Friday, October 19, 2018

The Cure for a Big Day

A little over two years ago I woke up one September morning knowing it was the day Falling Free would, well, free-fall into the world. The moment felt big and I was sufficiently keyed up,strung like a live-wire, rattling with possibility. What was about to happen? What if people hated it? Almost scarier, but definitively better, what if a lot of people really loved it? A small part of me thought the world might change. Irrevocably. I had never expected more from a Tuesday.

My friend Lisa-Jo had wisely counseled me to not spend the day at home alone, refreshing my Amazon listing. We decided Cory would take the day off and spend it with me, his shivering (actual,) unshakable (LOL,) freshly-minted author wife. It was going to be so much fun!

I was crying before I even made it out of bed.

The internet was awake and good news was coming at me from corners far and farther. But I swept the one crumb of minimally-bad news into my palm. The day ahead was going to be more complicated than I had planned. And it probably wasn't going to change my life.

We went to the beach, searched for seaglass. I ate a steak salad under a striped patio umbrella.
And yeah, I checked my phone a thousand times.

I pretended to be happy, and at times, I was. It was surreal. I was lucky.
But we drove home and I fell into bed, away from my feelings.
Surprise, surprise, life moved on.

Two years and one month later, it was time to do it again, releasing The Ministry of Ordinary Places like a songbird from my hands.

This time, I knew things.

I knew my life wouldn't change, not really.
I knew I wouldn't shoot to the moon. There wasn't even a slim possibility that I was the next so-and-so, or that sales would effectively break Amazon.

(I didn't really think this last time either, but, you know, that one percent chance can make more racket than you might imagine.)

I also knew people wouldn't boo me off the stage en masse.

I knew some would love it, and some wouldn't. (The ones who wouldn't didn't deserve the megaphone any more than the ones who would.)

I knew, really knew, I would still be me. A hopeful skeptic. A sleepy night-owl. A wife. A mom. A neighbor. This would still be my home. I would still be loved exactly as I had been loved on Monday.

It was the best news imaginable, so I planned accordingly.

I didn't walk anyone to school like I had the last time. The routine has shifted, at least until winter when hopefully, for the first time in my life, the gut-punching air might work in my favor. For now, Silas rides his bike to school with a buddy. Not a single morning has passed when he hasn't said, "I'm sorry, Mama. I don't want to hurt your feelings, but can I ride my bike with Patrick today?"

Things change.
They change and they change.

It doesn't have to hurt our feelings and it doesn't even need to make us sad. The question is, can we move with the tide without being pulled under?

I laced up my New Balance tennis shoes, grabbed the camera, and went walking.

When life feels big, it's more important than ever to get small.

When the world feels wide and I'm here somewhere in the middle of it, vibrating from the force of the push and the pull, the only thing left to do is look up at the sky, down at the ground, into the corners of my one regular life, and out into the streets that claim me.

I spent a year writing a book about how my neighborhood has shown me God's goodness. I had read my own words over and over.

Now, as always, I get to live them, breathe them, cut a path straight through them.

God is good inside the pages, but he's so much better from my street-side view.

I planned to make myself presentable, but that didn't work out and my friend Holly planned to meet me for breakfast at the quaint French bakery in town. Neither plan worked out.

Instead, I walked myself to town with bad hair and a content heart. I crossed the busiest street in town as the big-rigs blew me sideways. Clash and rush, people making their way. The land of the living.

I listened. I watched. 

Gasoline, biscuits and eggs, the exquisite perfume of fallen leaves - the best death will ever smell. I took it all in. I served root beer floats to 3rd and 4th graders up the street at the elementary school, scoring a mid-day hug from Silas. I washed up the dishes, talked to neighbors, tried to will myself to care about dinnertime. I drove my budding concert violinist to rehearsal.

Flowers arrived at the door.

I scanned Amazon. (Again.)

And I smiled.

The book had made its way, and no, it won't be for everyone. But for the ones I wrote it for - for you - it will be good. It will mean something. It will matter. I know this because I keep on living it. This is my ordinary place, and God is so good here. What's true for me is simply true, as long as we're willing to put our shoes on and keep watch. This version of the story is told from my streets, but it belongs to all of us.

Later that night Cory and I met a couple of friends in town. They teased me about being a big-shot, the next Oprah! popping corks or tags or whatever it is people start popping once they've made it. We rolled our eyes and laughed, but the questions were worth considering. And the answers were easy.

This is my home. I'm obsessed with it.

Until I'm made to go, I will stay.
I will love it with everything I've got.

I'll keep letting God shape me through these blocks, these trees, the school, the diner, the mopeds barely making it up the street. I'll notice God in the faces around me. I'll remember I don't belong to myself. I'll keep learning to yield.

This is the ministry of my ordinary place here on 5th Street.
It's not shiny but it sure is mine.
"What I know now is that sometimes the best thing we can do for the world we're in is let our roots keep growing wit no regard to the climate around us. We sleep. We work. We bloom. We light up the world." - The Ministry of Ordinary Places

Click here to grab your copy of The Ministry of Ordinary Places: Waking Up to God's Goodness Around You.

{Cory and our oldest son, Robert. Our story wouldn't be right without his mixed in.}

{I promise, Ruby was somewhere around here, too. I'm just not sure where, and I have no proof!}