The last two weeks have been a whirlwind of activity for our family.
We’ve celebrated three birthdays (Wendy, Jonah, + Luna), one anniversary (Wendy + I), one or more of our family members has taken trips to Detroit, Boyne City, Chicago, Grand Rapids, and Holland (Michigan). We’ve dug and planted garden beds, destroyed some concrete walkways, assembled a trampoline, kept on eye on baby birds, shopped at a Thai grocery store, spent time with friends, and spent many hours outside on the porch, in the garden, and the backyard, just taking it all in.
Here’s what I’ve discovered over the last two weeks as I’ve paid attention to my life:
1. I love my people. Wendy, Josiah, and Jonah are my favorite people to be with. They bring me so much joy, each one of them. I’ve had a handful of days off from work during these past two weeks, and we’ve spent lots of time together doing everything, and nothing, and it’s been the best. What a joy it is to have this family, my family.
2. Wendy is an an incredibly gracious and strong life partner. I often reflect on how Wendy is someone that I can’t believe agreed to marry me. I can honestly say that I don’t deserve this woman in my life, and that is why her presence and her love are the most tangible expression of God’s grace that I see on a daily basis. She is so good to me, so strong, so much fun to be with, and just a lovely person all around.
3. The Deep Sadness, and the longing for something more, is real. I have these days, these moments, where I’m so in tune with my longing and desire, that I ache for something beyond what I see here and now. At times, this longing can get distorted into something totally self-centered and self-inflicted, but at it’s most true, it is a longing for things as they ought to be. What theologian Jurgen Moltmann calls “Hope", or what N.T. Wright calls “putting the world to rights", or what C.S. Lewis meant when he said, "If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world." This world, as I know it, is full of beauty AND brokenness, full of light AND darkness, full of truth AND lies, full of hope AND despair. I think the Way of Jesus is to know both the beauty and the brokenness, to feel the darkness, and to trust the goodness of God, the faithfulness of God, even when you can’t SEE or FEEL it.
4. I LOVE praying the Hours. At my retreat in Chicago last week, and every retreat I take there with the Transforming Community, we pray the Hours every morning, noon, evening, and at bedtime. It is such a grounding activity, to recognize that the world and everything in it is what God has made, and to rightly position ourselves as the receivers of God’s world, and the caretakers of this place and these people. I’ve been using The Little Book of Hours at home throughout the day, praying the Hours every morning, noon, and evening, and it has been a profound experience of centering and blessing. I highly recommend it.
5. I love making food with flavors that sing. Of course I’ve known this about myself for years, having worked in the food world for so many years as deli manager, cheesemonger, cook, recipe developer, and entrepreneur, but it’s amazing to me how taking singulair ingredients or flavors, and combining them using traditional techniques, can make my heart so happy. My happiness is multiplied x 1000 when my people love what I love too.
6. I think I’m going to make brownies today. Maybe with mini marshmallows on top, which is totally Cook’s Country. And BBQ pulled pork. That is all.
7. Gardening is SO MUCH WORK, but my heart comes alive with hope as I plant seeds, transplant seedlings, shape beds, and anticipate the joys of tomatoes and peppers and basil and kale and lettuces and squash and cucumbers and ground cherries for the next several months. Growing things brings me so much joy.
8. Eugene Peterson has a new collection of sermons from his 29 years as a Presbyterian pastor to the same congregation. It’s called "As Kingfishers Catch Fire”, and it’s brilliant. Rob Bell’s new book "What Is The Bible?" is also really insightful, and fun (utterly Rob). And my spiritual director, Rory Noland, has a great book called “Worship On Earth As It Is In Heaven” all about cultivating a life of private worship, and I’ve been finding that really helpful too.
9. I miss living 5 minutes from Costco. No shame here.
10. I’m really looking forward to the next 3-4 months of the summer season. We’ll get to spend time with the Zenz family at Higgins Lake, the Ritchie family camping in West Michigan, the Dennison family in North Carolina, we'll have my Mom here with us for a week in June, and we'll go camping for a week in the UP with my in-laws. We’ve been spending hours and hours outside, taking it all in, not wanting to squander a moment away from this gorgeous season. We know how long winter is in Northern Michigan, and so we’re learning to embrace the seasonal changes with gusto. To live in the present moment. To not miss anything.
These are a few things I’m trying to live into as I listen to my life, and the God who is speaking to me through my life.
May you pay attention today too.
May you embrace what is before you.
May you turn off the tv, set aside the things that don’t matter, set down your phone (I’m looking at you, YOU), and be where you are.
And with gusto.