Monthly Archives: April 2014

The Fragrance of His Notice

canopyA canopy of white blossoms rise high above as I sweep the sidewalk. I’m sweaty. Aching from hours of yard work. Dirt blackens the space beneath my fingernails.

A gentle breeze, cool and fragrant, teases my hair, and I straighten. Pause.

Those blossoms smell how I imagine heaven. I let the scent, the stirring of air, refresh my body and my soul.

God’s gift.

Did He stir the branches?

Send the breeze, the fragrance?

On purpose?

This moment?

For me?

Or it is just how the Creator planned it out years ago. Scientific.

Maybe both.

Maybe God is big enough to have planned out my encounters with nature even before I was born. Maybe when He set his plans in motion, spoke the seed for this beautiful tree into existence, He had me in mind even then.

Doesn’t the first chapter of Ephesians support this way of thinking? This God who plans with me in mind?tree with blossom (2)

I choose to believe this moment is personal. He SEES ME. Wants to bless me. To cover my aching, weary body and soul with His perfume.

I’m reading Ann VosKamp again. She quotes Erasmus, a contemporary of Luther, “A nail is driven out by another nail; habit is overcome by habit.”

She admits the struggle for gratitude. Like her, my writing of over 1,000 thanks sometimes felt juvenile. I didn’t know then I was driving out a nail by another nail. That I was practicing what it is like to live a life of moments embraced and noticed with thanksgiving before they march on, lost in time, pushing me to hurry without living.

That noticing the little things and giving thanks to the One teaches me to live with Him. Notice Him. Trust Him. Slow down and embrace Him as I delight in His gifts.

i still practice. Choosing to hammer gratitude. Trust. Faith. For my soul. My mental and spiritual health.

And for my body I hammer healthier choices. Salad. Walks. Water.

Sometimes I awake fearful again. And which nail do I pick up? I want to practice trust. To drive out unbelief with faith. To grow as one who walks in peace with the Father. Believing He is personal. He sees. Me.

Sometimes, like the last six weeks or so, I curl in a ball instead of walking. Gaining a few pounds from not choosing the nail of activity.

blossom 2And maybe that was ok, this drawing into myself to grieve. This wintering.

As long as I come out.

And there’s nothing like spring to draw me from winter, tempting me with fragrant breezes.

Reminding me that He sees.

He sees me.

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Introspection

20140422_191129I light four wicks, relishing the small flickering candles, a treat to myself this morning. Sitting at my well-loved and worn kitchen table, I pull out a devotional, make a cup of coffee, indulge in a chocolate treat. All next to pretty lights on a swatch of sunflower fabric.

My boys tease me about my obsession with finding tiny spots of beauty. But really isn’t this world full of it? Isn’t one of our callings as the created to grab hold of all the gifts of the Creator?

This brief moment of quiet beauty releases me. To this meandering of thought.

My blog has lain silent. I gave myself permission to take one day at a time, to laugh, to cry, to work. It takes a lot of time to separate households. After the loss of my dear neighbor, Bernice, more family than friend, the energy to move forward was cut in two. Her relatives shared many of her household go20140425_121212ods. I have new recliners.

A new TV.

Her red salt and pepper shakers.

That’s what I wanted most–to remind me of her. The love for red. The spunk.

They even gave us her car. The ones the boys drove so often these last months. Sometimes for or with her. Sometimes for their own pleasure. I think this makes her happy if she sees from her new home.

And in the gifts we reshape our home. Organize. Clean. It is good. It is exhausting.

It demands much time.

Bernice was generous with her basement. I don’t have one. She didn’t use all of hers. Over the years it became a safe place for the treasures my four children and I weren’t yet ready to part with. Stories and pictures crafted by stubby fingers. Stuffed animals. Train sets and dolls.

Now I’m forced to whittle back these mementos. There’s not enough room here for the treasures of four children now adults. So we declutter and reorganize the garage. Squeeze all 5 foot 9 of me into the crawl space beneath the stairs and do it again.

Boxes of memories line my family room. I go through each, one beloved memory at a time. Sometimes I have to stop and curl up on the couch. It’s not just physical. It is deeply emotional. And emotional steals energy just the same.

As I grieve the loss of Bernice, I’m face to face with the passages. Pictures of round toddler bodies. A story that starts out, “When I was born I got all the attention . . . then Seth was born, and he got all the attention . . . but then we played together, and it was okay because we had fun.”

A first grade rendering of Tolkien’s ents, green little leafy feet peeking out beneath a long brown tree trunk. And how did he know about ents at six years old?

Transition to empty nest continues. I force myself to make a trash pile. I keep way too much.

I don’t just grieve the season change, the children moving out and on. I grieve each lost friendship all over again. Some moved on because of location change or normal life restructure. With some the mother bear came out in us, and we couldn’t navigate each other as our children hurt, stretching in their own relationships, rocking the mommy boats. Pictures, cards that spoke of friendship that would never go away (but did). I probably should have tossed those, but I couldn’t.

Other relationships, too, that I couldn’t figure out.

Pictures of loved ones long with Jesus.

And it hurts all over again. And I climb under the covers and watch a chick flick. Mindless. Happy.

Have to stop feeling for a while.

A friend comes. She just sits. Listens to my stories of the day Bernice met Messiah face to face, questioning Jewish New Yorker who found her answers.

She lets me cry, this wise friend. Then sits nears as I face another stack of boxes. Her presence soothes. She helps me let go. She helps me diminish the piles that suck the life from me.

And life continues between spurts of sorting. The Moldenhauers apply to two more colleges, all the children stepping out.

Four in college. How can this be?

Four different locations. Four different lives growing from this one home. Next door to this one neighbor. Households entwined. Now separated.

But never separate.