A Surprise Concerning my Header Photo

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Yesterday, we met an old friend and some new friends here in the city for a trek about the local gardens. If you remember, these gardens are where my “washer woman” photo was taken.

I wanted to find her again and take a picture in a different season just to compare how the seasons affected her. I was not as impressed by her with all the green foliage at her feet as I was by her stance amongst the decaying foliage of that autumn day just prior to Emily becoming sick. She seemed less noble.

I got a bit closer to her and that is when I realized her laundry basket wasn’t full of clothes, nor was it empty as if she had just hung up the wash. My “washer woman” wasn’t washing anything at all.

Do you know what was in that basket???


For a long time I have needed her to be serious, standing against all odds. I have needed her to embrace her job as a wife and mother despite the death and decay about her. I have needed her to keep going, keep moving, keep being.

Yesterday, there was a paradigm shift.

While I still embrace my wifely and motherly roles, while I still stand amidst trials, while I am still a thinker and an analyzer, it is time for another side of me to emerge. My basket mustn’t always be full of laundry. There are flowers to be gathered!

For a long while I have been deep in thought. I’ve always been plagued by the “need” to analyze everything. Since Emily’s death, I’ve spent even more time than usual (read that as EVERY WAKING MINUTE!) thinking about something or other. Whether this is a coping mechanism so I don’t have to feel or whether it is a habit I have gotten into is really of no consequence. The effect is what matters. I have lost the ability to enjoy my down time. In fact, I have lost down time altogether. (My friend, Candi, says I need a TV so I can just “veg”; however, I informed her that we do have a Netflix subscription and I end up choosing documentaries to watch because I like to think…go figure!)

After a long talk with my husband last night, I realized I no longer just sit and be. My family will be enjoying a campfire while I write or read next to them. At night, I research deep theological issues or listen to sermons. I drive in the car and miss exits because I was “thinking”. While there is nothing wrong with these things in and of themselves, it is when I choose these things every single time and fill my day to the brim with deep thoughts that it becomes a problem. Sometimes I need to just pick flowers. Sometimes I need to just “be”.

Be still and know that I am God.
Psalm 46:10a

I also snapped this photo (not the greatest time of day for a photo…might go back someday and try again) because it reminded me of another important aspect of my life. Look at her face. She doesn’t look worried or serious or preoccupied. And look at the boy in her arms…bliss. *sigh*

And then there is this photo…

I am actually excited to see what the Lord has in store for me as I retrain myself to “be still”. I am sure He will show Himself to me in ways I never took the time to recognize. There is beauty in the ashes. There is beauty beyond the ashes. It is okay to hang the laundry and fill the basket with flowers on my way back home. :)

29 Comments on A Surprise Concerning my Header Photo

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29 thoughts on “A Surprise Concerning my Header Photo

  1. I was blessed and encouraged today by your post. Thanks for sharing and what a surprise about your washer woman!

  2. Hi, I have been reading your blog for about a year and have also never commented. You described me perfectly in your blog today! I never allow myself down time–there is “too much to do” for me to stop. Your post on June 11 “This Is What I Am Doing Today” was great also. My TO DO List is often longer than what I can accomplish one month much less one day. So I am trying to pick one thing a day to accomplish along with taking care of the kids. The birth of my fifth child eight weeks ago has thrown everything out of whack and I am really struggling to keep things on track. I have about decided it will not happen so I need to revamp. Thank you for such insightful posts. Laura

  3. Karrie,
    Thank you so much! I am always amazed by the people who have followed and never commented. It warms my heart.

    Yes, today after writing that, I did just what you said! I even took some pictures of them (my 3 and 4 yos were swinging the baby! lol)

    It was beautiful! One day, one moment at a time.

  4. Hi, I have followed your blog since about the time Emily was sick. I don’t think I have ever commented! So today I would like to! Just sit down and watch your children. Whenever I get side tracked and realize I need to just sit and be still, I start by watching my children play. It always calms me and I then can start being “still”! Good luck in your journey! :)

  5. Amy,…what a blessing to see how God taught you something, and then allowed you to teach others to “just be”,…or to “be still”.

    You have been grieving,…and now you are healing and headed back on the path of life,…and yes, the path that leads you to happiness and joy!

    Blessings as you fill your basket with flowers. How sweet, that God let you peek inside the basket and see the flowers instead of the laundry!

    Linda @ Truthful Tidbits

  6. Wow! I am so thankful the Lord has used my own struggles to help others. I hope to soon write about some of the awesome things I enjoyed with my family since purposing to “gather the flowers”.

    Blessings to all of you,

  7. I have tears streaming down my cheeks. This isn’t the first time the Lord has used you to speak to me. Thanks for pointing me to this particular post. This is exactly where I’m at.

  8. Once again, I’ve had to send out a mass e-mail to let friends, family and co-workers know about a nugget of wisdom the Lord has sent through your pen (techincally it is your fingers but you get the point) straight to my heart. I can see you talking as I read your words. You have such a gift my friend. Thank you for being a Handmaiden. Now, to dry my eyes before the stinkin’ staff meeting~ thanks!

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  11. Thank you! My mom died @ the age of 55 10 mo ago. No she wasn’t my child but it was hard taking care of her the last few weeks, trying to still HS my children, deal with a brother with special needs, make sure my 17 yr old sister was able to try to live a “normal” life at that time and allowing my dad to continue to work. This was all going on while my children and I were 14 hrs away from home and our hubby/daddy. After she passed away as you know that wasn’t the end by any means! A few short weeks later I had to have emergency surgery to remove a tumor the size of a cantalope on my right ovary I didn’t know I had before. They thought it was cancer thankgoodness it wasn’t but the emotions ran wild for the whole family again. Then recovery that took forever. 2010 was a long hard year for me/us! I was always “carrying laundry” around not washing it or hanging it just hauling it cuz everyone needed me to fix everything for my family and for my siblings and dad. Im 2011 I’m determined to pick flowers, liv life and have fun! THANK YOU!

  12. Oh my, I just loved this post. I am very similar in the fact of thinking, analyzing, and just constantly being in deep thought. I listen to sermons, get lost in deep theological thoughts, question life and the plans the Lord has for us….the list goes on and on. I have a hard time just being. The only time I seem to be able to do that is when I am praying. I sometimes wish I could just shut of my brain and soak up whatever is going on around me. This picture of picking flowers is something I pray stays with me for a long time. I want to pick flowers and be like a child. Thank you Amy for all of the beauty you share with us. Thank you for your vulnerability and transparency. I have been so inspired and touched by your blog. I pray the Lord blesses you greatly and fills you with joy overflowing. He loves you so deeply and I pray that you will feel that love.

  13. I am enjoying your blog today as my husband just took the girls out to lunch ( a first time ever) They are 22, 14, 6 and the oldest will leave in two days to live in Korea. The boys are quietly about somewhere and I found myself with a moment to plan the school year. This year I thought I might formally add chores to the school day. Thats how I found your blog…I like the statue and I wanted to share mine. It is a sketch that my 14 year old drew and it has been engraved on my mother’s grave marker. A year later my little niece was buried there (trisome 18) with her grandmother. I loved your thoughts on the child running just ahead, just out of sight…and into the arms of Jesus. I’ll try to attach the sketch here but I do not know how that works…tried and can’t attach.

    Thanks for your blog!

  14. Hi there,
    I think I’ve caught your blog posts before on Raising Homemakers. I was linked to you again today in the “Are you an angry mom?” post. I was able to relate to every word…..darnit! My hidden anger (well, not hidden to my daughter!) is from a divorce and from the day-to-day trials of a being a single mom. My life is ridiculously blessed by God. We want for nothing…seriously nothing….and I do it all on a part-time teacher’s salary. So what could I possibly be cranky about? I’ve saved the link to this post and will soon listen to the sermon you suggest.

    I also looked up the story to your header photo because I love that sculpture….and wondered if there were copies in other towns, or if we live in the same town. Well, neighbor ;), it’s good to know such God-fearing mamas are so close by! As someone who has a mad passion for doing laundry on the clothesline I LOVED your last line of filling the empty laundry basket with flowers. Awesome! I just asked a friend last week *how* do people have time to sit and watch TV? How are adults ever bored? As a single mom I can’t ever think of the last time I was bored.

    I feel like I’ve “met” a kindred spirit. Ahhhhh, I’m not the only one out there! :) I’ll definitely start following your blog! Thank you and God bless!

    • Wow! What a testimony you have! And welcome to the Raising Arrows community. There are other single moms here, so I hope you are able to connect with some of them as well!

  15. I am neither a blog poster nor frequent reader. I occasionally see posts on facebook linking here by people I respect. As a result, I read your post about “Me Time.” I couldn’t agree more. Thank you for sharing about your life and your children. I am very touched by how God has worked in you.

  16. I am really not completely sure how I stumbled upon your page, but I do believe it was not by happenstance. I know that this post is from a few years back, but it was such an “on-time” word for me (amazing how God can do that, isn’t it?). I have two beautiful daughters that are my complete world! I live to be their mother. But there is a beautiful release in the words that I have read in this post. It is something that I needed to hear today. Thank you for being willing to be so “exposed”. May God continue to bless you. Thank you!

  17. Without revealing more than I’d like, I think those gardens are in my hometown 😉 We don’t live there anymore because my hubby is a soldier, but I just got a little homesick. I also didn’t realize (having lived there 28 years) the washer woman had flowers!

  18. Beautifully written Amy! I’m new to your blog, but I’m loving it already! You are such an encouragement to me! I have 7 “arrows”, & even though I’m hesitant to add more to the quiver, I have found support & tender words from you. I pray the Lord will continue to bless your growth in Him.