Thursday, November 05, 2015

{pretty, happy, funny, real} in highs and lows and all hope

| a weekly capturing the contentment in everyday life |

The week is a bit of a blur, what with the time change that always disorients me. Although, I'm such a homebody that earlier darkness just gives me one more excuse to cozy up in my little house.  Austin had crazy rain storms on Friday, and then just like that turned Halloween into a pretty little day.  We'd intended to visit our son in Houston, but had to postpone because the downpour of rain (5" in one hour close to us!) and threats of flash flooding closed roads between us.  Instead, I sat in the rainy dark, and watched a couple black and white movies (A Farewell to Arms, and the slightly depressing Strange Love of Martha Ivers starring a young, milktoasty Kirk Douglas).  The silver lining about missing our Houston trip is that we were home to welcome a couple, extra-special trick-or-treaters, and enjoy walking through our son's neighborhood with the adorable Elayna.  (see pics of her zombie self below).  It was a week of ups and downs, highs and lows, friends and neighbors -- overall, a good week to remember.

A few photos to practice contentment this week

| pretty |

Happy mail and autumn table

My mother knows what to send me when I'm feeling a bit blue -- as I have been, off and on for my whole life the past month: a book she thought I'd like (which I did!), a handwritten wrapper of brown paper, a clever bookmark and a couple of notes tucked into the pages.  Seriously, we all need our mothers, no matter our age.  Dear friend, if you no longer have your mother, I am so sorry, and pray you'll be nurtured in particularly sweet ways this week.  

I also took the opportunity to update our table for November.  Rosehips are a curiosity and wonder to me.  The "So Grateful" book was a gift from my dear sister-in-law JoAnn a couple of Thanksgivings ago.  My table centerpiece plays a valuable role in my life, and I'm grateful for this one right now. 

| happy |


A These photos really represent happy, funny and real as our weekend plans changed (see above), and we scrambled to get a tiny bit festive.  We'd heard a rumour that our delightful (and costume savvy!) friends, the Taylor and Akel families, might be popping in.  A few weeks ago, Blythe's mom (aka, Phaedra) posted this little exchange they'd had: 
After walking through the neighborhood and getting irritated that all the houses don't have Halloween decorations: 
B: "Mama! You know what!?"  
Phaedra: "What's that?" 
B: (perturbed) "I don't like people just hanging around with houses with no pumpkin stuff!" 
We hurried right up and got some pumpkin stuff!  We also loved seeing Elayna in her best zombie cheerleader get-up.  Poor girl got braces a few weeks before Halloween, which puts a bit of a damper on the candy-eating.  She was fearless walking up to houses that seemed especially dark this year (maybe, I'm just out of practice).  We gave thanks for the people who still leave a porch light on, and welcome kids with cheery greetings and authentic delight at the costumes parading through their flower beds.  A couple porches were a bit scarier looking, though, prompting some help from a grown-up.  (Also, if aren't Amber & Andrew adorable?!?) 

| funny |

A serious(ly) funny misunderstanding

My sister Alicia -- who, along with her husband, Richard, is joyfully, gratefully expecting a baby in March -- sent this clever little announcement to share the gender of their little bundle.  As good parents, we wanted to share the scratch-off moment with our kids scattered between Houston, Austin and Dallas.  We videotaped the event, sharing our predictions with the camera, and then, sent the little clip via group text to our kids and my sister. In our minds, what would ensue was a shower of congratulation texts between our adult children and their aunt.  Instead, we got the following thread -- which was partially dismaying, but mostly hilarious.  

Thankfully, my sister and her husband have a great sense of humor and loved it all.   (you'll notice that the thread starts immediately with one of our sons not really catching the gist of the gender-reveal video, as noted by his pithy one-word question: "Who?")

| real |

October 2011 - at a ministry training in Kansas City

All Saints  Day & a committal service

Sunday, November 1, was All Saints Day.  It was also, appropriately, the second anniversary of the death of a good man and good friend, Trey Sellstrom.  I wrote about the shock of his death two years ago (here) only a handful of short months following the sadness of the loss of our friend Dick Chote.  

Dick and Trey and their wives (Eleanor and Cheryl, respectively) were some of our first and quickest friends here in Austin, as we worked together to minister to the relationally and sexually wounded in our congregation at Christ Church.  To be together in that sort of work requires a level of knowing and being known that is, sadly, rather rare in Christian communities.  Yet, here were the three of our families are mostly unknown to each other before October 2011, praying and crying and laughing and encouraging and admonishing and holding accountability week in and week out.  And here, within two years of the start of these rich friendships, both Dick and Trey moved from our presence into the great communion of saints.  

We still miss them, but not even close to the ways their wives and children miss them.  Both Eleanor and Cheryl have taught us what godly suffering looks like, the grief that is real and raw and, yet, welcoming to the rest of us mourning in our own way. Cheryl waited two years before burying Trey's ashes in a family plot.  She had travelled with those ashes as part of her journey of grieving -- leaving some in various places of meaning.  On Sunday, she invited us to join her in this final committal of Trey into the ground.  I don't know how to describe her any other way but radiant in her grief.  I hope to be like her as I face suffering in my life.  

Brian read words of Scripture and prayer and comfort from the Book of Common Prayer, we took turns pouring the remains of a good and beloved man into the ground from which he was formed (Texas ground, at that).  When we'd all had a turn that wanted one, Cheryl stretched out her hands for help with the rest.  And the other widow, Eleanor, stepped forward.  The two knelt together, and in the marvellous mystery of resurrection hope, smiled as they worked together to bury Trey.  

We cried and sang Amazing Grace.  Trey's father -- who also lost his wife this year -- explained that the next day he'd come back alone and bury out a bit more dirt from underneath the small stone to appease the cemetery custodians.  I thought "Even now, he's being a Dad.  Even now, he gives up a part of his day to work for his son."  

This sort of took all the energy I might have used to post anything on the blog for All Saints Day.  I leave you with the collect, and give thanks in memory of our dear friends Dick and Trey and for all the others we've loved who are now part of the Great Cloud of Witnesses: 

Almighty God, you have knit together your elect in one communion and fellowship in the mystical body of your Son Christ our Lord: Give us grace so to follow your blessed saints in all virtuous and godly living, that we may come to those ineffable joys that you have prepared for those who truly love you; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, in glory everlasting.  Amen. (source)

Have YOU captured any contentment this week? 
 I'd love to hear about it!

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