For some reason today the word visualizing is on my mind. Perhaps in part because my computer is updating and I can't get to my photographs?

I've done a lot of visualization this summer.

As Tim being in school got tougher, we visualized how many weeks he had left by coloring a star of life for each week he had left so we could take one down every Saturday. I thought it would help the girls through this time filled with tears and breakdown. Unfortunately the process just made me cry too.  At first it was depressing; there were over 20 weeks left, and it was visually overwhelming. But happily now none of them remain because he is DONE.

Midsummer, Tim got a job! Obviously that was always the eventual goal of going to paramedic school. And we knew it probably meant moving, but it is almost impossible to picture it until it is upon you. Once we knew where and roughly when we were moving, let the daydreams begin! I knew to expect humid air, tall trees, and suburbia! I knew to expect more traffic but more friends. I knew to hope for neighbors we actually saw. I knew to lock the doors for neighbors who try not to be seen.

What I didn't expect was, on the way to visit my parents, Tim would bring up an old idea of living smaller. But instead of a tiny house - a home on wheels. My first reaction was "well, I'll humor him but I don't think it will work." Less than a weekend later, we had actually been in a travel trailer that made me think this unusual idea just might work.

Just a few months later, here we are. A family of five living in a 5th wheel. And so far I love it. It was a huge process to go from a 1900+ square foot home to an RV. I had to do some visualizing.

Visualizing space ... what would fit, what did we really need, and how would we store it? Fortunately I tended to under estimate the spaces and most things we chose to keep were easily stowed away. It is a LOT easier to move into a tiny RV than a tiny traditional house. RVs are MADE for storing things! Every nook and cranny has a door or some other clever way to cram something into the available space.

I also had to do some difficult visualizing through time. We stored things that could not be replaced. We stored a few things we might need if we suddenly decided this wasn't going to work and moved to a house. So that leaves what has to go.

Some of the things I was selling or donating I had to visualize ... both an ideal, and a disaster. For example, baby bedding. In a sentimental world, I would save it and one of my children would use it for their babies. In reality, I would store it for who knows how long, and pull it out with the elastic dry rotted, magical reappearing stains and yellowing, and it would be outdated and sad and my kids would either turn their noses up at it or worse ... begrudgingly take it just because it had been important to me.

So instead I inhaled the scent of Dreft one more time ... not wishing for babies, but enjoying the memories of mine. Then I set about letting it go to bless another mother and baby. I'll never know what actually became of it, but I liked to picture a frightened young mother who wasn't sure she was cut out for this job having a bright, cheerful place for her fragile newborn to sleep.

Instead of picturing my daughters in my wedding dress, I let it go to bless mothers in a painful time of loss. Something beautiful for their one look, one moment, one photo, with their precious angel babies. I know how much having something to hold onto in a time of loss can mean. I pray I'll be able to go dress shopping with my own daughters one day as they pick something completely them rather than making Mom's old outdated dress work.

Visualizing can be dangerous. Our huge life changes meant the shattering of old dreams. Some not our own. A counselor once explained to us both that it is like we have this photograph in a frame of what life is going to look like, and now it is broken. We can focus on the broken photograph, or we can reframe a new one. While I myself have always been pretty good at that (seriously I'm not going to count up how many times I've had a "new start" in life), it isn't as easy for others.

Be careful what you visualize that isn't about yourself. We aren't really in control of our own lives, much less someone else's. Trust the Father's perfect vision. I wanted to end with a photograph of a dress of Tori's. It has beautiful, bright embroidery from Mexico on the outside. The other day I had done laundry. As is typical of coin operated driers, the dress needed a little more time even though the cycle was done so I hurriedly hung it up (RJ was riding the laundry carts into the walls).

Later when it felt dry I went to hang it in her closet and ... disaster! The washer had ruined the pretty embroidery and it was a jumbled, loose and knotted (but colorful) mess!

But it wasn't. In my rush I had hung it inside out and I was looking at the back. Trust the one creating the front that when all is revealed our lives that look so messy with loose ends and hopeless knots on this side will create a beautiful visual.

Just visualize it though, because I have no photographs today.