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Archive for the ‘Perspectives’ Category

snowy-woodsSnow falls silently in the darkness, covering the ground, piling up on the bushes, coating our little Honda Civic in the driveway. In the morning it still falls, creating a fantasy world of white. On Facebook everyone posts pictures of their yards and streets. Children rush out to build snow people. I walk in our half-acre woods, camera clicking, trying to capture the beauty before it melts or blows from the trees. Snow covers the mud and dead plants of winter. It muffles the sounds of cars and trucks—those few brave enough to venture out onto the slippery roads. Peace flows through me as I drink in the fresh beauty.snowy-street

On the second day, no more snow falls. Skies clear, temperatures dip further below freezing. We walk on our quiet dead end road, enjoying the blue skies and the white fields and yards. I throw out extra sunflower seeds for the birds. My husband chops wood for the fire—at least we can keep our living room warm. Then we settle in to work, relax, and watch the squirrel in the feeder (as does our cat) and the birds fighting over seeds.

squirrel-at-feederThe third, fourth, fifth days… Cold, windy, white—we take our walks, but hurry back in to sit by the fire, watch some football, go online, maybe get some work done. The woodpile diminishes. Where the sun hits the roads, ice melts or gets torn up by tires, only to refreeze later in the day, more slippery than ever. Meetings are canceled. Church is canceled for the second week. My husband’s concert is canceled. The snow becomes dirty near the roads, marred by footprints in the yard. Wind blows it from the trees. Where is that pristine beauty we saw just days before?snow-on-fence

Beauty comes and goes. It flits into the everyday with glittering wings, inviting us to stop and marvel. When it stays too long, the magic is lost and it becomes ordinary—or even an annoyance. How sad—because each day has a little bit of splendor hiding within it. We may have to search, may have to keep our eyes open. It is much easier to see the ugliness and focus on the darkness. But these times of beauty give us hope and keep us moving on, even in dark times.

footprints-in-snow“…Whatever is pure, whatever is lovely…dwell on these things.” (Philippians 4:8 NASB)

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Newport, Oregon, Nye Beach We sit in the comfy chairs on the third floor of the Sylvia Beach Hotel in Newport, Oregon, gazing out at the gray sky and the rolling white caps. It’s our 36th anniversary, and we came to celebrate in this wonderful book-filled hotel. But my mouth hurts from the tooth that had to be extracted yesterday, and husband is coughing from the cold he caught recently. In our younger days, this might have ruined our special day.Sylvia Beach Hotel

However 36 years give one a little perspective. Seagulls soar past the windows, pushed by the wind. The sun peeks out briefly to light up the waves. Husband sketches a beach scene; I write these words. The ocean beats a constant rhythm into our souls. We are at peace.

Life needn’t be perfect to be good. So many times our expectations prevent us from enjoying the blessings we receive. We want the perfect job, the perfect wedding, the perfect spouse, house, and kids. But life has more glitches than a new computer system, and perfection is a rare commodity here on earth.

Newport, OR beach with gullsMy husband’s uncle had a stroke. While Uncle John partially recovered, he remained weak on one side and had difficulty speaking. A former outdoorsman, he took up painting with his good hand. He made the most of what he had. And whenever he was asked how he was—or many other questions for that matter—his answer was always “Good enough.”

And what’s so wrong with “good enough?” We all have things that keep our lives from being perfect—whether health issues, money problems, disagreements with family or neighbors, job hassles, whatever. We can spend our days bemoaning our problems, or we can accept what we are given and make the most of it. We can enjoy the blessings we are given.dark clouds at beach

The waves keep pounding onto the sand, an ever-changing, but ever-the-same pattern. Dark clouds promise rain. We sit side-by-side, staring out the window, sharing the beauty of the moment. Thirty-six years. Years filled with smiles and tears, joys and frustrations. Not perfect years, but definitely “good enough.”

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Lightning Lake reflection, British Columbia A couple of weeks ago we spent some time hiking in British Columbia. We saw many beautiful places–from snow-topped mountains to rushing waterfalls to turquoise lakes. However, one of my favorite hikes was the Lightning Lake Trail in Manning Provincial Park. Although one of the longer hikes we took, it was a pleasant ramble through green forests along quiet, little lakes. And it contained very little elevation gain: a big plus for a wimp like me! When I called for a camera break, it was actually to take pictures, not as an excuse to plop down on a log and pant until I had the strength to continue.Lightning Lake reflections

Kayakers in Lightning LakeLater on the Joffres Lakes Trail, we saw beautiful, turquoise lakes, their color coming from glacial silt that fed into them. At Lightning Lakes, on the other hand, the color of the lake itself was hard to determine. The lakes were so still and silent that they simply mirrored the world above: tall, green conifers, summer blue sky, white fluffy clouds. Rather than calling attention to themselves, they modestly drew one’s eyes to the beauty around them. Even the paddles of two early morning kayakers scarcely raised a ripple. They appeared to paddle through the treetops in their lake reflection.Flash Lake, Manning Provincial Park

If only I could be like Lightning Lake–so calm and peaceful that when people look at me, they see the love of God shining from my face. Lord, in all I do, let my life reflect your beauty!

Lightning Lake, B.C.

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Springwater Trail, Boring, OregonInertia. Back in school I learned that inertia is the tendency of a body at rest to stay at rest and the tendency of a body in motion to stay in motion. Inertia explains why you are pushed back into your seat when the car or bus moves suddenly forward—and why the car won’t stop immediately when you hit the brakes. It’s a good principle to know.

Inertia applies in other ways, too. Like to my exercise program. During the Christmas holidays I didn’t get out running much. After the holidays ended, I caught a nasty bug that was going around and didn’t have the energy to exercise for two weeks. And then work got really busy, and I was spending too many hours on my rear in front of the computer. When a day finally came that I was able to get out and run, I really didn’t want to. I knew I needed to, but I did not want to. Inertia wanted to keep this body at rest.Sun through clouds

Once I pushed myself—with help from hubby—to get out and move, it wasn’t so bad. I did two miles and felt good about it.

 … At this point, I intended to turn inspirational and tell you all how I kept at my running program, and it just got better and better. Inertia keeping my body in motion and all that. Unfortunately, that did not happen. Work and bad weather kept me inside for a while longer. The next time I got out to run, I tried to do my usual three miles. It was a disaster. My legs tired quickly, and I think the pace of my walk breaks was faster than that of my running. The next day my legs ached, and my right knee kept giving out. I skipped a couple more days of running, and my next outing was not fun at all. Apparently inertia is not so easily overcome.

Maya, our black labIt takes a force to overcome inertia; the greater the mass, the greater the force required. Can that be why it’s easier to get our dog to move than me? Hmmm. Might be some other principles involved there, too. Still, it can be done. We ran on the Springwater Trail yesterday—just 2.5 miles, so as not to overdo it. Trees were beginning to leaf out, flower buds were swelling, signs of spring everywhere. Beauty can be a force, too, at least for me. It makes the effort to keep those legs moving worthwhile.opening leaves of Indian plum

How about you? Where in your life is inertia keeping you from moving? And what force will it take to break inertia’s hold?

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Foggy morningI hate goodbyes. I dropped my son off at the airport this morning, knowing I would probably not see him again until next Christmas. We hugged, and I watched him pull his suitcase toward the revolving doors. Around me, other people hugged their goodbyes, grasping that last touch, one final memory to hold them until next time.

Why do kids have to grow up and move away? I remember how excited I was when I went away to college. Did my mother cry as they drove away from my freshman dorm? Did a hole open in her heart that only my return could mend? I never thought about it much at the time; I was too busy living my own life.Son and husband

At my age, goodbyes become more common. A little over a year ago I whispered goodbye to my father as he lay silent in a hospital bed, his spirit perhaps already flown. That farewell was even more wrenching, tinged with the knowledge that I wouldn’t see him again until eternity.

sun shining through the fogAnd yet I go on. The sun shines through the fog and brightens the morning. I smile through my tears. Tomorrow my husband and I will be the ones leaving, off to see our other son and his wife. The hugs will be ones of gladness, as we reconnect after many months. The time will be all the more precious due to its brevity.

At the end of every hello is a goodbye. It’s just how life works. But the pain carves passageways for joy, and every farewell increases my longing for that day when goodbyes will be no more.

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Sunrise, 10-30-2013The dark gray haze of early morning is beginning to brighten, but the grass is still covered with frost.

“Time to go!” husband cheerfully cries. I look out the window and sigh.

The chill air makes me shiver as I step onto the porch.

“Didn’t we run later in the day last fall?” I ask, zipping my fleece as high as it will go.

“Maybe, but I like to get it done first thing in the day.” Husband is already jogging in place, patiently waiting for me to get warmed up. I take quick walking steps, easing into the run. Why was it I wanted to run anyway? And so early, when day has barely arrived?Mt. Hood and sunrise

Then I look up. Ah, sunrise. I had forgotten about sunrise. We run a bit, then I whip out my phone and take a picture. Further on, I stop again. Mt. Hood silhouetted by brilliant golden clouds. Yes, this is why early morning is the time to be out. Husband patiently waits. (See a pattern here?) I move on, inspired and beginning to warm up. And I keep watching the sky as the colors change and fade into streams of sunshine. A glorious fall day!

Morning sunlightFunny how life always seems better when you look up.

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Mt. Rainier, river

Our last day at Mt. Rainier was like so many fall days in the Pacific Northwest—wet and gray. Clouds moved in, muting the greens of moss and leaves, the reds and blues of berries, the gold of fall’s last blossoms. I hid my camera in my pack, bringing it out only briefly to capture some quick moment of beauty.

Mt. Rainier, vine maple

raindrops on huckleberry bushes, Mt. RainierWhen the rain stopped for a bit, I ventured out again. Firs towered over me, grown tall in the moist soil. The river rushed by, energized by the added water. And all around me, pictures of nature’s magnificence in miniature beckoned. In the days past we had enjoyed the grand vistas—wide, blue lakes, majestic peaks, hills rising above the fog. Today I focused in on the little things.

Mt. Rainier, lichens

Leaves speckled with raindrops. Oregon grape nestled against a tree trunk. Lacy leaf patterns in the vine maple. Miniscule forests of fungi. Amazing beauty that is so easy to miss in our hurried lives.

Mt. Rainier, Oregon grapeGray days can be depressing. Clouds surround me and the rain beats upon me, forcing my eyes downward. However, if I keep my eyes open, I can still discover those small blessings that make each day special.

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