Walk and chalk

“Walk. Chalk.”

Each morning, as the hands on the clock tick and tock their way toward the number nine, Maggie’s tiny voice chimes in with these two words. I can literally tell time by them. Her soft, chubby fingers stretch out and grab hold of mine and pull me to the door. I reach for miniature socks before heading down the hall.

IMG_2635Armed with ice water, my trusty camera, tennis shoes, ball caps, and bug spray, we turn the knob and open the back door, beginning Maggie’s favorite part of every morning—walk and chalk.

After strapping Maggie into the sturdy stroller, we make our way through the wet grass, still glistening with dew. First we check on our pups, who are always elated to see the stroller lumbering through the yard. As we fill their bowl with food, they scratch along the fence, and Maggie pants and mimics their whimpers, egging them on. We say “bye bye” to the pups and hit the chip sealed pavement. The sun greets our faces, and Maggie blinks in response but refuses to wear her baseball cap or sunglasses.

IMG_2836Each morning, in the humid, Ozark woodlands, I attempt to keep moving at a fairly rapid pace in an effort to avoid both of us being drenched in perspiration by the time we return to the house. However, it never fails that after taking just a few steps forward, something gorgeous catches my eye on one side of the road or the other. This is the Ozark woodlands, after all—a lush, green, jungle-like wonderland.

I didn’t always see it this way. When I moved to the Ozarks at the age of 10 and lived a mere 25 miles from my current location, I both loathed and liked the place.

I liked my small school and having the opportunity to make new friends, and I loved our tiny church and the delicious potluck dishes prepared on a frequent basis by the elderly ladies. I liked the rickety house we rented in the country on an old dirt road, the rain pinging off the tin roof. I even liked the fact that my breath created puffy bursts in my own frigid bedroom as I gazed at the clear, star-filled sky during winter; sure, the house lacked any real heat source aside from a gigantic fireplace, but I felt like a real live Laura Ingalls Wilder, and I thought that was pretty darn cool. I liked running down the road to my friend Leslie’s house and eating hot popcorn and drinking cold sweet tea in her kitchen and pestering her brother John while he played basketball and imitating her cool older sister Sheryl who danced to Debbie Gibson songs.

I liked things about Arkansas. But I loathed other things. One of the things I loathed was the weather. Having been accustomed to a drier climate in Kansas, I simply hated the Arkansas summers for years. I referred to Arkansas as the armpit of America (in terms of weather, and perhaps in terms of other things, too). I detested the way the atmosphere caused me to sweat profusely from every single pore. I hated having to purchase new white shirts every single season, whether I’d stained the front of them or not, simply due to the sweaty armpit stains. I could go on and on. I just plain hated Arkansas summers.

But something changed. After living in a rural subdivision for five years, commuting for about an hour one way every day, I’d had my fill of “all that.” I’d worked downtown, worn plenty of flashy high heels and jewelry, made enough money to make me feel that I’d arrived, and secured enough jobs to prove to myself that if I made up my mind to do something, I could do it. I was done with that kind of life.

I wanted to go home.

One of my favorite creatures I ever captured in a picture on our front porch, October 2011

One of my favorite creatures I ever captured in a picture on our front porch, October 2011

I began praying about that very idea, and God worked out the details—a lot of details—and I headed home in December of 2010. In January of 2011, my future husband and I purchased our home—nestled in the woods in the foothills of the Ozarks. And I fell head over heels in love with the Ozark woodlands. I took pictures constantly and carried my camera with me everywhere I went, snapping photographs of the endless varieties of species of flora and fauna surrounding me. With a forester and wildlife biologist by my side, I had my own handsome nature Google by my side, too.

IMG_2603This morning, after Maggie and I finished the walking portion of our “walk and chalk” time, I pushed her gently in the swing on the back porch. A quiet hum filled the air. The hum slowly transitioned into a noisy, vibrating whine. I stopped pushing Maggie in her swing for a moment and stepped off the porch, glancing around the corner of the house.

I gulped when I saw a small green tractor in the distance with a mower attachment, driving along the roadside. Tears filled my eyes quickly before I had a chance to form thoughts.

My husband stepped outside to see what the commotion was about.

“Oh, they’re mowing the sides of the road. Good,” he said blankly before noticing my tears.

“I know,” I replied in a weepy voice.

He stopped in surprise and stared at me.

“But they’re taking away all of my pretty things that I take pictures of every day and all of the things that we see on our walk and chalk every day.” And then tears actually fell.

“It’s okay, babe. They will grow back.”

I didn’t wipe away my tears. I’m a shameless flower-loving, picture-taking, Ozark-woodland-obsessed, nature freak.

Us, May 2014

Us, May 2014

I wasn’t actually crying over flowers. I was crying because I realized something important—that I was grateful for every single second I’d taken to pause and thank God for what He’d created, for the seconds I’d taken to notice those beautiful things, for the seconds I’d spent teaching my daughter to praise God for all things bright and small.

Because just seconds after we’d seen those beautiful things that very morning, they were gone.

I was crying because I am thankful that this morning, I have no regrets about how I spent my seconds.

Stalking stillness

That pesky red-bellied woodpecker.

IMG_0229I have stalked that woodpecker since I first noticed him, just a few days after we relocated our bird feeder, handmade by my very own Renaissance man, to a small garden plot right outside my bedroom window.

Each morning when my daughter awakens, her windowsill is one of her first stops. Gazing out of the blurry, century-old glass pane, she points and murmurs “bird… bird” as oodles of male and female cardinals parade back and forth between their nests along the creek bed and the bird feeder. The chickadees, with their stark white and black caps, and spotted, earthy sparrows flit from limb to limb along the tiny flowering tree branches next to the feeder, politely taking turns and never lingering too long over the seed. The gold finches and regal purple finches have lower social standards and squawk and peck at other birds who dare to snag a snack alongside them.

IMG_0526Occasionally, a cruel but beautiful blue jay makes its way to the feeder, bullies the other birds, and grazes as a lone ranger before venturing off to make some other bird’s life miserable.

IMG_9763And if I’m really lucky, I might spy an eastern bluebird, its crimson breast clashing perfectly with its soft blue wings.

Yes, there is a gamut of gorgeous birds gracing the space outside my window.

But the elusive woodpecker has been my focus. My obsession.

When my daughter is napping—because that’s the only time the house is quiet enough for this—I creep into my bedroom with a hot cup of coffee, carefully unlock the window latch, and slide the pane up a few inches. I wrap my furry throw blanket around my cross-legged body and lean in, hoping to capture my feathered friends on film. I’ve probably taken hundreds of pretty shots of cardinals, Juncos, and finches. They’re pretty birds, and they rest for long lengths of time; they’re not easily frazzled or frightened.

My woodpecker, on the other hand, is truly his own animal. He almost constantly moves, hunting and pecking for his prey or craning his neck from side to side, his eyes wary and vigilant. He contorts himself into impossible positions to find what he’s looking for, and once he’s found it, he scurries away to his sanctuary, the strong fortress of the giant old oak tree in our yard.

Most of the time, the woodpecker only appears when I don’t have the time to grab my camera. I see him when I’m changing Maggie’s diaper or reading books with her. Occasionally, I have a few seconds to get positioned for a great photograph, and as soon as he hears the window latch, he disappears. Oh! I’ve grown frustrated waiting for my chance.

IMG_0511This morning, as my fingers veered on the edge of frostbite while snapping pictures of a lovely blue jay, I caught a glimpse of my woodpecker’s blazing red cap in the background. I quickly inhaled and held my breath as I zoomed out, trying to maneuver the camera quickly but quietly.

And there he was, more still and at rest than I’ve ever seen him, staring at me, slightly obscured by the blue jay and the bird feeder. I had my chance, and I took picture after picture of him, often capturing just the tip of his mottled tail.

IMG_0505As I sat there, still and barely breathing for fear of frightening him away, I found myself loving him and feeling akin to him, a snapshot of Bethany in her old skin. Always busy and productive. Distrusting and suspicious of others. Alluring but aloof.

Afraid to stop moving.

Unable to be still.

To be still, my word of the year.

I’ve found the perfect bird to fixate on, one that requires me to while away the hours in silence. A creature that forces me to learn to be perfectly still.

2014 word of the year

I have worked the 12 steps of recovery for six years, and the meditation part of the 11th step has never been easy for me.

“Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out”

Serious yogi, 2010

Serious yogi, 2010

I’ve sat through guided meditations and struggled to resist the urge to giggle and to wiggle away the ants in my pants. I’ve tried focusing on my breathing (with varying levels of success in achieving something like relaxation). I’ve done yoga, too, and while I’ve improved my flexibility, I haven’t found my mind floating on a cloud.

Even though my husband has never participated in a 12-step recovery program, he has the annoying and enviable ability to achieve what looks like nirvana after just a few minutes of lying down with his eyes closed, breathing. Being. Ugh.

I finally asked him one night, when I felt beyond frustrated with insomnia, how he manages to meditate so easily.

“Simple,” he said. “I focus on something that I like. I go to a place in my mind. When I start thinking about other things, I turn back to that place.”

Well, that might occur naturally for Mr. Smarty Pants, but it hasn’t proved simple for me—probably because I’ve taken a simple idea and contorted it into a complicated process—a terrible talent I have.

The past few months, I’ve given my husband’s method a try.

December 2012

December 2012

I’ve found some virtual places of rest. I’ve gone hiking behind my old house, snapped twigs and sat on thick tree branches, gathered firewood, and overlooked the ridge at the top of the hill with my trusty companion, my black cat Shao Hou, following closely behind, silently. I’ve walked up past our barn on a moonlit night, the light casting contrasting shadows through trees, reflecting off dirt and rocks coated in quiet snow. I’ve traced my own steps and watched Shao Hou’s paw prints step in the hollowed places left behind by my Muck boots.

Last month, after one of the most beautiful snowstorms I’ve seen (and I haven’t seen many since I live in the South), our entire property was blanketed in stark white stillness. The neighbors with noisy trucks were nowhere to be found. Even the 14 dogs owned by the animal lover living a quarter-mile away bedded down and shut their traps.

Nothing moved. No one spoke.

But God did.

My feathered friends, December 2013

My feathered friends, December 2013

That morning, dozens of birds found their way to a patch of grass outside my bedroom window and pecked through the ice in search of sunflower seeds scattered by my husband the day before. While my daughter napped, I sat in front of the open window and snapped photo after photo of bright wings and orange beaks and puffy feathers perched on thin frozen branches. Aside from clicking the camera’s buttons, I didn’t move for 30 minutes.

I’d found a place to go, a place to be still. A place to be with God.

Each year, I choose a word to reflect on, a virtue to behold and to strive to attain. This year, my word is still. Ironically, there’s nothing to strive for since stillness is the absence of striving.

This year, I’ll seek out places of rest. I’ll let myself be silent. I’ll seek to be free of turbulence, waves, or currents. I will listen to the absence of voices and absorb the hush.

God is in the hush.

 

100_4467The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.”

Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.

–1 Kings 19

 

Red lights

red lightI’ve been doing it for as long as I can remember. Even as a little girl in the back of my mom’s banana-colored Cutlass Supreme, I remember the 30-second daydreams at every red light.

When our car came to a halt, along with countless other cars at the four corners at every intersection with a traffic light, I glanced around at the other cars—not because I am fascinated with automobiles, but because I am fascinated with people.

What did that woman with curly blonde hair, sunglasses, and a cigarette think about at night when she went to bed? Did she have children at home, or was she living the single life? Did she lie on her couch and eat bon bons and watch soap operas all day long while wearing pink mumus? Did she work in a factory, or did she teach elementary school?

And what about the old man in the big blue pick-up truck? Did he have any grandchildren? Did they come visit him, or after his morning paper and coffee and chat with his former farmer friends at the café, did he return home to an empty, quiet house and sip sweet tea on the porch with his basset hound? Was he cold-hearted, and as a result, had no contact with his family? Or was he loving and affectionate, giving them gifts and sharing his war stories and teaching them how to fish?

It might have been my creative side preparing itself to write in the future. It might have been my tendency to stick my nose in other people’s business rearing its unattractive head. It might have been my big fat heart protruding itself through the pane glass of the car window, wondering and wandering at the vast amount of life at every street corner every day.

Sitting on our front porch, my husband and I often watch the sunset together with our daughter in the evening. This spring, the insects reappeared and began buzzing and hovering and clouding the horizon. Being the anti-bug advocate in the family, I reached for the repellant and fly swatter. Being the wildlife biologist in the family, my husband sat and gazed at the swarm of gnats illuminated by the sunlight.

Sunset view from our front porch, June 2013

Sunset view from our front porch, June 2013

“There’s a lot of life right there. A lot of life.”

I may not be able to muster up a similar sense of wonder regarding the flies on our porch, but I still find myself fascinated by the human lives around me today. Only it’s amplified now. After having my daughter, I don’t just gaze around in curiosity. I feel a crushing awareness in my heart that each of the people surrounding me, everywhere I go, have souls. They all have eternity ahead of them, either with or without Christ. They are all who they are today because of who the people in their lives were way back when.

This unavoidable awareness makes me less likely to judge people at red lights, people on the sidewalk, people at the health office, or people in Wal-Mart. They all have lives. Complicated, painful, tumultuous lives. They all have multiple relationships, and their choices affect other people every day. They might be in excellent health, or they might be a few days from taking their last breaths. They might be in touch with their families and feel loved and appreciated. Or they might be alone in the world with no one to call and no one to hold. They might be using drugs, or they might be sober. They might have three bedrooms, two bathrooms, and running water to call home. Or they might sleep under the bridge near Polk Bayou. They might have been abused and mistreated their whole lives, or they might have the simplest, most pain-free lives imaginable.

My precious baby, June 2013

My precious baby, June 2013. Photo by Jessie Covington.

Regardless, all the people I encounter were once just tiny babies. They were innocent, small, helpless, dependent babies. They all made adorable facial expressions, learned to clap for the first time, cried for their mamas when they were tired and cranky, and laughed at the amazing new world around them.  Just like my little girl, they were bursting with hope, promise, and potential.

And like all babies, they grew up. Some of them might have been as lucky as my little girl, having two parents living in the same house who love each other and love her unconditionally. But I know that some of them weren’t as lucky. Some of them cried themselves to sleep too many times. Some of them weren’t held and carried but were hit and ignored or abandoned. When I look into the eyes of people I meet and see nothing but pain, emptiness, or rage, I know that something must have gone terribly wrong at some point. Maybe they were hurt by others. Maybe they’ve hurt others, too.

I will never know the stories of all the grown-up babies I encounter. But when I see them, I remind myself that just as God loves me as His child, and sees me as His precious creation even though I have repeatedly screwed up, He sees all the grown-up babies as His children. Some of them know Him as their Daddy. Some of them don’t. But He loves them all anyway.

And that’s what He’s asked me to do. Just love His babies.

How do you know me?

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Me in 2010, about halfway into my 1,000 days of gratitude lists

About a year ago, I decided to create a second blog, Your Daily Dose of Gratitude. I’d already been writing daily gratitude lists for over 1,000 days in a row. Since this exercise had impacted me so positively, improving my outlook on life and my attitude towards others, I decided that sharing thoughts on the topic with others might do the same for them.

As I posted Henry Petty‘s guest blog posts on my gratitude blog, the past few days, I began reflecting on how I know him. We met in college, and I was immediately drawn to his chipper attitude about life. He did not have an easy life. Yet he seemed to always keep a smile on his face. He walked to work, and instead of whining about it, he just expressed gratitude when folks offered him rides.

Then I began thinking about the other guest contributors to this blog and how I came to know each of them.

Dr. Teresa Burns Murphy was one of my professors in college and now serves as a sort of writing mentor. I took a children’s literature course from her as an English elective my senior year. I didn’t expect to discover a love for a genre of literature I’d largely overlooked. But her passion for the subject matter and the warm, interactive, and exciting way she managed the classroom discussions sparked a real interest in children’s literature inside me. I began collecting children’s books, and when I became pregnant with my daughter, I already had accumulated quite an awesome collection.

My friend Linda Unger, another guest contributor, is an accomplished photographer, writer, entrepreneur, and also happens to be hilarious. I met her at a women’s conference about five years ago and found her enthusiasm for life to be contagious. She once spoke at that same conference and shared her life’s story and details about her spiritual journey. I will never forget the way she described how she came to know God; it resonated within me.

I met my friend Oona Love, another guest contributor, at a concert at Cornerstone Pub in North Little Rock, Arkansas, when she opened the show for my close friend, Cindy Woolf. Oona’s cover of a fabulous Fiona Apple song made me belly laugh non-stop for three minutes, and at that time in my life, I needed all the laughter I could get. Since then, I’ve come to know her a little better and respect her gentle, accepting way of loving others despite their differences.

My friend Erin Jennings, another guest contributor, once briefly dated a friend of my husband’s. While their dating relationship lasted only a short while, our friendship continued, and she became a very close friend and confidante. I’ve watched her as she has found the love of her life and expanded her family from three to six and do so with grace and ease.

Three of my guest contributors are brand new friends whom I’ve never had the pleasure of meeting in person. I met two of them, Toinette Thomas and Mary Agrusa, through groups for Christian bloggers on linkedin.com. I met Sarah Klesko, a fellow blogger, by following her blog and finding her posts inspirational. Thankfully, all three of these talented writers were willing to share their musings with me, too.

Guest contributor Amy Driskill went to college with me back in the day. She’s one of many people I’ve reconnected with via Facebook. Since reconnecting, we’ve learned things about each other’s lives that we certainly didn’t know in college, and it’s bonded us as friends.

Shelli White, a guest contributor, was a college student at my alma mater when I worked there as an academic coordinator for an Upward Bound program. Shelli worked as a tutor for us and used her math whiz kid skills to assist struggling high school students. Since then, her life has evolved, and she’s become a spiritually vibrant woman raising an adorable little boy.

One of my college suite mates, Zeda Paysinger-Wilkerson, served as a guest contributor once as well. Zeda and I were lab partners our freshman year of college. I vividly remember recanting our romantic tales to one another and giggling over the details. Zeda and I have remained close friends since then, even working together once at the same institution. She always reminds me that life is what you make of it.

I finally talked my former co-worker Jonathan Weigt into writing for my blog and am so glad he did. Jonathan worked with me through some pretty tough times in my life and has perhaps seen me at my worst; I’m really glad he now knows me at my best. His non-traditional take on spirituality and his sincere questioning of life’s most important questions challenge me. It also reminds me that even the most hilarious person (he’s quite funny) has a deeper side, whether it’s visible or not.

My nephew Jake (AKA Walter Pitts) agreed to write for my blog after his recent wild adventure in Eastern Europe. Jake’s on an extraordinarily fearless journey of faith. Having known him since he was just five years old, it’s been awesome to see how God has used each of his personality quirks and special gifts to serve others and make the world a better place.

I once had the honor of working with Debra Dickey-Liang. She served as the administrative assistant in my department, and she excelled at her job. She was dependable, loyal, trustworthy, and dignified. She still is, and seven years after working with her, I am delighted to consider her one of my closest friends. Despite the differences in our ages, we’ve found common ground in what matters. When she agreed to write posts for my gratitude blog, I discovered her hidden gift for writing and was thrilled to share it with the world via WordPress.

Then there’s my forever friend Mark Egan, who I first met when I was five years old. I watched him climb trees and emulated his skills. He taught me to shoot a gun for the first time (and didn’t get mad when I almost shot God-knows-what instead of the targets). He agreed to write for my blog after sending me some personal writing to proofread for him. I convinced him that he had underestimated his writing abilities so he agreed to allow me to share his piece with others. He will always be “a friend who sticks closer than a brother” (Proverbs 18:24).

As I contemplated on how I know each of these guest writers, I felt overwhelmed with gratitude. This list doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of the other God-with-skin-on people who have walked with me through valleys, helped me climb over obstacles, and rejoiced with me as we enjoyed the view from the top.

With so much love in my life, having been surrounded by such diverse, beautiful, and invaluable people, I can’t help but believe that what Eckhart said is true:

“If the only prayer you say in your life is ‘thank you,’ that would suffice.”

 

Greener grass

This morning, I awoke to the adorable chatting and fussing of my nine week-old infant daughter.

Moans and groans followed–not from the nursery monitor. From me. I attempted to separate my eyelids from my eyeballs unsuccessfully several times before managing to pry them partly open. I turned my bleary gaze toward the alarm clock.

6:33 a.m.

ImageAbout 30 minutes later than the time of day I used to set the coffeepot for back in the day when I worked a “real job” and got paid in actual cash for showing up and performing tasks. I contemplated the drastic 180 degree pivot I’ve made since then as I hauled my pathetic parts out of our warm, fleece-laden sanctuary and plodded a few painful steps into my bathroom to hurriedly brush my teeth before trudging down the hall to feed our daughter.

Thud, thud, thud.

My daughter heard my heavy, aching feet, attached to my still-sore knees from the after-effects of swelling during pregnancy. She began cooing and turning up the volume on her hunger protests. I pasted a semi-smile on my face, recited her special verse to her, and leaned over to lift her out of the crib, cracking at least three vertebra in the process.

“Babe.”

Silence.

“James?”

Peaceful silence, the sign that my better half had chosen the better path and stayed in bed a little longer.

“Babe, babe, please….”

A tired voice croaked in response.

“Yes?”

“Coffee, please. I need it.”

The champ managed to drag himself out of bed long enough to get the coffee going before collapsing once again into bliss.

As I sat in the recliner about to nurse my daughter, a lamp illuminating her chubby little cheeks as they grinned at me in anticipation of the goodness coming her way, I reminisced about the green, lush grass of my former life.

I’m not referring to my lawn, trust me. I used to celebrate when the parched heat in August finally sucked the life out of my lawn; I could finally stop paying those men with Bad Boy mowers to spend 20 minutes on my acre of land each week or relying on my generous friend’s husband to mow it out of pity for me.

No, I’m referring to the “greener grass.”

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Three years ago, photo by Say Cheese Photography

The lifestyle I led as a single, sexy lady who’d just turned 30. The beer and wine imbibed on my front porch under a full set of stars while carrying on scandalous conversations with my friends.  The cigarettes I carelessly smoked as accoutrements to all of my fashionable ensembles that clad my skinny arse. The concerts and coffeehouses I frequented with friends, one of my many cashmere or hand-knitted scarves casually knotted around my neck. The countless novels I consumed voraciously, my cats perched on the edge of my couch. The miniature meals I cooked for myself, never needing to consider plating for more than numero uno. The insistence that monthly facials were not a luxury–they were an essential budget item. The notion that having lunch plans AND a meeting after work meant I was swamped with responsibility. The absolute silence that enveloped my home–always–since I chose to rid myself of the annoying din of the television for an entire year.

Aahhh.

My daughter’s bright eyes gazed up at me, and she cocked her head to the side and flashed me a genuinely joyous grin.

I suddenly recalled that the grass on the other side was also cluttered with weeds and required tedious maintenance. Working two jobs at times and still not making ends meet due to living way beyond my means and to the debt acquired by my frivolous ex-husband. Driving one hour each way to arrive at jobs I wasn’t truly passionate about and dealing with, let’s face it, the inevitable work drama and estrogen fest resulting from too many females in close quarters. The creaks and crunches outside my bedroom window that kept me awake night after night as I attempted to sleep in a house too big for just little ole me, keeping my bedroom door locked just in case. The horrible dating experiences that resulted from my countless attempts to find companionship. The quiet ticking of my clock, as I sat curled up under a quilt in my living room, pondering and praying and contemplating and wondering and waiting.

By myself.

ImageAs I sang one last morning song to Maggie, her heavy little eyes closing and opening more and more slowly, I sipped the cup of coffee my husband had poured for me. The mugshot on the cup captured a tiny moment in time when my three week-old newborn baby lay cradled in my arms, squinting her eyes at the brilliant sky, our 100 year-old barn behind us.

My life is different now. I can’t sit on my porch in the morning with a cup of coffee and spend an entire hour watching the grass grow. I can’t show up at the spur of the moment to enjoy my friend’s excellent guitar picking because the one pair of jeans I purchased postpartum now sag too significantly to avoid mooning the public. I insist on screening family members and friends prior to their visits since many of them pooh-pooh the flu epidemic. I don’t have the luxury of spending two hours waking up before arriving at work, listening to my own loud musical selections while downing an ungodly amount of caffeine.

I get about five minutes before it’s go time each day.

As I burped my baby this morning, the sunlight barely creeping in through the sheer curtains, I listened to the nearly inaudible ticking of the same clock that used to count the seconds spent in mostly meaningless, lonely ways.

My time is almost always accounted for these days. Thank God that how I’m spending it matters.

ImageIt’s the middle of January, and the grass has never been greener.