Wednesday, April 27, 2016

What I’ve Kept


Jeff gives great gifts.  I am not sure how he does it but his gifts are thoughtful {sigh….}, or it becomes one of the things you don’t know how you functioned without it, or it’s just plain fun— or interesting- though he never likes for me to use that word to describe a gift he’s given me. For me to tell you he gave me a book with 642 ideas of things to write about might not seem very thoughtful to you but it was to me— so very thoughtful.  And here is why.  He’s my biggest fan— in all things, but especially my writing.  And he knows I have struggled as the kids have gotten older— and that I feel like I don’t know what the heck I am doing with these emerging teenagers!!  Anyhow, he saw this book and thought it might spur on new thoughts— something other than children, parenting, disciplining, homework, training, failing {daily}, coaching, school grades, consequences or no consequences, justice or mercy— EVERY. SINGLE. DAY!!  He thought a little frivolity coursing through my brain might be a nice break. And it’s not easy to put that huge chunk of my life aside and think about …….. a few of the 642 suggestions are, “The carpenter who brought candy” {A little creepy if you ask me.} or “Write ten new cheers for a high-school cheerleading squad” {I’d rather clean toilets.} or, “Toto, if we’re not in Kansas anymore, where are we?”  {Oz!!!  Isn’t that what the whole LONG movie was about?!?}  I am just too practical!  I could go on and on with those— things I will NEVER write about, but the book has some good ideas.  I have never used it— until today.

Because I miss writing.  And it’s quiet here today.

So.  If you miss all the parenting stuff— send your kids or grandkids back here in about 15-20 years when I can write about all of the juicy stuff I can’t write about now.  You can learn then from ALL of my mistakes and pitfalls made in the name of parenting to the best of my ability— and all the while trying to learn what it truly means to walk in the Spirit.  The Lord is my helper.

Today, I get to write about “What I’ve Kept”.  Well, I’ve got to start somewhere.  It may not be frivolous but this will come easy to me.  One thing’s for sure.  I’ve kept too much and even I don’t want to think through every little thing.  There are the kept things that we might see often or even use daily but then there are the things no one ever sees— and that we only see when we move— and we wonder, “Do I really need to keep this?”  We have mementos from high school and college. I have some wedding things- dress, guest book, honeymoon things.  I have some things of my grandparents.  I’ve kept some baby clothes, nursery items, and certain toys.  It seems strange to just throw them away so I keep them.  In a box,…  in the attic…in hopes that one day something of it might bring someone some joy— or joggle a memory— or make someone feel treasured because I kept it.  

But I do wonder if I could get it all in a room, laid out so I could see everything at once, what would be the things that drew me in?  Seeing it all out like that, would it be easier to narrow down the true keepers?

The letters.  I come across those often because of where I keep them.  And I even pull some out from time to time.  A few from my parents, a few more from my brother {most recently the one he wrote when I turned 40 and can’t read it again because, well, I just can’t.  Too sweet.  Too gracious.}, from Jeff who stole my heart with words, from mentors who beamed the light of Jesus into my life, from Julia and Brighton with their sweet handwriting and, lastly, friends.  Oh, I have been so blessed with encouraging friends.  I can’t throw heart felt words away.  “Kept”, for sure.

My Bible.  I know.  Sounds like a no-brainer but what else have I kept since I was a teenager that I use almost every day?  Even at 14 I knew I wanted it to be my forever Bible.  I asked for the nicest one— the best binding and I asked my parents NOT to have it monogrammed because I didn’t want my 14 year old initials to be outdated one day.  I know— I was weird then and I am weird now.  No teenager should think like that.  It’s the one I open most mornings.  30 years of living and growing with that treasure I’ve kept.  It’s been rebound, has coffee stains, even a few Pop Tart stains {frosted strawberry} from college, torn pages and random pen marks from young campers and VBS littles.  I have notes in the side margins from those teenage years that hint at beginning stages of faith, things that were of vital importance then, notes from my pastor in college and the pastor Jeff and I served under out first year of marriage and notes from when I had the privilege of sitting under Jeff’s preaching week after week.  There are marker verses throughout— house church, church plants, baby promises, house promises, new ministry promises…. He’s faithful. And this Bible reminds me of our story.  This thing I have kept for almost 32 years.

Photos, I’ve kept.  Of course.  We all have.  I love the old ones and the new ones.  To look at B’s bright, happy face at 2 years old does something to bolster my heart.  And to see Julia’s wide eyed wonder at 4 in a frame on my wall….. it reminds me of the vulnerability still underneath as her outward appearance looks full grown.  Then to see us laughing at the lake or cutting up on the beach— or a picture of mine and Jeff’s first date.  This is our family.  It’s pieces of history that no one truly cares about except us.  They will survive about 2 maybe 3 generations and then discarded and forgotten.  And that’s okay.  They are kept for now and provide much joy.

Newborn clothes.  See?  I can’t NOT write about my kids.  I think we all have a soft spot for those little clothes, reminding us when they were just a little peanut.  And we were so in love— our hearts were full to bursting and we didn’t think we could contain it?  Those clothes remind us of sweetness.  And tiny-ness.  I had waited long.  And 21 months later when Brighton came along, the magic baby dust had NOT worn off.  I was smitten on top of my smitten-ness with Julia.  Those clothes are in the attic— and I don’t open that box when I am up there looking for the camping tote.  Maybe I should from time to time— to remember my heart towards them then-  and how they possibly could use a little MORE of that tenderness now.

I’m grateful I have things to keep-- that there has been the richness and kindness of God throughout my life through people, even things and memories I don’t want to forget.  Those boxes in the attic or that big envelope in my nightstand tell parts of a story I am not living right now.  They speak of seasons God has had me live and seasons that have prepared me for the one I am in now-- and will enter in.  The notes of encouragement remind me I am very loved and supported no matter what happens.  Those tiny clothes remind me of the faithfulness of God and how His purposes and timing are perfect.  The photos remind me of those people who I love and who have loved me and the blessing of even being together for a time for a photo.

Kept things are good things.  Kept things remind me of Who keeps me.

The LORD is your keeper; The LORD is your shade on your right hand. Psalm 121:5

1 comment:

Alyssa said...

So grateful Jeff gave you this book and allowed us all to benefit from your writing again!