Wrinkled hands and long-winded stories

I went to Starbucks today to get some work done. Headphones in, head down, writing, writing, writing.

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw him. Hunched and shuffling his way through the shop with a brightly decorated walking stick that he bumped against things as he walked. Wrinkled hands, wispy hair, teeth yellowed with time. He sat down at the table next to me, sipping his coffee and staring off into space.

I took off my headphones and smiled at him. He started talking so quietly I had no choice but to move to his table to hear him. And there I sat for the next 30 minutes listening to him tell story after story–of the love of his life, of his faraway travels, of his love for all things NC State. Of a life well-lived.

At the end of his stories, he smiled and said, “Thank you for talking to me. Sometimes I get so lonely, I come in here looking for someone to talk to. Thanks for taking time to listen to my long stories.”

In this season of giving, it’s easy to get caught up in the gifts we have to buy and wrap and send. But sometimes the best gifts are the moments where we give ourselves–where we pause in the midst of our busy lives and give love to a stranger, offer a listening ear to a lonely soul, spread light by being present.

I’m bad at this because I’m a busy person, but I’m praying for the presence of mind to stop. To see the lonely. To see the hurting. And to give them the gift of my time.

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Perfect summer day

The boys slept til 6!! A modern day miracle. We were so excited, we had to get a jump on the day.

We went to the farmers market restaurant and ate outside on a surprisingly non-humid morning. We followed up breakfast with some vegetable perusing and parking-lot nursing (just to keep things classy). After we got home, Lucas and I went on a pool date where we enjoyed perfect swimming weather and sunshine, made some new friends and laughed outrageously.

Lunch was a perfect tomato sandwich followed by a solo trip to trader joes. When I got home, we set up the water table for Lucas and he invited me to sit with my feet in the water while we chatted. We went for a walk and he walked up to Alex and Zachary’s house to knock on their door and ask them to play. Be still my heart. A dinner of appetizers and dessert followed by an early bedtime.

These are the perfect days of summer. The meandering, soul-nourishing, slow-paced days that restore my soul.

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Durham day

We spent the morning in Durham at the Life and Science Museum. We thought Eli would konk out, but he stayed awake for all the fun.

I’m excited as they grow to think about all the fun family time we are going to have, the adventures, the silliness, the laughter.

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Conversations with Lucas

While driving to work the other day, Lucas starting asking me what all the different animals say.

When he got to ladybug, I just bluffed and, without missing a beat, told him that ladybugs eat grass, probably.

“Grass?! Grass?!” He laughed. “They don’t eat grass, mommy. They live in the grass. They eat aphids.”

Because of course.
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As we were driving home from work the other day, I asked Lu what he’d learned at school that day.

“I learned about Esther.”

“Oh, was Esther a queen?”

“No, she was not. She was beautiful.”

“And what did Esther do? Did she save her people?”

“No, she did not. She kicked the ladybug with her knee and made it cry.”

Theology fail.

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This kid makes me laugh. He’s smart and funny and can be sweet when he wants to be. I love our little conversations and getting to hear what he’s thinking.

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964

Last week was a little crazy at work. On Thursday, I was running around town trying to find 5,000 nametags. Friday morning our staff was frantically adding said nametags to inserts and stuffing bulletins. Posters were delivered and lost. It was just sort of a mess.

But today we got the final numbers for Connect Weekend: 964.

964 people signed up to try a small group at Hope. That’s crazy–more than 10% of the people who attend on a weekend signed up to try a small group and grow in their relationship with Jesus. These are the moments, and the numbers, that make this move to Hope an exciting one.

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Control

I’ve come to realize in my old age that I’m a bit of a control freak. I’m not very organized and don’t have very good follow-through, but I want to be in control–of my schedule, of your schedule, of all projects I’m involved in, of life in general.

Today my schedule was out of my control. Eli slept through the night, so I woke late. Josh’s dead car forced me to drive across town, with kids in tow, at 6 am. A stomach bug hit after I made the effort to get to work with both boys. I had to take important work meetings over the phone and over the protest of a two-year-old and two-month-old. Josh got home super late so I was on my own for bedtime.

But everything was just fine.

Days like today remind me that I’m not in control of anything and that life can be fun and exciting and work out just fine when you open your hand and refuse to get bent out of shape about the little things.

 

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Further

I went for my first run in about 9 months today and it felt so good. I went further than I ever thought I could thanks to Gretchen and her encouraging words. We ran almost 5 miles. So proud of us!

Here’s to getting back in shape, to toning up these soft curves, to pushing past the point of pain and to getting results, one painful step at a time.

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On Marriage

This week has been a hard marriage week. One where I’ve said things I regret and couldn’t unsay. One where I’ve been selfish and mean and not loving. One where I’ve put my needs above Josh’s and not felt bad about it.

It hasn’t been pretty.

So, today Donnie asked for a meeting about the marriage page on our site. He only had a few changes but we got talking about what the classes were about.

He said, “It’s so simple, I almost feel embarrassed to even be teaching this class. Basically, the whole point of the class is: Love your neighbor (or your spouse) as yourself. So, everyday, wake up and try to outlove your spouse. Make it a competition of who can show the other one more love. Try to prove that you love them more, that they are more important than you, that their needs are above yours. So easy, but so easy to forget.”

I love that in an unassuming meeting about a website, I got a gentle reminder of how to love my spouse selflessly. A sweet conviction of how to love wholly and be wholly loved.

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Pope Francis

I may or may not have a crush on a 77-year-old man. Obsessed, really. One year into his papacy,  and I’m his biggest fan. Grateful for a church leader who’s living Jesus, who’s showing redemption to a broken, dirty world.   This article says it best:

The most remarkable thing about the Pope is that what he is doing should not be remarkable.  He is simply doing what Popes and Christians should do – care for the poor, critique inequity, interrupt injustice, surprise the world with grace, include the excluded and challenge the entitled.

Pope Francis is leaving off the fragrance of Jesus.  He is fascinating the world with Christ. Maybe his witness will invite more folks to give Jesus a chance despite the embarrassing things we Christians have done in his name.

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On holiness

Today, Chase preached about how to apply the lessons we’ve learned in James to our daily lives. He talked about the fact that we can’t actually live out the truths in this tough book on our own. We must apply the Gospel to our hearts and lives to actually see real life change.

The whole point of trials in our lives, the reason for dry spells and hard times is to refine us, to make us more holy, to make us more like Jesus.

This screaming child is making me a more patient person.

This potty training child is forcing me to be disciplined.

This tough job is teaching me to tame my tongue.

This season of loneliness is showing me how to run to Jesus as my best friend.

This discontent heart is pointing to the idols in my life.

They’re pointing me to Jesus, they’re chiseling holiness into my hard heart, they’re reminding me of my need for a Savior and for deeper grace than I deserve. Considering it all joy . . .

 

 

 

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