I woke up Wednesday morning, reluctantly opened my eyes, and saw my husband smiling back at me.
Mornings have not been my friend lately, but his face, just the right distance for me to focus on and see clearly, was the friendliest thing I know. “You gotta get up” he told me quietly. At least he was smiling while delivering that news.
The drapes were still mostly pulled shut, blocking light from the storms we had night before last, but the middle was cracked open, and the contrast of the chocolate brown drapery and the lightened sky caught and held my fuzzy vision. My hands wavered all around the area next to my bed until I found my glasses.
I stood and took a step to the window to see what this decidedly pink vision was in the atmosphere. As I rose ever so slowly into that next level of consciousness, I pushed the panels apart and tried to take it in what I saw.
But how do you really take in something like this?
I found myself holding my breath as lyrics raced through my head of mentions of early morning meetings with Jesus.
“As surely as the sun will rise You’ll come to us, As certain as the dawn appears. You’ll come, let your glory fall as You respond to us…”
“Glorious. My eyes have seen the Glory of the Lord…the hope of His returning, fills the universe!”
“In the morning when I rise…give me Jesus.”
This was by far the prettiest morning meeting I’ve had.
After delivering the kids safely to school, I came back home and crawled directly into bed, this time accompanied by my cup of coffee, devotional, laptop, paperwork, and calendar. I figured I could stay put a while that way.
The silence and stillness of the room was more than welcome. It was a relief. I stared ahead and breathed in the moment.
For every hat I wear in life, it seems that a voice accompanies it, and so it wasn’t long before reminders and responsibilities swept in fighting over what should take priority for the day. Every ‘to do’ came louder and faster than the one before it to where there was shouting occuring in my brainspace. I just sat there, completely still but internally screaming, “I want to run away! Or maybe I need an assistant. An assistant? Wow. You are insane.”
I would make a disastrous life coach. “Suck it up and go put in some laundry.”
I was not getting out of that bed though. Sometimes the best thing to do is be still for the moment and work faster later.
I just want to spend time with the Lord right now.
I NEED Him.
I had other plans for the morning, but decided to stay home and punch some of this to-do list in the mouth. I reached over for my Jesus Calling devotional. I’m about a week behind but turned to that day’s dated entry.
“Let My Love enfold you in the radiance of My Glory. Sit still in the Light of My Presence, and receive My Peace. These quiet moments with Me transcend time, accomplishing far more than you can imagine. Bring me the sacrifice of your time, and watch to see how abundantly I bless you and your loved ones.”
-Jesus Calling, January 25
I sat with tears streaming off my face, top lip curled in ugly cry position and heart waving a white flag of surrender, yet again. And not in a ‘bring on da’ blessings’ kind of way, but because I am known and communicated with in ways nothing else and no ONE else can. Period.
I can’t help but imagine, as I lay asleep in bed each morning, the Lord is swirling around the sky and creating these outrageous sunrises, anxious for us to wake up and see them, kind of like we feel about our kids on their birthdays or Christmas morning.
A thought to create such unspeakable beauty… that I would see it as I stumble up and out of bed, and not only notice it, but be moved so deeply by His love of color and timing and, well, of me. That it would cause me to worship before even speaking my first word for the day.
I’m kind of wondering if God doesn’t have a special palette for brilliant shades of pink. I believe without a doubt that we ain’t seen NOTHIN yet.
Brian and I have talked for quite a while about buying land and building a home on it consisting of the things that structurally cater to what is important in our lives. For us, the importance of food & community means the kitchen and dining area is well planned & equipped. It means our daughters have room to grow and space to enjoy time with their friends and each other & to nurture their hobbies & interests, and that we have extra space to invite others in when needed and extend our home to them as well.
Months ago, we sat again, discussing our individual & family wants & needs in designing the new space. Our home. No pressure.
Wants: Big Kitchen Island and a cozy sitting area adjoining. 3rd car garage. Small dedicated area with built in shampoo bowl/mirror for washing & cutting hair. Double Vanity Jack-&-Jill bathroom for the girls. A family library room. A craft area…girls paradise. Built in grill on the patio….daddy’s paradise. All the little details, mine.
As we started talking about timelines and what we would want for the girls space, we soon discovered that by the time the home were saved for and constructed or acquired, they would be within a few years of potentially moving OUT of it.
I was married and gone at 19, and while I might hope it goes different for my daughters, this is not unrealistic to consider. Putting voice to the idea that they could be gone in as much time as we have HAD them was a sobering moment. We both just sat with tears in our eyes, unable to speak for a while.
We work and work and strive and plan and design and dream and all the while, these little people are taking impressions of what home is to them, not what we want it to be for them. Not what we wish we could provide.
The reality is, everything our kids want from us, minus a pony, we had the ability to give them, TODAY. All they want is us.
They want our time.
They want our attention.
They need our affirmation.
We didn’t know how long we would live here on this street. If we would want more house, or more land, or more space in the coming years. And honestly, we probably will. We already sometimes do.
But this is the house where our girls are growing up. It is the house they have lived in the longest of any house. Ever. Already. And it is the house that when asked years down the road about home, their minds will most likely conjure a snapshot of.
That’s why the house we live in, now, is actually OUR dream house.
It doesn’t look like what many people would consider dreamy at all. Some have referred to it as a ‘starter home’ and then tried to pull those words back into their mouths as I smile on. I don’t care because my husband & girls are here. It’s a 3 bedroom 2 1/2 bath home with a good size family room, dining room & bright kitchen in need of some updating. I don’t mind though because the drywall is well saturated with laughter and picture frame nail holes from moments that mattered to us and the smell of Brian’s good cookin.
So I’m looking forward to tomorrow morning when I get to wake up in my dream house. Despite the fact that I’ve dreamed of having a home on some acreage, I’ve also dreamed of not having a mortgage. Working toward the latter faster & more aggressively will make the jolt of morning all the better for Brian and me. But knowing that we are giving our girls that mental snapshot their father wishes were more clear for him, is pretty priceless.
We are fairly new to the organic side of food. Words & phrases like, “All Natural”, “Hormone Free”, “Pesticide Free”, “Grass Fed”, “Organic”, “Gluten Free”, “Grain Free” “Free Range”, “Cage Free” … lots of free going on and they all mean something different and important for those in the know.
We are not in the know. We just assume it’s healthier than white bread and unpumped / unsprayed full of bad things.
Wheat is bad for you! No, it’s grain!
What did that animal live in while it was alive? How do I know?!
Do you know what “All Natural” really means?
Refined sugar is the sweetest poison of all. Huh?
Do you know if your ground beef was washed in ammonia solution? If it was WHAT?
Canned tomatoes can kill you? I seriously love canned tomatoes.
I also really love a fresh piece of Bunny bread slathered with butter and sprinkled with semi-sweet chocolate chips and white sugar.
Brian & I both, admittedly, are intimidated by our beautiful new Whole Foods grocery store up the road because we are not fully aware of the differences in what we’ve been accustomed to eating or how to balance the cost comparison of what benefit we are gaining. I mean, minus sugar mountain on the white bread. That’s just a blatant disregard for my insides.
We aren’t actually sure, aside from “healthy”, how we wish to eat. We REALLY LOVE to cook together & eat different things. I asked for a deep fryer but Brian said that was not happening, so I’m at least clear on that side of the spectrum. Sadness.
Last week we ventured back to Whole Foods. “I’m glad we’re here together. It’s less intimidating to be with you.” Awww.
“I feel the same way” I whispered to him… “And I’m SO glad you wore your Vibrams in here today!” It kind of balanced my fur boots.
We didn’t do so good that day with finding something new & healthy. We made it out of the store with beer, organic cheese & local onions. Nothing groundbreaking, but at least we bonded over exploring a new environment together. Win.
Despite my feelings of being lost inside that specific grocery store and the health food world in general, I have really grown to love some things about it, specifically the cheese department. Show me a Dutch girl who doesn’t appreciate cheese and I’ll ask for her genealogy records. Whoa man. There are some crazy good cheeses to be had in the back corner of that store!
This afternoon I found a recipe I wanted to try using spaghetti squash & I remembered the beautiful display of them at WF. The girls & I headed over there and hopped on inside to get what we needed and uhh, splurge on a bit of cheese for the weekend.
As we walked out to the car, my friend Rachel drove up next to us and said hi. I told her I noticed something under my windshield wiper and was so curious I just had to go get it a second…I walked over grabbed it and in my hand held this:
Oh my. I laughed a little, but inside I was sucked back into the hyper colored tunnel of emotion known as 10th grade. I started looking around. Like, in the parking lot, down the lane, at the front door and on the top of the building.
Was someone watching me? Did they do an emissions test while I was sampling Brie a few minutes ago?
I felt safe hugged up against Rachel’s Ford Expedition. “Is that a bad parking job?” I asked her. We agreed it wasn’t. I was totally between the white lines.
I’m fine with hormone-packed poultry. I think it’s tastier. I thought.
No one liked the fresh ground peanut butter I bought from here last month. Meh.
The crab cakes weren’t mind blowing.
I sure will miss that cheese department. They are the friendliest folks ever.
And the Napoli Sausage.
And Lucy’s Cheesecake.
I’m not about to be losin out on Lucy’s Cheesecakes now! Truth is, I love my vehicle. It enables me to help with the kids field trips when
my nerves tolerate it the need arises, or like last week, load up with some of our best friends & the kids and mugs full of hot chocolate and buzz all over town looking at Christmas lights. So much fun. I don’t feel bad about the size of my car OR my parking skillz one teeny bit.
Big cars are great. So is good quality cheese though. Perhaps next time I go back, I’ll have an I LOVE WHOLE FOODS sticker firmly in place on my bumper. And a Publix one on my heart.
There are dates on the calendar every year when we pause to remember some thing, some event, some one. Some of us have calendars littered with ink, and others of us keeping with a digital revolution get notifications with the sound of a small bell and a reminder.
Yet some days, we just know.
This morning I woke up at 9:50AM in a silent home hearing only the wind rustling the trees outside my window.
Good morning, Lord.
Tuesday. Laundry day.
The 18th. Dad’s birthday…
I don’t exactly do well to make complete sentences upon waking.
I’ve felt a bit childlike, appropriately so, in my prayerful approach the past few days, asking the Lord to please allow me just a moment of awareness of my dad. Just a reminder that would be so of him and from Him that I wouldn’t mistake it. For whatever reason, my often unsentimental heart needed it more than ever. A whiff of his cigar. A glimpse of a stranger in a crowd that looked like him. Anything, really. It’s been so long, it would carry me for years.
Months ago I decided to choose something each day to celebrate. I usually only put it on parade in my heart and mind. Today! Today I celebrate….
However, I drove this afternoon to a little cupcake bakery, bought a treat and drove home. I pondered how ordinary my day had been so far with decreasing laundry and increasing quantities of sweet memories of my dad.
Although he’s been away from us for 21 years, today would have been his 75th Birthday.
I set the cupcake on the kitchen island and went upstairs to switch, load & fold more laundry. It wasn’t long after that I learned my Aunt Michelle, my dad’s only sister and safe to say one of his best friends, had passed on.
It was as though I could hear my dad say, “For my birthday, I want my sister here with me!”
And I believe he got it.
I smiled and then began sobbing.
Today I celebrate his adventurous spirit (which he did not genetically pass down to me), and his love of food & laughter and friends & family (which he did)… and blew out a candle in honor of what would have been his 75th Birthday.
I was walking through the mall a couple weeks ago past the kiosks where the very nice Israeli men are always wanting to buff your nails for you. Not all of nails… just one.
“Oh, no thank you. I already have 2 of these nail sets at home” I told him.
“Oh! That’s wonderful! … Wait, are those your real nails? Can I see your hand for just a moment?”
I may have the nail stuff but I realized real fast he was selling skin care. I had just done my very effective facial the day before, purging my entire face of every possible unwelcome impurity or otherwise, so I was feeling pretty sure I’d be back on my way to shop at Gap within 30 seconds.
After a salt scrub to show impurities coming off my clean hands and a mask done on the inside of my wrist, he laid out all the products I never wanted and offered me a super special deal because I was a return customer.
I was headed to Gap 10 minutes ago. How am I standing here derailed getting a wrist scrub? One wrist.
“Let me think about it and I’ll be back at the mall tomorrow.” That’s laughable to a salesman.
“Are you a model?” he asked. That is laughable to me. For a split second I debated asking if he had something that could remove the zebra tube dress of stretch marks that exists from 6 inches below my breasts through the 9 inches above my knees, but I decided to hold that one to myself and let him teach me about the Dead Sea for a minute.
I must be fairly friendly because he said, “I know that you will tell me the truth… what is holding you back from buying this today?”
He was right. I speak truth. “I don’t want all these products” I told him. “I will get home and forget how to use them & when.” I explained that I only use vaseline, warm water & a washcloth on my face. That is all i have the mental capacity for in the morning. Or ever. I loved the look on his face when I said that. What does that cost me, like, $10 a year?
He informed me that there was a lightened place on my skin. Really? He picked up a mirror to show me. “oh no…no i dont want to see….” I stepped backwards and shied away. I’m sure the away movement was the total opposite effect of what he intended.
He said that because we were becoming friends by now and wanted to tell me his real name. I’m sure he thought I would appreciate that and it might make it harder for me to say no to his next sales offer. He helped me say his name a few times and get my Rs successfully rolling and I softened up a bit… until he tried to sell me more. I flat out denied any hope for purchase to my new friend and he bent over laughing, put his hands over his face and said “ahhhh! You are a tough cookie!”
I had to be. Little did he know it was payday and my family’s entire cash envelope system of survival for the next 2 weeks was freshly counted & divided in my purse.
It would be kind of hard to explain to the kids that mommy had a lightened place on her face that required special lotions and that if they would just hang in there, my skin would be more even toned and my pores smaller in just three months. Also, our dinner this month will be ramen-noodle-this and ramen-noodle-that.
He wanted to educate me. I get it. His skin, absolutely beautiful. Why wouldn’t I believe a man who carries toner in his backpack so he can use it midday, right?
Then he lowered the boom and told me he those few lights spots on my face inhale pollution.
Pollution into my face?
I blankly stared at him but behind my eyes a reel of images raced. A nuclear smoke stack, Al Gore’s face, my pores opening like funnels and dirt flying into them with vacuum force.
I bought that skin cream so fast your head would spin. Damaged box 75% off what my new friend was initially thinking I was willing to part ways with.
Satisfaction danced over our heads.
“You are gonna be back here in three months hugging me and thanking me!” he said. We’ll see my friend. Don’t count your chickens yet.