My Comfort

Looking back through blog entries from years past on my old faithful Xanga blog, I came across one I had nearly forgotten about. I haven’t forgotten the intensity I felt the day I wrote it, though. I can’t forget that.

March 3, 2003

I want to freeze this moment and save it for a million more moments in my lifetime when I want or need to revisit it and touch its magic and taste its sweetness and hear it in this preciseness.  I lay there in his arms and the tears came so suddenly…an emotional response to the intensity of our sharing, our bodies connected perfectly as God dreamed them. 

Confusion and concern crossed his face as I shook my head, reassuring him nothing was wrong…no, everything was right.  It was just…right.  He brushed my hair from my face with a tenderness that took my breath away, his eyes searching mine for a glimpse into my heart.

Tears commonly betray me, met with a fierce resistance from the depths of my resolve, but tonight…tonight they came and I welcomed them.  I cried and laughed at the same time, embracing the paradox of feeling coursing through my being at that moment, capturing the love and desire and relief and bliss of being there with him in our perfect moment. 

His arms tightened around me, holding me to himself like a priceless treasure.  We didn’t need any words.
Phrases from the love song playing in the background floated through my consciousness, their words unobtrusive and strangely comforting.
In this sweet madness…oh, in this glorious sadness that brings me to my knees…when you’re pulled from the wreckage of your silent reverie…you’re in the arms of an angel; may you find some comfort here.
I will rest in the arms of an angel tonight.  Morning’s light will find me nestled safe there, and then a thousand mornings to come, each sunrise graced, kissed, perfectly traced by the finger of God.
I’ve found my comfort here.

Eight years later I still feel it, this twinge in my heart when I think of him.

I am my beloved’s and he is mine.

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One Thousand Gifts (the first 100)

[More coming in future entries]

#100: Our beautiful, comfortable canopy bed and soft cotton sheets

#99: Potatoes

#98: Deliverance

#97: Fierce family loyalty


#96: Despite Distance

#95: Books to read

#94: Matt’s funny impressions

#93: Laughter at the dinner table

#92: Steve’s touch

#91: Katelynne Hayman is feeling better

#90: My new black canvas bag from Steve

#89: Eucharisteo

#88: Snuggle fabric softener

#87: Random Mattie back-rubs

#86: Life lived slowly, savored

#85: Hope that springs eternal

#84: Candles in homey scents

#83: My wedding rings

#82: Photography

#81: Mid-70’s in winter

#80: A low electric bill in February

#79: Cold Pepsi

#78: Safety

#77: Second chances

#76: Bev Brandon @ The Fray

#75: Giving thanks gives me time.

#74: Calls from my love

#73: Matt’s home tonight.

#72: Time spent talking with Rosie

#71: Fuzzy jammy pants

#70: Spiral honey ham in the crock pot

#69: Coffee

#68: I found our Easterling Family Journal

#67: Rosie playing with my hair

#66: Cookie dough

#65: Jeff’s 30th birthday party was epic.

#64: My Suburban running well

#63: My cell phone

#62: My computers

#61: My cameras

#60: Good health

#59: Prayer

#58: People who read my blogs

#57: Steve’s goodnight kiss

#56: Christo’s Restaurant (and staff)

#55: Ann Voskamp’s book One Thousand Gifts

#54: Steve’s help with the pots and pans

#53: Rosie’s help with cleaning this morning

#52: Remembering things the kids said when they were little

#51: Family dinners

#50: Broken places mended.

#49: Warm bodies snuggled in a giant canopy bed, its pillowy softness cradling, soothing, surrounded by soft brown mosquito netting like in a movie.

#48: Chocolate pudding, smooth and creamy, in big spoonfuls with silly faces from internal kid.

#47:Phone calls from long lost friends who still love us.

#46: Two beautiful people we don’t know yet, a girl for our boy, and a boy for our girl. He already knows who to bless.

#45: Beautiful “daughters” being added to our family one by one, woven into the family and sewn into the lives of our beloved sons.

#44: Big bags of chips, my favorite kind, dipped in queso and fresh salsa.

#43: Teens still innocent blushing crimson at mentions.

#42: This book. Oh, this book.

#41: Music loud rehearsed with stops and fixes and tries and laughter and retries and high-fives and up-late family time together.

#40: Third son, middle son, fulcrum son here for the night.

#39: Sweet little pale baby bellies with outie belly-buttons.

#38: Chipped beef with brown gravy over toasted Ciabatta.

#37: Bagfuls of red, green, and white party supplies to celebrate the 30th birthday of the child of my childhood.

#36: Warm coffee mugs in cold hands.

#35: Our Suburban responded quickly to my stomping on the accelerator pedal today, and we missed being broad-sided by the semi-truck that couldn’t stop for the light.

#34: Our firstborn son turned 30 today. God, you saw him, didn’t you, that day I stood shivering by the car, 16 and pregnant, clinging to Steve so I didn’t slip from consciousness? You saw him ten years later and twenty and now thirty, strong and brave and faithful. You saw him reaching millions of people through education, and saving the lives of two toddlers, and bringing light to more lives than we can count (but you have numbered). You knew it would all be okay, even as we stood there unsure of how it would all come together. It did, and I am grateful. Eucharisteo.

#33: Dark chocolate sensation hot cocoa mix with dark chocolate cream coffee creamer added for the perfect touch. This is good stuff.

#32: I am so grateful to have discovered Ann Voskamp. I don’t think I could ever get tired of reading what she writes. I found out today my book has been delayed, but I’m praying it won’t be for long.

#31: Having a dishwasher is something I did without until about until about 3 years ago. Now I can’t imagine life without it. I’d be okay without one, of course, but I really love having it. It does save a lot of time and energy, and the dishes (usually) get really clean and sanitized.

#30: My mother’s bird clock chirps away marking the hour, hanging on the wall just above and to the right of my desk. It needs to be reset, though, because it’s two hours off what it’s supposed to be, and my internal bird recognition goes haywire with the wrong bird chirping the specific hour. A small thing, but it needs adjusting. I’ve grown accustomed to the chirps every hour, but I always, always think of my mother.

#29: I love Papermate stick pens. The plain ones that you can buy for 10/$1. They are the smoothest-writing pens available, I think. Why do I even bother with more expensive pens?

#28: We’ve only had to turn the heater on once in the past week, for about 20 minutes just to get the chill out of the house. That saves so much money on our power bill, and I am loving the warmth of FL winter. The truly cold (what most people would consider cold, since anything below 60 is cold to me) days have been very few in number thus far, and I am truly grateful.

Note: I ordered my copy of One Thousand Gifts today (Jan. 26). I can’t wait for it to arrive. I also joined the Bloom community so I can do the book study with women from all over. Several of us at the Haus are participating, so we’ll be able to talk about it in the group. It starts Feb. 6.

27: Wal-Mart is close to our house. As in just over a mile away. It’s a small thing, but having it so close is really convenient.

26: I could listen to my kids make music for hours on end, day after day. I love that they are all musicians and that music is woven into their fabric. Steve says he is the only “hack” in the family, but I scowl at him when he says that. He is not just the roadie. He is their daddy, and I refuse the idea that they got all of their musical talent from me.

25: Watching my daughter dance is one of the delights of my life. For the first 12 or so years of her dancing, I watched nearly every class. I would be standing at the viewing window for three or four hours at a time, taking in everything she did, every correction, every smile, and sadly every time she was overlooked. I wouldn’t trade those hours watching her dance for anything. 

24: My Suburban, Jack. How I love that car! He saves us so often, and he’s such a workhorse I don’t mind that he needs so much fuel.

23: Pens. I love them, and I collect them. Fortunately my husband doesn’t mind, although he does tease me quite often about it. I may have actually already mentioned pens, but I’m thinking with listing 1,000 gifts there are bound to be repetitions.

22: Kitchen gadgets of nearly every description. See #21 about me inheriting my mother’s “thing” and her supply.

21: I am blessed with a variety of staplers, hole punches, and tape dispensers. I’m pretty sure I got my thing for office supplies from my mother, and now I have hers as well as mine.

20: I love photographs so much, and I am surrounded by them. On my computer, in little stacks and in bins around the office, and a few even in frames around the house. I’m really bad about framing, and I don’t think we’ve hung a picture in the last three houses we’ve lived in.

19: Hershey Kisses are one of my favorite comfort candies, and Mattie and Steve usually keep me supplied. Mattie even helps me eat them.

#18: He delivers us from evil in many ways that may not at first seem so obvious.

#17: There are few people I trust with my whole heart. Valerie is one of them.
#16: Clarity can be danged painful to acquire, but Truth is always preferable to lies.
#15: My Kells makes my heart sing, and it sounds kind of husky and low with a slight accent.
#14: Photographs are beautiful reminders of cherished moments in this life.
#13: Bagels.
#12: Ciabatta is lovely daily bread.
#11: I have all the ingredients to make Teriyaki chicken.
#10: I’m pretty sure my sweet little granddarling, Belle is the most beautiful baby on the planet.
#9: The time I get to spend with my beautiful granddaughter, Morgan blesses and enriches my life and reminds me what a treasure it is to be a grandmother.
#8: I so love chocolate.
#7: God’s patience with me as I grow and learn (I think He mostly uses my kids to teach me) humbles me.
#6: My precious baby girl, my Rose who turned my world pink and my sky completely, beautifully blue, stunning and brave and wise and witty. You hold us up.
#5: My baby boy, Mattie, superhero, knight of the great kingdom, mama’s boy and proud of the title. Man of honor in every word and deed, a sage old soul in the body of a teen with a Zippo and a pocket watch, ready to help, ready to forgive, ready to rescue, ready for anything.

#4: My middle child, the fulcrum of our family, Trevor. My Sam, my counselor, my friend.

#3: My sweet, gentle boy, Luke Steven. His compassion and wisdom warm me to the depths.

#2: My lovely firstborn son, Jeffery Morgan. How I love him and totally dig him and the way he lives out loud.

#1: I have the most beautiful man imaginable by my side for life. Thank you, God, for the treasure of my heart.

One Thousand Gifts

This week I came across the book One Thousand Gifts, by Ann Voskamp. It took me a little while, after reading the first chapter of the book online, to even begin to try to word my response. I’d like to try to utter it, though, somehow.

I will say more about that later, but for now I just want to say I want to start regularly listing gifts of my sweet Abba. Call it part of my “Simplify”, my “coming home”, or something like that.

I have a gift card to Barnes & Noble that Trevor and Amanda gave me for Christmas. I was saving it until something really special came, feeling I would know it when it came. This is it. I wish the book was in the store now, but I can wait another week.

This is For Him

It really doesn’t matter how roughly I am challenged on this point: My relationship with God is deeply personal. It is pervasive. It is intimate. And while I have the utmost reverence for His deity, I don’t spend a lot of time stressing over whether or not it is okay with Him that I call him “Daddy”, or “Dad”, or play it safe and just say “Abba”. He knows my heart because He knit it together.

It is hard to word, this bond between us.

But it is more than worth the effort to try.

There is no need to justify it to anyone, not even those whose opinions I respect–and certainly not to those whose opinions have over time proven themselves inconsequential and have faded like a mist at midday. There is no need to ask for permission to adore my Abba, and to joy in my connection with Him and communicate with Him in ways that cannot be worded.

I hope it’s okay with everyone that I love Him this way. But if it isn’t, I will still pursue it.

Because as much as I love all of you,

This love, this relationship, this adoration, this eyes-dancing-in-the-sunshine…

This is for Him.

His Heart is Good

I recently read a passage from the book Sacred Romance, in which John Eldredge is talking about how we can love and trust God when oftentimes what He allows to happen to us feels like betrayal. Mr. Eldredge said he was questioned about how we can trust a lover who is so wild, to which he responds that we could, if we knew His heart was good.

I pondered this for a long time, mulling it over in my mind, thinking back over my life at the times when I felt like He had failed me. It wasn’t so much bitter anger as it was disappointment. My hope in Him felt dashed against sharp rocks. Watching a baby daughter die in my arms, losing far too young the only brother who treated me like a sister, watching the life drain from my sweet mother’s face…it felt too much like being let down by the One I’m supposed to be able to trust with everything, in every moment.

But if I knew His heart was good…

Do I know His heart is good? Do I know His heart?

I have a lot to think about as I meditate on the question of how well I know Him, how well I understand His heart, His will, His intent, the depth of His love for me.

I think of my husband. I know his heart. And I know it is good.

It’s why we don’t argue.
It’s why we don’t get bent over stupid stuff.
It’s why I want so much to make his home comfortable, his life happy.

If something comes up to draw his motive or action or words into question, I instinctively balance it against what I know of this man I’ve given my heart to, my soul mate, my husband of more than thirty years. I know his heart, and that tells me what his intent was–or was not–and it makes all the difference.

If I know this so unquestionably of my husband, how can I not be a million times more certain of my Father?

If I know Him at all, I know His heart is good.

He does not slumber, nor does He sleep.

I am safe. Whatever blindsides me in this fallen world, whatever losses or let-downs or answerless questions, I remain in His keeping.

Because I know His heart is good.

Catch and Release

I’ve spent the past several days migrating all of my emailing from Outlook Express to web-based email. That may not sound like a big deal to most, but to me…well, to me, after 12 years of using the same email program, it was kind of a big deal.

What I have found, though, after spending a sizable chunk of the past two days hunched over my keyboard sorting, forwarding, deleting, checking, filtering, figuring and reconfiguring, designing, and slapping my forehead, is that I didn’t die the last time I had a computer crash and lost six years of email correspondence (what I had saved of it), and I’m not dying this time from not having instant access to the past six years of emails. In fact, I’m doing rather well with the web-based email I’ve had all along but didn’t use via the web.

Sometimes things are just going to happen to show me how human I am.

It’s good to be reminded of it, too. Keeps me humble. Not that there’s much danger of me getting all puffy-headed or anything. On the flip side, I have plenty to be humble about.

I am rediscovering my love for writing. And I am rediscovering that I’m actually pretty good at it. I don’t say that with any piety at all, especially when I look back at old Xanga entries and see how good I once was–back when I was writing more often and writing more deeply and writing more real-ly.

I miss writing like that.

Write, Pray, Love

As I was resetting my Facebook URL for the one and only time allowable, for some reason the book title Eat, Pray, Love came into my head. Considering that I love to write more than just about anything and I’d much rather write than eat, the new phrase took form. It seems only fitting to have a blog to match. I’m rekindling my passion for writing and in so doing I am practicing it much more often. Hopefully this will be a good place to flex the wings of creative wording once again.

One Thousand Gifts

I first discovered Ann Voskamp about three weeks ago, when my friend Heather Roemer posted a trailer video promoting Ann’s book One Thousand Gifts. From the moment I watched this video, my heart was gripped and transformed in a way that I continue to discover on a daily, even moment by moment basis. 

When I learned that there was a book study scheduled upon release of the book, I knew immediately I wanted to be a part of it. I ordered a copy of the book the same day. Sadly, I was notified a week later that the book was on back-order (which I soon learned was because it was in its third printing in the few days since it released–a fact that did not surprise me at all), and that it could be 30 days before it would ship. I opted to reorder it from another company, one that seemed to be filling my friends’ orders quickly. 

I had to smile at the irony that many of my friends had learned of the book and the study from me and would be reading their books far ahead of me. Life is funny like that sometimes, although I admit I haven’t found waiting for this book to be very funny.

So if patience is a virtue, here I am, growing more virtuous by the moment.

Observations

  • Invisibility is only cool if you are really invisible and not just being treated like you are.
  • Some people get to choose when they want to be considered mature, and when they want to hide behind the protective wall of childhood. Whether or not they take responsibility for their words and actions depends on which they choose at the moment. And this is totally acceptable with all those around them, so it has to be okay.
  • Being a mom is the most challenging task I’ll ever love.
  • I have written at least a dozen novels. Unfortunately they are all still in my head.
  • You can say, “All you need to do is ask” a million times, but you can’t make them ask.
  • Coerced validation is not validation, but concession.
  • It’s really too bad that I have to get old to learn so many important lessons.
So our 17-year-old, Matt, after much coaxing for weeks before Christmas, FINALLY mentioned a couple of things he would like as Christmas presents. Are you ready for this?

A Zippo lighter and a silver pocket watch.
He doesn’t smoke. He’s just one of those “loves to be prepared” types who likes having helpful gadgets at his fingertips so he can bail people out of unfortunate circumstances. I swear that boy ought to be in some kind of rescue career field. You would think he was an Eagle Scout. He never did Scouts at all.
His whole boyhood he wanted to be a US Marine. When he was around 15 he changed his mind. I think it has a lot to do with not trusting the government making the decisions for the military personnel and him being afraid he’d be putting his life on the line with dubious benefit to his country (or any other one for that matter). I have to say that very much describes my own heart on that topic.
So Rosie bought him a silver pocket watch for Christmas. It came in a gift set with a little key chain utility knife alongside it. Then his grandfather gave him another one, so how he has two. Steve and I gave him a Zippo, which he has spent many hours flipping open, lighting, and flipping closed. Now, thanks to the tutelage of Uncle Lou, not only can he drive a stick-shift, but with a quick snap of his fingers he can now light his Zippo with panache.
Interesting boy, that one.

Losing Another Generation?

From a RealHaus post this past December…
A recent status update on my Facebook page talks about how much I love homeschooling, partly because of the gentleness of living, the joy in learning rather than fear and stress and pressure over exams and presentations and grades. The point was made that exams are a part of life, with the implication that it should be taught to everyone. Another point made was that the Church can’t afford to lose another generation of kids like we lost the last one.

Which leaves me pondering: Where is the happy place between teaching our children to question authority and not bend to every whim and blindly jump through every hoop they are told to, and learning the skills and ability to adapt to the “real world” (as though they don’t already live in the real world if they school at home, but I digress)?
Put in more practical terms: I want to teach Rosie how to take tests and be able to be assessed for what she knows, but without constantly clamping her in a vise just for practice. I want her to have a realistic view of the hoops she may be asked to jump through in life, but I also want her to have the strength and courage to tell the hoop-holders to take a hike when the situation warrants it. I want her aware, but not scared, diplomatic but not so eager to please that she doesn’t stand against senseless demands on her time and energies.
I’m not even sure if any of this makes any sense at all.