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There's a place I've been looking for...

The day dawns (can you say it dawns when it's still black pitch outside?) early.  Too early.  The boys shared a room - their ultimate destination - and the night before last was the second time we've made the attempt.  The first was remarkably good (with the baby sleeping until like 4 a.m. and not waking Big Brother when he did wake) and I had high hopes for the next go 'round, but told myself to be realistic.

The good thing?  Travis trucked on through and slept until 4:30 a.m. before wanting to be up to eat (he's a champion!)  The bad?  Joel, however, was restless and awake it seemed all - night - long.  At 3:30 a.m. he was absently (annoyingly) tapping his yellow pacifier against the rails of his crib.  Why?!  A question you shouldn't even bother asking a two year old sometimes.

While the baby slept great (7 p.m. to 4:30 a.m.) he wasn't too keen on the idea of going back down at 5 a.m.  But Momma wasn't too keen on the idea of getting up just then.  Normally, sure.  Five in the morning isn't so terrible when you've slept the majority of the night.  But when you've jogged up and down the stairs about a half a dozen times in the course of a night, it kind of takes away any and all enthusiasm to start the day so early.  So I passed back out and he must have, too, but 6 a.m. was his limit.  So here we were.

And it was dark.

As I punched the Keurig to life (and subsequently, me) and Travis sits on a blanket with some toys (yes, sits!  He's too big already!) I sit here and try to shake myself awake and even though I feel like I woke up on the wrong side of the bed.  But I feel determined.  I will not let the day start or go down that way.  A day or so ago I was an exhausted disaster and I had those frustrated, tired tears just below the surface. I ran off to the grocery store for solitude and Starbucks (mainly the Starbucks).

And that morning I smiled as I stirred creamer into my coffee.  I had forgotten the surprise I had from one of my best friends, Jamie.  She had send me two mix CD's one entitled "Mostly Pop" and one, "Mostly Country".  We obsessively make each other mix CD's and I love it.  I hope we never stop.  And as I put the CD in to load it into iTunes and spend my day jammin', I thought how much better my day felt already.  I even told Jamie in an email, "I'll make it today.  I have coffee, new music and Jesus."

There are days when the basics are enough.

The little things are the big things.  I hope I never, ever forget that.  I hope I never lose the art of being the friend of the little things.  Of seeing a scented candle that I know my friend, Holly will love, for instance.  Or seeing a pair of pj's that make me think of Ashley.  Or stumbling across a sparkly picture frame at Hobby Lobby and knowing my sister would love it.

It's easy when you're in the mix of life to forget to truly be in the lives of others.  Especially as an often isolated stay-at-home-mom (some of this is my own choice, because I am a big believer in the necessity of routine and nap times for my boys).  But sometimes I am just going from exhaustion to exhaustion and I don't think I have time or energy for that phone call or I can feel selfish and resentful about sending a card or a small care package because, "Hey, when was the last time they sent me one?!"  But that's not how love works.  And I know that and you know that and get the whole, "Treat others the way you want to be treated."  But sometimes it's just so hard.  It all feels so big.  Another to-do on an already arm-long list.

But it's not.

It's really simple to love.  I read recently that, "Love does not calculate" (Saint Therese) and I keep turning that over in my head.  But the thing is, we do.  Calculate.  And love.  But we calculate when we love.  We remember as we do something for someone else the last time they did it (or didn't) for us. And how do we get past all that and love with abandon and sincerity regardless of what someone else chooses to do, remembers (or forgets) or simply doesn't have the time for?  Do we keep a list or do we just turn up the temperature on our own love-meter?

Right now I learn all the time how the simple things are the best.  A box of chalk and the back patio?  Best.  Shooting hoops while Joel tries to ride his tricycle?  Best.  Mix CD's from a girlfriend, pizza with family on a Thursday night, watching our favorite shows on TV with Aaron, my peppermint body wash.  It's all the small that makes up the large and when we love, sometimes we don't have to think big at all.  Just thinking can matter the most.  I want to be that kind of friend, mom, wife, daughter... I want to love purely and simply.

When Aaron was a kid he and his brother and sister went together and got their Mom this faux poinsettia that isn't apparently destroyed-looking just with age.  It was always a little on the hideous side, I am told.  But all these years, my mother in-law has kept it because it's something her kids pooled their money together to get for her.  Given her love of plants, it makes sense that her children would want to get her something floral-related.  The thing is, it doesn't matter if it was cheap or poorly made or not very pretty.  It was picked with love and given with love... and it has been kept with love.

And the gifts I give - the wrapped and the ones that I give of myself - I want them to be full of love.  Regardless of the price, regardless of if it was made or purchased or simply given from my heart - I want it to be all love.  And if it's not accepted for the gift that it is, that isn't really the point.  The point is that I gave at all.  I want to always, always be giving.  If I stop and think, especially as we near the holiday season, what if I were to never receive another tangible gift?  Would it matter?  And no.  And it shouldn't.  I am so grateful for what I have been given - as gifts from loved ones and gifts from an almighty God.  There's so much that I will never write enough thank-you notes.

I want to get back to the small and the easy.  Kids split my time and interrupt my inspirational moments and cut my shopping trips short.  But that doesn't mean I don't stop trying.  I have to continue to find ways to be hospitable.  To reach out.  To welcome in.  To remember birthdays and anniversaries and in the lives of my loved ones, to celebrate those triumphs and victories and milestones.  I almost feel there should be ceremony and cake every day.  There's that much to consistently celebrate.  And what if we did?

I light a candle every morning, as my coffee pours, and it's like an ushering in for the day.  It's dark outside my home, but inside we're starting to turn and burn with light and life and love.  And we wake up with full hearts and candles always seem so sacred to me, even if they are a cheap Glade air freshener one.  And if it's just a card, then that's what I'll send.  If it's only a text I have a thought for, I'll send it.  If it's an email or a care package of cookies or a mix CD of my current favorites that I just have to share - then I want to do that.  If it's playing with tractors one more time when he asks, then I'll play.  If it's one more kiss or one more cuddle that the baby seems to crave, I'll give - regardless of the dishes or the laundry that hasn't been folded for four days.

With love, we don't tick things away that others do or don't, but we also can't calculate always how to love, either.  Sometimes you just have to plain love. You just have to be available.  You just have to shove yourself to the back burner, yes, maybe again - but the more you empty, the more you fill.  This never stops being true.  I want to spend myself love poor.  Not just at the end of my life, but during every living day I have left.  Because when the end does come, maybe they won't remember that prettily wrapped package I gave or that phone call I made or that time I spent costly... but they will remember whether they felt love from me.

The best I can give - as messed up as it sounds - is simply more of myself.

And maybe a country mix CD every now and then, too.

"What if the spring comes soon
and we're surprised?
What if the seasons help us realize,
some things are only proven over time?
Even the darkness cannot disarm us.
We'll break up the earth, because 
we know that it's worth it...
Sowing the seeds in 
the soil of our love."
~ Audrey Assad, "Even the Winter"


  1. amen. i needed to remember i am NOT the only one trying to live out Christ's love. maybe it is just me, but sometimes i get so stuck on myself and feel like i can't give any more. these words are so very true--and i am humbly reminded how blessed i am to have good girlfriends in my own life. who love me in the random, rare "little" ways that truly do MAKE life sweet...

  2. So sorry I never responded to this - I must have missed it somehow! I appreciate your reading, Damaris and your heart! You are a sweetie! I wish we lived closer! :)


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