A letter

Posts Tagged ‘Perspective’

Who you know, already.

In New Winter on December 12, 2015 at 2:34 pm


It’s kind of an odd world we live in. We get to see so many people and have the opportunity to know so much about so many people. We can follow as many people as we desire and can be followed by as many people as find us curious or interesting. We can, thanks to various avenues of social media, be inundated with all the juicy and gory inter-workings of perfect stranger’s lives. It’s fascinating. It’s a part of our now life that was not even available to us when we were in junior high.

Remember when we were kids? We knew who we knew. We knew our neighbors, we knew friends from church. We knew relatives. We knew people our parents knew that we visited from time to time on road trips, and we knew from a distance the people from whom our parents got Christmas cards. We may have know about a few other people, perhaps from reading a book, or following the news. But, for the most part, it was quite simple.

Those days are long gone, and sometimes I wish them back. It seems the world we now live in can leave a voracious desire to have moreto know more. It can lead us to believe that meeting so-and-so would somehow greatly improve our lives. Now, this is not always not true. Meeting people and making connections and new relationships can always add to our lives, and sometimes can completely alter them. But more often than not, I think it’s a bunch of hog-wash that fills our lives with ungrateful discontent.

The past week, I’ve been thinking about the people I know and how rich my life is because of them. It’s been deeply meaningful to say the least, and so wonderful to reflect on the gems of people I have the privilege of knowing. The things I think I want, I have in the people I already know. People who have shared life with me. People who know I’m a savory not a sweets girl. People who value me and want to spend time with me. People who have seen me at my worst and love me anyhow. People who have taken risks for causes greater than themselves. People who have altered history by their quiet lives of sacrifice and character. People who laugh with me until we cry. People who are raising amazing little people. People who are generous and inspiring. People who have come and gone but still hold their place in my heart. People who are heroes, and people who inspire me to love Jesus more than I do right now.

If you stop and look at who you have around you, you’ll be surprised, too. There’s not much to be left wanting.

Thankful for you, friend.

Bep

To-do and not-to-do lists.

In Welcomed Fall on November 18, 2015 at 10:57 pm


To do lists should be created to help us live our lives, not to run them. This is often forgotten by my neat-freak perfectionistic selfespecially lately. Please send me a postcard to help me remember: Living is the goal, not the list! If you’ve wondered where I disappeared to the last month and a half, now you know. I’ve been trying to figure our how to live in this new and awesome chapter of life where EVERYTHING is different.

I don’t think there has been one day since moving that I felt caught up! I feel like my to do list has been ever-growing and though the days pass, I’m not exactly sure what took place. Much of this can be blamed the two small lads that roam, the copious amount of naps I’ve needed to take while growing a human, and on Davids new work scheduleand I mean “blamed” in the happiest sense. We actually see David every day for more than an hour or two. You have no idea how wonderful this is, but I’m sure you can imagine. He often joins us for lunch or dinner and frequently gets to work from home. We’ve had dinner parties, watched tons of movies and sporadically taken road trips just because we could. I find it odd though that none of these things were on my check-list. I’ve been realizing there are things in life that cannot be check-listed. Sure, lists can help us be organized and can help us not forget things at the store like half and half, which would be a small but major tragedy. However, much of life’s gold we really crave cannot be put on a list or checked off.

You know how I thrive on check lists and organization, and the feeling of accomplishment those things bring. And, these traits, thanks to my mother, are a wonderful asset in life. At times though, when throned or imbalanced, they clutter the happiness and contentment of my heart.

Loving husbands and children are not tasks we can or should complete by dusk, but the adventure and the essence of our lives. If the sheets are THAT dirty I will change them, even if I didn’t write it down somewhere. I’m sure I will eventually unload and reload the dishwasher when I have no clean dishes to use. These things have a way of reminding you themselves that they need to be done. Sometimes what I need is to be freed from the list I’ve made for myself. The list that is so rigid and dictates so much. The list that can leave me feeling like a failure of a wife or mom at the end of the day. The list that doesn’t account for moments, conversations, or random hot chocolate dates. The list that measures so much but leaves me so empty.

I’m realizing the things that I really care about in life, can’t be put on a checklist and never should be.

Love you friend.

Bep


Explosions in the mountains.

In New York Summer on July 15, 2015 at 10:22 am



I’ve been dying to tell  you what we found last weekend. It was the wildflower of wildflowers! It’s the type of event you see on a movie that never happens in real life. I’m not sure what was more refreshing, the fact that things like this actually exist, or the wonder of the event itself. I’m taking you next year. Period.

On our drive up, we stopped in at my favorite shop like always. David is a most gracious husband. As you know, this shop is a watering can for my soul. I LOVE it. I always leave inspired to rearrange, re-purpose, dust, and make my everyday spaces more enjoyable. This is also the shop that introduced me to the word’s best soap, for which I am forever grateful. It smells like heaven and has salt in it. What could be better? Anyhow, I expected to leave with my usual dose of inspiration and soap, but nothing more. I was wrong. While checking out, the shop owner happened to tell me about a private fireworks show hosted by an art critic and poet. Some fifteen hundred to two thousand people—mainly from the city—find their way there parking all along this mountain highway in this sleepy town. No one really knows the address, but once you see the cars, he said we’d find our way. And, just as he said, we did.

I’m so glad—despite my flat emotional state—that we decided to hunt for this treasure. Lately, feeling the burn of the climb, it seems the only way to keep going is to put our heads down and put one foot in front of the other. The only problem with putting our heads down is we often miss the wildflowers along the way. I’m so glad we didn’t miss this one.

We arrived at dusk and saw clusters of people on foot venturing towards what they hoped to find. I felt giddy. After parking and walking a bit we found our way too. The fence was tastefully decorated with patriotic drapery and a few tiki torches gently lit the way. We could hear excited chatter all around. A man on the porch just behind us gave a loud greeting and began singing the Star Spangled Banner. Soon, everyone was singing and we watched small lanterns descend into sky. The experience was magical already. Then, it began and it was unlike anything I’ve ever seen. The explosions came one after another with fury. They were almost too close for comfort, but in a thrilling sort of way. They were literally in-your-face. I swear we could have reached up and touched them. Several time we felt debris flicking our faces. I was both terrified and delighted. I couldn’t stop smiling. I think I must have squeezed David’s arm a hundred times while watching. Mols would have been proud. Even the ebb and flow of the crowds response was beautiful. When it finally was over, we didn’t move. We just sat for a while in awe. I didn’t want it to end.

I’m going to keep my eyes open. Wildflowers seem to be good at hiding, or maybe I’m not good at noticing them. Maybe its because they grow in unexpected places. I know one thing for sure, they are all around, and I don’t want to miss them.

Love you friend!

Bep

      

Uphill climb and Lemonade.

In New York Summer on July 2, 2015 at 6:42 pm

Well, after months of planning, we—and I do mean we—opened Vacation Lemonade. I can tell you one thing, this manager is tired. I wasn’t quite prepared for the level of involvement required of me for this stand. I envisioned sitting shaded in a lawn chair, drinking lemonade and reading while they seamlessly ran the stand, unassisted. Instead, I found myself stooped over at their side, coaching every move and helping in every way imaginable. I guess they are only four and six.

Leon wants to be open daily, and after earning a whopping thirty-eight dollars on day one, I understand why. He told me yesterday he is going door to door to get “costomers”. It seems we have an Uncle Bub on our hands. He will shout down any human looking creature in sight, trying to get a sale. He asks solo customers if they would like one cup or two cups and tells them he’ll see them tomorrow. He’s an absolute riot. Sol decided to start selling toys they don’t need as well. I’m not sure how they did it, but they convinced a Rocky-like, college-aged pedestrian to take an unwanted football guy, for free. He seemed very unfamiliar in the realm of children and said he would put it on his desk. He kept saying, “Are you sure you don’t want it anymore?” I was holding back uproarious laughter. One thing is certain, besides making money, we are making memories. What more could I want?

Through this process of running the lemonade stand the kids are learning amazing lessons. Leon is learning that making money takes time and hard work. He’s realizing it will take days of work to get his desired Air Jordans. By the end of day two they each had thirty-four dollars. He requested I search eBay for Air Jordans for thirty-four bucks. He said he wanted to know what Jordans he could get NOW. Funny thing is, in watching them, I see many parallels in my own life. I wish we were there right now.

I’ve been weary this week. I’ve been tired. I’ve been short on the patience required in life, especially in this season. I’ve questioned whether I have what it takes to climb this mountain. I want to be out of debt today. I want to arrive at our goals today. But just like the boy’s lemonade stand, our adult version takes time. Unfortunately, and fortunately, our goal is far bigger than a pair of Jordans, but that means it will take more than a few days.

We stumbled across an old gospel song last night and it couldn’t have been more perfect. You might already know it. She sang it well, and now we are too: “Lord don’t move that mountain, but give me the strength to climb.” This is where I am at today: I’m needing strength to climb. The beautiful thing is, He always gives us strength to climb. So we know we’ll be okay. Both you and I.

Love you friend.

Bep

    

When “pause” is necessary.

In New York Summer on June 22, 2015 at 11:35 pm

I’m really loving this growing, learning, and baby-stepping. It’s inspiring, and it’s working. I can see some progress. It might be subtle, but it’s there. My thinking is changing. I keep telling myself to keep taking the little steps. Little steps are what will eventually land me at my big goals. Changing is good. We need it. I need it. I want to be different than I am now. I know it will take time, and I won’t wake up tomorrow “there,” but I’m not where I was yesterday either. I’m happy about this.

Today, I hit a wall though. I felt tired. I was overwhelmed. My mind was racing. List after list of things I needed to do were swimming through my thoughts. A bunch of mundane tasks had piled themselves on my to do list for the day and though petty, they seemed intimidating. It’s odd how little things can suddenly seem so big. Right? I decided to use the carcass of my chicken to make broth for chicken noodle soup. Brilliant, I know.  The only problem was, I started it two and a half days ago and it was still simmering. The thought of finishing this task was almost too much. The thought of folding and putting away load after load of laundry was also crushing. Oh, how we dislike days like these. Then I remembered what my dad always said, and it is pure gold: Take a nap and change the world.  So, I did.

Funny, the world waited for me. It was still here. Laundry was still here. So was the soup. But I was better. I wasn’t overwhelmed anymore. Not a lot had changed, but things were different. Hitting “pause” does not come easy. At least not for me. But its essentialness is unmatched. Yes, we should work hard. And we do, obviously. Yes, we should dream and achieve and conquer mountains, even if they are only laundry. But, on occasion, we should remember to hit pause. We should take a survey of our souls. We should evaluate our “fun meter” as dad always said. And, if we find it depleted, or our souls weighted, we should rest. If we find ourselves spinning, we should have the maturity to pull the reigns and take a breather.  If we’re going to last longer than today, if we’re going to thrive in life’s journey we have to learn this: Sometimes rest is best. Sometimes we have to take a nap so we can change the world.

Maybe you should too!

Bep


  

Erasing weekends. Dancing out of bed.

In New York Summer on June 16, 2015 at 11:24 am

Morning, friend.  Birds are chirping and summer’s early cool is creeping in through cracked windows all around me. I’m hunching that today is going to be a good one. Yesterday’s humidity hung in the air like wet laundry the entire day. But, just before bed, we heard the rain bringing with it a twenty degree temperature drop—thus, this glorious morning cool—my favorite. Hope you’re getting some of the glory too. Wish you could join me on the sunshine couch and we could sip coffee for hours and laugh. This will have to do for now.

David and I have been on a journey of erasing the weekend. Don’t worry, I’ll explain, and before I go on, let me just reiterate, it is a journey.  We’ve been reading and listening and talking, then reading and listening and talking some more—late into the nights. Much of our conversation has been discussing the tragic practice of “living for the weekend.” We’ve been gifted a beautiful life, yet we spend much of it surviving to get to the better day. Of seven days do we only really live on two? Do we have that much unhappiness to escape? Do we have that much disdain for life that we can only endure til the clock strikes five on Friday? Most humans live this way, or at least have lived this way at times, myself included. But, I for one, won’t for long.

Not only is it tragic for me, but for the Big Guy upstairs. I’m sure His thoughts for me are far higher. I’m sure His heartbeat for me much stronger and deeper. Yet, we settle for this disgusting bill-of-goods our our world sells, and we’re blind to it. I was reading in Romans this morning and this time my heart read familiar words differently:

“So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you; Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering.”

It goes on in much more detail. You should read it in new light. How beautiful. How refreshingly convicting. How liberating and freeing. This practice of placing of my whole life before God—the laundry, the long work days, the date nights, the grocery shopping, the early mornings, the late nights, the milestones, the good, the bad, and the ugly.  I think my offering has been a few days short for quite a while.

My kids seem to have this down pat.  They wake with the sun, full of smiles and kisses.  Sol immediately dresses, wants breakfast, and is eagerly happy to face his day. Leon wakes with more words that one can possibly imagine, following David around telling him all his dreams and schemes.  They don’t shy away from Monday like I do, or I should say, have been in the habit of doing.  It’s not that they don’t look forward to family movie night—they do. We all should. It’s not that they aren’t excited about Slurpee park dates—they most certainly are. But while they love all these things, they also wake with wonder, dancing out of bed, ready to LIVE another day given whatever it may bring. And they don’t worry about it beforehand. Maybe it’s why He tells us we have to be like children to enter His kingdom. I’m starting a “Thank God it’s Monday” club. (or Tuesday, Wednesday etc.) You should join.

I’ll write more soon, but groceries beckon!

All my love,

Bep



Visiting the past.

In Spring in New York on June 1, 2015 at 10:23 pm

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We just drove past a huge COOK OUT billboard and instantly we were taken back to Bonte’ and Lee’s front porch.  Hickory, how we loved you and the life we shared in that season. David can still remember the feeling of the wood on his bare feet, and I can feel the heavy moisture clinging for dear life. Those were the days. It’s been eighteen days shy of a year since I’ve seen Bonte’. I’m not even sure how that happened. Well, actually I do. My heart might burst seeing them tomorrow, and we get to meet Ms. Margot James Watson for the very first time. We might just eat her.

Driving those roads again, the ones we drove so many times before, is strange. It’s an achy, happy feeling. Our life in Virginia and law school seems so distant, though some of its memories still feel near. As you well remember, those years for us were laced with hardship and surprises, with loneliness and life-long friends, with beauty and pain.

Familiar places are good for our souls. They remind us of things forgotten, and give a peace to our hearts that few things can. I was realizing during our drive that the best thing they do though, is remind us of where we’ve come from. The good times in life then, were gifts hidden in a challenging season. I didn’t even want to go to Virginia. But, then in the end, though I was elated law school was complete, much of what Virginia held made it hard to leave. So much richness was waiting for us there. So many friendships that surprised me. So much growing we didn’t know we needed. So much steel being built in our bones.

Revisiting this chapter, put wind in my sails.  It reminded of the goodness that waits for me in this season, too. We can so easily forget the faithfulness that carried us to now.  Right?  We might not be able to see all the goodness just yet, but we’ll for sure look back and see it.

I know we are both good at reminiscing for the sake of nostalgia, but I think we need to revisit the past from time to time in a different way. Not because it’s always pleasant, not because it’s entirely good, not because it was perfect or pain free, or that we did it all right. We need to look back and see the faithfulness. We’ve made it a long ways. We’ve gained strength, we’ve grown, we’ve loved more, we’ve grieved, we’ve rejoiced, we’ve conquered mountains, we’ve aged and grown in wisdom, and though we have some scars, they even prove that we have healed.

I guess this might be the very reason they built altars of remembrance with stones. So they didn’t forget the goodness.

What do you remember?

Bep

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Looking for goodness…and heart burn (-ing)

In Teaneck Winter on April 8, 2015 at 8:24 pm

Well, this week has been full of adventures not limited to but including; allergic reactions, almost knocking out an adult tooth, and an injury at Costco, all of which involved Leon.  Now, I just overheard him saying to the neighbor boy upstairs, “don’t worry, if you die, we’ll still burn your heart”.  Then Sol piped in, “We’re talking mysteries”.  Thanks for clarifying Sol. Wish me luck on getting to the bottom of this one.  He definitely didn’t pick up the heart burning part form me.  I’m both shocked and laughing!  At least this week has provided laughs, family time, and an amazing Easter weekend with slightly springy weather.  I’ll take it!

I’ve come to realize something since writing you last week. My looking for the goodness of God proves difficult when the “goodness” I’m seeking has a very specific description. And, often it does.  For instance, the provision I actually want to see looks like a six figure salary with full benefits and paid vacation.   I’m not saying we shouldn’t believe for amazing jobs, and abundance.  Trust me, we are believing for just that. But, if my heart will only feel “provided” for if it’s that exact criteria, I may be looking for the wrong thing.  The last 7 months have been full of nothing but miraculous provision and jobs coming through at just the right time.  It’s been scary and amazing. Even so, I just crave the stability and security of knowing what tomorrow holds.  Since moving here, we’ve really only known what’s right in front of us.  I feel like a bit of a manna hoarder.  I’m the lady out there trying to grab enough for tomorrow too. Not for long.  I’m excited to see differently. I know it’s what I need.

So, here I am on my journey of trust–aren’t we all–learning to fully and whole heartedly sit back in the lap of Jesus, with all my weight, and find real rest.  It’s here my eyes are open to His provision, on His terms.  He’s all the stability we will ever need.

Love you, my friend.

Bep

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Winter energies and no facilities.

In Uncategorized on March 31, 2015 at 10:08 pm

We’ve somehow managed to retain an enormous amount of winter energy and decided, whatever the weather, to rid ourselves of some of it by heading to the park.  So confident of my scheme, I even ventured against traffic to Starbucks–one without a drive through, and you know what that means–to have coffee in hand for this daring adventure.

Ten minutes post arrival I see Sol running towards me with a look of terror.  He had to poop.  Our beloved Harrick Park, one so secret the boys are convinced we are the only humans who know of it, also happens to be the only park in the history of the world not to have a bathroom.  As you know, our family freely relieves themselves on many a random patch of grass or tree without hesitation.  Poop is a different story.  Needless to say, our winter energy remains.

This inconvenience has made me realize that I feel this way about the winter season of my soul.   I realize it sounds a bit odd and kind of grotesque, but it’s also revelatory.  Our winter in the natural has been long.  It’s been hard work, and messy and taxing, and down right exhausting, and on some days I wonder if spring will ever come.  Winter has been the same for my soul and sometimes I just want to rid myself of the toxins of the season, but find there is no outlet.  And, just like the park, in spite of the efforts towards change, the outcome isn’t what I hoped for.

Waiting can be sickening.  It’s not even that I doubt His showing up, it’s the handling of my heart in the meantime that is the delicate challenge.  I’ve found myself wondering what Abraham and Joseph felt like waiting? I’m sure there were moments they felt a lot like us.  We know their “morning” came, and know ours will come.  He always shows up. Though I don’t know exactly the time and seasons, He does. His grace holds me.  Spring has ALWAYS come, always. Until then, in the not knowing when, I’m heading to the park again.

Love you,

Bep
P.S. My praying plant (literally) died over winter, and guess what just popped up?  Yep!  I’ll take it as a sign.
P.P.S.  We drove to Duck Donuts today for the first time!!!! Hallelujah!

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Making springs.

In Teaneck Winter on January 13, 2015 at 10:51 am

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Morning!  Hope you slept well.  I made the foolish decision to crawl back into bed after David left this morning thinking an extra hour of snoozing would somehow benefit my day.  Unwise decision, very unwise.  Glad the sun doesn’t hesitate to face the day, I’m getting better at it, just not today.  Now I feel groggy. I didn’t really sleep a wink in that hour and instead was half dreaming about ninja turtles.  I think the wake-dreaming subject matter was a direct correlation to the loud and passionate dialogue coming from Butter and Spanky in the other room.  They have no trouble facing the day and within minutes of being up are already conquering worlds and defeating bad guys somewhere.  I’ll try and learn from them.  The bad guys I will defeat today, are disguised very well and look a lot like mounds of laundry.  Good thing I have experience in this arena.  I know their tactics and I know how this will end. Me-1, Laundry-0.  Hope you get to defeat some bad guys today too.

So, I’ve been thinking a lot.  Such a surprise, I know.  I was reading in Psalms the other morning and read an amazing scripture.  I know I’ve read it before, but one particular phrase has not left me. It says, “Blessed are those whose strength is in You, in whose heart are the highways to Zion.  As they go through the Valley of Baca, they make it a place of springs; the early rain also covers it with pools.  They go from strength to strength; each one appears before God in Zion”. Psalm 84:5-7. Several things in this passage really stood out to me. Baca, means dryness or weeping.  Crazy, right?  These two words are very familiar to me lately,  as you know, but the next bit is the part that’s haunting me. “They make it a place of springs”.  They make it–I must make this stretch of the journey a place of water, a place of drinking deep.  How the heck do you make springs in a dry place, other than with tears?  Funny, I know, but, really? It also says, “As they go through”, or “passing through”.  I think this very phrase is one of the keys to making springs in desserts.  Don’t set up shop in the desert.  Don’t imagine decorating your house there.  Don’t try and familiarize yourself with the layout, don’t settle down, keep passing through.  Don’t change plans and discard the map.  Don’t grow weary and decide this must be the final destination.  Set your sights ahead to the other side.  Circle the star at the final destination!  Keep dreaming!  Put one foot in front of the other.  Keep walking.  Take the journey one day at a time. We are taking ground! We can’t stop here!  That word  passing through literally means transition, or passage. Such a great reminder, right?  I also thought it very interesting that this whole passage is a they passage.  That’s why I am writing you.  We need each other on this journey to the other side. Thank God we’re not alone.  It’s much easier to make springs together.

The other thing that really grabbed my heart was the phrase “early rain covers it with pools”.  This goes back to the facing the day business.  Deserts get hotter as the day goes on, which I’m sure evaporates the early pools.  Its ok, you can trust my desert expertise!  Wink, wink.  Of all the times in life that it is difficult, uninspiring, and down right challenging to face the day with courage and a happy heart, it’s in a dry, weeping season.  But if there are early pools awaiting me, by golly, help kick my derrière into gear and tell me to find the pools.  Call me crazy on this, and yes, it’s probably not what it really means if you asked the scholars, but it works for me.  Oh, friend, we can do this.  We can make our land full of springs!

Obviously, thankfulness is HUGE for making springs.  I’m going to be thankful.  You watch me! And, I’ll probably be telling you about it. I am also going to be setting my heart on his promises, and listening to His GPS.  Remind me not to listen to the pond scum.  Verses 11 and 12 in the same chapter are amazing.  “For the Lord is a sun and shield.  The Lord bestows favor and honor.  No good thing will the Lord withhold from those who walk uprightly.  O Lord of Hosts, blessed is the man who trusts in you.”  What a drink for our souls.

With David gone 6 days a week, and only home for dinner on Saturday’s and Sunday’s, I was feeling very uninspired to cook and had resorted to quesadillas for almost a week straight.  Well, I guess I had the flu too,  and could give a bit of credit to that, but regardless, my poor children cannot survive on quesadillas alone.  After pondering these scriptures, I have decided one way to make springs is to still cook.  You know me, I’m a cooker.  I love it.  So that’s what I’m going to do, keep cooking, and I’m going to keep enjoying it.  Last nights Winter Chili was the “spring” for the day.  What are you going to do to make springs?

Love you so much!

Bep

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