Sunday, January 25, 2015

The Next Room




Days like these, I wish I had been smart enough when my kids were smaller to buy one of those oversized rulers above that crafty people make out of reclaimed wood.

I wish I would have plunked down the money and ordered one or made one and recorded the progress of my sweet babies growing.

I wish I could have brought that thing with me and found a home for it in our new old farmhouse.

At the very least, I wish I would have thought to snap a photo of the small piece of wall that served as a measuring post in our former house.

Mostly I wish that time would freeze and let me catch my breath for a second.

This growing up stuff is wrecking havoc on the emotional well-being of this momma.

Tonight I watched my eldest daughter transform from a child to a full-fledged babysitter.

It was bound to happen someday.

I just can't believe someday is...now.

It happened as nonchalantly as the tule fog has been rolling in lately to surround our farmhouse.

I was chatting with a friend about an event coming up and she mentioned she had been thinking about asking my daughter to babysit. Coincidentally, my daughter had been asking me if she could start babysitting. My friend and I both started babysitting at her age, so it was a valid request. While I was processing through that, I started to reminisce with my friend about my inglorious first solo babysitting gig,

It was a disaster.

For the first time, I had to make food on my own for someone else. Box mac n' cheese. I ended up ruining the first batch because I put the powder in with the boiling noodles. And then the kids went psycho crazy. It's like they could sense my nervousness. I ended up calling my mom crying because the kids weren't listening to me and frankly, I was scared.

She came over and laid down some magic mom law and those kids shaped up and went to bed without a fuss.

Eventually, I figured it out. Things got easier.

But as I talked about that episode with my friend, I had a brilliant idea. What if we babysat together? What if we showed up together, got all the info, worked together to make dinner (and yes, we made Mac n' Cheese and yes I made sure she knew how to wait on the cheese powder), and then what if I left for an hour or so and let her do it on her own. I would be close by with my phone if she needed me, but far enough away for her to have some independence and gain some confidence?

So, that's what we did.

I left Hayden with the toddler happily finishing his dinner and her setting out art supplies to work on with his five-year-old sister. I gave her some pointers on when to start bath time and what should happen while I was gone.

And then I left.

And I drove to Starbucks, ordered a drink and read some stuff I had been meaning to read. I didn't worry. I didn't look at the time (too much). I just enjoyed some peace and quiet.

After about 45 minutes, I finished my drink, gathered my stuff and headed back.

My daughter was just finishing up bath time with the five-year-old and making silly faces at the toddler who was wearing a bowl on his head and playing peekaboo. Everything was calm. Everything was fine.

I jumped in to help transition one child out of the bath and another one into it. I resisted the urge to take over and tell her what to do (mostly). I watched her help get the five-year-old dressed in her pajamas, comb out her hair, help her brush her teeth, help feed her fish, help console her when they realized that one had died (so sad), and then get into bed.

I marveled at how she was able to take the toddler who has struggled with going to sleep, and get him down on her first try.

As we tidied up the house together (one of my tried and trues of being an awesome babysitter -- leaving the house cleaner than when you arrived), I watched her taking mental notes of things and even literally watched her do dishes as I sat on the couch and read (I could get used to this).

And I was proud. So momma proud of my little (big) girl.

However, there was a part (a tiny but loud part) of me that was sad. Because time is moving faster than I ever could have imagined when I held her in my arms over twelve years ago.

My girl who "had so much fun playing with the kids tonight" is still a kid in many ways herself. But she is almost as tall as me. She can wear my clothes. And she has her own Starbucks card which she used to reward herself for a job well done.

She sipped her coffee and announced, "I feel like a teenager. I earned my own money. I am drinking my own coffee. Soon...I'll be driving."

I choked a bit on my own drink at that.

It's the one foot in childhood and one foot in adulthood that is tearing up a piece of a my heart.

But it's a rite of passage that is as important as time itself.

Our little ones grow into people who aren't so little. And while I may mourn the layer of childhood that Hayden shed tonight, I am more touched and excited to see what a wonderful nurturing young woman she has grown into. I was privileged to fast-forward a bit and have a glimpse into the future of her days as a mother herself.

And she will be so good at it.

"Don't worry about spilling your milk. It's okay. Everyone does it."

"Don't be sad about your fish dying. He's going to heaven. It will be okay."

"Don't be scared. Let's pray and ask God to be with you...and I'll be in the other room if you need me."

And maybe that's what makes it all a bit more okay in my momma heart tonight. She may go on to babysit without me. She may go away to college. She will undoubtedly have children of her own.

That's the way of things, I know.

But I also know that I will always be her mom. And as long as I have breath within me, I, too, will always and forever be in the "other room" if and when she needs me.

Hayden, age 12, babysitter extraordinaire

Friday, January 23, 2015

An Anchor for Our Soul



Recently during this month of Soul Dare, I blogged about yearning for more time to dig in deeper with God. I even mentioned that a week at a convent would be heaven right about now. In my mind, this would be the perfect answer to the stack of books that is calling my name and all of the deep thoughts that I have wanted to ponder,

Alas, convent life is not in the picture for me right now. I live smack dab in the middle of bustling life. And it's a good thing I do, or I would have missed a wonderful visit from a dear kindred this past weekend.

Lori and I have been friends for almost thirty years.

Wow.

How is it possible that much time has gone by?

Lori and I met one summer at conference for pastors in our denomination. As daughters of pastors, we got to go to a special class of our own and although the details are a bit hazy after so many years, we met each other and the rest is history.

Actually, it so easily might not have been history.

I  have met plenty of people in my life on an airplane, in a store, at camp, etc. And while we had a connection and shared conversation, that was the one and only time our paths intersected.

But not with Lori.

That spark of connection -- I believe it was a "deep calls to deep" thing really -- grew into something as over the years we exchanged letters (the snail mail way before email existed), traveled to each other's home towns without our parents (she on a Greyhound bus and me in a car with family friends headed her way), found each other at youth camps and conventions and hung out, and basically stayed in touch with each other.

For almost thirty years.

At this point in my life, I can count on one hand the number of friends I have had that long and still have an active friendship with -- let alone can say I can be transparent and go deep with.


So suffice it to say that I treasure Lori's friendship.

It would take another blog to talk about the ways that God has allowed us to intersect each other's lives during times when we really needed it and I believe, in a way that no one else could.

After all, who better to understand the unique challenges and joys of being a pastor's kids but another pastor's kid?

Lori has been that friend to me.

And recently, Lori has walked alongside of me through a time of waiting for God to answer a prayer and dream of ours to move to a bigger house in the country.

She has been a faithful friend and cheerleader reminding me of the goodness of God and His perfect timing. A writer herself (among many other talents), she posted something I had written during this time of waiting on her blog. She cried with me over it and when God finally answered that prayer, she rejoiced with me over it.

So when she messaged me and asked if I were free this weekend to hang out and that she would drive up six hours from Escondido to see the new place, I cleared the proverbial calendar. Okay...I literally cleared it. And I believe God helped me to make this weekend happen. I've never been able to reschedule something or find a replacement so easily.

So when Lori pulled up Friday afternoon, I rushed outside to save her from puppy kisses greet her. And when we met up on my charming wooden porch that I've blogged and rejoiced about before, Lori had tears in her eyes. We hugged and it was "a moment."

(Lori...thank you for those tears. They were precious to me.)

Later she told me that she had turned down my street and caught her first glimpse of the farmhouse when Be Thou My Vision started to play in her car and she remembered (amazingly) that it is one of my favorite hymns.

Cue tears of joy.

As we walked inside, I babbled on excitedly as I led her on a tour of the house and all the outbuildings and trees and probably a wealth of minutiae that she graciously allowed. After we had toured everything and were back inside the cozy kitchen, she remarked on a sign that is hanging in our bedroom and where I had gotten it, etc.

I told her about how I choked back tears one Sunday morning during worship as we sang, Cornerstone, that has the words of the wonderful hymn The Solid Rock within its melody and lyrics. And okay, I didn't choke back tears so much as spitting them out of my eyes furiously when we got to the stanza,

"In every high and stormy gale, my anchor holds within the veil."

I shared with Lori how repeating that refrain, "my anchor holds within the veil" became a silent vow from that moment on as the tumultuous journey of selling our house and finding our dream property sputtered on.

I told her about how I had always assumed that this verse cited my anchor holding within the v-a-l-e (a meadow or dale with a stream running through it,....ah, peaceful vale), rather than in the V-E-I-L (that which signified entering the Holy of Holies).

When I thought that through, of my peace being anchored in relationship with Him, it rocked my world even further. So when we moved into our farmhouse, I asked a friend to make me a sign with those specific words on it.



We both had a moment with that thought and then it was dinner time. We ate, we talked, we reminisced. We laughed. We went to bed and got up and enjoyed coffee, biscuits and some delicious handmade jams she had brought. We got dressed and made a beeline for my favorite little shop that recently expanded to a bigger location. I knew Lori would love it and sure enough, she did. She ended up buying metal letters that spelled out HOPE -- a word of hers for this season. We browsed antique shops (we both love old things) and had lunch at the tea house.

We shared more about life and what was going on with us on a deeper level. And I got to hear more of a Grand Dream that Lori is dreaming -- one that I can now encourage her through and towards. I can't wait to see God continue to lay out all the details He has so lovingly ordained.

Shortly, we had a great time. We headed back to the farm and for some reason, I had this desire to make comfort food while she was here, so I was making flaky pie crusts for chicken pot pie and quiche for the next morning while she told me about essential oils (a new business venture for her and a new interest for me).

Quiche is my new favorite and this is a mini version of the pot pie I made

All too soon, it was time to go to bed. Lori would be leaving the next day, but we had planned a special morning. Sunday morning came early and I got out my grandmother's linens she bought in Paris in the 1950's. I selected one place setting of each of my glass snack tray and cup sets. Then I warmed the scones we had taken to go from the tea house, steeped the tea (aptly called "Breakfast in Paris", no less) and set the table.


Lori takes amazing photos and even takes it to the next level by using a fun photo app to add character to them. So we enjoyed our breakfast a la Paris, looking at the white wonderland of fog outside. At some point, my eldest daughter stumbled out of the bedroom and joined us for some tea and quiche. It struck me then that Lori and I were her age when we met and the enormity of all that has happened in our lives since then amazed me. We played snippets of White Heart songs and hummed some refrains from other artists we liked back then.

I packed up a dozen farm fresh eggs from our hens for Lori to take home and then we were off to church.

And then the crying began.

Have you ever had God just let loose with a stream of focused attention that leaves you breathless and awed before Him?


This is what happened to my beautiful, transparent friend.

From the very first song sung to the last, to the sermon topic and beyond, God quietly rocked Lori's world and I got to be there to watch it all go down.

It was almost too much.

The Kleenex flowed....and it was good.

One song in particular struck us both. Hope's Anthem which has been "my song" for awhile. I love it.

My hope is in you, Lord
I am steadfast, I will not be moved
An anchor, never changing
All my hope is in you...

It's a beautiful song. When we sat down, we compared notes about that song and I whispered to Lori that a scripture of this had come to my attention awhile back. We found it in Hebrews 6:19:

"This hope we have as anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil."


Now if you have been paying attention, you might see some words pop at you. The sight of them together in one verse brings tears to my eyes even now.

"This HOPE we have as ANCHOR of the SOUL, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the VEIL."

In short, God took my sign about the anchor of my soul holding within the veil, and put it together with Lori's word, HOPE.

Only He could do that.

Only He could orchestrate a weekend that we both desperately needed and put within it a farm, a virtual visit to Paris, a walk down memory lane, an anchor, a veil and Hope.

Only He could orchestrate two twelve-year-old pastor's kids from southern California meeting up in the middle of the United States and seeing in each other something deep that was calling.

And after all the laughter and tears and farewells and returns to our separate lives, only He could put this journal in my friend's path as she browsed in Target.


By the time she texted this photo to me, we were both laughing at the lengths God was going to in order to speak to Lori and yes, even to me.

I'm so thankful for a God who pursues us and comforts us in our sadness and confusion and the "not yet" for which we dream.

I'm thankful for that anchor I have in Him...steadfast and secure.

I'm also thankful for an almost-thirty-year friendship that has anchored me in a way that I'm not sure I was aware of until this weekend.

Which leads me to another scripture I clung to as I dreamed my BIG dream and waited for God to fulfill it. It's something I am passing on to Lori as she dreams her BIG dream. Here you go, my friend:

"Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be the glory..." (Ephesians 3:20-21a)