Since we both work from home, our productive goal is to step out of bed at 7:00 am, but today, we lingered 'til 9:30 am, cuddling with Harley, who purred between our heads. We prayed a little, joked a little, then mustered the energy to stand up, Over the Rhine coffee dangling in our minds like the proverbial carrot.
Johnny combined the ingredients for a half batch of almond flour pancakes, and laid strips of bacon in a pan. I brewed enough coffee to fill our favorite mugs once, and washed a plastic box of beautiful, organic strawberries. As my husband flipped pancakes and sizzled swine, I picked 7-8 of the prettiest berries and placed 'em in a Nuwave Twister along with Sweet-n-Natural. The mixture blended to a frothy, dark pink hue. I dipped my finger in the sweet liquid, licked, and grinned like a kid.
We thanked God for the feast, the weather, our marriage, and my slow healing. I helped myself to three pancakes covered in warm strawberry goodness, two pieces of crispy bacon, and watched steam rise from our coffee mugs. Speaking of, I do not have time in my life for light roast coffee. I just don't. The darker, the better.
The strawberry "syrup" was reminiscent of late nights at IHOP - you know, those messy containers of super-sweet syrups. I got nostalgic over old times and diets for a minute, but there's nowhere else I'd rather have been today. I love to bake, but like everything else I do in my life, cooking is more fun with Johnny. We make a good team, if I do say so myself. He's silly, I'm too serious, but we balance out the other.
We ate slowly - well, I ate slowly, as always, and Johnny kindly stayed at the table to chit-chat with me. But we couldn't wait to get outside: 74 degrees, blue sky as clear as the foot of Jesus' throne, birds twittering old-school, and scary wasps hovering, doing whatever providential task it is they do. It's fine by me as long as they do it far away. Our expanded Easter lily band was gettin' busy. The short white trumpets leaned near to the soil, singing to the bugs and worms. The taller band members turned left, then right, playing to the walkers, bike-riders, cars, squirrels, cats, birds, and butterflies. I hope they play several encores - we're still in Eastertide, after all. The stately pine trees swayed in praise, maybe a little tipsy from the perfume of gardenias quietly guarding the perimeter of our bedroom, dining room, and kitchen walls.
We took a walk around the trail which circles a retention pond, something we were grateful for recently when the heavens nearly flooded all of Houston. We saw more red-winged blackbirds and mockingbirds, and a mystery duck species, all too fast for our limited photography skills. But I happen to like this happy accident - I was trying to capture a mourning dove:
Turtles sloshed in puddles of water, escaping the heat. We saw pink thistles and baby trees shaky on their feet, anchored to the ground. The sun felt so good on my skin and the breeze whispered secrets in my ear. Admiring a neighbor's house, I put hibiscus on my flower wish list. Then I could make homemade hibiscus tea, you see. If you thought I was a nature girl before, just you wait. Suffering has made me grasp white-knuckled for beauty - thirsty for it, hugging it close. And for one who once hated being rained on, and loathed to sweat, I'm a changed girl. We willingly walked through a sprinkler today, and I'm all about sweating out toxins.
We both have a lot to learn about pruning, and gardening, but the wildness of our land is breathtaking - all those flowers and greens growing no matter that we are clueless. It's a beautiful reminder of grace which I carried inside after our warm, sweaty walk. I did as my Mom taught me and placed three gardenias in a favorite blue bowl filled with a little water. It beats any candle or incense I could find - the flower essence is filling the living room as I type.
Lunch was leftover chicken shawarma, red bell pepper, and tahini dressing on salad greens, sprinkled with sumac. I took a shower in our sky blue bathroom, suffused by natural light, steam, and tea tree oil. I pray in the shower; I don't sing.
Our pastor mentioned Hannah in his sermon yesterday. She prayed and prayed and begged for a child and vowed to the Lord something to the effect of, "If You will bless me with a son, I will lend him to Your service." I relate to Hannah, sitting here waiting for babies. I love her song which reminds me, I need to work on mine. It feels uncomfortable to admit that my song is for our forthcoming daughter, but it is. I don't think I'll have to drop off our kids at the steps of our Church building or anything, but they will serve the Lord whether they are artists, musicians, missionaries, accountants, football players, or what have you. I won't be too stern, but I imagine the first time my daughter or son really screws up, I'll say, "Look, your Dad and I waited several years for you. A long time. You're a real, live miracle. I gave up granola, Greek yogurt, and scones for 2-3 years for you. I love you something fierce, but you better get to serving the Lord, you hear me?"
Lately, I've been shocked to find beauty in sickness. Feeling as if we're nearing the end for realz, I look back and see all kinds of artful parallels. For one, Scripture mentions yeast, or leaven, more than once. The onset of infirmity was my Egypt; the long healing process is my Exodus. A child-rearing future is our Promised Land, here in this spacious house, flowing with milk and honey - quite literally in the fridge and pantry, but also, oh so spiritually. God has surely been disciplining me, rooting out not only yeast toxins, but also some bad habits that just won't do for maturity, motherhood, or respecting my husband. I didn't enjoy spankings from my Dad, but I've thanked him the past few years. This is kind of like that with me and God.
If you step foot in the empty nursery upstairs, I guarantee your arms would tingle with faith in what you can't see, either. It actually happened to my Mom, inspiring her to hide a handwritten note to her grandchildren in that room; I tucked it in my journal for safekeeping. It happened to me, too, when I went up there yesterday to check on feline mayhem. I heard lullabies not yet sung, caught visions of the nursery decor, and almost an outline of toddlers making a grand toy-mess on the floor. I even felt myself rocking a little one back and forth under soft light, covering the small head with a hymn. I heard bath water splashing in the adjacent bathroom. So, this yeast thing is already stirring an essay in my head, sure signs that I'm a writer.
For now, I take our cats' heads in my hands, nuzzle my face in their fur - that sweet smell - and say aloud, "God made you, and I just love you." To Harley, "You're our firstborn cat, we chose you - by far the prettiest animal in that shelter. You are cautious, and funny on the sly. You love to play with spitty strings of hemp twine and drink water from the faucet. You act innocent, but you're often the instigator, leading your little brother to race up and down the stairs." To Milo, "You're so little - the runt abandoned by his Mama. We thought surely you'd die; you were tiny in that cardboard box, chirping like a bird. We had no idea what we were doing, but God showed us how to feed you throughout the night - great parenting practice - and you grew and grew. You are hyper in the mornings, and scared of nothing. Well, except other people, rain, and thunder." And to both, "Just wait! You will stare in wonder (and horror) at a crying baby one day soon, but you will love her/him; she/he will love you two. We will be a family, this I know."