Six Wooden Chairs, One Faithful God, & My Vision Board

There are six cedar Adirondack chairs in a circle around our firepit. Since we first moved to the woods that is something I have always wanted. A circle of chairs that is ready and waiting for an impromptu gathering of roasting marshmallows, or to serve as a quiet place to read a book or share a cozy conversation. And not the plastic chairs, either. Wooden ones. Chairs that appear to have claimed their spot in the woods long before we ever arrived, and that will remain, along with their stories and memories, as part of the landscape long after we are gone.

There were so many things that took priority over those chairs, payments and projects and responsibilities, I was beginning to wonder if it would this little dream would ever happen.

About the same time that we moved to the woods, I attended a Vision Board workshop. We had to complete some worksheets that guided us through goals, dreams, and hopes for the years ahead. Then we were to find and attach words, pictures and photos that represented this vision for our future.

Mine was beautiful.

It had a lovely silhouette of a slender woman, shots taken of a bright and airy home in tones of grey and blue, lakes, mountains, friends gathered around a bonfire, and words cut out that said “SHARE YOUR STORY”. I wish I could show you a picture of it, but I don’t have it anymore.

At some point I ripped it to shreds in a fit a self-destruction. I don’t remember the events that lead up to it, but I distinctively recall tearing the entire thing into teeny, tiny pieces.

But today, today I found the worksheet I completed back then. It said this:

“I have found my ideal weight and am confident in my appearance.”

“I find ways to be creative every day.”

“I minister to women through my writing.”

Today, I can say that all three of those statements are true. At the time that I wrote them, at the time I carefully glued the images to the poster board, I had no idea what would come of them. I had no idea of the events and trials that would get in the way of these goals, and the rock bottom moment that convinced me to give them up. And I had no idea of the unexpected changes in my circumstances that, seeming like tragedies at the time, ultimately brought me to a place where I could see these goals gradually become reality.

So now, six cedar Adirondack chairs encircle our firepit. A nice woman listed all of them for sale at a price that just one should have sold for. She needed to sell them to meet a goal that she had set for herself. Ironically, she’s preparing to move to the area that we had moved away from. We all have different goals, different motivations, and different ways of getting there. 

There’s a saying something like – if you want to see God laugh, just tell him your plans. We naively set goals and create dreams for our future. Sometimes nothing comes of them, sometimes we get there after a long, hard, unimaginable road. And sometimes we are simply given a gift.  A gentle nod from our Father that says, I hear you, I see you, and I know.

“There’s No Mountain He Won’t Climb Up”

Reckless Love was one of the songs we sang in church on Sunday. We’ve sung it many times, and I’ve belted it out plenty singing along with Spotify. Something about it struck me differently this time though. 

There’s no shadow You won’t light up

Mountain You won’t climb up

Coming after me

There’s no wall You won’t kick down

Lie You won’t tear down

Coming after me.

It brought to mind a time when I was working on a mountainside, wondering if anything I was doing mattered at all. We were in Czech on a mission trip, making improvements to a retreat house for missionaries. It was some of the most difficult physical work I have ever done. I actually tossed out my jeans and workboots before heading home because they were shredded. Our arms and legs were scratched and bloodied from clearing out overgrown thorn bushes on this steep incline. 

It was near the end of our workday and I had come to the end of me. Exhausted physically and emotionally from the whole thing, I collapsed down to sit on a rock. For the first time I noticed the property below us on the mountain. It was a sheep farm.

I quickly grabbed for my phone. A friend of mine has a sweet spot for sheep, and I had been on a quest to get some pictures of sheep to send to her as we traveled. The only time I saw any to that point was on the road and I only ever got blurry-through-the-van-window photos.  

I stepped closer. They stepped closer. I stepped closer. They stepped closer. I stepped closer. They stepped closer. They let me take as many photos as I wanted. 

As they turned to walk back to their barn, they all lined up, head to tail, in a perfect row. One last pose for me to send back home.

God climbed a mountain for me that day. He met me there to let me know that even the simplest desire matters to Him. One weak woman hauling brush up a hillside matters to Him.

Your desires matter to Him, your work matters to Him, your struggles matter to Him. And He’ll go wherever He needs to prove it to you. In fact, He already has.  

Message in a Bottle

There are some summer evenings that you hope will last forever – you know the ones. The setting sun glows in the warmest tones of orange, yellow, and pink. The lake is calm, smooth, and clear like glass. The clouds, if any, are billowy and white – high in the sky overlooking with their approval. Wafting through the air is the smell of a nearby campfire, perhaps there’s a few marshmallows over it.  In this moment, time seems to stand still but somehow also, the sun sets too quickly.

It’s these moments that I want to roll up the scene like a scroll and tuck it in a glass bottle, along with a whiff of campfire smoke. Sealing it with a cork.  I would throw it into the lake and hope that in the midst of the darkest storm or a windy fall day somehow the waves would bring it back to me. Unsealing the bottle, I would take a deep breath and remember the moment.

Perhaps I might find it poking through the frozen surface of the lake in the middle of the dreary winter. One of those days where the only colors you see are black, white, and gray. Perhaps it will make me wait until spring, when the world thaws out and we’ve survived another harsh season. There it will be, floating towards me across the cold water, that moments before was still, silent ice.

In the meantime, I know it’s out there. I’ll remember fondly my perfect summer evening. I’ll smell the woodsmoke in my heart and squint at the memory of the sun glistening on the water. I’ll even hear the loons calling even though I know better that they are most likely long gone.

But I’ll remember. And I’ll have peace in my heart knowing that the moment is still out there.  Even though it may be stormy or cold, dark or dreary, I know that my moment, my message in a bottle, will come around to me again.