Life is full of simple joys.
One of them for me includes the word taco and the word bell.
I know, I should be lifting kettlebells and drinking green smoothies.
But there are those days when phonics is still not mastered, Algebra still does not make sense, you've forgotten the orthodontist appointment once again, and have once more run out of toilet paper.
Who am I kidding, that's just about every day here in Northeast Ohio.
THIS is why I make frequent runs for the border.
I am not even going to point out how funny "frequent runs" sounds in one sentence.
Not even gonna do that especially since I just told you we have run out of toilet paper.
There's a lot of running going on.
And there's the whole, "Mexican fast food" has absolutely nothing to do with "Authentic Mexican food,"f controversy. This is important because I come from Mexican stock.
And I can wield chicken stock into some ah-mazing Mexican rice and even whip you up some corn tortillas from scratch if I had three maids and twenty-nine teachers for my kids.
So there's that.
On a recent Taco Bell run, my second daughter looked at me shoving way too many nachos in my mouth and in all sincerity asked me, "Mom, did you eat here all the time when you were little?"
I wiped the nacho cheese from my mouth and inquired as to why she was asking me this.
"Well you ARE Mexican."
It was in that moment that I could feel the disapproving gaze of a thousand de Leon's and decided that I could still enjoy my lunch because very few know I am a de Leon anymore. I am a "Royalty" and so that makes Mexican pizza less shameful.
I have been living in an ethnic identity crisis since those silly things came out in the 90's.
So there you have it. I love Taco Bell.
It is a simple joy of mine and I make sure to wash it all down with Dr. Pepper so I have at least one Professional to back me up on my lunch decision.
Simple joys make this crazy, hectic, loud, wild and busy life WONDERful.
It could be the leaves changing, but I am filled with wonder recently as we drive just about anywhere lately.
In the span of two months, two amazingly beautiful souls have left this earth and have met the Savior face to face.
It has made heaven come to life again and sobered me to remember just how much of a vapor my little span of life is.
There's no time left to hold a grudge, to speak an unkind word or complain about it being too hot, too cold, or too frustrating.
The danish have a word, "Hygge."
It's an amazing word that cannot be contained in just one word in the English language.
The more I study this word, and how it has changed a country, I find myself amazed with all of the words used to describe this mindset. Words like, contentedness, comfort, reassurance, cosiness and even simpleness.
"The concept of "Hygge" requires consciousness, a certain slowness, and the ability to not just be present – but recognize and enjoy the present.
Danes created hygge because they were trying to survive boredom, cold, dark and sameness and the undefinable feeling of Hygge was a way for them to find moments to celebrate or acknowledge and to break up the day, months or years. With so many cold, dark, days, the simple act of a candle glowing with a cup of coffee in the morning or a home cooked evening meal with friends can make a huge difference to one’s spirit." (http://hyggehouse.com/hygge)
Have you been there in your life, even spiritual life? Facing something dark, stuck in a huge heap of "sameness," needing a refreshing?
The Danish people know that these times are coming- that Winter is just around the corner- and prepare for the dark.
They step back from the usual and look at it with new eyes.
Right before them, a cup of steamy coffee is a memory to draw from when the usual begins to rob from the wonder of every day.
This is a practice I am implementing as I face the multiplication families, the stains, the casseroles and the confrontations.
And two friends waking up in eternity was a good spirt progress report for me.
Darkness is all around us. If we choose to, we can let it crowd out the light steadily burning inside of us.
John 16:33 reminds us: "These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world."
Reading the word "good cheer" makes me smile as I sit in the sun and type.
It's not about a list of "Thankfulness" for November.
It's not about counting your blessings.
It's about having courage, boldness and confidence because HE has already overcome every ounce of darkness we will ever face.
Courage that He is working all things out for our good.
Today I sat and visited with a dear couple and the husband wanted Joel and I to make sure we heard him good and clear. He told us that we were living in the best days of our lives.
The best is not yet to come, the best is now inside of us, giving us the victory in each moment. Reminding us to allow our eyes to take in all that is wonderful about this one life we have to please Him in the every day ordinary.
On the way to this visit, I tried my best to count all of the trees turning vibrant shades of yellow and red and lost track. I tried to remember each fence framing farms, each walk blanketed with maple, and each leaf the moment it fell from a branch to the ground. I couldn't remember each moment, but I can remember the drive, the warmth of my husband's hand and the memories stored up from many many many other drives through this park of Hinkley.
The world will bring tribulation to our door. Jesus is just asking us to recognize it and meet it with a houseful of cheer.
He has overcome death, disease, discouragement, and every ounce of fear.
Thinking about heaven reminds me to live today in wonder.
To enjoy a grace-filled life I do not deserve, to make these moments of simplicity and usual something to remember and to remember that this vapor is worth slowing down for.
It's worth finding the courage to share the good cheer of God's perfect peace with the neighbor, the store clerk, and even the cashier at Taco Bell.
It's a WONDERful life, is it not friends?