fresh ink and a new flight

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Maybe I’m having a bit of a Jo March moment this morning.

Blogging has been on my back burner for awhile, and clicking this blank page open feels both therapeutic and daunting. For once, I am the only one awake in the house, mentally percolating. It’s too early for coffee (5:30am), and my eyes are barely open, but I must write to process. Why not share it with you, too? So good morning, and I hope by the time you read this I’ve awoken enough to edit it into making sense, and we’ve both had our coffee. :)

Over the last three years, there have been distinct moments of placing that final period in one chapter in my life, and writing a crisp new chapter number on the next page the next morning. This is one of those mornings. The story continues, but it has a different look, a different feel, a new setting, an unknown element about it that makes me both hopeful and uncomfortable. But like all first sentences, this new morning sets the tone for this next chapter, and I’m happy this one begins with me back in my element, here, writing, with you.

I met Jona in August of 2012 on a plane to Portland, Oregon. It was my 30th birthday gift from my husband, a quick weekend getaway–our first in forever, leaving both of our baby girls with the grandparents for the first time. I remember spotting the band Everclear in the airport before boarding–hello, 1998–and whispering to R about it, but being too chicken to say anything as I passed them walking down the aisle. I wished I had been wearing big black boots and had an old suitcase–but you know. You can’t prepare for these things.

Raul and I found our seats, one row apart. I was on the aisle, next to a woman about my age with a young daughter and small baby boy. I smiled because my baby girl, Natalie, was around the same age. Instinctually I said, “Please let me know if you need anything, any help with your little guy…” Once a mother, always a mother, right? I’m pretty sure I motioned to Raul to look at how cute this little baby was, too.

I cracked open my book, eager to finish it, and settled into the flight. I read and sipped my tomato juice until the woman asked if I could keep an eye on her daughter while she went to change her baby. The girl, about 7 or 8, began talking to me instantly, showing me pictures of her baby brother on her phone, telling me about all the cute things he did. I watched a few shaky videos she had taken of him and wondered what my girls would be like at this age.

Looking back, even these moments felt familiar, despite being complete strangers. The woman returned, and we exchanged niceties and relatable mommy stories. Out of the blue, she mentioned she was a part of a Bible study. I will always be thankful for this quick, but so pertinent, statement. The floodgates opened then, and as soon as I said, “me too!” our non-stop flight was more like non-stop talking. I asked her if she was connected to any mom groups, and invited her to MOPS. She wrote down her contact info, which I still have tacked to my bulletin board. “From the plane” is jotted beneath her name and number.

When I left a message for her the next week, I had no idea what would blossom from a simple invitation.

So often, you put yourself out there, and nothing comes of it. And I’m finally digesting that that’s okay. Your authenticity will draw the right person, or people, to you, and if and when something flourishes, it’s gold, Jerry. The last three years have been precious to me for many reasons, but today, I thank God for my friend, and the gift of a sweet friendship that is lifelong.

Jona from the plane boards another plane today, to live in a new city, across the ocean, far away from here. My youngest daughter said to me yesterday, “She’s family, mommy, it’s okay. We’ll see her again.” Lordwilling and you bet, baby girl. Beth Moore has said that saying goodbye is a necessary life skill, and I freely admit that my version is more like a puddle than any sort of skill at all, but it is what it is. I’m kind of okay with being messy in this way though because when you miss your people, you just do, and tears are part of that.

Seasons change….settings change…but the hope the Lord scatters in our lives in so many ways, doesn’t, and never will. Today as I watch the sun rise up through the trees, I’m reminded of his goodness and that He is purposeful and generous, and all I can say is thank you, thank you, thank you. I don’t deserve it, but I fully accept it with a grateful heart and open hands. God speed and love you, friend!

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Finding Joy: A HodgePodge

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It’s funny how sometimes you feel like you’re going through the motions, moving through a funk, and then the next week, things change. I know for me, things don’t just change naturally; it is by the grace of God that things take a different, healthier direction, and I am so grateful for this!

It seems natural to go through times of feeling like you’re holding down the fort by threads while supporting your household… This is something I’ve been working through while staying home with my girls.  I’m happy to say working through it I am–and after many thoughtful talks with my husband, prayers together, time with iron-sharpening friends (you know who you are!), and time with the Lord, I am rediscovering the joys meant for me in this precious season of life.  What a relief! More on this another time; today, it’s all about the little things restoring my joy around my home. :)

First up: garden progress! We’ve been eating spinach, and just pulled a few radishes this evening. They were pretty good, not too spicy–to my surprise, Liv liked them. I think she loved their color more than their taste! Natalie will have to try them tomorrow as she conveniently fell asleep at 6:30 tonight…

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Purple petunias for Mother’s Day from my Mother-in-Law… love. This basket reminds me of the ones in Crested Butte–if you’ve never been there, you must go!

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And I received some lovely flowers from my pops today! What a surprise. These were my mom’s favorite rose colors–it’s been nice to see them open on the kitchen table and think of her today.

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Olivia & Natalie, whom I delight in more than I thought possible–right? How do kids do it? Magical, I tell you…

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I have spent some time this week combing through my Bible…. my favorite thinline Bible, mahogany brown with scrolly monochromatic etches on the cover, full of hope and encouragement.  And underlines.  Sometimes I know what I want to read–it’s a good feeling to grab it with a passage in mind–but this week, it’s been more of a meandering.  I love underlining scripture and jotting down notes or references beside verses… and thought it’d be worthwhile to notice what I tend to underline, see if there are any themes to my ‘notes to self’.

I’ve mostly stayed in Psalms this week, and found that I’ve highlighted a lot of verses about joy, delight, rejoicing, waiting on the Lord, and his attributes (rock, refuge, foundation, hope, strength, etc.). And the benefit of loving pens so much is that I recognize what ink comes from where, and sometimes when–so it’s been a neat way to meditate on God’s Word and what it’s meant to me over the years, and why.  So I’m treasuring that this week.  Kind of an impromptu study of sorts. :)

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Sparkly toes, ready for summer. I met my dear (and fellow preggo!) friend Leanne for lunch and pedicures a couple of weekends ago, and let the technician choose my color. My first thought was “disco ball”…Raul described it as an Eastern European Faberge Egg. Would be a good name for a polish! I like glitter, but these are a little outta control. And I’m almost getting too round to do anything about it at this point…

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Round, that is, with quite a surprise:

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It’s a boy…! We are thrilled! (And I am realizing I have much to learn…I can’t wait.) Where are you finding joy around you this week? Here’s to grateful hearts that look for the goodness of the Lord in our lives!

My dear, dear daughter

I am amazed at how my babies bring out my memories. Things I haven’t thought about in years pop to the surface all the time.

The last week or so, Natalie (who’s 2) has been saying “my mommy” for everything.

“Can I eat this, my mommy?”

“Have toys now, my mommy?”

“Me hug, my mommy?”

I, of course, am eating this up. I love feeling owned by this sweet little girl. But it was also one of those memory awakenings. After a couple days of this, I distinctly remembered my mom writing in my baby journal about how I would say this to her (although I said “me mommy,” ha). Once I realized this, the wall I’ve subconsciously been building the last few months cracked. Joy and heartache poured out. I remembered February 7 was coming up, the day my mom passed, and felt a bit of dread.

I know the Lord is rebuilding me into the person He wants me to be, and it can be so hard at times to be patient with this process, but I trust Him and know it will take time. All of the grief, all of the tears–these are chiseling my heart, and they’re not for nothing. Each year I hope to see the changes in my life, and be encouraged by them.

Sometimes when I cry, I feel bad about it because if she could see me now, she’d be upset and crying with me, and I don’t like to think of upsetting her. Does this make any sense? She’d always cry with me.  Which, I guess, is one of the things I miss the most, too…It’s in these times, that are just such deep chasms of hurt, that I have to turn to the Lord for comfort and assurance. He is mending me, bit by bit.

Sometimes, my girls not only awaken memories for me, but they unknowingly encourage me, too. These are my favorites. Today, Olivia was singing, “My God is so big! So strong and so mighty there’s nothing my God cannot do.. for YOU!” She pointed to me while stuffing PB&J in her mouth, and I had to take her words to heart.  She kept singing it, over and over, and when I normally may say, “Okay sister, that’s enough,” I let her go because it spoke peace into my heart, and she was so cute on repeat. I needed to hear that today. From the mouth of babes…

So, healing is happening, even if I feel frustrated by not feeling far enough… I’m getting there. I’m going to spend some time today in quiet, in thought, in prayer, and I’m sure in tears. But that’s okay. Wearing her cursive “E” brooch on my coat is healing.  All of the songs I sing to the girls at nighttime are songs she sang to me, so every night, there’s that bit of connection and generational sharing. Seeing her handwriting makes her feel incredibly close.

Seven years ago, soon after my mom was first diagnosed, she wrote letters to each family member to be read after she passed. In mine, she wrote kind words of comfort, which echo in my head often. Don’t we all need words of comfort to remember down the line?

“Seeing Jesus will be a wonderful delight,” she wrote. “Please live a blessed life with Raul and your children. I love you, dear, dear daughter.”

I love you too, my dear, dear mom.

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