Fall 2017 has been yet another season of transition for me. Cas began middle school, Jay settled into his new position, Jake (all five of us, turns out) joined a travel soccer league, Molly is learning to read, and I am working most days from bus pickup to bus drop off.
All this means my time allotments are drastically different. The days I get to stay home and write, bring order to the house, meet with a friend – days like today, a proper November day with grey rain falling cold and gentle onto lifeless, unraked leaves while I stay in pajamas and make another pot of coffee – such days are sparse. At first I mourned the loss of time to myself, of time to process and dig deep for meaning and beauty in the Word, in my heart, in everyday life. I fought the rush: Hurry hurts! Why are we doing this? I don’t want to be like everyone else, too busy to have friends and fun. When can life slow down again?
“Just find joy wherever you can,” Jay said to me. Profound advice which has proven fruitful. Looking for small bits of joy throughout our packed schedule has been a life-line, and has cleared the air for a big heart-realization: Life will not be slowing down any time soon. I need to adjust, to find a way to live well in the midst of it. As I have come to embrace this season, the resentment has faded, and a new energy has risen up in me that I didn’t know was possible. Instead of pushing, pulling, squeezing, stressing through the weeks, I am learning to set things in place and let them be. To give them permission to be on my calendar if we have said yes, to delete them if we have said no or maybe. I no longer feel like a victim, but a host to this life we’ve chosen and been given as a gift. Much of this health has come from Enneagram work – a process deep and wide and life-long and worthy of at least 20 other blog posts. I am so grateful for this new-to-me tool.
My deep desire to find meaning and beauty, therefore, is not stunted or cut off – it just needs to be concentrated. Among our full days, evenings and weekends, I seek and find moments of meaning and revelation. I pick up these little gems, stare into their brilliantly-faceted colors for a moment, and tuck them away in my purse.
Several such treasures this fall have been full-circle moments. A few come to mind that are worthy of tucking away here in my little digital corner for good record.
In February, I accepted a customer service position for Weighting Comforts, a local company making weighted blankets for adults. My hours have grown with the company to the point that I’ve laid down my home sewing business… to be a part of a larger business where I get to hear sewing machines running all day. Not only that, but make blankets to help people find rest… a life-mission of my own! To help people find rest. Full-circle in a couple ways. Walking by the machines and hearing testimonies from our customers, every day I get to look at this little aqua-marine gem full of purpose and contentment, and I am satisfied. My job has been such a gift to me as I gain new skills and grow in capacity.
Over the summer, we decided to become a part of Clearview Baptist Church. Our family of five is finding a home here. Jay and I look at each other often with a glance that can only say, “We’re Baptist again!?” So many jewels packed into that statement, so many circles connecting… many of which I have yet to unpack. We’re curious to see what God is doing, and I’m learning in a new way how to be myself inside and outside church.
In August, I walked into the cafeteria of Grassland Middle School with my new 6th grader. Used to be every Sunday during college I walked into that room, with the tables pushed to the back left and the metal folding chairs (I have some in my garage) and children’s classes in the hallways and the extravagant, undone expression of the body of Christ that was Abounding Grace Church. In this room, I met families and friends who love me well to this day, and a Holy Spirit who I would not have otherwise come to know. Was it this small back then? A distant yet near memory of the room in which my son now eats lunch every day… a full-circle moment.
Later in August, the five of us plus Jay’s parents travelled winding state routes to the Norris family cemetery in Smith County, TN. The solar eclispe path of totality centered right over that hill, and we wanted to see every available second of this natural wonder . So three generations of Norrises sat our chairs and blankets on this little plot of ground filled with head stones of three and four previous generations of Norrises… on the ground where Jay and I will one day be placed… and watched the sun and sky go black in the middle of the day. James Caspar Norris, V took the most amazing pictures of the Diamond Ring as he exclaimed, “this is the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen!” Yes, it was.
Over Thanksgiving weekend, the five of us attended a family wedding in the first house of worship that formed me: Calvary Baptist Church in Knoxville. Used to be every Sunday morning (and Sunday evening and Wednesday night) I walked into that building with my original family of five – the Springer family. The hill is not nearly as steep as I remember it, but the Tennessee River behind it is just as stunning. A drum set has replaced the organ, a slate-blue wall in place of the choir loft… but it’s the same room in which I met Jesus and His Words, and I am eternally grateful. Several times as a girl I dressed in my best and watched the bride come down the isle. Saturday it was my own daughter in sequins who gasped at sight of the bride, my own daughter who played with her parent’s wedding rings as they held hands on her lap and listened to the vows. Saturday it was my own children who ate all the mints and nuts and punch in the fellowship hall – I mean, Cafe – then driven outside by boredom, played on the steps into the back parking lot, skimming knees on the concrete, looking for cranes flying low over the late-fall waters flowing toward Neyland Stadium. I’ll call this gem a Ruby of a memory.
These moments are rich fare for my soul. What a gift to be able to have eyes to see; to take in their significance in concentrated doses, among the in-between moments of regularly scheduled life. These moments are teaching me it is possible to have a full calendar and maintain a rich inner life.