its roughly 9 in the morning and i am sitting on the loveseat in my pjs…the dogs are running arond the living room, chewing on bones and wrestling…i have beth’s newly mastered cd on…i feel so lucky to be able to start this morning with her amazing voice and stirring words…not quite as great as having her in the flesh, mind you, but a blessing none the less…[side note: when the new record comes out in april, you have to get it…the best yet!]
i awoke this mornng at 5 in awe as the little one growing inside me did a flip and I FELT IT! i sat up and just enjoyed this strange, new experience..i moved from back to my side and then sat up and strained to feel how the baby adjusted to my movements…it was unreal. i have been feeling the baby for awhile, but in abstract movements…this morning was the first time i could distinguish kicking from moving the head into a new position….ahh….and now the sun is shining.
last night we had dinner with the realtor who sold us our house and his family. we discovered he was a christian while we were signing the paperwork that july..since then we have had coffee with he and his wife a couple of times since. they have been inviting us to dinner for weeks now. i often want to go and spend time with people and then when its actually time to go, i just as often wish i could just stay home. even when at the core i want to go, i fight the urge to stay. i inherited this little anxiety from my beautiful mother.
last night was no different. about two hours before i started checking myself to see if i felt bad. i didn’t though. i wondered out loud if it’d be better for us to get together after africa, rationalizing ‘there will be more to talk about’. i was about half talked into cancelling when my friend Rachael called from Texas and thankfully she and i talked until minutes before we had to be out the door.
we drove to their house, straining to see street signs in the dark and the minute we had parked my anxiety peaked. but the next minute we were in a warm, cozy house and all those feeling evaporated. you know how you walk into some homes and you immediately feel like you could kick your shoes off and laugh too loud and just BE? i settled into the couch and met the other two guests…young guys in their early twenties. we all sat there..the two guys, james and cynthia and their 12 year old son trenton, and shawn and i.
in the most non cheesy way, someone grabbed a guitar and played a couple of worship songs before dinner. cynthia brought out drinks and shrimp and crab cakes and we all just sat in the overstuffed couches, franked by the fire, and talked about life. we moved to the table and ate the most thoughtfully prepared meal as the conversation continued. i couldn’t help but notice how the conversation all began with the Lord…how often scripture was quoted or referenced.
james and cynthia met the Lord as adults…after wealth and partying and the ‘good life’ had left them empty and unsatisfied. but it was really cynthia’s ongoing battle with cancer that drew them near. the first time we met with them they told us all about their journey. the first time we met with them at uptown espresso she was wearing a wig. the first time we met with them she was doing chemo and they didn’t know if she’d make it.
i thought about that as she served the whole lot of us with a joyful countenance and lighthearted words. i thought about it more later while we sat on a couch downstairs and talked for hours as the men played a seriously competitive pool tournament. she told me about her desire to do foster care and how her mom was murdered before she was even a teenager. she closed her eyes, as someone recalling the sweetest of memories, and told me about what a blessing her cancer is…how she knows she never would know the Lord like she does without it. people say things like in abstraction…but the truth of it was welling up from inside of her. she rubbed my neck and shoulders while we talked and i felt myself warming from the inside out. she served us and she blessed me with her presence. here is this woman younger than my own mother, who has a young son, and recurring cancer and she is so thankful and content.
she asked me at some point where i get my highlights done. i told her the name of the salon and my girl there. she laughed and pointed out that when her hair started coming back, it was black and curly…she had been used to blond, straight hair her whole life. ‘but i used to get it permed! i guess God wanted to save me that mess!’ she said, her eyes still alive late into the night.
we left soon after and made our way home much later than we had anticipated. i kept thinking about her attitude toward even the smallest inconviences. as a woman, your hair is vital to your appearance… i got my hair cut before christmas- it was one of those supposed to be trims that turns into a much shorter hair length than you’d hoped for. i hate it. i don’t like the layers in the back. i don’t like the itsy bitsy ponytail i now have. i feel short, fat, and unwomanly being pregnant with short hair…i feel like the woman who chopped her hair cause she thinks she doesn’t have time any more or that now that she’s a mom it just doesn’t matter anymore. since the day it was cut, i have been dreaming about growing it out long again. it would be fair to say i was obsessing about it.
i even made two appointments to talk to a hair stylists about extensions. i cancelled both times because i felt guilty for being so vain. then i would talk myself into making another appointment because of africa or because i am pregnant and ‘deserve’ to do something to make myself feel more attractive.
hair extensions. obsessing about short hair that will grow out in weeks. and here she has been bald for almost two years and then when her hair grows in, it doesn’t look like her hair. i have stood in front of the mirror and not felt like myself. how must she have felt with dark, curly hair that didn’t grow in evenly?
her words echo in my mind: ‘i am so thankful for my cancer.’ i can see her face as she laughed at her new head of hair.
beth is singing “you change me, you change me, thank you JESUS i can see you change me”.
JESUS, change me.
“Your adornment must not be merely external–braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses;
but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God.” 1 Peter 3:3