Simple Things

The highpoint of my day was coloring a poster with my kids. The three of us laid on the floor and used every marker we own. I can't remember the last time I colored. The swooshing motion of the markers put me in a trance, a hypnotic therapy.

Maddi colored the flowers green and I almost told her that they should be bright and to save green for the leaves, but I caught myself knowing it really didn't matter.

The simple things in life can be the most soothing.

Like last month when we rode the train to LaCrosse, we met an Amish family traveling back to Michigan from Minnesota after a wedding. Jordan was intrigued with the way they dressed and whispered to me, "I love olden-day people." Next to us, four Amish girls played cards and told inside jokes.

Maddi drew a picture for one of the girls. Then Jordan copied Maddi. The girls giggled at the innocent flirting and attention. The oldest one asked us where we were going. She looked sixteen but we discovered she was twenty-three and had just opened a bakery next to her
father's lumber yard.

I asked her about the navy colored clothing, the uniform that all the Amish girls were wearing. My new friend said, "Oh, we can wear any color we want..except pink…and purple….and yellow…and red…and orange."

I smiled, thinking it would be easier to just say we wear blue. I also wanted to cover-up Madelynn, who was wearing a summer dress with all the forbidden colors on it.

"It's good to not be showy," I affirmed.

"It's our…religion, I guess," she said, not fully convinced.

"It's your tradition," I replied with respect. This seemed pleasing to the girl and she nodded like I had just gotten the right answer to a trivia game.

Eventually, the conversation turned curious and I could tell she was
wondering why a mom was traveling alone with two young children. I
briefly explained the "Shawn Story" as I have come to call it. The girl
told me she was interested in reading my book.

When the train reached the depot we waved goodbye like long lost friends.

The week after I got home, Christina, the Amish girl, sent us a package in the mail from her bakery. The box was filled with a homemade loaf of bread, peanut butter cookies and banana bread.

Her simple gesture of friendship, her short note, her effort lifted my spirit for the day.

Isn't this the number one answer for healing, for grief, for making a change in our lives, for nurturing relationships or completing a project? The simple things make a difference to us–the simple things make our life better.

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