1. Nora and I had been cleaning all morning. I was going to wait to shower and get dressed until all the dirty work was done. Well, by the time I heard the knock at the door at 2:30, I had just finished cleaning the tub, but I was still wearing my Snuffleupagus pajamas. Pastor was at the door. I realized I hadn't even brushed my teeth yet. Oh, well. We sat at the table drinking coffee, which I needed, and talked. I needed his visit today. I had been so anxious all morning. Our talk turned to suffering. "We make the mistake of thinking that Christ will take away our suffering. He doesn't do that. But He will suffer with you."
I was stunned. I have been struggling with this for awhile now: I had somehow seen my inability to let go of this hurting as a lack of faith.
"Oh, that's just the devil trying to mess things up." I've always loved Pastor's way of cutting through the crap. He wouldn't mind if I said that. Believe me.
I found myself looking at the kitchen cabinets, the same ones I had rested my head against a couple of weeks ago trying to "move beyond" my suffering and just needing a hug in the process. And here it was: Jesus takes our suffering and shares it.
"Yeah, about 10 years ago, I had that whole thing set straight. I was talking to a man from (I can't remember which country Pastor said) and he said, 'You Americans are always praying to have your suffering taken away from you, and we pray that God will give us what we need to endure it.'"
My eyes go back to the cabinets and the tears are welling. I've cried in front of Pastor many times, so I wasn't scared of letting a few fall then. He said a prayer that God be with Nora and me, protecting and guiding us here in the life we're making. He prayed a lot of things, and my shoulders fell peaceful and the air came in full breaths and my eyes were washed clean so they could see better again. Pastor got up and said, "You look like someone who could use a hug." Well, yes, actually. I could.
2. And after we meet Dad and Cheryl for supper at Runza (their first time eating there), I come home and find this basket waiting at the door. I actually said to Nora, "Oh, I think this must belong to someone else. We should try to find out who this is for." In my mind, I had this vision of someone stopping by to ask where he or she could find "so and so" and accidentally leaving the basket behind. Whoever you are, thank you. I love it, as you knew I would.
3. Nora and I have set up a wintertime/school days arts and crafts room in the back bedroom. Today, she wanted to paint my portrait. "You holding a flower." She mixed, looked at me sitting still in the chair with a flower in hand, looked back at the canvas, and began. There was absolutely no uncertainty in her. She was simply looking and responding. I wanted to ask her the secret--how she could approach the blank space without even thinking once, "I'm not sure if I can do this." She didn't have to think about it. She just did it.
4. Well, this will sound weird, but oh well. This tomato stopped me while I was pulling out grass from around my second round of radishes, and the tomato said, "Pick me and take me to the fair." I almost didn't do it. But I couldn't think of a good reason not to. "That's crazy" didn't work because this is just a given. Lots of people talk to vegetables, right? So, meet Fernando, the green tomato who plans on being red by the time the fair rolls around on the 11th. We'll be starting a fairly rigorous training routine tomorrow starting with push ups and running up and down the stairs of the Capitol building. And soon, I hope to be having my picture taken with Fernando.