The Moment

 

Birds singing, a person smiling, a long, winding conversation.

This is the present, slow and beautiful.

Rain falling, a page turning, light shifting across the room.

This is now, full of rhythm.

Never a moment quite like it again.

Hurry and stress accomplish what,

If we never notice the small things?

Never notice the skitter of leaves upon the ground,

The clouds inching across the wide, blue sky.

How much we can easily miss in the hustle and bustle!

Each moment, a gift.

Do we throw it away in our rush for the next?

 

 

 

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2017: A Review

“Hindsight is 20/20.” That is the main reason why I like to take some time at the end of each year to look back and see what I learned. This year, I am amazed at how many dreams came true. 2017 was good. Of course there were struggles, but I was usually able to look past them in the moment.

A big thing that made this year so good was that God was proving His goodness to me all year. He gave me the grace to see the good in the hard stuff and placed me in community with gracious, caring people over and over and over again.

  • I took Music Appreciation with fantastic people and we had the best teacher. They, along with other friends, made school a joy.
  • I got my first “real” job: as a biology tutor. And then got another fairly consistent part-time job.
  • I finally got my driver’s license. It was a huge step toward adulthood for me.
  • I bought a piano: a gift straight from God. (Ask me about the story behind this one.)
  • I visited family friends in South Carolina for a week and a half in the summer. While there, I learned more about what God-centered family and community looks like. (And I learned to cook better, which was the whole goal of the trip.)
  • I was able to make friend- and adventure- time a priority over the summer.
  • I took a day trip to Virginia Beach with my brother and some friends. It was a blast, until it was time to drive home. (Would never do this again.. lessons learned.)
  • I got to take Chemistry with my brother and completed my associated degree.
  • I learned how to let my friends and family be there for me through the hard stuff, and got more involved in my Bible study group.
  • I changed churches.

So to say a lot of big things happened might be an understatement.

Sometime near the beginning of the year, I felt drawn to a verse and I wrote it in the beginning of my journal:

And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you” (1 Peter 5:10).

If that doesn’t describe 2017, I’m not sure what does. The Lord really has proven His heart to me this year. He has shown me that He is the Good Shepherd by providing, protecting, and leading. He has been gracious and gentle in the way he led. He has been gift-giver in ways that I could not provide for myself. He has been a guard over my heart and mind so many times when I needed protection.

So this year, I’m thankful for much. Most of all for the friends I’ve made and the way that God drew near.

Glory

A poignant question posed

A beautiful message sent

Amid a tender world

Ringing, ringing ethereal

Delicate light not of this world

Gaseous, invisible, barely detectable

Shining, shining iridescent

Its quiet eloquence rides the wind

Its brilliance paints the sky before twilight

Look about and find sprinkled glory

Find a lingering question hauntingly beautiful

Forever, forever answer unabashedly.

65. Pictures of Value

Pictures mean a lot to me. They carry memories in a flat, two-dimensional space. Maybe that’s why I like them, or maybe it’s because of the beauty each one can contain. Finding the perfect angle can tell a story perfectly.

For me, holding a camera helps me see the details and beauty around me. All of a sudden, the world comes to life in a new way.

My first year of college was filled with many great friends and memories. Scenes are stored away in my head. Like lunch at that round cement/rocky table and the great conversation that occurred there or sitting in the small classroom praying  for the school, our teachers and classmates with a few friends. Most of those sweet friends have now moved on from community college. I miss them and wish I had more pictures of our time together.

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One of the few pictures I got that first year of college. It was finals week. I’m surprised we didn’t look more sleep deprived/ stressed!

Maybe I had many good reasons why I didn’t take pictures 2 years ago. things like focusing on genuine connect and being a good student. Things like not having a good camera on my phone. Hindsight is 20/20, though, and I now have greater appreciation for photos, (and a decent camera on my phone). So one goal I had going into this school year was to take pictures, to document at least a few parts of college.

Here are a selection of the memories I’ve captured so far:

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A bright, beautiful, beneficial study session.

 

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Hanging out at the library after class.

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The guys like to bring guitars and make music on breaks. They come up with some weird songs sometimes haha. (P.S. I love how this photo turned out!)

I’m not sure how spiritual you can make photographs, but I’ll try. God is creative. When we are creative, we tap into one way God made us similar to Himself. I often feel closer to God when I’m being creative, and specifically when I’m taking pictures. On that note, being creative can mean so many things! Writing, playing music, drawing, putting together an outfit, decorating, loving well, viewing life in a different way… So don’t feel disqualified from being creative. You can be creative. You were made to be creative. Now go find your own way of doing so!

38. Advice for… Myself?

The road winds out behind

A magical mist covers each twist

The pain and joys seem different

All muted yet pronounced

Leaving lessons like ghosts

A treasure store of heartfelt advise to share

After all, hardship and trial are not only mine to bear

Surely someone would listen, my heart hopes

Surely someone would head my warnings

Surely someone would place encouragement into their heart

Then I turn around

Looking about, now I find myself lost

This journey has led to a place never dreamed of

Surprisingly, this life seems to demand more courage than ever before

So I peer instead into the dark trail ahead

Dreaming as though asleep I walk there

Problems dissipate; perfection abounds; possibilities seem endless

Who shall I become? How will I serve my Savior?

These questions jolt me back to the present

Decisions made now will take me there

Decisions so small they take hardly a thought

Most of all, the decision to be very present will take me there

Only the bravest live in the moment at hand

They are rewarded with a life well lived

So I tell myself, “Be strong” and “Have faith” in this courage-demanding moment

Just the same words I would share with those trekking behind.

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Step forward in faith, rather than fear or apathy.

 

19. An Author’s Heart

Have you ever attempted to write a story? This past week, hours were spent in the writing process, only to hit a roadblock. Officially, that would be called writer’s block. As my roommates/ co-workers from this past summer would probably call it, it’s the “you’re-being-too-nice-block.” Writing sentences that would bring harm to the character I just created was simply too much!! My conflicted heart was waging battle against my logical mind which told me the terrible thing was necessary for the storyline.

Writers have a hard job, much harder than I had ever imagined. (Trust me, I already had GREAT respect for the writers of all the fantastic books I’ve read over the years… Had no idea that respect could grow!)

As I stepped away from the pen and paper that was causing such anguish, God revealed something.  As the great Author, He never wants anything bad to happen to His creation. Just like me (except probably way more), He hurts deeply at the idea of it happening. We chose for sin to be in the world and now God will allow some bad things (or trials) to happen for the ultimate good (which we cannot understand). God’s heart for us is always the same, though, and He is present through the pain, even to the point of hurting more than we are. What else would motivate Jesus to come so far from heaven just to die?

“Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord God is an everlasting Rock.”

– Isaiah 26:4

Maybe I’ll be a writer of stories, maybe not. I don’t know that my heart could take the continual wringing, but this lesson is one I’ll try to take with me. I sure am glad that God didn’t give up on our stories that brought Him pain!

18. The Big Storm

Outside, rain flies wildly in unison with the dancing trees. A hurricane has stirred up with atmosphere and this is what we see. As of a few days ago now, it is officially fall. The wind brings colored leaves prancing to the ground from some select trees. The bite of winter chill already inhabits the air.

I sit at this computer without a pressing subject, nor a truth that I am afraid will dissolve if I do not type it out this minute. No, I am quite content.

The storm outside wages on outside and is a great comparison to the peace in my soul.

For about the past two years, I have been fighting. God allowed some things into my life that I did not like. He has gotten glory out of each turbulent sea of emotion, though.

I still do not understand. That is faith.

Truth is settling. Grace, peace, and love are what my heart is soaking in more and more.

“In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation- having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory.”

– Ephesians 1:13-14

The atmosphere will not be clear for a few more days, at least. What a promisingly pleasant situation. Now if only we had a fireplace and some hot chocolate!