Caravan Sonnet: From Hope Valley Devotionals (Week One)

2/1/17

From Hope Valley Devotionals (Week One)

Dear friend, first, thank you so much for stopping by to read these weekly devotional posts that have been inspired by "When Calls the Heart". For the next 45 Wednesdays I am going to be sharing a devotional post that I hope will be an encouragement to you! I never thought that I would write devotional posts based on a TV show before, but have been so inspired by the show that these devotional posts came about slowly as it wound its way into my heart. I first fell in love with the sweet title “When Calls the Heart” from Janette Oke’s book when I was a teenager. I loved the Canadian West series and even re-read them recently. Several years ago I saw a preview on Hallmark Channel for “When Calls the Heart” the TV show and the chords of faith, community, and love resonated deeply within my heart and I immediately became a "heartie".  At the time I was struggling as I had become bedridden due to Advanced Late Stage Lyme Disease plus other health issues and felt cut off from the world. As I watched and re-watched “When Calls the Heart” I was consistently inspired by the threads that were woven deep into the show. Watching the show was an encouragement, especially during the difficult season that I found myself in. I started writing these in the early part of the Summer of 2015, when I found unexpectedly found myself bed-bound again. I hope and pray as you read through these weekly devotionals that you are encouraged to a deeper relationship with the Lord through these devotionals that have been inspired by the seemingly simple yet profound quotes from the precious TV show, “When Calls the Heart”

*Please note that the quotes used in these weekly devotionals are the sole intellectual property of Hallmark Channel, WCTH, & Crown Media, LLC. These on-line posts are in no way supported, endorsed, or affiliated with WCTH, Hallmark Channel, or Crown Media. They are simply encouragement inspired by Janette Oke and this precious show.*
The beginning of a new adventure or a new season always comes with a twinge of uneasiness and fear. Sometimes it can seem that the new adventure was a mistake, especially in the first few days. Even with a qualified background in a new position we can sometimes feel at a loss or incompetent or even silly. 

In the fall of 2009, I found myself in this exact position. I was transitioning to a new out of state job from Washington DC to outside of Atlanta to teach high school at a new school. I was leaving behind a close-knit community that I considered a family, and one that had walked a very difficult road with me in the prior year, to live in a city where I knew no one and into a school that held a completely different culture than the one I was coming from. It was different, it was exciting, it was frightening, and at the start I often wondered what I had been thinking. I often questioned my decision, especially in the first few days. 

The move itself was stressful as my dad and I traveled over 30 hours with my car and a large (and slow) U-Haul across seven states, ran into 8 hours of traffic that made our trip longer, and suffered the death of my car’s air conditioner, resulting in the driver "enjoying" the 105 southern summer heat as the sun beat down on us. When we arrived we discovered that unlike the help we had been promised we were alone in unloading my possessions to my 2nd floor apartment. Hot and sweaty already, exhausted from our trip, and feeling quite alone and forgotten, more than a few tears ran down my cheeks as I was completely discouraged.

I looked over at my kind-hearted father who was exhausted and pouring sweat yet encouraging me through the difficult work in front of us. I looked at him with tears as I knew that he was leaving early the next day and I would truly be alone. I had lived farther away from home than this move, but this one for me was a difficult choice and decision. These beginning circumstanced only heightened my feelings of doubt.

After several hours we finished the laborious task and I stood in my new apartment, looking at the total sum of my worldly possessions that were haphazardly scattered before me. I felt overwhelmed at the task of unpacking, orienting to a new city, and preparing for this new life. My immediate inclination was to start to straighten up everything but I knew that it couldn’t be done at that point. The night was quickly approaching and we still had to return the U-Haul, go to the grocery store to purchase some basic supplies and somehow find towels and bedding and pillows for the bed and sofa bed. There was a lot to do before I had to take my dad to the airport the following morning. 

We took a minute and then slowly and tiredly made our way down to the cars and proceeded to check off our list one-by one of what we needed to accomplish that evening. The next few hours passed in a blur as we quickly grabbed a bite to eat, returned the U-Haul, went to the grocery store, and searched through boxes to find what we needed for the night. At last, well after midnight, I wearily crawled into bed. Foreign to my typical adventurous spirit, I felt shaky and nervous, and kept whispering to myself, "I can do this, I can do this, I can do this". The next morning found me repeating my words to myself like the Little Engine that Could as I wept and said goodbye to my dad. I wondered if I really could do what I had set out to do in this new place. 

As I waved one last time to my dad who had finished going through security, I found myself standing completely still as the crowds in the Atlanta airport rushed around me. I took a deep breath and slowly turned and walked out of the airport towards my car. Glancing at the time as I buckled up I knew that I would hit some of the Atlanta traffic I had heard so much about. I was grateful as the time in the car gave me time to think. The last year had been extremely difficult on my heart as my ex-fiance' had walked out on our relationship only a few months before the wedding altering my life plans. The verse from scripture that promises that God is always with us was of particular comfort during that season and was now as I thought about the days and weeks and months ahead.

As I drove slowly home in the Atlanta traffic I decided that I would take a detour from unpacking. All at once I desperately wanted to see the school where I would be teaching. I didn’t stop to consider my appearance, although quite truthfully I must have looked a bit rough. Despite a shower the night before I was still hot and sweaty from lack of air-conditioning in my car and sitting in traffic, and my clothes where a rumpled mess from having been packed in hot suitcase for the last five days. My hair was thrown back into a messy bun and looked like it hadn’t been combed for days. Despite this I moved forward with my detour plans. I had an inexplicable and deep longing to walk through the new school and community that I hoped to call “home”.

Nearly two hours after dropping my father at the airport and sitting in traffic, I finally pulled into the school parking lot. I ignored the cars that were parked around the front of the building and tentatively walked into the school. I received several surprised looks but I continued to walk on. I had only seen the school one time briefly before this, so I was intrigued by everything. I stopped to view pictures on the walls and glance in empty classrooms. After about 20 minutes of walking through the high school hallways, I decided to head home. I admit that instead of feeling more ready for the task before me I instead felt extremely discouraged, alone, and fragile. I looked at the empty 2nd floor hallway before me and sighed into the quiet. Not for the first time in the last 24 hours I wondered what I had done.

As I walked down the stairwell and opened to the door to the 1st floor hallway I almost ran directly into a young woman about my age. She had the largest and kindest smile and she quickly reached her hand out to introduce herself. Her kind and welcoming words changed everything. She was focused on me completely and her attitude showed that she didn’t care about my hot and sweaty appearance, my messy bun, or what I could offer her. Instead she was completely focused on welcoming me into her heart and her life. 

All of a sudden, because she took 5 minutes to intentionally step into my life, my view of the world completely changed. Liz, I was quickly to learn, has a gift for making those around her feel supported and encouraged. Over the next three years that I had the privilege of teaching with her, I and many others, were the recipients of her dedicated, personal, and intentional caring and love. Liz has a beautiful gift of seeing to the heart of people and seeing the best in them. A beautiful and rare treasure in this world.
Never let it be said that the time and intentionality of a Christian woman to listen and encourage is anything short of a priceless gift to the world.

This encounter, much like the precious conversation between Abigail and Elizabeth’s conversation in the first episode of season one, has had a huge impact on my life and the way that I view the world. It has softened me and strengthened me. Softened me to thank those who give encouragement and live in the gratitude of their care and compassion. And it strengthens and challenges me to take the time to see whom I can encourage in my daily life. It challenges me to take the time to truly consider who is before me in my life, to turn off my phone, leave the useless hours of scrolling through other people’s lives, and to intentionally see the people who are in front of me that I can offer a few words of encouragement to today.

Today, let us draw inspiration from Elizabeth’s attitude of gratitude for kind words in the midst of change and new seasons and hard times, and let us be challenged by Abigail’s strength and courage to offer kindness to those who need it. Let us look around to those who cross our paths for a short or long periods of time, to those who are hurting, and for those who are needing some extra grace and words of encouragement today. We may never begin to guess the impact that our encouragement can be on one person and the ripple affect it can have on a community.

“Therefore, encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.”
-I Thessalonians 5:11-

16 comments:

  1. Thank you for sharing this wonderful devotional!!! I look forward to your next 44 and I know your words will be a blessing to many...

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    1. Margie, Thank YOU so much for your sweet words of encouragement and for stopping by and taking the time to read! I so appreciate you!! Thank you again and I look forward to connecting more over the next weeks!

      Blessings,
      Rebecca :)

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  2. It's no wonder you find a strong tie to @wcth. You have lived your life like Elizabeth. Entering into a new life in unfamiliar territory and as a teacher at that. Thank you for sharing your heart and I look forward to reading your devotionals.

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    1. Beckie,

      Oh my goodness! What beautiful words and encouragement!! Thank YOU so much for stopping by and taking the time to read and leave such a thoughtful comment! I so appreciate you!! Thank you again and I look forward to connecting more over the next weeks!

      Blessings,
      Rebecca :)

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  3. What a beautiful testimony of your message! You are definitely a talented writer! And thank you from my heart to yours for such insight, positive challenge and humbling message! I will be looking forewarned to each Wednesday's quote and message! Thank you, thank toy, thank you and Good bless you for touching lives as you are doing! Sara

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    1. Sara,

      Oh my goodness! I was so touched by your sweet message of encouragement!! Thank YOU so much for stopping by and taking the time to read and leave such a thoughtful comment! I so appreciate you!! Thank you again and I look forward to connecting more over the next weeks!

      Blessings,
      Rebecca :)

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  4. Very moving! Thank you so much sharing your story with us! ❤️

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    1. Thank YOU Teri so much for for stopping by and taking the time to read and leave a comment! Thank you again and I look forward to connecting more over the next weeks!

      Blessings,
      Rebecca :)

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  5. That is a very touching and beautiful story. Thank You for sharing. I look forward to reading the next ones.

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    1. Thank you so much for your stopping by and taking the time to read and comment!

      Blessings,
      Rebecca :)

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  6. Wow! You are an incredible writer!! Your kind words have truly warmed my soul, and I am completely blown away and humbled; thank you, thank you, my dear friend!! You are an amazing woman of God, and you are such an inspration to me!!!

    I can never express to you how much you have positively impacted my life and how much you have encouraged me over the years! Your friendship is an incredible gift; I am so very grateful!

    I pray for blessings to be showered upon you! May the Lord lift you up, strengthen you, encourage you, and completely heal you!!

    I look forward to reading your future stories too!

    Blessings,
    Liz

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    1. FRIEND!! I was so delighted to read your message- what an impact you have had on my life!! You are an amazing woman of God and I truly miss you so much!! Sending love and prayers your way too friend and I pray the Lord allows our paths to cross again very soon! I miss you!!

      Sending love, Rebecca :)

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  7. Wow! You are an incredible writer!! Your kind words have truly warmed my soul, and I am completely blown away and humbled; thank you, thank you, my dear friend!! You are an amazing woman of God, and you are such an inspration to me!!!

    I can never express to you how much you have positively impacted my life and how much you have encouraged me over the years! Your friendship is an incredible gift; I am so very grateful!

    I pray for blessings to be showered upon you! May the Lord lift you up, strengthen you, encourage you, and completely heal you!!

    I look forward to reading your future stories too!

    Blessings,
    Liz

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    1. FRIEND!! I was so delighted to read your message- what an impact you have had on my life!! You are an amazing woman of God and I truly miss you so much!! Sending love and prayers your way too friend and I pray the Lord allows our paths to cross again very soon! I miss you!!

      Sending love, Rebecca :)

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  8. Thank you! I, too, have had my struggles, and it has never ceased to amaze me that someone kind is there just when I needed them. This is God in action.

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  9. I loved reading this first devotional and can't wait to read the rest of them! :)

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