Friday, September 30, 2011

Simple Pleasures

Today marks the fourteenth day that we've walked the indoor, carpeted stairs up into the rooms we now call home. Having not fully settled in but inching closer with each passing day, I'm stopping to reflect briefly on what we gained anew when one door closed and another opened.

A front door with an outdoor entrance--not an enclosed hallway of multiple doors hiding neighbors you only see by chance--is so refreshing. It makes our ApartmentHome feel like a house. To some? Insignificant. To me? A small touch that's not overlooked by my heart.

Fresh air breezes, natural light and the sounds of life outside are just a few of my favorite things, and all are provided by a large window next to our balcony door. In our former place of rest, a lone balcony door was all the access we had to these gifts. Here, a single window, properly placed, delivers revelation on how many of these simple pleasures I took for granted.

In each city I've called home since moving to Texas in 2006, a fireplace has filled a portion of our living room. When moving to NRH--our place of financial protection--a fireplace was one amenity we had to choose to go without because it was an additional cost we couldn't justify when downsizing our budget. And now, in a season of expansion in so many areas of our life, we're blessed beyond measure to once again enjoy this gift of warmth, beauty and romance.

For me, sitting on our balcony is akin to taking a bubble bath. It's my place to read, relax and take refuge for fifteen minutes or an hour. Where others are rejuvenated through human contact, my heart and mind are recharged in moments of solitude. This secondary door to the balcony from my bedroom allows me private access . With living room blinds closed, I can sneak outside and find solace in my red recliner.

Warm colors are as much comfort to my soul as a steaming, black cup of espresso roast coffee on a chilled morning. I smile every time my feet touch the spaces where carpeting ends and hard floor begins. It looks like nature. Nature pricks my heart with joy.

Simple pleasures. They are just a shift in perspective.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

[Heal] this

I’m not sure why I’ve not read this blog until today–considering it was written so many months ago–but today HolySpirit drew me here … [here] to this specific blog post.
My spirit perked up as I began to read, but my soul immediately became unsettled as I continued. While the details are not the same, the theme of this testimony is achingly close to my heart. I can feel HolySpirit’s gentle touch on my wound, still yet unhealed, being exposed through your words. I’m uncomfortable as I write this because my wound has been exposed before, but I’ve always found a way to replace the old bandaid with a new one with fresh adhesive.
“My every waking thought, conscious or not, was how to keep you out, and how to make you see that I was valuable anyway, despite what I looked like on the outside. If you haven’t tried that, let me assure you, it’s quite tiring. A constant push-pull of keeping you at arm’s length while trying to show you how cool I am. Protecting my shell.” Nancy Smith
I have lived this. I still live this. My soul cringed and my spirit ached because I see myself in these words.
God has used the wisdom and knowledge and hearts of pastors at Gateway to bring me so much further down my road of healing than I can even list. I know I’m not who I was when I started attending Gateway four years ago. But this … [this that you've written about here] … is a wound I have yet to let God really get to. It scares me.
I know He’s spoken so much to me about who I am in Him and who He has created me to be. And my head understands this. Really. It does. But I know, especially this morning as I read this, I know my wound keeps it from settling in and opening me up to experience and be a part of everything else that’s waiting for me.
I stay away for fear that I won’t be accepted. Or I get involved only to back out somewhere down the road because I don’t feel adequate enough to stay involved. I don’t fully join in because “what if I don’t fit in?”. What if I’m not? … [fill in the blank].
Gosh, as I write this I’m even thinking, “What happens when Nancy reads this comment? IF she reads it? Will she think I’m pathetic for vomiting up all my stuff right here on her blog commenting space? She didn’t ask me to divulge my crap here. Didn’t even invite me to.”
See the mind games?
And yet, I’m still writing. Writing because I feel that if I finally am vulnerable enough to admit to someone other than my best friend or husband that I don’t dive into fellowship–especially with women–because I’m afraid I’ll be “seen”, then maybe it’s the step of faith that will finally allow God access to the one place that keeps me hidden. Because somewhat hidden is safe. Safe to me, anyway.
But I know God so desires to heal [this]. It’s the only reason I signed up for Titus 2 on Thursdays. Because I know I had to obey the nudge to “put myself out there” … especially in a room filled with women. My spirit says “go!”, but my soul begs me to say “no!”.
And then I read this. And I know even more surely. God desires to heal [this].

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Home [Again]

It's been just over a week since life as we know it was packed into boxes, loaded into the back of an orange and white truck and transported from one city to another. Our family unit has known three moves in just as many years; and Teighlor, Alec and I have lived in ten different cities within two states over the past sixteen years. I'm beginning to believe that we may be drawing closer, mile by mile, to earning a "gypsy" notch on our life belts.

As a kid growing up, the majority of my years were spent in a two-story home on Olive Street in a county named for the brightly colored and most beloved breakfast juice fruit. I vaguely remember the sight and scent of orange groves before homes allowing for the influx of families were built on top of the dirt once formerly inhabited by trees.

Year after year, my birthday photos show me blowing out candles in front of the sliding glass door that led to the yard that was home to countless barbecues and endless games of tag, capture the flag and baseball played with wiffle balls and plastic bats.

Christmases were celebrated with a sentimentally decorated tree that moved from one corner to another, depending on the arrangement of furniture, but always filled the same living room lit by a log in the fireplace that was home to our stockings every December.

Meals were prepared in the kitchen that saw changing appliances, flooring and cabinet doors, but always held the familiar window next to the sink that framed the faces of friends and family as they showed up on the front doorstep.

Bedrooms held both children and parents; and even were home to almost every grandchild at one time or another.

Time passed. Days became weeks, became months, became years. Children became adults. And one by one we all stretched our wings and ventured out into the world. Each of us said "I Do" and God filled our arms with the next generation.

As life would have it, one by one we all were hit with situational curveballs and found a place of healing within the comfort of those same walls, made possible by the two home-filled-hearts we called Mom and Dad and the younger generation called "grand".

My grown-up dreams held visions of the same kinds of memories. Where wall colors changed but the walls themselves did not. Where old carpeting was replaced by new cherry laminate flooring covered by area rugs where feet made cold by winter months could find solace. Where hot pink or camouflage teenage comforters replaced Winnie-the-Pooh baby blankets once nuzzled by sleeping toddlers. Where nail polish and lip gloss replaced Barbie dream homes, and slumber parties of giggling girls replaced tea parties served at a small table surrounded by stuffed animals. Where a driveway once littered with hot wheels propelled by chubby, little boy fingers was now home to the clamoring feet of sweaty boys playing game after game of basketball on long, summer nights.

Home was defined by the square footage within the walls topped with the roof that never changed. And I was determined to provide my family with those same types of memories to tuck into their hearts and pass onto their children.

And then...

From one move to another, one year after another, God challenged my grown-up dream and taught me one of my most cherished and valuable life lessons:

Home is not about the walls that make up the rooms that hold up the roof that was supposed to never change. Home is about the love that fills the hearts that are held by the people that fill those rooms.

And memories? They may be birthed in a particular city but they are not held captive by a street address. They will always remain in the home of our hearts.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Ann's Gifts

This page is inspired by One Thousand Gifts written by Ann Voskamp. I was introduced to the existence of this book through an article on Destiny In Bloom and purchased it to read at the end of August 2011. Every sentence is worth soaking in. The loveliness of language worth languishing over. And the idea of seeing beauty in the routine and often harsh moments of life caught my attention. That of choosing a different perspective allows our eyes to see God in everything. And looking long enough to behold the gift in the tiniest moment captured my heart. This is "my life story in freeze frames of gifts" (pg. 82).

Walking below, man's laughter echos. {9.5.11}

Morning's cool breeze. Balcony's solitude. Coffee, warm and welcoming. Words of One Thousand Gifts beckoning my heart. {9.5.11}

NRH2O chimes ... ding, ding, ding, diiiing. A sound I will miss when this balcony is no longer mine. {9.5.11}

Wind's breath rustling leaves. Crackling sounds of summer's drought. {9.5.11}

Autumn debuting with a 70 degree morning sun. Crickets still chirp. Birds sing joyful. Tires whir on black asphalt. Wind whistles through branches swaying. Leaves crackle, racing along blades of grass burned brown, parched for cloud's gift of rain tears. I soak in every sound. Treasuring each one, unique in its language of life ... God given. {9.6.11}

Two sisters, about 4 and 2, hopping madly with excitement in the parking lot, waiting for mom to lead the way into NRH2O. {9.6.11}

The scent of fresh air touched by the incoming swell of Autumn's arrival. {9.6.11}

A family of oak trees with white picket boards marking home boundaries rise out of sunlit covered expansive fields of green. A gift of wide-open peacefulness now anticipated with our early morning school journeys. {9.8.11}

Tricolor peppercorn found in the mix of spice jars when pepper mill was running low. {9.9.11}

Watching from my balcony, mom and son clipping yellow wild flowers on a cool and quiet 9/11 morning. Seeing beauty in a weed most others would pass by. I believe this is how God sees. While others see a wild weed, He sees a radiantly golden bloom with faces always upturned. Flower or Weed ... it's all in the perspective. See Differently. {9.11.11}

Streaming rays of morning sunshine filling the expanse of field and sky. {9.14.11}

Falling drops of quench-thirsting, long-awaited rain. {9.14.11}

Picking her [Ann's] gift of words up again and being reminded of what is so easily forgotten. {6.12.12}

A hawk soars in the same sky as a plane. From this distance they visually appear to be traveling at the same speed. Dynamic Perspective. {6.24.12}