Every November we put up our Thankful Tree. We all try to remember to write something we are thankful for at least once a day. This year, as friends came in, they also added leaves to our tree. We have so much to be thankful for and this is the Wick family's favorite Thanksgiving tradition!
We always put a focus on being thankful during November but may we all let our attitude of thankfulness continue all year round!
Last winter was really rough for me emotionally. The year had already been hard for me but during December and January it seemed that the little bit in my life that was hanging on as good crumbled and fell apart with the rest of my life.
I spent full weeks inside.
I was extremely depressed.
I was hurting. I wanted to run away to a place where no one knew me.
My life was a complete mess.
And then the van broke, and the furnace broke, and the van broke again, then the car decided to break, my marriage was a joke and we found out Mike no longer qualified for unemployment.
Nothing went right during December and January of last year.
Fast forward to today...
I find myself having a lot of anxiety as December approaches. I am in a much better place than I was a year ago but I still find myself wanting to run. What if this winter is a repeat of last winter!? I don't think I can handle it again.
I know that running and hiding is not the answer but I still find myself retreating from life just a little bit... trying to stay safe. Trying to make sure my heart doesn't get hurt like it did a year ago.
The truth is I am afraid... and that fear is causing me a lot of anxiety.
After all the rainy, windy, too-cold-to-be-outside weddings this year I was extremely excited that my last wedding landed on a gorgeous day!
Jake and Sarah got married under a park pavilion and the celebration followed in the barn across the road. I loved the day, the details and the couple. Sarah and Jake were laid back, relaxed and a lot of fun! Their cake cutting was the most entertaining that I have ever experienced!
This wedding was a great way to end another successful season of wedding photography. :)
I first heard this song back in September at a conference I went to. I forgot about it until I heard it on the radio yesterday. I love it. And it is a song my heart desperately needs right now as God has called me into situations that are far beyond my own abilities.
He is for me.
His love crashes over me.
He makes me brave.
And then came my trip home. I punched my address into my GPS and left Fallingwater for an hour and a half drive home. I was tired. My heart was refreshed. I missed my family.
I was driving through the mountains, enjoying the scenery. As I came to the top of one mountain I looked out at the enormous view and there it was! The cross! The same cross that I had stood beneath just the day before. The same cross that looks out over the towns below.
I had drove away from Jummonville and the cross... yet there I was, several miles away and the cross came into view for just a moment.
And that's when I thought...
We go through peaks and valleys in life. We go through times where we can really sense the presence of God in our lives. We can see evidence of him. We can feel his love, comfort and guidance. In those times it seems like my time at camp... God... the cross... always in view.
But then we hit a valley. A hard time. A dark time. A time where we might not so easily see the cross and the evidence of God in our lives. A time where we might question who God is... if he sees us... if he cares... if he loves us. A time where we just don't feel his love and comfort like we used to.
But even in those times... just like the cross at Jumonville... God is there. God is still standing. And God is still being who he said he is and doing what he said he would do.
God is constant.
Even when we don't see God in our lives, he is there. He sees us and he knows us.
And he cares.
Even when everything in life crumbles and falls... the cross still stands firm.
Even when we can't see the cross... trust that the cross is there... just as powerful as when we are standing below it humbled and amazed by the love of our Father.
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.
It has had my interest for a while now but we have never gone because of the cost. $27/person... well that adds up quickly and we weren't really sure we wanted to spend that kind of money just to tour a house.
However, last Friday while driving to my retreat I saw a sign for Fallingwater... 15 miles. I figured since I was alone it wouldn't feel like it cost so much and decided that I would find it on my way home.
It was so worth it! And I am regretting doing it alone instead of with Mike because he would love it and now we'll have to go back so he can see it!
Ok... you are probably wondering at this point... What is Fallingwater Laura!?!?!?
This is Fallingwater...
It is a house that sits on a waterfall in the middle of the woods. It. is. AMAZING!
The house was designed by famous architect Frank Llyod Wright in the late 1930s for the Kauffmann family. The story is that the Kaufmann's wanted a rustic cabin in the woods and ended up with Fallingwater! Their budget that they started with was $30k. They ended up spending $150k in the end. Yikes! A little over budget!
But what a house!
I wish we were allowed to take photos inside! The stone floors. The walls. The windows. The views! The insane amount of balconies and outdoor spaces. You can walk down steps in the living room to get to the top of the waterfall. Two spring-filled swimming pools. The fireplace! Oh! The fireplace!
If I had a home like Fallingwater I don't think I would ever want to leave!
I have toured a lot of mansions in my travels but nothing compares to Fallingwater. It's a one-of-a-kind. You'll never see another house like it!
I went along on the hour-long tour and just stood amazed... like all the others in my group. It truly is a creative work of genius and if I ever find myself near another building designed by Frank Llyod Wright I'll make sure to stop and visit.
And if you ever find yourself near Fallingwater... GO! Spend the money. Be amazed.
The retreat had ended and everyone was packed up and heading home. On my way to the retreat I had seen signs for Falling Water. I wasn't far from it and I had always wanted to go. I called Mike and had him look up an address for me, entered that address into the GPS and was on my way.
It occurred to me that after getting lost due to my GPS just two days before that maybe this wasn't the smartest idea... but it was all I had and I wanted to go!
As I was driving down a back road in the middle of nowhere I had no other option than to trust my GPS. I had to trust that it actually knew where I was and how to get me to where I wanted to go. I blindly put my trust in that small, talking piece of technology.
It got me where I was going and then it got me home from there.
It also got me thinking...
I was so willing to trust in a small machine that had already let me down. I trusted this thing without a brain of its own. This thing without a heart. I trusted a THING!
Yet I am often unwilling to trust my God who has never let me down. He knows me. Always. And He always knows where I am and where I need to go. Yet I fail to trust this loving God that has the mind and heart to create the world and love it's people unconditionally.
I fail to trust the God who gave his son's life for me... but I'll trust a thing.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. ~Psalm 3:5-6
When I saw the retreat advertised I knew I wanted to go. It wasn't my church and I didn't really know anyone so I asked a friend who usually goes to these events if she was going and could I tag along, get a ride and share a room. The answer was yes, yes and yes. So I registered and paid.
This past Thursday my friend let me know a family emergency came up and she would not be able to make it. I was offered a ride with someone else and still had someone to room with... but I was a little less excited because while I knew who a few people were, I didn't really know anyone that was going. I was afraid I would end up feeling alone or not fitting in.
In the end, I decided to drive myself to the retreat. I needed a few extra hours to get some work done before I left and planned to get there about a half hour before things got started. I worked all day Friday. At 3:00 I started throwing things in a bag hoping that I wasn't forgetting anything. At 3:30 I pulled out. A quick stop at the post office and then I was on my way, mapquest directions AND a GPS to get me there.
As I was driving down the road about a half hour from home, I started thinking through everything I had packed and hoping that I didn't forget anything. And then it popped into my head... underwear!!! I forgot to pack underwear! Thankfully I was right by a Walmart so I stopped and fixed that problem.
I later stopped to get dinner and another time to use a bathroom and call Mike to get me some information I forgot to bring along. At this point my GPS was telling me that I was ten minutes from my destination. I also was no longer following my mapquest directions because the GPS had told me to take a different turn and since there was a sign for the camp I was looking for I decided to go with it.
So there I was... ten minutes away... and the GPS turned me onto a dead end road. I had no idea where I was and no idea where to go. It was dark and I was lost. I was stuck sitting at the turn around on the dead end road looking at my GPS and mapquest, trying to come up with a plan. That's when another car came down the road and the woman hollered "are you looking for the retreat!?"
Her GPS also took her to the dead end road. But we worked together and did things the old fashioned way... we stopped at a gas station and asked for directions. Several back roads later and we arrived at the camp with about two minutes to spare.
God is cool like that.
He orchestrated my entire day so that when I got lost it would be at the same time and same place as someone else so that I wouldn't be lost alone. God knew my unease about going alone and gave me a friend before I even arrived. I walked in with two other people laughing at our story instead of walking in alone.
Throughout the rest of the weekend the word alone never crossed my mind again. I was right where I was meant to be this past weekend... surrounded by an amazing group of women and listening to great speakers. We laughed, cried and created memories together. When I left Sunday afternoon I had found several new friends and the hard areas of my heart had begun to crack.
Every once in a while I make my family do some family photos. I might not have them hanging in my house but I believe that they are important... so we do them. (And I actually did order some to hang this time!!)
The day was right and the leaves were turning so I decided to go for it. I dug through our clothes hoping that we had some outfits that went well together. The kids came home from school, I told them to get changed and off we went... camera, tripod and remote packed up and ready to go.
I did have to bribe the kids with ice cream.
But Mike is awesome! He didn't complain once. Even ironed clothes for me so we could get out the door and fit the pictures in before the sun went down too far. Oh! And he even uses my camera in manual and got some great shots of me and the kids!!
I love my family. :)
And I love our photos!
Yeah... Liza totally struck that pose all on her own. I might have died for a moment.