September 25, 2012

a friday night for the soul...

It was unexpected, and beautiful.
And it was the Friday night I needed.

The two of us on a journey through a soaking rain, arrived at our destination that was somehow bathed in golden sun. And we sat, people watching. Pirate fans, confused Bear fans, and a few that were, perhaps, at the wrong game all together. We laugh, roll eyes, and chat, and then don't. In the just us, my heart sings. No one to keep track of, no one to impress...just us, and I feel the golden sun wrap 'round my soul.  I suppose that is love, still.

The players run and throw and catch... warming up for the big game, but then, our main event arrives and our eyes flitter through a sea of green and black until they settle on our favorite percussionist. There he is, tall and strong. And the just us stretches to include him from afar.

The silence comes, and it is the first of it I've really heard all season. It is, still, my favorite. That one small moment after the rustling of hats being removed and hands finding their way to heart, and before the drum roll. It moves me... always.

In Florida, fall does not adhere to the calendar's schedule, but tonight, a breath of cool wound its way south, covering and refreshing us. Jacket in hand, I wrestled. Do I put it on because I can? Or do I enjoy air?  Embracing the right now, I let the breeze rush over and through me, and left the jacket across my lap. Occasionally I toss it aside to stand and cheer...because tonight, the game is good.

The sea of green and black descends the stands and line the field for the half-time show, and we point and nudge with there's our Cam! as if it's been weeks instead of hours since we last laid eyes on him.  But this is his time... and while we cheer for all 250, he is our star, the reason we came. We laugh and our hearts soften when we spot him smiling and enjoying the rhythm, abandoning the serious face of concentration. And when his eyes are seeking, and he finally spots us in the crowd, it is something beyond words. To be found is a gift, and the joy that follows is the ribbon that wraps it.

It was unexpected, and beautiful.
And, truly, just the Friday night I needed...

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September 18, 2012

thinking about eternity...

It wasn't too many Sundays ago, that our conversation turned to eternity while we driving to church. Oh how to explain that this life on earth is but a blink of an eye compared to the life that is to come... but I tried, and they somehow had a grasp on it already. I am always amazed by where they are in their faith... and how I feel like I am still catching up to them.  But their tool boxes are deep... filled with bible stories, lessons and the constant stream of Christian radio. In that, we find common ground and conversation, as a sermon touches on or brings into focus a verse of the "Jesus music" that is woven through our everyday. This Sunday the sermon was on Esther, and how could I help but picture her tall and willowy and... green. Yes, sometimes those stories are the most vivid in Veggie Tale splendor... even still.

Eternity has been on my heart...
*A friend shared how she felt so blessed that she reached out to someone this side of eternity.
*A lovely lady from our church, who just had a heart attack, is a miracle standing. The doctors told her she died three times... and she spoke of a white door, and that Jesus would certainly be there to greet us. If I didn't know her, I would be leery... but thinking about it just the same. Especially since she felt so comfortable to share it with her arm around another friend who just lost his wife. My insides wrestle with it... and I wonder if it could have possibly brought him a bit of comfort?
*And then there are my prayers for healing... the ones that I feel are desperate in the face of hospice. And how I dare to ask for more time with her, when I know what lies on the other side is glorious and pain free.

And so Jimmy Buffet's tune {from Hoot} Wondering Where the Lions Are runs through my head a dozen times a day... Sun's up, uh huh, looks okay. The world survives into another day. And I'm thinking about eternity...
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September 17, 2012

cupcake love

I baked the first pumpkin cupcakes of the season... 
and had one for breakfast. {Okay, three.} 

I really wanted to resist the baking, but I just couldn't... because he asked, and shopped, and cleaned the kitchen.  I secretly love that he {and the rest of the guys on his shift} thinks I bake the very best cupcakes.  So I mixed and scooped before sunrise... and at last, swirled on the cinnamon cream cheese icing.  The smile on his face was worth the extra calories that came my way... and I giggled to myself Let them eat cake {instead of donuts!}
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September 14, 2012

you just have to be you...

I have gone on and on and on about Emily Freeman's book Grace for the Good Girl ... and now her second book has arrived. It is Graceful and it is for young women. I bought three copies for some very special young ladies, and after reading just one page, I thought of a few more girls who might need it. Including my sixteen-year-old self. Oh how much sooner I would have learned these lessons! Emily thought that writing a letter to our teen self might help us to see the teens in our life in a different way...


dear sixteen-year-old me,
if i was hand-writing this, you would recognize your loops and swirls instantly, because some things never change. it would probably be in aqua ink, with doodles around the edges and flowers in the corner. even with mom's teasing about colored pens and sharpies, we have never outgrown it. {i hope we never do!}

i know the mirror is not your friend, but the next time mom says you are beautiful, won't you listen? please? you think she says it because she has to, and i know you want to seek it, but your heart won't let you believe it. there is so much blocking your view... the scars of the divorce and the words and tauntings of middle school... but i need you to look beyond those things. the halls of the high school surely don't help, but you shouldn't compare yourself to others. it isn't real, and it is a lesson better learned now. when people say that it is your insides and what makes you you that really counts, they are speaking the truth. Jesus doesn't care how your hair is fashioned, or about those royal blue shoes... He just cares for you. and that makes you beautiful.

i know you went to sunday school this week... and then felt guilty about leaving before church started. oh how i wish you knew Jesus like i know Him now. you might still leave before church, but your soul would feel loved, right down to your toes. He is not just the King of Kings, He wants to be your friend. your best friend. He will listen to you when you rant words in your head that you never let out, and He will hold you when the tears finally come. and He would let you know that even if you let those words spill, your mom would still love you. she might even take your side... but you will never know if you never speak up.

dear girl, keep writing. because if you stop now, it will be years and years before you begin again. and if you do write... maybe share it with someone, because your words and your feelings are worthy... and so is your peace of mind. i know fear holds you back, along with the what ifs.  if someone doesn't like you, or what you have to say, it is okay. really! it is not your job to make them like you, or to be perfect. your job is just to be the you that God designed you to be. silly. laugh-out-loud-funny. caring. sensitive. loving...

you know, your instincts are good... you have ended some friendships that just weren't right, and the world did not end. and so... when you feel like love has drifted away, listen to your instincts. don't hang on... it is okay to let go. i promise you that you will not be alone forever... that someone else will find you pretty and funny, and you will fall in love all over again. and in that love, you will nod your head and know that the things you thought love would be were right on target.

i want you to know... that your life will be beautiful. the world will break you, and God will put you back together in ways you never knew possible. you will go places you never dreamed, and love like you never knew you could {because only once you hold new life in your hands can you ever really know.}  and you will never, ever, ever stop loving ice cream, the ocean and tacos. and maybe...be brave the next time your order mexican food and get a tamale, because you will love them.
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September 13, 2012

in the leaves...

This summer, I learned the art of iced tea. We visited America's only tea plantation, and we were invited to drink all we wanted.  I drank my fill and more, and stacked tea canisters up on the counter to bring the memories home.  As I measure and press and pour from my kitchen, I remember how the tall oaks bowed gracefully over the road and the rows of the green crop stretched to the horizon. I taste and sip... and find magic in the leaves.

It was not-so long ago that I learned the magic a cup of tea can brew. Tea for two on a chilly evening or across the table from my girl on a sunny afternoon.  It can get me through, settle my mind, or warm my hands when my heart feels cold. And while I'm not sure this is necessarily true...

If man has no tea in him, he is incapable of understanding truth and beauty. 
~Japanese Proverb

...it seems to work for me.

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September 12, 2012

a coffee ramble... and remembering

The day comes to a close, and I remember that I forgot to write. I also forgot to clean up dinner. And check in with the Hello Morning Girls (again.) And lying in bed, I realize that I never said goodnight to my used-to-be-early-bird-daughter, who now is staying up quite late. Lately, life seems to be a bunch of not-enough-time-or-energy... but when I do remember, I realize that getting back into the swing of school is hard for me (which is kind of lame, because I am not the one with the homework!)  And so I forgive myself, and go on... and try to do better. 

Yesterday, along with the world, I did some remembering. I did not watch a single documentary, or even watch those towers crumble over and over again.  I feel no need, as it is etched on my heart.  I did ask Camden if he remembered it happening. Yes, but not where I was and I kind of giggled... because he was so small, just in preschool. But even so, he was not spared he trauma... because September 12th brought the 11th to reality for our family as my two sweeties watched their Daddy pack up his Coast Guard gear and head off into the unknown. It was the beginning of a different life. One where our roof only covered three, and we had to count on our prayers to cover Eric. It was a life of doing something instead of wishing we could help.  All of our wishing was saved for a speedy homecoming. And when it was all done and four years of deployments were behind us, it became a life of deeper thankfulness. Not a week goes by that we don't recall what it was to be apart. Still.

Today the sky is blue, the sun shines golden through the trees, and the day is new. A fresh start. A chance to tackle the to-do list with energy.  A day to give thanks.
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September 07, 2012

if we were in the olympics...

For the past few years, Fridays have been all about sandwiches. Almost one hundred of them. I had a good system though, and in a hour, I'd have them wrapped and ready to serve. To the band, before the game. The last two years I had help... and who knows how many minutes we cut off, because we were too busy laughing to figure it out. It was good... and it hardly felt like "work" when I was racing against time with a friend.

This year... we were still willing, but another plan was put into play and now, our Fridays are free. Free! until game time when we cheer on our kids, and 250+ others. Last Friday, we played...

It is so still out there and quiet...unless we were laughing. Which was... almost always. We tossed her waterproof camera back & forth, we admired tiny jelly fish, and we raced as if we were in the Olympics. Well... only for a quick bursts of seconds at a time. And {ahem!} only if she was ahead.  The truth is, we'd probably only medal if laughing was an Olympic sport.

I hope, beyond hope, that you have at least one friend who can make you laugh {and laugh, and laugh, and laugh.}

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September 06, 2012

in the details

I open my computer, and this image greets me. I can't quite get enough of it.

It makes me remember... sandy feet and sunrises, the rolling ocean and still tide pools, an overwhelming gift and the way He can break us and somehow leave us more beautiful in the process.

Beyond the memories though, I marvel at the detailed pattern He crafted on this gift from the sea.  I am sure I always pictured sand dollars a smooth white circle with a flower and those deep oval piercings... but now I see.

I see... and know... another facet of how He loves me.  I see the care He takes in putting us together, bit by beautiful bit. All shapes and sizes...
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September 05, 2012

then sings my soul

We headed to the beach Sunday night. An end of the work-weekend celebration, a time to chance to visit with friends, and a chance to seek beauty and refresh my soul.  For a reason unclear, I feel like this soul needs more than its share of refreshing. We packed the cooler, threw in the chairs, and off we went... deciding on a different beach instead of my beloved lot #3.  But with the promise of a sweet treat afterwards, no one minded.

With the sun already on its descent, the golden light played across our faces... and the desire to soak it all up is almost overwhelming. I know that I come for that as much as I do for sunset color. The boys hit the water for frisbee while the girls looked on, sat and read, snapped photos, and breathed in the salty air. Before I could even snap all the playing silhouettes, they were ending the game and coming towards me. Slapping their legs, screeching just a little... and miserable. A man walked by nodding I guess the baby jellyfish got them. We looked around and saw that no one else was in the water. No. One.

Once dinner was out of the coolers, the ice packs took on a second shift in first aid while me munched, passed the chips and visited. The sun was sinking, still... calling me to the edge. And I couldn't even convince Eric to walk down the shoreline... the mysterious stings adding another reason why the beach is not his favorite place. But me... I can never resist.

Gold light lays across the ocean. A path right to the sun. It teases just a little when the pink gold reaches to the sand, a stepping stone on solid ground. Oh please, come just a little closer?  But my feet sink into the sand, anchoring me, keeping me in the real. 

And once again, His beautiful evening art sings to my soul.

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