Sounds like …

Did you know that a charade was a form of literary riddle popularized in France in the 18th century. In the early 19th century, the French began performing “acting” or “acted charades”with the written description replaced by dramatic performances as a parlor game—and this was brought over to Britain by the English aristocracy. (www.wikipedia.com)

Or in my mind it’s that game that causes obvious frustration as highly exaggerated body gestures attempt to convey to onlookers words that cannot be spoken!  Recently a word come up on a page that gave me a moment’s pause …. it has three syllables and sounds like ….. jour.ney.man.

The dictionary defined it as a person who has served an apprenticeship at a trade or handicraft and is certified to work at it assisting or under another person; any experienced, competent but routine worker or performer; a person hired to do work for another, usually for a day at a time.

In this new year and new season of my life, no matter what I am “apprenticed” or “routinely” asked to do,  I am going to be the best journey (wo)man I can be!  What is that going to look like, how am I going to act that out?

As 2017 defines itself through yet to be known scenarios, circumstances and the vague interpretations of what I hope will be, I will trust in the plans my employer has for me. Plans for my good that will build strength of character, integrity, endurance and perseverance.

My daily worth or pay will be found in the summation of who I have become at the end of that day. As belief in what I have been entrusted to do unfolds in my life, my character and personality will become as it was visualized when I was first chosen to be a part of this corporate body.

To truly do this, I can’t approach this as a charade, a dramatic performance for the benefit of those who look on!

This has to come out of the genuine overflow of a heart committed to the best interest of my employer. Being single minded in every avenue I go down, never being satisfied with half measures or the progress already achieved. Ever pressing forward to complete the work assigned. Would my employer expect any less of me?

See you soon,

His journey(wo)man,

Ava  xo

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Crows, Keys, and Lights.

Sixteen days in Seattle! Feels like forever. Time, days, time zones have all melted together since leaving the Gulf Coast just a month ago. I’ve loved this city from afar …. and now to be here, well it’s almost natural!

When I think of all we’ve done in the past 16 days … waiting in lines, waiting in traffic, looking for jobs, waiting for interviews, looking at houses, waiting on application responses, the refined art of waiting has kicked in. It flows from that slower southern pace of life that will always be a part of me. I mean, really!  Come on now! Where else can you put a jar of water with teabags in it outside in the sun, go tend to other things, as you wait on the sun to heat the water and brew the tea?  Life speaks and moves and goes on its way, even in the waiting times.

img_7147Take the crows for instance. Monday morning as I pulled the bedroom curtains back I saw three crows land on the roof of a house.  Watching them walk along the ridge-cap in a stiff legged, single file march I couldn’t help but smile. Going upstairs, at another window, I see them land in the backyard. It’s the strutting that captures my attention and I stifle a giggle.

With an unobstructed view from the sliding door, they show me their pattern of life. Walking in straight lines, then in eccentric circles all. over. the. yard! Looking down their beaks for whatever they can find. Rigid movements, head down, peck, peck, head up, move to the left, strut, strut, strut. Repeat right. Like a haphazardly choreographed dance.  Then one comes up victorious, something in its beak. The other two start circling in an attempt to get closer. To late. The victorious one quickly struts off in a straight line, head high, seeming to say “find your own!” Then just like that, they take flight, up over the fence. Gone.

Sunday’s message from church, circles through my mind about the religious leaders back in the day. Not willing to bend low to hear the voice of the people, to feel the heart of the people. Head high, strut, strut, keep moving. Pass them by. Unclean.

The message moves on to the woman who lost a coin, sweeping and searching, holding her lamp low, shining it into the dark places. This is likened to God drawing near, stooping low, casting the light of His love over all the peoples of the earth.  Searching to bring the lost one home. Searching intently in the cracks and crevices of every life.

It was after dark on Friday when I remembered to check the mail. I unlocked the box, dropped down the door …… and heard the ‘clink’.  In the silence, I felt the darkness hide the key from my vision. Oh no, we’d been entrusted with this key, now I’d lost it. There in the rocks and the dirt. I turn on my cell phone light, shining it all over, lifting rocks,  putting them back. Futility strikes. I can’t see it’s too dark, the key too small. I need help, more light. Going inside, I call to my man … I’ve lost the mail box key!  He says that’s funny, I thought I would lose it last night! Getting two flashlights from the car. More light, more rocks moved, then there at the back my man sees it, wedged sideways. Relief comes as I gather up the scattered mail and lock the box. Grateful words on my breath.

Then came Sunday. Oh, the tug on our hearts as in our seats we edged closer together, not saying a word, but knowing and listening. Intently.

In the waiting, Life was speaking. Loudly.

Would there be flight under the intensity of His gaze?  An urge to keep moving, up over the fence, gone?

Or would there be an upward glance directly into the gaze of His unconditional love?            A response to the urging to draw closer to Him, for the sake of those lost in the darkness.

p.s. the key now has a blue ribbon tied to it.

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The Steadiness of Faith

Cannot begin to tell you all how much this got me this morning as I read it … reduced me to tears.
And as we continue on with this journey, my man goes to check out of the hotel where we have been for the past seven days..this happened – he reminds the receptionist of the $50 discount on check out. She says actually, its a 50 PERCENT discount. He says are you sure? She checks again and says yes, sir its a 50% discount!
It’s in stuff like this we see His provision, caring and love, encouraging our faith …..

The Edges Of His Ways

I was revisited today by an illustration I heard years ago about a ship and a train.

My pastor was sharing about living by faith, and illustrated his thought by contrasting the experience of traveling somewhere on a ship versus on a train.

As most of us have discovered, when you’re on a train the feeling underneath your feet is very certain, secure, predictable, and reassuring. You can sense that you are clearly moving forward in the direction you are intending to go. There is no back and forth, or side to side–just forward.

However, when you are traveling by boat, your experience couldn’t be any different than that of a train. The feeling underneath your feet is unpredictable, uncertain, and even anxiety-producing at times. Furthermore, there is just water! There are no indestructible steel train tracks, no visible markings indicating that you are connected or harnessed to something stable.

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Listening to the whispers.

Saturday night. I lay down, reading until sleep starts to overtake me.  As I go to put the book aside, a group of words capture my attention. Speaking to me.

img_7014Sunday morning. I see the sun come up over the mountain and watch as it’s light breathes on what the darkness had covered. And in a different book with a different author, there it is again, the same words.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us….” Hebrews 12:1

We go to Zootown Church – yes, that’s really its name, look it up – on the way I say to my man “You know I read that verse about throwing off the stuff that so easily entangles and persevering in running your race both last night and this morning.”Uh huh” his response, as he sips his coffee and follows the directions of the GPS.

I go on, saying “Wouldn’t it be something if that was mentioned again at church?” His response was a ditto on the last response! 🙂

Our first time in a gathering place with His people since leaving that coastal town that now seems so far away.  After being greeted at the door by the smiling faces of the generation rising up – a voice says “Hey, I know you! *smile* Your Casey’s mom and dad, how are you? *Hug* We are so glad you came! Lets get a picture.” Welcomed and Embraced.

The worship songs pour down over my head, like the rain that fell on our way to this place. Refreshing happens and I feel His welcome as I enter that special place of His presence.  Then comes the message. A series from the Old Testament. This one – Moses and the Ten Plagues.

Words echo and bounce off the hearts of men and women as plagues are likened to the sins that so easily entangle our lives. What more is left to be said?  Throw aside your sin, run and receive the bounty of grace and mercy that is offered. img_7028

On the way back to the family house, a rainbow is seen, appearing to rise up from the valley floor, where clouds have misted it, trying to shadow what the rain and light have brought. That ancient sign of promise.

 

Sunday evening. Hearts are quieted as thoughts turn to what it lies ahead. Goodbyes are said, with the knowing that the miles between the visits are so much shorter. I sit on the side of the bed, book in hand, and begin to read.  And in the quietness, a heart tunes in.

img_7037“If anyone is a worshiper of God and does His will. He hears him.” John 9:31

“My will is not a place, but a condition. Do not ask Me where and when but ask me how..”

Whispering I respond with “I don’t know how You are going to do all that we are asking, but I know this, I trust You.”

The words continue “You will discover blessings in every place, and any place, if your spirit is in tune with Me.”

“…. you have put your life into My keeping, and because you are depending on Me for guidance and direction, I shall give it. Move on steadily and know that the waters that carry you are the waters of My love and My kindness, and I will keep you on the right course.”

My eyes fill up, profound gratitude fills my thoughts. I share it all with my man and in the quietness he too hears.

Monday.  It’s almost one a.m. and I really need to sleep. We are leaving at 8 a.m! Ha.

Where is that card I was using as a book mark?  There it is … and with it one more whisper.img_7036

“Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” Hebrews 11:1

Missoula, Montana …. this place of rest, before the final leg of this journey. How loudly I have heard His voice in this place. And now we move on.  Over the mountains and on into Washington State to what He has readied for us.

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H2O

On this journey …we have left behind the waters of the Gulf Coast, seen the lakes of Northern Michigan, beheld the evergreen and colorful beauty of well-watered Wisconsin, passed through Minnesota, the land of 1000 lakes, with its cranberry farms. And this night we arrived in South Dakota …. miles and miles of barren rolling hills and gully’s in between, acres and acres of corn and sunflowers …. and how do they grow? No apparent lakes or irrigation systems that can be seen as we fly by on Highway 90 … side note: the highway speed limit is 80mph and everyone sticks to it!  Yet these crops grow and thrive .. what’s the rainfall quota for SD?  Who knows.

But you know what I have noticed though, in each state the water is different. Yes, there is a difference in the water … and in what it does to the covering on ones head! My hair can testify!

Before I go there, let me back up a few days….to Michigan. After six days with my man’s mom, the day came to leave … and we forgot a few items in her fridge, she says, wanting to make sure we would eat on our travels, so we go back. A few more hugs, a tentative see you later, teary eyed smiles and love you’s all over again. Leaving the familiar once more …and this verse on my day planner …

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Simply love, as you leave what you know.

Simply love, before you go, uncontaminated by self interest, like a rain soaked landscape, it will  create all kinds of beauty as the seasons change.

86 years of living and she’s tired of letting go, but she does.

Because she loves, uncontaminated.

..and so our journey continues.

New sights to see, places to visit, laugh about [the corn palace?!], and talks about the unknown of the days to come.

Another waitress, opens up and shares her dreams with us, as kindness and encouragement is offered and is taken in like water to thirsty soul. She finishes her shift and comes back to talk. She’ll go far, she’s on the right track … and with only 18 years of living, at that.

What is it about water, though?

Apart from the fact, as over the years as we have traveled around this nation, my hair has felt its effect from state to state! From being unable to hold hairspray from the time I spray it to when I walk out the bathroom door. To needing one short spray and staying styled for days. And I totally get why women in Texas have big hair!

So much grows from water, in it, and around it,  it can be still or in constant motion.  It’s just like that love uncontaminated, its living and giving, its touch can be seen and felt, its tested and tried and always comes out the same in its purest form.

It’s a source of life that we all need.

All of us.proverbs-2719

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Finishing well, Festus & French Toast

Lets get on the road by 7am they said. We stopped 5 minutes after pulling out of the driveway, to clear the leaking eyes, all started by my man,  yes, he man-cried …gah!             It was a slow start.  Then came the wrap around the building line.  Great place for learning patience, states my man, he just wants coffee! We finally really get on the road, heading north at 9am.

It was good and it was hard – like a bungee jump, positioned at the top, straining and waiting for the release. All those last times by here, over there. Oh and the remember when’s, accompanied by smiles and sighs. As the miles click by, the places familiar disappear from view, all behind us now. They’re still there, still breathing, just minus us two.

And its okay.

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Finishing well is ingrained in all things, a passed on trait. Clear the air, hug one more time, speak love, offer up kind words, bring laughter. Work hard. Let the tears fall, but finish the course.  Give of yourself, even when there is nothing left to give. It will come back, like bread across the waters. Know when to finish a chapter, don’t try to force another, just gently close the book.

The highway gets wider, the scenery changes and with it comes the chatter about this and that, laughter over silly things. Then there’s the embracing, that companionable silence that comes with knowing the one you are traveling life’s road with.  In a 5′ x 3′ space extremes of life come fast, from words read and talked about from ‘If’ by Mark Batterson to road signs that bring impromptu Elvis impersonations!

Positioned to face forward, rarely reaching back, except for a bottle of water or apples. The road ahead offers up traffic, detours and closed roads. All negotiable, keeping us on track, being directed due north on an external map, while following the guidance of an internal beat.

Festus – a place to rest for the night. Its meaning: joyous, festive. The young waitress, bringing that Broiche French toast with Bluberry Compote. Serving it up with a smile, compliments and a quick wit as my man challenges her for her lack of compliments toward him – the tip giver. He says she’s just like that for the tip, then a quick look around the room shows that not everyone there is joyous. Its one of those finishing well things… end the day with laughter, a quick smile and bring joy to someone else’s world. My man gives her a compliment about her sense of humor as she brings the check. Her smile lights up our table. A moment shared, at an intersection on a road of many miles traveled.

Oh and that French toast, best meal all day … except for that wrap around the building line coffee.

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Seasons,waves and wheat fields

Hey friends, its been a while, about 10 months or so to be exact!

Who would have ever thought that the ebb and flow of life could so easily determine ones routine. It wasn’t until I got the “pay for your blog” message that I realized how much I missed sharing my happenings with you, the unseen audience.

So here we are,  the POD has landed in our driveway, its opening begging to fit all we own into its 8′ x 16′ cavity. We’ve done the yard sale thing, the pre-yard sale thing and given stuff away to prepare for whatever lies at the other end…. in Seattle, Washington.  Wow! Did I really just write that? My man and I are moving – he says we’re going on a long term camping trip. And I don’t mind the sound of that – it says, this is what adventure, faith and long prayed over dreams are made of.

Seattle – that place that I dropped our youngest girl child off at 7 years ago. That place, that stole a part of me, with one glance at her green mountain grandeur, blue skies and waters … and yes, that misty rain. It was summer time then and I know…. I’ve heard it enough times since, that it rains a lot in Seattle! [It really doesn’t, its rained more in Mississippi here lately!]

For five years we have prayed off and on about this move, ever since I came back from that trip and blurted out the words “I could move out there!”

Its been a game of hide and go seek tug of war! “Here I am look at me” “Nope, I’m going this way” *yank on the rope* “Nope, your going this way” “Where are you?” *tug* “Over here.” Then we hit that season two years ago, when things began to change. Was this an open door?  It felt more like an open sea as the winds of change began to assail all that was familiar. Waves slapped hard at the familiarity of the boat we were doing life in.  Then it happened, the wind and waves became still and we knew.

And we remembered that time we took a left instead of a right out of the panhandle of Texas and ended up in the wheat fields of Oklahoma. Miles and miles and miles of nothing but amber, golden grain, and those words in my head “the fields are ripe for the harvest, but the workers are few.” My sensibility arguing back “well of course that’s what I’m going to think, while staring out the window at nothing but wheat fields!”

Look a building in the distance, at a crossroads, ask for directions. An abandoned building, its inhabitants long gone. Keep driving.  A few more miles and a few buildings, a man putting up letters on a sign outside of a church …. he steps out of the way, right as we drive up. His job done, ours just beginning. The letters wove together the words “Welcome Harvesters”  and in that moment when breathe is taken away and tears form, the way is made known.

Saturday, October 1st is get on the road day and head north to Michigan to visit with my man’s mom, then its onto Montana, for visits with his brother and an old high school friend and those wide open spaces, big blue sky, mountains ….moose and bears! Then finally into Washington state late October.

So much to share, but for right now its enough to know that indeed our steps are being directed and after 27 years of gulf coast living, we are moving to the pacific north west coast…..Sunday is party day, where our church family who have loved us well all those years, will bid us farewell. Say a prayer or two, leaving and letting go is never easy.

Come join us on the journey through my ramblings…and of course the photos. See you soon.

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