Seen and Known

Two weeks ago our friends, the Metcalfes from Seattle, joined us in the freezing mid-west for a fun extended weekend together. We haven’t seen each other for almost one year! It was so good to be with them – because we have 10 years of history together. They have done life with us through some of the hardest seasons of our lives and they know how new things affect us as a result of that knowledge.

The best part though is that not only do we have history together, we have futures together too. We dream together of what could be, what we long to see unfold, what stirs our hearts and souls and what makes us mourn. We laugh together. We tease each other. Conversations flow easily and sometimes silence and presence are enough to fill the moment. It is so lovely to be in their presence and to enjoy one another! Speaking the past and dreaming the future fuels our friendship and warms up embers that maybe are less full of life because of distance and the lack of being able to live in the same zip code.

Here are some pictures of our fun times together.

After our visit, my heart was stirred up in regards to how passionate I feel about friendship and community. To me, community means that you are seen, known and loved and that you willingly place yourself there. It is an environment where people “get” you, but also a place where you are willing to hear what those people who get you have to say to you – the good and the less than good and the bad.

This means that they might say something to you that’s not so great to hear. There might be an observation made that is uncomfortable. But when you are in this kind of community there is an understanding (that has come through trials of fire sometimes!) that you will wrestle with what is brought out.

That’s hard stuff. There are not many people I want to have that kind of relationship with and there are even fewer I trust to do that with me!

This isn’t the kind of community you have with everyone. But it must be present with someone. Community like this helps us to keep our hearts soft I think. It sees through the tough exterior that hides what is down deep.

I don’t experience this kind of friendship with everyone, but I can’t imagine my life without experiencing this somewhere with someone. The grateful heart that this visit from our dear friends stirred up in me helped propel me to other areas of gratefulness too. I found myself thanking God for the people in my life (and zip code) who see things that another would miss.  I prayed that I would be the kind of person who sees things more clearly so I can love them well too.

May you be stirred toward gratefulness for someone you celebrate seeing and knowing and being seen and known by today.

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Wading Through Summer

It hit me the other day as I packed up to go to the pool with my crew; we need a lot less stuff than a few years ago. (REJOICE!) I remember days feeling like a total sherpa (you know, the guys who carry all the gear on donkeys up mountains for a big climb?) with all the life protecting gear, food and toys and “just in case” items; not to mention towels and shoes and clothes for everyone.

Today I played with my ancient bestie who is providing respite care for a baby while her foster family is on vacation. She has two boys who are the same age as mine, so this child makes three. It took her 3 trips (with help) to get back and forth from the car to the pool where we hung out today. She had baby formula and pureed food on her shirt and pants. It all came back to me as I helped her and watched her do what comes naturally to us as Mothers. The loving and the caring, the helping and the serving, the sacrifice and the struggle.

On the one hand, I am so glad to be passed that stage (of carrying their stuff) with my kids, but on the other I miss those baby days!  They are so precious and fleeting.

My brain still feels like a plate of spaghetti most days, just as it has since my children arrived. Only now days I feel as if I need to make an excel spreadsheet for all the things I’m trying to keep straight as the worlds of each individual in my family collide, overlap and co-habitate. Life as a Mom is so BIG and so encompassing.

Our transition this summer was much faster than usual into summer chaos. It wasn’t like I thought it would be. They didn’t even need two weeks! There has been little drama in fact. Everyone seems to be getting along and genuinely enjoying all that each day holds. We’ve reveled in eating dinner on the back porch and sat in awe and gratefulness as the sun sets and our kids run around the yard squirting each other with waterguns.

Life isn’t perfect over here. The sink is leaking, there’s a mouse in the basement, sales are slow to come in at my husbands job and I’m juggling summer child care for my side job. There are broken relationships that weigh heavy on my heart, sorrow and despair that friends and family are wrestling with and so many other things not worth mentioning here.

I’m challenging myself to be grateful for the beauty, to find my sense of awe and passion in what life holds right here and now. God is there, in those details and pathways.

Today a young friend said, ” I wish we didn’t have free will. It would be so much better if we didn’t.” I responded, “No, it wouldn’t. Without free will there is no awe, there is no worship.” My ancient bestie added, “there would be no sense of beauty”. Life is a gift to discover. Even in our pain and our sorrow they remind us and point us to what is good and true and lovely.

Today I am grateful for my lovely friend who has opened her heart to a baby whose story is already difficult and sad. I am grateful for kids who can put their own shoes on and help me carry our stuff. I am grateful for mouse traps and a second french press and bowls to catch the water from leaky sinks. And I am thankful for a God who sees, who knows, who names and calls us to himself.  #longlivesummer #glorytogodinthehighest