When we were in college, finals week was notorious for being difficult.
Life became a vacillating whirlwind of both activity and focus.
One minute found us rushing, dashing, getting loose ends tied up with professors, work, and other students. (Because as soon as finals ended, we were heading HOME!)
The next minute found us totally focused; surrounded by the books and notes from class. Nothing else mattered right then except making certain we had it all covered.
That whirlwind of activity and focus is being repeated for me this, the last week before the wedding.
Rushing, dashing, tying up loose ends. STOP - Webb and Amanda just arrived. And they brought LUKE! (Luke is the newest member of our "family" which we hadn't met yet. Absolutely squish-ably marvelous!) Time to focus.
Hey, hurry up. Out the door! Time to meet the wedding party!
You get the idea.
Yesterday morning, the word "finals" meant something a little different for me.
We all get up very early on Sunday mornings around here. It's the biggest day of the week for the Hawley clan - and all extended members. Ritual and routine are the friends that keep us on track.
Frank makes the coffee and I make hot tea. Once the tea has brewed, I usually take a cup to Kristin and find out if she's riding with me or with her dad to church. It's been a nice catch up time, if she's available.
I didn't sleep well at all on Saturday night so I more or less stumbled into the kitchen once the smell of coffee wafted to the bedroom. After a few sips, I started the hot tea and located favorite cups. (Did I mention we're big on ritual and routine?)
As I poured the milk into her cup, truth hit me like a sharp slap - this was the final time I'd take hot tea to Kristin on a Sunday morning. Next Sunday, she'll be on her honeymoon. And when she and Cody return, her address will be different.
I had to stop a moment and gather myself. Sunday morning is no time for a major melt-down. And stray tears would have only made Kristin sad. No point in us both feeling that way.
Her door was opened slightly. So I took in the steaming tea cup as I've done a hundred other Sundays. Said the standard good mornings. Got my information and went out to my prayer chair for a moment.
Sitting in the darkness, I pondered what's in store for us all once the celebration on Friday is complete.
Well meaning people say things like, "Oh, you'll be so glad to have all your girls married." "Third wedding? This must be old hat to you!" "Wow, I'll bet you're going to be relieved."
Not one of those statements is true.
I'm just like most moms. There are days that I'd gladly rush right back to the Sundays when all three girls were tiny with huge bows clipped into their curly hair. Twirling in ruffled dresses that came from dear friends at C&K Clothing in MO. Red tights and fat feet stuffed into black patent leather shoes.
It's easy to close my eyes and see them standing in front of me. (All except Joy who would be in the other room playing until the last possible moment.)
Time has marched on. There have been some finals weeks that I didn't recognize as "finals."
But this week, I know it.
And sitting in my chair Sunday morning, the finality of it all threatened to over turn my emotional rowboat.
That's when the Father used a simple chair to whisper comfort to my heart.
We have a beautiful, little antique chair sitting in the corner of our new dining room. It matches absolutely nothing and really isn't sturdy enough for the boys.
But the design of the chair is so lovely that we keep it anyway. Intricate cut outs and curves, turned legs, a cane bottom, delicate unexpected designs.
I stared absent-mindedly at the chair while my thoughts swirled. Final cup of hot tea. Final good-night hugs. Final wardrobe corrections for mom. Final..........and ever so gently the Father broke in.
"Sheri, look at the chair." It's simple beauty made me smile a bit. "When you look at that chair, what do you see that makes you enjoy it so?"
I thought for a moment. "Mostly it's unusual carved pieces," my heart answered His question.
"Someone had to cut away part of the original wood to create those designs. Do you focus on what's missing when you look at it?"
"No, Lord. That would be silly," I thought.
"Exactly!" That's when He painted a perspective picture of comfort for me.
"You appreciate what IS there. You don't focus at all on what's missing. And that's why you're able to enjoy the chair. Too many people miss the joy of what IS by focusing only on the missing or changed parts of life. Choose to SEE what's good in the change, Sheri. Then you can enjoy the beauty created by the change."
Such a gentle whisper that I might have missed it if I wasn't in the habit of listening.
"You're right, Lord," my heart responded. "Good things are coming for her once Kristin changes her name to Mrs. Cody McGhee. If I let myself get bogged down in all the "finals" of this week, I'll risk missing the joy!"
I dropped my head and asked for His help in choosing to focus on what IS instead of feeling sorry for myself about what feels like things cut away from me.
He is indeed the God of all comfort.
Five more days of "finals" for this mama. Then the sun will rise on the wedding day bringing years of firsts.
That's where I'm focusing!