Monday, October 24, 2016

Why It Can Be Well With Me

She comes out of her room twirling, hands outstretched high.

“Do I look pretty?,” she wants to know.

It’s rainbow day in kindergarten and she’s got one on her shirt paired with a glitter accented tulle skirt that's filled with multicolored tiny poms.

“Color me happy,” her top reads, and she most definitely is.

I want what she has.

My soul isn’t playing in unison with hers.

I deduce it’s the season. A few weeks ago we went to the pumpkin patch with the girls. Walking through the muddied ground in search of the perfect pumpkin, we laughed about my intent for a MUCH smaller one because the innards gross me out. As the day faded into night, though, and my head hit the pillow, tears streamed down my face.

Last October cancer was not part of our story and now we visit the cemetery. Thanksgiving was the first holiday after the diagnosis. A pumpkin centerpiece sat atop my dining room table and Gary wrote he was thankful for every breath on our Attitude of Gratitude tablecloth.

How did we get from there to here so fast? Weathered by the storm, what feels like years is, in fact, only calendar months.

Kristene DiMarco and Bethel Music plays through my phone on the way on the way to conferences. There's a lot happening on this day.

I wish I could capture my girl’s smile as she looks at her teacher. It’s genuine and her eyes are lit bright. The conference is for us to hear but her teacher’s gaze is set on Grace as she speaks not only of how proud she is of Grace for her classroom success but for how she has shared this year. I wonder if she knows how much deeper my girl goes thanks to her? I wonder if she realizes the new found strength Grace has discovered in vulnerability? There is a richness in Grace’s expression she’s drawn into the light.

It’s when I move out of her room and go to the school lounge that it all hits. I pick up the first crock pot to wash and remember that fall conferences were later last year. It coincided with blanket day and blanket day was the day I first shared with someone that cancer was affecting our family. Paralyzed by fresh remembrance, I stood there at the sink in shock when a friend’s voice broke through the silence.

“How is your family doing?,” she asked, wetting a washcloth to clean with me.

“You wouldn’t even believe what I just realized,” I began.

Our hands did the mundane while our voices shared work of the heart.

Déjà vu of last year, when the acquaintance - now turned treasured friend - whom I dared speak the words aloud to at the blanket tying came into the lounge and began to wash. Not because the work is fun. I mean, let’s be honest. I tell my husband the domestic days of my year are staff appreciation because it is the only time I actually wash by hand. But because she cared.

In full awareness, I texted her as I arrived home this year. At conferences [last year] you came in and helped wash dishes, standing by my side in one of the most beautiful acts of generosity and kindness. Thank you for your friendship and all the moments you’ve stood alongside. Physically and emotionally.”

Her reply was immediate. I thought of you this morning and you and your family have been on my heart all day.

She remembered. She remembered when I didn’t. A teacher spoke life into struggle. A friend shared space with me to process as I cleaned again this year on this significant day.

Dear readers, I don’t know what the waves and winds are in your life today or what they will be. I only know that we all face storms. Weird and hard days where resolution feels next to impossible.

And rainbow day becomes a good reminder for all of us.

Even when the rains fall the beat down isn’t the total of our story. God is near and, if we just take time to lift our eyes, we see evidence of this Lord’s faithfulness. In the mere fact that we can put one foot in front of the next. In the encouragement of another. In ordinary places that becomes shared holy spaces. In the heartbeat of hope bigger than the pull of lament.

God loves you and Promise weaves our way to victory.

So it is that at the end of rainbow day, I, too, found my hands outstretched, palms up. For when our eyes are on the Lord, it can be well with me.


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