More Than the Ground Beneath My Feet

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The color of the sky was a pale gray saturated with a cold mist of rain. The wind was getting colder and the moisture was starting to freeze. It looked and felt just like my mood. Deceptively bright. Bright enough to fill a room with light but incapable of being the only source of it.  A gray day with mounting fog that felt like an oppressive shroud. There was no escape from the way it made me feel. The dingy light slunk its way in and I allowed it to spew its way out of my mouth. I waited for the sun, an indication of the end to this dismal blockade but that would have to wait until morning. Then again, mornings have beaten me down.

I have grown tired of these days. Every morning my eyes burn, my body groans, and I can barely walk to the end of the hall. When did the middle of life feel like the beginning of the end? Where was my body and how did it get replaced with one hardly recognizable? I feel like I am drowning. I am in a sea of gray, pulled down by the weight of this disease. I am gasping for a fresh breath of life and only find that stale, foggy air. It has become more of the same…… endless days pleading to feel normal……wondering if I will ever feel like I can do all the things that glimmer still left in my heart desires. It is fading and the light is growing more opaque. Yet, I still breathe. I refuse to hand over my life to whatever may be hiding under the shroud. I don’t run. No, I cannot do that any longer. I fly. I close my eyes and free myself. My heart burns and the heat courses down my neck. My pulse and heart are at the same frantic rhythm. I must rise above the gray. Atop what encircles the atmosphere that is my life lives hope. To find it I must push against what is bearing down on me and lift my face to the sky. I must look up. I have to stop watching where my feet are placed and look to where they need to go.

The internal struggle is real. I feel the tug of greed, envy, and idleness slide in beside self-pity. I fight the urge to fold my tired body inward and collapse to the spot on the ground where my eyes have wandered. I don’t have to fight there, I can just rest. I don’t want to get up. Pity says, “Stay.” Hope demands I get up. Faith lifts my head and moves me forward. My faith is one rooted in self-sacrificing love. My feet have not been placed on this Earth to serve my own needs but to give whatever may be left of my tattered body to serve those who need me. But it is hard and I am tired. I am worn down by too many variables out of my control. I keep trying to move forward, hoping, and fixing my eyes upward. I remind myself to pull my eyes away from the haze and to the place where the sun never sets. There is beauty beyond what I can see and more that I will never understand. Here is where my toil has meaning and my unrest has purpose. Faith is trusting in something not fully understood. It asks our feet to move forward even when beaten down with the disparities of life. It gives hope and promises more. Faith is the source of the everlasting light.

I never wanted the obstacles placed at my feet. I move cautiously but I still stumble when I fail to look up to see where I am going. True faith is walking along a path despite the barriers that undeniably make the journey more difficult.  Each day I must choose. I can choose to allow the bitter sting of unfairness to swallow me up in a lightless expanse that troubles my soul and steals my hope or I can choose to walk by faith. I can look heavenward and hasten forward in confidence. I can be assured my path is clear and travels are never taken alone. I can live a life exemplified by faith and grounded in love.

*d*

More Than Just Coffee

Lately I have been wondering if I have been truly in love with something or just the idea of that something. For example, I decided at our last monthly grocery run that I wanted to try to be a coffee drinker. It isn’t that I haven’t had coffee before, I was one of those people who got a coffee maker for a wedding gift ten years ago and used it maybe twice. I love going to our local specialty coffee shop and indulging once a year but making my own wasn’t anything I was ever interested in. Now I thought I’d give it a try for a number of reasons; I would rather get a small boost of caffeine from a small cup of coffee versus pop first thing in the morning, my RA has had me running on fumes, and I love the smell of coffee. I have been spawned by long and large group of coffee drinkers. I would smell the lingering aroma of it from home to the home of a relative, and every Sunday morning at church. The Baptist couldn’t wait for a coffee fueled sermon followed up by coffee fueled fellowship. The thought had occurred to me that I had an emotional attachment to the smell, and not the taste. It’s probably true. We were between housing when we lived with my eighty-something year- old grandparents who brewed coffee in the morning, reheated it in the afternoon and anytime they got a chill, which was quite often for my late grandfather. I miss him dearly and my decision came upon the heels of a year since his passing.

So we’re at the grocery and I stopped and stood in the coffee aisle taking in my limitless possibilities. I admit that I was a bit shocked by the number of choices I had and I am not a decisive individual. My son cheered me on as any bad influence of an eight year-old would. Apparently drinking coffee is a huge thing for third graders at his school…. So after telling him to stop taking out every interestingly packaged coffee and coffee mug for his new habit, I chose a very girly vanilla cupcake flavor coffee. Heaven forbid my coffee would actually taste like coffee. One package of coffee filters and a over indulgent container of chocolate caramel creamer later, we were headed home.

I returned home more than eager to brew my first cup, but where was that coffee maker? I had a frightening thought that I may have pitched it in our last move. Why not? I never used it anyway. I kept frantically searching as I secretly began to repremand myself for throwing it out. I don’t like throwing anything out for this very reason, I’d have to buy another one and I know that wasn’t going to happen anytime soon. Finally, I found it! But then I didn’t know how to use it. Luckily the people at the girly coffee factory want to make sure all of us novice coffee drinkers could make a cup so we could thus get hooked. Great idea! I got it ready and began to unload groceries as it brewed. My husband thought I’d surely made it wrong when it only took a few minutes to brew my quarter pot of coffee. Then I had to find a cup to put this newly acquired liquid gold in. I certainly had some coffee cups as I am avid cocoa drinker in the winter months. One coffee cup is all I found. Darn. Then by chance I found an awesome mug fit for a coffee pro. I washed it, poured my first cup, and it was weak. I made it too weak. I was going to need more zing than that keep me going during the day. The second cup was amazing and I felt special sipping out of my fancy cup. For the next few mornings my coffee was already auto brewed by the time I came downstairs. I had a bit more zing in the a.m. and I began to see why people insisted on starting their mornings with this stuff. Then the disappointing happened, I started having terrible heartburn. I cringed when my mom suggested it was the coffee. After all that trouble, it was causing me heartburn that could be mistaken for a heart attack.

This afternoon rolled around and in the true spirit of the Midwest, it was below normal temperatures and a hot cup of coffee sounded great. I brewed it and it is still sitting there an hour later. I haven’t touched it. Do I dare chance the feeling of looming death for my newly acquired taste? Today I may be satisfied with my emotional attachment to the smell.

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I am more disappointed that I once again can’t be like all the other “cool” people and start my day off with a jolt of girly coffee goodness. I can live with reducing my consumption but what about that smell? It reminds me of home, loved ones, and a church family that felt more like my real family. Maybe I need to think a little harder about sporadically falling in love with an idea because it seems like those ideas for me don’t pan out in real life.

My daughters have been playing together more as my “baby” is now a year and a half of busyness. She follows her big sister with her ride on toy, they play with the tea set together, and they frequently say “Bye!” as they leave for their pretend jobs . It makes me wonder what it would have been like if I had a sister. I have been in love with the idea of a having a sister forever. I have seen cute little posts on social media comparing a woman without a sister to one without an arm or some other nonsense. Like I had a choice about how my family dynamic played out. I hoped I’d someday have that faux sister that I could go shopping with, call on the phone, and we’d celebrate all of life’s joys together. But from what I see, it isn’t as glamorous as I had imagined. Sisters fight. I don’t like to fight. But I still wonder.

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And then I wonder about all the things I may have missed out on; a college degree, a full time job, and all the dreams I watch others live out. Those notions are so much harder to live out than buying a four dollar package of coffee off the shelf. So I learn to accept life as I have it. I have notions about what I think life is all about and no one knows what my life is really like. So I keep dreaming about those little things. Are they what I really want or do I just like the idea of it all?

I am awful good at looking idealistic. I often seem like a pillar of strength or maybe a beacon of hope, but I complain about the circumstances out of my control just as well as the rest. Why does my coffee have to give me heartburn? Why am I not worthy of meaningful friendships with other women? Why am I sick? Why are we drowning in medical debt? Why are we not living out this dream life? And on and on….. The truth is, things aren’t easy. We spend time doing a lot of things we’d rather not. Last night we spent three hours preparing and sorting paperwork to fight social security. Yes, they want to take back payments from two years ago just in time for the holidays. My desk is full of paperwork only special needs parents or the chronically ill can appreciate. “Here is your half ton of paper work Mrs. M.! Good luck with all of that because life understands how easy you already have it.” Yes, nothing is easy or as it seems. I can be joyful in the face of adversity but I can be equally as disappointed in those things beyond my control. I just keep trying. I keep smiling and I try putting my faith in things that have a special place in my heart whether it be a friend as close to my heart as a sister or my husband who spends three hours on the floor digging through paperwork. As for the coffee, the trouble was almost worth that smell of home but then again I guess I can find a candle for that.

*d*