MONDAY’S PRETTY THINGS :: 10 Inspiring Storefronts and Cafes from Around the World


10 Inspiring Storefronts and Cafes from around the World // Fruit shop in Naples, Italy // Photograph by André Benedix on Flickr
1. Fruit shop in Naples, Italy // Photograph by André Benedix on Flickr

10 Inspiring Storefronts and Cafes from around the World // Fish shop in Naples, Italy // Photograph by André Benedix on Flickr
2. Fish shop in Naples, Italy // Photograph by André Benedix on Flickr

10 Inspiring Storefronts and Cafes from around the World // Seoul South Korea Coffee Shop
3. Cafe in Seoul, South Korea // Photograph by handsforholding on Flickr

10 Inspiring Storefronts and Cafes from around the World // 19 Alexandra Road, Clevedon
4. 19 Alexandra Road, United Kingdom // Photograph by Lou Archell on Littlegreenshed

10 Inspiring Storefronts and Cafes from around the World // LOKL in Kuala Lumpur
5. LOKL Coffee Co. in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia // Photograph by Loo Jia Wen as seen on Bloesem

10 Inspiring Storefronts and Cafes from around the World // Julianna's Crepes _ Atlanta
6. Julianna’s Coffee & Crepes, Atlanta Georgia // Photograph by In Honor of Design

10 Inspiring Storefronts and Cafes from around the World // Fatbird Cafe in Bangkok
7. Fatbird Cafe in Bangkok, Thailand // Photograph via BKKMenu

10 Inspiring Storefronts and Cafes from around the World // Hara Donuts Korea
8. Hara Donuts (하라 도너츠) in Seoul, South Korea // Photograph by the Seoul is for Lovers blog

10 Inspiring Storefronts and Cafes from around the World // Purple garlic stall in St-Vivien-de-Médoc, France, during Market Day
9. Purple garlic stall in St-Vivien-de-Médoc, France, during Market Day // Photograph by Oddur Thorisson for Manger

10 Inspiring Storefronts and Cafes from around the World // Bakery in Ghent, Belgium
10. Bakery in Ghent, Belgium // Photograph by klaartje on Flickr

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POETRY & WORDS :: I write because


I write, sometimes, because of things I see and hear,
and other times, I write because the sound is muffled and my vision is blurred,
but mostly, I write because (the veil is still there,
the glass is still dim,
He has not yet come)
and I want to see clearly.

It's the world as best as I remember it
I write because...

“Can a man see God face to face and live?

Can I not see an eclipse better through a pinhole in a paper than without it?

We can’t so much see light as we can see things because of it. So I do not meet God in a vacuum — I meet Him in the world He has provided for me to meet Him in — in a world of events and of places, of history (time and space), in a world of lives of people and their records of their encounters.

I meet God in this world — in the world of these things…

…and this is the world as best as I can remember it.”
-Rich Mullins

POETRY & WORDS :: A Mountain Can’t Hide the Light


We can't hide memories any more than mountains can hide the sunWe want to say the memories split the light in half, the way a single mountain peak does at sunrise, when the orb of burning fire rises just beyond the apex. But the truth is, the light never splits that way. Really, it diffuses, it lights up every crevice and ridge and line until the whole horizon is in flames. As much as we want to fold up the memories and draw lines around them and never travel their pathways again, memories don’t compartmentalize. There is no Continental Divide.

We can’t divy the past up — this drop for the Atlantic and this drop for the Pacific — because water and light don’t work that way. Memories wrap around us, they are us. We’ve been led through the past and we’ve been redeemed and we are redeemed and we are being redeemed, right in this very rain-drenched, sun-soaked moment.

A mountain can’t hide the sun any more than droughts can prove rain is a myth. And shadows, those shifting slate-grey mirages, depend on light for their very existence.

And so deluge or drought, midnight or dawn, shadow or noon, there’s still light

and there’s still life-giving rain

and there’s still hope.

LIFE IN PHOTOS :: Lavender Sky


LIFE IN PHOTOS on the OAXACABORN blog :: Lavender Sky

LIFE IN PHOTOS on the OAXACABORN blog :: Lavender Sky

LIFE IN PHOTOS on the OAXACABORN blog :: Lavender Sky

LIFE IN PHOTOS on the OAXACABORN blog :: Lavender Sky

LIFE IN PHOTOS on the OAXACABORN blog :: Lavender Sky

LIFE IN PHOTOS on the OAXACABORN blog :: Lavender Sky

LIFE IN PHOTOS on the OAXACABORN blog :: Lavender Sky

LIFE IN PHOTOS on the OAXACABORN blog :: Lavender Sky

“Underneath this billboard with my thumb up sticking in the air,
take me to New York, New York or California I don’t care…
…feels like this county line only ties me down…
feels like this interstate just circles back around.”

-Jill Phillips

“Look up, look up it’s like the sky is falling
down on us, on us.
Wake up, wake up it’s just this dream I have,
it’s made for us, for us.

Well, I can’t be anything I’m not;
you get what you see.
But I’m gonna give you everything I got –
I’m not living in the in-between,
I’m not living in the in-between.”

-Bebo Norman

INSPIRATION :: Spring/Summer 2014 TOAST UK Women’s Catalogue


This year so far, I’ve shared more writing and fewer visual inspiration posts. It’s just that, when wrestling with realities like this, posting pretty pictures seemed like the very last thing to do. But the truth is, beauty doesn’t go away in light of life and death’s realities — and indeed, as I’ve learned, just because we don’t understand doesn’t mean we have to stop admiring the brightness of a flower or the color of the sky. In fact, more then ever, it’s exactly in those moments when we most need to see the golden thread present in everything around us. And, when we see all beauty is a reflection of Him, we realize there’s nothing incongruous or out of place about pausing to see beauty in the midst of a wrecked and imperfect world.

11 Toast UK Catalogue Women April 14
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Toast UK Catalogue Women April 14

All images above via the April 2014 TOAST UK Women’s Lookbook.

Want to see more TOAST UK round-ups? I’ve been blogging my favorite TOAST images since 2010.

POETRY & WORDS :: Hallelujah for the Elephants


Toddler's Interpretation of Bible Stories via Oaxacaborn

“I’ll read to you, I’ll read it for you!” she clamored happily as she climbed up and sat down on the pillow next to me. Holding the little Bible in her tiny hands, she turned the pages and began.

On Noah:This is Noah. And the boat. Animals! Come in the boat. And then it stopped raining.

Hallelujah for the penguins.

Hallelujah for the flamingos.

Hallelujah for the elephants. And then there was a rainbow.

In her poetic, praiseful declaration of hallelujahs, I thought of us, mankind, the rescued ones. Hallelujah for this life, hallelujah for this mercy, hallelujah for every breath.

On Moses and the Red Sea:So in the middle of the night they were thinkin’, it would be really nice if this wasn’t a lake. And then! Oh, MORNING! The sun was shining.

The simplicity of her faith captures me. She speaks of the impossible as though it were not impossible. “Oh Lord, it would be really nice if you could make a way through here.” And then, without hesitation, “Yes Lord! Glorious morning! You have done it!”

And we are the rescued ones again.

On David and Goliath:Well this one just kept getting bigger and bigger and that one got smaller and smaller.”

He is the Lord of paradox. In Him, our fears are packed up into tiny light burdens, and in place of our weakness, strength grows.

On Daniel and the lions:They pushed the lions in the hole. And on the morning they could hear them all roaring.”

We’ve heard this story a thousand times, so it’s lost its terror and miraculousness to us. But think of the roar — the dread! — and the way that sound must have punctuated the horror-filled air. But redemption — and rescue — was right around the corner.

On the nativity:God has to ride a donkey. Then the tiny baby was born and it was a boy. Then they had to bring gifts because it was Jesus.”

God, made man. God with us. God among us.

On the gospels: “She touched his coat and didn’t have to be sorry. And he put mud on his eyes. And he loves all the children, all the children. The END.”

She touched his coat – and didn’t have to be sorry! Condemnation, gone. Shame, gone. Guilt, gone, every last drop.

We’re the forgiven, lifted up.

The downtrodded, lifted up.

The tired, lifted up.

We are the rescued ones, the freed.

She was done reading, but the next day, she tugged on my hand, and looked up at me.

Toddler's Interpretation of Bible Stories via Oaxacaborn

Mama?” she said, “Sometimes when we don’t realize it, God and Jesus and the angels — they have wings — are helping us.

Out of the mouths of babes, child, out of the mouths of babes.

POETRY & WORDS :: In which we suddenly start school


2 - Preschool at Home - Oaxacaborn blog

Today, under the cover of an indecisive grey-and-blue sky on an otherwise uneventful morning, Aveline I got out the books and she started preschool.

This wasn’t a part of any grand scheme or as a result of any thought-out plans I had for March 2014. In fact, I kind of imagined her in a little class in the near future. But this was — is — a part of life and its ebb and flow; part of the surges and the pauses that make up this winding road.

4 - Preschool at Home - Oaxacaborn blog

For weeks now, I haven’t been able to keep her in printables. She’d trace the letters and numbers as soon as printed the worksheets, begging for more numbers, more letters, more words, asking “What’s it mean? What’s it mean? How many numbers is this? What’s it say?”

So I kept printing out worksheets, and in a moment of desperation while ordering preschool workbooks and realizing she wasn’t eligible for Pre-K until Fall 2015, I fired up kids’ Mandarin lessons on YouTube as a diversion.

While we waited for book orders to arrive, she latched onto Chinese. One week in, she requested miàn tiáo [noodles] for dinner. Two weeks in, she woke up singing Happy Birthday in Chinese.

5 - Preschool at Home - Oaxacaborn blog

See, the thing about kids is, they’re kind of unpredictable. We can make plans about what we think we might do with them, how we think they might act, what we think they might like, and when it’s all going to happen — but the truth is, we have no idea. Absolutely no idea.

The last of the workbooks came in the mail yesterday, as well as Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons and Practical Chinese (the last book is a little advanced for her right now, but I need a guidebook for myself).

3 - Preschool at Home - Oaxacaborn blog

Right away this morning, before I had even gotten out of bed, a small person appeared at my bedside, asking to trace letters and do school. And so, after breakfast, we began this journey into phonics and reading, counting and math, characters and pinyin.

A month ago, I wouldn’t have predicted this time to come so soon. But I love the places life takes us, and I love watching as my daughter’s distinct self emerges. She’s her own person; she is not me. (Note to self: I think this is probably an important point worth hanging on to as she grows older.) Right now, she’s here in front of me, looking to me and asking me to guide her. And when (i.e., every single day) I feel the weight of this sacred responsibility, I can ask wisdom of One who freely gives.

And He will meet me, He will answer me, and He will sustain me.

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some links above are “affiliate links” provided in conjunction with my participation in Amazon.com’s Associates Program. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. I only recommend products or services I use personally, and I will always disclose any such links. Please note: this does NOT mean that the above is a sponsored post. I am NOT associated in any way with the products or companies linked above, and no person or agency has asked me to write on their behalf.  

POETRY & WORDS :: In death, life becomes everything


Death, in all its soul-wrenching grief, gives perspective

When there is a death, it rattles you.

The very fact of life, previously neglected beneath the raging urgent tyranny of tasks, grows larger and larger until it fills the room and becomes the one thing you see coursing through everything.

And in the grieving silence that’s followed Holly’s death, I’ve never been so aware of my ability to see and hear and feel the heartbeat of everyone in the room. Life never seemed so obvious, so mysterious, so frustratingly completely and entirely out of my control.

In the faces around me, over and over and over again, I saw only this: he is alive, she is alive, this one is alive. The very existence of life, once overlooked, became everything.

Death has reminded me that the frustrations and irritations which raise our ire and make us indignant — all those situations which cause us to lash out and speak out and act out — precious few of those things actually matter. Death, in all its soul-wrenching grief and sorrow, shows us perspective.

While the wave crashes over me and I can’t see the sky for the watery canopy, I grasp snippets of this: others over pride. Others over self. This moment, because you’re not guaranteed the next. This child, because she’s on loan. This man, because our days are numbered and written in a book.

I want this to be her legacy in my life.

I want to listen more than I speak, and I want to stop jumping up so quickly, boxing gloves donned, ready to fight.

Like my friend Andrea says, “I can say what I want about theology, doctrine, justice, right and wrong and so on, but at the end of the day, when the fires are dying, it’s clear we were all created by One and placed on one earth, under one sky, on one planet. …There is only one man who came to this earth, and was not entirely made up of the stuff of this earth, and it’s Him that I want to get my fire from. It’s His light I want to see in the stars; his stories that were told fireside that I want to find in my own.”

It’s life that matters, it’s people who are alive, and this earth is where I am.

I want to make it count.

POETRY & WORDS :: The Fog and the Quiet


It doesn't happen very often that the fog and the quiet coincide - via the Oaxacaborn blog

It doesn’t happen very often that the fog and the quiet coincide. Not here. Here was not a place for fog. Who ever heard of Atlantic fog, anyway? Not here, not wedged between the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic, on a slab of land as smooth and flat as, well, a swamp.

The fog didn’t pause here often, and definitely never on little cat feet.

The quiet didn’t pause here often, either, not inside or outside. Outside were layers of neighbors and four-footed bark machines who were wound up each morning and set on loop on loop on loop to run from nine until five, reset every time little cat feet or brown-clad parcel delivery men trotted by merely to raise their ire.

No, the fog and the quiet were infrequent visitors, welcomed gladly by some — mostly the out-of-staters — but exploited as breaking news by the hurricane-worn meteorologists to whom category five is just another day but fog — oh fog! — is a newsworthy anomaly.

But on this morning, briefly, a curtain of twisted fog and quiet drifted in and rested lightly overhead, an undulating curtain of phantom peaks and ridges — a nod to mountains where there were none — lifting, waving, turning, spreading its long white wings over the earth.

But no one, except for the Pacific-coast natives and the meteorologists, saw it.

Impatient drivers and tired commuters lined up at the toll both, honking out of sync while fumbling with quarters and dimes, eyes seeing only just past the windshield, driving like automatons only as far as the timecard required, hearing nothing but the cubicle chatter, until it was time to return again, back out through the fog, to the layers of noise which switched gears at five.

POETRY & WORDS :: We were created to know beauty beyond what our senses can take in


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We see it in the burst of green which sprouts up from a thick, decaying layer of broken leaves in the spring. It fills our hearts the way of vase of daffodils fills a room, like a smile brightening every line of the face of the one you love after a long, long absence.

This is beauty.

And mountains and sunsets and the magnetic tide, beautiful songs and lilting poetry, and laughter, clear like bells; these are beauty. These things lift our spirits. They buoy us; they bring happiness. We’re created to see this, to breathe this, to be enveloped in this.

We were created to know beauty beyond what our senses can take in.

And all of this earthly beauty — a fire-tinged sky, the quiet breathing of a sleeping child,  velvet buds on a tangled vine — all this great, overwhelming, everywhere beauty is reflection of the One, the author of good, the divine Creator of all things bright and beautiful.

POETRY & WORDS :: She’s outside of time. We’re in it.


One week and three days. That’s how long it’s been since Holly left this earth. Thirty years she lived on this side of eternal life.

“We are not alone / We are more than flesh and bone / What is seen will pass away / What is not is going home…” -Andrew Peterson

Donations to Ethopian school  Ziway Adami Tulu in memory of Holly Lutterman[Donate in Holly's memory to the The Ziway + Adami Tulu Project]

And now, she’s home.

She’s dancing in the pure Light, healed. 

She’s outside of time. We’re in it. She’s free, and we’re trapped, feeling deeply the ebb and flow of new grief, constantly aware of life’s frailty.

The thing about death, you know, is that the living keep on living.

“The living can’t quit living,” Wendell Berry writes. “They can’t because they don’t. The light that shines into darkness and never goes out calls them on into life. It calls them back again into the great room. It calls them into their bodies and into the world, into whatever the world will require. It calls them into work and pleasure, goodness and beauty, and the company of other loved ones.”

And so we can’t quit. We don’t. We keep on, changed. Our perspectives shift, our priorities shift, our vision is altered. But we don’t quit.

We mourn, but not without hope. We grieve, but not without hope.

Hope is the anchor.

Hope points me to the “holy shores of uncreated light“, and the One who lights the way.

“‘Praise, Praise!’ I croak. Praise God for all that’s holy, cold, and dark. Praise him for all we lose, for all the river of the years bears off. Praise him for stillness in the wake of pain. Praise him for emptiness. And as you race to spill into the sea, praise him yourself, old Wear. Praise him for dying and the peace of death.

…Now that I can hardly walk, I crawl to meet him there. He takes me in his chilly lap to wash me of my sins. Or I kneel down beside him till within his depths I see a star.

Sometimes this star is still. Sometimes she dances. She is [Holly]‘s star. Within that little pool of Wear she winks at me. I wink at her. The secret that we share I cannot tell in full. But this much I will tell. What’s lost is nothing to what’s found, and all the death that ever was, set next to life, would scarcely fill a cup.” -Frederick Buechner

POETRY & WORDS :: It is early in the days of new grief


The grief will change usIt is early in the days of new grief, and the sorrow comes in waves, tidal, like the roaring surge of surf just before the crash, just before the sea glass scatters, rearranged, just before the shelled critters scurry backwards into the sand.

I lie awake in the stillness, awake until just before the periwinkle dawn. I’m afraid to close my eyes because I don’t want to forget. In the morning, I blink, I sit up, and for eight fleeting, transitory seconds, I’ve forgotten. Then the grief crashes in, then I remember, and the flood of tears roll down.

Maybe the grief will always come like the ocean’s tide, glistening like December topaz, glistening like the salty water that rearranged the Klamath coast every year. The river ran through it, always shifting, always flowing, always shaping the earth around it. Some years the driftwood arranged itself into gentle patterns and the sands fell smooth, sloping down gently into the brackish river. And some years the dunes rose high, and the winds whipped, and the gnarled branches of petrified wood were tangled in between the constant rise and fall of frothy waves.

Like the river against the stones, the ocean against the glass, and the mouth of the ocean against the changing shore, the grief will change me.

It will change us.

Every year, it will look different.

The river will continue to ebb and flow, the shoreline will be carved and smoothed, the waters will rise and fall, the glass will be broken and polished, the winds will breathe in and out.

He makes all things beautiful in His time.

LITTLE STYLE :: When it comes to LEGO® bricks, pink is just another color


Modern legos for girls

This is my daughter. That is her LEGO collection.

You may notice a light smattering of pink.

Ah, pink. Nothing gets bloggers’ undies in a bunch faster than the mention of pink LEGO bricks. I might even lose my blogger card.

Can you imagine the kerfuffle in 1962 when LEGO introduced motors? The audacity! The nerve! The beginning of the end of children’s creativity!

Thankfully, there were no bloggers in 1962.

So, let’s skip forward a bit and start where most of the LEGO diatribes begin: the now infamous 1981 LEGO ad. It’s completely endearing and delightful! And it advertised universal building sets. The universal building sets were awesome.

LEGO 1981 ad

But pink bricks alone hardly will destroy a girl’s — or boy’s for that matter — childhood.

Pink is just a color.

By vilifying pink LEGO sets, we give a color (a color!) far more power than it ever should have. When we gasp at pink bricks, we’re saying the toy is more powerful than the imagination of the child playing with it.

Let’s chill out. It’s just pink. And besides, this color isn’t the worst thing Lego is introducing to our children. I present to you . . . The Simpsons in LEGO form, coming February 2014.

So, let it go. Shake your pinkophobia out.

In a few more days we’ll all have something else to blog out.

New Legos are not harming little girls. Pink is just a color