She makes her own bedspreads. She dresses in fine linen and purple gowns.
Proverbs 31:22 (NLT)
Today finds me inProverbs 31. I knew immediately I was going for purple, my favorite color.
I began with a base of Inktense purple.
Then I waited and looked through magazines for inspiration, and this happened.
I don’t have a step-by-step, but here is today’s creative process described by one of my children who spends quite a bit of time with me.
Aighty, so my mom worked for three hours straight (no exaggeration and no bathroom breaks) on this one page, constantly saying, “Oh, this looks pretty good, but it looks like I could add something.” And she sat there flipping through all on-hand magazines with her bony tendrils trying to find the thing that the picture looked like it could use. Finally, she said, “This looks good.” AND THEN SHE SAID, “But wait…. it could use something….” Eventually she accepted the fact that it looked fine and she just went with what she had.
I guess time really does fly when you are absorbed in what you love to do, and I needed this creative space today. (And I am positive it wasn’t three STRAIGHT hours and that I took bathroom breaks.)
Here is the open journal. I find it interesting that purple is opposite mountains. Also, there is something added after the above page was finished. Because it could use something.
I really love this page. And here is a post about one of the Proverbs 31 women in my life. I love her a lot, too.
I felt eager to get out of bed this morning which is most unusual. I’m paying attention. It had to do with another day of creating in my art journal and wondering what prompt would come during my morning reading.
Tuesday readings are from books of history, and today’s was 2 Chronicles 11-15. Right away I felt doubtful of any meaningful prompt coming from that space of wars and invasions and turmoil. Instead I looked at the verse printed at the top of my prayer journal page which read, He fills my life with good things, so that I stay young and strong like an eagle. Psalm 103:5
I drew a box around the words good things, considering that to be a pretty solid prompt should another not present in 2 Chronicles. I began reading. I soon came to these words in 12:12,
Because Rehoboam humbled himself, the Lord’s anger was turned away, and he did not destroy him completely. There were still some good things in the land of Judah.
Oh me of little faith. This is part of the exercise, trusting that each day I will be met with exactly what I need. Today it was the invitation to ponder and focus on the goodness offered in everyday life, even when it feels hard. Good Things.
Here is today’s page.
Since I already blogged about Good Things, I titled this post More Good Things.
Where do you find goodness and what does the prompt Good Things mean to you? If you care to share, please do! I would love you to join me in your own creative way.
Not all has been sad in my world. Though the tears often eclipse the smiles, I am trying to focus on the splashes of joy that creep up and surprise me. One of those moments happened last Saturday.
It was a rare afternoon plan that came together at the last minute. Two of our daughters were at a middle school retreat, our youngest was with her cousin, and teenage son was recovering from a band all-nighter.
Steve’s planned weekend away with friends was postponed, leaving him home unexpectedly. We decided to seize the opportunity for a real date away from the house. That is an important part of the equation. This was a last-minute plan.
We decided to visit Crozet, an area Steve had traveled to for work and wanted to return to together. We would do wine tasting, get lunch, and end with coffee, keeping all of the activity together in the same location.
Another key point of this story is that it was bachelorette weekend for our soon-to-be daughter-in-law. I found this out on Labor Day from my adult daughters. They were attending the weekend festivities to be held near Charlottesville.
Our drive over the mountain was relaxing. We marveled over getting away and actually doing something fun. Though overcast, it was not raining, and we enjoyed conversation. When we arrived at the vineyard and pulled into the parking area, Steve received a text from our oldest.
I think you would enjoy being the person behind the counter doing wine tastings for people (my paraphrased version of her words).
I would! Mom and I are at King Family Vineyards to do a wine tasting (my paraphrased version of his response).
Immediately Steve’s phone rang with our daughter’s voice on the other end.
That is where we are right now!
Looking up past the parking area and towards the tasting room we saw her running towards us. At picnic tables on the lawn beyond, with a bountiful spread of food and several bottles of wine, were 18 women celebrating the bride-to-be.
I could not believe it. Laughter was my only response. That and profuse explanation.
I had intentionally stayed off of the bride’s social media sites to avoid creeping on the events of the weekend. I had intentionally chosen a winery that I was certain they would not choose (though if I had investigated further, I would have noticed that this one accommodates large groups, which I learned in the tasting room).
We said hi to our daughters and daughter-in-law (to be) and laughed together at the coincidence. We made it clear that we were there to do our own tasting and would not intrude on their picnic space. We made a crazy pre-wedding memory that could not have been planned.
I know it feels like fall. School is back in session. Football games have begun. Life has resumed routine. Morning drives to school find me facing a blinding low-rising sun in the eastern sky. Pumpkin Spice Lattes are back.
But it’s still summer for a little while longer.
Today I celebrated that truth by stepping off into the deep end of my daughter and son-in-law’s pool and swimming to the other side. It was my first time in the water this summer. The sensation was lovely.
My intention was to try to turn around the funk that seems to have settled around my shoulders, pressing into my heart. Surely water and sunshine would wash it away.
It was worth a try.
Several of my kids and my husband joined me. Others sat on the edge. We talked and laughed. We played games.
It was a relaxing space to regain perspective.
I wish I could say I left my troubles at the bottom of the pool with the leaves that have begun dropping, but it is not that easy. I wish I could say that I have leaned from Dewey to just live in the moment.
I am still practicing and being given plenty of opportunities to do so.
This afternoon brought laughter and connection and escape. It brought exercise and fresh air and a son-in-law who grilled hamburgers while we swam in his pool.
It brought goodness and kindness and another reminder that even when life is hard and unpredictable and wearisome, there is beauty and joy and love.
It’s after 10:00 on Saturday night, and I’m picking up American Girl dolls and accessories from an elaborate set up in the TV room. They have been there for over a week.
I remember the intricacy involved and time it takes to set up and orchestrate proper play, and I want my youngest to have that freedom for as long as possible. As a result, we have all been navigating over and around tiny dishes and clothing and furniture and dolls, so many dolls. It is time to clean them up.
There are bins to contain everything, but Little Mae is clearly avoiding the task.
I warn her that if she doesn’t pick up, then I will do it for her.
Ok, Fine! She calls over her shoulder as she runs upstairs to play in her room with a sister before bed.
This is how I find myself here, and I do not even take a picture, though the thought crossed my mind. What if this is the last time?
It really could be now, unlike times before when there was always another sister or sibling next in line.
I allow myself to hold the memory of the scene in my heart as I sit in the midst of the play circle, paralyzed. I am transported back to my young self who desired to keep her world ordered, a seemingly impossible task with six younger siblings coming behind and messing things up.
I understand now Little Mae’s avoidance. It is overwhelming. In my overwhelm, I release perfectionism and just place things where they fit. Like with like, mostly. There is fun in unpacking surprises when the bins are brought back out.
Whenever that may be.
My husband works on his own late-night project in the kitchen, just off of the room where I sit. I gain momentum and snap tops on full bins, stacking them, preparing to move them back out to the kitchen set.
Music plays from the speaker in the kitchen. . . Changes . . .and the tears well in my eyes. My heart already feels fragile, and now I am packing and stacking and storing away toys that are nearing their expiration date.
Doubt creeps in and over and around my heart as I question my choice to allow the girls to spend so much birthday and Christmas money over the years on dolls and tiny dresses and miniature shoes and furniture.
I remember and question my own rush of anticipation, stalking Cyber Monday deals and trolling secondhand shops for unique tiny things.
I find a paper rolled and taped into a tiny cone shape with pompoms glued on it for cotton candy and ice cream sandwiches cut from craft foam and the tiny empty plastic bottles that held beads from a recent craft kit and smile.
My daughter faithfully rises early each weekday morning to walk and care for her dog. She is often up before me, pulling on a coat and slipping on headphones before grabbing the leash. I remain in my room, doing my morning routine, preparing to engage another day.
One morning, I heard unusual scrambling and barking from Dewey upon returning from his walk. Run-in with Zephyr, I conjectured. She’s the boss of us all. I wonder what is up with them this morning. He must have crossed her.
I stepped out of my room to find a ball of white scampering around and under the dining room table with Dewey following closely behind, barking and snapping at it. It was another terrier.
I found Louie this morning on the walk. He was loose, so I brought him here to call his owner.
Sure enough, the name on his tag read Louie, which was kind of funny considering we have Dewey. We wondered aloud if they had been at the SPCA together, and if there was a Huey out there, also.
The morning routine continued as Dewey and Louie dashed around underfoot, reminding me of why I was hesitant to get a dog in the first place and why we have only one. Steve called the number on the tag which went directly to voicemail. He then offered the following words while preparing to drive Kirk to school:
I’m going to walk Louie around the block to see if someone is looking for him while Kirk finishes getting ready.
I got in my car to wait for the girls to come out for their ride to school. They exited the house as Steve returned from his walk around the block with another little dog under his arm.
I think they belong together, because this little one came running up. I had to grab him quickly before he got away.
Then there were three! I was laughing out loud in disbelief. The little brown dog had no tag. Of course we called him Huey.
Please don’t call the SPCA until I get home. The little brown dog is SOOOOO cute! Can we keep him?
I was beyond my comfort zone as Steve deposited the dogs in the backyard while I assured my daughter that I would make no sudden moves without her. We left for school.
I am not exaggerating when I say that at the top of our street there was a large white dog off-leash doing his business. No human in sight.
We are not even stopping for Donald! We have GOT to get to school.
I returned home to the sight of two dogs looking longingly at me through the fence.
Inside, Dewey was waiting by the back door. I opened it for him to join his friends in the back yard.
There was an incredible amount of cuteness.
Then it was time for me to go to breakfast with my son. This meant bringing Dewey inside but leaving the others out in case their owner should come looking for them. Can you guess the dynamic here? Which dog is supposed to be coming inside?
Please can I come in, too?
After a leisurely breakfast downtown, my son and I returned home to an empty yard. The dogs had been picked up. At least I hoped so!
The call came later. The dogs had, indeed, made it home, and we had made a fun family memory. I’m grateful for caring hearts, bounding dogs, and healing laughter.
It was one word written in green marker on a piece of paper in tidy handwriting.
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.
Mamas, it’s hard. Mothering is just hard. Maybe not all of the time, and maybe never for you, but it was really hard for me. And in my story, something being difficult to do was not a reason to pause and question it. There was no room for exploring other options or making changes, only soldiering on with the choice that had already been made.
Nineteen years ago I was 27 and had just birthed a 10lb 4oz boy. He was welcomed by his three older siblings, ages 5,4, and 3. Steve and I had been married six years. That is a lot of living and people to fit into a short period of time.
Child number four was not at all like the others. He did not fit any sort of mold, and contrary to what people always said to me, I hear it gets easier after three, nothing could have been further from the truth. Please refrain from offering things that you have heard about situations that you have not experienced to the one struggling in the midst of them. It is truly not helpful.
It did not get easier for me.
There were a lot of hard things to push through and four more babies to follow. I wondered if I would make it. I wondered how something so excruciatingly difficult for me could ever be worth it.
I made it.
It was worth it.
My son and I hiked High Knob together to celebrate his 19th birthday.
He has been there often. Today was my first time. We parked and entered the trail and walked and talked. The sky was a brilliant shade of blue. The leaves were beginning to change. We had the trail to ourselves.
We climbed to the top of the lookout and sat, enjoying the gentle breeze and the stunning view. We shared conversation.
We hiked back to the car, mindfully aware of our surroundings, noticing little things like this wooly bear on the path.
Somewhere along the way, my phone received a wave of service, and several texts dropped into it. One was from my mom, inviting us for coffee to celebrate Kieran and Grammy who share a birthday. We stopped there on our way back to town and captured this picture of the birthday buddies born 75 years apart.
Please don’t give up hope in your hard, whatever that hard may be. I know that it seems easy for me to say, because I am not in your situation. All I know is that today was a glimpse of such sweet goodness and such great reward as my son and I took time together to extract ourselves from the couches and get out into nature together.
It was so worth it. I am grateful for the gift I received on this day nineteen years ago and for the gift I received today.