Heartstrings and Apron Pockets

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I attended an estate sale a few years ago, where a man was selling everything from his elderly mother’s home. I just found the whole thing gut-wrenchingly sad as I walked through and pondered over the items this woman had used and loved over the years.

He had most of the items priced well over what I would normally pay at such a sale, but browsing through a room near the back I came upon a bright orange apron the man said his mother had made. Being fond of aprons, I loved it at once. Tracing my fingers lovingly over the seams I noted that it was reversible with print on one side and eyelet on the other. I couldn’t help but wonder if she had worn it, because it looked rather new. I thought with sadness that perhaps she’d been too feeble or ill to use it herself. Somehow I felt like I’d known this dear lady, though I knew we’d never met.

I paid him the inflated price feeling like I was purchasing more than an apron. I was taking home a treasure with memories in its pockets–tiny facets of a woman whose worldly goods were being sold to strangers wandering through her home.

That apron remains one of my favorites, and I hope to make sure someone eventually gets it who will appreciate it for the memories of both its maker and me. I consider it an honor to wear it while making lovely meals for my family. I’d like to think she’d be smiling if she knew.

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Happy wind blowing through

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It’s beautiful outside–windy and cloudy and because of that a little less infernally hot than it’s been the past few days. I’m a Florida native so I’m used to the heat, but it’s been unseasonably hot lately even for here. Steve is heading outside to mow (hopefully) before the rain comes. And then if the weather holds out he’ll grill the ribs I’ve been marinating all afternoon. How that wind is blowing right now, bending the grass right over and the palm fronds all slapping each other on the back like friends having fun. No droplets break the surface of the water, at least not yet. I hope they do later.

Judging by the stack of wood, I think the neighbors are building a new bridge over to the little island. They’ve been clearing growth from the lake’s edge and they took down the old one last week. They cleared the island, too, so I assume they’ll be wanting a way to get back over to it. Or they could just row over like the rest of us plain folk with weeds crowding our banks and docks.

I am blessed to have a very wise psychologist-to-be living in my house, and even more blessed that she is my daughter because she mixes tender daughter words with the more serious things she says to help me process what life is dishing out. I told her I don’t ever want her to feel like she has to help me with stuff, but she said she doesn’t mind. There is still so much I don’t say. I want her to live her own young, beautiful, happy life that doesn’t have to be quite so serious as mine. She will weather life better than I have. That was a parenting goal I think we met.

Thunder rumbles, and I quietly root for Steve out there pushing that mower down the bank and pulling it back up again and then making one row after another down the side of the yard. He’s pushing it faster trying to beat the rain while his yard shoes fill with bits of green. He’ll be watching closely for nearby lightning, and won’t be holding onto that metal mower bar once he sees a flash anywhere near. Lightning doesn’t play around in these parts.

I was inspired to write today by Amber Haines and her post about wording the “reglar” of life. I loved that she spelled out how she pronounces it so I can hear it in her voice. That’s how I grew up saying it during the southeast Georgia years. I miss those days, sometimes a lot. They were more innocent times. Like Amber, we had chickens, housed in a big coop. I remember gathering eggs from those silky birds and being comforted by their familiar clucking as we sat in lawn chairs and shelled purple-hulls in metal pans propped on our laps. Nothing tasted so delicious as those peas, freshly shelled and cooked with big chunks of smoked ham and seasoned with salt and pepper and sweet onion with sliced just-picked bright red tomatoes alongside.

Raindrops plop rings into what I can see of the lake out the window, and I still hear the mower running till that man of mine thinks he should quit. I’m guessing he’s enjoying the coolness on his back, a welcome reprieve from the heat of summer. I’m off to make him a glass of sweet tea because I promised.

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Fathers and Faith and Word Formations

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Sometimes I blog for everyone else. Today it’s more for me, but you’re invited.

It’s Father’s Day, and I will spend it as I have since I was twelve: without my daddy. I am grateful to have had Steve’s dad (my Papa) in my life since I was 15, and glad that he’s here still at 80 years young. I have much to thank God for, and some pretty special dads in my life. There aren’t any words to describe Steve’s presence in my life, or the blessing of the way he has loved and nurtured and provided our children and me. Three of our sons are dads who make us wildly proud. Rosie took Steve out for a daddy-daughter brunch, and we’re having a cookout this afternoon with the family all gathered together to celebrate the dads.

I’m trying not to allow my blogging to be controlled by how creative I feel, or how relevant I think my thoughts will be to the world. It’s hard to think inward and just write for me. Actually, it’s nearly impossible, but I’m trying. My words come out sounding dry and pointless in my own ears, and that doesn’t exactly inspire creative expression. It leaves me feeling like I really don’t have anything to say. It’s just so dry. But I write on, trooper that I am, and I unwrap a Hershey caramel kiss to make the whole process a little less painful.

My math study sheets glare at me from my desktop, algebraic expressions taunting me with reminders of my upcoming certification test. I really wish math and I were better friends. We’re more amicable than we were, but we still have a long road ahead of us if we’re going to go into teaching together with a good measure of success. And I do intend to be a spectacular teacher, so I’m willing to put in the work.

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There’s a lot going on socially and politically right now, and sometimes it’s too much for my empathetic mind to take in without becoming overwhelmed. I trimmed my friends list down considerably, then scaled my news feed back even more, and the next step will be pulling all but one or two major news sources. I prefer to be informed about what is going on in the world, but sometimes I feel like I’m going to crushed by the weight of it all at once. Most of it I can’t even write about. The world is one big offense waiting to happen, and I don’t want to feed the ugly monster.

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I burned my hand pretty badly this morning making baked beans for the cookout. I forgot bacon drippings could splash that high. The two blistered spots have had pain shooting up my arm for the past hour or so, but it’s starting to be a little more bearable.

While I sit here under the ceiling fan sipping coffee, I should probably be unloading the dishwasher and getting ready to grab a shower. I wonder if it’s possible to keep the warm water off my right hand. It hurts to think about it.

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I heard somebody say that faith is fluid. I have a slightly different take: I see faith as formative. We’re always growing in it in some fashion, whether it looks like growth to others or not. That doesn’t excuse everything, but maybe it does understand it. Thinking of faith as formative means it’s always being built. Fluid, to me, sounds weak and unintentional and random. Formative means purposeful, trying and failing and rising and falling but growing roots that push deeper, as painful as that can be. And God, how it can be.

Posted to my Facebook this morning:

Our cracked places can become windows where God’s light breaks through. The decision to shatter or shine comes with how we allow Him to purpose the pain in our breaking. Our wounds, like His, can be the currency for a depth of life we would not otherwise have known. We cannot always see how God is redeeming what we’ve lost, but we can always trust that He will.

I think I need to read that every morning just to remind myself that these days, these experiences aren’t going to kill me.

Also: Parents hurt when their kids hurt, even long after the kids stop being kids. Just thought I’d mention that, because we weren’t prepared for this. You’re welcome.

I made President’s Honor List again. Go me.

My coffee is cold.

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