No appointments, nowhere I had to be, no one I had made lunch plans with.
The kids are all in school and the husband headed back to the woods today after working on equipment around home for a couple of weeks.
I found myself feeling that familiar restlessness and anxiety that I sometimes get when I have a whole day with "nothing to do."
My mind starts to race with all of the ideas of what I could and should do. There are so many people I could hang out with. So many projects I could tackle.
But something inside of me whispered that I should just literally take the day off...guilt free. Eventually I decided to listen to that "something".
"Life is not an emergency. The way we slow down time is to immerse ourselves fully in the present moment." I remembered those words from Ann Voskamp's "One Thousand Gifts" and I decided to just relax.
I sat on my back deck and took pictures of birds until my toes were freezing cold.
I did some laundry. I brushed my teeth. I checked out editing software. I looked and looked for my "One Thousand Gifts" book. I still don't know if I gave it away or misplaced it, so I ordered another one on Amazon.
And then I grabbed my camera and put on my boots and walked out the door. We live in an area that is surrounded by woods so I decided to go on a hunt for beauty and solitude.
My boys and their friend Caleb have been working on a fort in the woods for at least a year now. I haven't been back to see it in a while so I decided to meander back there, seeking beauty along the way.
Nature helps me to feel peaceful and relaxed. Plus, when I focus on taking pictures of beautiful things, everything else in my mind fades away and I have a sense of purpose and calm that I struggle to find in my daily life.
Eventually, I sat down in the fort.
I relaxed. I breathed deeply. I became aware of the sounds of the birds in the trees and I closed my eyes and listened.
And then I said to God "Ok, God. What do you want to say to me?"
Because when I am finally quiet and ready to hear, I am pretty certain God has something He's been trying to get through to me for a while. I imagine Him up there thinking "If Audrey would just slow down for a little bit, I really want to talk to her about something."
In my mind, that "something" is quite likely to be a reprimand or correction of some sort. Something I probably can't measure up to.
"God...what do you want to say to me?" is followed by this internal cringe because I know He's going to say something like --
"You need to work on being less selfish" or "You need to focus more on your children" or "You need to let go of that thing you're holding on to". I'm an in-progress, recovering fix-myself addict and I guess I kinda figure God looks at me as a project too. Old habits die hard.
But I asked anyway, because I know the wisdom that God has and I want to be more like Him and be a better version of myself.
Almost before I even had asked the question, He answered. His answer was so unexpected that I felt myself welling up with emotion and before long, a single, hot tear rolled down my right cheek.
His answer was this "Nothing. I have nothing to say to you. I just want to BE with you. That's all. Can we just do that? Can I just hold you for a little and you feel My presence and know that all.is.well? Is that ok?"
And then He told me that He thought I was beautiful and perfect and valuable and loved. And I just believed it. Because He wasn't in the mood to be argued with and I was too grateful to resist.
Then He said to me "You know all of this beauty you've been taking pictures of and discovering? Do you know that if you were the only person in the world, I would have still made ALL of this just for you?"
I walked home...slowly, thoughtfully...still looking for beauty. I asked God "Do I need to share this or can I just keep this sacred little moment to myself?" He said "You don't have to share it. Its OK either way. But wouldn't it be cool if someone else could know this truth today?"
That I just wants to BE with them. They don't need to DO a thing!
That they are fully loved just.as.they.are.
That they are so special and precious that I would have created all of the beauty in this world just for them.
And I thought "Yeah, God. That would be pretty cool."
Consider yourself reminded. You are loved and valued and precious. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise.