A moment on a Tuesday morning…

The sun is shining this morning, traced in dappling shadows on the hardwood floor of the room. A gentle breeze blows through the branches outside my window, and an orchestral suite by Bach fills the corner of the room with joyful melody. Daisy sleeps peacefully in her room down the hall. A tall mug of Ruby Red Chai tea sits on my desk, amidst littered papers and pens. In this one moment, betwixt and between tasks and thoughts, I stop to contemplate and to be content.

Last night was late, the morning early, and the sleep disrupted, but the Lord’s mercies were new this morning. A cup of coffee and the humble truth of Nehemiah blessed my heart, as did my husband’s dear embrace. Hearty chili cooks in the crockpot on the kitchen counter, promising a warm and nutritious supper on this cool day. I will soon go out into the glorious day to hang diapers on a clothesline, and Daisy and I will have many adventures in the tasks before us. It is good. I am overwhelmed by the bounty God has given us–abundance of both hard and good things, wrapped up, ribboned, dazzled with His grace.

And so, in this one moment in my morning, I stop and rejoice.

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The Refreshment We Craved

Our weekend was hot. Temperatures soared, bringing a steady heat through the windows until the house was a stuffy closet of warm, sticky air. We drank water, wiped off the sweat, and sighed, unhappy for the tiresome welcome it gave our visiting family. On Sunday, we finally broke down and turned on the window air conditioning units. Closing the windows and sealing up the house, we breathed in relief from the cool air circulating. Still, the nights were hard. With windows open to bring in any hint of cool air, we woke to various street noises, tossing and turning to remain cool.

Then, on this unassuming Tuesday, it came. A cool breeze blew through the window this morning, freshening our perspective. That cool breeze continued as I hung out my laundry near lunchtime, and lo, even in the heat of the day, the breeze blew. My laundry dried, fresh and crisp, and the house whispered its pleasure as the breezes came through. Refreshment came, so much more than a few hours of circulating cool air, and our hearts were glad. A new season comes.

Now, as the sun has set, that same breeze still whispers through my window, carrying with it the sweet notes of our Guatemalan neighbors talking quietly, as Daisy lifts her hands upward with great joy. Our cup overfloweth.

O Great Big City in the North…

Dear Big City,

It seems difficult to believe that I have lived here in you for only five days. Surely the time has stretched to five weeks, simply on account of the volume of experiences we have had, Only last Thursday I was driving wide-eyed through busy streets, trying desperately to navigate my way safely into a Sunoco before I completely ran out of gas,

Things are busier here, yes? Instead of three stoplights in the five miles into town, there are three in as many blocks. Drivers are confident, too–and you may certainly assume that this was my nice Southern way of implying other things. I keep stopping in my tracks to marvel how many people live in this gigantic metropolis. I am still learning to thread my way through these streets of rowhomes just to get to the main avenue.

I have also noticed all sorts of interesting daily events that come with this big city neighborhood. Amplified, drum-like music wafts through our windows on a regular basis–another neighbor must be enjoying a drive through town. The ice cream truck makes a daily appearance, coming each day right around 6 pm (poor big city mamas with their suppertimes!). Most interesting of all, I rarely see a person who looks very much like me. Truly, all nations, tribes, and tongues congregate in this one tremendous junction.

Still, big city, there are little-town details I love to notice all around me. The man from the alley behind us always comes back around suppertime, walking his great big dog, and no sooner does he reach home then he comes right back out with a little dog in tow, walking the two together evening after evening. The little girls next to us love playing in their kiddie pool these hot days, and the littlest lady often screams with glee whenever her older sister splashes her. And oh, what joy my heart experienced today when I got to hang my clothes out to dry in my own tiny little backyard, right alongside our garden. What big delights these little details bring!

And might I add, thank you, big city, for not being so hot these past few days. This little-town girl is still getting used to operating without air conditioning. So far, she doesn’t mind it too much. After all, the butter softens up beautifully for supper just by sitting on the window sill!

As I sit here by the window, watching another of the dozen and a half neighbors arrive home in the alley, I am content. You’re very different, big city, but I think I’ll like you these next four years. No matter how busy or strange you may seem, you’ll always have my Savior in you, and His presence makes an earthly heaven wherever I may go.

Yours sincerely,
Little Town Girl

So Long for Now…

It was both swift and slow, this departure of ours. Weeks of transition stretched on, a box packed here and there as we finished up daily life and spent sweet time with friends. Then came the days at home, packing and organizing and cleaning and then going out at night saying goodbyes. This week arrived, bearing the Final Things. One last trip to the grocery warehouse. One more trip to town for all the last-minute errands. Packing box after box after box. It was the final stretch.

And then came today. We packed furiously all morning and then went out to lunch, enjoying the treat of a restaurant coupon where someone else did the cooking and the dishes as we sat in a booth and babbled away with our sweet little girl. We picked up the moving truck and brought it back, church friends arriving and going in and out with box after box in willing hands. And then the emptiness–a forlorn box here, a lamp there, and a few last pieces of laundry to fold.

Now I sit at my kitchen table, one last time, listening to the quiet of my husband playing his guitar and the cicadas outside, saying goodbye to Virginia and all the things I love so dearly here.

Goodbye, dear old kitchen table. What wonderful memories we have made here, sharing love and laughter and all kinds of cookery. You have been an instrument of our hospitality, bearing the weight of Christ’s love poured out to others as we pulled up yet another chair and welcome.

Goodbye, my delightful kitchen, hub of all activity and center of such joy. Cupboards, you have borne God-given bounty, and oven, you are so very longsuffering to this absent-minded cook. I shall always remember fondly, too, the dear little window over the sink showcasing God’s glory in creation. Truly, even the walls here resound with God’s truth as we have poured out heart and soul with one another and with friends. May His praise be sung!

Goodbye, dear home–little bedroom with its peace and quiet of cozy lamplight, living room of fellowship and rest, Spare ‘Oom with its plethora of functions (not least of which a haven for our sweet daughter). So long, dear old door–I never did figure out how to open you without you squeaking.

Goodbye, little walkway up the hill. I have trudged up you many a morning–great with child, balancing dishes or bags, hoisting the baby carrier. I have walked back down at night gazing at the stars, awash with the pleasant peace of being home. You have been a path to our home for many, your stones bearing the footprints of friends coming to receive welcome.

Goodbye, Virginia roads. 287, 9, 7 … your Virginia byways have been our road to church, work, friends, business. We have spent countless hours driving up and down, basking in sunlight, gazing at fields and clouds, noticing new little details of delight each trip here and there. I shall miss the fields and founts of your beautiful countryside.

Goodbye, dear friends, one and all. Our delightful landlord family upstairs, the sweet fellowship of our church body, friends here and there and everywhere. Truly, it has been a joy to walk through life with you all in this past year and a half, speaking truth to one another and sharing the sweetness of God’s grace. He is faithful and has brought us thus far with bounty and blessing.

And so, with sadness and yet with peace, goodbye, my Virginia. Both my newlywed days and my days of new motherhood have been so very sweet here, and I shall always hold you dear in my heart. May your countryside continue to be a place of peace and joy, and may God’s truth ring out amidst your hills so that even the rocks cry out His praise.

Living in the Dull Roar

In the midst of my homemaking adventures, I have often spoken, tongue in cheek, of lessening the chaos to a dull roar. Let me go clean up the kitchen, I tell my husband, and lessen this chaos to a dull roar. I tidy up my piles and move things into a more orderly state of messiness, waiting for the time when I can do a better job. Keeping things at a manageable level will do for now, I think to myself.

And then comes this week and a half of life, when it is almost too much to ask to keep things at that manageable level. My husband, now home from work, has been packing box after box of books, while I have been sorting, folding, and packing clothes. Cardboard is our new home accent. Instead of having a tidy home, it is now a matter of having paths to walk in between the boxes and furniture.

For me, that is hard. I know this season is brief, but sometimes I feel as if I’m being buried in cardboard and that ever-increasing pile of stuff. Am I a hedonist? How do we need this much stuff for a nearly-six-month-old baby? A lot of this is truly necessary, but can we get rid of things? I go on, day after day, packing, questioning, organizing, and trying to grasp every little opportunity for tidiness.

Daisy, meanwhile, is trying ever so hard to cut her first tooth. We were awakened by persistent crying at 3:30 this morning (this from the little girl who had not been up in the night for over three months!). A clean diaper and a dose of baby Orajel seemed to help, but none of us slept well for the rest of the night.

Growing pains are hard, whether for Daisy cutting a tooth or for us as we move to seminary and a new season of marriage and family life. We are riding the roller coaster of leaving a home, which means not only packing but a continual run of visiting, keeping us away from home each night as we bid farewell to dear friends here in Virginia. It is a sundering and a planting, an ending and a beginning that tears the heart even as it grows and strengthens it.

And so we live in the dull roar. Boxes pile up, we say more goodbyes, and we treasure each moment, be it snuggling with a little one or sorting another pile. The Lord’s mercies are new each morning, and His faithful promises are ours as we work in and through the chaos for His glory.

If I seem a little scarce  in these next few days, blame it on the move. We’ll be driving our stuff up to the Big City next week, so it’s a topsy-turvy life this month.

Fuchsia Blossoms and Bidding Farewell

There are two crepe myrtle trees along the walkway leading from our basement door up to the driveway. In the last few days, they have both begun to erupt in color, bearing those rich fuchsia blossoms so fragrant and lovely. Hardly a day goes past that I don’t stop on my way to or from the driveway, pausing to bury my face in a blossom and smell the aroma that takes me back to my childhood.

When I was a little girl, growing up in a suburban Raleigh neighborhood, we had a line of crepe myrtle trees bordering our property, awash in fuchsia blossoms each July. I know several (if not most) of the trees were actually on our neighbor’s land, but our dear little old neighbor lady didn’t mind a bit. So my sister and my friends and I climbed the trees, standing in imaginary castles, swinging down on branches, and surveying our luxurious “estate” from the  grand prospect of three feet off the ground. Those are sweet memories.

Now, as the crepe myrtle trees blossom here by the walkway, the last days of July are upon us. A dear friend wrote to me this morning of how she found myriads of spider webs on her back deck, hearkening, in a tiny way, the beginning of the end of this season of summer. So too we have had the beginning of the end of our time here in Virginia. These last few weeks have been what I might call a “Parade of Last Things.” We have had a last church fellowship, a last time in the home of friends. Soon we will be teaching our last music lessons, my dear husband will have his last day of work, and we will have our last Sunday in church here.

This whole saying-goodbye business is hard. My dear mother and I have often adopted what we affectionately call the “ripping off the Band-Aid” method. Rather than prolong the goodbye, we take a few dear, sweet last moments together and then part quickly, aching for the farewell but glad to have finished it. Presently, however, I do not have that luxury. This farewell is stretched over weeks and between homes, here, there, and everywhere. It comes, over and over each day, bringing its own terrible ache even as we look beyond the goodbye to the days ahead. Naturally, it takes weeks (or even months) to leave one season and enter the next. All the same, and especially with these last few breathtaking sunsets over the mountains, my heart still aches. We are in the already-but-not-yet, no longer fully at home here, but still not sundered.

But God is faithful, always and ever.

So I stop and smell those fuchsia blossoms, remembering the dear days of girlhood and looking forward to the days to come, when we shall still live as pilgrims, already and not-yet-fully basking in God’s goodness.

In Which We Have Monday.

I have declared a one-hour moratorium on putting anything in the dirty laundry basket. For the first time in weeks (months?), the laundry baskets are actually empty. (This was largely due to my laissez-faire act of throwing the handwash-only items into the washer at the last minute.  A crocheted bib and washcloth in the washer isn’t the end of the world, I reasoned.) And so the hand towel that probably needs a wash is still hanging in the bathroom, because I need this kind of small triumph today.

After a busy and pleasant weekend, it is Monday. The day started off relatively well, as Daisy obligingly slept in so that I could get a bit of extra rest. (Why am I waking up with a sore throat? I just got over a sinus infection!) My dear husband got off to work, I got a bite of breakfast, and then Daisy and I settled into a quiet day at home of cleaning, organizing, and continuing to catch up.

Then the little frustrations started creeping in. Poopy diaper before I had even gotten her dressed? Into the bathtub Daisy went. We started a laundry load and straightened a few piles, then she went down for a nap. When I went to check my inbox, there were two more complicated emails on the Scylla-and-Charybdis matter of moving out of one place into another. A shower, finally, and an email sent… already, the morning flew by as on wings.

When Daisy got up, a large wet spot revealed a cloth diaper leak on the fresh clothes.  Sigh.  Another feeding, another load of laundry, and her room was finally looking better. We got the bathroom spruced up, only to face the mess in the rest of the house. Would it ever get cleaned up?  Lunch, thankfully, was full of protein, and a contented Daisy talked to herself in her bouncer so that I could sit down and catch my breath.

It was as if my Heavenly Father was using the voice so often heard from the parent of a little child: Stop. Listen to me. You can’t do this! You NEED me. As I wrote to a friend this morning, I see more and more sin in myself, and more and more grace in Him. What an abundant fountain to quench my thirst!

My hopes for the day had been to blog about the continued struggle for joy and peace in this transition to a new season. I find, though, that today is enough. I must train my eyes on the here and now, waiting for the time, energy, and grace to face the coming days. For now, we have Monday.

What about you? What encourages you on a tough day?

Winds of Change

We pulled into the driveway at 8:30 pm on Saturday evening. With seat belt unbuckled, my hand poised on the car door handle, I was ready to leap out and rescue the disconsolate Daisy from her long imprisonment in the car seat. We were home at last. After three straight weeks of family visiting and visiting family, it was finally back to normal, the three of us in our little home by the alpacas and the mountains.

Those three weeks were sweet. My mother and sister sojourned in our home, delighting in Daisy, savoring fellowship, and serving and blessing us tremendously. Then, as we traveled back to North Carolina, Little Daisy met great-grandparents, our own parents loved on us and blessed us, and we treasured time with siblings, friends, and extended family. It was a dear time back in our childhood homeland.

Home at last.

Home at last.

Now, though, it is Monday. After a Lord’s Day of worship and resting, we are thoroughly entrenched back in daily life. Construction has begun upstairs in our landlord’s home on a refurbished bathroom, so our morning was full of hammering and other noises. Laundry is everywhere, clean and otherwise, and the geometry lesson for tomorrow must be planned.

Even as the travels were sweet, the coming home was bittersweet. This was our last return to the hills of Virginia. In a matter of weeks, we will pack up our home and move to the big City, where it will be a season of making a new home and building new friendships. Now, our talk is of new renters (and when they’ll move in) and new landlords (and when they’ll move out). We hope and pray and plan for the transition even as we savor these present days. It is a time of “in between-ness” — living in the now while we actively prepare for the future. We wait in faith, girding ourselves for the forthcoming challenges.

And so the proverbial winds of change are blowing. As I write this, a cup of tea brings solace. God’s faithfulness is unchanging. Onward I press…

To My Dear Friend on her Wedding Day

I woke up one minute before my alarm clock this morning. Bleary-eyed, feeling a sore throat coming, I stumbled out into the kitchen to turn the coffee pot on, careful not to wake my husband or my sister, who was sleeping on our living room couch. My thoughts were only of the day ahead, with my family visiting, and all the activities the day would hold. Moments later, though, as I sat down to feed Daisy, my thoughts suddenly turned to a dear college friend. Today is her wedding day. Instantly, a flood of memories came to my mind.

I remembered the exquisite feeling of waking up on my wedding day. That morning was a beautiful whirl of joy, peace, excitement, and fulfillment. After years and years of waiting, it was finally time to be united to my beloved. There was such peace amidst the busyness of preparations. When it finally came time to go meet my bridegroom, I laughed with tears of joy.

I remembered those sweet moments with my bridesmaids–sisters and dear friends–as we prepared for the ceremony. Donning lace shawls, fighting hose, and twirling with glee in the impromptu dance party. I remember circling together to pray, moments before they left me to line up for their entrance. Joining hands with dear saints as we looked beyond that day to glory.

I remembered the moment of breaking down as I walked those last few steps toward my bridegroom, hardly able to stand the pure bliss of that moment. Then there was the  giddy look of unbelieving joy when our pastor pronounced us man and wife. We stood at the front of the chapel singing “Praise to the Lord, the Almighty,” hearts aglow in the finality of covenant marriage. The beautiful organ strains of Handel’s “Worthy is the Lamb” rose to the high ceiling as we humbly and joyfully walked out as man and wife.

I remembered leaving the wedding, alone together in the car, beginning a new life. In the midst of the giddy joy, there was a deep peace in belonging to one another, uniting to form a new family. There was fulfillment, excitement, and even a sense of relief. No more waiting. The time was now here.

And then, in my rocking chair this morning, amid the flood of memories of that past day, my thoughts turned to the marriage we have now.

I thought of the peace of waking up next to my husband to face another day together. What a joy it is to fight the good fight shoulder to shoulder, working alongside one another to build a home, raise a family, and seek Christ. We share a beautiful companionship in the daily struggle of living by grace. We walk, hand in hand, to glory.

I thought of the dear moments of sitting across from my husband, talking deeply about life and love and all that lies before us. Challenging one another to holiness. Plumbing the depths of providence and grace. We see in each other’s eyes the commitment to integrity and to faithfulness. The need for mercy. The truth of Christ in us, our hope of glory.

I thought of the heartfelt sorrow of wounding my husband with my sin. Every offense is one more act of holding up a mirror to see the odious iniquity I don, reflected in the pain of the dearest friend I have. Another repentant word, another sad sigh over the struggle, another moment of undeserved grace.

I thought of the peace of going forward together. Of our upcoming move and all the uncertainty and challenge borne in it. Of the peace of going by his side, and sharing the load together. Of the deep joy of following him as he pursues his calling, and of watching on my knees as God works.

Marriage is beautiful work. Joyful struggle. A holy calling.

And so, to my dear friend, on this day, JOY. I offer you my heartfelt joy as you wed your beloved. I know he waits for you eagerly, strong hands and tender heart, overflowing with love. He is a good man, full of integrity and godliness. I wish you every delight as you celebrate together your covenant marriage. And then, as you begin a new life together, may the sweetness of daily and intimate fellowship reveal to you all the fullness of God as you journey, shoulder to shoulder and hand in hand, to glory.

Yard Sale Philanthropy

Some people donate to charities.

Some people support missionaries on foreign fields.

Other people…

All for the cause!

All for the cause.

… donate baby bouncers to future seminary children!

On my way back from my trip to town, I stopped into the neighborhood near our home to peruse a moving sale at one of the houses on our regular walking route. This baby bouncer was the first thing that caught my eye. I looked around the rest of the items first, though, finding two nice baskets ($0.50 each), a crate in great shape ($2), and an Elisabeth Elliot book ($0.50), not to mention several free maps, both for our own general area and for the area we’ll be moving to in August!

When I asked about the baby bouncer, however, I was able to start a conversation with the family that was running the moving sale. When they learned what seminary my husband would be attending, the man offered this baby bouncer for free: “I’ll donate this to you all!” And so, after a quick check with my husband, I managed to get this unwieldy treasure home. (Never mind how; let’s just say I was glad that I never had to exceed thirty miles an hour getting home!) And now little Daisy has a bouncer just her size–in fantastic condition!

The Lord’s blessings are sweet–and sometimes humorous as well! Thanks to our donors, name unknown, for equipping our daughter for the upcoming adventures of seminary life!