There are times when living life can be draining, when grace is an impassable mountain, treacherous and exhausting and insurmountable.
There are times when it is difficult to believe that you are loved, when even the kindness of dear friends has to fight through the darkness to be heard.
I have spent some time on that dark pass, friends. And it can be terrible, lonely, exhilarating, painful, hopeful, cold, and strengthening all at the same time.
But then there are weekends like this last one.
And I don’t subscribe to the notion that you have to know how bad Lima beans can taste in order to recognize just how blissfully apples, pastry, and cinnamon can compliment each other. Our minds and eyes and tongues and hearts know good when they experience it; the ugly bitterness isn’t necessary.
But a heart that has shivered in the loneliness, that has longed achingly for the sun, that has slipped into a chasm where its rising no longer seems certain – that heart has learned gratitude.
Because when that sun rises again – and it does – you are constantly aware of the tickling warmth on the back of your legs, and the feather soft rays that trickle through the clouds. And when you stop for a moment to remember, to recognize, I swear, it’ll bring you to your knees.
And so it was this weekend.
From the overwhelming generosity of my church to family who drove several hours on Saturday just to be there and then turned around Sunday afternoon to drive several hours back.
From a hand-crafted tribute to one of our favorite movies from my cousins to all the precious Christmas gifts from family members that made me feel so known.
My cousin made this. Because she is awesome and talented.
From my dad leaving my favorite road trip snack by my suitcase to a fantastic collection of recipes from my future mother-in-law to the hard-work of my gracious and talented hostesses to another cousin who is helping me do all the decorations because she’s fabulous.
This is the recipe book that I got from Susan. Is that not fan-freaking-tastic? Now, I not only have tons of actual dinner recipes, but I have some of David’s favorites.
And as if all that wasn’t enough, my forever friend and bridesmaid who lives out in California flew in early and completely surprised me by showing up to my shower. So of course I screamed and ran to hug her and we both cried a few happy, happy tears. And I can’t believe we didn’t get a picture, but it was so good to see her.
By the way, she blogs delightfully about all things fashion, here, and you should check it out.
Plus a whole bunch of sweet phone calls and text messages from friends who couldn’t be there, but let me know that I was loved anyway.
And here are a few gift highlights.
Obviously, one of us likes coffee. I’ll give you a hint: it’s me. I’m the one who likes coffee.
I went with both the fast, single serve (that can also make hot chocolate for David) and the french press. Because why not?
My sister bought me this beautiful blanket. It’s the grown-up version of the blanket I
still sleep with every night gave up when I went to college like a grown-up. She picked it out because I can stick my fingers through the holes just like I do with my other one. Yeah, she’s pretty wonderful.
My OhSo soft blanket.
They had a pitcher of wooden spoons set out for people to write their best marriage advice. David and I read through them when I got home last night. Isn’t that such a cute idea?
We got a bit of conflicting advice. Thankfully, I took Glen Pemberton’s Wisdom and Devotional Lit. of the OT class where I learned that wisdom is not bits of universally applicable facts, but is rather the ability to discern when you should apply varied, sometimes contradictory truth. So this is not a problem.
Unless we apply the wrong one…
Confession: this one was my favorite. Mostly because it made me laugh.
I couldn’t capture it in a picture, but sometime I’ll share one of my other forever friends Abby’s brilliant gift. The consensus was that she “won the shower”. Ha.
I feel blessed beyond words by your love, your generosity, your creativity, and your presence. Thank you. Though those words can hardly contain the depth of my gratitude, thank you, all the same.
I will think of you each time I get a cup of coffee in the morning or decorate my Christmas tree or curl up with my grown-up blanket. As Ann Voskamp said, “Remembering is an act of thanksgiving, a way of thanksgiving, this turn of the heart over time’s shoulder to see all the long way his arms have carried.”