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Foreign Yet Familiar

There is a recurrent, intense longing inside me for something or somewhere that remains insatiable. I cannot name it, draw it or explain it, but it pierces my heart to its deepest depths. It is like a refreshing drink of water to my dehydrated soul. It is there in the beauty of a photograph. It swaddles me in the emotion of a poignant movie. It dazzles me within the lyrics of a song. It is in the elegance of a sunset or sunrise salutation. It captivates my attention within the feelings of distant but divine memories. It is in the grace of a landscape and the dew of morning break. In everything beautiful, seemingly perfect and even among the presence of pain it strums the most tender and precious notes of my soul. It mesmerizes me in my laughter and comforts me in my tears. It seduces me like the silver lining that peaks after a pruning rain. It is the essence of my most coveted desires. It is always with me, rising and setting like the sun, shining like the beauty of the moon. I know this for sure; it is a person I have never seen, a place I have never been or a thing I have never fully known, yet, it holds a foreign familiarity woven into the very fabric of my soul.

 
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Small Things That Sparkle

 

I’m going to be honest for the sake of being transparent because I have learned that it is in admitting my struggles that I find freedom, and maybe loan a little out, too.  Holidays are difficult for me.  Whether it’s Christmas, birthdays, 4th of July, I have to fight some degree of sadness, and sometimes my fight is weak.

I grew up in a big family.  Everyone lived within a reasonable distance.   Holidays were very grand at our house and my grandmother’s houses.   My mom and grandmothers were all exceptional cooks and fed many small armies over the years.   As much as the food, I remember the fellowship, the laughter, the sporting events on TV, big firework displays, football games in the yard, all the men falling asleep on the couches.   I remember masses of people, the constant roar of conversation and laughter; and the euphoria of kids everywhere, a lot of kids!

Every holiday was as old as it was new, foreign as it was familiar and frayed as it was fancy.  They were truly wonderful times that wove priceless memories deep into my heart.

As The 4th of July approaches again, I have felt that familiar restlessness settling into my soul.   I have to be intentional to remember the happiness of what was while forging gratitude in what is.   What is, is still beautiful, it is just different.  If you have the luxury of having most of your family healthy and close by, don’t take it for granted.  You are blessed.   I am blessed too; my blessings just look different than yours.

Two weeks ago I was flying back from Texas, where all of my family lives, to Birmingham.   As I was standing in line waiting to board the plane, a dialogue was playing in my head.  Was I flying back home or leaving home?   There was a sense of confliction in my answer.  Later, I realized that the answer didn’t matter because home is where the people we love are, and that can be many places.   Also, in his grace, The Father reminded me that all these homes are just temporary resting places along the journey to my forever home.   There, it will be one big, ongoing reunion with all those I love in attendance.

Jesus promises “in my Father’s house there are many rooms.”  (John 14:2)   I am so grateful because we will need them!   As for this holiday, it may be quiet, it may be small, but sometimes it is the quiet and the small that create the most sparkle!   More importantly, it is about focusing on cherishing my blessings and committing to choosing joy in all situations, whether they are extraordinary or ordinary.   In retrospect, I often realize that so much beauty in this life is intrinsic to the ordinary.