Of this we know, change is certain

•June 1, 2011 • 4 Comments

I do not do ‘goodbye’ well.

And I don’t like ‘see ya later’ much better.

Two weeks ago I turned onto my street and could not help but ONLY see the FOR RENT sign in the yard of the house across the street from us. I was certain that I was seeing things, so I slowed down to study it and utterly confused, I turned quick into my garage, jumped out of my car and clenching my jaw so as not to cry, marched across the street. The clenched jaw thing gave out. Chin quivering ensued.

My neighbor Beth, with her ugly new lawn accessory, saw the whole thing go down from inside her house. She later told me she watched me march over from the window wondering if I was mad or upset or how I would react. Of course, when she saw me crying, there was no denying, I was seriously unhappy.

“I should have told you before the sign went up! It happened too fast!” she told me. Arrgh. Now we were both crying. The tears were rolling off my face so fast I was relying on my forearm to wipe them. “I can’t even hug you because I have PINK EYE and my TEARS are CONTAGIOUS!” Ugh…we talked some more. “I’m going home to cry in private.” And as I turned to go home and do just that, she took the sign out of her yard and put it on the side of the house. Thats some neighborly LOVE right there. She told the other neighbors and then put it back out when everyone was up on the news.

Her husband got a great job. They are moving back into their old house. This is a GOOD thing! And yet, we wish if it were to be, that it were only just across town. But it’s not.

It’s a blessed thing to love your neighbors and live life the way we do. I hear how uncommon it is, but I guess for me, the truth of that fades because for the past two years, it is all that I’ve known. Toys, coffee, wine, leftovers, dogsitting, babysitting, bachelor & -ette viewing, prayers, time, advice, recipes, clothing and kindness. We share, exchange and give it all around here.

Tonight, we hosted a lawn party and neighbors from many surrounding houses gathered to spend time with them. It was pretty great. As the kids played behind us, the adults gathered near the table and we each began to share something special that we love or appreciate about our friends who are moving away tomorrow. I bet we stood there half an hour doing only that.

When different people say things that resonate with each other, you know it’s truth is abundant. This family is well loved. They have been an example to every one of us. We have been challenged to love people well and serve them joyfully and I am nearly positive that every person spoke of their patience as parents. I can only remember Beth being upset once, and even then she busted out laughing! That’s really something significant to have said of you.

Mark has an unbelievable memory and a gift for making conversation. It just seems so easy for him, and he shows such interest in everyone, every time.

Six weeks shy of two years as neighbors; I have only seen Beth hold a phone twice.

You can go ahead and read that again.

No joke. She’s always 100% there.

I wanna be like that. I need more of their example in my life. Although I’m not ready for a moving truck to be parked outside my front window 12 hours from now, I can smile because I know without a doubt that they are following God’s lead. No mistakes in His call.

re:new

•May 31, 2011 • 6 Comments

Brian & I reaffirmed our wedding vows to each other a couple months ago on our anniversary. 12 years on March 12. There are few couples on Brian’s side of the family tree that celebrated that many years together. One, as best he could remember. I say that not as anything negative – I say it to point to what God has done for us and how He is changing our family tree.

We didn’t know that we would arrive at 12. But we did. We did! 

We thought we should celebrate in a memorable way, and chose to do so with people, none of whom witnessed our vows the first time around, but who spent time praying over us & walking life out when we were limping along, and who inspire and challenge us in our marriage. Without knowing to what lifelong promises had been made in a church 800 miles down the road, and a decade before some of us would even meet… we invited them to celebrate this marker.

Everytime I thought about our vows or what I would say in preparation, tears would spill over my eyes. I just kept thinking, We didn’t do this. God did this. God did! There was nothing we could do to bring us together like this. There was so much in my heart, and while this had the potential of a beautiful bullet point project, it was hard to condense.

But I finally did. And it may seem overly simple, but I think it pulled together everything I felt in my heart but couldn’t express, and centered it under one big umbrella.

I vowed to Brian that I would do everything I could to make home a place he couldn’t wait to get to at the end of the day. As our daughters stood watching and listening, I promised that I would do the same for them, so his girls would always be coming back home to their daddy.

It’s a wide umbrella. But for me, its pretty centered.

photo courtesy of Jenny Lindsey Photography

Make home, home. It’s has zero to do with decorating and everything to do with how my family feels when I greet them and they walk through our door. How life is lived in passing in the stairwell or sitting around our table.

I debated how to make this happen for our family and for me. This is my first year back to working and I’ve really gotten a crash course on organization and managing our household differently… but last week, my husband welcomed me back home as a ‘full time’ stay at home mom. I thought for sure some new pink ruffled rubber gloves were hiding out somewhere.

I gave working my best shot. What’s that? Yes, I only worked one or two days a week. But my mind doesn’t shut off, and I have to throw boundaries on it before I freeze on everything. I felt embarrassed that, declaring how good God is to know just the perfect job for me, and then … leave it. Who does that? But I felt it impressed on my heart, and then a friend literally spoke these very things back to me in conversation, that the Lord used this past year of me working to do His own work, which was abundantly more than I could ask or think. While I was busy thinking on other things, my heart shifted. My vision changed.

He took my thoughts away from my decorating wants & updates and gave me new responsibilities to focus on.

He renewed my marriage. As in, made it new. Because He’s in that business.

He has refreshed my spirit as a parent. Although, if you heard me “raise my voice” at my kids recently, I know you are questioning this statement. We are in the midst of some interesting days as parents but we are always hopeful & trusting. God is good and gracious and merciful always.

When I look at these few reasons alone, I see no reason to be embarrassed. I see His hand tangibly working in my heart and life and now, my season is set to venture further into what He has set in my heart to do; make home a place they can’t wait to get to.

This is the scariest thing I have ever set out to do.

At the beginning of 2011, as people were making their new years resolutions and goals, there was also talk of having a ‘word’ for the year. I have to laugh, as I hadn’t thought of it until just now as I close this out, but, my word was RISK.

I’m thankful for the transformation I have lived and seen this past year to take the freeze factor out of the next chapter.

 

hola

•May 27, 2011 • 2 Comments

My friend Amy emailed me a few weeks ago and said she was waiting on some “Heather perspective” on this here website o’ mine. I honestly forgot I had a blog for some amount of time, although you wouldn’t know it by the 176 drafted blog posts sitting on my server today. That’s a lot of time & effort, parked in no man’s land.

One of my favorites, and one I’ve spent a whole lot of time on, has disappeared. I guess I get a fresh start on it. It’s a story worth telling, beautiful and celebratory in nature.

I love to celebrate.

I have an outline of things to write about. Since its been so long, some are broken down into points so I get them in order and don’t get overwhelmed and just click “move to trash”. Even so, in the back of my head I’m saying Forget about it. Just write. I think Jon Acuff might agree.

So I’m working on forgetting about perfecting every paragraph and just start writing again. Lord knows, I have plenty to talk about.

Best of 2010: literally.

•January 18, 2011 • 3 Comments

I was sitting in the back of my SUV, parked in the garage, hatch door up, waiting for Brian to come home one Sunday afternoon a few months ago. The weather was perfect. From where I sat, the tree closest to our driveway shed a shadow the whole width of the drive, and nearly the whole length as I watched it sway.

You know when it’s quiet, and you’re lost in thought, stringing one idea to another, though the two or ten or fifty that occur in those mere moments are not a bit linked? I was in the midst of that and it was as though each mere thought bounced and arched into another, and in the arch and rebound, all I could do was catch my breath and think Thank You. (another thought) Thank You for that! (another thought)…and on and on it went between me and my Heavenly Father. Some of those ‘bounces’ were me noticing the breeze –and it being good– or just the underlying act of taking a breath, but noticing it.

As I was in this moment of my heart being so full of thanksgiving and just enjoying the quiet and the sun and the breeze, a conversation evolved in my head and heart … “remember a while back you were hurting and mad that you didn’t have a best friend? You said that ‘everyone had one but you.’ Remember?”

It was such a lovely afternoon to bring up such a lonely time of my life. I sat inwardly silent and completely still on the outside, staring at the waving branches.

I decided to engage and went back to those moments when that exact exchange was made between me and God. A specific drive alone in the car this past year, when loneliness hit me hardest. The convo replayed again in my mind but continued on this time with more….

“You have Brian.” I did this internal cussing and laughing crossover thing, and not because I thought it was funny. At that point, Brian and I were armed with survival gear most days. He’s my HUSband. He can’t be my BEST FRIEND – and he isn’t. It would make life nice, but I’m needing a ‘come over in your pj’s and have coffee kind of friend’. I had those in my other towns, reMEMber Lord? I recalled thinking how I should never, ever laugh at God, and here I’d done it in anger. My heart sunk as I knew I’d done wrong. Such a mix of emotion, and now I found myself sinning in the midst of it.

Staring at those waving shadows of branches, I started to cry. This request of mine with the Lord has been a long standing one. All these years I’ve been patient and ready and waiting, but early this year those requests became something else in the form of demanding questions and anger. All I wanted was a friend. A best friend.

This year, as the Lord did surgery on my heart and my marriage and our family, he brought Brian and me closer together. He healed hurting places and restored and built up what was crumbling beneath & between us. And in the process, beyond what I could ever foresee, we’d become each others best friend.

It hadn’t occurred to me, until just then, as I sat in silence and sunshine with the Lord, waiting for him to arrive home.

In seven years of traveling for work, I’m not sure I’d ever actually waited for B to come home.

He pulled around the corner and in the drive, parking under the shadows of the waving tree branches just a while later. Avery ran out of the house and into his arms. I just sat and marveled at how God had revealed His workings to me in such a simple quiet way. No big show. No one to point anything out or try to connect dots for me on a histogram. But also, quite notably – no “told you so.” No rebuke.

I have a best friend.

I have a best friend who has been trying to be, just exactly that to me for many years and I couldn’t see it.

We have children together. Not only do they look like us, but they are frighteningly just like us and regardless of the trait, it makes me crack a smile.

It has been the best and in many more ways the most difficult year of marriage for B & me…probably because it’s been the most honest. You can be honest every day of your life by not telling lies, but the stakes of honesty are higher when you don’t hold back on the truth of your own reality, feelings and emotions.

I’ve realized that there’s no failure in falling. Failure lies in not getting back up.

Here’s to getting up in 2010 and learning to run and jump in 2011.

2010 & the Gift of Retrospect

•January 14, 2011 • Leave a Comment

I get a sinus burn the last week of every December. I have to squint and push on my face to make it stop stinging. It’s not the gas heat, or the abundance of glitter in my house stirred up by happy, jumpalicious children. It’s that when I’m quiet and still in the aftermath of the most wonderful time of the year, I can reflect on it coming to a quiet close and see a bigger picture.

365 little pictures as one big one. Cue exhale.

Cue smile. Cue ah-ha moments.

Cue tears.

It’s different than being in the thick of it because in the rear-view mirror, we connect dots and see patterns forming, we know at least a little more, and our perspective is gently shifted. A season of difficult days can now look completely different having learned something through it all. My Father’s beautiful hands are always all over it.

And that’s just a calendar year. Tie it to any range of time you want and the same is true. If I consider the past decade…oh good night, my chest starts heaving and tears flow within 10 seconds. I am not the same person I was on New Years Eve 2000. Thank God.

2010 was no exception either. It was kind of a wild card year for me. I entered it with a lot of hurt and a lot of hope. Every day was very much an exercise in walking by faith, as my foresight was shallow.

I recently started a post about the best stuff of 2010, but soon realized something I had not considered until about midway through: most of my favorite things about 2010 happened in the latter third of the year, during a time of feeling stifled and unable to write.

…all this goodness. provision. connection. answers to prayers years in the asking…

It was in those months of hurting in that capacity (yes, for me it hurts not to write), that God was doing a whole new thing in and around me, so good I couldn’t even get it out to share. And maybe that was God just telling me to be still and pay closer attention for that time. As I attempted to write my “best of 2010” … I couldn’t fit it in one post. The past few months, God has done big and mighty things, and almost everything that I was finding ‘favorite’ about last year, I have yet to share with you! And now, I’m sweetly motivated to do so, so my next few posts will be some “best of’s”.

I love that at a time when I felt an obvious personal deficit, the Lord’s hand was unmistakably at work in my family and my spirit, causing an overflow in those areas and forcing me to be still and listen and live…in many ways, for the first time in a long time.

As I shared with a friend over dinner last weekend, eye to eye, in hushed tones something I’d learned this past year, her eyes were rimmed with tears. Mine too, of course. And then our men started laughing and our heads whipped around. Good timing before the mascara & eyeliner were doomed.

My prayer is that my words come across as I would say them. As they are intended. With lots of heart and passion…my greatest challenge in the art of text.

Here’s to rear view mirror writing and reading.

Oh taste and see, that the Lord, HE is GOOD!

jeans & beans

•January 13, 2011 • 4 Comments

I said long ago that I would like to be left alone to eat butter and brown sugar by the spoonful and embrace the southern-ness in my heart and hips. But being a size 0, no one listened. No one ever listens to anyone who has non-numbers on their pants tags. It’s okay though, you can listen up: I’ve not been a 0 in years.

October always smiles at me with Pumpkin Spice Lattes and that blasted Cinnamon & Cream Cheese ‘Strudel’ dessert I make. Or breakfast, whatever. I bought a dress early November for a Christmas party. My husbands mouth literally fell.open. when I tried it on for him the first time. That had NEVER happened, so I was really excited to say the least.

I’m not completely sure what occurred after that. I have some vague ideas. I know of some comfort food that was floating around. Some kickin gravy that was made mid-November. A delicious number of latte’s & hot chocolates and … I tried on the dress a couple weeks before the party and clenched my jaw. I looked at Brian. He stared at me. Eyeballs moving, mouth closed. The extra pounds had not gone where I had asked them to. Oh, was I ever mad.

October, November and December have come and gone and now half the pants in my closet don’t fit. I split the butt out of a pair of jeans while bending over. In church. Thankfully I had on a long sweater…that was the Lord planning my wardrobe that day. Heat rose from my hips to my head so fast I got dizzy. Shock, awe, anger, and a few hours later, tears and snot. That’s about how that day went.

Brian came to the rescue and began planning our meals. Oh, how I love that man. But nearly two weeks ago, he started us on this new diet…where we eat BEANS 3 times a day.

BEANS!

I really can’t complain – he plans, shops and cooks nearly all our meals ….but I started having flashbacks… of pregnancy!

“Stop pushin your belly out!” he told me.

“I’m NOT! LOOK! I can barely see my TOES for cryin out loud!”

Mercy. It didn’t get any friendlier when he lost 6 pounds and I gained 3.

I remain incredibly grateful for him, and skeptical but participatory of this diet. I have now gained 3 and lost 5 and before you pick up your phone, mom, my goal is just to see those pants collecting dust in my closet – fit again. If they don’t fit by spring break, they’re headed out. But I’d like to think I have some pretty cool pants, so I’m motivated.

I’m off to eat more beans & spinach.

Where in the World are Comet and Mauritania?

•January 12, 2011 • 1 Comment

My youngest child is approximately 7 years, 9 months and 3 days old.

She has lost 6 teeth, had 2 major surgeries, and can turn on tears that spill like a faucet by just glancing upward. Don’t be fooled, I’m convinced she practices in the mirror.

Sometimes she tap dances while she sits on the toilet. It always makes me giggle.

She dips her toe in the waters of independence and then runs back to me or B. I love that part.

But I realized something one night recently while I tucked her into bed and it made me stop in my tracks.

Avery has stopped sleeping with her teddy bear.

Comet, the teddy bear that’s bigger than her, is no longer bigger than her. And that was a somber realization too.

Comet is always there. Always. Her faithful friend. He was the short list of what she wanted the first night in our new house last year. His foot made the family pic. He’s just there.

I guess this is kind of how it was when what’s-his-face outgrew his cowboy friend Woody. And thanks to those movies, it makes me think Comet is upstairs somewhere crying facedown in the carpet. Oh, this is sadder by the minute. I really do connect with the feeling of wanting to sit and cuddle with that bear right now while she’s off at school learning where Mauritania is on the map and the history of the Roman Empire.

Mmmmkay. I’m gonna go cry now.