30 October 2013

grace like a child

This morning I took my girls for pancakes. It was raining and we were rushing so that Eleri could get to school on time. Lowri was squirming all over the place and in the seven minutes it took to drive from our house to the restaurant, Eleri had asked about nine billion questions. As I was unbuckling the girls from the car, I was already regretting the decision to go out for breakfast.

As I was trying to wrangle a fussy toddler, my purse, a sippy cup of spilling milk and a four year old who insisted on jumping in every single puddle as we crossed the street, we saw him. A worker who was struggling to carry in a box overflowing with cups. Two other people walked by him and straight into the restaurant. There was no way this man could carry the box and open the door at the same time. We could have easily walked in without holding the door for him, we will just far enough in front of him. But he was there. In the rain. And everyone saw him, but no one wanted to wait.

Except Eleri.

"Mommy, that man needs help. We have lots of stuff in our hands, but he has more. He needs us to wait and help him. I will open the door for him." So we waited, and she held the door open and then helped the man with the cups that he dropped. He answered with a "gracias" and my precious little girl answered back "gracias" He smiled, I smiled and then Eleri said something so profound. "Mommy, I said thank you in Spanish because that man speaks Spanish. and everyone likes to have people help them just where they are. He didn't speak English so I spoke his language because I thought he would like that." She talked a bit more about helping and then finished off her conversation with part of the family motto "Team Williams is nice to everyone"

I was fighting back tears. My four year old has grasped a concept that is still beyond a lot of adults I know. Often even beyond me. She saw a need and met it, on the same level of the person who had the need. just where he was
It didn't matter that he was a worker, or that it was raining, or that it meant she had to wait a bit for what she wanted. It didn't matter that he didn't speak English or look like her. She met him just where he was.

Sure, it was only a 2 minute encounter with a man carrying cups. But the message is so much more than that. Everyone is different. Everyone screws up, everyone needs help, and everyone wants someone to just see them for who they are. To come and meet them exactly as they are. Not expecting a change, not demanding they do this or that to fit into a particular image or expectation. Everyone wants, and deserves, acceptance based simply on who they are at that very moment.

Eleri likes to help. That is a part of her, so deeply ingrained into who she is that sometimes we actually have to pull her away from 'helping' activities. She is compassionate and tenderhearted. I have no doubt that she just wanted to help because 'Team Williams is nice to everyone' (I hear that about a million times a day) But what she did was show the love of Jesus. Her actions spoke clearly that everyone is important, everyone matters. She met that man exactly where is was, speaking his language, to make him feel the "most happy" as she said. I believe it worked. I believe that man felt a little bit of Jesus' love and grace this morning. He may not recognise it as that, yet that is exactly what it was.

Jesus said "Let the little children come to me, do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to those who are like these children" (Matthew 19:14) A childlike innocence. A purity and acceptance that many adults do not have. Moments after we came into the restaurant, I overheard another couple talking about how 'this is America and if people want to come here then they need to learn OUR language and not speak this other crap'. I hugged my precious one a little tighter as they discussed this because she saw beyond language gaps and nationality. She looked at the heart, the person. It was a good reminder to my old, tired, calloused heart to give grace regardless of the situation. People are people and every single person is made in the image of God. They should be treated as the valuable creations that they are.

I hope that my little one continues to love and offer grace and acceptance regardless of the situation. I pray that as Lowri grows, she can follow in the footsteps of her older sister. I really hope that I too can remember the words of my four year old and simply love and meet people just where they are. I am so grateful for the precious spirit of Eleri. What a little glimpse of God's heart she really is.

28 August 2013


home. I am back in Tulsa now, and its lovely. and wonderful. and missing something. no matter what, there seems to be an ache in my heart. not an over bearing, unable to function kind of ache. more a niggling feeling that something is just not right. I am afraid that I am doomed forever to feel that dull ache.

my years spent in the UK were wonderful. and hard. it lacked convenience and quite a few of the 'normal' things that I had grown up with. I complained more than my fair share about daily life. yet, when it came right down to it, I truly felt at home.

when we moved to the states, it too was wonderful. we found an incredible church and connected with a community that was encouraging and challenging. it was what we had prayed for. the daily routines are so much easier with space and car. convenience is not lacking at all in Oklahoma. we bought a house, our family grew and I felt at home.

now, 2 years later, I feel torn. Each time I return to the UK, I am reminded of the ease, comforts/space and church family we are leaving behind in the states. Each time I return back to America, I am reminded of the simplicity, local/sport community, culture and ease of travel left behind in the UK. Having made a home in each country, no country fully feels like home anymore.

no matter where we live, one set of parents/grandparents will always be far away. and that is really difficult. no matter where we settle, one half of 'us' will always be far away from our roots, from the place where we grew up. No matter where I settle, make mom friends and try to do life, I will always have another frame of reference. another home. another life.

somewhere I read the following sentence, and my heart jumped. this is it, this is how I feel. "you get a strange feeling when you are about to leave a place. like you'll not only miss the people you love but you'll miss the person you are now at this time and place because you'll never be this way ever again."

I am not sure if it is too much compartmentalizing of feelings, because at the core I am the same. I am the same person I was in London as I am here. my heart, my soul, my desires, my dreams- they have not changed. the way I execute day to day life has, but not me. but its that feeling, that dull ache in my chest that doesn't seem to go away. I can never relive the life we had in the UK. but even if we moved back to Europe, I could never, ever, replicate the life that we have here.

I am home in the UK. I am home in Tulsa. But I am never really home at all.

This recent trip overseas was wonderful. It was much needed adult time. the first time we had ever been away from lowri and the first time we had been away from eleri for more than 2 nights. it was good. hard at times, for both us and the girls, but good. and necessary. we visited old friends in London. we danced and drank and sang and laughed with friends in a way that we had not done in a long time. we hugged family. we cried tears over missing family members. we shopped and ate and drank some more. we travelled along the entire breadth of England. we met new people and spent time with life long friends. we returned to the exact spot in spain where we first said I love you. we ate at our favourite restaurants and were reminded what it is to just be 'us'. we walked miles along the Mediterranean coast. we explored new cities together. we laughed and talked and held hands and enjoyed our time without thoughts of money spent or bills to pay. we had a break from life and it was incredible.

and now, we are home.

I felt at home in the UK. I felt at home in Spain. I felt at home while we were travelling. I always feel at home while I country hop, exploring new places. and now I feel at home in Tulsa. but no matter what, there is always a little something missing. It's almost like I have tasted and seen too much. never truly satisfied, yet perfectly at peace. as I type that out, I am forced to ask if that is even possible. but somehow, that is how I feel.

for years I have prayed for contentment. for God to truly calm my heart and help me live fully in the present. yet our hearts were made to long for Him. we were made to continually strive for our eternal home. I have wondered if this is part of the way I am being taught to be content. A visual, earthly experience of what our spiritual experience should be. "taste and see that the Lord is good" I have seen. I have experienced. I have seen the beauty and wonder of God and His creation. and because of that, no matter where I am, part of me longs to be somewhere else.

so I will make my home in Tulsa. I will love that we have walmart and target just down the road. I will love that I can walk to church and I will hate that there are no sidewalks anywhere.  I will love that we are close to family. I will miss the family we far away from. I will love that we have an amazing church and amazing friends. but I will miss the church and friends we left behind. I will love that I have a car, a backyard, space, more than one bathroom and a kitchen with a table. I will love what we have here and continually pray for a grateful heart. I will continue to make a beautiful home here, live a beautiful life. and I will miss every other home left behind.

life is strange. but so wonderful. and no matter the dull ache that seems to follow me no matter what, I will forever appreciate the experiences I have had. if life had the option of a do over, no part of me would ever undo a single moment, a single day. even if it means living with a pain that is ever present. I will always be grateful for the life I have lived. and the homes I have had. I can say, truthfully, that I love my life. and I wouldn't change a single thing.

welcome back to America, Kristina. welcome home.