the wine we drink

I love communion. 
Everything about faith is hard for me.
But communion is easy. There is something to hold, smell, do and taste.
I love the physicality of it. Any way you do it.
Plastic thimbles of grape juice. Tasteless wafers.
Hunks of Hawaiian bread. Goblets of wine.
An open table. 
Knees pressed into the cushions at the altar.
Someone saying the words just to me.
On Saturday I waited in line at the front of the chapel.
I ripped off a chunk of bread and someone told me,  “This is my body broken for you."
They had probably said it a hundred times before it was my turn, but they said it just for me anyways.
I stepped to the side and dipped my bread into the juice.
“This is my blood poured out for you.”

Like a lot of things in my life, I can overdo anything. Apparently even communion.
I was a little overzealous with the grape juice.  As I pulled out my bread and aimed it for my mouth the juice dripped down. I tried to catch it with my hand and sweatshirt so it didn’t stain the carpet.
I had literally just spilled the blood of Christ.
And did my best to minimize the damage.
The purple stained my hand and my sweatshirt.

Earlier that week, I made it to the same chapel at some ungodly (<— yes I am aware of the irony) hour on Ash Wednesday before  going to school. He rubbed his thumb in the ashes before saying, “Remember that dust you are, and to dust you shall return.”
I lingered at the same altar. 
"Dust you are and to dust you shall return" is not exactly encouraging.
"This is my body broken"
"My blood spilled"
The theme is the same.

That isn’t exactly the gospel I like to remember or paint for others. 
I like to sit in the part with love, kindness, peace, justice, forgiveness and happy endings.
But those things all come at a price.
A cost that I often forget.
I know a lot of people don’t do Lent.  Lent isn’t happy or warm. 
It is messy and real and full of stains.

I got in the car on Wednesday and rubbed the ashes off my forehead on the back of my hand.
I’m not sure why, except that I like that moment to be private.
The ashes and oil didn’t rub off so easily and they stayed on my hand all day.
Reminding me.

Someone asked me earlier this week what Lent was all about and I stumbled through an answer.
I don't follow it as formally as some other denominations do.   Several years ago I even helped write a Lenten devotional book, but on the spot I could hardly give a decent answer on what it was and why I chose to follow even a portion of it.  I don't eat fish on Fridays. I rarely give anything up. And when I do I usually don't even tell anyone. I told her it was a time of preparation for Easter. An awareness of our sin and the sacrifice that was made. 

But maybe it is just a season of noticing the stains.
The mess.
Wednesday my hands were stained with ashes.
Saturday my hands dripped with grape juice.
Death and blood.
Sin and sacrifice.
The stains of Lent.

So I have written almost this exact same post before here and here. So either I really mean it or I am out of ideas.


My husband picked out our first apartment.
It was fine, as far as apartments go. Tiny. Thin walled. Terrible parking.
It was on the first floor, the complex had a hot tub and we had our own tiny washer and dryer that held like 2 pair of jeans and a t-shirt.

So we saved our money, played less ultimate frisbee and drove around looking at houses.
We bought a puppy who peed all over our carpet and completely lost us our cleaning deposit.
We were young, newly married and could fit everything we owned in the back two pick up trucks. The bank offered us a loan with nothing down.  We signed our name no less than four hundred times and a 30 year mortgage felt like a lifetime.
Turns out lifetimes happen faster than you think.

I remember watching Trading Spaces getting my best decorating ideas from Frank, Vern and Genevieve. I spent my paychecks at Hobby Lobby instead of on childcare. Thank God there was no such thing as Pinterest. We painted all the walls any color but white. We shopped Ikea to try and find enough furniture to fill the empty rooms. I had more closets and cabinets than I knew what to do with. My husband ripped out the carpet and put down laminate that was guaranteed to last 10 years. A decade. 
It has been almost 13 years and the floor is still holding up.

The “office” and the “extra bedroom” are the only rooms that we have managed to redecorate. We painted them green and blue and pink and turquoise and added a crib.
Every inch of closet and cabinets are now jam packed with something.
Both the office and the guest bedroom are now the couch in my living room.
The laminate has held up but there is sharpie on the walls and smudges on every imaginable surface.

Our back yard has a new dog. The swing set has gone up and already come down. The deck just got repainted. I have mowed that yard at least three hundred times. And it is a really big yard.

We outgrew this place years ago, but the idea of selling my home seemed like way too much work. Keeping my house clean. Packing. Fixing all the things that need fixing. House hunting. Just thinking about it was enough to give me a rash and not miss any of the square footage that we don’t have. The market right now and the desire to get my kids closer to their schools is making me stop dragging my feet a little. Realtors came over a few weekends ago and walked the place. I was sure to point out all the faults. I got my pen ready to write down all the things that we needed to do to get the house ready. They saw less faults and more potential to sell quickly. 
Their list was short. 
Start packing.
The broker came over Friday.

Our house is not on the market but we are trying to get it ready. Much faster than I had anticipated. My husband scours area real estate on the internet daily.  He has been making lists of things to do the house. I have done almost nothing except call a house cleaner which I was dying for an excuse to do anyways. Today I figured I could not put it off any longer and went to Lowes and helped pick out paint. Boring white and beige paint. And huge tubs to pack my things in. Apparently, before you show a house you are supposed to get rid of half your stuff.

My husband pulled things off the wall. Filled nail holes. And painted over our smudges and stains. I sat on the couch graded papers and picked a fight.

I have been staring at a blank clean white wall all afternoon.
Getting ready to sell this house means it has to become something other than my home. 
The walls be painted white. The books and pictures and things that have made it mine will go in tubs in the shed while other people parade through and talk about floor plans and lighting. Everything that makes it mine will come down or get covered up and that has me unsettled.

I know every inch of this house in the dark and where I am most likely to find loose change. (I still, however, can't find my lost remote or the last place I put my keys.)  I have brought my babies home from the hospital to this address. I have brought home dogs and groceries and new friends. I don’t like to clean, decorate, pull weeds or put away laundry, but I do like to dance in the living room and have more peopled crammed into my kitchen than the fire marshall would care for. I’ve played kickball in the driveway and watched my son wobble down the street after taking off his training wheels. I may not be the best homemaker, but here I have made a home.

Letting go of that is not as easy as putting on a fresh coat of paint.

I’m ready to move on and have somewhere to work besides the couch. I’d love a guest bedroom and a pantry and a faucet that doesn’t leak. I want those things. 
My kids have grown up here. I can see it in sharpie on their door frames. And I have grown here too it just isn't so easily documented. I made my husband buy new door frames today along with neutral paint at Lowes because I refuse to paint white over everything. 
They will come with me. Along with all the other things I love the most. All 3 of them. And a dog. 
Not everything fits in boxes.