Thursday, July 12, 2012

finding beautiful

My baby's first birthday stands just days away and I've been pausing more recently to stop and look back at the trail that trickles behind us as we get ready to celebrate such a little addition to our home. Really, the trail we've walked along has been a rather foggy one and I'm not sure I have seen some of the landmarks along the way. Walking in fog is hard enough as one can't see if the road is still there or if you've stepped off the path, but running through fog is even scarier, as one is sure to trip and fall down if not once, but maybe many times. As the sweet baby boy came home almost a year ago, I know I didn't even realize that the fog was setting in. Through my "just fallen in love" eyes, I began a light jog down a path. Somewhere along that path the fog was so heavy and the pace I had made me desperate to catch a breath. I ran through stop signs maybe and  forgot to yield when things were coming my way. All the while, I stopped seeing what was around me and could only feel the sweat running down my back as I ran hard to stay on a path I thought was the right one. And maybe it is, but I can't see clearly. And it's hard to make the right turns when you just can't see. As I have ran through the thick dense fog I've lost sight of the beautiful landmarks that line the road...the little yellow flowers or the new blossoms on the trees. The sun rays shining across the blue sky and the drops of rain hanging onto the green leaves. The little things that make our world beautiful. When I pause and see beauty, I find my heart speaks truth to my head and once again I can start to see clearly and pass my vision onto my children.

Today I sit to write this post, a little scared that I might let myself be too honest. I am timely reading through Ann Voskamp's book, A Thousand Gifts, and it really resonates with me when she says "that moving the ink across the page opens up the eyes". John Piper says it too, "that there are eyes in pencils and pens". I get what they are saying, I think, and find beauty as I let the writing of my heart have its way. Healing or an open door to seeing, fog lights for a dreary day..I'm not sure? Maybe a little of both. 

In running through the fog I've found myself in a clearing. Not sure how I landed here, but I am here. A place where I can stop and let the fog pass a bit before I walk again. I am on a journey to find beautiful again. I know it is always around me and the gifts I see daily don't always whisper to my heart though. I see, but I don't see. I don't let my soul slow down enough to really feel the gifts surround me and lead my thoughts toward beautiful, just as God created all these such things. I'm looking for whats right in front of me. I just can't open my eyes all the way. I am hoping my pen will guide my vision. Chin up, I am looking for it. The beautiful.

I am challenged by Ann's list of 1000 gifts. I feel it making a difference in my heart as I sketch out a mental list in my head. So I am going to jump in and see where my own list can lead me. I want to see beautiful along each road my life leads me down. I want to notice the simple gifts that surround me and let my heart be thankful in every way, so I can keep my eyes on the beauty and not let the fog block it out again. I have no time-frame and I'm just looking...and writing them down. In my little flowered note-book, chosen for it's empty pages and potential to change my life. I believe my path can be made beautiful again. I know I can find it. I want to see it on clear sunny days and be able to train my eyes to see it through the foggy too. It's been created for us and I intend to enjoy it to the fullest. Only 3 pages into my little note-book and I can already feel the mind squinting through the fog to see clearer, to pick out the beauty in the distance... only it's not that far away. It's been right by me all along. I'm just only starting to see again...

Thursday, July 5, 2012

just a yard away

Did you know that Americans today spend such little time outside of their homes that most don't even know the names of the people living just across the street from them? It's a sad story if you ask me. Garages are built right into houses and mail boxes on the front door so all you have to do is magically drive in and out of your garage and technically never go out to see who is really outside your 4 walls of a home. That inner door keeps you from walking the extra distance across a lawn or two and facing a real life person or interacting with the average dog walker and jogger coming by. While I love a good back-yard, I also know the value in hanging out in my front yard, parking out of my garage, and letting my neighbors see we are some real folks living life right alongside our fellow neighbors.

When I think about what I've learned about community and what God wants from us to live within community, I quickly think back to our own block of community members. Every so often something unexpected and wonderful comes out of simply choosing to walk across a yard and say hello. As I intentionally gathered my children, cleaned their faces, and baked cookies to deliver to new neighbors a year ago...I took that little walk across the front yards and arrived at their front steps intending to welcome them to the neighborhood and offering a friendly suggestion to stop by sometime.  I went to be the giver, but I have found that my life has been deeply impacted as the receiver in a way of community that I wish every person could experience in their own neighborhood.

My family sat out front one night this week and admired the big moon and ate pizza late at night and laughed and let summer settle in around us. And we did it with our neighbors. Our neighbors who are just a yard away, but in my heart they are comfortably sitting on my family room sofa. Delivering cookies quickly became delivering ourselves in a way that we have been able to open our homes and hearts as we pass the days together. Between sharing tools and recipes and baked treats and dog sitting and kid swapping and meal making and yard games and tears and laughter, we have somehow stolen a little piece of what I think community can really look like. I am beyond blessed to have such kind, genuine, and good neighbors. A place where my children can go and be loved on and played with and cheered on to be who they are. A place where I can walk in and be welcomed with a smile and be encouraged to be who I am. People who I can invite to my dinner table the very last second and know they don't care if I am serving left-over soup from 3 days ago or a 4 course meal. People who offer to help in so many ways, yet don't pass judgment when my house is in shambles, my teeth aren't brushed, and I just yelled at my kids. These folks from just a yard away in so many ways are the best neighbors, but mostly, they've become some of our best friends.

As I step out of my front door I always look just a yard away and feel like I'm just gazing on down home. I am blessed to eat pizza late at night with another family who is willing to step outside and share life with my bunch. It's been just a year since we went on a walk just a yard away. Today my boys run that short distance to greet some of their favorite familiar faces. As I intentionally tried to welcome them to the neighborhood, I have been so blessed as they intentionally welcomed me into their hearts. They say the grass is greener on the other our case, it most certainly is!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Rais'in the Roof

Today is supposed to be another hot summer day, near 100 degrees and heat index of 105. In these hot conditions it makes me want to lay around in my air conditioned home or get my brood to the pool faster then you can say fried egg. What I want to do today and what needs to happen today are two totally different things. For over two weeks now we have been tackling the project that most people run from when they hear what you are doing: re-roofing our house. Not just re-roofing, but redesigning our roof line to make it work with our new double garage. We have had a very narrow single garage our whole life and Dave's dad is a natural born expert in the carpenter service area, so he managed to draw up plans to make this new roof include expanding a garage wall, filling an empty gap between our home and existing garage, and double garage. Genius if you ask me.

I can't even put into words what it feels like to have someone show up at your home day after day and sweat through these nasty heat conditions to put a new roof on our house. He comes, smile in tack, and climbs back up even after he's trudged home soaking wet and weary from the day before. All I've done is make meals, serve water, and keep kids and have questioned a time or all this work worth it? But he keeps coming, keeps serving, and every time I go out there...he keeps smiling. I go back inside and lay a baby down or prepare a snack and am takes a lot of hard work to put a new and better protecting roof on a house. It takes the same sweat, hard work, and smiles to put that kind of shield over a home. Home, the place my children learn and grown and try and fail and find grace and meet Jesus and begin their story. Home, where my I hope others enter and feel welcomed and loved and encouraged and cared for. Home, where I hope my family looks forward to coming back to at the end of their day and finds safety in a place where they can be just who they were designed to be.

Building a stable roof over our home is similar to the hard surface roof going up as I speak. I look back at how we've done our life with these kids and with each other and we've chosen the harder route for sure at times. We've sweat a lot and cried and worked hard, really hard, to make what we're building stand firm in something bigger then us. And we've questioned along the all this worth it? We've had to redesign our lives many times to make it work better for our family and what we're trying to accomplish here with these little souls under our roof. As good men have just showed up to work side by side my smiling and sweaty father-in-law, I am reminded that with our home building we have so many that show up for the hard work in here too. This roof can't go up on it's own or with one man. Our home can't be built by our hands alone. We have very intentional people stepping in and sweating hard with us to make all this come together... both house roof and home roof.

Shingles are getting scraped off and new ones being placed over top. As I watched some of our best friends scrape and scrape ugly, worn, not working anymore shingles I felt like I was understanding a bit more why my Savior lets me sweat through hard times in life. He is getting ready to re-shingle, to place new ones, better ones over me. Shingles not doing their job, must go, and sometimes a complete new design must be built. All of this takes time and requires work, hard work. I find I question myself when it feels the dirtiest and on the hottest of days, but know the roof will stand in beauty one day soon as each hand has laid it's shingle right where it goes. It's a slow process that takes careful design, but the Designer I am letting lead me is a bit of a Genius of His own. I just need to keep showing up with a smile on my face, even when the day before was brutally hot and sweaty, and trust that all this hard work now is definitely worth it. I am slowly learning to let more in to help me raise our roof and humbled at the hands and feet that voluntarily show up to complete such a task.

Today is another hot day...but guess who showed up with a smile already? Yup. Guess I can too today as I help re-roof a bit of my own...