Try to find joy in spite of your hurting places.
It’s a welcome sight as I return home, candles aglow.
It doesn’t matter where I’ve been or what I’ve been doing, this tells me, You’re home. You are anticipated. You were missed. Time to unwind.
As I stop and transition from out there to back here, I allow my heart to fill with the warmth of the candles, moving towards the warmth within my home.
It hasn’t always been this way, and I am grateful that now it is.
I’m grateful that my heart can finally be aglow. Can finally feel.
As I return.
The day started in 1 Peter, and I’m so glad that it did.
Don’t retaliate with insults when people insult you. Instead pay them back with a blessing. (3:9)
I would need this reminder later when children were frantically digging snow clothes from bins in the basement and hurling angry accusations my way. I bit my tongue and patiently sorted and helped try on and remembered where I had stashed the gloves.
I’m sorry for yelling and being angry. Thank you for helping me.
The barely audible whisper came to my ears as the final child headed out the door in full winter dress.
The day continued with meeting my grand kitty and spending time with my daughter, child 3. Oh how I have missed having her around. And how we have grown together!
There was sweet-potato making and much-needed napping and perpetual kitchen cleaning.
There was laundry.
Child two came home, and there were lots of littles eager to play media with him.
Child 4’s friend came over for awhile.
Around the dinner table we sat with seven of our olive plants.
It seems like our family is getting bigger my husband says to me later.
Of course it is getting bigger! People are growing up. We have a grand kitty. We have a son-in-law. There are lots of voices to hear. Lots of attention to pay.
Child 3 and I go shopping. It is so, so sweet, and I just want to go shopping every day, even though I don’t really buy anything but a Christmas gift or two.
We come home, and she heads out with friends and littles want to watch an episode and I want to write now that my computer is back, and it’s Thanksgiving Eve, and I also want to spend time with the love of my life, so I will close.
I am so blessed. I am so thankful. I am such a mess.
Happy Thanksgiving Eve!
Hope deferred makes the heart sick,
But when the desire comes, it is a tree of life.
Proverbs 13:12 (NKJV)
I’ve often lived in a state of deferred hope.
The first, most obvious, time was back in 1988 when I moved 1,100 miles from all that I loved and knew (my friends and my boyfriend!) to begin a new chapter of life. I felt pretty hopeless and quite sick of heart during that season and clung to this verse for hope that one day all would be well.
Desire would come, and with it, a tree of life.
My greatest desire was to marry that boy that I loved so much, That day was deferred for over four years, but it became my anchor. It was the thing to cling to when all else felt lost.
It was going to be my tree of life.
I spent much time over those four years sick at heart. Alone, hurting, pining away, struggling through, creating a fantasy of what my tree of life would look like. It finally came to me in 1992.
That tree of life didn’t look like what I thought it would.
I became good at deferring hope. Or maybe I just became good at giving up hope.
Days grew long and life rolled by as I waited for my tree of life to blossom and flourish. It had to be on its way. . .right?
What hope was I deferring?
What desire was I waiting for?
What would a tree of life even look like?
It was a long, lonely time before I realized that tree of life moments were there waiting to be noticed.
I experienced a tree of life moment the other day.
My husband and sons were away for the day on a hike. The girls and I were at home together. I decided that it might be fun to have a girls’ outing and get lunch at Chick-fil-A followed by a trip to the mall.
This was a big deal for a mama, who doesn’t do fun well with her kids. I have had the desire to do outings and activities, but times out always become overwhelming and disappointing.
The girls were excited when I told them the plan and prepared them for the fact that only the ones with remaining birthday money could buy something. The one without money responded maturely with understanding.
We went to lunch first. Each girl ordered her food, then the three of them went to a booth together and sat to wait for me to bring over our tray. As I walked to the table with food in hand, two mama friends walked in with their littles.
I watched them choose their booth by the playroom window for ease of supervising children. I watched them locate a high chair and tape down place mats and sort food. I watched them corral littles in the booth while snatching snippets of conversation.
I remember those days! I remember going out with friends and wrangling littles and wishing that I could just sit and have a conversation without having to nurse or hand out snacks or chase toddlers or inhale my own food.
There I was, at a table with my three littlest, enjoying intelligent conversation.
My deferred hope had resulted in a desire coming there right before my eyes! I witnessed and named a tree of life moment as no one fought or spilled something or needed their diaper changed! We even had a “who can smile the biggest” selfie-taking contest. It ended in a three-way tie, of course! Mom could have smiled bigger had she opened her mouth.
I’m curious about and pondering that tree of life. It holds great meaning for me in other ways, as well, and I hope to explore further my draw to it. For now, it has given me new words to name what I have often overlooked.
I am grateful.
How am I?
How do I answer? How do you?
I am overwhelmed, grateful, excited, blessed, nervous, insecure, ambivalent, humbled, prideful, dazed, tense, stressed, tired, eager, anticipating, happy, sad, celebrating, grieving.
I am a messier mess than usual these days. This week.
It is really the end of the planning and beginning of the celebrating. 6 days to go!
Overwhelmed by all that needs to happen this week to get to Friday
Grateful for all of the work my daughter has done to plan her wedding
Excited to celebrate with all of our friends and family who will be there
Blessed to be the mother of the bride
Nervous to don my mother of the bride costume and play the role
Insecure about my abilities to pull this end of the year week off
Ambivalent about most everything having to do with celebrating
Humbled by those who have fixed meals, come in early to help, taken over my nursery duty
Prideful of my amazing kids, both students and biological, and their accomplishments
Dazed when I think of how far there is to go to get where we need to be
Tense when I start to make it too much about me
Eager to get this party started
Anticipating an amazing experience
Happy that summer is almost here
Sad that there only a few days left with my girl before the season changes
Grieving the passing of time
That’s how I am.
How are YOU?
There’s a story from years ago in my journal ~ an epiphany to me, of sorts, as you will soon see. Enjoy this peek into my (frightfully~sensitive, continuing to learn that it’s not about me) heart…and then check out the recipe at the end!
My head knows it’s not personal.
We sit chatting ~ a group of women gathered to celebrate an impending birth ~ and the topic circles to our preparations for upcoming Valentine’s Day parties.
I know this! I’ve got it. Two weeks ago I experienced a Valentine’s fiasco while attempting to walk my three young daughters, then 7, 5, and 3, down the card exchange aisle to choose theirs.
I share this experience. Others nod in agreement.
There’s the frustration of type and cost and amount of cards in each box. Boy or girl or gender-neutral? Candy? Sticker? Tattoo? Store meltdown?
“Homemade!” interjects a fun, experienced mom.
Each year, at the beginning of February, she and her children start making cards. It’s their thing, and it’s not stressful if they’ve planned ahead for it.
She describes this year’s cards, and we ooh and ahhh over lollipops dressed as superheroes and ballerina card rockets made from candy rolls.
I know this, too! It’s with cookies. My special, only~on~Valentine’s Day chocolate shortbread dipped hearts. Bakery~beautiful. Made by me!
Two~dozen for each class party, plus extras to give away just because.
I know stressful and last~minute and the desire to start early. I start with the best of intentions each year, thinking I will plan ahead and fill the freezer February 1st. I’m often up late February 13th dipping and drizzling and counting.
I begin to share my homemade cookie experience.
Silence. Murmurs. No one really trusts homemade these days.
But these are my beautiful Valentine cookies! I want to defend them. Explain myself. Fit in!
Something inside of me shrinks and hides. I retreat to the inner place where I can process that it’s not about me.
It’s about not knowing people and their kitchens and gluten and allergies and sanitary conditions.
I get it in my head, but my heart is slowly awakened to the reality that I’m from another mothering era, moving on…baking cookies.
Now here’s the good part, the recipe found in the February/March 2005 Taste of Home magazine…
Valentine Cookie Recipe
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
In a separate bowl combine
2 cups flour
1/4 cup cocoa
Gradually add to the butter/sugar mixture, forming the dough.
Roll out onto lightly floured (I use cocoa) surface and cut with cookie cutters. (I cover my dough with waxed paper and roll it out, hence the wrinkles.)
Bake at 375 for 8-10 minutes. Let cool and remove to wire racks.To decorate,
Melt 1 cup of white chocolate or almond bark or those melty disks and 1 T shortening in a microwave-safe bowl for 30 second increments, stirring after each check until smooth. Dip the edges of cooled cookies into the coating and place on waxed paper.Melt a handful (1/2 cup) of chocolate chips with 1 T of shortening in the same way. Then spoon the mixture into a zipper bag or pastry decorator bag to do the drizzle. My daughter, Shortcut Shani, saved a step by placing them in a zipper quart freezer bag and melting them in the microwave that way. You just have to poke a little hole in the corner afterwards. Drizzle the chocolate over the hearts, like so.Shortcut Shani also makes this recipe Vegan by using shortening in place of the butter.There you have an easy, fun treat to make for your Valentine (but not necessarily for your child’s class unless you are me), if he or she has no dietary restrictions. I make these once a year. They are like buttah.
And just like that, I had my word.
Sweeping the kitchen last Friday, pondering the morning’s counseling appointment that my luvvah so graciously agreed to attend with me, realizing that I need to embrace the good in my life, it came to me.
embrace~ to hold someone in your arms as a way of expressing love and friendship
I have a husband who loves me dearly, whom I have been holding at arm’s length. I long to embrace him and his love for me fully.
embrace~ to accept (something or someone) readily or gladly
God has extended much grace to me. I long to embrace that grace rather than hold it at arm’s length. There are many changes coming this year. I long to embrace them well rather than struggle against them. Accept them readily and gladly.
embrace~ to take up especially readily or gladly
I am getting ready to take up the second semester of the school year. I long to embrace the work I have been given to do in this season of life. To embrace what is coming that I can’t even see, yet.
embrace~ to avail oneself of; welcome
I hope to embrace the challenges that arise this year as opportunities to grow. To welcome them.
embrace~ to use (an opportunity) eagerly
Each day is full of moments to embrace. Abounding with them, really. I haven’t been embracing the moments, though, or using my opportunities eagerly. I have been resentful, angry, frustrated, annoyed with the opportunities to love those around me…especially those in my home. Sad, but true.
I long to change that. Choose to embrace.
Change is hard for me.
Yes, I realize that a word doesn’t change a heart. But it helps to focus and remind a heart of what is important.
There you have it. My word and how it came to be, even though it wasn’t on the original list of possibilities. What about you? How do you choose to focus and remind your heart of what is important?