I Am An Alchemist

Screen shot 2013-03-03 at 10.43.36 PMPsst . . . Would you harness all your extra energetic atoms and come close in here for a moment? I want to tell you a special little something . . .

For 32 years I’ve been walking around the sun and with every turn about the calendar I’ve learned that I’m unfurling into more of who I was born to be; discovering dots, connecting threads, sketching ideas, chasing the Spirit around all the places so I can ask him all the questions all the time – just for the joy of scribbling what I hear on the scratchpad of my soul and I’m sure I get to keep all the whispered secrets harbored safe within me for at least (or no less then) eternity.

Get this: I’m still learning new things about myself and some might find this strange and others entirely refreshing, but lately I’ve been rolling the air between the tips of my fingers just so I can touch what nothing-molecules feel like. I’m every which way bent on not missing a single ordinary thing because I recently discovered that I am, by nature, an alchemist.

What’s that you say?

Alchemist: A person who uses any magical power or process of transmuting a common substance, usually of little value, into a substance of great value.

Screen shot 2013-03-03 at 10.44.41 PMHmmm . . . I wonder WHO the original alchemist was and is and is to come? You must know that I’m thinking now of that long ago dust-spread being woven and shaped into humanity by the magical breath of The Great Alchemist. And I’m thinking of every redemption story I’ve ever heard and all the tales of burned-down ashes turning towards raised-up beauty because that one true Alchemist spoke the magic-wielding words of value and love. I just can’t escape this urge to be under the tutelage of such wonder. So, I touch the air with the flesh of my hands and imagine it’s worth so much more then I often remember, this element I take for granted just as often as my next breath.

Alchemy, I think, is nothing if not the noticing of the practically un-noticeable. And by practicing noticement, the magic of value and love is infused into the most common of substances until they become, to the beholder, a substance of great value. Glory be! Who knew you could get giddy like this and watch the daily drudgery and typical times go by, rich and filled full with amazement.

Screen shot 2013-03-03 at 10.44.08 PMIn related news, I wrote this prayer in my journal a few weeks back and it speaks volumes of the place God has seduced me to: “A quiet and reverent good morning I would speak to You now . . . with rest and love and fullness in my heart. I’m breathing You in like a mystic, slowing all my molecules to look like miracles. They are miracles and I would remember today that You are holy and wholly, absolutely other. Give me eyes to see and ears to hear and a heart to understand just one or two unfathomable mysteries . . . Would You let me touch the connections between this world and Your pulsing beat? Related: I want to drink You, every bit that I can. Is that possible? To sink into the celestial abyss? Right here in all my ordinary days? By the way, I love . . . I LOVE my ordinary days. You have built me for this, changed me to reflect the mysticism of the mundane and I am grateful, but more so: content. I am content. My God. Miracles never cease. Picking up scattered scraps of paper, filling a million cups with milk, doing the kitchen dance over a pot of simmering soup . . . I am content and AMEN I say to that.”

Now you know a little something more about the heart that beats inside my body and next time I go about making God-seed declarations, I’m gonna tell you why I am, by nature, also an anthropologist. In the meantime, I was wondering (and it would rock my world) if you wouldn’t mind sharing with me something about yourself? It could be a photo or a paragraph or a prayer or a link to a blog post – anything! What is something you are - regardless of whether you’ve been validated by man or certified by any institution? The anthropologist in me longs to know the inherent you and desires to see how we all intersect and connect in this beautiful interlocking circle of Kingdom contribution.

Deck Your Heart

Right now? I’ve got nothing else to offer this space full of Deeper readers then my Advent heart. I am completely consumed by “coming” and would you sit where you are long enough to watch me pour myself all over an ancient manger? Pour myself out even though the thought of giving you my heart feels at least 6 million kinds of vulnerable, as if I were the one spreading my legs for all the world to see while pushing the crown of God’s head into the hay. But, if ever there is time and space for vulnerability it’s the Christmas season; the very act of incarnation, of Christ coming to us bloody and naked invokes all the worshippers to come as bare and forked as possible before the flesh-born King.

I’ve had 31 revolutions around this one stable and at least 10 of them I have beseeched to the Baby therein, “How much deeper can we go this year?” And this is how I begin to deck my heart, with curiosity and fervor and a longing for the provocative nature of this story to mix with my claret-red cells and run rampant all over my veins like some sort of Divine drug. Every moment of Advent-to-Christmas tastes like an aphrodisiac and I am drinking the moments like ambrosia-laced elixir. With my tongue rolling around all the flavors of a Newborn, no wonder I burst with more merry and leak more tears then every other orbiting day.

I want more . . .

Follow me to Deeper Story for the rest of this smattering of my most vulnerable heart-words? Click HERE.

 

What I’m Hungry For

Will you hear what I am hungry for? How I can eat moments like my first and last and only meal?

Moments.

Moments of stillness and quiet, with just enough length to take an extra breath, speak a gentle “I’m here, Abba” and be mindful that behind the air I inhale is another galaxy of meaning and mystery – it’s heaven waiting in the wings for the sprinkling of God-children spread all over the earth to bring a piece of the celestial into earth-time. (Try it and see . . . With just one beautiful, purposeful and God-rich thought in your head, drag in some atmosphere through your nose and I believe you’ve brought the Kingdom here and now.)

I was born with a mystic heart and I could feast on solitude for days, but God gave me a family and made me a homeschool mama and also dug such a deep well of love in my heart for all the people who walk around and straight into my world . . . You see? Moments are all I get and that’s okay, but I’ve got to cultivate them to be good ones otherwise my soul would shrink to a shrivel.

So, I’m praying every morning for a cleansed palette with which to taste all of God in every little beat of space ticking down eternity’s clock. Even more so and especially now that my eyes have gone soft from gazing towards the dawn of Advent this Sunday. We’ll wait the whole day to light the Candle of Hope at night and I know with that tiny flame flickering to life on our Advent wreath my breath will beg to be pulled inside my lungs slow and deep and all the way down to my belly like the way I had to when I was 9 months pregnant; when my body was so full of flesh that short gasps could never fill me up .

That’s how to breathe the Advent air. All the way down to your gut. Because if any air in the world is pregnant, it’s the Advent air – 9 months, pre-labor large with the memory of expecting Someone so big He could only come in the package-size of an infant.

Again this year the moments in our home will glow gentle with hundreds and more tiny twinkle lights on a Charlie Brown evergreen tree and all the spirit-atoms within go hush-hush for the sweet Bethlehem Baby. A Baby that I’ve never wanted to hold so bad and we all wrap Him in our arms with each sacrament and remembrance. We’ll take Him in our arms and clutch Him close to our chests once more, tis the season for new-skin smell and Baby-breath fanning and for swaying around the living room humming lullabies, caressing our flesh-palms over and across a soft, downy, Divine-head. The thermometer around us will shift to temperature still as we supplicate for the deep hope of softening and bending our souls towards the heart of Christmas.

:::

If any of you are looking for a couple of Spirit-whispers to supplement your holiday season, below are a few resources that nurtured and strengthened our own tribe-traditions.

This is our second year to travel through Ann Voskamp’s Jesse Tree Family Advent Devotional – we all love the way she stitched and crafted The Story from start to finish. If you’re interested, you can download it for FREE right HERE.

John Blase wrote a beautiful little triumph of a book called Touching Wonder. This, too, can be download for FREE over HERE or at Amazon.

For younger kids, this Advent Storybook is our favorite and we are still reading it every year – so sweet and reverent.

:::

Can I tell you how blessed and joy-full I wish and pray for your Advent and Christmas to be? I’m wrapping my big heart around each and every y’all, okay? I LOVE you!

 

{Image Source}

Adoption: An EPIC Update

The 200-year-old wood floor is unyielding beneath my bent legs; I’m writing this one from my knees, neck and fingers arched low and right now I have the kind of body that makes big Spirit-noise. Listen . . . God has something in His sleeve and thread by thread He’s pulling that sleeve back and the small amounts of His skin being revealed chokes me up and falls me down. Soon we’re going to see the whole cosmic arm stretched before us and behind us and moving earth with giant sweeping motions to make a way for His will and our destinies. And this may be the longest post in my blog history, with a bazillion back-story links to boot . . . Maybe you need to journey with us today? Because my Mr. and I never imagined that our adoption story would continue like this, that the Kingdom would SO redefine and expand our conditioned ideas of certain things . . . Would you come close, my dudes and darlin’s? Grab some coffee if you want and travel with me for just a microscopic slice of your eternity while I retell some important pieces of the adoption narrative before moving on with what’s current.

Have you been with us long enough to remember how it all began? How life with three-kids-in-three-years had finally reached a rhythm that flowed with a bit more ease and a lot more grace. And somehow the ease and grace promoted an expansion to the walls of our daily-life capacity and why did my arms suddenly feel so empty? Do you remember how the empty-arm-feeling brought our family to the threshold of a thread that we chose to follow? Yes, we picked up the adoption thread, walked forward and prayed on.

In THIS post I swallowed the Son and confessed to the Father that my little Light-full heart yearned for more, and while we chose as a family to pursue adoption as an avenue of expressing “more“, we also committed to leaving the “more” open-ended in definition – remembering from previous life experiences that sometimes our ideas and expectations look like yellow bananas next to God’s green apples. (A.K.A.They’re NOT the same thing.)

And we prayed a specific and pivotal prayer in front of you all: “Our Father, what is real family for us?”  We spread this sentence around heaven because we believed that the way family has been defined by our western, white-man’s dictionary is not the truest or deepest definition of the word. On the alternate hand, we won’t make our statements like a blanket and say every family’s should be a mixed-up, kaleidiscopic collection. But, what in this world does it mean for us to be family? On the other side of Jesus the margins are stretched, definitions are upside down (and you may just need to stand on your head to see the world right-side-up) and family just might be is most assuredly global, but how that plays out in each of our stories is as multi-hued as the earth itself. So we rent our fisted fingers and invoked the Kingdom’s commentary, “Father, what is real family for US?”

Somehow, in the midst of some very constant and intense emotions, we still had the wisdom and wherewithal to say: From refinement of time and trial, we know better then to fold-up, over and around our own expectations, because it seems that quite often the catalyst which launches a movement in our lives is not always the same as where we end up, but we do believe that something life-altering and New Kingdom advancing is present inside each tiny fiber of this upward-moving thread.

Truly, I don’t think a week went by in the past two years where we weren’t praying or processing what it might mean for our family to adopt. But, also during that time God started playing a new melody on each of our souls and singing more of His song over our heads and would you know that what we started hearing was the hymn of revival and the notes were full with vision and spark. Our heart-kiln’s were stoked and the Fire-Starter was blowing against the coals, igniting us all the way. And I wrote one story that illustrated how the flames were affecting us and how the boys chose to respond to what God was doing. I communicated at the end of this story that our family had chosen to adopt a revolving family member into our hearts, that every time we met our most basic needs or even indulged in our “wants”, that we would also include one more person in our bounty each time. And by doing so, all five of us felt the Divine hand Cross-stitching our love to the people of our city.

And just when we were contemplating a move out to the Connecticut country, that semi-exposed Arm reached right into the middle of our choices and brandished some magic like we had never seen before and I told that alchemic-tale in Prodigal God . If you haven’t read it yet, please – you MUST. It may be the most integral component – or rather, it is the foundation for the rest of what I’m about to tell you.

Following that truth-tale of a recklessly-extravagant God, we had 10 cents less then a dime’s worth of doubt that the great Him gifted us with the house where we abide now and damn if we don’t love every crack and cranny, creaky floorboard and curvy angle (not to mention the steam shower!!!) of this colonial cape.

But, we barely settled in our new river casa, before my adoption-bent heart prompted a phone call to the social worker, telling him we were ready for our fresh digs to get the state-required “check-out”. Two afternoons later Carlos came over and we tarried and scoured property and home, he meticulously inched his way inside and out with a tiny-fingered comb. Then, the inspection was done and I may or may not have been biting my nails while sitting on pins and needles and when the verdict came? He only itemized three improvements that would need to be completed before our home could meet government approval and our adoption could take another pace ahead. Three EASY-ish things!!! No big whoop! We were prepared for at least as many speed-bumps as the ones Carlos communicated that day. However, having just crashed into BURN-OUT, I knew that we wouldn’t be able to fathom any house projects until we returned from [what we hoped would be] a very restorative family holiday in northern Michigan.

Before vacation and one week after that appointment with Carlos, I took our 9-year-young boy on a “his turn” date. And this is what you need to know about these occasions with Seth: whenever he gets alone with either parent, the dude canNOT stop kissing our hands, squeezing our bodies, and . . . monologuing. The. Kid. Will. TALK. And talk, and talk and talk. His excitement is so profound and he expresses it through non-stop touch and chatter – chatter about any and every and all the things on earth – this particular date being no exception. So, Seth and I were driving home from a Panera Bread/Froyo World consumption combo and he is doing some EPIC commentating in the backseat and I’m listening with most of both my ears when all of a sudden he stops spieling mid-sentence. Wondering why he broke speech, I made a quick glance in the rearview mirror to see him cock his head a little to the east right before saying, “Hey Mama . . . We have six people in our family. You. Papa. Me. Gabe. Jude. And the city of New Haven.” Then he picks up his monologue right where he left off, like nothing unusual or profound had just happened. *I*, however, felt chills fall from face to feet and an aorta knocking double-time against rib and flesh and just as immediately my mouth let-go the slightest prayer into the atmosphere, “Father, what does THAT mean?”.

For the next three weeks and through vacation my mind would turn at strange points to ponder that one sentence projected by our prophetic son and I would wonder what meaning it cradled. In addition, Austin and I processed and prayed and shared the story with family and close friends, inviting any and all wisdom to be spoken regarding. But mostly I just sat with it close to my chest, content for the skin of His arm to be revealed at the right time.

During our two weeks in the night-cool, quietly-clean country air and with the comfort of being circled with family and feasting on  nourishment from my mama’s kitchen, I felt completely restored from my soul tasting like ashes. HOWEVER. Our road-trip back to CT, altogether and almightily changed that wholeness when some kind of devil-stewed flu virus crawled in and corrupted my body – laying me flat for two weeks. This sickness totally stripped me of any feeling I had of being lit-up and I would drain tears for being unable to sense even the smallest vestige of my previous restoration. (Wah, wah and boo-hoo, someone get our their violin.) [Devil-virus notwithstanding] on day 12, my sapped-out self was standing under the spray of a steamy shower when a Who-sized prayer rose up from the fire buried way deep down under all my ailments: “God, I do NOT care if you want us to adopt a child or an entire city, we’ll adopt whatever You want us to. But, could You close one door and open another because I don’t know if we can do both right now.”

Just as I stepped beyond the shower to towel down, I heard my phone signal the voicemail ringtone and for reasons now known, my spirit surged with a sense of urgency to find out who called. Rushing through the post-shower proceedings, I quickly bare-footed over to see who was on the other side of my message and heard the voice of our social worker. With a swiftly tattooing heart-beat, I listened with all my ears to what he had to say: “Hello Erika, this is Carlos. I just wanted to touch base with you because there are some regulation changes if you want to adopt in the city of New Haven and they will effect your application. So please give me a call as soon as you get a chance and we can chat about it.” I set my phone down and knew. I knew in that moment, with a certainty that I will rarely claim, that as soon as I talked with Carlos, we would know one way or another what or whom we were adopting; which door would swing open and which one would shut closed.

After a short game of phone tag, Carlos caught me the following afternoon and quickly dispensing with formalities, we got right down to business. He tells me that specifically in the city of New Haven, the adoption rules have changed. He tells me that if a house was built before 1970 (which is ONLY every single house in the whole dad-gum historical city). . . And he gave me a list of new requirements longer then the devil’s own lies. And by “things” I mean, we had to do stuff to “un-historic” our historical house. And by “we” I mean that a specialized team would have to come in and accomplish those things for us because we are neither licensed or qualified or even ALLOWED to do them ourselves. And I’ll just give you ONE example so you hear what I mean: Every window in our home would either have to be replaced (cha-ching, cha-ching) or we would have to pay thousands of dollars to have every window removed, encapsulated in a special LEAD-coating paint and then replaced and repaired. (You can imagine the nightmare and horror). It doesn’t matter that this entire house has been restored and all the windows repainted, you would STILL be mandated to have it done by professionals. And it’s really not the canyon-load of home-improvement-headache or catastrophic cash cost that closed the door on our adoption.

The door closed because God unarguably, magically and boldly gifted us with this house so we would know where He geographically wanted our hands and hearts to be . . . and having given us this house, it came with the exspense that our landlords (who meticulously restored all the historical details of this home) would NOT and NEVER!!! allow us to do the things to THEIR colonial cape that Carlos said were now required in order for us to adopt in New Haven.

In shorter terms: God gave us a house that we couldn’t adopt a child into. On the other hand, God gave us a house that radically positioned us to adopt a whole city and tying our hair back is second on our list of “to-do s”, right after learning how to spend more minutes on our knees.

Among a few other sentences of how I really felt, I very kindly told Carlos that the “system sucks”. (Because it does.) (Do I hear an “AMEN”?)

He said “I know” and “I’m sorry”.

And with the ending of our conversation, the only response I had in me was a quiet and surrendered, “Okay”.

We had an answer to a two-year-long sojourn and subsequent question.

“Okay” and we’re diving into deep, Living waters here, swimming with our eyes open, trying to know all the sensations touching our skin . . . Drinking the Divine aqua down as much as we’re able. Dear Jesus, did He ever blow-up our prescribed understanding of adoption. Who knew that we could also adopt an entire city? That I could be a mama to so many? That I would rock New Haven to sleep at night, crooning prayers over her head while she lies in the crook of my arms? That our Gabe would supplicate these words on a Monday morning: “Teach me how to be a good brother to this city and to the people who live here . . . Yes, God! Roger is my brother! Help me to be a good brother to Roger and Joe and all the other homeless people in New Haven.”

G.A.H!!!!!

Never did we imagine this outcome two years ago when we learned that there was more Love inside us and wanted to adopt a child to share that Love with. But, you know what we’re going to do? We’re going to gratefully and gladly receive an entire city into the fold of our tribe and this isn’t even a roller coaster we’re riding anymore – no man-made vehicle could be this wild. Definitely not. This is transcendental tidal wave we’re surfing here and it keeps turning and rolling and wakes us in the night and has all our eyes watching the horizon and staring at the Son.

Also: pray with us? And tell me your thoughts?!

{PHOTO by John Wimberly :: SOURCE}

Prodigal God

{Prodigal: 1. Recklessly extravagant. 2. Giving or yielding profusely; lavish. 3. Lavishly abundant; profuse.}

It’s time, my dear friends. Pull your heart up next to mine and His and would you let me tell you a story of a recklessly extravagant God? Because I’m bursting with the magic and the tears and the giant-high laughter of having the miraculous all over my skin and I would spill this sensation all over you, too . . . Maybe it will mean something or touch somewhere or offer the seed-hope of somehow and who knows?

:::

I wish I could see clearly all the way in the past because the feeling I get is that this little narrative of ours starts no less then 13 years ago and no more then infinity. At this time I am only able to travel three months behind me, bending down near mid-April to pick up the story-thread.

I love my little kitchen.

Do you remember what I told you about our boy, Gabriel? About how he had been begging us for years to move our city-dwelling butts out to the country? (And his younger 2 brothers were almost as fervently on his I-would-really-like-space-to-roam-and-explore-and-chop-and-be-wild-all-the-time-while-eating-gross-things bandwagon.) We’d been living in a 2nd and 3rd floor apartment for nearly a year and we were all feeling the disconnect of not having the outdoors as an extension of our living space – although, for the volume of “wilderness” in the atoms of our boys, the yard that came with our dwelling space was very small anyway. But still, I remember telling Austin one night that “if we had to live in THIS apartment for the rest of our lives, it would be more then okay and I would be happy” – we were just so grateful to have a home after losing our own to foreclosure. (And I sometimes wonder if it was just such this posture of naked “thanks” that contributed to the catalytic movement birthing in our lives.) Now, having said that, hubby and I began praying anyway about moving to a landscape that harmonized more with what our kids earnestly longed for. Somewhere in there, we chose [again] to lay down our own wants and thought that this was maybe a time to defer to the wishes of our offspring, recognizing that the years we had left with them were really short and shouldn’t we at least try to craft the next season of our lives around their “needs”?

On the other side, you can see our wee house next to all those woods.

In deciding that we would give the rural life a go, our family tribe circled and started praying together; putting our intentions out into the God-full atmosphere. The petitioning went something like this: “We think we would like to move into the country (and eat a lot of peaches – okay, not really, but I couldn’t resist), but Your will be done.” We postured ourselves in a state of desire and exploration, but with a completely open hand, because—historically—anytime we’ve tried to make something happen that WE thought was a BIG and beneficial shift for our family . . . #fail.

Prayers prayed and hands wide open, we piled in the VW wagon and wound our way through the narrow, back-country roads of Connecticut – windows rolled all the way down so we could eat the clean air while it whipped against our cheeks and through our hair and those boys in the back seat shouted their “LAND-HO!!!” every time they saw more then an acre of uninhabited nature. And I could feel my quiet, mystic soul start to beat with the pulse and possibility of more stillness and space.

Master bathroom.

One Sunday drive later we found the perfect home, complete with utilities operated from solar energy, fenced-in garden beds, compost bin, huge lawn, stone fire-pit, woods on both sides, large screened-in patio, immaculate landscaping and above all? The backyard rolled into pond and wheat-filled fields of unoccupied state land before connecting to an apple orchard off in the east where the sun would rise to light the whole pastoral view. We were squealish with delight and amazement! This house had been on the rental market for 135 days and the price had been dropping to an affordability range. We couldn’t imagine anything being more sublime. We called the agent to show our interest . . . only to find out it had been rented the same exact day we had gone to see it. No big deal, we regrouped and reminded ourselves that we technically had until August to find another living place.

HowEVER, what I just told you repeated itself with every country house we had a desire to dwell in. I would call our agent, she would tell me the property had “rented today”. (Insert *suspicious* thoughts here.)

During the daytime hours, the five of us talked and dreamed and explored all things country. But, the nighttime was a whole different scene . . . when Austin and boys were tucked tight in sleep, I would kneel on our couch in the dark and the quiet and I would face my soul-windows towards the city-streets of New Haven and cry. And cry. And cry. Uncontrollably I would cry from deep in my belly until my face hurt and strange, keening sounds were coming from my mouth. I was aching in my spirit like a bosom friend had died.

And the grieving turned again and again to a physical point and my chest would get all tight and painful, surely an invisible hand was fiercely gripping my insides and begging for my attention, begging for me not to go anywhere until I noticed “something” happening in that moment. Then it dawned on me during one such night-watch that not only was I grieving about leaving a place where Austin and I had trenched ourselves and lived intentionally with a community for 13 years, but I also felt like the Spirit of God inside this city was sitting on her own couch, eyes watering in our direction and grieving for our family. Grieving that we were trying to leave when she still needed us to be the hands and feet and heart of Christ in this city. And not because there weren’t people already walking around New Haven wearing the flesh of Jesus, but I knew distinctly that she needed the type of Jesus inside us, she needed it further and longer then any of us thought; we weren’t done here yet and with her strong, feral-like cries and vise-like squeeze, she was calling us to stay. (If ever I have personally felt a piece of the earth groan, it was then. And I had the vibrations of her sorrow through my entire body.)

Silently I held my hurt and questions, mulled them over for a few days before bringing them to Austin’s shoulder where I watered them all over his t-shirt. After pouring myself to him, I asked: “Honey, would you be okay if we didn’t leave New Haven?” And his immediate response was: “I would.” Because he said that he had already caught whatever seemed to be happening in the Spirit. But our very next concern was what to communicate to the boys – we didn’t want to make an executive decision this time, lording it over them because we’re the parents and we can make our word be final. We didn’t want to use the fancy language we’re capable of to manipulate them into wanting what we wanted. We desired for them to have their own process, their own story of God moving inside their young hearts. So we did the only thing we could think of: we prayed, again and again and some more for good measure. Real, serious, knees-and face-on-

the-floor kind of praying. We prayed for our children, for our city, for the churning in our hearts and I think most importantly, we prayed that we could only and always and forever live wherever our family would be the most effective for God’s kingdom. Austin and I prayed by night. The kids and I prayed by day. Sometimes we prayed all together, with tears and shouting and wild limb-motion. We prayed and found ourselves engulfed by some sort of unspeakable Cosmic energy, a large spiritual awakening where each one of us was left undone in our own way and movements were launched from that space and the hearts of our kids began shifting of their own volition and almost accidentally (though, not really) the spirits of all five of us were being united and grounded back into this city and re-connected to her marginalized people.

Then THIS happened.

And THIS happened.

And two days later, THIS: It was Good Friday and Austin took a much overdue day from work. In celebration, we decided to enjoy our perfect spring morning with a family trek downtown to get donuts and coffee. It was a blissful adventure, un-rushed and we were all chatting-it-up, jabbering about nothing and everything, holding hands and raising metaphorical glasses to drink long of our togetherness, partnered with the perfect sun-drenched day. On our return walk and less then three blocks from home, we were nearing a beautiful little colonial cottage that the two of us have loved for the 8 years we’ve lived in our neighborhood – every time we’ve driven or strolled by it in the past, Austin or I would remark on how much we “love that house”. On this day there was a woman sitting on the front steps and just as we’re getting close to passing along, she stops us with the most surprising words: “HEY!!! Hey!!! I’ve wanted to meet you guys for a long time! I’ve seen you out playing with your kids and you seem like the neatest family! Would you like to rent this house?! It’s a lot bigger on the inside then it looks from the outside, but come on in! It’s a mess right now, but I’d love to show you around!”

You can imagine the look of jolting confusion on our faces. In fact, I think it actually took a moment for either of us to respond and when we did, it had something to do with a round of introductions and “Okay! Sure! We’d love to see your house!” In my mind, all I could hear myself saying: “WHAT?!?! Is happening right now?”

Stepping over the threshold, the air was knocked right out of our proverbial lungs, our eyes pooled with wonder and our hearts with disbelief. I’ll just let the pictures speak mostly for me here, but I will say a few things . . . The bones—alone—of this house made me all jittery with excitement. And there were four—FOUR—functioning fireplaces, a steam shower (big enough for 6 (or 8)people) with TWO shower heads and TWO sinks in a master bathroom big enough to park a car . . . Room by room we viewed this home with our mouths on the floor, gaping in amazement. It felt like we were touring a bed-and-breakfast and it didn’t take more then two minutes for me to imaginatively arrange all our furniture in each room and hang my Goodwill art collection on all the walls – as the aesthetic creator of our hearth and home, I was gasping.

Our God wasn’t done though and here? It turns otherworldly . . .

We crossed our feet over the frame of the back french doors and were truly transported to a fairytale scheme. And I’m pretty certain that everything from my heart—time itself, even—completely stopped when we measured the scope of the property’s behind side. Who would’ve known that when this lady invited us to see and rent this quiant little home in the city, that we would actually be conveyed straight to the country just by stepping off the back patio?

Let me repeat that: this little house city-dwells from the front and country-dwells from the back.

With placement right on the Quinnipiac River, this colonial cape-style home came rich with natural amenities, including a private beach, private dock and two acres of . . . “Oh my God! You guys LOOK!!! There’s WOODS!!!” We were soaking up the sight of WOODS!!! Right in the middle of the city! And before Austin or I could say “Bob’s your uncle”, all three Y-chromozone-carrying hooligans had disappeared into the forest to forage and claim new land in the name of clan Morrison.

From our dock, we sit and watch her go down.

I don’t know how many times or how long we turned circles in the center of the yard – completely, totally, utterly bereft of speech. I’m mostly sure in that moment that I my spirit disconnected from my body so I could look at this whole “happening” from a bigger vantage and when it did I could taste and see that we were divinely dumbstruck in the middle of some kind of God-ordained miracle. We were marveled by the reality that on one Good Friday our family had literally been pulled off the streets by a stranger and asked if we wanted to rent this magical place inside the city of New Haven, that had all the features of a “country” house.

The mystery doesn’t end here.

We knew what this house was worth. And we knew how much the rent could cost. And we also knew that it would be $500 dollars  on the outside of our affordability range, but we met with the landlords one fine Sunday afternoon anyway and I guess they more then liked us because when they emailed us a few days later, we were offered the property for the exact same price as the cost of their mortgage, taxes/insurance and water bill – which was $500 less then what they could get for the place. And EXACTLY the price we had prayed for.

Now.

There is a God, I believe. And He has something up His celestial sleeve and worked some serious magic to keep us here, while fulfilling the laid-down desires of all our hearts. Other then that, can I just let this story fall? Without trying to “land” all the dynamics and dimensions at play and at work within it? On most nights we sit in our steam shower or out on our dock and alternately laugh and run with tears. We cannot reason this experience through, nor do I think we’re supposed to – it was made for our hearts because it doesn’t fit inside our heads. But I do KNOW this: we were placed here for a great purpose and we will carry-on with the spirit in which this house was given to us, the spirit of reckless generosity and extravagance from a God who is brimming with lavish gifts.

Amen.

And I just LOVE you all.

Love,

Erika