"If the God you believe in as an idea doesn’t start showing up in what happens to you in your own life, you have as much cause for concern as if the God you don’t believe in as an idea does start showing up. It is absolutely crucial, therefore, to keep in constant touch with what is going on in your own life’s story and to pay close attention to what is going on in the stories of others’ lives. If God is present anywhere, it is in those stories that God is present. If God is not present in those stories, then they are scarcely worth telling." ~ Frederick Buechner

28 January 2015

Soul Feeding

I was recently introduced to some of the best writing I've read in a long time through one of my favorite bloggers. Julia lost her husband several years ago in a freak accidental drowning while he was on tour in Switzerland. My heart just ached reading her beautifully crafted phrases on this particular post. I wiped the steadily flowing tears off my cheeks, from my chin. The thing is, I love flowers, too. But I have always felt that there isn't enough money to splurge on such a luxury. Not when there are bills to pay, tuitions to save for, and unstable/see through backyard fences to be replaced.
In fact, I'm embarrassed to admit that one of the most epic fights my husband and I ever had in our first year of marriage was about flowers. 

(He staunchly brought home potted plants instead, which was more than this ungrateful wife deserved.)

I have never considered the soul-nourishing potential of fresh flowers.

I had a particularly challenging day yesterday.

It was Tuesday.

Tuesdays are difficult for me with a regularity that can't possibly be coincidental, and I'm convinced it is because N and I go to ReEngage on Tuesday nights. I believe there is a heightened degree of spiritual attack on our family on Tuesdays, and yesterday was no exception.
There were a couple rays of sunshine in my day. I had the gift of a long conversation with a college roommate, one of my sweetest and dearest of friends, as I sat in the sunshine outside.

(Which I honestly felt a little guilty about, because she lives in the tippy-top part of Maine, and they're expecting a nor'easter and it seemed a little selfish to be soaking up sunshine in my bare feet while she and her family were cooped up and anticipating a blizzard.)
And then a friend sent a quick text message to tell me she was praying for me.

So bolstering up my soul with the reminder of these two sweet friends, once our sitter arrived, we scooted off to ReEngage, albeit without having dinner, which is never good. By the time we were on our way home, my stomach was grumbly and my heart was cranky.

I expressed to my husband about how, when I was in grad school with lofty dreams of becoming an incredible teacher touching the lives of all my students, I had told myself that I would never allow any of them to "fly under the radar." Because it makes me so sad to think of kids just going through years of school unnoticed because they were neither academically exemplary nor desperately needing intervention. I told him that's how I felt now, that I was under everyone's radar in all the "communities" I am a part of, because I am neither exemplary nor am I in crisis. 

I'm just there.

And N gently said, "Maybe this is just a season of humility. Maybe God is teaching you how most of the world lives. Maybe you only notice it because you HAVE been successful for most of your life and been applauded for it." 

I know that my sense of worth ultimately needs to come from God, but as a person whose primary love language is Words of Affirmation, it is incredibly hurtful when I observe a pattern of regular encouragement and outreach happening ... and I am passed over.

Then we came home to a loaded dishwasher that had been started up for us.

I know it may seem pretty minor, but just the fact that a chore we have to do every day (usually when we're desperately ready for bed with at least five other things we still need to get done) had been graciously done for us meant so much to me. We thanked our sitter as she left. I closed the front door and turned around to realize that the giant pile of laundry that had embarrassingly covered every inch of our large couch (that I hadn't had time to hide away in our bedroom) was gone. In its place was a laundry hamper full of A's neatly folded clothes, and the rest of it had been put away.

You guys.

I can't even begin to describe what that meant to me except to say ... yes ... I cried.

You know how sometimes, you just need to know you plain ol' MATTER to SOMEbody? That someone notices and cares enough to reach out with some help? 

I know full well that God put it on our beautiful sitter's heart to give me the gift of clean dishes and folded laundry, because I know He sees me. And He knew I needed reassurance yesterday that I mattered, but more than that, I needed the reminder that what I most need is Him.

Because this morning, despite a late night, I was able to wake up extra-early without any grumps to do my Bible reading. And in my recently acquired copy of Jesus Calling (free from our church library), I read this: 

To say that today has been a much better day would be a massive understatement. 

And you know how, when you start counting your gifts, practicing eucharisteo, that you remember the other gifts, the ones you missed because circumstances clouded your ability to see? 

Like the warmth of a sleeping child and baby kisses so enthusiastically and wetly given without restraint. Like tippy-toe dancing to music from your childhood and a pile of thank you cards in the mailbox, because thank you cards mean that someone has blessed you. And your baby looking out the front door much like your firstborn used to look out the front door and you have flashbacks of when, JUST YESTERDAY, he was that little. 

And you sit in the sunshine, listening to the wooden wind chimes singing in the breeze, and remember that this counting blessings is also soul feeding.

Just like fresh flowers.


  1. Thank you for the complement. You have beautiful kids. Hope, Julia

    1. Julia! Thank you for visiting and leaving me such a sweet note.

      And for inspiring me!