POETRY & WORDS :: The Autumn Liturgy of Rest


POETRY & WORDS :: The Autumn Liturgy of Rest (from the Oaxacaborn blog)

I’m drawn to the changing of the seasons, the time of the year when everything is on the cusp and the old world starts dying and the new world starts coming on [1]. ( Each new day does this too, but the rising sun doesn’t bring out the poetry in me.  Maybe that’s why I’m drawn to liturgical holidays— this neat and tidy slicing up of seasons, tied to the calendar but not the clock.

It’s a reminder that mercy is new, always.)

And I like the changing of the seasons for the nudge to pause and breathe. It’s a time to take stock of whether or not frenetic busyness has creeped in, unnoticed, encroaching on our calm and peaceful margins.  Margin is important to me. Margin is vital. I cannot thrive without margin.

In the 1990s, Dr. Richard Swenson wrote about this in his book “The Overload Syndrome: Learning to Live Within Your Limits“, saying, “We must have some room to breathe. We need freedom to think and permission to heal. Our relationships are being starved to death by velocity. No one has the time to listen, let alone love. Our children lay wounded on the ground, run over by our high-speed good intentions. Is God now pro-exhaustion? Doesn’t He lead people beside the still waters anymore?”

POETRY & WORDS :: The Autumn Liturgy of Rest (from the Oaxacaborn blog)

The changing of the seasons, for me, means a reminder to cultivate those still waters in my own home. I have good intentions, of course, but they are prone to slip, and the seasons give me pause to reconsider whether I am still being intentional about my goals of rest.

Rest doesn’t happen on its own. We must fight for rest.

There’s no escaping it this time of year in Eastern Europe and in the American North. The leaves surge with one last burst of chlorophyll, summer’s flowers tuck their heads, and heirloom rugs are rolled up and beaten outside, clearing the stage for fall, scouring the home for winter, and steeling one’s heart against the coming wintry blast. All of nature is preparing for the quieter, slower season.

POETRY & WORDS :: The Autumn Liturgy of Rest (from the Oaxacaborn blog)

There’s no such meteorological shift in the climate, here.  I’ve never seen anyone take a rug out of the front door to clean it. But the days are lengthening, even if the air plants still cling to the palm trunks, and the egrets never stop sifting through the marshes for brunch.  But I don’t need an obvious equinox outdoors to prepare my home and heart for the autumnal shift, setting out pumpkins on the stoop, simmering ginger and spice on the stove, singing along to my favorite music, and pressing vinyl cling leaves up against the window panes.

This takes time and intention — and more often than not, it takes saying no to things, even good things.  You might feel silly saying “no” to that extra event, that meet-up, that task you’re not even obligated to do for the committee. You might feel self-conscious regularly scheduling in an entire day (or a week!) to breath in the scent of the autumn blend wafting out of the diffuser, stash away the clutter and close the laundry closet doors, pick up the toys off the floor and switch out the bathroom hand soaps. After all, tomorrow, the laundry doors will be open again, the LEGOs will be strewn — but you know what else? Tomorrow, the leaves on the window panes will catch your eye and the lingering aroma of clove and cinnamon will still flutter in and out of the curtains. And there’s a certain transforming power this has on the heart. Somehow, I find that when the house is clean, when corners of the home hint at  the changing season, I feel more calm and purposeful.

I suppose this is a way of presenting a visible reminder of worship before my eyes.  And in the autumn especially, when all of creation is storing and stockpiling and preparing to slow for hibernation, this visible reminder of worship pulls me into the present, and slows me. It’s easier to sit down and drink in the Word, when the clutter isn’t pulling my attention away. It’s easier to help my daughter navigate that non-stop brain of hers, when I’m not stressed over the neglected housework.

POETRY & WORDS :: The Autumn Liturgy of Rest (from the Oaxacaborn blog)

No, I’m not perfect. I haven’t learned this art  yet. My home is not a spotless showcase. I know a slower rhythm doesn’t solve the pressing problems of the world. This doesn’t instantly heal what hurts. We are real, and real people are messy people. But real people can also be purposeful people, fighting for what matters.

Preparing our homes and hearts for the season sets the stage for contentment, and for cultivating margin. That makes a big, big difference.

You see, it is difficult to pursue purpose without margin.

It is difficult to even complete tasks effectively — to say nothing of cheerfully or contentedly — without margin.

Dr. Swenson told the story of how at one point before his epiphany of rest, he was so overwhelmed, overloaded, over-scheduled and burnt out as a physician that he actually deeply resented his patients for being sick. I find in my own life, that in times of marginless frenzy, I resent my tasks as a wife, mother, and full-time educator (that last one takes up every waking hour — can you relate?)

But I refuse to glorify “busyness”.  I refuse to put “busyness” on a pedestal. I’d much rather fight for margin and rest, wouldn’t you?

It’s not a popular choice. Possibly, fighting for rest for your family might put you in uncomfortable situations. It might make you unpopular for a time. But it will also make you peace-filled.

Swenson writes of contentedness: “It has so little cultural traction that I don’t even hear it in casual conversation, let alone preached or praised. The word contented has been replaced by driven, aggressive, hungry, ruthless, relentless.

Taking a deeper look, however, we notice that contentment has been a principle in good standing throughout history, endorsed by philosophers, statesmen, men of letters and theologians of all religions. Even if times were marked by destitution, tragedy and pestilence; even if gutters were filled with beggars, doorways filled with prostitutes and people beat each other with chickens; still, contentment was lifted high. Thought leaders endorsed contentment as a source of hidden comfort and riches, treasured within a human heart despite circumstances.

It is only recently that contentment has fallen out of favor. With the escalating totalitarianism of progress and economics, something had to give, so contentment was replaced by unbridled ambition. No one stopped to have a memorial service nor slowed to light a candle.” [2]

This autumn, won’t you join me in making margin and rest your ambition? Let’s slow down together, and purpose to let our hearts rest in contentedness, no matter the storm outside.

I’ll light a candle  or three to that.

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INTERIOR DESIGN :: Home Office and Homeschool Room (in an Apartment with Limited Space)


Oaxacaborn's Homeschool Room (as featured in Babiekins Magazine print edition)

Oaxacaborn's Homeschool Room (as featured in Babiekins Magazine print edition)

Oaxacaborn's Homeschool Room (as featured in Babiekins Magazine print edition)

Several months ago, I had the exciting opportunity to style a practical workspace for Babiekins Magazine; one that would function both for working from home and homeschooling. (Previously, I had styled a global-themed kids bedroom, too.) Since we live in an apartment, I didn’t have a dedicated room to serve as a home office and school room, so I cleared one wall of our living room instead. And I really didn’t want it to be a primary color menagerie of school posters.

There are a few things I really like about this space. Of course the huge wall map is right up at the top of the list! And I love the big white rug to cover the rental carpet. But I also really love how the wardrobe from IKEA hides away the printer and all the messy office/school supplies — leaving room for “pretty things, my dear”. (Oliver Twist, anyone?) And the pine bench, another IKEA find, is amazingly comfortable, and is the perfect arrangement for my daughter and to work side-by-side.

You might notice there aren’t many books in these photos — our bookcases are actually stashed in various places throughout our apartment, so they didn’t all fit in these photos. But boy, do we have a lot of books. A LOT. (My husband is legitimately concerned about this. Don’t tell him each Sonlight core adds 50 or more, give or take a dozen.)

It’s no secret I’m in love with words. I love to try to untangle the words in my mind, and coax them into sentences no one has ever read before. I love to read the expertly-woven words of not just classic authors, but contemporary voices, too. The middle ages print from the late 1400s — showing the arduous process of writing a book in the 1100s — reminds me that it hasn’t always been easy for one’s voice to be heard. This reminder, along with the “Let Your Light Shine In the Darkness” poster, spurs me on to keep speaking out.

I’m so pleased with the way our homeschool room / home office turned out — it’s such a happy, inspiring, wonderful space. (All styling by me, Gina Munsey; and thanks to Priscilla Barbosa Photography for the images!)

Oaxacaborn's Homeschool Room (as featured in Babiekins Magazine print edition)

Oaxacaborn's Homeschool Room (as featured in Babiekins Magazine print edition)

Oaxacaborn's Homeschool Room (as featured in Babiekins Magazine print edition)

Oaxacaborn's Homeschool Room (as featured in Babiekins Magazine print edition)

Oaxacaborn's Homeschool Room (as featured in Babiekins Magazine print edition)

Oaxacaborn's Homeschool Room (as featured in Babiekins Magazine print edition)

Oaxacaborn's Homeschool Room (as featured in Babiekins Magazine print edition)

Oaxacaborn's Homeschool Room (as featured in Babiekins Magazine print edition)

Oaxacaborn's Homeschool Room (as featured in Babiekins Magazine print edition)

Oaxacaborn's Homeschool Room (as featured in Babiekins Magazine print edition)

Gina_Munsey_Sonlight_5

Oaxacaborn's Homeschool Room (as featured in Babiekins Magazine print edition)

You can catch this room in the special “#SCHOOLKINS: Books, Bugs & Discovery” interior design section of the 7th print issue of Babiekins Magazine, available here.  And if you have questions about any of the items shown, just leave a comment! :)


DESK :: Malm, c/o IKEA Orlando
WALL MAP :: National Geographic, via The Map Center

MAP RAILS :: c/o Posterhanger
PINE WARDROBE :: Nornäs used as bookshelf, c/o IKEA Orlando
PINE BENCH :: Nornäs, c/o IKEA Orlando
MOROCCAN SHAG RUG :: c/o Rugs USA
GLASS JAR :: Korken, via IKEA Orlando
CERAMIC VASE :: Stylist’s Own, from Mexico City
BAMBOO SPEAKERS :: c/o Otis & Eleanor
METAL LAMP and EDISON BULB :: c/o Lamps Plus
LET LIGHT SHINE PRINT :: Naptime Diaries
DESKTOP CACTUS & TROPICAL PLANT ::  Lowe’s
SPACEPACK BACKPACKS :: c/o lukids.ru
PRINT RAILS :: c/o Posterhanger
MIDDLE AGES PRINT  :: Matthaeus Platearius Writing “The Book of Simple Medicines” via AllPosters.com
NICHOLAS NICKLEBY PRINT :: Book Cover Print via AllPosters.com
ROW OF 3 PRINTS :: Emily McDowell Studio and Jessica Sprague Printables
LAMP and SHADE :: Target
COWHIDE ::  Koldby, c/o IKEA Orlando
BOOKCASE :: Billy, via IKEA Orlando

PERCH CHAIR :: c/o Room & Board
STUDENT DESK :: Flash Furniture Desk with Metal Book Box, via Amazon

Disclosure of Material Connection: Any Amazon links you encounter 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 a small affiliate commission. Amazon.com has not required me to place these links, nor do they have any control over which resources I choose to share. Please be assured, only the Amazon links above are affiliate links. None of the other links in this post are affiliate programs.. Of course I only recommend products or services I use personally, and I will always disclose any such links in a disclaimer such as this one.

To receive an update in your inbox each time I publish a post, click here.

#OAXACABORNREADS // The Lucky Bamboo Book of Crafts: Over 100 Projects and Ideas Celebrating Chinese Culture


#OAXACABORNREADS // The Lucky Bamboo Book of Crafts: Over 100 Projects and Ideas Celebrating Chinese Culture

#OAXACABORNREADS // The Lucky Bamboo Book of Crafts: Over 100 Projects and Ideas Celebrating Chinese Culture

If you’re teaching your kids Mandarin Chinese and are looking for a hands-on way to supplement the lessons, or if you’re searching for summer kids’ craft projects which are also culturally and historically relevant, you’ll love this book. Now that Chinese school is out for the summer, we’re looking forward to creating shadow puppets, lanterns, traditional knots, banners, and even a floating dragon boat — all from the instructions and templates in the “Lucky Bamboo Book of Crafts”!

Author Jennifer DeCristoforo has provided clear, illustrated, step-by-step instructions for each project; she also explains how the craft relates to Chinese culture. Throughout the book, “Did You Know?” sidebars entertain and inform, and photographs and art provide insight into traditional art forms.

Each craft is given a Level 1 through Level 4 designation to mark the difficulty. Level 1 crafts can be attempted by 3- to 6-year-olds, while a Level 4 activity is ideal for 12- to 15-year olds. Regardless of complexity, the directions remain simple and engaging, with  illustrations and icons to aid the crafter. Where intricate designs — or Chinese characters — are required to complete a project, the book’s appendix contains all the reproducible templates needed (this is a huge plus!)

And the book lends itself well to actual, practical use, because the practical spiral-binding means the book easily stays open and lies flat, and the hardcover and thick, glossy pages hold up against heavy wear.

This book really is a celebration. Jennifer DeCristoforo’s daughter was adopted from China in 2003, and “Lucky Bamboo Book of Crafts: Over 100 Projects and Ideas Celebrating Chinese Culture” is a beautiful tribute to her heritage.

You can purchase the “Lucky Bamboo Book of Crafts” on Amazon, or order directly from Jennifer, so more of the proceeds go to the author and not to Amazon. ;)

If you want to see even more book recommendations, follow my Instagram account, @oaxacaborn, and watch for the #oaxacabornreads hashtag. To receive an update in your inbox each time I publish a post, click here.

Happy summer of crafting!

#OAXACABORNREADS // The Lucky Bamboo Book of Crafts: Over 100 Projects and Ideas Celebrating Chinese Culture

#OAXACABORNREADS // The Lucky Bamboo Book of Crafts: Over 100 Projects and Ideas Celebrating Chinese Culture

#OAXACABORNREADS // The Lucky Bamboo Book of Crafts: Over 100 Projects and Ideas Celebrating Chinese Culture

#OAXACABORNREADS // The Lucky Bamboo Book of Crafts: Over 100 Projects and Ideas Celebrating Chinese Culture

#OAXACABORNREADS // The Lucky Bamboo Book of Crafts: Over 100 Projects and Ideas Celebrating Chinese Culture

WEB_13_Oaxacaborn_Lucky-Bamboo-Book-of-Crafts_Chinese-Crafts

WEB_4_Oaxacaborn_Lucky-Bamboo-Book-of-Crafts_Chinese-Crafts

#OAXACABORNREADS // The Lucky Bamboo Book of Crafts: Over 100 Projects and Ideas Celebrating Chinese Culture

#OAXACABORNREADS // The Lucky Bamboo Book of Crafts: Over 100 Projects and Ideas Celebrating Chinese Culture

WEB_20_Oaxacaborn_Lucky-Bamboo-Book-of-Crafts_Chinese-Crafts

#OAXACABORNREADS // The Lucky Bamboo Book of Crafts: Over 100 Projects and Ideas Celebrating Chinese Culture

#OAXACABORNREADS // The Lucky Bamboo Book of Crafts: Over 100 Projects and Ideas Celebrating Chinese Culture

#OAXACABORNREADS // The Lucky Bamboo Book of Crafts: Over 100 Projects and Ideas Celebrating Chinese Culture

#OAXACABORNREADS // The Lucky Bamboo Book of Crafts: Over 100 Projects and Ideas Celebrating Chinese Culture

#OAXACABORNREADS // The Lucky Bamboo Book of Crafts: Over 100 Projects and Ideas Celebrating Chinese Culture

#OAXACABORNREADS // The Lucky Bamboo Book of Crafts: Over 100 Projects and Ideas Celebrating Chinese Culture

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Disclosure of Material Relationship: I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for publishing this post. All the photographs, opinions, and experiences shared here are in my own words and are my own honest evaluation. I was not required to write a positive review. Of course I only recommend products or services I use personally, and I will always disclose any sponsorships or exchanges in a disclaimer such as this one. Any Amazon links you encounter 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 a small affiliate commission. Amazon.com has not required me to place these links, nor do they have any control over which resources I choose to share.

Learning

POETRY & WORDS / HOMESCHOOLING :: Why a Global Perspective is an Essential Part of a Christian Worldview


Gina_Munsey_Sonlight_2Gina_Munsey_Sonlight_5

I’ve always loved maps — the delicate wandering lines, the stars and circles hovering over city centers, the softly-worn paper folds creating ridges and peaks where the creases bisect latitude and longitude.

Maps, to me, are about more than just distance.

Maps hold stories, and remind me how connected we all are.

I’m thrilled to say you can read more of my thoughts on this over on the Sonlight Curriculum blog, where I recently had the chance to talk more about the human connections maps hold, and why I believe a global perspective is absolutely essential for not just homeschoolers, but for all Christians.

Head on over, and leave a comment, if you are so inclined!


Image Credits: Priscilla Barbosa Photography

Books, Books, Books: the Evolution of the Oaxacaborn Blog


Books, Books Books: The Evolution of the Oaxacaborn blog

When I started blogging publicly — over at Xanga, fourteen years ago! — I was in college, and blogged too many song lyrics and homework details. Then over the years, I moved back and forth across the country, working at sheet metal factory, a juvenile detention center, and an IT department, and wrote about all the ups and downs. When I became a mother, I even went through a phase where I predictably blogged about cloth diapers (I am so sorry). I’ve written about death, beauty, brokenness, joy — and interior design. And you’ve likely noticed that in the last few months, I’ve written a few longer pieces about homeschooling.

My blogging “methodology”, if you can call it that, hardly follows all the blogging advice. It’s always just followed the seasons of my life. But that’s the beautiful thing about life, too — it’s not stagnant.  It moves like a current. It flows, it goes through seasons, through changeable states of being. Way down at the bottom of this blog, in the footer, Anaïs Nin reminds me, “Life is a process of becoming, a combination of states we have to go through. Where people fail is that they wish to elect a state and remain in it. This is a kind of death.”

Books, Books Books: The Evolution of the Oaxacaborn blog

I kind of feel like things are coming full circle for me, and it all has to do with books. As a girl, I devoured books, and read everything I could get my hands on. Now, it’s only April, and Aveline’s already read 130 books since the beginning of the year. So, you’ll probably be seeing a lot more posts about literature and children’s books, and more posts about homeschooling. (Although, this is no surprise if you follow me on Instagram @oaxacaborn). I have so many good books to share with you all, but I’ve been holding back, thinking for some reason that this isn’t the right place for it, and worried about losing followers. Well, that’s kind of ridiculous. Because when it comes right down to, perhaps, like Margaret Atwood said, “Perhaps, I write for no one. Perhaps for the same person children are writing for when they scrawl their names in the snow.”

I’m just thankful some of you keep following along as I scrawl in the snow.

Books, Books Books: The Evolution of the Oaxacaborn blog


To shop the books pictured in this post, click on the appropriate photo.

Disclosure of Material Connection: Any Amazon links you encounter 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 a small affiliate commission. Amazon.com has not required me to place these links, nor do they have any control over which resources I choose to share. Please be assured, only the Amazon links above are affiliate links. None of the other links in this post are affiliate programs. This post is not sponsored in any way. Of course I only recommend products or services I use personally, and I will always disclose any such links in a disclaimer such as this one.

To receive an update in your inbox each time I publish a post, click here.