Tag Archives: God

Just as I Am

Driving to work this morning, husband and toddler at home, window rolled down to enjoy these first warm days of spring and the blue sky filling the windshield, I was transported back to a moment.

A moment with my sister in the late summer of 2013, ambling through the town of Eagle River while on vacation, just the two of us under the warm August sun. As we walked the tree-lined neighborhood streets, bells echoed out from an old church.

Just as I am, without one plea
but that thy blood was shed for me
and that thou bidst me come to thee
O Lamb of God, I come, I come

“That’s was Poppop’s favorite hymn,” said my sister, and I silently thought about our grandpa and his life on Shellpot Drive, where I knew him as the quiet man who ate a sandwich for lunch every day, trimmed his toenails in the den bathroom, and played Scrabble, all while believing that Jesus would come back in glory before he died. Someone played Just as I Am at his funeral.

The church bells echo around us with this tune, maybe mournful, maybe joyful.

Just as I am, though tossed about
with many a conflict, many a doubt
fightings within and fears without
O Lamb of God, I come, I come

There are moments in life when, unexpectedly, with no warning, beauty hits you. You didn’t plan on it, or seek it out, but there you are in the middle of your day, maybe driving somewhere, maybe walking, maybe looking out a window, maybe hearing that song that dovetails with the moment like they were predestined for each other–and suddenly time is suspended and your heart is filled to bursting.

A melody–the warm orange of the sun against your closed eyelids–the friendship of a sister–the knowledge that death comes to all–the strange ache of hope disappointed and hope fulfilled.

Just as I am, thou wilt receive,
wilt welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve;
because thy promise I believe,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Just as I am, thy love unknown
hath broken every barrier down;
now, to be thine, yea, thine alone,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

The smell of onions


It’s Sunday evening and I’m cooking Brats and Peppers, a slightly greasy and very delicious meal that takes a while. You start by caramelizing the onions, then add the raw brats (cut in chunks), brown them, add some bell peppers and then let the whole thing simmer in beer for over an hour.

The onions were just starting to brown and my husband said, “I love the smell of onions cooking. It brings back so many memories.”

“Like what?” I asked, sprinkling liberal amounts of salt and pepper over the steaming pot.

He thought for a while. “It’s like the smell of marriage–the smell of you taking care of me joyfully.”

He’s smelled onions frying in olive oil since we’ve been together, the aroma rising from dishes that I’ve made over the years in Boomington, Indiana, when we were undergrads and then freshly married; in Newark, Delaware, in that small one-bedroom off of Main Street; here in Chicago during my experiments with Indian, Thai, Mexican–and to him, it’s become the smell of love.

Friday felt like a two-dimensional day to me. I worked from home and processed sales orders from customers. I took care of Alice–changing diapers, reading books, administering snacks of raisins and crackers. We went to the park, and I kept an eye on my phone. We ran errands. The whole day I felt like I was trying to rev my soul to get out of neutral and couldn’t quite do it. It was a fine day, but a bland day. I enjoyed parts of it, but it didn’t feel vibrant.

I know there will be many days like that in my future. For me (even though I’m reaching the point of really desiring to be a stay-at-home mom), days that I stay home with Alice can have the tendency to feel kind of . . . somnolent. Like I’m in a waking dream.

But that’s okay. Because through making countless dishes over the years, some cooked with joy and some cooked in a tired glaze, some cooked perhaps even in quiet frustration (but cooked after all), my husband now thinks of love when he smells onions.

If I am faithful to serve my daughter and take care of her in love even on those days when I feel like my vitality is drained and my creativity has died a slow death, I will be making her world more beautiful. I can help infuse her world with love and create beautiful associations that will stay with her–as subconscious or conscious impressions–the rest of her life. Just as a child can carry a fear of dogs with them into adulthood if they have a traumatic experience while they’re young, I can be an instrument in Alice’s life by tying love into every experience so that her world is (I pray) ringing with it.

Maybe as an adult she, too, will smell onions and remember how much I love her.

Keep alert, stand firm in your faith, be courageous, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love. (1 Corinthians 16:13-14)