Findings | Here and there

Had to stop on the way to work to snap a picture of this side road underneath a layer of cloud…Not for the first time, I was awestruck by the views on my way to work. So thankful to be here. God is good.

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Sisters

IMG_2051.1Jess was here to visit this past week – We kept her busy, scurrying her around from one adventure to another, relishing having all four of us together again. That may sound sappy to some, but if you grew up as we did in a close-knit homeschooling household, you’ll understand what I mean when I say, “My sisters are my bestest friends. They are all I need.” When you grow up spending all of your waking hours with your family, there is a closeness that is inevitable. And it is hard having one of those siblings 1000 miles away. So glad she got to come to the Hills for a week, short as it was.

On Saturday, the 19th, we took a jaunt over to Little Falls – The girls wanted to swim, which was a firm no for me, but they managed to talk me into getting in up to my knees. I don’t handle cold water very well, so I was whining the whole time about my feet hurting (they did. The water was cold.), but we managed to get a couple of cute pictures on Jess’s phone.

IMG_1995.1Anna spent most of her time garnet hunting. As I’ve written about once or twice before, garnets are plentiful in the streams here and, while we mostly hunt them in the dry creek beds, we like to hunt them whenever we go to Little or Big Falls. Some good garnets can be found in those places…

Jess, Sarah, and the Dog scrambled around on the rocks – I followed behind slowly, enjoying my time through the lens of a camera, and simply enjoying the presence of all three of my sisters.

IMG_2123.2God has blessed me with wonderful friends in my sisters. When I was younger, I don’t think I appreciated them nearly enough, but they grow more dear to me with each passing year. They are the lights of my life. Not sure what I’d do without them. While siblings are so close that you know one another’s foibles, quirks, and annoying habits, they also are the friends who have the potential to be the closest friends on earth.

Who else shares the same history, the same upbringing, the same genetics or legal heritage? My youngest sister, Anna, is adopted, but even though she doesn’t share my genes, she shares a heritage by virtue of us being children of the same parents. She participates in the legacy that our parents are building for us.

We’ve all spent all of our childhoods together. We’ve been homeschooled together, we’ve argued together, shared beds, brushed teeth together, owned pets together, accidentally killed pets together, shared silverware, shared secrets, shared deodorant, spent all our best memories together. We’ve shared mishaps, successes, and failures. We share facial expressions, complexions, and quirks. We compare tans in the summer. We fight over snow boots in the winter. We all try to get out of dishes, and then enjoy doing the dishes together.

IMG_2029Who else can boast or blush at the mention of each of those things? Who else can claim the closeness that siblings have? We share a past, a present, and a future. A friend can walk away without a part of you going with them. Your siblings, no matter how rocky the relationship, are always going to be part of who you are.

When God created families, he wasn’t just creating an institution – He was creating companions, opportunities to experience closeness probably only surpassed by a spouse. That’s a pretty special relationship. And I’ve got three of them.

Laura Elizabeth

The golden flame

IMG_2684.1Fall has arrived, and with it the burning, brilliant, tingling gold of a thousand thousand birch trees, glinting their leaves into the sun as one might catch light on a mirror and then scatter it.

In Illinois, almost all the trees would turn their colors at once – First one or two small trees, young trees, would change to yellow or orange or red, and then the whole body of the trees would burst into color, flamboyant and showy and with the unmistakable spirit of autumn.

IMG_2690.2Here, the color comes differently. Most of our trees here are pine – Constant green throughout the year, no matter the season. But slowly, slowly, the birch trees, clustered together in little groves, take on the glow of fall.

IMG_2694.1Today on the way home from church, Sarah and I dawdled our way through Custer State Park, enjoying Iron Mountain Road and other side roads, and time after time, my breath was swept away by the sheer glory of the birch trees. As we drove through the winding mountain roads, the 4:00 sun filtered through the pines, casting shifting shadows through the pillar trunks. Even in the sun, the pines look dark. But just around a corner or over a hill, the whole landscape would change, suddenly a gold of such intensity the wood itself seemed to be glowing. The white birch trunks reflected the light, glinting paler through the pale fire of the trees.

A camera can only partially capture the changing, sparkling beauty of the golden autumn, the golden flame in the heart of the woods.

Laura Elizabeth