Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Love Out of the Box

Perhaps everyone has their own definition of what the word love means to them and it's possible that it is misused and probably overused in describing every day things. While I'm sure I throw the word love around rather carelessly, I don't like the thought of putting love in a box to only be used in describing how I feel towards someone. So, here are my out-of-the-box thoughts on what I think love is.

Love Is...

Waking up to the beauty of a sunrise.

And witnessing that same beauty in a sunset.

Love Is...

Your childhood memories.

And your children's childhood memories.

Love Is...

Finding your passion.

Love Is...

Feeling drawn to a place,

no matter what the season.

Love Is...

Letting the underdog win, just because.

Love Is...

Being in a place that brings you great peace.

Love Is...

Immediate family.

And extended family.

Love Is...

Life long friends.

Love Is...

Acting like a kid again.

Love Is...

Reflecting His majesty.

Love Is...

Never forgetting

the great price that's been paid.

Love Is...

Forgiving others for their mistakes.

Love Is...

The smile of a child.

Love Is...

Hanging out together.

Is it so small a thing
To have enjoy'd the sun,
To have lived light in the spring,
To have loved, to have thought, to have done...

Matthew Arnold

Monday, December 21, 2009

Touching Souls

We need to find God, and he cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence. See how nature - trees, flowers, grass grows in silence; see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence. We need silence to be able to touch souls.” (Mother Teresa)

Two weeks after I graduated from high school I left the logging, ski bum town of 18,000 in which I'd been raised and headed across the country to live near Washington, DC. Culture shock doesn't begin to describe what I experienced but at 18 years old I was extremely fearless and spent every free moment I had exploring the city. I loved the history and the old buildings, wandering through the Smithsonians, visiting the Lincoln and Jefferson memorials, going to Arlington Cemetery and sitting up at the Iwo Jima memorial at night to look out over the nation's capital and to watch the stars.

I explored Georgetown, Alexandria, the huge mall at Tyson's corner (our 'big' mall consisted of JC Penneys, KMart and a few mom and pop places)in which my love affair with Neiman Marcus began and the rural roads of Virginia. I ventured into Maryland, Pennsylvania, Ohio (to visit my grandma), and as far down as the southern states of Alabama and Florida.

While I didn't mind my time in the city, it was the quiet out-of-the-way places that interested me most. I loved getting in my car, turning on the radio and just driving to wherever the road lead.

I've lived in several places besides my hometown in Oregon that ranged in population from 350,000+ down to a tiny town of 217 where the pheasants out numbered the people. I've lived in towns at the base of the Rockies in Colorado, the Big Horn mountains of Wyoming, the coast of northern Georgia and on the Potomac River in Virginia. And of everywhere I've lived my favorite places are the small towns tucked in the mountains where the woods are just a few steps from my front door.

I don't know of any greater peace in life than being the one soul out on a trail surrounded by old growth pine trees and hearing the silence broken only by the breeze as it gently blows through the forest. Or walking beside the river and watching the small ripples form as it flows lazily along. For the most part, my footsteps on the trail, the click of my camera and the sound of my breathing are all I hear.

I honestly don't know how anyone hears God in chaos but I suppose there are those that do. I know for myself that I have never been able to. I guess I should be able to hear God speak to me anywhere, whether in the middle of a big city surrounded by noisy traffic and throngs of people or on the side of a mountain all by myself.

But there is one place that my heart truly longs for and where my soul finds peace. And that place is in nature.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Christmas Glow

Christmas Glow
Photo by Annie K

I know I've been somewhat remiss about posting here but come on over to my photo blog for a visit and see what I've been up to there.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Tugging At My Heart

Sarah stood at the busy intersection watching as the rush hour traffic crept slowly through each green light. She was holding a sign, as she did most days, that simply read, 'Homeless, hungry and anything helps. God Bless you.'

She was well aware of each stare that was directed her way by the occupants of the vehicles as they waited for the light to change. Some looked on with disgust and Sarah knew she wasn't much to look at with her raggedy clothes and unkempt hair. Others looked upon her with skepticism as if she was merely out on the corner trying to cheat them out of their hard earned money. And in some faces, she saw pity. Pity that a person would have to resort to begging for a few lousy bucks. And, they all drove off without a second glance.

But what Sarah was more aware of were the ones who did everything they could to ignore her presence on that corner. They pulled up right alongside her but wouldn't even cast a glance her way. Those were the moments when Sarah felt the pangs in her heart, when she realized some people hoped that if they just ignored her, the problem would go away. That she would go away.


I saw 'Sarah' on the corner the other night standing out in the cold as I pulled up next to her. I didn't really notice what she was wearing and I didn't pay much attention to the bags lying next to her. What I noticed was the weariness on her face and the sadness in her eyes as she sat on the curb holding her sign. It was at that moment that I felt 'the prompt' and even before I pulled out my wallet, I knew... I'd spent my last few dollars only days before.

The light changed and the driver behind me began honking, irritated that I was at a standstill on a now green light. Looking up, I realized I was holding up traffic and drove off in an effort to silence the impatient driver.

I have thought about Sarah since then and even looked for her the past few days as I've driven by that corner. I knew I was being prompted to help her and I should have turned around and gone back. But I didn't. Maybe because it was late and I was tired and the opportunity seemed to pass when I drove away through the intersection.

I have been chastised for giving money to people on the corner and I've heard every 'they'll just buy drugs or alcohol with it' argument. I don't believe that and I think we have to be careful about judging those who are out on those street corners because we don't know their story. We don't know how they got there or what twists and turns in life happened that they ended up begging for a few dollars.

A few years ago, I made a deal with God regarding those in need. I told him that I would help anyone standing on any corner holding a sign, or hanging out in front of a grocery store or any person that He knew needed help if He would prompt me to do so. And He has. And I don't believe it's ever my place to question God when He tells me to give. Whether it is my last ten dollars to someone on a corner or several bags of groceries for those in a homeless camp. I struck a deal and I do my best to hold up my end of the bargain.

So this is where I'm going to challenge you. Ask God to point out those in need to you and be willing to help them. There are so many hurting, hungry, needy, lonely people that are closer to us than we realize. Seek out those people and ask what you can do to help.

If you haven't yet, and you'd like to join in Billy Coffey's Ten Dollar Challenge, (which you should because it's an awesome thing) then head on over to Billy's and read about how you can bless someone this holiday season.