waited 26 years.

I am sitting on a patio outside a house littered with memories. When I walked in I was introduced to my “Uncle Mike”.  I have never met this man before. He looks vaguely familiar and I reach to shake his hand. He shakes my hand and then balks a bit and goes in for a hug. Unsure of what my response should be, I open my arms and let this Uncle Mike hug me.

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I grew up hearing the same stories about my Grandpa Danny over and over. It seemed that it was the same two or three stories on a simple rotation. The story that sticks out so vividly now and the one that I remember hearing most often is the one about his brain aneurysm. It was a freak thing. A healthy young man, with three teenage children, suffered a clot in his brain and was gone before he was on the floor. I never knew this man, but for some reason this story resonated in my little heart and broke it every time. He wasn’t my mom’s biological dad, but he was absolutely her dad. My mom held her dad as he died.

Grandpa Danny. His name was Daniel. And he was always the grandpa I never really had. But every mention of my grandparents included my beloved Grandpa Danny. I would look at photographs of my mother perched on his lap and imagined myself sitting there – telling him ridiculous stories and letting him spoil me even more rotten than I am already. I imagined him outside working on my car or teaching me to hunt. I imagined talking to him about his favorite book and forcing him to listen to my horrible retelling of my latest read. I imagined Christmases and birthdays and Halloween. I imagined summers on the lake and fireworks for Fourth of July.

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Uncle Mike is Grandpa Danny’s brother. I have never met this man. I am sitting across the table from a man that knew my Grandpa Danny. I can even see Grandpa Danny in Uncle Mike’s face. I’d like to think Grandpa Danny is hidden in Uncle Mike’s mannerisms. I like to think his smile is tucked in the face sitting across from me. I like to think that when I walked in the door my Grandpa Danny was appalled that I would shake his hand and so he pushed it aside and hugged me. It’s comforting to think that I waited 26 years for this hug.

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God knew I needed that I needed that hug today

Grandpa Danny knew I needed that hug today.

So he sent his brother to give it to me.

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(my grandpa danny)

slip off your shoes.

“NO! I was talking to my HAND!!” The response from an imaginative, determined, beautiful, and independent three-year-old. I was just trying to answer her questions. Little did I know that she wasn’t really asking me. She was asking her hand, and I interrupted the conversation. It felt holy. Given permission and even an invitation to be party to these conversations here, in this family, feels holy.

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I was sitting at a kitchen table that was not my own – exercising my “reasoning with a three-year-old” skills. These are skills that have not been used in a while and honestly, I rather enjoy it. There are no simple answers, and the right answers are not ALWAYS right. The answers that worked ten minutes ago maybe – and probably – won’t work in this moment. Over medicine and coloring, screams ring out. Medicine doesn’t want to be taken and someone else is mad that we won’t draw her mommy for the hundredth time. But underneath the piercing screams, little feet can be heard pitter-pattering across hardwood floors. And these moments seem holy.

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The day was spent wrangling toddlers through a farmers market and selecting fine wine, cheese, and sausage. We even made a pit stop down the chocolate aisle to see if there was something we couldn’t live without. Now I get why my mom was so concerned about taking little me near anything breakable. I was terrified that we were fixin’ to buy about 23 bottles of assorted wine and beer. It didn’t come to that, so that was a win. After corralling and calming, I stood hand in hand with a bright beautiful three-year-old and watched the man operate the mechanical lift to restock the imported beer shelves. We waved and said hello, and I answered the same “What dat guy doin’?” question 17 times. I didn’t mind though. He smiled back and waved and spoke to her in his broken English. Standing there, waving like a doofus, answering the same questions over and over, and reminding her that “we don’t grab all the bottles, no matter how pretty they are,” something shifted. The German beer section suddenly morphed into holy ground. I’m surprised I didn’t slip off my shoes.

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The moon slowly rose over the tree line and the air was crisp. You know, the sort of crisp at the beginning of fall, the one where you breathe deep and can feel the air resuscitating your I’ve-been-breathing-hot-for-far-too-long lungs. We decided it was a beer, wine, and hot wings night. We were going “camping.” It had rained the night before, the firewood was soaked through and only after pouring gasoline over embers seven times were we able to burn the lies frantically scribbled on notebook paper. The wine was poured, tears were shed, prayers spoken, and spirits lifted. We laughed so hard, you guys. And they weren’t surface level chuckles, but deep soul breaths of laughter and joy that would swallow us whole if we would just let them. And we did. Holy moments shared over wine and hot wings underneath the rising full Georgian moon; holy moments that breathed life into my lungs. I guess you could say it was a creation story all its own.

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Underneath a string of white lights we drank good drinks and took too many, yet just enough, photos. We dreamed big and talked softly. Then loudly…then we talked loudly and laughed even louder. One of us ordered the only wine she was familiar with, another ordered a drink based on her personality (a fitting “the more you ignore me, the closer I get”), and the last of us ordered the most fantastic pomegranate and vodka known to man. We ate this stuff that the waitress swore was her favorite appetizer on the menu. That mess tasted like cardboard and we were supposed to dip it in a paste that seemed to be related to butter. So, lets just be real, we moved that party to a sandwich shop. Sitting at a wooden table, under more lights, raking my feet through the gravel, I realized the holy ground found us. Holy moments scattered through the streets and played loudly from a trumpet at Java Monkey. The cast of Wizard of Oz that waltzed onto the patio was given a private audience to the holy and they weren’t even aware.

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Holy moments find us. At playgrounds, on patios, next to the campfire, under the moon, listening to good music, standing in grocery store aisles, answering questions, holding hands, eating sandwiches, and sitting at kitchen tables. Just like I was invited into these seemingly mundane and typical moments and found them to be holy, we are constantly invited to stand witness to the holy under our feet. Are you looking? Take a deep breath. Hold each as a creation story in the making. You have been created for the holy. I have been created for the holy. I’ll meet you there. And we can share a glass of wine and burn the lies to the ground. We will stand, hand in hand, dancing in the aisles where everyone says we shouldn’t.Image

shalom.

Thoughts have been few and far between lately. I am writing this post sitting in the lobby of one of the largest churches in DFW. I am working a book signing tonight for a fairly well known evangelical “speaker” and Shane & Shane just walked by. This is my life tonight. My stomach is growling and I am hungry. The girl I am working this event with just ran to get us something to eat. Man. I hope it’s something good and I hope a sweet tea is involved.

I have been writing bits and pieces of one of the hardest and most chaotic and confusing events of my life and, y’all, it is exhausting. I mean, I literally am physically exhausted. I don’t know if there ever comes a point where hard things stop taking such a toll on your body or if you ever reach a limit that your body can take, but I don’t think so. I am pretty sure our bodies can and do take much more of a beating than we give them credit for. 

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Last night I came home after dark, like I do every night I close at work. I came home after dark and as I rounded the street and saw my house, I could see that the light in my room was on. It is not surprising. The couple I live with turn it on each night I work late so that I don’t have to walk in to a dark house. They see me. And they care. And some nights, like last night, that was hard for me to sit in.

Every night before I go to bed, and usually every day before I go to work I say bye and the response I get is almost always the same “shalom! blessings!” And it is not a trite or cliche response. It is a genuine desire of their hearts that I would have a good day. That I would see Jesus for who he is. That I would not find my satisfaction or joy in what I do, but in what the Lord has done for me. They genuinely pray peace over my life and over my day and over my sleep. They see. And they care. And some days thats hard. 

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So. this isn’t profound or deep or thought provoking. Just the ramblings I have today. I am exhausted. But it tends to come in waves. I need to keep working on and writing what needs to be written. But today I am tired. So I will rest. I will be gracious to myself. And I will slow down and breathe and laugh and drink my sweet tea and dream about vacations and send silly text messages. Today I will be gentle with myself and enjoy this moment, right now. Shalom.

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