Notes from Saturday.

Monday, March 24, 2014

On Saturday night, I drove through downtown Raleigh for what felt like an hour, hunting for an open coffee shop with an open seat. Shawn had lovingly pushed me out the door at the mention of wanting a place to think and write. After accidentally stepping into not one but two hookah lounges, I finally landed in a loud, somewhat scuzzy café on a local college campus. (Raleigh friends, tell me your secrets. Where can I find a quiet, classy coffee or tea shop close that's not bursting at the seams?)

I scanned the crowd and saw a couple of students with dark-rimmed glasses and philosophy books piled high. I spied a nervous couple at the end of their first (and possibly last) date. I watched a guy with a flawless Afro tap the table to the beat in his neon headphones.

I felt... mom-ish. Frumpy. With crumbs in the bottom of my purse and a spot of dried applesauce on my jeans, I felt past my coffee-shop prime. I used to be one of them, a coffee shop dweller who whiled away hours with a laptop and a latte, complaining about how insanely busy I was. Busy enough to sip lattes most nights, apparently.

But it didn't take me long to close my eyes and remember my day. Isn't that the key so often? Not pining for what seems like the greener grass, and taking account of what has so graciously been given to you?

Saturdays in the Newby house have been declared Family Day, and there's absolutely no work allowed. No Etsy convos to answer. No sewing. No distractions from the little things, which are really the big things.

Here's what's allowed: Waking up without an alarm. Watching a couple episodes of Curious George. Serving up apple cinnamon pancakes and steaming cups of tea. Opening the back door wide to let the fresh air blow the smell of grass through our house. Finding bikes on Craigslist and exploring the Greenway all afternoon. Tending our baby garden. Kneeling next to the bathtub, scrubbing the day's dirt from between toddler toes. Looking into my favorite green eyes. Admiring my favorite dimples.

Saturdays are about creating open space: to breathe, to think, to give thanks, to just enjoy one another for maybe the first time all week.

Had I seen my latte-sipping 21-year-old self across the coffee shop that night, I'm not sure I would have seen a girl quite so content as the 28-year-old with crumbs in her purse and applesauce on her jeans. The 21-year-old I remember was constantly waiting for something. Constantly impatient. Just ready to move onto the next season already, surviving the current season in angst.

This season is different, and in many ways, better. Perhaps less adventurous. Definitely less spontaneous. But as I looked back at Liam in his bike seat as he took in the passing landscape with wide eyes, I told Shawn, "He's totally content." As I said it, I realized, so am I. Contentment: it's the one puzzle piece that's been missing from my life for so very long. It doesn't mean that every moment - or even every day - is happy. Just yesterday, I sat through the funeral of a very young man who took his own life, and I felt more sadness than I've felt in months. There are moments of self pity, of stress, of frustration. There are days when the budget feels too tight, the workload feels too heavy, and the moments of happiness and ease are few and far between.  But the thread of contentment, of deep peace, is woven so deeply in my soul that even the rough days don't shake my core like they used to.

The difference is Christ. Knowing Him and loving Him deeper and fuller than I did 7 years ago, I can say that the journey with Him just gets sweeter with time. I know that my circumstances have not brought more peace - we probably have tighter margins with time and money than we ever have. Life hasn't gotten easier. My new roles as wife and mom, as so many dream to become, do not fulfill every deep desire and need I have. He brings peace. He brings joy. As I have tasted and have seen, apart from Him is no good thing.


  1. Oh, perfect truth. I am one of those 21 year old coffee shop dwellers, anxiously awaiting the next phase of life - struggling hard with being content. In such a way that I pretty much always have a lump in my throat and crocodile tears waiting to spill over the edges of my eyes. I'm really not sure how I came across your blog, but I'm glad that I did today! Thanks for sharing - and, I do hope you find your perfect Raleigh coffee shop!

  2. Jubala Village Coffee is in north Raleigh's Lafayette Village - it's pretty great! May be a little bit of a drive from down town, but I think you'd like it! I also saw that a new shop is coming to Seaboard ( - and if you haven't been by Person Street Pharmacy, do it! :)

  3. Love your comments. This is my biggest challenge. My life if wonderful, but why can't I find the joy that I know Christ wants me to feel. Any suggestions.

  4. I, too, am the 21 year old coffee shop dweller who is so impatient for whatever's "next." I graduate in May with my bachlelor's degree and will be moving to another state and the next phase of my life, but I still fear the "then what?" My ambition in these next few months is to be content. It helps so much to hear it from someone who has been there. Thanks, Whitney!

  5. one of my favorite posts you've ever written. can SO resonate with you.

  6. p.s. i love your saturdays. makes me so so happy friend- i know your schedules are crazy! love you 3.

  7. I love this post. As I am sitting back in Nashville for my last day for quite a long time, I have found myself missing it here, wishing I was back in college, and wondering when the life I live right now with graduate school, work, wedding planning, and waiting to enter the next season ....when it will all come to a place where I feel content and not so rushed. I've come to realize there might not ever be a time where life is not busy but its all about taking time to enjoy the moment and be thankful for the season I find myself in. Thanks for your honesty.

  8. I often struggle with feeling like I am in a "waiting" period... waiting for what is next, instead of embracing this chapter of my life as just that... part of my life. The waiting is significant and important, just like the doing is. And God can use each season of our lives to challenge us, and to help us grow.

    This question is largely unrelated to the rest of your post, but in the picture of Liam in the bathtub, I noticed two storage bags hanging on the right wall of the tub. Do you remember where you found those? We are having a little girl in a couple months, and we are so tight on space. A bag or to like that would be so helpful!

    1. Logan, Yes! The top one was a gift that came in a bag with little suction cups on it, and the other (the green owl) I bought at Target. :)

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