Chances are if you’ve seen me over the last few weeks, you’ve seen paint on my hands. My husband and I bought a “fixer-upper” that hasn’t seen a make-over since 1972. I’m no Martha Stewart but I know avocado-green, orange and mustard yellow haven’t hung out together since I was going to sit-ins and sewing patches on my jeans. Groovy.
Someone asked me the other day if I liked remodeling and it took me exactly one nano-second to say a flat: NO. I hate painting. I’m bad at it, hence the paint all over my body which happens within the first five minutes that the can is opened. I have no patience for sanding, scrubbing, “cutting in” and “edging”. When I make chocolate dipped cranberries, I just pour the whole bag of cranberries into the melted chocolate and rescue them with a slotted spoon even though the recipe tells me to dip them one by one. Looks like the cat was sick, tastes great. And no waiting. So you understand how I paint…
We move this week. So far my husband and I have had only one fight and it was along the lines of the “I’ve worked hard/yeah, well I’ve worked hard too!” sort of childish discourse you find yourselves in sometimes that is comical if you weren’t so dog-tired. And we have been immeasurably blessed by friends stopping by to help.
Moving is considered one of the top stressors in our society, up there with job loss and major sickness although I think they should define major better. Stage 4 cancer is a bit more traumatic than gall bladder surgery. But I have found myself caught in some of the tell-tale signs of anxiety, which I am not really prone to, so I take notice: making long useless lists that I leave on the kitchen table, waking up in the middle of the night wondering if I should go get boxes from the night shift at Stop and Shop and wanting to throw a bucket of paint at my orange kitchen cabinets, reasoning I can just scrape the paint off the windows later, to mention a few.
Two weeks ago CB and I left for vacation in North Carolina because our son was graduating from nursing school and I had booked a whole week off before I knew we would also be moving. We started off in Wake Forest with my other son and his family. Something about southern culture just slows you right down before you even get out of the airport. Folks make eye contact and smile. Have a biscuit, y’all! The warm fragrant air caressed our weary and chilled Yankee bones. Maybe God booked this vacation. We really needed to slow down.
Our first morning there I woke up to my favorite kind of day, with Brooklynn and Olive, my granddaughters. At four and two, the world is a treasure hunt, and life is lived in the moment. Brooklynn is at that wonderful age where everything is fascinating and meaningful, and you can easily illicit a commentary about anything from where caterpillar families live to her sister’s potty training. As we got ready to go outside and gathered our shoes, she made some quick observations on her feet, then my feet and of course our shoes, then with joyous rapture she exclaimed, “I’m gonna stay with my feet all day!”
I’ve thought about that remark several times since then, how there’s something very profound about this four year-olds’ simple declaration. Of course we all stay with our feet all day, but we spend a lot of time mentally drifting backwards to the wastelands of the past or pressing up ahead to a deadline, a What-if, or a fantasy that our feet will never catch up to. We fret, we regret and we get into stupid arguments with the people we love because we are so powerless to change a thing. There is a place of refuge, a place of rest, in the shadow of the Almighty. And God promises if we delight ourselves in Him, He will give us the desires of our heart. I don’t think that means a Lexus. I think it means staying with our feet, slowing down and enjoying the journey, even if it is wet paint and boxes. There are countless moments each day where God tries to grab our attention. Be anxious for NOTHING. It’s more of a command than a suggestion. In fact Jesus said, don’t worry about tomorrow. He can get me boxes.
As we left a restaurant after my son’s graduation celebration, a man commented to Brooklynn on her sparkly shoes, Princess shoes we call them. Then I think he asked if her mom gave them to her, but Brooklynn thought he asked if her mom made them. She shook her head and smiled at him.
“God made them.” she answered and turned away, leaving the man chuckling and knowing he was just given an unexpected delight, a moment pure and simple that connects us to heaven. Didn’t Jesus say something about having child-like faith? The shoes sparkled in the lamplight as Brooklynn skipped away, staying with her feet, the moment and the heart of God.