Unexpected

In a season that catches by surprise, I’ve come to anticipate the unexpected.

Four kids fill this house and this calendar and these rooms…

and the minds and the lives and the hearts of their parents.

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Critters live and critters die, and sometimes it comes by way of sudden chirping from the woods when a nest of nine stumbles and weaves behind mama turkey, and sometimes it comes by way of the quiet death of a loud guinea or the noble fight and fall of a beloved pony.

“Moment by moment” round here is never an exaggeration.

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But what’s never expected is the cold stare from one who was once a warm friend.

What catches by surprise and catches in the throat are the words stuck that stream through quiet moments and that are outlined with bold strokes of anger and frustration but mostly just scream Why?? When?? I thought we were friends??

And a rejection like that can make a mama pull in and pull close and focus on just the ones around her, the ones she knows for sure love her.

Making friends never gets easier does it?

And down deep, isn’t there always that little girl who lives inside of us? That first grader in a room full of new classmates who’s standing there awkward when she realizes she’s tied the back of her dress up into her waistband while she shifts from foot to foot at the front of the classroom with her underwear and tights all exposed to the world?

Don’t the bruises get blacker when a soul gets older?

Unexpected.

And when the demands are so great a big gal feels small and sometimes has a hard time breathing let alone doing anything extra, a mama can only just bear down and push through the cramp and know she’s doing what she was meant to do in this moment: deliver these babies out into the world.

She’ll keep pushing and she’ll keep grunting and she’ll try not to swear even though she might yell out during the especially hard parts.

She didn’t know it’d be like this over a dozen years after they were born.

Unexpected.

And sometimes just the day to day can be enough to make us keep things shy and reserved and holding the heart close to the chest and the real feelings tight in the pocket.

Enough of the keeping it tight can make us keep it closed and before we know it, we’ve holed ourselves up while we tell ourselves we’re just in a quiet season of bearing down.

And then the real unexpected…

The exceptional unexpected.

The beautiful unexpected.

The unexpected gift of the unexpected time of an unexpected dinner with a couple from church, two souls just ahead on the sidewalk, and all the unexpected tears and laughter that come from that kind of unexpected encounter.

How the path we’re walking is so very familiar to them.

How the struggles we wrestle are ones they’ve conquered.

How the unexpected keeps on into the empty nest years.

How the unexpected keeps on…

My heart carries the day this month that we drove to the place where we sailed to the spot…

that gate where three seas meet, -just past the sanctuary for mariners- and the wind blew fierce and the waves pounded hard and how could I not feel God hold me there in that spot where warm tears of praise slipped down cold cheeks of wonder?

Unexpected.

The whales of September came by surprise and Native founders sailed those waters on kayaks and I sailed them with my children who stood bravely against the gusts and they braced themselves to the threat and they laughed into the wind because they are young and they trust their father and their mother, but they especially trust the One who made the skies.

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The joy we’ve had this month can be lost in the hard of this month and the hard of lost friendship and the hard of this life…

but when I focus on the good…when I fix my eyes on the pure…the hard isn’t so hard and the good is pure joy.

The unexpected moments from the unexpected trip that grew my babies and grew my mama and that grew me.

The unexpected victories that taught us that sometimes a person will win when they practice hard but that sometimes even hard practice won’t win, and that that’s okay too.

The unexpected setbacks that taught us that sometimes a plan needs a bit more time and a bit more stitching before it becomes a whole quilt.

The unexpected friends that came with what could’ve been a tight and tough competition but instead turned into a tight and tender time.

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All the unexpected.

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How the unexpected keeps on…

And then, just as a mama might start to come out of her September shell and decide rejection won’t keep her because she’s already accepted by the One who made her and Who holds her…

a routine night at church brings the unexpected, a gift, a sweet out-of-the-blue message and warm watery eyes from a new friend who is trailing just behind on the parenting sidewalk, and she might think it a small gift…

but it is bigger than that.

It makes me think of you she tells me.

And I tear up some because I don’t know her that well yet but still she thought of me, and by thinking of me she didn’t reject me, and by not rejecting me she reminds me that even when the world is cold and some people are cold, we really are each other’s keeper and we needn’t be cold back because if we are…if we close ourselves off and make ourselves cold…

we won’t ever make this planet warmer.

How the unexpected keeps on…

So I squeeze her once because her gift is so precious.

I stare at it for a second and see how perfect it is and how sweet the words are, and she smiles and I smile and then I squeeze her again because I’m so touched at her gift and how it is straight from her heart.

And so very unexpected.

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I delight myself in You
Captivated by Your beauty
I’m overwhelmed, I’m overwhelmed by You
God, I run into Your arms
Unashamed because of mercy
I’m overwhelmed, I’m overwhelmed by You
I delight myself in You
In the Glory of Your Presence
I’m overwhelmed, I’m overwhelmed by You
And God I run into Your arms
Unashamed because of mercy
I’m overwhelmed, I’m overwhelmed by You
~Big Daddy Weave

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