Most nights we are in the mountains I awaken two or three times just to check for light at the foot of the bed. It’s something we didn’t realize when we bought the place, the fact our bedroom faces east. Which means we can leave the shade open at night, and when it’s time to rise God nudges us up and out with the most gentle, spectacular show.
My first words each day are: Is it get up time yet?
Tim always says yes. Which is perfect because every day is different–and we don’t want to miss a thing.
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WE STRETCHED OUR THANKSGIVING weekend in the mountains one more day, giving us time to prep for some work we’re having done in December. It’s a decision that resulted in us being there for one of the most unsettling nights I’ve ever experienced, a violent windstorm raging outside our walls and windows as we lay in the dark trying to sleep.
It’s a strange thing, this being at 5,000 feet on the top of a mountain. Every sense feels heightened. The glory is grand and majestic, of course. But the weather is unpredictable, and an emergency service–fire, EMT, etc.–is 40 minutes away, at best. It’s a place where you learn the reward of isolation might just be offered in equal measure to the risk.
They were the thoughts in my head as the storm raged around us all night. My greatest fear was of an ancient tree falling on the house (a reasonable concern when you are located in a forest). The wind shook the windows and rain pelted the glass with such force it sounded like ice, or gunshot, or both. I clung to Tim’s words as he slept fitfully beside me: This house has stood here for 38 years. It will be fine.
All of this is to say I had several hours to think in the dark and not-so-quiet of that night. And in my attempt to push the worry away, I turned my mind toward Advent.
A FEW YEARS AGO our Sunday School studied the book of Daniel with Beth Moore. I particularly remember a surprising revelation she offered about great dramas playing out above us in the heavenlies. Angels fight for us, she said, as we go about our mortal days unknowing. It’s an idea that’s stuck with me these many months since, this consideration of angels that are not gentle and ethereal but active and passionate and at work. As I listened to the wind and rain in the darkness, it’s the image that came to mind. Perhaps what I’m hearing is a great and fierce angel battle, I thought, one our tired world could surely use amid the darkness of late.
THESE HAVE BEEN difficult days, particularly so for many people I love: a terrifying cancer diagnosis; heartbreaking loss for a treasured friend; the unfathomable news a precious child is in an induced coma, the doctors searching for answers that won’t seem to come.
It goes on and on and on, the awful list, one after the other after the other. I desperately pray for each one. My heart aches heavy and swollen, and in my plea I reach for the words of writer/minister Winn Collier and the promise of this holy season of Advent:
Like so many folks, I am an Instagram lover. There’s something magical about simply clicking on the app to find photographs from all over the world sent just to me*. I’ve chosen the feeds I want to see–most are remarkable nature shots, some are people who make things or blog, a few are celebrities**, and many are people I know who make me laugh, smile, feel inspired, or simply give me a little peek into their daily lives.
(Instagram is one reason I love social media.)
I have posted to Instagram myself for several years and include in my feed a little of this and a little of that. Then it occurred to me some readers of The Daily Grace might enjoy a little grace daily! So I’ve created a new feed that offers one photograph I’ve taken each morning…a sweet moment of grace to start your day.
Here’s a sampling.
If you are an Instagram user, I invite you to follow me there. And if you’re not, perhaps you will consider joining. (Even those who don’t participate in much social media find this app easy to love.) It is my hope you will find The Daily Grace on Instagram to be a sweet spot for calm, joy and gratitude amid the chaos of this hustle bustle (wonderful) world!
If you like the idea of a daily photo prompt, here’s the list I use via blogger FatMumSlim. You can learn more about posting and tagging here, which means you’ll be part of a fun, creative global community of folks who share their unique take on a word (and their world). So fun. And fascinating.
We sat there on the deck not really talking, not doing much more than casting our eyes out across the long view, trying to take it all in. Such a vast look across so much nature is so big, so powerful–mountains that roll and climb and dip for miles in every direction, land meeting sky in a huge and gentle reckoning of the earth’s majestic glory.
And then without fanfare the fog rolled in, an unannounced guest at our high elevation gathering.
And suddenly we were cocooned in light, the world no bigger than the field and trees before us.
It’s an interesting thing to take photos every day then to look back over them as you build a monthly slide show. My guide is blogger FatMumSlim’s daily prompt, an exercise I really enjoy because it forces me to keep my eyes open and to look at the world in new ways.
April found me celebrating my husband’s return home after more than three years working in Mississippi, where he traveled each Monday morning and returned to South Carolina late Thursday night. It also found me in Great Falls, Virginia, spending a gleeful five days with my dearest high school friends. There was a gathering of college besties, a couple of trips to the mountains, and plenty of sweet Little Bit time.
(I even got a day or two with my sweet Eliza.)
There were bird nests, bird eggs, and baby birds galore. What a happy, happy month it was and how I love looking back over it all with a full, grateful heart. There is so much to love about April!
IT IS MOST CERTAINLY not a stock photo, although it is just the perfect kind of moment such a photographer would hope to create. It is, instead, real life: four pals sharing a birthday tea in the pretty light of early November; four friends donning their Halloween best–which just happens to be a delightful lineup of jewel-toned princess gowns and a denim prince, slightly rolled cuffs, high-tops and all. There is the one bare foot (adorable), and did you notice? Every cupcake has a giant candle.
I’ve thought of this scene a thousand times since it first caught my eye, rolling along, as it did, amid countless others on my Facebook wall. I was captivated, and so I messaged its share-er, my sweet friend, Elizabeth, for details. The tea was a celebration of all their birthdays, she explained, the four friends having been born within weeks of each other. Their mothers met in lamaze class and formed a tight circle that continues today.
What a beautiful story, I thought. How happy I am to have come upon the photograph, to have asked.
IT’S GREAT TO LIVE in a time when such connection is possible, don’t you think? It’s remarkable to have such a view. Elizabeth is someone I treasure, a friend I rarely see because of the geography that separates us. But through Facebook I feel a part of her world. I get peeks at her life and loves including a beautiful daughter, Catherine, and a pretty-in-pink granddaughter, Arya.
Just yesterday we had a message exchange that brought me so much joy I thought I might burst.
Is all well with you, my friend? I wrote.
Yes, Elizabeth responded. My life is just about right–my get up & go falls right in step with my desire & destination.
My life is just about right.
That, my dear ones, is perfection.
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And just like that, the world turned green and Spring arrived. Thank you, March, for the joy of friends, the love of family and an abundance of little fat birds–both in the studio and all around Bickley’s Pond!