Seeking Contentment

 

Monday started out like most other school days.  Drink some coffee, help the kids get out the door for school, kiss my husband goodbye as he heads off to work, and then get ready for the gym.

And that’s when it hit me…not like a whisper tickling at the edge of my senses. No, in this moment of solitude, it was like a heavy blow to the chest, knocking the wind out of me.

Grief.

Sadness for my grandmother who passed away 2 1/2 years ago.  And I was shocked by this sadness because there wasn’t a trigger.  I hadn’t dreamed about her.  I hadn’t found the letters that she has written to me that have envelopes, classically addressed to Miss or Mrs.  I had not come across the inscriptions in the books she gave my children, written in her beautiful flowing cursive.  I hadn’t even picked up one of the pieces of jewelry that belonged to her that I tend to choose to wear more frequently than not.  No, this was step out of the shower, feel the tears brimming at the back of my eyes and begin to take deep breaths to keep them from spilling over.

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And I remember how she wanted me to be content.

I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content in whatever the circumstances.  I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty.  I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.  Philippians 4:11-12

If you’ve read my prior post about how we came to leave Florida, you’ll know that I was very confident that this move was the right thing.  That doesn’t mean that it was easy.

My grandmother was becoming more ill leading up to our move.  I had visited right before we moved.  I knew that I would never see her face to face again and that was very hard for me.  Toward the end, I thought about jumping in the car and driving down, but we were in chaos.  The house was a nightmare, school had just started, we had no local help, and I was trying to embrace the move.

My grandmother wanted me to be happy and even made the comment to a family member about her being happy that I was content.  And I thought I was, because we were supposed to move here.  But inside I was just trying to keep my head above water, and feeling like I was sinking more each day.  When she died, I felt like a fraud.  I was not content.  And I sank deeper into the abyss.  That winter was probably the roughest of my life.

Promise me you will not spend so much time treading water and trying to keep your head above the waves that you forget, truly forget, how much you have always loved to swim. -Tyler Knott Gregson

I don’t pretend to understand depression.  I don’t think it’s the same for everybody.  I’ve experienced the edges and shallows of it plenty of times.  I’ve tried medicine at different points, but it was not for me (I completely believe that it is the lifeline for some people).  That winter, however, was deepest I’ve ever climbed into that hole.  I’m not going to pretend like it all got better and now I’m happily content. I still have days when I don’t understand this season.  This season in a foreign land without my family.  This season of struggling to find a network of friends.  This season of major issues popping up before I’ve resolved the last.

Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars. – Kahlil Gibran

I’ve just survived my third winter here and did it by searching daily for something to hold on to that was good.  I changed the way I eat , take yoga, and took photographs daily.  If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll know I love quotes and spend time searching for ones to go with my photos.  I spend lots of time talking with God and listening for his guidance.  I try to remain in the present through all these things.

After my sadness Monday I thought about writing this post, but I wasn’t ready.  I walked into my yard that afternoon to a flower blooming that had never bloomed in my yard before.  I’ve watched it daily as it opens, more beautiful than the day before.

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 I’ve also admired the flowers (weeds) that have popped up in adverse locations, squeezing through the rocks and grass to turn their yellow faces to the sun.

A strong woman knows she has strength enough for the journey, but a woman of strength knows that it is in the journey where she will become strong. – Unknown

Tuesday, I read this devotion,  which had the same verses I’d been dwelling on the day before. And yet, I still wasn’t ready for this post.  I wrote most of this post this (Thursday) morning with plans to edit and add pictures after yoga.  It’s a 3 minute drive to my gym and this was a piece of the song that played in the car:

Oh, to everyone who’s hit their limit
It’s not over yet, it’s not over yet
And even when you think you’re finished
It’s not over yet, it’s not over yet
Keep on fighting
Out of the dark, into the light, it’s not over
Hope is rising
Never give in, never give up, it’s not over
– “It’s Not Over Yet” by For King and Country

God always has a way of showing up just when I’m not sure if he’s listening.

The verse after the two I’ve dwelt on this week is this:

I can do all this through him who gives me strength – Philippians 4:13

This is how I find contentment.

In Him.

Let your light shine!

Amy

Thursday Doors – The Red Door

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Last week was my first week participating in Thursday doors.  While I saw many interesting doors over the course of week, timing or weather prevented my capturing of them.  I’m hoping to get back to them and find some new ones in the upcoming week.

Since I wanted to participate and I’m coming in right under the wire of the Saturday, noon deadline.  I thought I’d share my door.

I’ll tell you why I love my door.  It’s red!  Why is that significant?  Because I have always wanted a home with a red door and in my 17 years of keeping a home, this is the first one that I have had.

I began reading about feng shui many years ago and while there are tons of things I don’t understand about it, it is important to me how the house feels when I walk into it.  This would align with the thoughts of the energy flow.  I know some experts have different ideas on things and some will say things about the way the house must face, missing areas, etc.  I’ve learned that I cannot figure it all out and I try to do what lends to a feeling of comfort in my house (such as no mirrors facing the bed, no TVs in bedroom-big gasp, and other little things that I implement)

Red doors are spoken highly of in feng shui.  They make me feel happy when I see them.  I’m sure there are some house styles or colors where that wouldn’t be the case (My first house had a green shingle roof, that may have felt too much like Christmas).  We have never taken the time to change the front door color of our prior homes because we were too busy raising children or fixing more pressing items around the house.  While I didn’t pick this house because of its red door, it thrilled me that finally I would have a house with a red door.

Most homes here in Virginia have storm doors, which is something new to me.  A lot of homes in South Florida have front doors which open outward because the force of hurricane winds could blow the front door inward.  I opened the storm door for the above photo because it casts reflection and is only good if you’re going for creativity:

 

I love walking in this front door because this is where my family lives.  You can see the dining room table at the back of the house when you open the door.  That table is the place where we gather to talk about our day, to talk about what we have coming up, and the place where most weekends there are extra boys crowded around it eating the pancakes that I make from scratch (even though I don’t eat wheat, I don’t want to scare the boys away!)

That was the case this morning and I smiled as took the picture of this door because even though it can be VERY chaotic when you walk through, it is also brimming with love!

Let your light shine!

Amy

For more awesome doors head over to Norm 2.0

WPC-Abstract

DSC_0004.JPGThere’s nothing like a good rainstorm to thwart your plans.  I had anticipated getting out and enjoying some warmth.  Getting out and capturing some images.  Instead the wind blew hard, beating the droplets against my window panes.  The rain ran loudly onto the back deck, falling from the roof in a never ending stream.

I used the time as an excuse to catch up on paperwork and the purging of unnecessary emails, rejected photos, and other paraphernalia.  From time to time I would glance longingly out my dining room window, knowing the rain was necessary for the springtime growth, necessary for washing away the thick coating of pollen, but still longing for sunshine.

Once the rain finally moved into a trickle, my kids were home and my time became theirs. Sunshine is on the agenda for tomorrow and I will be basking in its warm rays as I move throughout my day.

I hope that you all experience pleasant weather this weekend!  It has a tendency to be fickle, so I’m hoping it sticks to the plan! 🙂

Let your light shine!

Amy

 

*submitted for the WordPress weekly photo challenge-Abstract.  To see others interpretations click here

 

 

Liebster Award – Growing

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I’ve been nominated for The Liebster Award by the wonderful dogs and humans over at Whippet Wisdom.  I have been enjoying their blog very much and you should head over and check it out.

When I first received the nomination I was, of course, very much flattered and honored.  But my next reaction was panic.  I wanted to decline, not so much because I had to answer questions or tell about myself.  Even coming up with questions, while intimidating, didn’t make me want to run and hide.  No, it was the nominating part.

I haven’t been blogging for long and I’ve finally just started to comment on posts.  Approaching people is not my strong suit.  I have lots of issues with what Lysa Terkeurst calls “inside chatter“.  After talking through my thoughts with my husband, who is really great at letting me make my own decisions by answering a question with a question, I remembered that this blog journey was about growth.  And so today, some growth is going to happen.

These were the questions posed to me:

  1. Do you believe in miracles? The short answer would be: Yes, I believe in miracles.  Merriam-Webster defines a miracle as:  an unusual or wonderful event that is believed to be caused by the power of God; a very amazing or unusual event, thing, or achievement.  I think the very fact that our bodies and planet function in such  amazing, symbiotic ways is a miracle.  As to a specific miracle in the  standard sense, when I was about 9 or 10 I had a friend who was bitten by a 6 ft diamondback rattlesnake in the woods near his home.  He said that an angel carried him home.  The amount of venom injected into him was a lot and to have made it home and up the stairs of their stilt home would have been an arduous journey with precious time passing and the venom spreading.  His brother heard a knock at the front door and opened it to find him lying at the door. I believe his story was featured in Guidepost sometime after it happened in the late 80’s.
  2. Is there someone you would like to thank who said the right words to you at the right time?  I’m sure there are lots of someones who said the right words at the right time.  By naming any, I feel as though I will be forgetting someone else and don’t want any hurt feelings.  Those who know me, know when I appreciate their words.
  3. What is your favourite walk? I don’t know that I have sought one out here in Virginia.  My favorite walk overall is to walk along the shoreline hunting sea glass and shells, feeling the ocean breeze, smelling the salt in the air, and having conversations with God about everything I’m thinking about.
  4. What are your favourite creations in nature? Another tough one.  This can change daily as I find something new that I love everyday.  I love to watch a dolphin frolicking in the waves.  I love to watch a deer standing still, its eyes telling a story of a thousand thoughts.  I love the smell of orange blossoms and night blooming jasmine because they remind me of my childhood.  I love stars-when I was a kid I would lay out in the grass at night and imagine what it must be like out there.  I could go on and on, but who really has time for that 🙂
  5. If you could be an animal for a day, what would you like to be? Well when I was a kid I dreamed of being this animal.  If I had to choose today it would be a bird.  A large bird of some sort.  I have watched them as they hover in the air, letting the wind catch beneath their wings and propelling them higher.  They seem as if they just enjoy that feeling of letting go.  
  6. What makes you happy? Having people to care about and who care about me.
  7. What do you treasure most in your relationship with your pet(s)/best friend? Honesty and the ability to be “me”.
  8. What inspires you? People who are able to find their purpose and brave enough to pursue it.
  9. What makes you laugh? Usually wildly inappropriate things or very random things.
  10. Do you have any advice for newbie bloggers? I consider myself a newbie since I’ve only been doing this a few months.  But I would say don’t get discouraged if its something you feel passionate about.  And you are allowed to change your mind about the direction you want to take.  The blog will sometimes evolve as you find your thoughts (unless, unlike me, you already know all of them).  The wordpress daily post ended up being very helpful. It really helps you find blogs that you like and helps people find you.
  11. What question would you love to answer, that we did not ask? My life verse right now as I spend time on this inward journey is : “For I know the plans I have for you”, declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future” -Jeremiah 29:11.  Life can be decidedly chaotic and I just keep trying to be sure that I’m listening. When there is fog ahead, I know that everything turns out at it should in the end.

Eleven random facts about me:

  1. I graduated high school at 16 (not something I recommend)
  2. I drove a manual transmission (stick shift) vehicle until I had kids
  3. This was because I liked to race
  4. But I am a rule follower so I just beat them in the takeoff until I hit the speed limit (we are talking about from red lights with a straightaway, not some organized thing)
  5. My grandmother used to listen to the police scanner and heard my car type and color mentioned in a drag race (I plead the 5th-just kidding, I won in the takeoff, didn’t squeal my tires and let off the gas when I hit 5th gear and the speed limit so I was never stopped)
  6. I now have a 16 year old boy (enough said about my dreams of racing cars)
  7. I don’t like being cold.  Like…really, really don’t like being cold.
  8. I enjoy yoga. It helps me learn to be in the present.
  9. You will almost always see me with a twisted topknot??.  I don’t like needing to throw my hair out of the way when moving from forward fold to mountain and other such movements.  But it must be high enough to not mess with my neck alignment during savasana.  Plus it makes me about 3 inches taller!!
  10. I rarely wear makeup.  Mostly because I’m lazy.
  11. I rarely blow dry my hair (see #9). See #10 for the reason.

It was really hard to decide who to nominate.  There are so many wonderful blogs out there.  I only nominated 5 because, hey, good growth is slow growth!! 🙂  I have nominated:

The Year of the Daffodil

Everything, Everywhere

Lonna Hill Prayers and Musings of an Expat Mom

The Sky’s the Limit

Way Crunchy (disclosure: this is my niece, but it was her going for it that pushed me over the edge of my comfort zone into the blogging world)

I chose these blogs for a variety of reasons, whether it be the photography, their words, their ideas and thoughts, or the awesome vibe they send out, but they are all definitely worth checking out.

The 11 Questions I pose should you choose to accept:

  1. What is your favorite quote?
  2. What is your favorite book?
  3. What is your favorite movie?
  4. Do you have a hobby that you enjoy?
  5. Has anyone ever given you any great advice that you’d like to share?
  6. Is there significance to your blog name?
  7. Why did you start blogging?
  8. If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
  9. What do you most hope that others remember about you?
  10. Do you have a favorite post that you’ve published?
  11. When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

This is a time consuming post and I completely understand should you not have the inclination or the time to accept 🙂

 

Let your light shine!

Amy

 

Today I will be happier than a bird with a french fry

We were on spring break in Jensen Beach, FL a few weeks ago.  My middle son had stayed with a friend and their family down in West Palm Beach.  We went down and picked the three boys up to stay with us for a day and half. This photograph was from the day that we took them to the beach.

It was a very choppy day, but it was toward the end of our time there so everyone wanted to go.  The flags at the lifeguard stand were waving in the wind.  Red and purple flapping quickly back and forth.

If you aren’t familiar with the beach flag systems a red flag mean high hazard (rough conditions such as strong surf and or currents). You will often see surfers out if the timing of the waves is good. The purple flag means marine pests (jellyfish, stingrays, and dangerous fish).  Typically at this beach it has always meant jellyfish and sure enough there were little purple blobs (man-o-wars) along the shoreline

One of the boys we brought had never surfed and really wanted to try.  Since it was so rough, we let him surf the whitewater.  He got up right away.  Aahhh…to be young.  I can barely make it up and am usually a spectator.  There were other surfers out beyond us, but we were there with 5 teens. My kids swim like a fish as does my husband.  I, however, am not a strong swimmer.  My oldest was attempting to catch waves on the paddleboard, my husband was coaching the teen on the board and the other three were body surfing and diving headfirst into the monstrous waves.

With the waves crashing one after the other, I had no interest in being pummeled.  I walked along the shoreline collecting seashells,  talked to the lifeguard who came along on his four-wheeler to let me know they had seen man-o-wars, and then I settled back into my spot.  I sat there on my pink and green beach blanket smelling the salt air, watching the teens laugh, and snapping pictures on occasion.  I heard a little boy behind and to the left of me.  He was intrigued by the seagulls and they were intrigued by him….because he had some french fries.  His mother told him that he could feed them some.  So two seagulls were there hovering waiting for the moment he would throw one out.  I was able to snap some great pictures because they were so close.  When he threw them a fry, a bird would swoop down and grab it up, immediately heading toward the shoreline with the other bird in hot pursuit.

The birds were completely enraptured  by this easy dinner, the little boy was enthralled by their fascination with him, and I was the bystander silently taking it all in. It was entertaining to watch and I was reminded of the quote “Today I will be happier than a bird with a french fry”.  Sometimes it is the simplicity of daily life where we can find the most happiness.

Let your light shine!

Amy

 

Thursday Doors: Downtown

This is my first submission into  Norm 2.0’s Thursday Doors.  I was intrigued by this concept.

This is a door down an alleyway in Downtown Roanoke, Virginia.

It caught my eye because most of the doors are plain and nondescript on this particular alleyway.

It is a side entry door to the Agnew seed shop building.  According to a Roanoke Times article that I found, the seed shop was founded in 1897 and its Market Street building erected in 1907.  I have a photo of the front of the building that can be found here.

I have a love for the architecture of these old Virginian buildings.  As a Florida native, most architecture there is of a much newer age.  From Palm Cottage and little concrete beach bungalows with terrazzo floors in Naples, Florida to the Art Deco style in Miami, Florida, there is a lot to be enjoyed about the architecture down there.

Yet there is something about architecture that begins to date back even more. A story that it has to tell.  Many lives that have walked around and amongst it. So many changes that it has seen.  Some that show the wear of time and some as if they’ve been frozen into an ageless space.  Wonderment at what life must have been like when they were built.

I have not yet left this country so I have not been able to gaze upon some of the stunning overseas architecture that I have seen in pictures.  I hope to someday walk among some of those streets, standing in awe, and creating my own moment in history.

Let your light shine!

Amy