Quieting the Noise of Everyday Life

The moon sat veiled behind clouds as we arrived at the RV park just before midnight. My husband pulled into our allotment, and with the aid of a headlamp, hooked up the RV to water and electric. The kids and I, woozy and tired from the dark, winding journey through the mountains of southern Utah, stayed inside the camper and fell into a fitful sleep, unaware of the stunning scenery surrounding us.

We woke up to sunlight pouring through the windows spilling onto every surface like a slow syrup. I peeked outside through the window and as my eyes adjusted to both the light and the peaks rising in the distance, I gasped at the beauty of the mountains surrounding us in a rising circle…

Join me at GraceTable to read the rest of the story on accepting an invitation to peace.

Practicing Peace in the Face of Fear

I am afraid of heights. Tight spaces. Physical pain. My husband’s driving, and dying in a car accident (see husband’s driving). I am afraid of the vice of Vegas. Snakes and scorpions. Running out of gas on a lonely highway, or losing my way while driving. More than anything, I am afraid of the wild unknowns that wait for me around every corner. Fear is a frequent and unwelcome companion.

When my husband first proposed the idea of traveling west for our annual summer vacation, I felt the immediate tug of apprehension on the hem of my heart. What ifs jostled for space with why nots. As I sat curled up on the sofa, he grinned while photos of red rock formations and joshua trees flashed across his computer screen. He lured me in with the promise of new sights, scents, and the salt-licked waves of the Pacific Ocean. He knows the subtle ways fear strangles adventure, and he persisted until I could see nothing but the fingerprints of God imprinted deep into the dry earth of the desert. I wanted to run my hands across the grooves of them.

We spent two weeks tracing the hand of God across the American west this month, and every day I woke up to the hot breath of a fresh fear. My small-time, irrational fears may seem insignificant–something to be ignored, or brushed aside–but I have spent a lifetime trying to conquer them. Fear is a living, breathing beast that threatens to steal my joy, my presence, and my peace.

I didn’t vacate on my vacation–every nerve ending sparked like live wire as I faced my fear of heights while hiking the Grand Canyon, drove hours through the stark beauty of the Mojave Desert while my husband napped beside me, and as I sat wide-eyed through the terrifying switch-backs zig-zagging down the steep hills of Sedona. I drove an ATV in the dry heat of the Arizona desert, and managed to lose my way on an electric bike on the hills near Solana beach. It was everything an adventure should be.

I returned home feeling like a kid who accepts a challenge and repeatedly waits for her mama’s eyes to turn her way, “Did you see me, Mom? Did you see me?” I am proud of myself for accepting small challenges because it gives me courage to face the larger ones that will surely come my way. I wasn’t fearless, but I took courage by the hand, even when that hand shook and nervously clutched its way towards freedom.

I discovered that standing up to fear is the same thing as practicing peace. It’s an invitation for peace to make its home in me when I feel the least capable and least confident. Peace rarely descends like a dove, instead it is practiced through small acts of courage which put fear in its rightful place.

Fear continues to keep company with me, but it takes up a smaller space today than it did last week, last month, even last year. If you find yourself in a place of fear today, whether small or large, I encourage you to consider what it would look like for you to practice peace through small acts of courage.

I’m cheering for you.

When a Meal Becomes a Work of Art

This year, I gave my husband the gift of an Italian cuisine cooking class at a local cooking school for his birthday. We spent the evening creating a meal of white bean tapenade smeared on crostini, porcini roasted beef, and bianco risotto cooked in saffron and vermouth. Together we sliced and diced vegetables for the radicchio fritelle, and quartered strawberries for the crowning glory of the meal, a mascarpone torte with prosecco berries. It was every bit as wonderful and full-bodied and delicious as you might imagine.

On the drive home, I asked my husband what he thought of the end results of our labor…

Join me at Grace Table for the rest of this adventure in art and eating Italian.

A Decade of Delight

pink light via kimberlyanncoyle.com

My husband came in the door, and within a few minutes of catching up, I told him I was probably, almost definitely, with some degree of certainty going to quit writing. And also–if we’re talking about life changes–when I drove down the road earlier in the morning, the thought “We need to move” popped into my head most distinctly.

I didn’t blame it on the Holy Spirit exactly, because my husband knows by now this is highly unlikely, but I left it hanging there for a minute, implying it silently. The Holy Spirit usually speaks to me about things like repentance and forgiveness and selfish ambition. This was not that. This was the spirit of Kimberly. The spirit restless with the shape of things, wrestling with the idea of life looking only a little like I dream it in my head, wrangling with turning forty.

He gave me the side eye and said, “No, we don’t.”

Then he told me some hard truths about myself. Truths I already know, but which take on more weight when he puts his finger on them and traces the outline of my particular brand of crazy. We do not need to move, he says. Wake up to your own life, lady. I may have imagined that last statement, but I believe he employed my previous tactic by implying it silently.

He told me if I’m not careful, if I don’t step out and make some sort of change within the framework of the life I’m actually living, I will find myself sitting in this exact same spot next year with nothing to show for it. Just twelve months torn off the calendar, lining the floor like crumpled paper.

This is the hard part of being rooted. I can’t pack my bag and leave this community, church, friendship, career when it grows stagnate. I feel like I’m in a perpetual holding pattern, never taking off or landing. There is something in me that longs for new and novel, for fresh and unknowable and inviting. Ordinary chafes, and yet I don’t know what steps to take to make this ordinary life feel extraordinary.

My husband does. He always has the “If it were me…” list down to three, tick them off your fingers answers. He would never let time pass without wringing every minute of purpose from it. But here’s the difference, besides the obvious he’s a do-er and I’m a thinker, I want more than minutes filled with purpose. I want crumpled up pages stained with tea and wild words and glittering moments and butter-smeared baguette crumbs.

I want pages filled with delight. Delight is where the holding pattern ends. It’s where I want this next decade to land. Delight is where the ordinary becomes extraordinary, and I wake up to my life, the one I’m actually living.

………..

This post is part of an ongoing weekly-ish series on home, rootedness, and belonging. It may also have something to do with turning forty.

Where do you find delight in your ordinary? How do you create something new for yourself within the structure of the life you’re already living?

Wonderlust

philharmonic via kimberlyanncoyle.com

His hair made me laugh. It took on a life of its own when he conducted. It flopped and flailed about his head like a drama queen, and I wondered if he let it grow long especially for this effect. I’ve never seen a bald orchestra conductor, maybe dramatic hair is part of the job description. When I wasn’t staring at the violinists playing their instruments with their entire bodies, I watched his hands. Ok, I watched his hair, but I also watched the timed movement of his hands.

Sweep, lift, swoop, point. None of it made a bit of sense to me. His hands moved to the private machinations of his internal music maker. I tried to watch the movements and see where they corresponded to the music, but every musician on stage seemed engaged in this private conversation between the conductor, their instrument, and the music.

I wanted to enter into the music the way they do, to feel it thrumming away in my temples, to feel it pulsing down into my bones. Having zero musical ability myself, I have to settle for what the music does to my soul. I feel like I’ve grown wings and I’m flying. This almost feels like enough, but I still want to know the secrets behind the hand motions and the instrument’s whispers.

Do you ever feel this way about life? As if private conversations take place all around you, and you desperately want to understand what the world is saying? I want to know what the rainbow speaks to the clouds, what the conductor speaks to the musician, what the owl says to the moon. I feel as if there’s an entire universe to explore just outside the reach of my understanding, right on the edge of my fingertips.

This great big beautiful world is so full of wonder. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again–wonder heals the wanderer’s heart, whether we’re wandering from our ho-hum everyday or from faith or from the unknown. These days, I’m trading wanderlust for wonderlust, and it makes all the difference.