Anxiety… etc

Have you seen any of the #ThisIsWhatAnxietyFeelsLike posts on Twitter?
Today I read this article on The Mighty, and some of these really hit home for me.

https://themighty.com/2017/03/anxiety-tweets-whatanxietyfeelslike/

I’ve been seeing posts like this pop up… post telling “normal” people what it’s like to live with Anxiety Disorder… And how they can accommodate us to make us feel better.
I really want to say something about this…

It’s true. These are the actual thoughts and feelings of a person who has Anxiety Disorder. These thoughts come uninvited. They cause physical symptoms as well as emotional ones. They can interfere with every aspect of life. They’re very real…
And they can be crippling.

But they don’t have to be…

Now, before you freak out and tell me I’m wrong… keep in mind I have been diagnosed with severe Anxiety Disorder…. And these thoughts cross my mind daily.

But I DO NOT have to be controlled by these thoughts. No, I’m serious. Just because these thoughts come… just because I have a physical stress response to them… does NOT mean I have to let them win. And neither do you.

We CAN control our thoughts. I promise you. We can process every thought that enters our mind. We can choose to take them in and let them rule… or we can choose to reject them and turn our minds to something else.

Let me give you a real life example. Last night I made arrangements to have a phone conversation with my friend. But my friend didn’t answer my call or call me back. My friend will most likely not contact me today either. My initial thoughts are “My friend is annoyed… my friend must be mad at me, I’ve screwed up this friendship. My friend will never contact me again! Even if my friend does contact me, the friendship won’t be the same!!”

-You’re probably not going to like the next part… but listen up… because it’s important-

TRUTH: My friend’s life does NOT revolve around me. My friend has other things going on and is NOT obligated to accommodate me just because I’m feeling anxious. And neither are your friends. Or your family. Or your boss. The reality is this world does NOT care about our anxiety. And this world does NOT stop and wait when we are dealing with our anxiety. The people in our lives should not have to tiptoe around our feelings. And our bosses really don’t care. To expect them to excuse us from our responsibilities or treat us differently because we can’t manage when they don’t is, quite frankly, a bit narcissistic.
The only way we are going to be successful in this society is if we learn how to manage these symptoms on our own. We can do this… no, we have to do this.

So… things didn’t go as planned for me last night with my friend. I have 2 choices.

1) Let these anxious thoughts control me. Get progressively more worried about my friendship. Contact my friend multiple times hoping for some assurance that my friend is in fact still my friend (which… BTW… I’ve learned from experience is exactly the way to make those fears a reality)

Or

2) I can fight these thoughts. I can remind myself of the truth… and I can choose not to think these anxious thoughts anymore. I can decide not to pick up my phone and check… or send a text attempting to entice a conversation. I can practice self-control.

If you have been in my life for more than a few years, you know that for most of my life I’ve always gone the way of option 1. Freak out, obsess over the situation… and constantly pester every one until I either get an answer that satisfies… or I ruin things entirely.

But if you’re a part of my life currently, you’ll know that I’ve made significant progress in this area.
Most of the time I can process thoughts successfully. Give me a few minutes (or days if it’s a bigger issue) and I can handle my thoughts/feelings well. But sometimes (usually just when I’m overwhelmed by other things in my life… or if I feel my heart is on the line) I may start off down the road of letting the anxious thoughts win… I become scared and start flailing around for understanding or affirmation. But then I remember what is true. I battle the anxious thoughts. I choose to release the anxiety and relax my mind. I can choose to stop obsessing and asking for validation. I can live my life without those thoughts!! Then when someone does get back to me, I can say honestly “Hey, I’m sorry I stressed out for a bit. I guess I just needed a moment to gather my thoughts. But everything is ok. Thanks for being understanding.”

I’m not perfect. And truthfully, lately it has been harder than usual… but I AM NOT defined by my diagnosis. And I AM NOT a slave to my thoughts.
It is NOT an easy battle. And you won’t always win. I don’t. But it IS possible. I promise. And I can assure you it gets easier the more you practice it.

…….

If you have Anxiety Disorder and need help fighting your anxious thoughts, I strongly recommend reading some of these books:

  • Who Switched Off My Brain by Dr. Caroline Leaf
  • Switch On Your Brain by Dr. Caroline Leaf
  • Battlefield of The Mind by Joyce Meyer
  • Every Thought Captive by Jerusha Clark

The first two were written by a lady who has been working in the area of cognitive neuroscience for over 30 years. Her books have been incredibly useful in helping me understand how to manage anxiety!! I strongly recommend them.

The others I haven’t read in several years, and I can’t remember much. But I remember they did provide some valuable insight at the time.

Love Notes and Romantic Gestures

If you’re longing to be loved, I’m guessing you’ve spent some time thinking how nice it would be to receive a love note, or to have someone go out of their way to plan grand romantic gestures to show their love for you.

Yesterday afternoon I was driving my car thinking those exact thoughts… I was even thinking what kind of romantic gestures I might like… Something public so every one will know? Something silly to make me laugh? Something that took me somewhere beautiful? Something secret… so personal that I’d never want anyone else to know… that only someone who knew me completely could plan?

And as I was thinking these things, I began to feel desperately sad. Will I ever be truly loved? I’ve been held by many men… but never once have I been held by a man who loves me completely. Will I ever be? Will any man ever want to write me a love note? Will I ever be considered worth the effort of planning some grand romantic gesture… just so he can see me smile (or cry, more like)?
Will any man ever look at me and see a treasure worth pursuing?
And… do I even deserve that kind of love?

As these thoughts filled my mind, tears filled my eyes. And just as I was about to concede that I may not actually deserve that kind of love… I looked up and saw a perfect fluffy white cloud drifting across the sky. And I heard a quiet whisper “I think you’re worth it. I think you’re worth more wonderful romantic gestures than you’re even imagining… I think you’re to die for.”

Will there ever be a more grand gesture that the sunsets that He paints for our pleasure? Someday a man may take me to see one… but I was first loved by the One who PAINTED them. I may some day be swept off to see some glorious mountains some where… but I know the One who FORMED them!! I may sit for hours in the arms of a man while gazing at the stars and planets in motion… but I am loved by the One who created them and set them into motion!!

He sends me love notes in the form of flower blooms and fluffy white clouds because He knows that they make me smile… But it is so much more than that!! He causes the water to rise from the ground to the sky. He taught them to gather together to form clouds. He sends the wind to blow them across my vision just to make me smile… and He sends them right where they need to be before He causes the waters to fall again… watering the grass and flowers that He knows will also bring a smile to my face.
And He gave me eyes to see all the glorious things He does… He could have created flowers that don’t need watering. He could have created empty skies. He could have made people without sight that we may never know!! But He didn’t. He wanted us to see what He was doing. And He wanted it to bring us pleasure!!

He could have left us here on our own, full of our sin, with no way to enter into relationship with Him again. We deserve that don’t we? But He didn’t do that. He came down, lived a life like ours, and then gave it willingly and painfully.
Just because He ached to be near us.

What man here on Earth could ever hope to do better? How can we long for better love notes than fluffy white clouds and flowers? How can we hope for more grand romantic gestures than sunsets that leave is in awe, mountains that take our breath away, or stars and constellations that make us weep?
How can we sit here feeling unloved when the God of Heaven and Earth stepped down and gave His life just to be close to us?!?

Why should I long to know if I will ever have another husband? Why should I struggle to come to terms with the past? Why do these things even cross my mind? For the Lord my God is my husband. He was my first Love. And in the end He will be my last.
And nothing in between matters in comparison.

…….

“For your Maker is your husband, the LORD of hosts is his name;”
Isaiah 54:5
“You hold the reins on the sun and the moon
Like horses driven by kings
You cover the mountains, the valleys below
With the breadth of Your mighty wings.
….
The constellations are swimming inside
The breadth of Your desire
Where could I run, where could I hide
From Your heart’s jealous fire?
All treasures of wisdom and things to be known
Are hidden inside Your hand
And in this fortunate turn of events
You ask me to be Your friend!
You are my first
You are my last
You are my future and my past”
-Future/Past-by John Mark McMillan-

Thoughts on dating…

Dating is so different now than it was 10 years ago. It’s a little bit scary to think about… But I’ve been thinking a lot about it…
Sometimes I think I want to date… the truth is it sounds exhausting.
I want to be around someone. I crave that. I want to sit and talk with someone who makes me laugh. To have that person look at me and connect with me. To want to know me more. I want to spend time getting to know that person too. I want to have someone I can tell all my fears to. Share my hopes and dreams with… and share theirs too. Someone that I can tell the things I don’t tell anyone… the things that well up inside me from somewhere so deep… the secret things that I don’t even know how to put into words. I want those things to be known. And I want to be loved for them. I want to be held and desired. I want to be cherished…

I want all of those things. But I want them with someone I know won’t hurt me. I want them with someone I know will be around in 10, 20… 40 years… that won’t leave me when someone sexier comes along…

I honestly don’t think I want to date again…
But what do I do with that longing? The longing to be seen and known and loved?

That longing is so deep… I know a man could never satisfy it… Man was never meant to.

I had a realization today… I went to the park to be with God. Alone. And he was faithful to meet with me there. I had felt distant lately. And I ached to be known. I sat and took every fear, every longing… and I gathered them up and lay them at His feet. And they turned to dust… then He spoke to me… so I sang to Him… and He danced with me.
It was a beautiful interaction. I knew that He heard me. He saw me, my fears and my hopes. It was He who stirred up those things deep inside me… the things I don’t understand. He knew them fully without me saying a word. He covered me with His love. And I knew this is a love that never stops, never gives up, is always faithful… This is a love I can trust.
~I heard Him say “This is a good date… will you meet with me again soon?”

My thinking shifted. I was spending so much time longing to be known by a man. But I was already known by my Creator… I was aching to spend time with someone, yet God was aching to spend time with me! How much time do I waste wishing for things that don’t satisfy… while I have access to the only One who can…
~Lord, help me to desire you more than I desire a date. Help me to ache and yearn for Your love… It is the only love that will fill this need. It is what this need was created for. To lead me to You. Remind me to turn to You with it when I start looking to lesser things!!~

Isaiah 54:10
“For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed, but my steadfast love shall not depart from you, and my covenant of peace shall not be removed,” says the LORD, who has compassion on you.”

Zephaniah 3:17
“The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.”

Jeremiah 31:3
I have loved you with an everlasting love;
therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you.”

Isaiah 54:5
“For your Maker is your husband, the LORD of hosts is his name; and the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer, the God of the whole earth he is called.”

Lamentations 3:22-23
The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases;
His mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is Your faithfulness.”

Wave after Wave

 

Good Grief.

I used to wonder what people meant by that. What could possibly be good about grief? I thought the point was that it wasn’t good at all?

I’ve experienced a lot of grief in my life… from living through sexual abuse/assault, being betrayed and abandoned by those I trusted most, the loss of loved ones, the finality of infertility, the pain of adultery, the death of a marriage… watching my daughter’s heart break when she heard the word “divorce”… recently I lost both of my cats. One died peacefully in my arms. The other… I heard her get hit by a truck yesterday. I watched her in her death throes. I screamed in anguish in the middle of the street… not only for the loss I felt and the pain and fear my cat must have felt… but knowing that my Luvbug’s heart would break again. Her tiny heart should not have to bear the weight it has had to bear this past year.

Grief affects everyone differently. I’ve done it all… I’ve hid my emotions, I’ve yelled them at the top of my lungs. I’ve thrown myself into new hobbies and distractions, I’ve considered ending my life completely. I’ve acted out emotionally; drinking, boys, spending sprees that put me in debt… I’ve felt the physical affects; A heart condition, moles that grow then disappear, nervous stomach problems, anxiety attacks…  I’ve held tightly to the illusion of control trying to maintain the tiniest bit of order in my life…
Yesterday afternoon I noticed a knot on my head and a scratch from the pavement. I suppose I hit my head on the street in my grief… I remember leaning over, but I felt no pain… I screamed until my neighbors came running. One messaged me today to tell me he couldn’t stop thinking about me in the street and that his heart breaks for me. My neck muscles are sore today from screaming so hard…

But not 2 hours after her death, I was laughing at a friend’s joke. Then I wept again. Then I felt peace again… And I felt guilty. I used to panic in the pain. Like a fish out water, I’d gasp for relief… I used to feel like a tattered flag barely hanging on to a ship’s mast in a hurricane… Now I feel the comforting weight of my Anchor holding me secure.
All this grief has taught me something… It has taught me how to mourn without losing myself in the pain.

Grief comes over us in waves… but so does God’s mercy…

The pain hits you… sometimes so hard you can’t breathe. And all you can do is sit and feel it. Accept it. Mourn in that moment
-Then let it withdraw-
When it does, enjoy a wave of God’s mercy. His mercy gives you rest… if you choose to rest in it. His mercy will bring you peace if you choose to accept it. And it reminds you that you are not alone…

Accept His peace. Accept His rest. Let His Mercy wash over you… wave after wave.
The grief gets less and less painful as you learn to trust Him through it.
And you’ll see how grief actually can be good…

“His Mercy flows in wave after wave on those who are in awe before Him.” Luke 1:50 MSG

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“Stand in the rain, stand your ground. Stand up when it’s all crashing down. Stand through the pain, you won’t drown. And one day what’s lost can be found…”

Full of Life

“Isn’t it funny how day by day nothing changes,
but when you look back everything is different.”
(Possibly C.S.Lewis)

I came to this park to reflect again today. And I was surprised by what I found…

When I cam here 2 months ago I wept. My heart broke at the devastation caused by the floods. All I could see was how it mirrored my pain…

I sit on the same bench. I look across the same field. I see the same grass…
But everything is different!!!

Where I once saw death and destruction, I now see new life!! I see hope!!
I danced barefoot on this new green grass today. I rejoiced in how God makes things new in His time. How He loves and cares for His creation.
I took a deep breath… The air that once smelled sour is now fresh!
Deep breath after deep breath!! I laughed for joy!
It isn’t perfect yet… there is still some water. There are portions of the park that are fenced off that weren’t before. The playground is still closed.
But what progress!! What a dramatic change!!

I feel my heart has changed the same. I no longer mourn the loss of my marriage. I am grateful for the good times, but also for the hard times.
There are places in my heart that are fenced off… Not quite ready to be opened…
But I have hope for my future. With or without another man. I am happy.
I still have a beautiful family. It just looks different now. And that’s ok.
I am free!!  Resting in the One who remains Faithful above all…

And I am so full of life!!

Psalm 30:11-12
“You have turned for me my mourning into dancing;
    you have loosed my sackcloth
    and clothed me with gladness,
that my glory may sing your praise and not be silent.
    O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever!”

Isaiah 43: 18-19
“Remember not the former things,
    nor consider the things of old.
Behold, I am doing a new thing;
    now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness
    and rivers in the desert.”

April’s Fool

10 years ago today. April Fool’s Day 2006.
I went with my friends to our church.
There was a conference being hosted there…
I walked in and I met the man who would later become my husband. And then my ex.

I used to be so terrified of losing him.
Anxiety attacks if I lost a single keepsake… Nightmares about him leaving me.
Waking up in the night begging him not to..
I would (and often did) do anything to keep him.
Even when I shouldn’t have.
I was scared that somehow it was all some big April Fool’s joke.

I think I knew deep down that we were never meant to last.
I was given several signs that I should just walk away…
But I didn’t
My heart was terrified of what my brain already knew.

We had been through so much…
On-again-off-again dating… Him cheating while we were dating… A rushed wedding (because we didn’t want people knowing he had moved in with me… and because my fear of being alone was always greater than my sense of value)…
Pregnant only 2.5 months after the wedding…
Multiple affairs before and during the pregnancy. I left him a few times…
I always went back. I had valid reasons…

After 3.5 years of fighting… I mean seriously fighting for my marriage, I left him again. This was the end. I knew it for sure. I knew without a doubt that I was done.
We had been apart for several months before I began pursuing divorce.
Then I got scared. I stopped pursuing God. I slid into depression.
I started drinking again… I began falling into old habits.
And that terrified me. I thought I was different?
But there I was again…?

Then he swept in and made me feel safe… as usual… He became my rock and sense of security…  A false sense of security. A shaky foundation.
When my hope should have been in God…

He seemed to have changed.
And I thought our family was worth another shot…

3 years ago today. April Fool’s Day 2013.
I stood in a white dress at a beautiful park with my husband and we renewed our vows in front of close friends and family.

I had no idea that he had already begun talking to other girls by then.

I don’t know how many girlfriends he has had over the years.
Because when I asked he said “more than I can count”.

God is a loving God. He doesn’t play jokes on His children.
He also doesn’t make mistakes.
I went through this fire for a reason. And I am grateful.
If I hadn’t been through what I have been through, I wouldn’t be who I am today.
I would have no idea how strong I am when I lean on God. What I am capable of in Him.
I am so much stronger, more fierce, and far braver than ever I thought.
Than anyone thought.

Today…  April Fool’s Day 2016
I thought the past 10 years was a painful joke. But it wasn’t.
I thought I was a fool. But I’m not.
I gave everything to a man who was undeserving.
-he was the fool-

My Beautiful Mosaic

I hope you have at some point enjoyed the beauty of a mosaic…
I hope you sat for a while and absorbed every detail…

When you look closely at a mosaic, what do you see? Broken bits of pottery or glass… Sometimes carefully cut. Sometimes polished smooth… but sometimes shattered… sharp, and painful to touch.

Do you know how they make those pieces? Do you know what beautiful pieces of pottery were shattered? For what? When you look so closely, it seems like such a mess…

But…

What if we could zoom out just a bit?

mosaic1

Mosaic4

Mosaic2

It’s clear that there is something bigger happening here…

But…
What if we could zoom out a little bit more?

Mosaic full (2)

Perhaps we would discover something larger and more beautiful than we could have ever imagined by looking so closely at each individual piece…

When I was young, my mother held me while I wept at how painful and devastating life was. She comforted me while I came to terms with the fact that something whole and innocent was shattered beyond repair.
She held me in her arms and told me that our lives were like mosaics. Made up of thousands of tiny moments. Some carefully cut, some polished smooth… but sometimes… sometimes something beautiful and whole has to be shattered. It is painful… and the pieces left behind are rough… ugly to look at, sharp and painful to touch.

But why was it broken? What was it for? Is it just a big mess?
No!!

Each tiny piece is so important… carefully selected out of the pile of broken bits and pieced together to make something larger and more beautiful that we could ever imagine.
~The Mosaic of our Life!~
Without those broken pieces, the Mosaic would be incomplete,
lacking some of it’s most unique and wonderful parts!

When you feel something whole shatter, it’s okay to mourn the loss of what was, but don’t despair. Know that something beautiful will come of this…
If you allow the Artist to use those broken pieces.

And if one day you look back and think those broken pieces are ugly and sharp,
zoom out and take a moment to see how they might fit into your Mosaic.
What new, lovely images would be incomplete without them?

Don’t lose hope…
Some day you will look back and be most thankful for the sharpest pieces.

“Those who sow in tears will reap with shouts of joy!”
Psalm 126:5

The mosaic in the images is called “Genesis: The Gift of Life” by Miguel Covarrubias.
It can be found outside the Dallas Museum of Art.

You know what I love about Valentine’s Day?

My daughter came home the other day and told me that her dad thought I would be sad this Valentine’s Day… because I would be alone. I’m not angry about this… But… the truth is, I’m not sad. I’m actually very excited about Valentine’s Day…

People think that Valentine’s Day has to be about romance and couples and sex… fancy candle lit dinners, champagne, chocolates, rose petals… Someone special to share them with… I disagree. Those things are nice if you have them… but not having them doesn’t take away from the joy of the holiday.

My mom and dad were very loving parents. And they always showed it at Valentine’s. Candies on my bed when I cam home from school, flowers and stuffed animals on my nightstand, balloons, love notes written in lipstick on the bathroom mirror… One time my mom hand wrote at least a dozen love notes, cut them out in heart shapes with fancy scissors, and hung each one from the ceiling in the hallway. When we woke up, we were showered with her love. I found one of these notes in my box of keepsakes recently. It brought a smile to my face. I used to buy these Little Debbie “be my valentine” heart cakes and give them to my siblings!! I still smile every time I see them 🙂

heart cake

When I think of Valentine’s Day, I don’t lament the romantic. I celebrate that there are people in my life who love me. Who I love back. I don’t think of red, black, lacey, and candle lit. I think of pink and red hearts hanging from the ceiling… My mom’s handwriting telling me she loves me, my tough-exterior/tender-hearted daddy picking out flowers to surprise his girls with, my sister’s giggle when I give her a heart cake.
And I think of my beautiful little Luvbug. Sticky cherry candy kisses, pink and purple handprint art, glitter and stickers everywhere… She has had letters on her mirror and hearts in her hallway… These are the reasons she gets excited about Valentine’s Day too.
For weeks I’ve been planning how I can make this day special for her… so she feels loved and cherished…

No… I’m not missing out on anything this Valentine’s Day… I’m celebrating the love like I always do!!

Isn’t that what this is all about?

This park

Today I left my house in search of a beautiful, peaceful, secluded park where I could enjoy some uninterrupted time in prayer. Unfortunately this past year we have had several floods and many of my favorite places are closed off. I drove for nearly an hour looking for the “perfect spot”, but the “perfect spot” was not to be found.

I ended up being drawn to one of my old places. I knew parts of it were still open. I also knew it was no longer “beautiful”… still partially flooded. And probably packed. I went anyway. I was right. There were people everywhere. It was hard to find a place to park. But I did. I grabbed my things and walked… I ended up here…

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This park breaks my heart. I used to come here with my daughter and her daddy. We had so much fun. Do you see that bench in the water beyond the trash can? I sat and watched them play soccer from there. I played on that distant playground with my family!! I used to look out over this little field, my heart full of so much joy! Today it aches.

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This field were once green!! These woods, lovely!! But now? The flood was devastating. Even today, so many months later, the water is still high. I used to walk to the end of the ramp and sit on the dock. Just to enjoy the rocking of the waves. The dock is now nearly 100 yards from the shore. I’d have to swim to reach it. The grass here is rotten, the smell, appalling. Like fish and mildew. Everything looks dead.

But it isn’t! All around me are signs of life… People playing with their dogs, children chasing each other on their scooters, couples enjoying each other’s company. Birds flying, wind blowing… I hear laughter, conversations, birds’ songs, lapping waves, distant boats… I know this park won’t always look this way… I know a year from now it will be different…

So why am I weeping on this bench?

Then I realize… It isn’t the park that is breaking my heart at all. It’s what it represents…
My family. My marriage. My hopes and dreams… My heart. All the good times, the joy, the fun, the love… washed away by the pain of betrayal… pain that I once thought I would drown in.

When I look out at this park, I don’t just see the devastation of the floods. I see the devastation the affairs and the divorce have had on my heart. My daughter’s heart. And it brings me to my knees.
Then I hear Him whisper “It will not always be so…”

This park will dry out. The waters will recede, new grass will grow. Trees will flourish. Damaged playground and benches will be replaced. Once more it will be beautiful!!
And my heart? My heart will heal! I will learn to walk in forgiveness, to trust, hope… and one day, God willing, even love again. It won’t be tomorrow. Or the next day. Or even the next. It will take some time… but it will heal.

One day I will look back on this place and see the beauty God makes from this mess. I will mourn what was lost, but I will be grateful for the flood.

And I will be full of life!!

Psalm 56:8 
“You have kept count of my tossings;
    put my tears in your bottle.
    Are they not in your book?”

Psalm 30:5
“Weeping may tarry for the night,
     but joy comes with the morning.”

Psalm 147:3
“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.”

Matthew 5:4
“Blessed are those who mourn,
for they shall be comforted.”

Jeremiah 31:13
“I will turn their mourning into joy;
     I will comfort them, and give them gladness for sorrow.”

Ezekiel 36:26
“And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you.”

Isaiah 43:19 
“Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.”

Jeremiah 29:11
“‘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 hope and a future.'”

Isaiah 54:10
For the mountains may depart
    and the hills be removed,
but my steadfast love shall not depart from you,
    and my covenant of peace shall not be removed”

The Mountains…

Do you love the mountains? I do. I crave them. Sometimes I find myself daydreaming about them. That’s a strange thing to do isn’t it?

When I was growing up, we didn’t take a lot of vacations. I don’t mind that… we had amazing summers anyway… But… the summer after my freshman year in high school we went on a road trip. The goal was to travel to Arizona to visit my aunt and uncle. The plan was to camp some of the nights. Can you imagine a van packed full of camping supplies, food, luggage, and the grumpy teens it all belonged to? Ha!

But I had a good time. I think we all did…

We were in Colorado when I saw it. We were driving a little slower to enjoy the scenery. We made a slight turn and there before my eyes was the most beautiful thing I have ever seen. A green valley surrounded by the most beautiful mountains.  The trees that lined it it were the most lovely… aspens and pines!! In the center was a clear blue pond, horses were wandering, content with their life. Off to the side was a small home. My heart felt as though it might burst with wonder and joy!! Tears filled my eyes and in that moment I knew exactly what I wanted in my life. I could see it all before me.

I saw myself, married with a child, living in that home. I tiptoed at night in my log cabin to sing to that child. I walked my valley barefoot in a flowing white dress. I rode my horses as my hair flowed freely behind me, and my heart soared with joy at the freedom I felt. I could see every detail of that life.

In my mind I lived in that gorgeous valley for the rest of the summer… and many times since. But I never have returned.

After all these years, if I close my eyes I can still see it as clearly as I did on that day. And it still brings tears to my eyes.

Do you love the mountains? I do. I crave them.