The words get lost in the days, lost in the shuffle between high tide and low tide — the choreographed swap of sand and sea — lost in the couch cushions, like copper coins, lost in the fray, lost in the routine between breakfast and sunset.
This, of course, is exactly when I should be writing. Words are spun from the gossamer threads which wrap around our days. I can see them, glinting, drenched from the downpour, drenched from the puddles, drenched from the spray.
“You write while you are alive”, Anaïs Nin said. “You do not preserve them [living moments] in alcohol until the moment you are ready to write about them.”
And so, alive, I write.
We stick pins in a map and wonder which one will hold. We squint at the horizon and see mountains through the mirage, and yet, the pillar stands still. The life of a sojourner is not a rhythm of motion and stillness, like the poets would have you believe. Sometimes, there is no rhythm. Sometimes it is abrupt, sometimes it is whiplash, sometimes it is an awkward slow dance, a holding pattern at best. Sometimes, you fold up your belongings into a square, and load the truck, and don’t look back when every inch of you longs to cling to the roots you tried to push into the broken ground. But most of the time, you stand.
You stand even when your feet so dearly ache to run.
I’m running a little behind on this, but what do you think? Can we pull off a Midsummer [blog] party in time? I’m thinking something in the spirit of the Scandinavian Christmas series — but all Midsummer! If you have photos, blog posts from past summers, traditions, crafts, resources or anything else Midsummer-related to share, email me oaxacaborn @gmail.com. I can’t wait!
Image credit: Jason Florio for The New York Times
Last night, I sat in a church and listened to Zambian children sing. And I heard something I’ve never heard before. No, not the sound of a drum sans drumsticks, not the sound of the soaring notes.
Actually, it wasn’t a song at all.
Each of the kids — students at the Lifesong for Orphans school in Zambia — shared their favorite school subjects, dreams, and favorite passages of Scripture. It was an endearingly real moment — stuttering, laughter, forgetting words. One girl recited Psalm 23 from beginning to end, another quoted Romans.
But then it was the smallest boy’s turn to speak. And he leaned into to the microphone and looked into the crowd. “My favorite verse is Matthew 35 verse 25″, he said in halting English. “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in.”
Oh, my heart!
It’s one of those verses we’ve read a hundred times, isn’t it? But honestly? When was the last time you heard a friend say it was their favorite verse? It’s a passage we’re familiar with, but not a passage we’re accustomed to seeing highlighted and memorized and repeated and claimed as a personal promise and emblazoned on t-shirts and bookmarks and greeting cards.
But this is Jesus. This is real. He’s among us — feeding, loving, caring, doing.
Sometimes, I think we lose that connection between Jesus-the-Ethereal-Being and Jesus-the-Man. I think we lose the connection between hypothetical love and practical, get-your-hands-dirty, work-hard love. We over-spiritualize it. We complicate it and organize it and delegate it and analyze it and create ministries for it and philosophize about it and invent words about it.
But it was a real, I’m-right-there-with-you, here-is-a-meal, here-is-a-bed kind of love that spoke to this boy’s heart.
It’s what Jesus’ love,
and present, looks like.
And I never want to forget it.
“Sometimes the best way to bring good news to the poor is to bring actual good news to the poor. It appears a good way to bring relief to the oppressed is to bring real relief to the oppressed. It’s almost like Jesus meant what He said. When you’re desperate, usually the best news you can receive is food, water, shelter. These provisions communicate God’s presence infinitely more than a tract or Christian performance in the local park. They convey, ‘God loves you so dearly, He sent people to your rescue.'” -Jen Hatmaker
I have an exciting giveaway for you today, friends — one of you is going to win a $100 shopping spree to JCPenney! If you’re like me, you may not always make time to shop for yourself, but if you win this gift card, then you’ll have no excuse. ; ) What would you buy if you won? (There are lots of great JCPenney shopping ideas here.)
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Giveaway ends in one week, on Saturday, 17 May 2014, at midnight Pacific standard time. I’ll personally mail the gift card to the winner shortly thereafter, via USPS. Good luck!
Image Credit: Josiah Munsey / 26PM.com
Disclosure of Material Relationship: I received a gift card for myself and one to give away to Oaxacaborn readers in exchange for participating in the #Momisms campaign and hosting this giveaway. I was not required to present or promote any specific products. All the photographs, opinions, and experiences shared here are in my own words and are my own honest evaluation. Please be assured, I only accept sponsorship opportunities for brands I personally use and/or would recommend to close friends and family, and I will always disclose any such relationships.
In the blogging world, everything gets so narrow sometimes. The same trends and colors and patterns — and even the same images — get passed around over and over. This can be a great tool within a specific genre (blogging tends to reveal trends), but all the sameness stifles creativity and originality. That’s why I love looking outside of the United States for inspiration. Clothing, decor, and even photography styles vary so much from culture to culture! If we want to expand our own imagination and bring something new to the creative world, it’s vitally important to explore inspiration beyond what’s currently trendy in our own circles. Plus, new inspiration is just plain fun!
What about you — would you wear any of these looks?
Monday’s post about choosing joy in the rain was barely posted when I had the opportunity to live it. That’s the way it works, isn’t it? It’s like telling God you’d like to be a more patient person — and then ::wham!:: many opportunities to practice patience appear before your eyes.
April went out with a monsoon, inside and outside. Outside, a diluvial sheet of water bent and twisted and contorted, darkening the sky, punctuated with electric bursts of thunder. Inside, an email quietly said no to something we all had hoped for.
It wasn’t until after the Flood that hope arrived. It wasn’t until everything drowned and the rains stopped and the earth heaved under the weight of the water that the rainbow appeared. It wasn’t until then that the olive branch soared across the horizon and into view.
“Now let the music keep
our spirits high
And let the buildings keep
our children dry
Let creation reveal its secrets
by and by, by and by
When the light that’s lost within us
reaches the sky
…And when the sand was gone
and the time arrived…
And in attempts to understand a thing
so simple and so huge
believed that they were meant to live
after the deluge.” -Jackson Browne
Sometimes, I get lost in the tyranny of the urgent. Lost in the chores and the clutter and the cooking and the cycle of washing, drying, folding. I get lost and forget that all around is beauty, even inside these four walls. We were created to know beauty, and it’s worth every bit of conscious effort to choose to see it, even in the whirlwind. The Weepies knew this when they sang, “All this beauty…You can ask about it, but nobody knows the way. No bread-crumb trail to follow through your days. It takes an axe sometimes, a feather, in the sunshine and bad weather. It’s a matter of getting deeper in anyway you can…All this beauty; you might have to close your eyes and slowly open wide.”
I believe in making a beautiful home, something I learned from my mother (although I’m nowhere nearly as good at it as she is). “Anything can be made beautiful”, she always told me, “though a combination of cleaning and contentment.” And she proved this, too, over and over and over again throughout the years.
Maybe you have a mother like that too, someone who has always managed to create peacefulness and a sense of home and beauty no matter what. Or maybe you have a mom who whips up magic in the kitchen, or throws the best parties, or has endless athletic energy, or is always on top of the fashion game. (Honestly, isn’t Supermom a little bit of all that and more?)
Keeping everything a mom does in mind — and with an eye toward seeing beauty in the whirlwind — I’ve teamed up with JCPenney to bring you gift ideas for any kind of mom.
#JCPHostMom | 1. Lantern | 2. Copper Bowl | 3. Plates | 4. Card
#JCPFitnessMom | 5. Yoga Mat | 6. Tote | 7. Hair Tie | 8. Towel
#JCPDecorMom | 9. Basket | 10. Rug | 11. Pillow | 12. Art |
#JCPChefMom | 13. KitchenAid | 14. Eat | 15. Cucina | 16. Tray | 17. Bowls | 18. Mortar & Pestle
#JCPTrendyMom | 19. Lace Tee | 20. Bracelet | 21. Bag | 22. Pants
Even MORE gift ideas | JCPenney Mother’s Day Hub
This week, I’ve also joined JCPenney in tweeting little snippets of motherly advice. Being a total rookie in the mom department, it probably comes as no surprise that my quips have been of the “Don’t suction-cup the dog”, “Don’t lick the sidewalk”, and “Don’t stick potato chips in the outlets” variety. But you can use the #momisms hashtag to tweet your own, much wiser motherly gems of wisdom — and you’ll be entered to win one of several $100 gift cards JCPenney is giving away, so YOU can buy a little something for yourself!
(Pssst…a little secret? Don’t worry if you aren’t one of the winners of the #Momisms sweepstakes, because I will host a separate $100 gift card giveaway here very soon. Sign up for Oaxacaborn email updates so you won’t miss it when it goes live!)
Leave me a comment on this post letting me know which of the items above is your favorite. Since I curated the list, I can safely say….I love them all!
Disclosure of Material Relationship: I received compensation in exchange for promoting JCPenney’s #Momisms Sweepstakes/Giveaway. I personally selected all the items displayed in this curated guide, and was not required to present any specific products as gift ideas. All the opinions and experiences shared here are in my own words and are my own honest evaluation. Please be assured, I only accept sponsorship opportunities for brands I personally use and/or would recommend to close friends and family, and I will always disclose any such relationships.
Spring here doesn’t approach slowly with neon green buds or opening blossoms. There is no fading ice, no crocuses or daffodils. Spring here is akin to a lobster in a pot of water, temperature unconsciously leaping upward, a baptism by immersion of drenched air and torrential rain until the whole wet world is submerged.
There is one month left between us and hurricane season, between us and and daily electrical storms. One month left until the six-month stretch of tropical storms begin and the canned goods stack up under the countertop and the gallons of water in the closet are restocked and clocks are reset by the rhythm of cyclical thunder and the afternoons are spent inside.
Inside, outside, inside, outside, inside.
One month left until the sidewalks are rivers and the windows are our constant view to the outside deluge.
I want to see beauty in it this year. I want to see beauty in the spongey grass and the low skies and the waterlogged earth and the thick roadside ponds and the one single shade of green coating it all. I want to see it for what it is, rather than what it is not. It is not the thin high skies specked with pollen and pine resin and wildfire, it’s not the sun-baked clay earth that shatters into a million immobile pieces every summer, it’s not twisted oak silhouettes or mountain ridges. The sunsets are pastel, not copper, but we are the same people here as we are anywhere.
This is a journey of becoming, after all, and a journey is not where you put on the skids and claw and pound your tent stakes in deeper and rage against the rain. Sojourning means you tend to your fires and your campsite wherever you are, keeping the light alive from dawn to dusk, no matter if you’ll pull up stakes tonight or in three months or in a year. You pull your loves in closer, you keep your eyes to the light, and in the darkness you see the One who pulls the tides and pushes the moon and punctured heaven to give you stars has not failed you yet.
And so you tarry, and so you sojourn, and so you live.
“Philosophize eloquently about how children are better left in their native cultures and I will tell you from shared experience that children in orphanages do not live the culture of their country, but the culture of an alternate reality that only exists in institutions…
I am not ‘for’ international adoption. I am not against it. I am ‘for’ children having loving parents and being in homes where they have a support network. I am against children growing up in dormitories with change-out caregivers. I am against children being left without help simply because a legal definition of adulthood, in whichever country we are talking about, has been reached. ” -John M. Simmons
1. Fruit shop in Naples, Italy // Photograph by André Benedix on Flickr
2. Fish shop in Naples, Italy // Photograph by André Benedix on Flickr
3. Cafe in Seoul, South Korea // Photograph by handsforholding on Flickr
7. Fatbird Cafe in Bangkok, Thailand // Photograph via BKKMenu
8. Hara Donuts (하라 도너츠) in Seoul, South Korea // Photograph by the Seoul is for Lovers blog
9. Purple garlic stall in St-Vivien-de-Médoc, France, during Market Day // Photograph by Oddur Thorisson for Manger
10. Bakery in Ghent, Belgium // Photograph by klaartje on Flickr
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.
“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.”
We 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.
“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.”
“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.”