We find by losing. We hold fast by letting go. We become something new by ceasing to be something old. This seems to be close to the heart of that mystery. ~Frederick Buechner

Homemade peppermint ice cream churns with leftover candy canes from Christmas and the smell of chocolate sauce melts on the stove in my mother-in-law’s kitchen. That is what I think about every year when I turn the calendar on July 4th. But I haven’t tasted the sweet peppery zing melting on my tongue in almost ten years.

We left our family in the desert to dwell under the shade of Live Oaks in the South almost ten years ago. We’re one month away from living in our current house  for five years; the longest we’ve lived in one place since H and I got married twenty-three years ago.

For some of you who have lived in the same house or the same neighborhood your entire life, you can exhale now.

My circadian moving rhythm doesn’t know we’re staying put.  I’ve been cleaning out closets, boxing up memorabilia in the attic, hauling discarded piles to consignment shops and re-organizing cabinets in every room.

Oddly, doing this energizes me.

Yesterday, while organizing my desk, I found a pile of my old watercolor paintings and began thumbing through them as I balanced one knee on the seat of my writing chair. They looked remarkably different. So I held them up to show H and he affirmed what I thought.  My work was better than I remembered.

Perfectionism. It’s why I stopped painting.

Sharing them on Instagram  a few minutes later; it’s how I know I’m being set free from it. (photos in my Instagram sidebar if you’re reading today.)

I choose to surrender.

Sharing my art publicly five years ago wouldn’t have been a thought. I put the lid permanently on my palette because I realized I couldn’t start painting where I wanted to end up.  Trying to be a Monet to avoid the disgrace and criticism that comes with being a struggling novice is prideful, and it frustrates.

Sometimes the best thing you can do is start from where you are and allow the mystery of your salvation to unfold without knowing the destination. And trust.

Out of each old self that dies some precious essence is preserved for the new self that is born; and within the child-self that is part of us all, there is perhaps nothing more precious than the fathomless capacity to trust. ~Frederick Buechner

God gave me ten years of distance from what I’d grown to love, to understand sacrifice; the fine lines on the face of surrender. It looks different on everyone.

Jesus isn’t as concerned about what we give as much as how we choose to do it. Our readiness in giving ourselves away to the world is in direct proportion to our ability to surrender. When the heart is ready to be given away, everything we offer is an act of worship. And it’s beautiful. (2 Corinthians 8:9-12)

Like those who are ready and willing to sacrifice themselves in exchange for our nation’s freedom.

Happy 4th Everyone!