connect

The Orange Tree

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This is our orange tree. Some years, it has tons of fruit. Some years it has almost none. This is a good year. And this weekend, Husband is going to give our orange tree a little haircut, so we need to get some of the fruit off of it beforehand. That was one of my goals for this Spring Break week.

CONNECT is my word of the year.

I haven’t been very good at it so far in 2017.

I’m an extrovert (an ENFP, apparently the most introverted of extroverts, but still). I love being around people. It gives me life. But sometimes, especially as I’ve gotten older, I’ve gotten worse at connecting. I hem and haw before extending an invitation, I wait for everything to be just right, I think my house has to be perfect and orderly and finished. I think my table should be bigger. I think my house should be tidier. I think I should be a better baker. I second guess EVERYTHING.

But yesterday was different.

fresh squeezed orange juiceBB was heading to a play date, so I invited a friend and her daughter over to pick oranges and make mimosas. (Spoiler: we didn’t pick oranges.) Our girls ran off the moment they arrived, and we didn’t see them all morning. I decided to make scones about 5 minutes before they arrived, so I answered the door with dough all over my hands. I juiced oranges while my friend sat at the counter and we chatted. We snacked and sipped mimosas and talked about church and school and parenting and marriage and family. It was so relaxing.

After our friends left, we went to pick up BB and his friend to continue the playdate at our house. Even after hours of playing, they ran to the back yard and started a project that held their interest the whole afternoon. They included BG in their experiments, and it was one of those playdates that is just so easy.

I went out front to pick some oranges. I took a photo of our tree and thought, What if I put this on Facebook and ask people to pop in? Would they think it’s weird? Would anyone actually come? Should I just hit delete?

I did it anyway. And guess what – people came! A friend and her two boys came over. They picked a few oranges, then BG asked the youngest boy to come play with her, BB asked the older boy to join the science experiments in the back yard, and the mom and I stood in the front yard and had time to talk about preschool and scouts and travel. It was so nice.

Then I got a call from a friend that she was getting off work early and would love to come by for oranges. She brought cupcakes for my kids, and we sat on my stoop and chatted about life and kids and family. (We didn’t pick oranges.) BG gave her a tour of her room, showed her all 25 stuffies on her bed, gave her details of all of her Barbies’ personalities, and interviewed her with her toy camcorder. It was so fun.

In the meantime, another friend drove up to pick oranges. BB did the picking while we sat in the grass and chatted about baseball and work and spring break. It was so peaceful.

It was an awesome day. A relaxing, easy, nice, fun, peaceful day.

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I think this is how life is supposed to be. We were created for community. It’s not always sunshine and rainbows and endless amounts of orange juice. Community can get messy and hard and real. But being in community is how we grow best.

I often think of what our modern life would look like to someone a hundred years ago. Where we live in close proximity to our neighbors but we don’t even know them by name. Where we do life side-by-side with people without making any connection. Where we are surrounded by more people than ever before and yet we isolate by keeping to ourselves, staying in our own homes, staring at our individual screens. It can be so life-sucking.

Connecting is different. It is life-giving. It is bucket-filling. It is the bread and butter but it’s also the icing on the cupcake. It is what sustains life, and it’s what makes life so sweet.

I am thankful for my community. I am thankful for people who love me and love my kids and say “Yes!” to popping by on a Wednesday afternoon to laugh and talk and pluck oranges from a tree. I am thankful for a beautiful spring day and for good conversation in it. And I am thankful that connection is a choice that we can make.

“Do you want to play with me?”

“Do you want to do a science experiment?”

“Do you want to pick some oranges?”

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