Category Archives: cultivating gratitude

Moving Forward

Jesus,

Thank you for helping me hold fast and move forward in the trenches of parenting. I want easier, different circumstances, but these are the ones I have been given. You know the fear in my heart, places themselves young. Be with my children who have been harmed and are finding their way. Please bring your healing to their hearts. Guide us. Jesus, please.

Journal, 10/29/19

I stare straight ahead through the Prius windshield. Brilliant fall colors meet my gaze. En route to the lake with a friend for a respite scheduled months out, little did I know what this timing would mean.

My prayer, journaled earlier in the week, is answered in a way unexpected and uncomfortable. It comes in the form of a hard conversation over lunch just hours before this departure.

I welcome these moments. I dread these moments. They need to happen more often. It has not been safe for my children.

I cannot adequately describe the level of grief that rises in the aftermath. I place my food, uneaten, in a to go box and slide it across the table to the one with an appetite.

How does one look up from the wreckage and meet the gaze of the walking wounded?

Shell-shock.

That’s how it feels. A small taste of what my child felt, I realize. I am the adult, at least on the outside. I hold the space as tears spill from my eyes.

It is not lost on me that hours earlier, I wrote of looking up with gratitude and hopefulness. How does one find gratitude and hope in this?

Today’s gratitude is for an adult child willing to sit across from us and name their truth about growing up in our home. It is for increasing ability and skill to be in the space together and to hold hope for change. It is belief in restoration healing from locust-eaten years.

And it is gratitude for space away to tend to the young places in my own heart and hope that she, too, will be heard.

Hanging Dresses

They hang from a curtain rod in the laundry room. They have been hanging there for over a week. Left to dry after being carefully washed, they have been dry for days. They have come to  represent a symbolic hanging on to all that happened over wedding weekend.

There is still much to process.

I say this out loud, and my husband asks for specifics. What do you still have to process?

Isn’t all of life a process? Will I ever be finished? I answer lightheartedly, because though I feel the weight of feelings, specific words evade me.

Folding laundry, I look up at the hanging dresses, grateful for what they symbolize. Just as I was clothed for my daughter’s wedding in an outfit carefully curated, so I was for my son’s, in a different way.

My metallic-colored, sheath-style Mother of the Groom dress was a Ross find over the summer. I knew it was the dress, and that by fall it would look even better on me as I tended to healthier eating and exercise habits.

A girl can dream, right?

Jewelry was found at a local consignment shop for under $15. A sparkly $6 scarf from TJ Maxx, a $10 purse from another consignment shop, and free sandals from my closet brought the entire look in at under $75.

I consider this a kindness for a season that found us in the midst of a major life change. When our son proposed to his beautiful wife in 2017, things looked a lot different in our world. Maybe the hanging dresses are continuing to remind me of the faithfulness of God in every change. Especially then.

There is enough.

I wore the black dress to the rehearsal dinner with shoes and a sweater from my closet. It was found, along with a sparkly necklace and silver purse, on a seasonal clearance sale at a consignment shop for $18, total.

I write of costs and consignment shops and looks, because I want to remember. I want to remember that even in seasons of uncertainty there are reasons to celebrate. Maybe especially then.

I want to remember that there is room for creativity and expression and for thinking outside of the box when finances are tight. I do not need to worry about what to wear. I can consider the lilies.

My son and daughter had a beautiful wedding weekend. There is more to share slowly as it unfolds in my heart, and I find more words. I am thankful for those of you who have been with me behind the scenes as life returns to what has never been normal. Part of this return should probably include taking down the dresses and putting them away.

Here is a peek at the wedding day. There is a bit more sparkle to my hair than there was 4 1/2 years ago at my daughter’s wedding. I love it.

 

Stickerless Smile

All day I watched as I Voted posts filled my social media feeds. Friends shared selfies with circle or oval stickers pressed to their clothing. One picture showed Mom, Dad, Son, Daughter with stickers on their noses.

I planned to walk to my polling place and vote, but that did not happen. Morning rain cleared as I headed to the grocery store for much-needed provisions. Returning home I had less than an hour before another commitment that would continue past 7pm when the polls closed.

My daughter graciously unloaded and put away groceries as I drove to vote solo, a change from this year. I did not need any literature and quickly checked in, removing my ID from my wallet. Yearly pleasantries were exchanged with my favorite poll worker, as the man checking me in waited patiently then asked me to state my address.

I took the paper ballot and sat at a table behind a cardboard privacy shield. Looking over the ballot, I inhaled deeply. Voting always reminds me of how not right everything is. I colored the ovals of my choices and walked to the scanner, which was sporadically spitting ballots back for retrys.

It’s been doing that all day.

Waiting for my ballot to scan I noticed that the exit poll worker’s hands were conspicuously empty, and that no one was getting a sticker.

Wait! Are there no stickers?

We’re all out. Someone left to go get more.

Inside my head I heard, Noooo! I really want a sticker! Tears stung my eyes, cluing me to the fact that I was experiencing feelings that were probably not about the sticker. I refrained from repeating the other words springing to mind.

I feel disenfranchised!

That would have been making light of a serious scenario, comparing myself to someone who was actually deprived of the right to vote. Though, in hindsight it feels a completely appropriate initial response, because these days if you vote and don’t get a sticker or post a selfie on social media, did you really vote?

Outside the polling place, I told one of the workers who held an armload of sample ballots, They were out of stickers! How can I prove that I actually voted?

She felt my pain and mentioned that people had been taking selfies in front of the signs.

Which I did.

Returning home, I expressed disappointment to my daughter who offered comfort in the form of suggesting I create an I Voted sign out of M&Ms. Which I did.

I left to fulfill my evening obligation. My husband voted, and daughter accompanied.

They brought me a sticker, which I made into a page in my Art Journal.

I am thankful for thoughtfulness, the ability to vote, laughter, M&Ms, a fun daughter, a conscientious husband, for scraps of paper and cardboard tissue boxes with designs on them and glue.

I am also thankful for a space to share my stories and for people who care to read them.

Hashtagging

I am not an expert in hashtagging on social media. I am barely a novice. I am learning and figuring it out. One thing that I discovered last month while creating art journal pages and sharing them on Instagram is that #compostingtheheartjournal has the words art journal at the end.

How surprising and fun!

I began using that hashtag for the pages I posted and plan to continue with future ones. If you hang out over there, you can see my latest creations by following #compostingtheheartjournal. You can also use the tag to share your own art! I would love to see your work.

October has ended, but that does not mean I plan to end my artistic experiment. It means I am not madly creating something to post and share each day. Now I can slow down, go back, look over, process, add to, and engage my journal in a more relaxed fashion.

October found me creating beauty from words in the day’s Bible reading. I plan to focus on cultivating gratitude in November. I don’t know what that looks like, yet. There is no a clear intention or set of guidelines like last month. It is the beginning of an idea.

I do know that this new territory for me. Uncharted waters. We shall see what unfolds.

I also look forward to sharing pages created before the October experiment. Stay tuned. There is more to come!

But first, a wedding!