On Saturday, before the Man and I left the house to celebrate every special occasion we’d failed to celebrate in the last 2 years, I opened up a sweet little note card my kids had found in the mailbox.
I love snail mail.
It’s my love language.
And my cracked up heart swelled with joy at the promise of kind words,
Until I read the ten scrawled out lines.
And then I realized that the snail mail was to inform me that a friendship had indeed ended and that all forms of contact were to be put on hold.
I had been un-friended in most every sense of the word.
Somewhere between the house and the restaurant, I decided that the nail polish and glass on the front porch failed to hurt my heart as much as that note in the mail.
And I felt myself curl inward, wilting under the feelings of shame and insecurity and loss.
On Tuesday, when the babies were supposed to be napping and I was supposed to be composed and put together on one end of the phone, I found myself, with a crying baby on one hip, a toddler crying at my feet, and seven other children running like wild ones throughout the house, trying to cradle the phone next to my ear.
I made small talk while she chatted away about my porch and sunlight and the interview and the photo shoot. My heart pounded, keeping time with the fourteen feet pounding the hardwood, and I stared at myself in the mirror, never dropping the conversation.
“Sure. Eleven o’clock next Friday is great. The sun should be pretty then,” I said into the phone as if I know anything about photography and lighting. “See you then.”
And before I could put the phone down, it rang again.
I heard kids in the background and I exhaled, giving my house room to breathe.
“It’s fine, really. My house is as noisy as yours,” I told her. “So tell me what I need to know.”
I listened to her give me the schedule of the weekend and we talked flights and meal plans and things I would need.
“Would you need a table or maybe a stool? Or what about power point?” she asked. “I can print out handouts or you could do table discussions. Whatever you want to do is fine.”
I smiled into the phone while I spoon fed the toddler who wouldn’t feed herself and answered, “Sarah, I have no idea. I’ve never done this before. I can’t breathe. Seriously.”
We talked on and she spoke words of life to me.
And as I listened to her encourage my soul, I stared at my reflection in the dining room mirror.
What are these people thinking?
Who am I and why now and why this place?
And then I put first things first and realized that this mama couldn’t possibly drop ten pounds in ten days.
But she was going to try her darnedest.
Right this minute, the older kids play kickball in the side yard while the babies nap and I sip tea.
I’m new to this tea drinking business, but I’m transported somewhere across the ocean to a place called Downton when I drink it.
And some afternoons I just need to pretend that I’m somewhere else.
Today is one of those days.
I’ve only written a few posts in the last few weeks and it’s not for lack of things to say.
It’s for sheer lack of being able to process this speeding train that is my life.
This train is railed on rickety tracks wrapped tightly around the curve of a mountain and I cannot see where I’m headed. But it’s going somewhere, really fast.
And it seems to have sped up, just as I’ve learned to embrace the slow, steady pace of my little town.
In the mornings, I fill pages with every thought that comes to my mind and in the afternoons I unravel the threads of my life, trying to make sense of the ugly and the beautiful.
No, not restless.
I’m in the sweetest spot of my life right now.
And this sweet spot scares me like nothing I’ve ever felt before.
I am afraid of my life and I am most afraid of its best parts.
I am filled with purpose, but when I consider my purpose, my ounce of brave runs for cover.
I am scared of what my purpose may cost me: Another relationship? Slashed tires? A brick through my window? Critique? Regular bouts of fear and dread and insecurity? Time with my family? Leading with my limp exposed for all the world to see?
I fear myself and my own motives and my busted up heart.
But I think what I fear the most is being used of God in my place.
My tea is lukewarm now and kids whirl in and out of my space, the outdoors too cool for kickball at 3:00 in the afternoon.
And that steady drum of fear subsides, just a little, with the laughter that fills the house…
At a few minutes past 3:30 today, while I was wrapping up this post before the babies woke from nap, my phone began to ding every few seconds. I ignored the first few, hastily tapping out words, and then I noticed the screen light up with a Facebook comment about this post I wrote on our Rocky Mount IF: Gathering. I smiled at her kind words and then noticed that she was commenting on a post that I did not make.
And so I logged off and planned to come back here and wrap this post up for you.
But I think I’ll let it stand as is, unfinished, and let what God is doing in place surprise us both.
— Lisa-Jo Baker (@lisajobaker) February 24, 2014
IF:Gathering found my post. Words fail me. So I humbly offer a thank you because this story is not mine. I just get the blessing of writing it. Thank you.}