Sunday, December 14, 2014

Remembering the life of Ann Peabody

Mid-morning yesterday, my sister and I learnt that our dear family friend, and childhood Sunday school teacher, had passed away. Her husband of sixty-six years would be attending my brother’s wedding solo, and it made our heart’s ache. The descriptor words like kind, and beautiful, and sweet, though they fit her, are much too light, and empty, and easy to describe the woman she was.

Her presence was captivating.

When I was with her, I felt loved.  And I felt a longing in the depths of my heart to know the love that ran so naturally through her veins, in her actions, and off her lips.

I desired to pursue whatever she was pursuing. It drew people to her.

There were gestures and actions at the time that probably felt insignificant to her. Little Bible lessons she taught us with her faithful blue felt board, the reminder to have manners during snack time (‘take closest cookie on the platter though the furthest may be fatter’), quiet lunches spent in her home on the church property... things that were simple, but I remember with great fondness.

I was reflecting this morning on her life, imagining her as I remember her as a little girl, her long, classic skirts neatly pressed, and fitted around her petite frame, her thick, white hair framed perfectly around a face that, even at six, I knew was so lovely that I remember hoping I would be as good looking as her in my later years. Yet, it wasn’t her outward appearance I remembered most, it was her love for God, and her genuine ability to translate that into a love for people.

And then, I had a great epiphany. Mrs. Peabody’s life, the part I knew, at least, was simple. She was a Sunday school teacher, and keeper of the church grounds with her husband. It was a humble and quiet life from outside appearances, even maybe to her.

But, it was not a small existence to those who knew her.

I fear too much pressure is put on youth nowadays to achieve great things. I must’ve been asked 1,000 times as a girl what I wanted to be when I grew up. And I, in exchange, have probably asked the question 1,000 times now to myself, and to others. And worse, they all promised I could be whatever I wanted to be. How untrue that feels now that I am grown.

There is this deep longing in my heart, and probably yours, to be someone worth remembering.

“If only I could accomplish something great,” I have often thought, imagining some novel I’ve written on the New York Bestseller list, or saving orphans in Africa with tender love and nurturing.
And in the midst of striving to be someone great, I have often had a bleak realization that my life is unfolding somewhat ordinarily.

I have read accounts of Hollywood stars who have made it in the cut throat industry, and their stories all seem to be similar, waiting in line after line at audition after audition, the rejection of not being good enough, or fitting the part, disappointment, and then, one day, the big break.

I confess, I have often felt like just another person standing in line at an audition, feeling like maybe I don’t have what it takes, feeling small and purposeless, wondering if I’ll ever get my big break.

But, reflecting on the life of Ann Peabody, I have to laugh at my immaturity.  Because, when we clear away all the striving, the daily to-do lists, the keeping up of appearances, the frivolous, life consuming worries, we realize the formula to a life worth remembering is actually quite simple.
We have only to look to people like Ann Peabody, people who remind us to love God, and let it translate into a love for others.

Mrs. Peabody will always matter to me. I will tell my children of her. I will teach them the lessons I learned on that old blue felt board, and the lessons I learned watching her.

And, I hope, I can continue to dream lofty dreams, but I hope more so, I can gain the courage to be satisfied with who I am now in the midst of my ordinary life by choosing the way of love.

As I have seen in the life of Ann, there is nothing ordinary about a life teeming with the love of God. And if the world thought your life ordinary, than I want to be ordinary like you. Here’s to you, sweet Ann.

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Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Reflections and Prescriptions of the Past and Coming Year

I ran my fingers through Ezra’s hair tonight, watching his wavy brown locks fall against the stark white pillow, and reflected on the day, as he drifted in and out of sleep.

I wanted so badly to travel the world before I settled down and had a child; as I snuggle close to him now, I realize there is no place as sweet as by his little side, in the quiet hours of the night. He makes me slow down, and I am grateful for it.

Two years ago, on New Year’s Eve, my husband and I sat outside with our friends and built a bonfire by torching our dried out Christmas tree, and we talked about that year’s high’s and low’s, as the smell of pine and smoke mixing filled the air. It’s probably my favorite New Year’s Eve to date.

Tonight, I find myself reflecting on this year, even though it’s only November.

2014. I found myself often overwhelmed and tired, too busy for hobbies I love most, and too preoccupied with frivolous things, like social media, and long to-do lists.

As I reflect tonight, I realize that I am growing tired of my addiction to social media. I think we have all become so good at connecting with other people that we've forgotten how to connect with ourselves as individuals, or our creator, on a daily basis.

And we have become so used to constant stimulation that we cannot sit still long enough to enjoy a moment without feeling like we have to share it with someone else. Sometimes, moments are just like secrets, they are intended only for us.

I know circumstances were part of the reason I felt overwhelmed so often this year, but I believe bombarding myself with technology is much to blame, too.

It doesn't boost my perspective on my life to scroll through perfect image after perfect image on my Instagram feed, nor does scrolling aimlessly through status updates make me feel any less lonely. It just puts off dealing with reality a little longer.

 I am prescribing for myself in 2015 more time for reflection, and less time for technology.  

I need more hours relishing in my son’s childhood and a few less hours scrolling through feeds. I want to slow down with him, I want to enjoy hobbies. 

I want to take a few less Instagram pictures and capture a few more moments in a journal. That friends, is my 2015 prescription.

 What’s yours?

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Friday, October 31, 2014

Ezra's Second Birthday Pumpkin Fiasco

After last year's extravaganza, I swore I wasn't going to throw Ezra a birthday party this year. But, the date inched closer & I couldn't help but put together a last minute, mid-morning bash with Ezra's play group. We painted pumpkins with thirteen children six and under. It was sheer, brilliant chaos. Picture credits all go to my beautiful sister, Kaylee Chelsea Photography, who was sweet enough to spend the morning with us.

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