be. But through it, He’s constantly reminding me of all the beautiful blessings he has given me through it all. I’m so grateful. I’m so thankful. I’m so blessed.
I hope that as you go through life, no matter what you go through that is hard, stressful or causing you to feel like you’re sliding backwards, that you’ll see the blessings. No matter how small, they are there. It can be as simple as being thankful for waking up in the morning, or as big as after praying for months to have friends, being blessed with group of 13 to choose from. God’s moving and working and his blessings are always in front of you, don’t ever doubt that!
Syracuse family and friend, please sit while you read this. This is gonna shock your socks off. You’re never going to believe the awful snow conditions I had to suffer through this past week. Let me start with Sunday. While I was at church, I was talking to many people and the main subject for that day was “did you hear about the snow we’re suppose to get on Tuesday?” or “You’re getting your wish! It’s going to snow on Tuesday. We are suppose to get quite a few inches!” Everyone I talked to mentioned it at some point.
Monday I got a text message that Jefferson County had already announced the schools were closed for Tuesday because of all this snow we were going to get. Noah was excited for a snow day. I was excited to see snow. Juliette and Noah were both excited to play in the snow.
Tuesday morning I was awoken by Noah at 6:30am, his sun-shining smile lighting up my room. Tiredly, but excitedly, I asked him if it had snowed. He bounced up and joyfully opened the blinds for me. “Look miss Heidi! It did, look out here. It even snowed on the trampoline!” He was so excited and I sat up and glanced out the window.
I nearly cried. They were predicting nearly 2 inches of snow. Below is a picture I took later that morning of the backyard “snowstorm” that we got:
Now here is another picture, the same day, about 4 hours later:
Now to be fair, there was rain before we had the snow, so the roads probably were iced over. And Alabama does not have snow plows. But to close the schools due to a possible snow storm of 2 inches and only get a dusting of snow….that was a huge disappointment. HUGE. I think it was worse that by noon the snow had melted and was beautiful out (other then still being cold). In the depths of my heart, I cried all day.
And that is the story of Heidi’s first Alabama snow day. Thankfully we survived.
On random other news (since I’m writing, I may as well keep going) Life has been a busy good. Here is a recent picture of me in my most natural attire:
Warm sweaters, jeggings (jean leggings), hair up in a messy bun, a mug of tea (usually chia) in one hand, laundry basket (it happened to be empty at this moment, but thirty minutes prior it had been over flowing) and my phone playing country or Bethel tunes on Pandora. I love my comfy self.
For one week, I felt like all I did was laundry and dishes every day. Then the next week I felt like I had so much time on my hands. This week has been a blessed in between.
I have also been enjoying making more creative dinners. I occasionally make “cooking with Heidi” videos for a friend and I happened to capture a picture of me about to cut an onion:
There was no crying in the cutting of that onion. I was making soup. This was the day before our snowstorm. We have a bunch of kale, so I made a sausage, kale, onion and lentil soup after my sister-in-law suggested in. It turned out pretty good. It was the first meal Lizzy ever ate of mine. She’s an amazing cook and after having a bowl she told me it was good. I felt all kinds of happiness.
A couple posts ago I put in a picture of some flower buds that were on the bushes at the end of our driveway. In preparation for our snowstorm, I wanted to bring some of them in, as I was assuming the snow would kill off all the flowers. Here is a picture of the flowers I brought inside to brighten the house:
I’m not sure what kind of flower or bush it is. I tried a mini google search, but couldn’t find anything. They are beautiful, don’t have much of a scent, and have long thin thorns. Some bushes are about waist high and some are nearly as tall as me. I’m not sure what it could be.
And last but not least, my sweet children! Noah is doing awesome in school. Every night he has to do a reading (1 chapter or 14 pages) Recently he picked one of my childhood favorites, Cyrus The Unsinkable Sea Serpent By Bill Peet. Here is a picture of him reading the book:
He and Juliette really enjoyed the book, so we found a few others from the library to read. Before bedtime, I’ll read to the kids and often they pick the books that we laughed or giggled over while previously reading.
Speaking of bedtime, Juju has been learning the difference between real and fake. Recently she’s been more afraid of dark rooms or going places in the house by herself. I think a lot of her imagination has to do with stories she hears from me, Noah or other people. I have to be careful about what I tease her about, as later she’ll come to me and tell me she’s scared of the rats or gingerbread man or ghosts.
The other night, I was putting the kids to bed and after turning the light out, she asked me to lay down with her. I had done it a couple nights ago, but I didn’t want it to become habit. If I can get out of the room, allowing her to teach herself to fall asleep on her own, that’s my goal. I told her I had a friend I wanted to text quick, so I would sit at the end of the bed. She then asked if she could hold my hand. After she fell asleep, I was able to capture this picture before I left the room:
I know I mentioned it before, but her trust to hold my hand or gently touch me makes my heart melt. This child had me second guessing so many times that I would ever get her to love me through physical touch. And now she does and when her soft little hand holds mine, or she crawls in my lap and lays her head on my shoulder, when she shares her fears or stares at me with her beautiful big eyes while we both are giggling together, I get so thankful I am blessed to nanny this girl.
She, as well as Noah, are so creative. She constantly comes up with weird ideas and silly miss Heidi doubts them. Usually thirty minutes later, after I’ve gone along with whatever idea she has, I’m proven wrong again and again that she knew what she was talking about and whatever it was she wanted to make or build turned out really cool. I love her creativity and uniqueness she sees or thinks up.
Of course, life is never easy. But when I get to sit back and look back at the way I’ve come along, and about how far I’ve grown through the past 4 months, how much I’ve been learning, how the kids and I get along and what we’ve shared over the months, I know I’m right where I need to be. God is so faithful. For him to lead me to Alabama and allow me to help a mother by watching her two precious children is such a blessing. God is so good all the time.
This last picture is a sunset we saw a week or so ago. We were pretending our stuffed animals were visiting another country (I believe it was Tucker’s Town on the Bermuda island) and they sat on a hill (a bed) watching the sunset. While we were sitting there, waiting for the light to fade, I was suddenly aware of how beautiful the colors were and had to run outside to capture it quick. I love sunsets:
Life always holds blessings, whether it’s glancing at myself in a mirror and laughing at how cute I look wile I’m running around like a busy ant or making a meal from scratch. There’s blessings whether in the book reading snuggles or tear stained faces that snuggle in my lap. There’s blessings in nature, whether it be simple flowers or a orange sunset.
And sometimes, there’s a blessing in a Alabama Snowstorm. I’m still trying to figure that one out.
“If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat, and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink, for you will heap burning coals on his head, and the Lord will reward you.” Proverbs 25:21-22 ESV
“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” 1 Corth. 13:4-7 ESV
“By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers…Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth…Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.” 1 John 3:16, 18, 4:11-12 ESV
The past couple months I’ve been seeking the Lord about how to love loving those around me. Not just children who test my patience, but those people who seem to drop out of my life. Those people who I hurt. And those people who hurt me. Those last people are the hardest.
While I’ve been diving into the bible more about how God calls us to love those around us, I also have been looking at how God himself loves us. When I look at my life through his eyes, there is no reason for him to love me. I’m a sinner. I put Christ on the cross because of those sins. And yet, it was because of love that he bore my sin. He took that, and through his blood and death and resurrection, I gained a hope and life forever. I gained a Friend, Father and God who will love me for eternity.
Then I twist it and look at how I love those around me. I get upset and angry. I can be selfish and self centered. Impatience and unkindness flow through my words and actions. And if one could hear my thoughts, you’d see how off the charts they would be in regards to unlovely.
But I try not to focus on my mess ups. I’m flawed and make mistakes like my next door neighbors. But I’ve been trying to focus on how to love loving people. And it’s not easy. I’ve only been processing this idea of love just for a little while, so it’s all still new. Not just loving people. That’s kind of natural. It’s the learning to love loving. Not just because I have to. But because I want to.
Example? I hit a valley awhile ago, a hard spot that left me feeling depressed, upset and unsure. And angry. Bitter. Resentful. And that’s what spurred this thought, of loving to love. To love despite the hurt I was facing. And I was so torn. I hated to think that God would actually want me to still love through this rock and tight spot. I didn’t have answers or knew what I was suppose to do.
But while I was praying about my options, I told the Lord that I would not build a wall. If I built a wall against loving, especially those ‘enemy’s’ that hurt me, I would become a bitter, angry person and that would destroy me. I would become someone I would never want to be. But on the other hand, I told God I couldn’t handle being hurt. My heart is tender and soft. I cried because I didn’t know what way to turn.
That next Sunday I was so blessed by the church service. The Spirit has been speaking to me in so many ways through Pastor Red at the church I go to. This week though, another man, Josh, asked if he could share something God had placed on his heart, so Pastor handed a mic to him and stepped off the stage.
Josh took us to 2 Corth. 4:8-18. He refreshed our memories, that Paul had been through shipwrecks, nakedness, he was beat and stoned. Yet he never gave up on hope. And he never gave up on loving those around him. Satan applies pressure to Christians, but the Spirit inside of us says “Keep going. You’re gonna make it, keep going. Keep loving.”
Then Josh said something that made me pause. He said, “We need to love like we’ve never been hurt.” And I lost all track of what he was saying and began asking God how anyone could love like they’ve never been hurt. I didn’t understand how to do that, because I only saw these two directions of either putting up walls to stop pain from getting in, or keeping it internal and slowly losing myself.
At the end of the service, Pastor Red got up and shared an analogy. He said that things don’t always go right in life. A child might have a balloon or lollipop. And accidentally they let go of the balloon or the lollipop drops from their hands. Now to an adult, that’s not a big deal. It’s just candy. It’s just a plastic bag with air. We want to tell the kid to get over it and keep living. Most likely, three months from now, maybe even sooner, that child will not even remember that balloon they lost.
But that is exactly how some people (me) look at their problems. I suffer a loss, or have pain in life and I get upset. It makes me want to shut down, shut out and shut up. I want to cross my arms and pout or cry or whine. I had such a good thing taken or lost from me and it’s not fair. But then God is looking down and saying in that voice that sounds so much like my own, “Heidi, you are being so silly. It’s not that big of a deal and you need to stop focusing on the lost balloon. You can still live life and love despite being hurt. Moving on will be worth it. Loving to love despite XYZ will be worth it. I make it worth it. No walls, no distance or hardening. You can love loving people. And you can love them well.”
Well long story short, I’m still trying to figure this loving thing out. I sometimes feel like I made fifteen steps forward to scoot back ten. I mentally work myself up over the fallen lollipop that I begin to lay down bricks. Then I realize what I’m doing and I have to begin to tear them down again. I begin to distance myself and pull back and fear grips my heart that I’m going to be hurt. Then I realize that I’m overreacting and have to stop running backwards.
For me, loving to love makes me my joyful. It’s makes me free of the walls, bitterness and hurt. I’m not saying I’m free from suffering, but I don’t need to allow it to build up or allow myself to build around it. Loving love makes me want to dance. It makes me want to spin around, giggle and continue loving in life. And it’s not easy, but it’s a process, a daily step by step.
I don’t know if any of this made sense. But I guess as encouragement out there, if a little country girl can learn to love in a big scary world, no matter where you are, who you are or what you’ve done, you can learn it to love deeply and well. Yes, people need to put up walls or need to avoid that bad company. Boundaries are healthy and good. But don’t withhold love that God has poured over you to share with others. If you’ve got love to share, do it with open hands and willing heart. You’ll probably lose a balloon or drop the lollipop a couple times. But don’t get upset. Don’t let it stop you from loving those around you. Dance, spin and giggle. Heap those coals on the enemy’s head. Love beyond reason. Christ is love and if He is in us, we can learn the way He loves.
Love because you want to love love.
Have you ever read that book called The Little Engine That Could? That’s how I feel my life is going sometimes. One day, I’m the train, stuck on a track not moving and unsure of how to get to the other side of the mountain. It looks too big and I’m hopeless to do anything. And then there are days I’m the little blue engine, taking the load and with a deep breath I slowly start up that mountain. It takes encouragement, it takes one pull at a time and though it may be slow, I am slowly moving forward.
Since returning to Alabama, I’ve been a busy little train. Noah had school off until the 7. That weekend before, Lizzy had some props she needed to find for the
current movie job she’s on, so I had both kids for three days. Thankfully that weekend it was beautiful weather, so we took a lot of trips outside to play at parks and jumped on the trampoline. I’m already looking forward to warmer weather, but it also gave me courage for this coming summer when I’ll most likely have both children constantly.
The past ten days have been me getting back into the rhythm and routine of life. Lizzy had to leave early in the morning and wouldn’t be back until after the kids were in bed. Back in October/November, when I worked this much, I was always feeling like bedtime was the part I dreaded the most. I hated putting the kids down because they wanted their mama to put them down, so they fought sleep, said anything to get out going to bed and on and on. Since returning, I haven’t had anything to deal with. But now I’m starting to deal with dinner complains.
I don’t cook very well. Ask my family that. I’ve had a few mistakes in the past that did not boost my confidence and I’ve been getting anxious as the clock slowly rolls around 5pm and I still have no idea what I’m going to whip up for dinner. Last week I felt like nearly every night I tried to cook something I thought the kids would like, they turned up their nose and informed me that they could not eat it. “Miss Heidi, I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. I don’t like brussel sprouts.” I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. Three or four nights in a row it was like that. Sweet potatoes, some weird dumpling things, potatoes or carrots, there’s been a food that one or the other has not liked. It leaves me feeling even more like a failure to make a good meal and unsure about my future homemaking skills for that poor man who blessed with marriage to a unskilled cook. (Don’t worry man,whoever you are, I’m getting better!)
Thankfully I don’t stay in my mini fountains of sadness forever. Saturday I had to unexpectedly work. We were low on groceries and I was just feeling very down about cooking. The weather was gray, rainy, and didn’t add any cheer to my depressed feeling. Thankfully I had a car so I took the kids to Chick-Fil-A where we all ate well, ate
happy and afterwards were able to play in the little indoor playset they have there. It was a good ending to a long day. (Side note, I was talking to some people while there and I heard this southern’ twang coming out in my voice. And what makes it worse is I didn’t know how to stop it!)
Lizzy restocked the fridge and freezer Sunday, so Monday I took a peek around, deciding what to make with all the new goodies. I noticed that we had ground beef we hadn’t used in awhile. I called my mom about making chili. After getting a list of several other ingredients, I noticed there was a bag of frozen sweet potato fries. I knew Noah liked them, plus the kids loved the fish nuggets and we had several left over. They also liked cucumbers. It was a weird combo, but I was confident they would enjoy it. More or less, I got the “I’m sorry miss Heidi, I don’t like this meal.” And it left me already dreading the next 4 or five days I would have to cook up something for dinner. (HA HA, no pun intended)
That brings me to Tuesday. I found this frozen meal of hot dogs tucked in rolls. (Similar to pigs in a blanket) and decided to be a little daring and make some roasted potatoes(?) (The baby potatoes halved, covered in a oil and spices and baked) While those were in the oven, Noah, Juliette and I took some stuffed animals and went around the world, visiting new counties. We were in Lexembourg (A small county in Europe tucked between Germany, France and Belgium) when the timer went off and I had to get dinner onto plates. As I was pulling everything out, Noah came up behind me and he suddenly squealed. Fear gripped my heart that once again I would get his speech about how much he was sorry that he didn’t like something I had prepared. Instead he pointed towards the potatoes and hot dog rolls and shouted, “I love those foods! You are the best nanny every!” And he scurried off, leaving me with the biggest smile ever. I’m awful at preparing meals, I don’t always know what to do or how to cook food to make it taste good. But in that moment, I knew I was doing something right. And the kids loved it the meal.
Wednesday we went to dinner with family, then Thursday I put all my ingredients into a slow cooker, and at the end of the day we had delicious bowls of chili with biscuits. I got a thumbs up from both kids, and even a good old southern’ compliment from Juju “It’s so good I could slap my nanny.” It made me laugh so hard when she did.
I live for these little moments. Those compliments are what keep me moving along. Slowly and surely I see myself moving a little farther up that mountain. I’m not where I want to be, but I’m slowly getting closer to that goal. While I was eating with the kids the night we had Noah’s favorite meal, I was telling them about the chili I wanted to make. They both chimed in that they loved chili. And it made me all the more eager to make it, as they both claimed they’ll eat it. And they did! My cooking hasn’t always been successful, but I’m learning how to make it easier in the future as I learn to make meals. To skip the pizza, or fast food and actually make something from scratch, like biscuits or baked potatoes or chili helps me gain confidence and go a little farther up that mountain.
Apart from meal making, a new change I’ve begun to notice is Juliette. Three
months ago I remember writing to my friends, begging them to pray for me because I thought the little girl hated me. Her attitude could explode in a second and I had to walk on eggshells so as to keep it from being triggered. She was physically reserved and I had no way of giving comfort if she hurt herself. While she’s learning to lower her voice when she’s angry, she’s more blunt, honest and open about how she feels then I’ve ever seen in a little girl before. She is a fighter, which to me is a rare beauty. She’s like her mama, strong, brave and independent. But unlike her mama, this little firecracker of a girl did not like me. I laugh now as I think about the way she would growl at me, or give me looks like she was planning on kicking me out onto the curb.
Anyways, this little girl has been surprising me so much more since I’ve returned to my Alabama home after the holidays. While she never told me she missed me, she did tell me she missed playing with me. Where she use to be stand offish, she now crawls onto my lap randomly while we are playing. She allows me to pat her back or brush her hair with my hand when she’s hurt herself. Recently we were watching a movie and she fell asleep on me. Not next to me, but curled up on my arm and chest, making me feel all sorts of joy. And just this past Sunday, I got my first hug from her, that was not promoted by encouragement from someone. She just ran up and gave me a hug and told me goodnight with a smile. After that, my
little train was full steam ahead and heart was full of happiness. When I get little blessings like that, I soar as high as the clouds. I have never felt so thankful before about this job.
I always have moments of doubts and unsure moments of shaking my head wondering what I am suppose to do because I have no words to calm down unhappy children. But these little memories of compliments and hugs help me move along a little longer, a little faster and up that mountain a little more. I’m not stuck in the same place anymore, I am still moving and headed the right direction, though I don’t always feel like it.
A few fun things that we have done recently has been
building blanket forts. Juju and I made one recently and our cat, Tiger Lily ran into the corner. We tried to wiggle past her and she playfully tried to attack our toes or swat our hair as we went by. Juliette and I both just laughed and giggled the whole time. A couple days later, Noah built a fort. He does not like the cat and actually put blankets, pillows and random coverings all the way around so as to keep the cat completely out. It worked and we played that it was always dark in the little cave where our stuffed animals lived. They did not like the light, as it hurt their eyes.
We also have been playing with hot wheel cars on and off. We have had a couple, Rescue and Doc Sarah who
worked together in a ‘hospital’ (like a car ER/macanic shop) got engaged. They got married about fifteen minutes later. It only took that long because we had to line up all the cars. And then a few days later, another couple, Tow-dow (Not sure how
one would spell it….) and Valerie got engaged and once again we had a car wedding. The cars took a trip to Disney World in Florida and got to meet Walt Disney in person. We tried to get creative with him. We’ve had a lot of fun playing together, exploring the world and seeing what creative imaginations we can come up with as we play and have fun.
A goal I have for myself is to find new places outside of my usual 5 miles that I drive. Wanting to find an easier way to the zoo, I went down route 31 S with Juliette buckled in the back. (For family in NY, 31 is similar to route 11, how it follows 81. Here 31 follows 65 in the same way.) We found the zoo, but didn’t have much time to go in, so we toured a few cute shops. After that, she asked if we could go to the donut shop that was near the zoo. I found Yo Yo Donuts on my gps and after taking the wrong turn, I turned around in a sketchy road before we found the little shop. It was a special treat, to spend time together and get something sweet in the end. I’m hoping to find more little places in the future.
For myself, I’ve recently taken a break from social media and apps that make me stay up late at night. Or that keep me from getting out of my warm bed in the morning. For how long it will last, I have no idea, but the past two days have been hard. But a good hard at the same time. I finally finished a journal that I’d been writing in since October 2017 and I got to start a new one. I’ve got a goal to read 24 books this year. It’s hard to read when I’m constantly working, as I don’t always prioritize it like I could. But 24 will make me have to read two a month and if I go over, I can always challenge myself to 36. Right now I’m reading He Fell In Love With His Wife. It took awhile to figure out what I was reading as it’s that old English style, but 100 pages in and I’m glad I’ve stuck with it. I look forward to finding time during the day to read. I’ve also been drinking more tea. Chia is a new favorite. I’ve been working out with a new set of hand weights I got from my brother and sister-in-law. My arms or legs are sore the next day, but it leaves me feeling stronger, healthier and excited for the next time I get to use them. I’m branching out of my comfortzone and actually spoke up at Sunday School this past week. There are a constant 4-5 other people, not including the teacher, and so for me to actually say something for the first time in about four weeks, I felt everyone look at me like I suddenly appeared in the room.
I love when Lizzy is busy, because it means I’m busy. I enjoy when she’s home because I can read and relax more, not have to worry about dinner or putting the kids to bed. But I know that I’m also thankful for these long days. It’s preparing me for the future in ways I can’t imagine. I’m learning a lot, I’m growing and slowly I’m chugging that hill. When I’m busy, it keeps me from becoming bored and restless. And with goals to accomplish for this new year, I’ve got a lot that I’m looking forward to as the year goes on.
As the new year crept up on me, I’ve been in reflection on this past year and all the crazy adventures that happened. From leaving Virginia from nannying for a
Belizian family for a year, to packing to move to Florida. In FL I had adventures at the beach while friends came to visit, and then there was trouble finding a car and job. I went on fun dates, did window shopping and finally got blessed with a challenging, but amazing job at a Preschool. Then there was returning home for my best friend’s wedding where I got to be her maid of honor. On the way to my FL home there was a scary episode of me hitting a deer, which led to praying about
leaving Florida and feeling like my world and life was out of control. After only having lived four months in FL, I returned to NY and began to figure out what to do with my life. I had a ton of questions and doubts and unknowns. Stress constantly weighed on my shoulders and I found that loving life despite what was happening helped me get through the days. In August there was an awesome opprotunity to travel to Belize for two weeks to nanny. And while I was there, I was told about (what seemed to be a farfetched, near impossible,
never to happen) nanny job in Alabama. Only to my surprise, realizing it was right where God wanted me and moving within a month later. October was busy with learning new routine’s, a new place to live and new life. November was full of struggles and frustration, sadness and grief as family member after family member went through heartache, pain and lost of love ones. In December, I hit a low point and after two weeks of reading books because I had nothing much more to do, I made the choice to drive home, verses flying, and managed to accomplish a 12 hour drive to my grandparents in 12 and 1/2 hours. And before returning to my AL home, I got to visit with my Belizian family (I nannied for) while they were in the states for the holidays. And now here I am today, sitting in my Alabama home and feeling overwhelmed by all that happened this year. And it’s a grateful and thankful overwhelmed feeling.
This year has not gone the directions I thought it would. But looking back there’s
a beauty in that. There’s a thankfulness that I’m not in control of my life, as much as I think I want to be. This year has held a lot of doubt, uncertainty, fear, worries, stress, unknowns and hardships. But through that flowered trust, happiness, peace, clarity, grace, faithfulness, joy and love despite all that I went through.
Through 2018, God has been opening my eyes to his promises. He is faithful. He will never leave me. He will be a friend and father when I’m alone and need comfort. He will be my strength when I don’t want to get out of bed. He will be my rock when life is spiraling out of control. He will be the one who will take my hand and help me step out of my comfortzone. He’ll be the one who will point towards the risky valley and ask if I want to dance with him through it. He is the one who redeems me, claiming me as his, even when I mess up again. The best part, he
promises to keep his promises.
As I look at 2019, I have begun to ask myself questions regarding who I am and where I’m headed in life. I’ve questioned God in who he is and where he is taking me. I’ve wrestled and rolled but also have also started seeing small doors open to my questions. The Lord says to ask, seek and knock and those doors will open. I’m hoping that with this new year, even more doors will open and I’ll experience God’s love and guidance in stronger ways then before.
“For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory.” 2 Corinthians 1:20
It was yesterday. It started out like any other morning. Until 6:30 AM when Noah came bounding into my room. But instead of curling up with me like he normally would, he came to inform me that he had an accident in his pants. He claimed his stomach hurt, he assumed he had diarrhea and started crying because he didn’t want to die before seeing his mama (who has been out of town). I calmed him down and told him he probably was hungry and needed food in his tummy.
I got oatmeal for the kids and Juliette danced to the table and ate heartily while Noah didn’t move from the couch. I gave him some orange juice and called the kids grandparents to see whether they thought I should keep Noah from school. In all seriousness, I thought he was joking and really just wanted to skip out of school. I was informed that the kids aunt (who was over with us on Sunday) was also sick and Noah should probably stay home from school. Literally thirty seconds after hanging up the phone, Noah’s orange juice came back up.
And so our day began.
I cleaned the carpet, using 4 different cleaning solution bottles I found in the cupboard and absentmindedly tried to play with Juju while trying to figure out what to do with her. I didn’t want her to catch whatever Noah had. Thirty minutes later I managed to whisk her off to school and get Noah back home before the diarrhea kicked in again. He was a trooper through the whole thing, never once complaining. He changed into 4 different pants in about 2-3 hours. After rinsing the clothes out in the tub, I tossed the whole mess of dirty clothes, towels, a bath mat and a couch cushion into the washer.
By the time I washed my hands for the twentieth time, Noah perked up from the couch and ask “Can we play, miss Heidi?” I told him he had to rest a bit, that his body was still feeling sick. And sadly, minutes later my point was proven again. We spent most of the morning on the couch, watching movies and changing clothes. I cleaned the tub, put the dirty dishes in the dish washer to be cleaned, and called his grandma to see when I should start giving Noah food and water.
Around 11 AM, I gave him some saltine crackers with water. About thirty minutes after that he got half a banana. Still nothing came up, so I turned on a movie and after we watched, I gave him half a bagel, hoping that I wouldn’t fill his tummy up too much and have it erupt everywhere. He got to talk to his parents on the phone, I got to switch the wash to the dryer, I stripped his bed, he played games on an ipad, I put his sheets in the washer, and somehow we manged two hours without any incidents.
After 2 PM, we were in the clear. He felt much better, we got to play with cars, had a little more food, play games and we just relaxed. By that time the items I had placed in the dryer that morning were still damp. The machine was running, but the clothes were cold, not warm when I checked them. I later found out the heating unit was broken. Thankfully Lizzy has a drying rack and floor vent heaters. I brought the rack upstairs, tossed one of the bedsheets over top and left it to dry. (Dear mom and dad: While living at home I rarely used the racks in the winter to dry my clothes over the heater, I’m thankful you showed me what to do in the event there is no dryer. You are a inspiration and I look up to you both in many ways through life)
The rest of the day was much more relaxed. Aftr putting away clean dishes and clothes, I cleaned the tub again and found Noah asleep. I took the opportunity to sit for a moment and read. It was glorious. Eventually Juliette arrived home with her grandparents, we swapped stories, I played with the kids and before long it was time for bed. The kids put up their usual begging to stay up longer (especially since their mom was coming home that night) I read a small section of a bird book we got from the library and tucked them in.
I was so tired. The backs of my hands were looking red and dry from the million times I had washed my hands. The top of my head to my tailbone all ached because of the busy day we had. I was ready for bed.
As I sat with the kids in their room, waiting for them to go to sleep, I thought back through my day. It had been so hard. But it was one of those days, that despite the puke and diarrhea, despite how many loads of laundry I had to do, or how many times I had to pull out chemical bottles to clean a floor or tub or toilet, I had survived it. And I felt so good. My head hurt, I was tired, my hands felt like they were rubbing raw, I was not happy it was 9:15 pm and the kids still were not asleep. But I could see God’s hand had been with us the whole day.
I had started the day facing a giant of sickness and God brought him down before the day was over. And he protected Juliette and myself from that sickness. I was so thankful. It was gross and not something I’d like to have to go through again. But it was over. The sickness was gone and we had survived! I just sat on the kids bed, thanking God for His strength in getting through the day.
I remember when I would live at home on the farm and have to work with my dad on Saturdays. We would have to stack firewood or fix fences. We would move cows, weed gardens, stack hay bales, or other random jobs that involved a lot of physical strength. But at the end of those days, while I was so tired and ached, I felt so good. While my muscles wailed in pain, I knew I would get stronger, the work we had done had been worth it.
Yesterday felt the same way. I got to go to sleep smiling, because while my body ached, I knew what I just went through had been worth it. I learned a lot through yesterdays adventures. The more I live here in Alabama, the more I am finding the tired strength many women find in life. There’s sickness days, long hard days, dirty dishes and laundry days, no showers and feeling like a mud puddle days. There’s complaining children, hungry children, angry children and sick children days. And yet through it, somehow mothers all across the world find their way to still live life despite the tired they feel.
I am getting a small taste of that. And while in the moment I will ask God to send me clean pants for a child because I’m nearly out and the dryer is broken, I can look forward knowing when it’s all over, I’ll be stronger. These tired days are hard. But they bring strength that is so worth it and I’m thankful for all that I have gotten to learn, feel, see and experience through them.
This month has not gone the direction I thought it would. I had so many expectations, hopes and plans and very few to none of them came through the way I thought they would. Not that this month has been a complete mess of nothing good and all bad, but in the perspective of my expectations, it was lousy. I could write a list of all the things I expected (including not having to work on my birthday, getting to visit my best friend in Florida, spending Thanksgiving with my whole family, etc…) But it turned out that none of those happened. But on the other hand, I’m learning lessons through the dashed hopes of expectations.
I have been finding that while I’m flexible, and love spontaneous adventures, I like to plan. Let me write the date down on my calendar with the time in case I forget. I love getting together. But if it’s not planned in advance, it may never happen. I like to know what my schedule will look like for a day before it comes. If I’m honest, I would like God to tell my his future plans for my life in advance. If he could tell me what he’s got in store for me in another year or two, I would be able to plan accordingly and know what to expect.
And yet, as this past month showed me, life doesn’t always look that way. Some days there’s unexpected turns and twists that leave me frustrated because my plans and hopes for the day, week or month didn’t go the way I had hoped. Not even close. And yet again, this past month has showed me that life can still be okay, despite how messed up my plans were.
This past month I made plans to go see my best friend who has been in Florida visiting her family. I really, really, really, really (REALLY) wanted to visit her. From where I live to where she’s staying, I’m about a 8+ hour drive away. In one day I could see her. I had told her that I would probably get to come the second week of this month. Then I was on call to work. So I told her I wouldn’t make it. The week went by and I wasn’t needed to work (I did a little bit, but not as much as I had thought) So then I thought if the next week my boss would be off, I would be able to spend a week or so with her before heading north for the holidays. I told her and we talked about what we were going to do and how much fun we would have going on our walks and talking. And then much to my sadness, I found out I was needed that whole week to watch Noah. And then I thought I would leave that weekend for a quick visit before going to my brother’s for Thanksgiving. I had another unexpected plan dropped from thin air and I had to cancel that plan to attend a funeral. In four days, this month will be over and I’ll still have no gotten to see my best friend. And it really sucks and I’m really disappointed.
The point of that story is how much I put my hope in the expectations. As I’ve been thinking about how God has given me a life to plan and hope and dream, I’ve been realizing that I should not base my hopes and dreams on the expectations of how life is going to go. Because when I do base my hopes on those expectations, I found out that I will have a nasty internal attitude. It really makes me disappointed, sad and part of me wants to get upset with God, when he hasn’t done anything. I put it on myself. I let myself put my hope in what tomorrow would bring.
I always thought that I was pretty good at putting my hope in Christ. And I guess this is showing me that it doesn’t just mean saying it. Or that because I saying it, means I’m doing it. When my hope is grounded in the blessings that Christ can give me for the future, when my hope is based on the love that he wants to show me and the things he wants to teach me and the ways he wants to lead me, my attitude in life will be radically different. I won’t just say that he’s my hope, he will be, no matter what happens in life. I can look at the situations that I come across in life (like not getting to go to Florida, or not getting to spend Thanksgiving with my whole family) and I can either look at it and get bummed, moody, sulky and bitter. Or I can look at it and see the blessings of getting to spend more time reading books, more time with other friends, more time with two adorable children and more time thanking God for the opportunity to live for him in that moment of unexpected plans.
I want so bad to plan my life. I want to know what to expect, plan accordingly and have it happen that way. It’s like being able to walk through throne bushes without getting my wool sweater getting snagged. But that’s impossible. Life is going to snag us up and we’ll have to either pull the vines out of the way, or find another path. This month has been both for me. But mostly finding another path because the vines I was trying to walk through were getting thicker and thicker.
I’m still going to plan and be excited for those plans to happen. (I hope to come home for Christmas, hope to see my best friends while home, hope to see church family, etc…) But I know it may not happen the way I expect. I’m still probably going to hope that dreams and desires for my future will happen. (Travel the world, marry a farmer, go to Africa and love on babies, raise a family of 50+ children, grow old and die a martyr for Christ) But as the past couple years have shown me, God doesn’t always work in the way we expect. I want to get better at not allowing myself to hope in the expectations. I want to allow God to throw in his own plans and expectations for my life without me getting upset or frustrated that they are different from mine. I want to allow myself grace in the future when the unexpected comes and things get spun in directions I never saw come. I want to build a future hope on Christ, that no matter what, He will see me through the plans that never get to happen. He will be the one who is praised and worshiped in the unexpected storms that come up. He’s the one who gave me hope in the past to have hope in the present and future. It’s a day at a time. It’s not coming to me over night. But I hope to get better at this.
There is much to be thankful for, much that I have been blessed with, and much to expect for the future as this holiday season comes upon us again. But most importantly we have much to hope in Christ for all that he has done for us and through us.
With ever new year comes new beginnings, new challenges, new friends, new experiences and new age additions. Last week I turned another year. This will be my 24th time around the sun. That sun hasn’t changed much since the morning I was born.
But I’ve changed.
It’s funny to look back at my old birthdays. I loved turning a new age and feeling older and maturer. I loved getting to spend time with family and friends. I looked forward to my birthday with joy and excitement. And then I hit the ripe old age of 21 and cried myself to sleep. And the past three years hasn’t been the same. And part of that is my fault because I was focused on my own silly ideas of hopes and dreams and the Lord was just smiling at me saying “No daughter, its not your time yet. You have not received that gift from me to open. I still have so much more to teach you.”
And ever year, since turning 21, I’ve been taught little by little by a patient Heavenly Father that I won’t get what I want when I want it right then. And some days I find contentment in life and some days my heart is not content with where God has put me or given me. Every year I learn a little more and grow a little more and find more contentment and joy in life.
This past year was nothing like I imagined it to be. I moved all over the place, had a season of unknowns and sadness. I found new hope in the Lord as I trusted him with my future. And I found another amazing job and family to love on and help. I’ve found new books that open my mind to other parts of the world, I’ve discovered I love to be healthy, I’ve found new verses in the bible to hold on to, I’ve found friends who encourage me in mighty ways.
Every year I stand on the Lord’s promise that He will one day give me the desires of my heart. But I’ve been discovering and finding out that it’s not His desire for me yet because He’s still teaching me things. He’s teaching me to communicate. He’s teaching me healthy boundaries. He’s teaching me to love others better. He’s teaching me to be selfless. And the list goes on and on.So what are new goals for this next year? What are things that I hope to accomplish and learn and add to in this next year? Well for one thing I want to cook better. HA! I want to find new ways to serve the Lord here in Alabama. Through a church’s children ministry or somewhere I could volunteer at. I want to be more of a woman who encourages others, like through speech and action. I want to find new friendships and actually step out of my comfort zone and get to know them, not just see them in another pew and wave. I want to grow mentally and read new books to teach me more about the world around me. I want to grow physically and strengthen my muscles so I can beat my brothers arm wrestling (yeah right Heidi, dream big.) I want to grow spiritually and strengthen my faith. I want live a life that is continually growing and blossoming.
I want the additions. Maybe not the numbers, but I’ll take the new experiences. God has added so much in my life that I can’t begin to count all the numerous blessings. I may not always be content, but when I take the time to sit back and look at life, I see that he has blessed me and is still blessing me. He has added to it in ways I never would have imagined.
Also, I want to share that we have a new addition to our house, little Tiger Lily!! She’s a sweet calico, kitten who loves the children and the children love her. I’m not much of a cat or dog person, but little Tiger Lily is easy to enjoy and fun to watch play with the kids. Who knows, maybe she’ll come into my blog more often…..
Allow the Lord to add to your life and thank him for the blessings.
Over the past year, I’ve began to look at the world around me, especially nature, and been inspired at how it applies to my life. My favorite comparison is how God can bring so much beauty through brokenness. Flowers are hit down in a storm but grow despite their circumstances. Butterflies go through this chaotic change in tight darkness but come out more beautiful. Coal under a lot of pressure turns into a diamond.
I’ve gone through a lot of ups and downs in my short life. But I am so inspired by nature to keep going, to continue on despite what life has thrown at me. I may be trampled on, but I want to grow, I may go through tight darkness, but I want to come out more beautiful then before. I may be under a lot of pressure but I will be that diamond in the rough. Through Christ, I want to become something a little more then amazing.
My point is, I love nature and the beautiful world God has given me and how I can relate to so much in it. Through this past year of standing in awe of all that surrounds me, I’ve been attempting to write into words what I see around me and how it applies to me. Usually that comes by way of me taking a random picture and later realizing how inspiring it was. That is how I got this short inspiring story.
A little about this picture and short story (I don’t know what else to call it) I took the picture in May of this year while walking through Columbia University with my brother and friend. We went through this short path of a garden area and the door stood out to me. I turned around and snapped a picture and later went back and wrote up a short quote which I later posted on Instagram. It was a couple weeks later that the quote and picture were still on my heart, so I sat down and typed up more details about how this simple picture spoke to me.
Without farther bunny trails, here’s my favorite inspirational short story: The Door.
The key to door was on a leather band that hung around her neck. It was tucked away, nestled close to her heart so that at all times she could feel the cold silver against her skin. She kept it hidden so that none may question about it, though some did pry when they saw the door. But she tried to keep most from the door.
She let all who enter into her life be allowed to roam the many trails that led through gardens of stories from her life of building this garden. Vibrant and breathtaking plants and rare beauties she had collected over the years were showered over her guests. She loved to love those who entered her life and she had many compliment her on the beautiful fountain of “a heart of gold” that she had.
The work she had put into this garden was 23 years and counting, but she was proud of how it looked. It was seemingly weedless, unless one stooped to look closer. She knew there were flaws in everyone’s garden, but she didn’t let it stop her from continually building her home into something more beautiful everyday.
The trails of her garden heart spoke of thriving life. She tried to share what she could with those who she walked with, sharing past choices to stop weeds, fertilize the ground or patiently waiting for the flowers to bloom. But many people who ate from the fruit trees or smelled the perfumed blossoms didn’t actually know the amount of work she had done.
But few did get that chance. There was a select number that she took by the hand and lead towards her brick walks. She knew the way to the heart of her garden, though it was a maze of trails. There were few that got to go deeper then others, few that began to see how the light of the sky would dim of color, or how the bright greens would fade to black, or how this was void of pretty smells and sweet fruits.
At last, at the end of the trail would be the door. With some, she would simply stand there, hardly daring to breath. With others, she would boldly step forward though her heart beat wildly within her chest. Ever so slowly and quietly, she would take the key from her neck. She placed the silver key into the lock and slowly turn until a soft click was heard.
And slowly she opened the door to them. She allowed them into her secret garden, the one that her new garden surrounded entirely, but was blocked by a high brick wall. No one could pass over, no one could see in. Only this door, with the one key she held close to her heart, could allow anyone to see into her past, into a place that she had shut out from everyone.
Many of those who enter would see the wilted wildflowers, stepped on by people who took the key and tried to use her garden. They would see the shriveled up fountains that no longer had laughter but tears. They couldn’t even begin to count how many mistakes were made in this garden, how many weeds choked out the once growing bushes. They would read descriptions of suffering that cracked the ground and up the sides of walls. Evidence of a fire marked her walls, showing she had been burned deeply. They would see nothing beautiful in the dirt, ash and darkness of this part of her garden.
But very few would also see the beauty of her secret garden. They would see the attempt of buds on trees, they would see the area’s that were beginning to heal, the cracks that had been patched back together and painted in white. They would see the deep red roses, those they have thorns, still are eye catching. They would hear the song of small crickets or see the form of cocoons holding future butterflies. They would see the potential, the next steps and possibilities.
And some, some could see why she kept this garden. Though she had lost so much, though she had been hurt, burned, scarred, wounded and tramped upon, still she fought to live and love on. Though she had a past that was dark, mysterious and even haunting, she had made a choice to move on.
She had chosen to move beyond the mistakes and brokenness and she decided to build something beautiful with her life. She wanted to share her world with others. It had taken a long time and she wasn’t anywhere near being done. But she was one step closer then others with the very fact that she was moving on and building something beautiful from the ashes.
What she loved the most about her visitors was they never judged her for how she use to look. They never tried to hurt her already delicate heart. Instead, they rejoiced in all she had accomplished since the moment she locked up the door. They prayed and praised God with her for all the paths and new gardens He was helping her grow. And she loved that they loved her even more after she had shared her deepest secret with them.
And every time she stepped out of her secret garden. Every time she closed the door and put the key in the lock. Every time, right before she locked it tight again, she would pray that one day she could leave this part of her garden unlocked.