Morning Routines, Morning Chairs, and a "Mourning Meeting": Gentleness Lately

We don’t have to worry how we are perceived. The shadow of the Almighty is a safe place to rest for a soul that is scattered, parched, guilt-ridden, or uncertain.
— Jan Johnson, When the Soul Listens

I finally have a morning chair. vintage, snug,  peaches creams gold and greens, worn in cushions low to the ground, with a big camel-colored ottoman. There are a pair of them actually, gifted to me by a family-friend after her mother-in-law passed away and no one else wanted them. And Oliver has claimed and named the other one too. "This is my ultimate video game playing chair." he told his Gigi. 

We purchased a new Ikea chair in white and light-blue ticking fabric when we moved in, and though I love looking at it, and sitting in it is fine, I never got quite comfortable using it while reading and writing. 

There is something about a chair that sinks in and feels worn; it's a warm welcomed invitation to reflect, dream, read, prayer, and listen in the cozy corner of my house. It's next to a book case filled with favorite things; books, plants, photos, and sentimental trinkets!

The tales of Peter Rabbit, Anne of Green Gables the Puffin Bloom Rifle Paper Company edition, a book of Monet paintings, a fern, Oliver's scribbled art work framed, a photo of Jeff and I at the botanical gardens in Dallas on Easter Weekend from one of our first few dates ever, an ink drawing done by a friend and also a watercolor painting done by me both of the Philbrook museum where Jeff proposed to me. A baby photo of Oliver among daffodils in a burlap frame that reads "You are my sunshine." A porcelain elephant given to me by my sister-in-law. She didn't even know that I love elephants; they remind me of gentleness and strength combined. Shelves filled with words and art and memories that make my heart sing, next to the new-old pair of chairs. 

And this is where I plan to come now, in the mornings. 

I've been thinking about morning routines. Honestly, because I got in a little slump at the end of Summer. I am probably not the only one thinking about new routines right now, as a new school year is underway.

I wake.

Start the tea-kettle heating up.

Wash my face with a lavender soap.

Brush my teeth.

Make the bed, if Jeff is out of it already.

And pour a cup of steaming tea.

And find my morning chair.

And read from my Bible, and pick a phrase or two that sticks out for me to write in my journal.

And listen for what Lord might be telling me. 

And I list 3 manna moments from the day before; moments where I felt God's gracious provision in someway. Maybe through a meal brought over by my mother or mother-in-law, or Oliver's little hand in mine, or a painting commission purchased, a puzzle lent by a church friend, a rainbow in the sky.

I come to my chair, but really I am coming to God.

In this secure place, we can lay aside our desire to protect ourselves from condemnation by others and ourselves.
— Jan Johnson, When the Soul Listens

Today was Oliver's first day of Kindergarten. He didn't seem nervous at all until we got into the crowded lobby, where they kept us holding up until the time we could walk down the halls. I got there early because parking is crazy, usually I will just drop him off and not walk in. His face seemed to grow more worrisome. Then what do you know, I see all the pre-k teachers come through the front door and take position to greet all their old students as they are about to enter the kindergarten halls. The pre-k students don't start back until next week, so the teachers had this morning to help out with kindergarten, bringing their familiar faces to the new building and halls.

She immediately noticed Oliver was tense and bent down eye level to talk to him and comfort him and give him hug. 

"I've never seen him like this", hand to her heart, gentleness written on her face. She looked up at me with compassion and concern. I assured her that he was fine a few minutes ago, and it might just be the big crowd. Thankfully he was all smiles minutes later when we walked through the halls and stepped into his classroom. He found his cubby, put up his lunch box, and got busy playing with toys. 

With a wave goodbye, I headed to the annual "Mourning Meeting" that welcomes the parents as we share our "Boo Hoos or Ya Hoos!" haha. I am definitely a "Ya Hoo" mom when it comes to school starting! It's the introvert in me; excited for some quiet time at home, which also makes the time Oliver is around even sweeter!

 At the meeting the principal explains "3 questions the kids ask inadvertently when they first come to school; "Do I belong here? Can I trust you? Do you love me?". And it immediately takes me back to my time as a volunteer at a church youth group. Before service the youth pastor would always tell us our goal was for every kid to feel grace, acceptance, and love. 

In an ideal world this would be provided everywhere; this grace, acceptance, and love. But we are human and our relationships are often messy. Also, it's hard to offer this grace and love if you have yet to receive it. Which brings me back to my morning routine and my morning chair.

It's why I plan to come there daily; to receive these things; grace, acceptance, and the truth spoken in love. And in receiving maybe it will flow out from me to others.