The Fifth Season

One of the things I love most about summer is going for a walk in the early hours of the morning as the sun is coming up.

The air is crisp, but not cold. The sky is gorgeous; unique shades of gray, orange, purple, yellow – the color of sunrise. My mind is clear, not yet cluttered by any worries, anxieties, or to-do lists.

But the smells.. the smells are my favorite.

I do the same route every day – through the same neighborhoods, passed the same houses, looking at the same beautiful landscape and flowers that remind me what a brilliant Creator we have. I know this route well, so I can anticipate what smell goes with what house as I pass by.

I walk by one house and I smell wintergreen. Suddenly I’m 9 years old, sitting at my Gigi’s kitchen table on this beautiful sunny morning. I’m sipping coffee (I have her to thank for my love for coffee) out of my favorite of all the coffee mugs in her cupboard. It’s the blue one with balloons that reads “Happy Birthday” in multi-colored font. I’m not sure why that one was always my favorite; probably because my favorite color is blue. She always used french vanilla creamer, so I did too. We are reading the paper together (for me, this means looking at the weather, the movie section, and the two or three words I am able to fill in the cross word before giving up).

I walk by another house and I smell beautiful roses. Just like that, I’m 17 again and it’s my junior year of high school. I walk passed the entry way, where the front door is wide open because my mama opened it when she got home from the gym. Summer mornings were beautifully still and perfect in our neighborhood. This was the year I began getting up 30 minutes earlier than usual so we could drink coffee and catch up before we each started our day, since we didn’t get a chance to do that the night before because dance ran long. To this day, we still text, talk on the phone, or FaceTime almost every single morning at this time.

I walk by another house and somehow, at 6:30am, I smell banana-flavored shaved ice. {I realize this one is probably way off and that what I’m probably smelling is banana bread, or something more appropriate for this time of day.} But nonetheless, my nose has convinced me that I’m 4 years old. My dad and I are getting back to our little house on Calder Court after going out for shaved ice. His was yellow; he got banana. Mine was blue; I got bubble-gum mixed with cotton candy. I remember this time specifically because I dropped mine, so he gave me his. This was something we did often in the summertime.

I know when fall rolls around, I’ll be drooling and babbling about all the beauty I see and love in that season, too. I’ll be realistic and not get caught up in the moment – fall and winter are hands down my favorite seasons.

But there’s something about summer mornings. It’s almost as if they have their very own fifth season.

In my world, they do.

 

 

The Woman in the Purple Hat

Today may have been one of my favorite grocery shopping experiences yet.

My endeavor for this week is to attempt beef stew for the first time. Since I’ve never made it before, my list of ingredients was a bit foreign to me when I headed to the grocery store this morning. But, since Pinterest always knows best, I trusted that items like “dry onion soup mix”  and “beef gravy” would be easy to find if I would just be so bold as to explore new aisles at the grocery store.

Not so much.

After staring at the seasoning section for a few minutes, searching as hard as I could for that dry onion soup mix, a woman turned the corner and started in my direction. If I were to guess, I’d say she was around the age of 60 – older and wiser enough than me to definitely trust that she knew a thing or two about making beef stew. She had on jeans, a purple sweatshirt, a matching purple ball cap, and warm eyes.

She paused when she got to me, glanced down at the can of beef gravy in my hand, tapped it and said, “Now that’s good stuff! That’s what I always use.”

At first I was too startled by her friendliness to think to ask any more questions. So I simply said, “Oh, really? Thank you! Good to know.” We exchanged smiles and she pressed on down the aisle.

Quickly realizing she may have been the perfect person to ask, I thought, “Wait! What about dry onion powder soup?! I should have asked her where to look!”

Frustrated with my forgetfulness, I stood there a few more minutes, determined to find it.

Still nothing.

All of a sudden, I saw bright purple in my peripherals. I looked up quickly, and to my surprise, it was her again! She passed me, making her way back down the aisle.

“Oh, excuse me! I have a question… ” In hindsight, I probably sounded all too eager.

“Oh yes, ask away!”

I was still pleasantly in a bit of shock at her kindness, to be honest.

“So… ” I began.

She glanced at me, down at my shopping cart, and back at me again and grinned.

“You’re a new cook, aren’t you?” she asked me.

“Ha, well.. sort of,” I responded. She read my only-three-years-into-marriage-new-mommy exercise pants and hoodie like an open book.

My have-it-together facade slowly became more and more stripped from me as I looked into her honest, gentle eyes. I felt my heart softening as I became less and less embarrassed that she’d called my bluff. Her comforting, kind spirit was what the Lord used to teach me this ever so beautiful lesson in humility.

God, you’ve done it again. You’ve caught me off guard and completely undone me with grace. And once again, undeserved.

“Oh no, don’t be shy! It’s okay! This is good. What was it you were looking for?”

“Um, dry onion powder soup…?” My eyes met her’s.

“Uhuh!”

She was so patient and genuine.

“Will I find it on this aisle?” I asked.

“Nope. Follow me!”

She kept talking as she walked with her back towards me. I followed, almost without thinking twice.

“You don’t really need that dry onion soup if you have the gravy,” she continued. “You can use both if you want lots of flavor, but either can stand alone, really.”

Ten minutes ago we were strangers. Neither of us knew the other existed. And now she carried on with me as if we’d know each other for years.

As we passed by the people who worked at the store, she chatted with them like they were old friends. It became apparent to me that she’d been a regular here for quite some time.

We finally made it to the correct aisle (which, in case any of you are as clueless when it comes to making stew as I am, would be the soup aisle if you’re looking for dry onion soup mix.. go figure). We stood there a few more minutes as she took the time to explain how to make a basic beef stew, step by step, detail for detail.

When she had finished, she gave me a big, heartfelt grin. I’ll never forget her warmth.

“Have a good day!” she said, turning to walk away. I wanted to hug her.

Oh, how I wish I would have gotten her name.

If there’s one thing we learned from the woman in the purple hat (other than how to make an amazing beef stew), it is that kindness and compassion are never the wrong answer.

I may never see her again, but I hope she knows the difference she made today. She will forever be apart of my story. It’s the smallest moments that have the greatest potential for finding beauty.

 

A Happy Ending: There is such a Thing

The thought that I will get to see your face one day leaves me a bit lost for words.

{It used to scare me. It used to be something I knew I should be excited about, but deep down, I felt guilty about the fact that I didn’t really want life as I knew it to end so that I could go to some foreign palace and sing forever. 

That’s what I thought Heaven was. But Lord, how you have beautifully proven me so wrong.}

How I anxiously now await the coming of the New, Perfect World as you originally intended it to be.

Over time, you have taught me and shown me more and more of you, thus revealing more and more of what Heaven actually is. And although I still have many unanswered questions about Heaven, I now cannot wait for it.

You have taught (and continue to teach) me who you are as a Creator, as a loving Father, as a gentle teacher, as a friend, as a righteous, forgiving judge. As you keep showing me more and more of you, I learn how skewed my shallow vision of “Heaven” actually was. Because although you are a perfect, holy king, worthy of far more praise and glory I have the capacity to give, you are more than that, even still.

You are a Father. Similarly to, and even more so than an earthly father, you are relational. You do not merely demand praise for your greatness (although you would certainly would be rightful in doing so), nor do you require perfection from you servants.

No.

The beautiful truth is that you also call your servants “friends.”

You are after our hearts, not our achievements. You do rejoice in our achievements, but it is because you are the Creator of all that is good in the world. And when we achieve great things, we are furthering the work you have already begun. We are furthering your initial purpose for your good world.

Your good ways lead to the kind of life that allows humans to claim peace and joy that is absolutely constant, aside from brokenness and evil. Your intended order was perfect and perfectly reasonable.

Although evil is the sad, unfortunate reality of our broken world, it is not the final word, Lord Jesus. It need not terrify us, as tempting as it is to allow it to be terrifying. When it is all our physical eyes can see, how can it not be terrifying?

But the end of Your story is drastically different than what our eyes see now. One day, you will bring restoration to all of Creation and dwell with your people.

With that glorious restoration will be the total end and destruction of all destruction.

The end of evil.

The end of pain.

The end of heartache.

But most of all, it will be you. Face to face.

No more grasping.

No more faith; faith will be unnecessary because we will finally be seeing, not just believing.

Oh, what a glorious day.