I've heard Him breathe the words, "You are never alone." Those very same words I share every evening just before I close the door to the girls bedroom, just after throwing them our family sign. "Team DeBoni 4 lyfe".
I've felt His pursuit to simply love others. A word so undefined, so immeasurable. Yet, so full as I breathe in and take the next step forward, touch the French lilacs and taste the freshly pulled carrots in the early weeks of autumn.
Neither of these are sexy or easily spoken out loud. To know you're not alone in the midst of darkness. To love when life presents to unlovable. In fact, both of these things are downright terrifying. I mean, who really wants to be alone and be alone with all. those. thoughts. And love the unlovable? Excuse me, but no. Absolutely no.
I've only ever spoken the assurance of these two truths to few. This pull to love, to speak to the nearness of God. Mostly out of fear have these promises only been whispered a hand full of times. I do not like being held accountable and something in me just knew that if I shared too much too loudly "people" (you know, people!) would actually expect me to live in alignment with these truth and let's be honest, who is really ready to live as though they are sure of God's love, presence and in return, love others all the time, regardless?
Five months following Yael's welcoming into our home I purchased my first Ball jars. There were clearance tomatoes at the Kroger down the hill and with zero forethought I decided that I needed to preserve food. I needed to purchase these softened tomatoes and make something beautiful from them. What came of those bruised Romas was the most delicious enchilada sauce that pregnant woman swoon over and my Jake encourages the making of monthly.
As my passion for preservation caught fire I came upon Molly Wizenberg's book A Homemade Life in the cookbook section of our small West Virginian library. I was enthralled. The tension of storytelling woven between recipes and memoir was new, fresh, like a deep breath. It was a connection between my two loves. A story I wanted to devour. "I could do this" I thought. I could preserve and write and spread the love of jam! This was my in. My door to the outside during what often felt like a very solitary life with a newborn in a strange new city.
A well acknowledged preserving blog once referenced a recipe I posted and I made Molly's chocolate cake to celebrate. The cake with nine eggs? Yup. I made three cakes in one week. Only one slotted for celebration. The others because I just needed to. I almost bought chickens and put up a coop in the back yard because I needed more eggs for more cake.
Enough about the cake.
These were the days when Food In Jars was growing wildly and I couldn't make it quick enough to Kmart when jars were in sale before they were sold out completely. The art of preserving was bubbling over and I wanted to be a part of it. I wanted to share the beauty found in preserving and write about it.
One afternoon Jake and I were walking the trails and came upon the most simple of waterfalls. It's height could only be measured in stories though it's mass was only a trickle.
"I'm not sure what to do," I shared with him. "I feel this pull to make beautiful from what's discarded. I want to take the abandoned and create a necessary from it."
"You should start a blog and call it Preserving Beauty."
It wasn't more than one year later we were beginning to prepare our welcoming for our second daughter, after yet another move, and the passion I once cherished fell into the scrap pile itself. And although I still put up food every late summer and early fall, the blog fell to the wayside as requests from the everyday and connections within our new community in Grand Rapids grew.
Still, the strange connection and pull to love and preserve continued to gather momentum. I began working with Sisters in Support, mentoring young moms. I made cookies for blood drives, lunches for school programs, served with the local Family Promise, dining with young moms at Grace's Table and became a birth and postpartum doula. I was loving it and it felt soooo good.
Then in November of 2013 everything came to a full stop.
Jake encouraged me to call Beth. And I did. Only moments later to call an emergency TF meeting. I couldn't process the change fast enough and needed my circle of support, what Jen Hatmaker refers to in "7" as her Council.
"I'm pregnant." These two words took many minutes to surface, to speak so others could hear. After pressed back tears began to manifest. After the ache too deeply felt was shared. These soft words whispered. They proclaimed. There was life within me once again and I didn't want it to be there. I didn't want to be pregnant. I didn't want another child. I didn't know if my body could do it again. I didn't know if I could do it again.
In a sermon last year at Mars Hill Bible Church Jamie Smith speaks to the words Jesus first spoke to his disciples in John 1:38, "Jesus looked around and saw them following. "What do you want?" he asked them."
What do I want?
I wanted to love this child within. I wanted to work toward this love. This work, though, was going to take all that I believed I knew about God and center be back toward the only two things I knew were certain, that God was with me always and that I was only responsible and asked to love in return.
It was my work to give a new meaning, a new face, body, breath to preserving beauty.