A napkin idea

photo-1470169048093-08ac89858749If I didn’t write in my journal this morning, I’m pretty sure I would have exploded.

I’ve been having a lot of feelings lately.  Just pick an emotion, and I’ve probably felt it at some point within these past couple of weeks, if not all within these past few days.

Unfortunately, I have not been on top of my reflection/processing game as I usually am.  My job keeps me busy, so there’s always a crazy long list of things to do, but this season of work at the beginning of the academic year is always a bit more chaotic and crazier.  I’m more physically tired, so it’s easier for me to prioritize sleep over reflection, and I am stretched way out of my comfort zone more frequently in this season, so it’s easier to re-energize with other life-giving activity and overlook taking the time to pause and be still.

But I decided that today I needed to make sure I did that before all my feelings spilled out of my sleeves.

As I was reflecting in silence, I noticed how the clouds were moving pretty quickly through the perfect blue sky.  It made me think about how stressed out I and other recovering perfectionists like I can get about things not going the way we planned or hoped, or the unfinished tasks and failed attempts to complete them – and yet the earth keeps on spinning and the clouds keep on moving no matter what the outcome is.

It kind of felt like the beginning of a song.  The words would be different, of course, because the image of clouds feels pretty cheesy to me, but I like it as a subject – the constant rolls of stress and yet the little control of movement we have and the reminder to slow down, take account of the really important things, and don’t forget that the world won’t fall apart if we mess up.

That’s about as far as I got with the idea, though, because I still needed to sort through my trough of feelings (ugh, feelings).  But I wanted to write a little bit of something here to remember that moment and that little idea to see if I could spend some more time on it later.  Kind of like when you have an idea and you grab a napkin because you want to write it down before you forgot and that’s the first or only writing receptacle you can get your hands on.

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Fr-Easter Feast

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Imagine eating rice and beans every day for lunch and dinner for 40 days.  And I mean so-so rice and beans, not your friend’s grandmother’s arroz con frijoles negros.

Well, Nathan and I have found it to be a great way to acknowledge our sinfulness and deep need for Jesus, so we have begun to make it a tradition of observing the season of Lent by eating rice and beans.

Which makes Easter highly anticipated and sometimes puts me into a groveling, spoiled two-year-old-esque state of being.  Oh, how I need Jesus.

But every year for Easter since we’ve moved to Rochester 4 years ago, we’ve had a grand feast.  And for the past few years, Nathan’s family has come to feast with us, but this year they weren’t able to make it.  So we decided to invite all of our friends who didn’t have family in the Rochester area to come over for an Easter potluck – hence, FrEaster.  It’s like Friendsgiving, except for Easter.  I know, it sounds better in concept, not in name.

Nathan ordered a beautiful beef tenderloin from McCann’s Local Meats, our new local butchery, made fresh bread from natural yeast (inspired by Michael Pollan’s books and Netflix series, Cooked), and I made ice cream sandwiches from scratch.  I’ll share about all these yummy foods in another post.

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Our friends each brought a dish to pass, and boy was it a great spread.  There were garlic mashed potatoes, roasted root vegetables, pancetta-wrapped asparagus, and street bourbon chicken.  Oh.  My.  So delicious.  We didn’t exactly coordinate what everyone was bringing, but I love how the spread was pretty cohesive.

The weather was also miraculously beautiful, so we feasted outside in the beautiful sun and warm weather.  We had random conversations about people at the gym and deeper conversations about personality types, with one of our friends’ adorable little kids poking their head out or running around us shooting us with “egg guns” or showing us their masterful Tinker Toy invention every few minutes.  A game of Kan Jam was had, with the little 3-year-old asking, “Mommy, is it okay if my dress and stockings get dirty?” before spending the next 15 minutes tossing dirt into the fire pit.

Then we rolled late into the evening with a small bonfire as guests came and went and drank and ate and then slowly trickled out.

It was beautiful.

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The weight of this beauty didn’t quite hit me until the next morning, though, when I spent time with Jesus reflecting on the day.  I know I practically threw in the towel in the realm of friendship-making in my last post, but it hit me on Monday morning that I couldn’t say I didn’t have friends in Rochester anymore.  I do have friends.  I have good friends.  I’m not sure if they would stand the test of time or changes in seasons of life yet, but they’re growing friendships and they’re people who care about me and I care about them.

And it was in this moment of recognition that I sensed Jesus’ great love for me and His presence in my life, in a way that I hadn’t experienced since I moved to Rochester.  You may think you don’t have friends, He said, but I’ve been helping you make friends this whole time.  And I have been with you.

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My heart resonates.

“It seems as if I am standing on one side of a huge canyon and see how I should grow toward You, live in Your presence and serve You, but cannot reach the other side of the canyon where You are.  I can speak and write, preach and argue about the beauty and goodness of the life I see on the other side, but how, O Lord, can I get there?  Sometimes I even have the painful feeling that the clearer the vision, the more aware I am of the depth of the canyon.”

–From A Cry for Mercy by Henri J. M. Nouwen