Momentary Miracles

Yesterday, my little girl and I took advantange of the beautiful day and took a nice, long walk. We have been cooped up in the house by the weather and the last week of school, and we needed some fresh air desperately. So we pulled on our sneakers, got out her bike, and my little girl and I took 35 minutes to walk/bike almost the entire length of the main road through our little town.

My daughter and I are very different personalities, you may have noticed if you have been reading here for a while, but that walk and then sitting down together with ice cream afterward were very nice. For a little while, our personalities didn’t rub each other wrongly. I was patient and she was attentive. We left our house in one direction and returned from the other direction. She paid close attention to stopping at each road or sidestreet to look and listen before crossed. I called out encouragement and helped her walk through a newly-formed anxiety of the train crossing through town. At one point while sitting on our front steps, my girl scooted close to me so her shoulder touched my arm, and I leaned back into her, a silent reminder each to each that we love each other. It has been a rough two months, cooped up together, constantly in each other’s bubbles, an introvert and extreme extrovert. That quiet moment shared between us was honestly a little miracle moment in the midst of the past few weeks, and I am so thankful for it.

This time of separation and isolation has been difficult for us all. It has often rubbed our personalities and feelings the wrong way. Introverts have been surrounded by their people on a constant basis with no way to escape the chaos of family. Extroverts have been prevented from surrounding themselves by their friends and new people with whom they can make friends. Parents suddenly had to take on the role of teacher, conductor, coach, etc. Children have had to take greater the initiative of learning. We have ALL become counselors to a greater degree as we try to meet our children’s hierarchy of needs in the midst of all this (which they often cannot even articulate), as well as our own. We are all starved for the companionship and affective of separate family and friends. This has been and is hard.

So that quiet moment when my girl leaned into me, or at night when she requests a lullaby and reaches to hold my hand while I sing, those momentary miracle mean even more. And I want to notice them before it is too late.

May we notice and cherish these momentary miracles as we walk through these days…separate but still together.


Those Amazing Moments…

One Thing…

 A few amazing and splendid things have happened since the beginning of the year. Firstly, I had a realization about my writing. I am not reaching for ‘astonishing’. I am not reaching for the bestseller list. However, I have realized of late that what I do want for my writing, my goal, my calling for this gift I have had since childhood is for it to mean something. I want my writing to be of value and good to someone. I want it to be encouraging, edifying, challenging, comforting, welcoming. I want my writing to speak God’s love to those who read it, to challenge them to keep going, keep trying, keep staying, keep loving. This is my goal.

I literally realized as I wrote that last sentence: this is my dream.

Friends, I cannot tell you the last time I had a dream. A dream to work for, a dream to reach for. Over the past decade when I have been asked what my dreams are, I have felt appallingly empty. I have had no words, no answer, no dream to speak of. And it made my heart ache; it made me cry, to be dreamless. I do not want big things; I do not want a huge, ostentatious house, to be famous, to top a bestseller list, or to speak to large crowds. Truthfully? I have accomplished many of the dreams that others might have. I have a solid job, health insurance, a strong relationship, a loving family, a healthy child, a home of my own, and enough money to cover our bills, our needs, and many of our wants, too. Are things perfect? No. Are they good? Yes. So, with all that, what else could I possibly dream for, reach for?

But, as I think about it, the more and more I realize that this is a dream. A new one! Like dear Flynn Rider (Eugene Fitzherbert to his friends), I needed to find a new dream, and…I guess I have. I do not necessarily know what comes next (sharing this post, I suppose), but the thought of having a dream is and feels nothing short of amazing.

            I’ve got a dream!

And Another Thing!

The second splendid thing was a moment of affirmation, one that meant—and still means—a great deal. On a recent Saturday, I wrote a post of thank-you’s on my personal Facebook page to my dear ones. A little while later, my phone pinged with a notification: my dad had commented on my post. Here is what he wrote:

Thank you too, for being yourself, true to openness and willingness to share such a ministry of helping others to feel that they are important, cared about, loved and have someone to lift them up. You are also willing to share their pain and climb down to where they are to keep them comfortable with your encouragement.

I really cannot describe to you just how deeply this affirmation touched my soul, particularly as it came from my dad, who has been in ministry in some way, shape, or form throughout my entire life. This is my life’s purpose and work: love. I really do believe that God put me here to do my best to love, deeply and well, those whom God has put in my path and life. Some may stay, some may leave, and some may just be passing through, but nevertheless, I am going to do my best to offer love to them all.

Encouragement is one of my spiritual gifts, without a doubt, but I learned it at my mother’s knee. She used to buy me little calendars for my study carrel (office) at school and she would write encouraging, loving little notes on them. When I went off to college, she sent prayer boxes with me (little containers with Scripture verses or prayers on them) and she would write notes on the back side of them. She never misses a birthday, anniversary, or holiday; her beautifully-chosen, loving cards come without fail. I keep many of them and re-read them when I need a heart-lift. With such inspiration and teaching, how could I ever doubt what my purpose on this mortal coil is?

My mother’s teachings, the affirmations of family, friends, ministers, dear ones, and now this timely one from my Da’…sometimes that is what a soul needs. What God knew my soul needed: affirmation that I am indeed doing what I am supposed to be doing. In that, God has given me a dream, a desire, a goal, and the confirmation that, yes, I am to step forward into it, whatever that mean. Just the next step, though.

A Long Way From Home – Day 3: Little Happy Things

OK, so huge, wonderful discovery in my parents’ house! When we first got here and I went into the bathroom to set our toiletry bag down, I noticed that it smelled really nice but I couldn’t pinpoint the origin of the scent. I checked the air fresheners that sit on the back of the toilet. Not them. Also not any of the candles on the vanity ledge above the sink. So what was it then?

It wasn’t until I was caught by a few sneezes the next day while in the bathroom and grabbed a bit of toilet paper to blow my poor nose. It was the toilet paper! It’s CAMOMILE SCENTED TOILET PAPER!

Omigosh, what is this wonder, where can I find it, and WHY DO I NOT HAVE THIS IN MY HOUSE?!

Seriously, I want camomile-scented toilet paper in my house now. No joke!


A Long Way From Home – Day 2: Come Away

After I woke this morning at seven-something to the rattling of a door handle and the insistent knocking by my toddler daughter, I felt this almost immediate compulsion to get up, get dressed, and go for a walk. It was like a record on repeat in my head: Get up, get dressed, go for a walk. I tried to reason it away. My devotional/Bible Study was waiting for me on the bedside table; I couldn’t go for a walk when I needed to spend time with God before the madness of the day began. (Yes, even my vacations have mad days, especially when I come back to visit my family.) And then I remembered my prayer from last night. I had specifically asked God to draw me away this week, to draw me away for moments with Him.

And it pinged in my heart that He was answering.

Come away.

So I got dressed, pulled on my sneakers, left my phone on the bed, told my parents and Bizzy I was going for a walk, and set off down the drive, out the gate, and down the road.

This is a road that I walked or rode every day for thirteen years of my life. The street my parents live on, that I lived on, has gotten very crowded. Houses now press close together on what used to be overgrown lots of land and a large playing field. The open space that I used to feel in my world has contracted, become constricted. Though maybe that’s just because I have grown? My feet were a little unsteady on the uneven ground of the roadside (there are no sidewalks around here) but it still felt familiar and I found my sea legs soon enough. I reminded myself of memories as I walked.

A cousin lived there.

Another cousin lives that way.

A friend lived there for a while.

The school is that way.

I passed the spot where I would get mobbed by nesting nightingales in the spring, even though the tree that was there is long gone now.

I walked myself out of my neighborhood and down the road, busy with cars and school buses headed to and fro, to the beach where the boats launch. I walked right up to the water, standing on the rocky shore to feel its cool morning air and hear its lap against the rocks, the dock, and the boat launch. I haven’t been that close to the ocean in at least two years. Eventually, I walked back up and sat on the wall the separated the boat launch from the sand and tidal pools. The bright-green mid-shallows and dark-blue deeps where the sandbar drops off just beyond were full of boats making ready to leave, a huge difference from my childhood and teenage years. Back then, this part of the beach was usually quiet, the water empty of anything but the occasional small fishing boat and sea-bathers. There was one boat at the dock taking on passengers for a morning snorkel tour. Scuba boats were loading on their air tanks. Street vendors were setting up their tents and wares in the parking lot for the day’s work, talking back and forth as they did. A man selling conch shells on the corner was cutting open water-full green coconuts, his machete beating out a steady rhythm until the tough nut’s top gave way.

Perhaps you think I have some grand spiritual revelation that I am working up to here, having been called away by God and all, but I don’t. All I have to show for my time there is an exercised body and slightly easier breathing. I just sat there, taking everything in, remembering what this corner of the world and what used to be my life is like. The morning was cool, the sun bright but not hot, and the breeze off the water was comforting. What I got out of this was a bit of calm, a bit of time to myself, some soft silent words exchanged with God, and the gentle reminder of peace in nature.  Perhaps what God was calling me away to this morning was rest. Rest that I and my empty cup and dwindling spoon drawer have so desperately needed recently. Rest and refreshment and refilling and revitalizing.

Perhaps what God was calling me away to this morning was rest. Rest that I and my empty cup and dwindling spoon drawer have so desperately needed recently. Rest and refreshment and refilling, even if just bit by bit.

Keep calling me away, God. I’m listening.

The Most Perfect Cuppa

1005378_10151565595688133_1171989393_nAuthor William Goldman asserted that, since 1642 B.C., there have only been five great kisses in the history of world. For me, there are even fewer perfect cups of tea but, today, I had one. I cannot tell you how long it has been (or if even EVER) since I have made a perfect cup of tea but I did today.

Black tea, water, honey, lemon, and sugar, all melding together into the most exquisite cuppa I have had in many a year. It was so perfect that I took it and went back into Elizabeth’s room where it was quiet and rocked in the glider while I sipped it. It was all I could do to keep from heading all the way upstairs into my little garret (what I call the bedroom in our finished attic) and hiding there with my treasure in a teacup. But I sat, inhaled the heat and steam, and let the velvet sweet slip past my lips to warm my form. It not only soothed my aching throat but also my tired body and weary heart and soul. It was the sort of perfection that stops time and lets it just hang in the air around you like snow without wind. All too soon, though, I was looking into my cup at the last sip or two of golden brown that filled the bottom of the silver-lined porcelain and I actually despaired. I didn’t want to finish it because, if I did, that meant that I would have to get up and carry on with life again. But, eventually, I did. Because I had to. You can’t hold time captive forever.

The character of Edward Bloom in “Big Fish” tell us that “They say when you meet the love of your life, time stops, and that’s true. What they don’t tell you is that when it starts again, it moves extra fast to catch up.” What he did not tell you is that this is not only true of love but of those all-too-few moments of perfection and peace. Life may pause for a handful of precious moments, but then you are swept into the maelstrom again, longing for another bundle of minutes as sweet as that . For me, right now, it’s that perfect cuppa.

Quasi-Daily Writing – October 6, 2011 – “Moments”

There are moment. Stark, quiet, beautiful moments. Moments that make no sense and are all the more beautiful for not. Moments that change your world in an instant, only for that instant. I had one such moment today.

Sitting in the vestibule by the gym entrance today after lunch, as it is a spot with benches and some early afternoon sun, I had just finished reading a chapter in Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus and my mind still whirred with color and whispered words and touches and kisses so real that I could feel them on my own fingertips and neck. I found myself looking through the glassed doors and walls to the sunny world outside and it was as though the world stopped for a moment. I was in a fishbowl, looking out and observing a sun-washed tableau of the world. It was a profound, confusing, quiet moment.

And then it was gone. I picked up my Kindle again and kept reading, tumbling into the world of the circus and its performers and the challenge that surrounds it again. But that moment was so poignant in its…whatever it was, that I couldn’t sit still again and had to hurry back to my classroom to get paper and pencil to jot it down, which I have now transcribed here.

There are moments. We should cherish them.