On July 8, I was a few days late. But I shrugged my shoulders because what’s a few days?
On July 11, I was more than a few days late. I shrugged my shoulders again because I’m one of those weird women who never ovulate on a cycle. My body ovulates when it feels like it.
By the time I turned the calendar over to July 14, I was really, really late. And I began to think about babies and my tubal of 2010 and how we’d managed to get pregnant with four of our children while on all sorts of birth control.
I also began cramping-like the stretching of the uterus kind of cramping- and feeling not so PMS-y. I ran the whole gambit of feelings: starving, craving salty things, waking up thirsty in the middle of the night, running to the potty every couple of hours.
And by July 16, after taking a whole box of pregnancy tests that all tested negative, and still no sign of my monthly, I let myself go there.
I ate bread and skipped the glass of red. I cleaned out the mud room and painted the front door and rearranged the kitchen. I jotted down the boy name that we never used for baby number six and I said it over and over again, each time letting myself imagine a baby.
On July 19, after the longest stretch I’ve ever had between my periods, I woke to disappointment colored in a deep shade of red.
I let myself sit with the disappointment for just a bit and then sat with my last baby over a plate of donuts.
And I let myself wade deep into the waters of What exactly do I want Jesus to do for me?
On the morning after the disappointment, I woke to grey skies and chilly temperatures. The house was cold and if I’d not been counting every day in the month of July, I might would have guessed that it was October.
I stood in a long, hot shower and thought not about the baby that never was; I thought about food. I thought about the feel of dough between my fingers and the way it rolls soft and pliable under the weight of my palms. I thought about pumpkin muffins and blueberry cobbler with cool curls of vanilla melted on top. I imagined roasted chicken filled with garlic and lemon, black peppercorn cracked and strewn across the skin.
And I thought about the pantry in the mud room, the one stacked with cans and boxes and bags of beans. I thought about the families who donated the food and the families who would be receiving the food and the hundred ways I could maximize the efforts of everyone involved.
I thought about how mac and cheese must get boring if you eat it four meals a week. And I thought about how terrible it must taste if a neighbor had to make it with just water because milk and butter were a luxury one could not afford.
And as my thoughts ran down the road to things beyond my capabilities, I talked myself right back into right thinking and asked the only thing left to ask: What exactly do I want Jesus to do in my neighborhood?
This morning, I brew french press coffee and watch the water turn black. The grinds move along the bottom of the glass. Steam rises to the top and then runs in ribbons down the inside of the press and I wait for the coffee to steep.
This slow method of making coffee is not about the coffee as much as it about the waiting.
I no longer watch the clock as the coffee steeps. I watch the grinds and water. I’ve made it like this for weeks now, and I know when it’s ready.
Five minutes, or more, pass through my fingers and I don’t miss them. The minutes are like a pause in between the things that I must do and the things I get to do and I like the time to breathe.
I pour coffee into a pretty mug and stir in the allotted amount of creamer before sitting at my desk. I check email and catch up on a weekend’s worth of messages and texts. Mothers of Preschoolers’ registrations need to be mailed. A friend is dropping off groceries to feed my neighbors and I jot down notes in my journal of how I sense God moving this ministry forward.
I imagine Jesus sitting with me, right in the middle of my fleeting baby disappointment and growing neighborhood ministry, and I find great solace in the way He sits with me, waiting for me to speak honestly about what I desire for Him to do.
In the quiet, lonely of the morning, I feel my need well up from somewhere deep inside my soul.
And I stop the flow of words running around in my deep places and I lean into rest, my soul whispering one thing:
Make my small life count and make it count by making much of Yourself through it.
If you are local and would like to join me in figuring out this ministry that Jesus is bringing about in my neighborhood, I would love to hear from you! Project: Feed A Neighbor is set to officially launch in September. And this is not something I have dreamed up- It is simply how I see Jesus moving and I believe He is inviting us to see Him show off! You can comment below or message me personally.
And our next newsletter is set to go out this week. It’s a video- newsletter because sometimes I’d rather chat than write. If you’ve not yet signed up, you can do so here.