Showers of mercy and applause from trees

I looked for it everywhere.
On Friday morning, I wrote a blog post about my birthday.
I wanted to include a photo of the card that my parents gave me ….
but I couldn’t find the card. *sigh*
It’s no wonder. My home is upside down.
Every flat surface has a pile upon it.
There are bills in the bedroom,
suitcases in the kitchen and scrapbooking supplies on the office desk.
Add to the mix that I was packing for a trip
– not just a trip, but a *camping* trip –
and …
well ….
I simply couldn’t  find my card …..

Sunday morning in the mountains, I was the first to rise.
Jet and Stone slept later than I was able … and Joy snuggled long.
I brewed myself a cup of coffee, got the fire flaming
and sat down to read one of my favorite chapters in the Bible: Isaiah 55.
Verse 12 fascinates me ….
With a full afternoon of hiking just the day before, I pondered again ….
trees clapping their hands.
What a beautiful image.
I had certainly been a participant of applause with the trees on Saturday afternoon as we hiked.

As I sat beside the fire, I opened my Bible
and found my card … tucked neatly inside.

there it was. *sigh*

My parents have always been intentional about picking out greeting cards.
Their card often includes a present (of a gift card or money)
but to me,
the card that they give is often the gift that I treasure.

And so it was with this one …..

When I first pried open the envelope flap, I knew the words inside
scrolled across cardstock
would touch me.
They always do.
It was a hard read, those tender words ….
they spoke the truth
of challenges, trials and struggles.
I have said it before
and believe it more and more everyday:
I am who I am because of where I’ve been.

I very unintentionally chose a harder road than I truly dreamed for
when I married …
making a selfishly motivated decision to marry
rather than a “good for everyone involved’ decision.

But, this road …
and my God
have been good to me …
This path has drawn me closer to God and filled me with compassion for others.
And this road gave me a chance to love a man, as best I could
… good exercise in building faith and establishing stamina …
attributes I lacked greatly.

I think of God and how He views me as his daughter.
Like my affection towards my own children,
I expect He might like to see me live my life without turmoil
but He knows that trials and tribulations create stimulus that
allow us to strengthen, grow and mature.

So, struggles
in reality are a good thing.

I think of my own children. In doing my best to protect them from harm
I am, rather, hindering their growth.

I’m thankful for my parent’s praise.
They embrace me where I am
and don’t hold me fully accountable for the failure of my marriage
though, I certainly hold a smoking gun.
They support me and love me where I am.
They extend mercy and grace to me …
and I in turn offer it to my children
as our Heavenly Father showers us all with the same.
This is the way it should be, isn’t it?

And so I am thankful for the path I have walked …
with struggles
that have brought me strength and endurance …
that I too may join the trees of the field
clapping my hands
in His praise.

And so, I continue to gratefully count gifts …

386. greeting cards that read like a song with tenderly chosen lyrics
387.  a walk in the woods
388. a lost card … to make me search for words of blessing
389. a Heavenly Father and an earthly father and mother who shower me with mercy, forgiveness and grace
390. trees that clap applause as they reach up into the azure sky
391. hiking boots that held my ankles stable while we walked upon root and rock on a slanted, packed path
392. an aching right glute … from stepping up, up, up as we climbed
393. a next door neighbor camping who offered a fire starter log when wood was fully damp from heavy dew
394. folding chairs
395. an air mattress, camping sheets and snuggling blankets to keep away the chill at night
396. our tent … right beside theirs … knowing we have sweet friends to keep us company while we explore God’s green-to-amber earth
397.  the rich announcement of a Great Horned owl … hoot-hoot-hooting off and on in the deep darkness of the night
398. beautiful, crisp fall air
399. family

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