Life Reflections at Panera

It seemed providential that the day set for my solo trip to town should fall on the same day that Daisy reached four months. A time to reflect, I thought, with four months of motherhood behind me. I had planned this trip for at least a month, thinking with longing of a morning to myself to think, plan, read, and otherwise refresh my tired soul. My dear husband was willing to watch Daisy, so that I could enjoy the time free from the (pleasant!) distractions of a baby girl.

Then, last night, I plunged into a swamp of doubt. Should I really be taking a whole morning to do this? Surely there is enough to do at home that would make this a selfish venture. Perhaps I don’t even want to go to town. But wouldn’t it be good?  Thankfully, my husband’s good sense prevailed. Yes, you should do this. Yes, this will be good for you. Just don’t expect it to solve everything or be perfect. Enjoy it with reasonable expectations. (He knows me very well.)

So I ventured out early this morning in the radiance of a new day. Under a clear blue sky, I drove into town to the local Panera, where I bought a medium coffee and a bagel with cream cheese, settling in a seat by the window with an armload of books, a notebook, and a pen.

Sifting through life at a table by the window

Sifting through life at a table by the window

Two tables away, a trio of gray-haired men enjoyed good conversation punctuated by laughter. One of the voices reminded me of a dear man from my college days, a retired pastor who loves to garden. The comfortable tone of their voices provided a peaceful background to my reading.

Read I did. I had pulled several old favorites off our bookshelf at home last night, longing to refresh my soul with their dear encouragement. Daily Light, with Anne Graham Lotz’s selections of Scripture, had been a gift from my mother thirteen years ago. Amy Carmichael’s Edges of His Ways came from the wife of my dear pastor friend who gardens. I had purchased Beautiful Girlhood–Karen Andreola’s revision of the Mabel Hale classic–back in my teenage days, and Susannah Spurgeon’s devotional thoughts, Free Grace and Dying Love, had been a recent gift from our pastor’s wife here in Virginia. Armed with these dear friends, I sat down by the window to read, reflect, and refresh my heart.

One of the first things I came across was the psalmist’s words from Psalm 131:

Lord, my heart is not haughty, nor my eyes lofty. Nor do I concern myself with great matters, nor with things too profound for me. Surely I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with his mother… (vv. 1-2)

Yes, I thought. This is what I need. Simplicity and peace. I longed to clarify the roles I had as wife and mother–positions which, though fixed, often grow muddled in the waves of laundry, dishes, and diapers.

Also with me was a pile of notecards saved from the bridal shower given by my sister-in-law and a friend with the women of the church in which I had grown up. Each notecard had a room of the house designated, and the women had shared insights, encouragement, and tidbits of practical wisdom. After months of lying in a desk drawer, I had unearthed them the other day in a fit of organization. Now, I was encouraged by them this morning.

Being a homemaker means being a keeper of the home, wrote a mother of eight. Keep your home, but don’t forget to actually enjoy it with your family. Always keep your heart open, wrote another. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Whew! That’s what I needed to hear.

And so, with notecards, books, and an ever-scratching pen in my dear old notebook, my soul was refreshed. The sun shone through my window, and when those dear old men left, in went my headphones and I enjoyed the intricate beauties of Vivaldi violin concertos. Such peace.

Four months into motherhood–a lifetime to go.  My heart is refreshed from a morning by the window at Panera.

Every hour should bear on its fast-flying wings the witness of something said, or done, or thought, for You, my Master, or Your service. (Susannah Spurgeon, Free Grace and Dying Love)


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