Simple Gifts

After my trip to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness this past May – I became acutely aware what I was thankful for – and what I was not. What was important… and what was not.

To start with – we have been incredibly blessed with health! In the past year my daughter went to the doctor ONCE for an ear infection back in January. Blessed doesn’t begin to describe the hand God is giving us. I am so thankful each and every day that we wake up healthy and happy.

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Perhaps it is because my dad died so suddenly back in July of 2014 – that small nuances of life no longer bother me a bit. My patience has increased ten-fold – and I am utterly grateful for each and every breath I take.

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My dad taught me so much about interpersonal relationships. He taught me that human relationships were the most important thing that we can do with other people. The laundry and the lawn can wait – but the real important things of life – are giving your undivided attention to the moments at hand.

If I could be the fraction of a human being that my dad was – I may be doing okay.

I started a list last year – inspired by one of my favorite authors Ann Voskamp – A Thousand Gifts – where I’ve been jotting down all of the things I love and am thankful in life for and living each day as though it were Thanksgiving.

The list items –  may be as minute as watching tiny snow flakes fall to the earth, or gratitude for my amazing family or something as huge as my gratitude for Jesus. Taking full inventory of these Simple Gifts in their most raw form each and every day – even in the ‘minutia’ has expanded my appreciation of life tenfold.

Further – I’m blessed that I live in a country – though there are times that we may feel otherwise – we really are free to worship whomever and whatever we please. I can go to church with my daughter and feel assured that I’m not going to be physically harmed leaving church.

I’ve been working very hard since last May to get my life down to simplicity. I’ve said no to things that while amazing on their own – were emptying my bucket and not supporting the things in life I claim to be most important.

I’m thankful I was given the foresight to see that reality for me.

My life really does feel less rushed. I have time for the things that fill my bucket.  – Time to go on a walk with a friend, enjoy a glass of wine on the deck with a neighbor, read my daughter Little House in the Big woods or simply take a nap on a Sunday afternoon.

I’m thankful that I have a place I can go to a few times per year and see the full handiwork of God in nature – away from distractions of technology and the business of life. This place is a true Simple Gift. I’m thankful that I have legs to carry me to this place- and arms to paddle me deep into His amazing wilderness.

Happy Thanksgiving my dear readers. Will you take time to notice how amazing a simple snow flake is, the richness of family and friends around your table and the amazing grace of this life we live.

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Anchor

The last day of twenty fourteen!
I thought it was only appropriate to look back on where I was, where I’ve come and what I have before me. Last year I posted a litany of resolutions, or what I called Purposeful Intent. Something that I intended to do with purpose. While I did some of the things on my list, I failed completely at others.

Instead of a list that will just show me how futile human attainment (for me at least) can be, I opt in instead for a word to focus on, and a verse to pray over. I’m also in the process of writing down A Thousand Gifts – things I love to show me how I’ve been blessed and loved by the Lord, and of course my trip to the BWCAW.

Way back in 2013 I had chosen a verse for the year to focus on. I wrote it out on scratch paper in pen, and taped it to my electronic calendar which was Proverbs 19:21 – Many are the plans in a person’s heart,but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails. Each day since, I’ve looked at that verse and repeated it to myself. This verse gave me such a great deal of comfort while we waited to find out if our daughter was going to get into the school we desperately had hoped for, and in the aftermath of my dad.

This past summer while my father was still clinging to life in the hospital Proverbs 3:5 just would not leave my mind. Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. This was my mantra – and still is. There is no way for me to understand what happened, and all I can do is trust fully in the Lord and know that this is not the end of the story.

After hearing this amazing song by none other than Hillsong United (Who brought us Oceans) I could not get the word ANCHOR out of my mind. In fact I almost named this blog –  littleblessedlife.com with something to do with an anchor.  It seemed so powerful with both me and my dad having served in the Navy and then with this overwhelming desire to go to the BWCAW this upcoming spring I knew that this word was going to be it for 2015. It wasn’t until I started looking for a stock photo of an anchor for this exact post that I came across Hebrews 6:19 and my jaw dropped to the floor.

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The lyrics of this song which will not get out of my head was ripped right from Hebrews 6:19. Oh how I believe in this verse with my entire being, my entire soul! When I came across this song late this fall, the lyrics immediately gave words and real structure to what I had been feeling in my heart these past few months, but could not say myself.  It felt deeply like my postlude to Oceans in a way and to my story. I had been led out into the deep waters, walked on water and am now holding so tightly to my Anchor, my God to keep me from blowing away. I find it difficult at times to explain what I am feeling inside, but this song and its lyrics do it so beautifully.

On any given day when I felt the tides rise up, ready to wash over me I listen to this song with arms stretched out and face lifted, and immediately feel the Lords presence surrounding me. Its strange in a way to me how deep my faith has grown since July. Its not as though I grew up with unbelief. From as long as I can remember I believed in the story of the cross, but some how I now just know its true. Every time I sing to God, and pray I feel my dad right next to me.

In these storms it is so easy to drift, and be consumed with the rains beating down on you –  but with the Anchor holding me in place I will not drift, I will not fall I will not be consumed with fear and despair, but consumed with faith, hope and love. Love that was nailed to the cross.

My Father has been so present in my life these past six months, its overwhelming to the point of tears when singing worship songs. I can’t imagine how my father feels being face to face with Him.  “He gave everything to save the world He loves”.

Hope. What brings joy to the heart, which brings light to the world, and the laying out of full trust in the Lord. Drink in these words with me. Let them wash over you, and I wish you each a blessed and remarkable 2015 where you grow closer to the Lord.

These words are my anthem, my battle cry.

I have this hope
As an anchor for my soul
Through every storm
I will hold to You

With endless love
All my fear is swept away
In everything
I will trust in You

There is hope in the promise of the cross
You gave everything to save the world You love
And this hope is an anchor for my soul
Our God will stand
Unshakeable

Unchanging One
You who was and is to come
Your promise sure
You will not let go

Your Name is higher
Your Name is greater
All my hope is in You

Your word unfailing
Your promise unshaken
All my hope is in You

I am such a sucker for acoustic versions of songs- so when i found this there was so much joy and elation in my heart! I hope you enjoy!

 

Lay it at His feet

Through the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, and BWCA trip planning its easy to forget why there is a giant hole in my heart. I’m learning through it all to lay it down at His feet. Everything I’ve ever tried to hold on to, and figure out on my own has been met with anxiety and worry.

Allow me to explain.

I’ve written down a few times that I’m was very nervous about my birthday that is coming up in now 14 days. A birthday that I had shared with my dad since that Monday morning that I came into the world 34 years ago at 11:13 a.m. The day that I became connected with my father, and bonded in this date forever. The last time I posted about it, I was in the depths of sorrow finally allowing myself to think about what my birthday will look like without him.

Without the joint birthday song singing, cake eating, and typical birthday fanfare we once shared.

I prayed a prayer that night asking God to take this feeling of anxiety surrounding my our my? birthday from me and woke up feeling refreshed about it. My sister had come up with an idea that was actually a deep desire that I had had that I didn’t even know she knew. Maybe she didn’t know. Maybe it was God planning out what he knew was in my heart.

We are planning to go on a Vineyard Tour of several of the Western Wisconsin/Eastern Minnesotan wineries along the St. Croix River Valley. Wine – something that I love and something my dad loved as well. We are going to bring his candle along and light it at each vineyard and raise a glass to birthdays and memories. I think I like this idea for future birthday’s as well, or at least some version of it.

God is in the business of answering prayers friends. He will never leave me or forsake me.

It wasn’t easy to get to this more restful place though. I had to lay this down at the feet of Jesus. I have to lay down a lot of things at His feet. When I tried to hold this part in, and stuff it down it became unbearable to bear. Jesus says, “Come to me, Lindsey who is weary and carries heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your soul. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” Matthew 11:28-30 (NLT and mine)

You see friends, when we lay our cares and worries at the feet of Jesus he picks up those heavy, messy and broken pieces. That angst and fear that can drown us.

Psalm 55:22 Give your burdens to the lord, and he will take care of you. He will not permit the godly to slip and fall. // 1 Peter 5:7 Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you. // Philippians 4:6-9 Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.

Amen Amen Amen.

Redeeming Helper,
Thank you for your strength Lord. Thank you for letting me rest in you. Thank you for carrying and taking this burden of worry for me. Whenever I have called out to you to help me you’ve never failed me. You are always here whenever I need you. Thank you for being consistent Father and loving me always.

Amen Amen Amen.

Waiting for my eggs!

Since late April I’ve been waiting for eggs. I got an itch to raise my own chickens after my good friend Pam promised me how easy they were to raise. Research was poured into breeds of chickens for this harsh Minnesota climate and hours were spent on Pinterest finding the perfect chicken coop plan for my husband to build.

Last June I got my chicks and after a fateful attempt with round one after Sadie killed the first batch, I have been waiting patiently with batch number two since then. (Two red stars/Isa Browns and two Black Australops).

Like a human mother in her ninth month of pregnancy I wait and wait and wait. Any day now we could see eggs in their nesting boxes, so each morning like a kid on Christmas I run out to the chicken coop before work to see if my girls have given me any eggs.

So far they’ve been keeping their legs closed pretty tight, but are always happy to see me and are getting quite friendly with me even allowing me to pet them and pick them up. Each time I approach the Coop I hear a bak bak bak and I bak bak back.

They are incredibly easy to take care of and love being let out to nibble on all of the greenery my October yard has left to offer.

I have lost track of who’s name is who’s especially after we had to get rid of Henry who used to be Beatrice who then turned into Babs and is now Henry the rooster residing in elk River Minnesota… The problem with naming them is that you get attached, and before you know it they turn into roosters and you have to get rid of them! At least I can still visit Henry….But clearly I digress!

So now they’re just my girls… And I’m their shepherd waiting for them to lay eggs, or am I considered a farmer? These are the musings I contemplate laying in bed while trying to fall asleep.

Which I must do because I have nesting boxes to check in the morning!

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A is for Attitude

I was going to originally title this post A is for Anger.

Ever have one of those mornings where you wake up on the wrong side of the bed? I definitely did today.

I was having an incredible dream, though at my father’s funeral I kept seeing him crystal clear… He was talking to me and I felt a sense of calm wash over me… But each time I looked deeper at him it was not my father at all, but instead was my uncle Buck or my uncle Joe… I would push through the crowd looking for my dad but I couldn’t find him….

Our eight month old dog woke me up whining uncontrollably to be let out at 5:30 this morning… I was so angry that he woke me up that it put me in a bad mood for the rest of the day. Soon I was barking my own orders around the house to the dogs and to my daughter, and was slamming the doors and stomping around in the process.

After I dropped little Miss off at school, I experienced what seemed to be a never ending series of events that happened one after another. And incompetent cashier that declined a check that shouldn’t have been declined, a gift registry that kept flashing error and wouldn’t print and another cashier who couldn’t help me at all. I was feeling fully deflated and annoyed by the time I actually got to work.

Once I finally got to work fully annoyed at my morning I broke down after several envelopes got stuck together in the mail room. I thought to myself why is life pissing in my Cheerios? I stood there sobbing and hoping nobody would walk in on me. I pulled myself together and went back to work.

Later on I was affixing this letter “A” sticker on to something else and kept repeating to myself, “A is for anger” “A is for anger”, which was actually making me more angry and deflated. A few coworkers noticed I was quite taciturn today and asked if I was alright. I lied and said I’m fine…

But later on in the day when I was facing towards my wall coworker asked if I was okay and I silently shook my head “no”. I grabbed my purse and went to my “Secret Garden” to regroup. I cried out to the Lord, “Help me. I’m so sad today Lord. I have such a bad attitude of anger and I’m so sorry that I yelled at my daughter and my pets. I’m angry Father. I’m angry and so sad that my dad had to die so stupidly. Its STUPID God…. He wasn’t old, he wasn’t caught in the crossfires of a drunk driver, or diagnosed with cancer or heart disease…. its something that could happen to anyone, and I hate it. I feel so helpless, and so scared God that I could die any day… any moment… and oh life seems so muted. All the life has gone out of everything, and it all just looks so stupid. I haven’t given up hope Lord in life… no, but the wind has been let out of my sails…. I feel as though I have lost my navigation map and compass… where do I go from here Lord? Help me Lord. I have so much to do these next few weeks… help me. Restore my soul and lift me up Father. I need your help. Return in me a joyful and patient heart. Father I ask that nobody asks me when I go back why I left so abruptly… please let me re-enter as if nothing happened at all. Maybe nobody even noticed, but if they did Father I ask that they let it go… or wait for a better time. Please God… help me get through these next few hours, days, and weeks…. 

And He did.

God is so great in that way. Soon I felt a complete calm rush over me that is so unexplainable that my only explanation can point towards the God of all comfort. I retuned to work feeling happy and content, and ready to face whatever it threw at me. I was able to think more clearly, and was even cheery again.

This is such a hard road I am going down. I know that there are people in this world suffering far worse than I am right now, but this is my plight. It hurts and stings and on the eve of my grandfather’s (would be) 100th birthday. I cant help but think of my own birthday. I’m so scared and sad. I know it doesn’t have to be a scary or sad day…. but so far even the mention of it, or thought of it sends me into sheer anxiety.  I take a deep breath in, and push it all away.

I know I will have to confront it soon… but for now I am content… I still feel the sharp edge of sorrow waiting and the world feels completely out of balance, but my hope is in the Lord. I will lean on those who love me, and not be afraid to show emotion when the train of sadness and anxiety hits. I need people right now. Please pray for me…  I am absolutely NOT in a dark and scary place where anyone needs to feel concern… but I am absolutely sad and disappointed in how things turned out for my own selfish gain.

I know for fact that my dad is in a better place. He loved Jesus with all of his heart. I know he is absolutely in heaven rejoicing right now. I know that this time that we are separated is but a breath to him now that time doest not play a factor in his new life, but it plays such a huge factor in mine. I thought it would be YEARS upon YEARS before we would be separated…. and even that thought was unbearable…  The only thing that brings me comfort is to know that he is praising Jesus face to face and that he is experiencing a sense of joy right now that only I read about in the Bible.

I realize that this is a different kind of post tonight. More open and honest and raw than ever before. Truth be told my feet almost failed me today. I almost stood in those waters and just let the tide wash over me, and drown me. But Jesus was there the whole time, with his arm out saying, Lindsey… take my hand… take it… let me help you. This does suck…. but I am here… I am with you. I AM. I reached out to God, and am in his arms.

Love came down and rescued me today… Love came down and set me free from this anger that was siring up inside of me. I heard this song on the way home tonight, and it was so perfect, and so fitting that I just had to share it with you all.

I hope you enjoy this song as much as I did tonight.

Running is like Grief

I’m still getting that “age old” question, “how are you”. Its a question people ask the grieving that is as old as the dawn of time. Mostly I now just tell people that I’m fine because I am fine. Some days I have downright amazing days, and other times its just so sad to think that new memories won’t be made with that part of my life.

Above all though this journey could be compared to running. Since 1999 I have been a runner. I began running over the winter that year to get prepared for boot-camp the following year, and started running three miles at a time a few times a week. I was hooked.

While I was in the Navy I became more serious about running, and even ran my first marathon in 2002 and countless half marathons after that. (In fact my very first official race was the marathon! Go big or go home right?)

After a particularly difficult 10 mile race last summer I decided I was going to hang up my laces for a while and took an 11 month hard break from running. I ran five miles on National Running day this year on June 4th which was nearly unbearable, and then began running more regularly just last week. Just two and three miles at a time, a few times each week.

I’m so out of shape. Running just two miles at a 10 minute pace is grueling but like life I just have to put one foot in front of another and continue. Like running I wake up, get dressed, go to work, and try to be a normal and happy person, and it mostly works.

I take each day, day-by-day- each hour by hour, and each moment by moment, just like I take each marathon by half marathon, half marathon by mile, and mile by step. My friend Hannah blogs over at Feet Move Forward and I think she’s really on to something. You just have to move forward.

Do I want to lay in bed all day and wallow in despair? Yes. But I have my husband counting on me, my daughter counting on me, my animals (all 9) counting on me, and my work counting on me. You just move. Move forward. It doesn’t matter how much that day, just move.

I’ve been daydreaming lately of running goals I have over the next year… – as this metaphor continues, and like my blog’s namesake says, “Feet May Fail” some of these daydreams might fail. My day might fail me, and the hour or minute might fail me, but I have to try something. Go out where feet may fail, and not be afraid to get out of the boat.

I think 2015 is going to be a spectacular come back year for me. I don’t want to give too much away, but stay tuned throughout my journey as I use running as a healing outlet for me to cope with this grief.

One block… one mile… one half marathon, and one marathon at a time!

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Hebrews 12:1 And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.

Retreat – To the Shores of Lake Superior

This past weekend my husband, siblings (their spouses), and myself headed up to Madeline Island, Wisconsin. A vacation that we had planned for several months was a very welcome distraction and came with perfect timing! We were able to share memories, and also spend the majority of the time goofing off as siblings do! It was such a welcome distraction from the non-stop feeling that my world is falling apart.

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I have a bit of a confession. I’ve heard from many of you who have admired my strength and my faith, but to be raw, and honest, and real… this past week I had been fretting over answered and unanswered prayers. Does God even hear me when I pray? Does he even care about my will, or is it all up to him? I laid awake last Tuesday night in hysterics thinking that God doesn’t hear me at all, and what even holds our universe let alone world in balance? I imagined our planet flying through space, and wondered desperately what holds us together? The prince of darkness tried to drench me with his lies that God is far away, and that he doesn’t care about anyone. But in an instant I was sobered when I took pause and read verses like:

Luke 12:24-34:Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life ? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest? “Consider how the lilies grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith! And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well. “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom.

Matthew 11:28-30 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

John 14:27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

Philippians 4:6-7 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

I even felt better when I read the words of Jesus when hanging on the cross cried out to God saying, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” which means “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” Matthew 27:46.  Even Jesus himself questioned the Father, and He was not offended.  The feeling is normal. Asking questions is completely normal.

The prince of darkness tried to make me stumble and fall, but I have the strength of Jesus Christ on my side, and have the treasures of His word in my heart.  I know the real truth and the real story is that God loves me. He loves my dad, and He loves my family. It wasn’t Gods aim to make us feel like our world was falling apart, to cause us angst, or worry, or despair. But God loves us through it all. Through these messy times where we question him, and even wonder if He hears us he Loves us. When I doubt that my will is ever done He loves us. When we question if anyone in this world matters He loves us.

He is not offended by these questions, or when we stumble and fall, He is there to catch us, not stand by and be offended. He loves us, He loves us, He loves us!

Here is the back story on the song “How He Loves” which is a lot like my own story.