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When I moved from Saskatchewan to British Columbia, I was expecting some things. I was expecting to enjoy the weather and the view. I was expecting to have a few anxious moments along the way, and to miss my friends and my familiar Saskatchewan life. I was expecting some fun/uncomfortable/stretching feelings as we searched out new grocery stores, coffee shops, and churches.

What I hadn’t expected was to begin remembering myself.

I’m remembering myself here, on the shore of the Shuswap Lake and on the bank of the Enderby River and on the deck of the house of the friend who is letting us stay with him. It’s coming back to me in slow waves of warmth and a gentle soul-awakening. I’m waking up, is what it feels like. I’m turning, returning, to the girl who loved the lake and the sun and baggy shirts and cutoff jeans. I can feel her stretching inside me, turning her face up and smiling toward the sky.

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It’s not the place, really, although there is no denying the beauty of British Columbia. It’s the change and everything it took inside to make the change. It’s the bravery of saying goodbye and the courage to say hello. It’s less stuff and better goals. It’s opening up to possibility and the freedom of starting fresh. It’s a longing acted on, and believed prayer, and going when it seems right to go. It’s accepting the hassle and stepping off the curb.

I’m remembering myself in all of this. I’m fifty-two years old, and I’m the youngest I’ve been in a long long time.

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I have a little girl who lives with me. She’s three and she knows I’m not her mom. She calls me Gubba. I pick her up from daycare on Mondays and Wednesdays at 5:00, and we drive home. Every trip, we have the same conversation.

Home, Gubba?

Yes.

Your home?

Yes.

My home?

Yes.

I’m not sure what internal stuff she is processing as we repeat this ritual, but I know home is an important place.

I think its significant that after God created the world, the first thing he did was make a home. And not just any old home. A beautiful home, filled with love and possibility and friendship and Him. And, because every good story needs it, the tiniest potential for things to go wrong.

This is the thing about homes. As beautiful and comfortable and safe as we make them – and let’s make them as beautiful and as comfortable and as safe as we can – things go wrong. Always.

People fight or pets die or jobs are lost or children walk away. Just ask the prodigal son’s dad about children leaving nice homes. Stuff happens in homes, no matter the furnishings or the landscaping or even the love.

This is the other thing about homes, though. As much as things go wrong in them, homes are meant to be places of beauty. Sometimes, beauty is tears in the night or puppy poo on the living room floor or children sharing fears. Sometimes, beauty is hanging in there when it’s tough. Sometimes, the most beautiful thing is the hardest or the most challenging or the messiest.

Homes are meant to be beautiful and clean and safe. I wonder, though, if that means beauty over time, instead of beauty every time. I hope so.

My home isn’t perfect, not by a long shot. I can’t seem to keep up with the dusting and the furniture is ancient and the living room needs repainting and once in a while I lose my patience with the people I love and, to be honest, I’m not the best cook in the world. I can focus on any or all of those things, in the moment.

Over time, though, my hope is that people who spend time here will find some beauty in spite of it all.

If they do, it will be because of grace, mercy, and forgiveness.

He made a beautiful home, way back then, and He says he’s making us another one, so I think beautiful homes must be important.

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I have a picture-perfect life. I live in a place of beautiful sunrises and open spaces and sparkly snow-filled vistas. It’s beautiful, in photographs. In real life, though, it’s like anyone else’s life. Good.,, and bad. Beautiful… and ugly. Wonderful…and hard.

I guess I think that’s just fine. I mean, what else would I expect, really?

I mean, who am I that my life should be always fabulous and hardship-free?

The thing is, I’m a believer. I really and truly am a sold-out-Jesus-loving-freak of a girl. I believe in miracles and eternity and love-conquers-all and forgiveness.

The other thing is, none of that means much if I can’t face the bad and ugly and hard things in life with that faith I say I have. Walk the talk, so to speak.

I’ve stood at the beginning of uncertain roads and been fearful of the next step. It’s not easy or fun. Except, sometimes it is.  Isn’t that ridiculous? Uncertainty can be kind of an adventure. It’s sometimes kind of exciting. That’s the crazy thing about walking in faith. The uncertain times are when I get the chance to really practice the stuff I read in that book I say I believe.

I don’t mean to minimize struggle or pain or challenge. There are real, hard things that most of us will be faced with in our lives. You may be facing something more difficult than you could have imagined, right now. There are times to sorrow and weep and lament, and my heart breaks with you for these times in our lives. I’ve been there.

But sometimes, uncertainty is just the beginning of a new road, and fear is only the natural beginning of bravery.

Some things happen quickly. A fast food burger, an internet search, an email. Quick, quick and on to the next thing, and it’s hard to adjust to the things that take their time.

Like a fixing a meal that doesn’t require a can opener, or reading a book instead of a blog post, or raising the kids or planting a garden or making a friend.

Fast has its place. Fast is about getting it done and moving on.

But time-taking, and the personal investment that requires… that’s living.

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Carter’s donkey, Joy, did not arrive in a ready-to-go box. No instant friendship or skipping steps to get to the fun stuff.

This one will take time. That’s a good thing for a boy living in a Hurry Hurry world.

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I’ve been reading/thinking/wondering about joy lately. The people kind, not the donkey kind. And about how joy takes time. Can joy be a habit? Can I deliberately do things to make me a more joyful person? I need to figure this out, because I’m talking about this very thing next weekend, and I’m still not sure.

And if you are wondering, Carter and Joy have spent this past year getting to know each other better. I don’t know if they’d call each other friends, yet. But they’re getting there.

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I remember the box of stationery I received when I was seven or eight years old. It was a gift from a grandma or an auntie, the kind of gift grandmas and aunties gave little girls back then. A box of folded notecards with pictures of fairies on them. Delicate little purple, pink, and green ladies with sparkly wings hovering over flowers. Garden fairies, I suppose, and I thought they were magical.

So magical, I couldn’t bring myself to use them. They sat in their box, tucked away in a drawer under my pastel coloured days-of-the-week panties, for years. I never wrote a single letter to a single person. Not on that stationery, anyway.

When I was older, I cleaned my drawer of the little girl stuff, and in the midst of the tossing of the old underwear and the socks with the holes in the heels, I found the forgotten fairy treasure.

I opened the box, anticipating the thrill I remembered, but it was lost to me. The paper was dingy with the years, and the fairies who had so captivated me seemed gaudy and cheap.

The magic was gone. The time for it had passed and I’d missed it.

I don’t know if the gift was wasted or not. There’s something, I suppose, in hiding away a treasure, keeping it for the single purpose of knowing it’s there.

But it’s better, I think, to use it in the time it is most glorious. Use it up, and let it be what it’s meant to be in the time it’s meant to be it. When it’s at its grandest.

So I mostly wear my jewelry and drink from my crystal and if I lose an earring or chip a glass, well, maybe that’s part of it all.

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When its early winter morning and the sun is still low and she’s just bathed and the room is warm… when it’s all that and she’s combed back her freshly shampooed hair, she’s beautiful in her bathroom mirror. It’s a trick, a Photoshop effect only real, but she tells herself she’ll remember that girl in the mirror for the rest of the day, because she is lovely.

You’re beautiful, she whispers as she Olays her face and neck, and she watches her eyes when she smiles and she says to herself that they are crinkling in the corners like they did when she was a girl.

She takes the extra minutes to sweeten her skin and the mango scented lotion covers arms and elbows and knees, as smooth and silky as the bottle advertises.

She knows it’s an illusion of kind morning light, but she carries that girl with her even as she dries her too-long-for-her-age hair with it’s wiry strands and it’s glinting silver. Even as the waning day reminds her the eye crinkles are actually wrinkles and the sweet morning scent fades into the reality of eggs frying and dishwater soap and something tracked in from the barn on the bottom of her boot.

The day wears itself on her face and the years are the years, there’s no denying them, but it’s a gift she gives herself each day, that morning exchange with herself, and she’ll unwrap it again tomorrow.

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When the leaves started flopping over he thought they needed help, so he fixed them. Because floppy is wrong and tall is right, right?

It only took a day or two, though, before the leaves burst the tape apart by their growing and becoming. They meant to be floppy, and nothing he did could change it.

Not everything has to grow tall to be beautiful, thank goodness.