Cracks and caulk

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brick-215779_1280Our house was built in the 80’s. It’s a nice little tri-level with three unremarkable bedrooms, one full, one 3/4 and one 1/2 bath and plenty of “comfy” everywhere.

My grandma’s robin’s nest table just fits in the dining area and the hutch Bill Burton II made sits centered under the peak of the lofted ceiling between the living and dining rooms.

We remodeled the kitchen a few years ago, but the family room could use a refresh. Tim’s office serves as our “basement” and the laundry room could use a few more shelves for what-not. Asher and Audrey each have a room of their own, although Asher shares some of his for my studio.

Yes, our house is just right.

But, good golly, Miss Molly, even after all of these years, we occasionally see a new crack in one of the walls.

Tim, of course, is much more concerned about cracks than I am. I don’t think he fears serious foundation issues, but these shifts do create new little gaps between window frames and walls, leaving tiny entrances for tiny creatures. Ugh.

We keep a close eye on those cracks, and do the necessary caulking as needs be. No reason to let those gaps turn into holes – not when we have perfectly good solutions.

I was a wife, mom and step-mom in the 80’s. I substituted at our local schools and worked for a while at a little coffee bean store. I lived a beautifully unremarkable life. It wasn’t fancy. I wasn’t famous… And we were completely happy. We had enough and occasionally some extra. I enjoyed a close church family and always knew Jesus, who I met as a child, was close by.

My life has been remodeled in many ways. My family of the 80’s changed quite a bit: Bill died and grandchildren were born. I met and married Tim, started new careers (which needed constant refreshing) and still can’t always find time to fit in all of the what-nots I have to do. But I live close to those I love and have plenty of room for what’s really important.

Yes, my life is just right.

But good golly, Miss Molly, even after all of these years of walking with the Lord, I occasionally see a new crack in my soul.

They are not big or alarming cracks. I have no reason to question my spiritual foundation. But these shifts in thoughts or understanding sometimes lead to tiny gaps, leaving tiny entrances for tiny creatures of darkness. Ugh.

I don’t want those gaps to turn into holes either. I don’t want to give the darkness any opportunity to invade my soul.

So, I found a new way to caulk.

It’s called the Examen, “a technique of prayerful reflection on the events of the day in order to detect God’s presence and discern his direction for us.  The Examen is an ancient practice in the Church that can help us see God’s hand at work in our whole experience.” It was recommended to me by Ed Cyzewski, a Believer and author I admire. He recommends a more contemplative life for those of us caught up in frenzy and rushing. I like his style.

As I researched the Examen, I found quite a few suggestions, like doing it twice a day (noon and bedtime). There are also variations in the questions or prompts. I use this one.

It started out a little bumpy for me. I just can’t do it at night. And I’m not ready for twice a day. But I got it figured out.examen

First thing in the morning, with a cup of coffee and lavender candle, I journal my prayer. Watching the words appear on the page, as they spill out of my soul, helps me focus and reflect.

I will at times go back and reread them… and thank Jesus for answered prayer or new insight. And I realize He put a bit of caulk in one of those tiny cracks.

As I practice this daily prayer and reflection, I am reminded of who I am in Jesus. I’m assured that, by His love, my foundation will never fail. My tiny cracks may not disappear, but they won’t get any more serious.

Not if I continue to pray for some holy caulk.

 

As I practice daily prayer and reflection, I am reminded of who I am in Jesus. Click to Tweet.

Epiphany

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wall-1283024_1280I have spoken more than once of my self-loathing about clutter. How I have longed to be a minimalist. I want to take three bins, labels them Keep, Donate, and Pitch and dive right in.

But maybe there are those of us who just can’t.

Not long ago, I had an epiphany about this in the children’s section of the library.

Epiphany. Oh, how I love words that make my heart do a happy dance. Epiphany: “an intuitive grasp of reality through something (as an event) usually simple and striking; an illuminating discovery, realization, or disclosure; a revealing scene or moment.” (from Merriam-Webster)

We experience epiphanies everyday in various sizes, shapes and weights. We often call them something else – discoveries… learning… ideas… or shaZAAM! But the big fat heavy ones, those that take our breath away… just WOW!

So, we were at the library. As Audrey played and wandered about, I picked up Winnie: The True Story of the Bear Who Inspired Winnie-the-Pooh. It traces the unusual life of Harry Colebourn, a Canadian soldier in World War I, who bought and cared for a real, live bear he named Winnipeg – Winnie, for short.

Author Sally M. Walker tells us, “…no matter where Winnie went during the day, she slept under Harry’s cot every night.” And illustrator, Jonathan D. Voss, created a picture of Harry, soundly sleeping on a cot under a khaki green blanket. And under the cot is Winnie, soundly sleeping.

Harry loved her so, but near the end of the book, he realized that the best permanent home for Winnie would be the London Zoo.

As I read the bittersweet words describing Harry’s hard decision, I looked to the top of the page at the illustration and almost lost it right there in the library.

Voss had created a vision of both loss and contentment in one painting. It depicts Harry, soundly sleeping on a cot under a khaki green blanket. And under the cot is a framed picture of his bear, Winnie.

As I write this, my throat tightens up again.

It is the perfect example of the simple way Harry stayed close to the bear that he loved. He kept a simple picture in a special place. The right place.

And then came the epiphany about minimalism and memories and little things.

My studio is crowded. There’s a bed, a small writing desk, framed pictures – on shelves and on the wall – and cluttered bulletin boards.

There are also three tall cabinets, side-by-side, with doors and drawers on the bottom and shelves on the top. The shelves are f*u*l*l of baskets, books, pictures, boxes – almost every one a memory.

Ana’s baby shoes and Audrey’s Uggs. The carved wooden Don Quixote, who tilted at windmills, from Remelle. A plush purple Figment from a time I thought I could inspire kids to write. A small wooden violin, a reminder of The Touch of the Master’s Hand Tim’s mom’s skinny wooden loon. The parasol Ana carried to shield her face from Andy’s sight as she walked from the club to the wedding aisle. The pink ceramic box with the white roof lid from Bermuda, full of cookies when we checked in at the last place Bill and I vacationed. The wooden painted XOXO that Tim knew I couldn’t live without. Printed quotes and greeting cards, hearts and peace signs of all descriptions from people I love.

Good golly, Miss Molly.

If pressed, I could get rid of those clothes that I still believe I can “shrink into.” I could live in a smaller space with less furniture and craft supplies and serving platters. I could even – yikes – loan a few books to teachers and other trustworthy friends. Maybe.

(And, honestly, I’d like an excuse to get rid of some things – you know, the gift from Aunt Martha that’s too big and, well, just too…)

But these reminders? These memories? Nope. They are here to stay.

So, thank you, Jonathan Voss. Thanks to you and a framed picture of a little bear, now I know. I’m not a minimalist. I never will be.

 

We call our everyday epiphanies something else – discoveries, learning, ideas, or shaZAAM! Click to Tweet