Snow angels are the first thing our oldest is passionately making in the seasons’ first thick snow fall. We have about three inches on the ground and more is falling. The children’s excitement to abandon all thought of anything else but playing in the new snow is energizing. They quickly threw snow clothes over their PJ’s and got outside to help Dad shovel the long driveway. I love to see this teamwork.
This snow is the first we’ve had before Halloween. It’s a real surprise – to see so much, so early. And it’s still coming! Oh I have the craving to bake cookies and sit by the fire, in addition to playing with the family outside. Having not had snow for over six months, it feels new and exciting to see it back.
Unfortunately I have woken up with the flu. I’ve pushed my cold this week too much and not honored the rest by body called for. Now my body, in its aches and pains, is not letting me push any further. Ah, “I surrender all, I surrender all, all the Jesus I surrender, I surrender all.” So goes one of my favorite songs at church – and meditations for life.
With trust and obedience, I surrender. Still, it’s so hard. Watching our family outside enjoy the gift of the present – this fresh, and early snow fall, I yearn to join them. Oh the joy!
Snow Angels remind me we have angels all around us! I’m definitely going to hug and snuggle with our warm-bodied angels today. Indeed, I am a very blessed person. Thank you.
October 28, 2011 Alaska
“Thanks Mommy – I love it!” Our eldest said in her most excited, surprised, happy, appreciative tone of voice as she unexpectedly discovered some simple craft items sitting inside the art drawer. I love to hear “Mommy” expressed in this most precious way. What parent doesn’t?
It is a great gift to be called to in a sweet, loving manner. As our daughter has gotten older (she’s now ten) the number of times I hear this sweet loving “Mommy” have sadly decreased. It seems that as the responsibilities of her young life grow – school routine, homework, other activities, friends, and chores at home, that there is less space to be in that loveable, quiet space. Honestly, I realize, too, that my productivity-driven personality allows little free time in our family’s schedule.
It has been said that we give our children what we did not have. After being a parent for the last ten years, I claim this to be a true statement. It’s uncanny to see the influence the script of our first 15 years alive has on the rest of our life – and often unconsciously so. Case and point – during my childhood, all I had was time to create and craft – and in fact, I had nothing else to do – until I began regularly working at the age of 13. My informative years were largely spent fending for and comforting myself with crafting in front of the T.V. Now, I see how the pendulum has swung the other way in my parenting approach.
The present is truly the greatest gift we have. The freedom to surrender to the present in the way of our heart, is the essence of true joy. Christmas time seems to be one of the few times that I truly suspend the external responsibilities enough to allow ourselves to just be present to charming surprises and crafty play that we all yearn for most. Wow, I guess we need more PJ mornings without agendas!
Thank you, dear daughter, for showing me how to experience true joy in this present. Indeed, this is how I yearn to live each moment, each day. I vow to claim more PJ mornings and more space to simply be available to this gift of the present with you.
I write this now, I savor the happy sounds of all three of our children crafting and playing by the fireplace. I sit at my favorite writing spot, looking out to the sky that is unwrapping the reward of this new day. The shades of colors are shifting from pinks to blues and there’s a hint of purple mixed in, too. The snow-covered mountains are becoming more clearly defined as a clear and brisk 23 degree (F) day opens up to say “Good morning Alaska!” What a tremendous gift this present is to all of us.
“Yesterday is History, Tomorrow a Mystery, Today is a Gift, That’s why it’s called the Present.”
Wednesday, October 26, 2011
Waking to the complete surprise of snow is so exciting! It’s similar to feeling of a great Christmas morning – Fun! There is a mystical, mysterious , and pristine feeling that blankets everything. Suddenly we almost feel as if we’re transported into a new, land – the fresh layer of snow changes how everything looks and feels – it changes our reaction to our environment.
White, transparent clouds hover closely in the air – covering everything with the almost fairy-dust like texture. Romantic images from favorite books and movies are conjured up as the snow sits on the bird house and ground. Mind you, it’s just a thin layer for now that will likely melt. However, it comes just in time to remind us of the historical value of Hallow’s Eve – preparation for All Saints’ Day and in some places, the celebration of harvest and preparation for a very dark and often cold season in which survival was a serious concern for all.
As we move into our third year of living in Alaska, I find myself being a bit caught off guard again. Having grown up in the southwest, I never developed the habit of adjusting to changing seasons. It’s still not an intuitive process for me. It seemed like there was at least one more week to winterize the lawn and garden….it’s not yet Halloween. Surely there was more time to organize all the snow clothing. Here she is, ready or not!
The first snow tells us it’s time to quite down. The barren trees show us how to be still and let go! And yet all of our modern comforts numb us to these poetic and necessary seasonal changes. What if…we just slowed down with the season? Is it possible to live a modern life in Alaska and still live more in tune to the seasonal call of our bodies? The irony is that the beginning of winter often feels like one of the busiest times of the year. I am guilty of adding more to our life during the Advent season. Productivity is stressed and strived for in our culture to the degree that being quiet and still seem counter-cultural. How do we give ourselves permission to surrender to external commitments to allow more time of being present to the quiet of winter? How do we begin?
One thing I know for sure is that the first snow beckons the excitement of getting out to play – on skis and skates! I love the feeling of skiing, down-hill or cross country – and truly experiencing the extraordinary beauty of winter in Alaska. I love the sound of the kids enthusiastically making snow balls and snow angels, and discovering unique winter treasures in nature. I love that our children are getting the rich experience of diverse seasons – the benefits are for life!
The first snow is a welcome sight. May I surrender to winter’s invitation to rest and restore. “Cease striving and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” – Psalm 46:10 – New American Standard Bible
Ode to spring,
Ode to joy!
Whew – after a good five months of cold, snowy and often dark weather, it is so freeing to have the light lead us for over 12-hours a day now! It’s equally liberating to have the snow quickly melting away – to see familiar patches of grass (and toys) become uncovered once again. Hearing and seeing the birds flutter around us is renewing, too. The contrast of seasons in Alaska gives me – and the children, great appreciation for what we have each and every day. It’s always different – and seems like it’s getting better every day.
There’s a sense of ah, we can be free to play more easily outside. We can get our bikes out, our scooters and roller blades – and play with our neighbors who are outside, too. Yes, we all feel new in the excitement of what’s around us. Recently we’ve had a mother moose and her calf hanging out in the neighborhood, too. Just the sight of the moose is a beautiful reminder of the new life in spring – and that bears will soon be out, too! Now we wait for the next sign of spring – budding trees.
Our youngest is learning about eggs and ducks and is waiting in great anticipation to see the duck eggs hatch. How perfect to be studying about eggs – and new life during the Lent Season. Indeed, I am most grateful to be new today with you, God. Thank you for all of this!
“Staying in this cabin is like being in history. We don’t need to visit an old cabin to see how pioneers used to live – we can see it here,” said our 7-year-old. Sometimes kids really say it best!
From where I sit, I can see the entire Katchamack Bay and Homer spit, just as if I were perched in an eagle’s nest at the top of a tall tree. We are privileged guests of the Kiltcher-Burton Family. It’s grand to be here to take in the beauty of three generations of enthusiastic visions and plain ‘ol hard work.
Most especially all of this stands as a tribute to Yule and Ruth Kiltcher. Watching the family DVD on the history of Homer and this homestead, narrated by Yule Kiltcher, is to see the 20th Century “Little House on the Prairie” in action. This 600+ acre homestead has all the same elements of life lived in the 1850’s + with the added benefit of technology to capture it on film.
My prayer is that in addition to blessing this three-level, Swiss-styled chalet, that we will also be sparked with some of our own creative inspiration. It’s inherent with this land – even the kids get it!
“Love makes us real.” It is the poignant message of the beautiful movie called “The Velveteen Rabbit” we just finished watching. Love strikes to the core of who we are – and awakens us through the heart when the rest of our body has forgotten.
The message of this movie was so personal for me, and watching it was so unexpected, that I know there was a bigger hand that steered this into my life tonight. A favorite friend gave this movie to us a year or two ago – funny that it’s only now, when the Netflix wouldn’t work, that we turned on this precious movie. This makes me wonder how many other “things” I need are already around me and I haven’t used/viewed/benefited from them yet.
What I know for sure is that this message was for me tonight. A boy, whose mother has died is turned over to his cold grandmother, by his workaholic father just before Christmas. This dear boy discovers a gift his mother had left for him – a Velveteen Rabbit, along with some toys that were his father’s and Grandmother’s. Having lost my own father at the young age of 11 going on 12, the boy’s character transported me into the loneliness of loss in my own childhood – how deep it runs.
LOVING is what transforms us into real life – not love. I am convicted to pull out some of my childhood toys that have been collecting dust in my daughter’s rooms, and to simply play with our sweet children. I have seen through this movie, a mirror of my grown self – a worka holic, whose numbing myself from the depths of abandonment through death.
Too much I sign up for all the doing which smothers out the space for being – or simply playing! Help me to grab ahold of my own version of a rabbit, say my childhood Ragedy Ann and Andy, and help me to embrace this sweet space of Loving with our own children who give this precious gift to me.
Sometimes education is about simply being real. Tonight I cried – a lot, during the movie, and I let the kids see the tears. Tonight I told the kids how much I love them. Tonight I confess that I need help playing more! Education – it comes in all kinds of packages.
Snow capped mountains grab my attention from this spot. It’s breath taking and distracting. When the sky is cloudless, and the first snow of the season tops the peaks, we are reminded of how extraordinary Alaska truly is – in all of its seasons. Today I let go of a lot of doing to live more like Mary and let go of all the doing, that is so much like Martha.
“He must become greater, I must become less.” John 3:30
Seeing Denali, The Great One, at 20,ooo feet – from over 300 miles away on a day like today certainly is an awe-inspired moment that reminds me of true greatness. Such unique beauty stands on her own, above all else. Today I give thanks for all that is good and slow down to see God’s hand in all things around us.