Writing Challenge Day 30: One Thing You Look Forward To

I eagerly look forward to days of smooth sailing and routine.

I long for days where I’m not on the front lines of a loved one’s secret alcohol addiction. My soul is already weary from my world turned upside down this spring, and my anger is ebbing into complacent apathy; fighting back only makes things worse. I keep soldiering on, but my pace has slowed and I long for rest that never seems to arrive.

I want to enjoy life by having friends over with tea, using hospitality to do the Lord’s work. This includes crochet projects for the homeless and giving of time, talents, and money to those around me in need.

With this enjoyment, I truly want to experience joy – something my Generlized Anxiety Disorder deprives me of – I obsessively worry about everything – especially the patients I see. I’ve gone days with my stomach in knots, eating only enough to survive, worried sick that I may have hurt someone.

I want to lead a joyfully quiet life, focused on the Lord.

And I look forward to the day it becomes a reality in my little world.

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The Dovecote

It was popular in the nineteenth century to name your house, no matter if it were a cottage or an estate. I have embraced this tradition with my homes.

Our old house was aptly named The Burning Pinecone, after the fabulous firepit my husband built (many a nights were spent drinking and roasting marshmallows with friends) and the giant pinecones that fell from the towering long leaf pines. Most of our fires were fueled by the massive amount of pinecones on the half acre of land we owned. The new house is nothing like our old house. It is much smaller and less grand: it is the epitome of average. It faces the south, so less sunlight comes through our windows, but it keeps it cooler in the summer. Our yard is so tiny, in fact, the listing had the lot in square feet instead of acres. Because of all the other expenses, a firepit has not been built yet, but we have picked out its site. There will be more nights of roasting marshmallows soon.

Our new home needed a name. I didn’t want another firepit inspired moniker and so I considered what other people have named their houses for inspiration. From one of my favorite books, Little Women by Louisa May Alcott, John and Meg Brooke’s house was named The Dovecote. Having no idea what a dovecote was, I looked up the meaning of it on Google and promptly went into silent laugh mode:

dovecotehaha

I thought this was a perfect description of our new property, especially after my husband and I failed to get the loveseat through the door (he and his co-worker managed to shove it through the other door with a millimeter of clearance, but not without damaging the walls in the process).

I then read the description of The Dovecote Alcott gave in the book:

And speaking of sentiment brings us very naturally to the ‘Dovecote’.

That was the name of the little brown house Mr. Brooke had prepared for Meg’s first home. Laurie had christened it, saying it was highly appropriate to the gentle lovers who ‘went on together like a pair of turtledoves, with first a bill and then a coo’. It was a tiny house, with a little garden behind and a lawn about as big as a pocket handkerchief in the front. Here Meg meant to have a fountain, shrubbery, and a profusion of lovely flowers, though just at present the fountain was represented by a weather–beaten urn, very like a dilapidated slopbowl, the shrubbery consisted of several young larches, undecided whether to live or die, and the profusion of flowers was merely hinted by regiments of sticks to show where seeds were planted. But inside, it was altogether charming, and the happy bride saw no fault from garret to cellar. To be sure, the hall was so narrow it was fortunate that they had no piano, for one never could have been got in whole, the dining room was so small that six people were a tight fit, and the kitchen stairs seemed built for the express purpose of precipitating both servants and china pell–mell into the coalbin. But once get used to these slight blemishes and nothing could be more complete, for good sense and good taste had presided over the furnishing, and the result was highly satisfactory. There were no marble–topped tables, long mirrors, or lace curtains in the little parlor, but simple furniture, plenty of books, a fine picture or two, a stand of flowers in the bay window, and, scattered all about, the pretty gifts which came from friendly hands and were the fairer for the loving messages they brought.

My hear swelled. As a writer, this was perfect! My new home reflected all the nuances of the Brooke’s home, save for the coalbin. It’s coziness (read: small quarters) and less than stellar landscaping (read: years of outright neglect) will be knit into the fabric of my life. Our front yard, which is about the size of a handkerchief, will hopefully be blooming with flowers and evergreen foundation plants this time next year. We have a wonky staircase as well, I’m sure I’ll go down it pell mell at some point.

And so, my new home is affectionately known as The Dovecote. I’m looking forward to entertaining friends and strangers over tea. When our house was blessed, the pastor likened it to the moon, reflecting the light of the Son. I hope everyone who comes through the doors of The Dovecote senses the love of the Lord in this space.

I also plan to frame this passage and display it in my new home.

Pennies

One of the ways the Lord reminds me of His presence is to give me pennies. I was frightened at how much money was going to be lost on the first house we sold many years ago; in front of a cheaper competition house, I found a penny: in God we trust. Our house sold soon thereafter, and while we did lose money, it all worked out in the end.

I find them just about everywhere, and recently it seemed as though I was in a drought. It had been quite some time since the Lord gave me a penny.

And then, we bought this house.

Once the deed was recorded, my husband and I arrived at our new home that same afternoon. We found 2 pennies before we even walked through the front door. One was my birthyear, the other was a year that was one of the worst of my life. The first few times we went to the house, we’d find another penny. My husband found one on the driveway – my birthyear again – as he went back to the car to get things. He swore it wasn’t there before.

We found one in the dirt in the backyard. More on the porch. I’ve lost track of how many we found and where. Just when I thought we’d found them all, as I was painting the moulding in the kitchen a second time, I found one jammed underneath the moulding. I had to wedge it out with a screwdriver. I’m pretty sure I would have seen it the first time I painted. It was the year I gave my life to Christ – I thought my heart was going to burst.

Despite the fact that I was not 100 percent on the purchase of this property and my anxiety peaking about it at every step, I am so encouraged that this is and will continue to be a blessing from the Lord. How will the Lord use this house to further His kingdom and bless those around us? I don’t know yet. I do know I need to be more hospitable than in the past. My pastor wife friend and I have already decided to do tea party nights at each other’s new houses. Hopefully we can use this house to host others and be that beacon of His Glory for everyone who enters these doors.

As it says on the penny, in God we trust.

The Other Stuff

As I’m KonMari-ing my house (organizing all the things), I feel pretty good about it.  I’m now down to a box and a steamer trunk to catalog.  It feels great.

But then I woke up this morning with a sense of dread in my stomach.  Did I throw out too much?  I couldn’t think of anything that I trashed that was of great value to me.  Perhaps this is part of the purging effect: There’s a decent size hole in my stomach.  Now that everything in my house is in running order, perhaps I’m next.  I don’t think my brain has caught up to my KonMari-ed possessions.

I went to church this morning, and on top of the empty feeling inside I’m having a horrible
“Awkward Introvert Day” – which happens occasionally to me.  There was a scripture spoken today that hit me right between the eyes:

So therefore, none of you can become my disciple if you do not give up all your possessions.  (Luke 14:33)

Whoa.  Today’s sermon spoke of the preceding verses of taking stock of your life before before following Christ because it is such an investment, a promise you don’t want to go back on.  The Lord charges us to be good stewards of what we have as well.  The tidying marathon has spiritual implications I hadn’t considered.

I should also add that there are some other things in play right now: I applied for a job, a career change to be more specific, and it’s been a month since my interview with crickets for an answer.  HR assures me the position is still open and has not been filled, as they’re still deliberating (there were many applicants), but I am growing restless for an answer.

On top of that, I decided last spring I wanted to pursue a technical writing certificate.  This was in part to a career change, but even with the possibility of a new career on the horizon, I’ve decided to still pursue it.  It’s an online course through a well known university system, I can swing the tuition, and I could use a challenge in direction with writing – not to mention, it’s a great resume builder, regardless of what career I choose.

I also was asked to be on a leadership committee at church, which I accepted, and now have some behind the scenes planning to do.

And then I decided to KonMari my house!

Perhaps what I’m feeling is just a sense of upheaval.  While I embrace change (I do love adventure!), sometimes too much at once can cause this INFJ to spiral.  I love my quiet time, and this season of life, I believe that will be in short supply.

Despite all the befuddlement, this is where I need to be.  The past few years I’ve been drifting with the wind and currents: now I can feel my sails unfurling.

Here’s to discovering new lands.

 

Four Nine

The date echoed in my head.  9 April.  It was like recalling a dream from months ago: I knew it had significance, but I did not know why.

And then I remembered. It was his birthday.

He was my first real boyfriend, my college sweetheart.  We dated for a solid year and half before things began to warp like an old record.  We started out starry-eyed and in love; he was the ying to my yang as we shared so many adventures together.  After that first beautiful year and a half, we had several intermissions and reboots of our relationship, all of them foiled – mostly because there was always another girl or he was too selfish to care.  The emotional abuse he inflected on me should not have been tolerated.  We were not compatible, no matter how much my heart told me we were.

It’s been over a decade since  we ended it all.  A year after our last attempt at being a couple, we met in a dusty midwestern bar at my request – the kind only washed up locals go to – and aired all our grievances, caught up on each other’s lives, and reminisced about those good old days.  Not only was it cathartic, but I also got to spend a few hours with the same guy I had fallen head over heels for so many years ago.  I knew that persona was temporary, however.  We ended on a good note as we hugged in the parking lot long after last call was announced.   While it felt good in the moment and as now looking back, the days and weeks that followed that meeting left my scarred heart bleeding and infected.  The ebb and flow of time have softened that scar.  I told him never to contact me again before we parted.  Here I am, nearly 15 years later and he still has kept that promise and I am grateful for that.

I found myself thinking about him randomly, on his 34th birthday.  I know so little about his life now, but I choose to keep it that way.  It meant taking people off of my social media feeds that were still strongly connected to him, despite the fact he lives over 1,000 miles away.  This cold hearted sniveling super rat (as Holly Golightly would say) is a husband and father now.  His wife is a nurse, blonde, and has one of those smiles that lights up a room; I saw a picture of her once.  I don’t know what he does for work, but I’m going to assume it is in the same vein of his college major.  Despite the healing and the time that has passed, I have no desire to reconnect with him or view his online profiles or to know details about his life.

With all these thoughts swirling in my head, I found myself praying for him.  Last I knew, he was not a Christian.  His priority had always been himself.  Maybe it’s different now with a family; maybe it’s not.  I lifted him up in prayer in honor of his birthday, that the Light of Christ may shine into his life.  That he may turn to God in those moments of both triumph and disaster and for a truly spiritual Christian to reflect the love of the Father to him and his family.

Perhaps we’ll meet again in Heaven, both of us washed clean in robes of white.  That would phenomenal .

So here’s to him on his birthday: may this 34th trip around the sun be beautiful and covered in the glory of the Lord.

 

 

Writing Challenge Day 14: Your life in 7 years

It will be 2023.

I’ll turn 42 that year – the answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe, and everything – according to The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

I have no freaking clue of where I’ll be emotionally/physically/spiritually/metaphysically this summer, let alone 7 years from now.

Sure, I have hopes and dreams, but those should  (in the human sense) have taken place at 32, not 42.  My husband will be in his fifties.  I know the Lord disregards age, but I do not even have a hint of what is to come in that time.  If anything.

There’s a chance of us moving – or putting our current house on the market at least – but nothing has been decided.  I love my little corner of the world here by the ocean, but I don’t know if that move involves a smaller house in our beach community or another cross country move, or if I’m repeating the past, a move further south.  As of the moment, there is no for sale sign and no plans.

So many variables, so little time.

I used to have a plan, but I don’t live like that anymore.  So much of it is up to the Lord, His guidance, and what will ultimately become of my job.  Rumor has it we’re merging with another company.  I’m not sure how I feel about all that.  But even so, the details haven’t been worked out yet.

I think that’s the problem with growing older when you don’t kids; the world is your oyster and you’re not planning life around little people who need you for everything.  I watch my peers from the past – all of them have kids – and they are in such different places than I.  In many ways, they are older and more adult than I am.  I’m just an overgrown college student without classes compared to them.

So here’s to tomorrow, this summer, this fall, this coming winter – what events will shape me in the year of 2016?  That is the bigger question.

Christmas Eve: A Silent Night

The clock struck 12 and I was still frosting cookies this Christmas Eve.  I made a huge amount of cookies for the Christmas banquet at one of the homeless shelters here in town.  My only regret is that I ran out of the good made-from-scratch frosting and ended up using some old store bought frosting I had in the pantry.  It didn’t taste nearly as good as what I made from scratch.

My husband was asleep upstairs, so I had myself a silent night, which is unusual for me when I’m in the kitchen.  The first few verses of the song silent night were running through my head, left over from the service at church tonight.  In reality, the gentle hum of the refrigerator and the purr of the fish tank pump were the melody in this silent symphony playing.

John Acuff once tweeted that we get to an age where we stop asking “What’s next?” and start asking “What is now?”  I’m there.  I’ve been there for awhile, despite still clinging onto the next thing.

I was hoping the next thing would be the exact opposite of silent.  And yet, here I am, on Christmas Eve, with a house so silent, that it would sound the same if no one was home.

And so far, the silence continues.  Perhaps for the rest of my born days.  Perhaps this is just an interlude before the volume is turned way up.  I can only guess; the Lord is taking care of that part.  And while I have no idea what is in His will for me, I continue to trust, though blindly stumbling into the future.

And rather quickly, I might add.