As we drove down the long stretch of I-10 to Church yesterday, I frowned. I moped. I didn't talk much. A café Americano helped somewhat, yet my soul was blue (more about that in a sec). I was grateful for sunglasses because my eyes flinched at the bright sunshine. My eyelids were puffy from crying the night before.
However, no matter my mood, whenever we arrive at Church, I'm instantly cheered. One of our friends will smile and say, "Good morning," and I silently thank God for our little family there. I surprise myself and smile back. I catch a glimpse of our Godson, Judah, in the nursery - that always does it - he is SO CUTE. I look around the table at Sunday School - everyone cradling cups of coffee, listening. I always know that I am supposed to be right there. Early morning and all, it is good to be in that place.
As a bonus yesterday, Judah stood between me and his Mom as we knelt at the Communion rail. He smiled wide the whole time, and he has two rows of the sweetest little teeth. He made me laugh there at the altar as he crossed himself. He didn't quite make an actual Cross, but it was adorable nonetheless. He tried to help me with the cup of wine, but thank goodness his Mom stopped him, or I'd have had a nice big stain on my shirt.
We didn't have Sunday School before the liturgy (summer break), so I chatted with a friend of mine. She seems to be ever-filled with joy (it's contagious) - always a smile on her face. I once saw a tired smile, but it was still a grin. She is very generous, too. She recently gave me a few books, and you know how I feel about reading. One of those books is A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23 by W. Phillip Keller. It's a short classic, simply written, yet full of wisdom. Keller, born in East Africa, was an actual shepherd for several years, so his perspective on Psalm 23 is very interesting. For some reason, it's been a long time since I've read a book about Scripture, and this small paperback has been a great comfort.
I told my friend so and she was thrilled. Then we discussed how we both read more than one book at a time (often 2-3). Her face lit up when she said, "You HAVE to read The Imitation of Christ!" I promised I would soon since I own a copy. And during the course of our conversation, she proceeded to share things that my weary soul needed to hear at this time in my life:
-Healing happens when you sleep.
-When I said, "But I can't sleep well lately!" she said, "Meditate/silently chant 'The Lord is my shepherd: therefore can I lack nothing. He shall feed me in a green pasture: and lead me forth beside the waters of comfort....'" and so on, until I can ponder all of Psalm 23, resting my head on a pillow.
-She learned these lessons during previous health struggles of her own, and through recent personal trials. Like me, she confessed to being a "rigid person" by nature, but realized that if she didn't learn flexibility and faith, she'd crack to pieces. I took that to heart.
I could've smacked myself on the head. Like, what else should I be thinking about when I can't fall asleep? Mulling over fears, worries, and self-pity sure isn't working.
My friend's advice is especially timely right now. Johnny left early this morning to play drums at a week-long camp w/The Smith Band. I knew what I was getting into marrying a musician, but his summer camp schedule always catches me by surprise. So that's what I've been depressed about the past week or so. I've been dreading feeling sick all by myself. I know deep down I'm safe, but Johnny's handsome company and help are deep blessings each day.
However, I'm not actually alone, right? I know this. God is with me; He is near to all of His sheep. So this morning, with Psalm 23 and W. Phillip Keller's book in my thoughts, I hung the old man and his cat next to mav's beautiful sheep. I think what I see in the old man is how God loves me. His joy that He is my shepherd. His eyes ever open, attentive, caring for me. And when I wipe my tears and lay down my questions, I am that cat - content, trusting my Maker:
In addition, I have plenty to keep me occupied this week:
-I'm still reading The New York Times from yesterday. I know what I said here, but I missed the rustle of a newspaper too much. I wish The Houston Chronicle was a good paper, but in my opinion, it's not. For example, I recently looked up their arts coverage which was American Idol and poetry by 8-year-olds. It's just not the same as the NY Times Book Review or the Arts & Leisure section (though I do support young poets). So, I'll be reading the Times again on Sunday afternoons and Monday mornings. As long as I'm actually reading it, and we can afford to give to our favorite organizations, I think it's OK to re-subscribe. Plus, Jen of simply breakfast pointed out that this week's Travel section illustration is by Julia Rothman.
-I will create the habit of morning + evening prayer, Lord willing. I surely needed to read this old favorite during the A.M.:
"For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind."
[2 Timothy 1:7]
-I'll update my prayer request notebook. And pray.
-I'm gonna visit my friend Amy B. and her four cute kids. She needs adult conversation and I need to talk to a person vs. cats. I'm also looking forward to the childlike chaos. Maybe Ian will cook me another entrée, and Izzy will draw me a picture - she's already an artist.
-Catch up on all of my letter-writing and thank you notes.
-Call my Mom. That is, when her cell phone gets fixed. Heck, she might get an iPhone instead! Johnny and I are locked into a dumb Sprint contract. No fair.
-Use up lots of cell phone minutes talking to Johnny.
-Lars and the Real Girl is waiting in our DVD player, and All the Real Girls and Babette's Feast are on the way.
[we finished season 3 of Battlestar Galactica last night. All I can say is, HO-ly cow!]
-Listen to music. She & Him is still on repeat, and I purchased Tom Waits' Mule Variations from iTunes. Since I didn't receive any suggestions (thanks a lot), I selected that album like a shot in the dark. It was a good shot. I've been bobbing my head, snapping my fingers (even shaking my hips), and digging Waits' gritty voice & songs.
-Catch up on podcasts, especially Fresh Air and This American Life.
-I might check out a new (to me) bookstore - The Bookworm Shop - and hide a few poems.
-Shop a little for Father's Day. I snagged one item from Etsy, but I need a few more things for my Dad's box.
-I ought to do some yoga. I received an e-mail from Yoga Today - tomorrow's free video is for beginners (that's me). Then I can sip a cup of Tazo Om tea - I caved and picked up a box at Whole Foods.
-Dust the living room. Really, it's a dust bowl in here.
-Try this chickpea recipe.
-Learn to enjoy solitude again.
-But maybe coerce my nearby friends to drop by for coffee or tea?
-Afternoon naps and improving my bedtime at night. I pray this will be a week of rest, and healing.