Chili. I decide to make chili for dinner earlier in the week when I was grocery shopping but I didn’t plan on waking up with the flu. Chili is an old standby for us like pizza on Friday or grilling on a warm weekend. It seemed like a straight forward decision about using up hamburger but I’m numb to my reality. I’m living in England now and chili, it turns out, is more complicated than it used to be.
When that little packet of seasoning can’t be found on the shelves at Tesco, I decide to make my own concoction. Until I realize the measuring spoons I thought I packed from my kitchen last week were not in any of the six suitcases we brought with us.
H is a little less sick than I am so he bravely retrieves a scale from the kitchen cabinet, attempting to measure chili powder, cumin, garlic, and a host of other spices the British way, by weighing them. I’m on the computer with a flu hangover googling conversion charts and calling out amounts.
Onion powder, it turns out, isn’t common in London grocery stores so we make do without it.
In the end, he eyeballs the amounts. And then I remember we don’t have a can opener for the kidney beans. What I assumed to be a simple dinner turns into a heavy sigh.
Our new washing machine is located in the bathroom closet; the dryer is in the kitchen next to the sink. Two sets of stairs are between them. We don’t own a laundry basket yet. One small load of clothes requires two hours to finish a complete cycle. I took those side-by-side front loaders in my old house for granted. This is a fact.
My daughter is on spring break, staying with a family instead of her parents for the first time ever. She Voxes to tell me she’s been sitting in our empty house daily, waiting for the reality to hit her, but it hasn’t yet. I tell her it hasn’t hit me either.
On Thursday, in the middle of a meeting with church planters in East London we receive the official email that our house is no longer ours and now belongs to strangers.
The same day Murielle Voxes to say she stopped by our storage space on her way out of town for a weekend with her bestie. That space holds the only things left of us there for her. Now she can no longer sit in the empty house holding dust of her teenage years.
When she was two, we sat down to eat dinner together one evening and an overwhelming feeling gripped me. Someone was missing at the table.
The empty chair at the table haunted me every day thereafter. God was telling me we were going to have another baby. Harrison came shortly thereafter.
This past week, as we sit in brown plastic chairs around a borrowed table, daffodils fade from a vase in the center and the empty place setting haunts me. Nothing is familiar.
Last night, as I lay in bed with fever praying for my children, Murielle has a tire blow out on the highway, on her way back to college. She Voxes H but his phone is on mute. When he wakes up and listens, she is frantic; alone on the side of the road for three hours.
When change sweeps you up in a whirlwind, you will go through the motions, making rational decisions until your feelings and the truth finally catch up with the consequences. A release from transition and into the thing God has for you costs you something, don’t fool yourself with idealism.
God’s grace in timing doesn’t mean everything is or will be perfect, just different like cooking chili in London and Voxing with your daughter instead of dialing her number .
Sometimes measuring the costs of your yes to Jesus isn’t as straight forward as initially expected. And then again, surrender and risk for the Kingdom, it’s never a cake walk, is it?