I wrote in an earlier post about "noticing things properly” (insert British accent), and now what I’ve been noticing is that when I experience someone else using their gifts well, it is not only enjoyable and fun to be a recipient of those gifts, but it stirs something inside of me to want to use my gifts well, too.
The other Saturday, when TJ was home to keep the kids, I drove to Walmart alone. I can’t remember what I needed, but I’m sure one of the things was time to myself. It’s a short drive, and I was wishing it was longer because the songs on the radio that day were all so good. I remember Taylor Swift’s “New Romantics,” Adele’s “Hello,” and Kelly Clarkson’s “Piece by Piece.” Maybe just a piece of that last one, but it took me through our neighborhood all the way home.
I’m not a big music person, meaning I don’t naturally think of adding volume to my life. I like silence and my thoughts are my entertainment. I can cook and think, and walk and think, and lie in bed and think, and take a shower and think, and think and think and think. And then sometimes, I realize something is missing and it’s Coldplay.
Coldplay’s album “A Head Full of Dreams” wordwise is brilliant, and I'm keen on just about every song. I'd pick this collection as the soundtrack for this season of life, this season when my head is full of dreams. Yet I am still so very human, with my feet to carry me to all my places so my hands can take care of all my people. I do it today and tomorrow and every day.
I take care of a big kid, a medium kid, a little kid, and a baby. There's also a cat that lives on our property, and now that Cash’s head full of dreams have been realized, a dog too. I clean bathrooms, even that yucky garage bathroom that construction workers and wet children from the lake use, and I cook dinners without fail so that we can have leftovers for lunch. I have conversations, again, about how we can choose to be content even when we have a scratched-up skateboard and why it’s not okay to lift Sailor up on top of the play kitchen even if you think that’s what she wants. I play games I don’t want to play, I get up when somebody calls in the middle of the night, and I still wipe bottoms. Yet all the while, I dream of writing a book and making a home and experiencing joy in sacrifice.
My friend Michelle has three young boys and has been fostering a baby girl who is the same age as Sailor, for the past nine months. Not long after Michelle got the little girl, I ran into her at Story’s preschool one morning. I asked Michelle how it was going, and whatever else she may have said, the thing I remember her saying is that she really wants her boys to know that “there’s so much joy in sacrifice.” She clearly has experienced it herself, and she wishes for her boys to know the same joy.
I went home and told my family that story over dinner, and we talked about what joy in sacrifice looks like in Michelle’s family. We thought together about whether we had experienced joy in sacrifice. I still think about those words and about Michelle's kind and radiant spirit, and I wish for my life to tell that kind of story.
God willing, it is, and it will. We all have different stories, and by watching Michelle live hers well, I can live into mine better.
It happened again about a month ago as I read Myquillan Smith’s book The Nesting Place. A friend gave me the book for my birthday last year and it sat on my shelf for eleven months. And then, on a random Saturday in early June, it was as if God said, “Let there be empowerment,” and my mind told my hands to pick up that book. And it was good.
I now feel like I have been given permission to do something I thought I couldn’t do, to create a home with heart. Trader Joe’s has heart and I just feel it when I walk in. I feel welcome, like I belong as a shopper, and I can go slow or fast, and things are familiar and lovely. There is beauty and authenticity and function and form. Things are on those shelves just for me, is how it feels. That exact kind of reduced-sugar strawberry jam and the Spicy Smoky Peach Salsa and the little wheels of goat cheese and the Sesame Honey almonds. I pick and choose because I have been picked and chosen to love Trader Joe’s. There are people to help and they are friendly and warm. Things are quirky and fun and I keep going back.
And that is the kind of home I’m staying home for.
Reading Myquillan’s book and seeing her live out loud her heart for creating a home inspired me big time. You can do it too, is what I felt whispered in my soul. Not even necessarily, You can create a home like this, (although I hope I can), as much as You can be good at what you’re good at.
Taylor says it, and Adele and Kelly say it. Michelle says it, and now Myquillan tells it too. These people are my cheerleaders, standing on the sidelines, reminding me to keep going toward the goal of writing all these words. To bless with my blog, to stop and stare, to think, to let the music in, to notice properly...I can tell this writing life might just make my head full of dreams come true.