Today my youngest son asked me what was for dinner.
“I don’t know!” I snapped.
His eyes got wide. I always know what is for dinner. All through quarantine I have had dinner plans, I have menus taped up by the calendar (complete with the 15 day weather forecast) and an ongoing knowing list of what was in the pantry, freezer and fridge at all times.
Also, I don’t usually snap. I’m the hugger, talk it out one here in the family.
So this was not a response he at all expected.
Mere moments later, my husband called. “Hey, I never asked you last night. What’s for dinner tonight?”
“I DON’T KNOW!” I nearly yelled into the phone. “Have I not fed you all EVERY meal in all these days? I am pretty sure I will come up with SOMETHING but I just don’t know what!”
I feel this moment called for it.
The other night we, my husband and I, were sitting on the couch watching who knows what and he got out the cheezit’s. Usually we eat popcorn at night but since he has a cavity that is huge and popcorn hurts it so much and since every single dentist in the nation is closed during the pandemic, I have not suggested any popcorn and I miss my favorite buttery salty evening snack. How I miss it! It was literally one of the top items I had to make sure we were well stocked in during the pandemic. He was shoving the cheezit’s in for his night snack and I asked him if I could have a few. I never eat cheezit’s and he looked surprised. “Sure!” he said, mouth full, handing me the box. I shook a few in my hand to eat. They were not as good as I thought they would be but I ate them and he asked me if I wanted a few more as I shook my head no. “I just realized,” he said, “you very rarely eat anything you don’t make yourself.”
I had never really thought about it but yes, he was correct.
And never more so than during this quarantine.
I decided to make chili for dinner. It’s raining STILL today after days of rain and dreariness and I am so over it and chili seemed the perfect rainy day I don’t feel like cooking another meal or cookie or cake again meal.
My youngest meekly asked me if I had decided what to have for dinner. “Chili,” I informed him.
“But we had soup last night, he whined.”
Our third oldest, laughed as I let out a long drawn out sigh before saying anything. “Oh, son, you done messed up! You are in for it now!” Eli laughed at his younger brother.
The night before we had not from a mix tortellini soup and homemade from scratch bread. I had made a strawberry shortcake cake. My husband was home early from work again. I am so thankful he is working but work is also incredibly slow, a constant reminder of the weirdness of the world. At two in the afternoon he was looking for dinner. I still had to make bread. He bemoaned the entire time how long it took for me to make from scratch bread. I had wanted to shout “It’s like this EVERY TIME I BAKE BREAD.” My husband asked me about every 15 minutes when dinner would be done – beginning at 2 in the afternoon until he had dinner delivered to him at 5.
“If you don’t like the food, YOU MAKE FOOD!” I responded in a silly dramatic hand waving to my youngest who was bemoaning the chili dinner choice.
“Fine! I will!” he laughed. He went to the fridge. Opened it. Stared inside.
“A chef will not pop out with a gourmet meal, Abe,” I told him.
“Fine! I’ll eat chili I guess!” he sadly closed the fridge door. But he also gave me a hug.
And then he said words. “Well, do you know what we will have for dinner tomorrow night?”
I didn’t loose my cool. I didn’t. I simply wanted to cry. “I don’t know right now.”
“I know you’ll think of something,” he assured me with confidence.
When quarantine began I was sure it would be over soon. Was I overwhelmed and scared? Yes, yes, yes, so many times over yes. But I still could see the good. It would be over soon, I was certain, and in that time I would make sure my family was ever so well cared for to the best of my ability. All the food I would make them, all the time I would treasure with them.
But here we are on Week Ten. Let me add to say, Week 10 and no idea when it will end.
And I am worn out.
I am forever an optimist. I am forever seeing the joy in the every day. And even today, I see the humor in this story I am relating to you. But I also am worn out. I am weary. I am struggling.
For the first seven weeks of the quarantine, I dug deep in the Word of God and He amazed me over and over how he showed up so big. How the words in my Bible just leapt off the page. I spent 35 days making videos of the way God was showing up to me and shared it with my Bible study group. I am so thankful for that time and for all the videos documenting that time.
But I really felt like God was telling me it was time to wrap it up. And I really felt like it meant my time in quarantine was ending. Except quarantine didn’t end. And my oldest son finished his college career with no fan fair. And my high school senior got a call from his recruiter that the ship out date could be near. I looked around at my four boys and knew my time of being a mama with four boys under one roof was coming to a very quick end. And I mourned.
I mourned all the things I had been shoving down. So very many things. All the things. I mourned and I cried and God seemed silent. And the quarantine just kept going on and on.
My words for the year are Bloom With Joy.
I really gave God a fit when He gave me the words. “Bloom with Joy?” I asked Him. “Aren’t we done with this Joy journey? Can’t I learn something new?” This was my third year with the word Joy.
Even the way God gave me THREE words instead of the one I asked for felt like God was just messing with me.
And I stomped my foot and complained and begrudgingly took the words. And then asked Him what could be next.
Kind of like my youngest son being over eating soup but taking it and then looking in the fridge for anything better.
Through the Quarantine I feel like I really have Bloomed with Joy. Every single day, I have asked people what their Joy is. Every day. And every day I think I may get the best end of the deal. Seeing so many answers, being connected to so many while being so separated has been such a gift to me. I hear from people what a gift it is to them too. I know this is God, this is nothing I would do my self. I know this is me Blooming with Joy and to see how God worked that out reminds me yet again what a sense of humor God has and how i can trust him in all things. Even little things. I could see God working big. So big! I saw my life in the way my flowers bloomed in this time. First the crocuses. Then the daffodils. Now the tulips. But now, now the tulips are done. And I don’t have another bulb to come up. And I am still here in Quarantine. I feel like God said, “that was good practice, but you are still going to Bloom With Joy.”
I know it will be good. Because GOD. He always makes it better than I can imagine and I have a great imagination, thanks to Him. But with blooming comes first the seed being covered in dirt and fertilizer and digging deep and waiting. And I am so weary right now. I am so tired of waiting….with no end in sight. I just don’t know if I have it in me to bloom anymore.
Just like I don’t know if I have any more meals in me to make for my family.
Today I got in my Bible like I knew I needed to do. I still turned to where I had felt Him leading me to read, even if it didn’t seem like it was for me. And God showed up. He led me on a mini journey today and it assured me He is still working in the tiniest details of my life.
I just wish He could be the gourmet chef who handed me a dinner every time I opened the fridge.