POETRY & WORDS :: I was a stranger & you invited me in


Image Credit: LifeSong for Orphans - Zambia Children's Choir / Celebrate Life Concert Tour

Image Credit: LifeSong for Orphans – Zambia Children’s Choir / Celebrate Life Concert Tour

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,
made human
and tangible
and touchable
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

About these ads

JCPenney Giveaway :: Enter to win a $100 Gift Card


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.)

#JCPstyle on the Oaxacaborn blog - This pin is an entry to win $100 to spend at JCPenney! Click for details
#JCPstyle on the Oaxacaborn blog - This pin is an entry to win $100 to spend at JCPenney! Click for details
#JCPstyle on the Oaxacaborn blog - This pin is an entry to win $100 to spend at JCPenney! #JCPstyle on the Oaxacaborn blog - This pin is an entry to win $100 to spend at JCPenney! Click for details

Get the Look #1

Dance tank | Cuffed pants | Wedges, similar here and here

#JCPstyle on the Oaxacaborn blog - This pin is an entry to win $100 to spend at JCPenney! Click for details #JCPstyle on the Oaxacaborn blog - This pin is an entry to win $100 to spend at JCPenney! Click for details 2 - JCPstyle on the Oaxacaborn blog - JCPenney Giveaway JCPstyle on the Oaxacaborn blog - JCPenney Giveaway

Get the Look #2

Racerback tank, similar here | Hi-lo skirt | Shoes, similar here

ENTER TO WIN A $100 GIFT CARD

To enter, comment on this post!

Comment below and tell me, what would you buy at JCPenney? (1 entry – required)
AND let me know which of the following entries, if any, you’ve done.

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.

INSPIRATION :: Spring/Summer ’14 from Japanese Fashion Label FRAPBOIS


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!

These images from Japanese brand FRAPBOIS (I blogged about their Fall line last September) will have you rethinking pattern and color.

9 - Frapbois SS14 - as seen on Oaxacaborn
8 - Frapbois SS14 - as seen on Oaxacaborn
7 - Frapbois SS14 - as seen on Oaxacaborn
6 - Frapbois SS14 - as seen on Oaxacaborn
5 - Frapbois SS14 - as seen on Oaxacaborn
4 - Frapbois SS14 - as seen on Oaxacaborn
3 - Frapbois SS14 - as seen on Oaxacaborn
2 - Frapbois SS14 - as seen on Oaxacaborn
1 - Frapbois SS14 - as seen on Oaxacaborn
Frapbois SS14 - as seen on Oaxacaborn

What about you — would you wear any of these looks?

POETRY & WORDS :: After the Deluge


30 April 2014- Daydreaming Afternoon Rain

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.

Inside, outside, inside, outside.

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

INSPIRATION :: A Curated Mother’s Day Gift Guide


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.

A @JCPenney #Momisms Mother's Day Gift Guide curated by the Oaxacaborn blog // #JCPHostMom #JCPFitnessMom #JCPDecorMom #JCPChefMom #JCPTrendyMom

#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.

POETRY & WORDS :: Inside Outside


LIFE IN PHOTOS :: Inside Outside, a post on the Oaxacaborn blog

LIFE IN PHOTOS :: Inside Outside, a post on the Oaxacaborn blog

LIFE IN PHOTOS :: Inside Outside, a post on the Oaxacaborn blog

LIFE IN PHOTOS :: Inside Outside, a post on the Oaxacaborn blog

LIFE IN PHOTOS :: Inside Outside, a post on the Oaxacaborn blog

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.

ADOPTION :: “I am not ‘for’ international adoption. I am not against it.”


Artist_Hands_WEB

“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

READ MORE from Why the Decline in International Adoptions on the Huffington Post

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

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
10 Toast UK Catalogue Women April 14
8 Toast UK Catalogue Women April 14
6 Toast UK Catalogue Women April 14
5 Toast UK Catalogue Women April 14
9 Toast UK Catalogue Women April 14
4 Toast UK Catalogue Women April 14
3 Toast UK Catalogue Women April 14
2 Toast UK Catalogue Women April 14
1 Toast UK Catalogue Women April 14
7 Toast UK Catalogue Women April 14
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.