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Slipping Away

I can feel it slipping away. The peace. The calm. The promise NOT to get back on the hamster wheel in the rat race we call life. Here we are - one month after my return to work - and daily devotionals sometimes get trumped by kiddo bathtime, dirty dinner plates and late night emails. Daily meditation is replaced with lightning fast texts and phone calls with messages piling up in voicemail. Quiet moments, couch time, family connections - they somehow all move over for "other" things.

How does that happen? How do we get to that point so easily, so quickly, that all the change we thought we were making and the progress toward the better self slips right back into being the old way; the comfortable way, the way we know it to be.

It's like diet and exercise, I suppose. It takes longer than a week, or even a month, to make something a lifelong habit. You don't go from donuts, cheesesteak and pizza diets to dairy-free, gluten-free, whole food, paleo, keto meals in one day - one week - one month - sometimes not even one year. You don't go from hitting snooze - skipping the gym - making the couch your best friend, to a lean and toned, marathon running machine overnight.

And when you stop fueling your body, you feel it, just like when you stop feeding your soul.
I can feel it. I can feel the difference from daily devotions, long prayers and one on one time with God. I can feel it. I can feel the difference without quiet time, time with my own thoughts, intentional meditation to focus, to let go, to find space in my head to move out what doesn't need to be there. I can feel it.

But I couldn't get back on track. It was better than before, before my cancer diagnosis, that is. At least I knew it. I wanted it. I craved it. I felt it missing from my life. But hard as I tried, I couldn't get back on the wagon.

Until Mother's Day weekend. I made a 48 hour trip home to the farm; the quiet, peaceful place I hold so close to my heart. It's a spot that just seems to stop time for me. I wasn't chasing my kids. I wasn't answering my phone (let's face it half the time I couldn't get a connection). The only texts coming in were from my husband. The only conversation I was having was with family - mom, dad, sisters, brother, grandma, uncles, great-uncles. It fed my soul.

There's no city traffic. Heck, there's just one stop sign and no stop lights on the stretch from the North end of town to the South end. And by the time you get out of town - this time of year - all you hear are tractors runnin' with discs down in the dirt - turning the earth, getting ready to plant fields full of corn and beans.  No one's in a rush. A tractor can only go so fast. It fed my soul.

I climbed into bed at night - in a bedroom on the 2nd floor of the house - with big windows and nothing covering them - and looked out at a full moon over the field. It was idyllic. It was the stuff they write about in fancy, New York Times Best Selling books, and I was just there living it. It fed my soul.

I took a morning walk with my sister - down the gravel road to the highway and back, past the red barn, over the hill, down to the creek and around the corner where the shade trees hang over the road giving you the break you need from the morning sun just when you need it. It fed my soul.

On Sunday morning, we sat in old metal chairs, in a yard of spring fresh green grass, with plants ready to go in the ground, a lilac bush brought back to life and the truest sign of spring - a nest of bird eggs - in the most inconvenient spot right at the edge of the gravel driveway. The killdeer let you know anytime you're close. It fed my soul.

And when I landed back in the city - saw the sun setting and the reflection off the downtown mirrored buildings - I felt fuller than when I'd left.

And I knew - I knew then - that I needed to keep feeding my soul, even here; where the traffic is heavy, the sirens blare, and the phones incessantly ring. Yes, even here; especially here.

I knew - that I needed to schedule my time with Jesus the same way I find a time to go to the gym. I knew I needed to schedule time with myself - the same way I schedule time to take mousy brown hair and make it blonde. I knew - that I needed to schedule time to find space in my head and my heart - the same way I schedule our morning out-the-door routine.

So this morning I lingered over hot coffee - read my devotion with underlined words and pages bent in to mark the spots I want to go back to that held the deepest meaning for me; I spent longer praying, asking God to help me pray to the problem about HIM, instead of praying to HIM about the problem, I spent 15 minutes doing yoga, finding physical and mental space, and then, I started my day.

And as I slipped back into regaining control of my life here on earth - little did I know a life was slipping away to win the victory of eternal life. And it just seemed fitting that we would pass each other in that space, in that continuum of time; a reminder of my chance to find the peace, find the calm and keep the promise.

In memory of Amber (Wells) Jones - Class of '93. A fighter, a survivor, a friend.


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