Category Archives: grace

Pie Dough

I would like to think that I had a hand in this, but I did not. It was my mother and grandmother who invited child six over to learn to make pie crust, and she picked up the skill like a champ.

I can make pie dough, but it always feels like a complicated and precarious process. My daughter whips up batches like a pro to the tune of random pies appearing on the counter. One day I find cherry, the next pumpkin, for no reason other than the joy of baking.

The day I packed the crockpot full of chicken thighs before embarking with my friend, Angela, to UVA’s Medical Center, I came home late at night to a container of leftover chicken in the refrigerator. The meal had not been a favorite, but it had been food, and now there was cooked chicken to be used. I stashed it in the freezer and added Chicken Pot Pie to the following week’s menu.

Since it is my son’s favorite, I planned it for an evening when he would be home for dinner. It happened to be a night when my daughter would be out. Since she is not a fan of Chicken Pot Pie, the timing was perfect.

I am learning to ask for what I need, and since daughter would be around after school, I asked if she would make a pie crust for me. She obliged, and in no time it was in a bowl on the Hoosier ready to be rolled flat.

I rolled the dough and lined the pie plate after preparing the filling on the stove top. Soon the house was filled with a delicious smell, and my heart was filled with a delicious warmth. I think it is called gratefulness.

I am grateful for the help of a daughter who is willing to do what she loves to help me do what I need even when the end result is not her favorite. I am grateful for the gift of grace, because that is all that anything is. 

Legos

It was one word written in green marker on a piece of paper in tidy handwriting.

Legos?

The paper, crumpled and left on the middle of the table was answer enough. Clearly no.

Bedtime had arrived. Time to put the game and tea cups and ice cream dishes away and head upstairs for teeth brushing and cuddle. The younger first, then the older. Hence, the note.

If the younger leveraged her cards right, she would get some coveted Lego time with the older. Things were not looking hopeful, according to the crumpled paper I cleared from the table.

I gathered it up, released my need to save it for posterity, and carried it to my bathroom to throw it in the trash can. That is when the tears, then sobs, began. I collapsed onto the toilet seat and cried.

They come easily, lately, the tears, at all the wrong times.

These were for approaching endings. For this particular ending that felt so close. The ending of Legos.

Three years ago another older sister bought a large Lego set for her birthday. It now sits in a bin in the basement. I know it won’t be long before this older sister will lose interest, if she has not already.

Time is short. It is so long.

I weep for final endings. There was always another on the horizon. I weep for missed opportunities. I weep for a little girl inside who does not know why she is crying but cannot seem to stop.

I need to go upstairs to read, but the piano calls me to sit and calm my heart. I begin to play.

Footsteps run down the stairs, and before I can begin to lecture, words fly from an excited little sister’s mouth.

We’re going to play Legos for cuddle!

Feet run up the steps and a bedroom door slams shut. I hear laughter and excited voices behind it.

Playing Legos for cuddle means a few minutes for me to write instead of read, though somehow I think an older sister will finagle a few pages of the Hobbit from me anyway, and I will concede because of Legos and the gift of a little more time.

Saturday’s End

Saturday’s end finds me sitting in my corner in the space of in between.

I am waiting for Steve to get the girls settled for the night. I am searching my brain for words that keep drifting just out of reach. I want to write, to keep up the momentum, but there is not much coming.

Saturday’s end finds me both wrestling with and resting in enough. The things did not all happen today, but enough of them did. What constitutes a good Saturday?

For me it was the impromptu phone call after lunch when I was ready to jump out of my skin. Hearing my sister’s voice on the other end as I walked the neighborhood alone was both comforting and clarifying as she talked me through the struggle to the other side.

It was the father/daughter yardwork , the sound of a chainsaw cutting stray tree branches allowing more sunlight into the yard and the smell of cut branches burning in the fire pit.

It was the smiles and laughter and engagement I witnessed through the window, because close up it is difficult to see.

It was the joy of finished chores after the angst of wrangling everyone through them, because no one wants to pick up after others, but we all live here and have responsibilities.

It was dinner around the table with enough asparagus for all, because it is the current favorite vegetable.

It was the laughter following dinner as an impromptu photo shoot took place. So much laughter. Sibling love is the best.

It was a son preparing for homecoming and another preparing for work and daughters doling out shower time to ensure there was enough hot water for all.

It was the realization that here we go again with the refrigerator that is never fully stocked and the people that have lots of things to say and the laundry pile that is never ever finished and the hot water tank that is never quite full.

It was being reminded that there is life in this place, even in the midst of all that is hard. There was a lot of hard today, too.

At Saturday’s end, I will choose to rest in enough. It was enough to have been given another day to live and to love and to laugh. Because those things all happened, and it has not always been so. Today it was.

Arrival

Christmas came. It brought beauty, comfort, joy. It brought love. The hope I held in the waiting grew, and light broke through my darkness.

From early morning presents while live-video streaming with a man-child on the other side of the world, to sitting down for our traditional breakfast at a beautifully bedecked table, to napping and waking to the sound of laughter around the table, Christmas brought comfort and joy to my weary heart.

It brought tears.

There’s something about listening to adult children share life plans and goals around the breakfast table that touched a chord deep in my heart. How redemptive to have dreamers who can voice their dreams freely. What a gift!

My parents joined us for dinner at 4:00.

They played a game with the grand kids while Steve and I cleaned the kitchen. Redemptive grace.

More laughter.

Christmas is hard for me. I am learning to understand and find more words as to why that is. I am learning to be kind to the places that hurt. I am growing.

I took two naps.

I showered using my adult daughter’s Lush bath products, massaging a seasonal body wash over my skin, turning it a grinchy shade of green. I breathed deeply and grinned a grinchy grin. I am the grinch, and it is okay.

I laughed twice today. Real laughter. Deep laughter.

My son who was video streaming from Bali, Indonesia, as we opened gifts, later commented on my first laugh. It was fun hearing you laugh so much when you were opening your present.

Eleven-year old daughter had wrapped thirteen-year old son’s gift to me for him. A bag of peppermint-cookie Lindor truffles was wrapped in layer upon layer of paper. Each layer that I tore off revealed another. It was so funny to me, peeling back paper only to find more. Real laughter erupted from my innermost being.

I really do love my kids and their sense of humor. Mostly. Usually. When I slow down and have time to appreciate it.

The second laugh was as Steve and I were walking the grand-furs. I held Wren’s leash. He had Dewey. Steve and Dewey were ahead of us. I wondered what would happen if Wren and I passed them, so we ran ahead.

Dewey was not happy with this, and his short legs moved double-time to pull Steve along. I hadn’t told Steve my thoughts or motive for running ahead. He commented, Dewey doesn’t like having Wren ahead of him.

I started laughing. I laughed more. Wren and I let them pass us and then ran ahead again, laughter bubbling up from inside of me over how funny Dewey looked trying to catch up to and pass us. Laughter felt so good. So freeing.

It has been a good Christmas. It has been a hard Christmas. It has been a good, hard Christmas.

Hashtag blessed.

Mid September

It is mid September, and I have written one post. Clearly I am not keeping up with the goals well or with much of anything else it would seem.

But I am.

I am keeping up with a lot.

There is so much to keep up with that the blog has gone silent, and when that happens I know it’s too much. It’s always too much. But real life comes first. Always.

Those of you who have been following my journey to Seattle know that in less than I week I board a plane for the first of four trips. I am so glad that the assignment was due two weeks ago, so that I am not hastily trying to scratch something out.

Like this blog post.

At least I felt that way until I read this and realized that there is probably a facilitator reading and marking up my story. Then I lost feeling in my arms.

No turning back.

It’s getting real, and I am grateful for the opportunity. I am grateful for all of the people who have walked with me toward the edge of this cliff and helped me get ready and brave enough to take a running leap.

Or maybe just a weak-kneed step.

I’m stepping. Stepping so much into so much stuff. Sometimes all I can do is take the next step.

It’s a fine line to stay present and to just breathe in each moment. Breath is such a gift. It helps in the midst of all of the preparation to remember that what will be will be. It’s all I have, really, when I feel the spiral.

The next breath. And the next. And here comes another.

Presence sits here with me as I assemble these few words to explain where I am and in a few moments it will go outside with me to walk a dog with my love under the most waxing gibbous of moons.

Thank you for your presence, Dear Readers. It is a gift to send out my words to hearts who will read and care. You are all a gift a grace.

Hoarding Grace

A new school year has begun. It is hard to believe that it has been three years since this happened. You know how things look different in three years? I’m feeling it.

This school year my mantra is daily grace. My theme is grace enough. With so much going on in various aspects of life, big things and small things, if I lose focus on daily graces, I will drown. Daily graces are gifts that happen in the moment to help ease the load a bit. They are unpredictable, often surprising, and easily missed if not intentionally noticed.

Daily grace is grace enough.

The problem comes when I try to hoard grace. When I grab onto a gift I have been given in a moment and analyze and question and cling to and demand that it be like this every time, I lose sight of the gift that is grace. Grace enough says, Wow! What a gift that was!

The first day of school, grace enough was unexpected morning texts from friends, a donut from a fellow teacher, pizza brought home for dinner. The following days, grace appeared in different forms. A big field trip was scheduled, an encouraging Stephen Ministry meeting happened, food appeared for supper each evening, the first Friday pencil can activity was successful without using ModPodge.  (I have learned a thing or two over the years, and colorful “Duck Tape” works just as well or better with NO MESS!!!!)

So here I sit on Sunday afternoon with week one of school behind me. While savoring all of the grace from last week, I begin to stress about this one. Sunday evenings have historically been hard for me. I begin to feel the stress of the upcoming week and grieve the end of the weekend.

Choosing to focus on daily grace invites me to look with surprise and anticipation about what the upcoming week will bring. What does God have in store that I have yet to discover? When I change my perspective to one of openness and stop trying to pack grace manna into jars to save on a shelf for next time, I find myself breathing easier and trusting more. I also find fewer worms. (unless I am shucking the grace that is home-grown, pesticide-free garden corn)

This grace enough is such a slow process for me and carries quite a steep learning curve. I want to have everything nailed down and figured out and neatly planned. I long for ease and comfort all day every day. Instead I am given the daily grace that is grace enough to carry me through the hard, uncomfortable places and lead me to where I have yet to go.

As I look out of my bedroom windows at the bright blue sky and bright yellow sunflowers bowing their heads, I am grateful for the grace of this quiet afternoon to rest and write and refresh my soul. In this moment, it is enough.

It’s all grace.