A Way to Conquer the Morning (Besides Coffee)

This morning, I wake up so sluggish and crabby that I just can’t imagine walking to school with the children.  As I slump out the door, scowling and overwhelmed, I feel my camera in my coat pocket.

At least it’s a sunny morning.  Maybe I’ll document this grueling walk.

Woods in the Morning

I look out through my lens to follow the light, and immediately, something changes in me.

I see the trees–really see them–and pause for a minute. 

And then I find her:  Some old crabby thing rises up against the morning light.

Letting the Light Find Her

She’s lit up, now beautiful, now conquering the morning, now distinct from the gnarled woods.  Rise and shine.  But she’s not doing it; she’s just letting the light find her.  

Do you have a way you like to conquer the morning (besides coffee)?


We Walk On

It started again this morning:  We walk the neighborhood children to school, and we’ll do it every single school morning. 

I love this routine.  The other parents do, too.  They even park their cars down near the school and come back to their houses to walk their children to school (and then depart for work).  But there’s no other way about it; we commit to this walk-to-school campaign, and we do it.  It’s faster to drive.  It’s easier to drive.  It makes no sense to waste this time walking when there’s a bus or a minivan right here.

But we do it.  We give up a whole hour (for those walking back home) to do it.  I counted nearly 30 of us (dads, moms, a toddler, and children) on the hill.  Originally, it was for fitness, really.  Now?  It’s changed our lives and our neighborhood.  

There’s something so right and good about children walking to school and enjoying the company of adults beside them.  We love these children, and we love our public schools.  We walk on, pick up new children on the path, and brave the huge hill through the woods.  We give hugs good-bye to children who don’t even belong to us, and then the adults walk back home. We talk about our work, our dreams, our struggles.  We talk about our children, our plans, our faith. 

This is real life lived together.  We’ll be back together tomorrow. 
Journal:  Is there a way to get children and adults to walk together in your neighborhood? 


Who Thinks of Habakkuk?

This morning, I recall the prayer of the prophet Habakkuk.   I normally don’t think about Habakkuk on the walk to school (who would?), so I wonder if God’s trying to tell me something.  

When it’s dreary outside with fresh snow piled up (again) on the already barren landscape, I become fascinated by the gnarled vines, the black branches that make offerings of emptiness, and the frozen expressions of leaves trapped in ice.  Nothing moves.  Nothing dances here.

The vines encircle desperately like a snake coiling upon prey.  It’s nearly impossible not to give in to that icy invitation to admit defeat and surrender to winter melancholy. 

But then I remember how Habakkuk proclaims: 

“Though the fig tree does not bud

and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
and no cattle in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will be joyful in God my Savior.
The Sovereign Lord is my strength;
he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
he enables me to go on the heights.” 
As I look up into the distance, I see that we are literally standing on the heights–on one of the highest hills in our neighborhood.  Up ahead, another hill (our mountain) delights us with that bit of snow.  
I realize I wanted to stay and snap pictures of the gnarled vines, the stark forest.  But I couldn’t.  Not today.  Not with the sun shining on us and Habakkuk’s prayer in my heart.  I look up from my circumstances–no matter how barren–and rejoice in a far greater view.  

Journal:  In empty seasons, how can I rejoice in God?


Can a Small Adaptation Make You Happy?

As you know, we walk a mile to school every day.  I walk a mile to school and back every day.  As the weather dips below freezing into the single digits, I used to get grumpy about this.  I’d dread leaving my house to fight the bitter cold.

A Winter Coat! 

Not anymore. 

The Italian Mama alerts me last week to a sale on winter coats.  With my Christmas money in hand, I find a coat that promises to keep me warm.  I find one that will “keep me warm down to -15 degrees.”  It’s water resistant, has a “storm shield,” and features deep pockets for my cell phone and camera (for all my outdoor photography sessions). 

Suddenly, my circumstances are no longer a problem.  In fact, I love this coat so much that I race outside each morning and tell all the neighbors how warm I am.  “I’m just wearing a t-shirt underneath this!” I cry out.  I think I actually skip part of the way down the hill. 

Living with flair means I embrace adaptations when my external circumstances cannot change.  I think about the supplies I need to endure and thrive. 

Bundling Up

It might be as simple as a warm coat.