Words

I am not sure when or how this practice started.

Choosing one, new little word for the year.

For this girl who is easily distracted and often wonders about the meaning of life, it brings a little bit of focus and meaning to the new year.

This year rather than searching for a new word, It seemed as if my word found me. As I was writing my advent series this year, the word

joy

continued to roll around in my thoughts long after I was done writing. I felt like I was not finished with joy or it was not finished with me. In any case it is a fitting word for this glass half empty girl.

So in saying farewell to the old year and welcoming the new,

I am welcoming joy…

choosing this one little word to journey beside

as I continue to look for God in the midst of each day.

Will you join me?

(with joy, or another word of your choosing)

 

Maine

Summer

In our hearts, summer for us is a trip across the Atlantic to family who live along the Baltic sea. There is no better place to spend warm days, by the sea with those we do not see so often.

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This year we were not able to travel to Sweden, so we did the next best thing and made our way up to Northern Maine to experience its beauty and a little taste of “Swedish home”. The only thing missing was our long distance family. We were amazed time and time again just how similar these two dots on the map are.

The trip was a good mixture of a little bit of planning and a little bit of spontaneity. We knew we would spend 4- 5 days camping on Mt Desert Island, but the few days on either side of the trip were left open for travel time and for exploring new places.

We took a couple tips from my sister, and we planned our mini vacation as best we could. If you are thinking about where to take a vacation, go to Maine. You will not be disappointed.

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However excited I was about seeing Maine, the camping part scared me a little bit. Of my family, I am the least camper-like. However, we had invested in some new gear, and when we arrived at our camp-site, all those fears quickly disappeared as we saw the beauty of the place.

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We camped at Mt Desert Campground, and I highly recommend it. This was my first experience with platform camping, and I am convinced this is the way to go.  The campground was also clean and beautiful. There were many campsites, yet the sites were nestled between the trees, giving a sense of privacy while camping neighbors were still a stone’s throw away if we were feeling social.

We spent most of our days hiking and making our way around the island a little bit at a time.

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We did the touristy things such as sunrise at Cadillac Mountain.  This mountain is the highest, most Easterly point, making it a natural sunrise magnet. I warn you though, bundle up, especially if you are there in early June. Between the wind and early morning coolness, it makes for not only a beautiful but chilling experience.

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We took a little bit of time to peruse and shop the streets of Bar Harbor.  When we found ourselves hankering for the ice-cream (It is difficult not to when everyone is walking around with some), we found a place called, Jordan Pond Ice-cream parlor . (The lobster was actually at another ice-cream shop but it and my daughter were so cute, I just had to add them:)

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And during our last full day there, the girls had their first Kayak experience. I can assuredly say that they are hooked, much to my husband’s delight.

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The spontaneity part of the trip included an extra day driving to Acadia and an extra day driving home. On our way there we drove mostly along the eastern Coast and spent our first evening near  Mystic, CT. A lovely little town with an incredible drawbridge. Definitely worth a visit.

On the way home we were given a tip to check out the Berkshires in Western Massachusetts. Since we didn’t want to deal with Boston/New York traffic again, we took their advice. After making a pit stop in Portland, ME to visit a friend we had not seen for many years, (So much fun to spend time with her, eat a yummy meal, and catch a glimpse of Portland) we meandered our way slowly through New Hampshire, a little bit of Vermont and finally, the Berkshires. We enjoyed the scenic drive and in Great Barrington, I fell in love with one of the shops we visited. One Mercantile. Check out their website. I plan to head back there and to the Berkshires again!

We so enjoyed our trip to Maine and hope as you see the photos you will too.

In a couple of days, June will slip into July. Summer is speeding along much too quickly this year, but we plan to enjoy every moment of it and hope you will too!

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Spring

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Last week I went to Longwood Gardens for the day. The last couple weeks had been pretty intense, so I thought I would get away a little bit. I suspected the outdoor gardens would not be much to look at, yet I knew the greenhouses would be alive with color. It was in the greenhouses I thought I would spend my day.

When I arrived, it was actually warmer than I thought, so I found myself walking the paths, enjoying the quiet except for the occasional songbird, and squeal of a child. The gardens were just as I expected, brown and bare. I had never walked the gardens this time of year. Other times I had visited,  there was always something blooming, or at Christmas time the gardens would sparkle with Christmas lights. If I had not known what the gardens usually look like, I would have thought they were not anything special to see. But somehow because I had seen them before and knew what they would become, I could find beauty in the barren, and enjoy the quietness and rest they invoked.

There are days when my heart reflects the brown and barrenness of a winter garden. The winds of winter can turn a soft heart hard, and difficult circumstances can turn a once blooming heart into desert wasteland.

Yet as I sat there and could feel the hard earth around me starting to thaw, I felt that same thaw occurring in my heart. As I remember and trust that Spring will always follow Winter, I can trust the warmth of His love to once again make my heart new.

Remembering gives way to trust and trust gives way to hope.

As I walked further down the path, I looked hard into the dark soil, straining to see whatever growth I could. And finally I saw it… a little green shoot poking its head above the dirt.

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A little sign of hope… spring and new life returning again.

“…but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” Isaiah 40:31

 

It’s the little things…

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The other morning as I took a walk with Smokey our dog, I could feel the warmth of the sun on my back. I could barely remember what that felt like, the sun sharing its warmth. In my mind there have been many grey days this winter.

So when I felt the sun’s warmth, I did what any normal person would do:) I stopped in the middle of the road, and stretched my face towards its rays, and let myself take in all its goodness.

Sometimes it is the little things…

Smokey did not seem to mind, it gave him more time to try and rip off his “gentle leader” and eat more snow.

When I lived in Sweden this is often what would happen in the early spring. After months of not seeing the sun, people would stop and tilt their faces upwards, ready to capture all of the sun’s warmth and gain back what they were missing those dark winter months.

I have certainly missed the light and warmth this winter. And while I have enjoyed this season, I am looking forward to Spring.

Some of the things I have enjoyed this winter:

  • reading (I have rediscovered the joy of a good novel and can’t seem to get enough of them.) The latest one was The Midwife of Hope River by: Patricia Harman – so good!
  • knitting – a simple shawl, and crocheting a lap blanket for my daughter (I think it is going on the third year now)
  • slow mornings – yea for snow delays!
  • coffee and coffee with friends – the only thing that really gets me through the winter

What I am looking forward to this Spring:

  • planting – flowers/veggies
  • walks without dressing like a snowman
  • patio meals with friends
  • biking to work

And finally I am hoping to incorporate some new ideas here on the blog. This blog has mostly taken on the form of a devotional, and while I intend to keep this aspect of the blog, I also want to include other ideas I have floating around in my head!

So if the sun is out, take a moment and let your face feel its warmth and goodness. And if it is hiding in the grey, look forward to its return with anticipation and look for the other gifts hiding in today.

Advent

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27 more days until Christmas.

If there is one thing I can count on every year, it is the way Christmas sneaks up on me.

Each year I promise myself to be more intentional and find my way to the Christmas I want to remember.

And each year…

I become less intentional, rather than more.

Surviving Christmas, rather than letting it lead me to the

One

Christmas is meant for.

So… this year I am slowing down.

I will advent. (yes this word should be a verb)

I will look for God in the little moments of this season.

Join me once a week.

And on Instagram starting December 1st, posting #24daysofadvent. Feel free to join along. Post a photo a day to celebrate the waiting.

 

 

 

#OvercomeRejection – When the coach is wrong

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The game was about to start.  I looked out over the field and did not see her.  I looked over at the sideline, on the bench, and there she sat.  Again.  It wasn’t that she did not get playing-time or was not good at the game, she was.  Even so, this soccer season more often than not, she seemed to start the game sitting on the sidelines…

Today I have the honor of sharing a guest post on Shawn Smucker’s blog as part of his #OvercomeRejection series.  Click here to read more

The game was about to start.  I looked out over the field and did not see her.  I looked over at the sideline, and there she sat, on the bench.  Again. It wasn’t that she did not get playing-time or was not good at the game, she was.  Even so, this soccer season more often than not, my daughter seemed to start the game sitting on the sidelines. – See more at: http://shawnsmucker.com/2014/07/23/when-the-coach-is-wrong-an-overcomerejection-post/#sthash.6muo3670.dpuf
The game was about to start.  I looked out over the field and did not see her.  I looked over at the sideline, and there she sat, on the bench.  Again. It wasn’t that she did not get playing-time or was not good at the game, she was.  Even so, this soccer season more often than not, my daughter seemed to start the game sitting on the sidelines. – See more at: http://shawnsmucker.com/2014/07/23/when-the-coach-is-wrong-an-overcomerejection-post/#sthash.6muo3670.dpuf

Her

Anja

(photo: eaoberg)

From early on we knew there was something about you.

The way you looked at us and observed all of your surroundings.

You did not stop at observing, from the very beginning you wanted in on life.

Around the age of two or three, when we came to pick you up from your Swedish daycare, your teachers told us about your day.  As they shared your story, we caught a glimpse of who you were and who you were becoming.  Everyday after lunch, your teachers would sing songs with you, read stories, and then you would rest.  You and your classmates knew the routine.  This particular day, the teacher entered the classroom to find all of the children lined nicely up on the mat,  you leading them in songs and stories.

You have heard this story told many times.  It is one of the things that amazes me about you.  I know at times you think you live fearfully, or your heart may fill with worry.  Even so what I see when I look at you is, someone who lives fearlessly.  When I see the things you do…

trying new things

meeting new people

pushing through fears

caring deeply

and finding joy.

You live life loud

with and because of Jesus.

The way you live your life has been, and always will be my birthday wish for you.

(a belated 16th birthday tribute)

 

Summer

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Happy Summer from the Obergs!

Blessings of rest and recreation, or as my husband’s superintendent said, “Go re-create yourselves.”

May your recreation this summer bring a season of re-creation.

Sacrifice

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I saw God today, in sacrifice.

A father giving up his son.

The son giving up his rights.

Done,

out of love for

us.

“Who being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.  And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death- even death on the cross.  Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name…” Philippians 2:6-9

And He sees the little sacrifices you make each day,

loving your child,

taking care of your wife,

helping a student,

caring for that patient,

loving and serving your neighbor.

They do not go unnoticed.

God sees and takes note.

Do not give up.  Keep going.  Keep giving up the small, for the beautiful big that is coming.

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9

Is there a little sacrifice God might be asking of you this week?