Poetry & Words

POETRY & WORDS :: Because I Await Redemption

I write because I await redemption.Everyone has an opinion about blogging. Thirteen years ago, when I started writing online — we called it web journaling then — people didn’t have as much of an opinion.

But now, everyone is an expert: Write more about struggles, so you can be transparent. Don’t write too much about struggles, so you won’t be depressing. Take more pictures of reality, so you don’t deceive your readers. Don’t take too many pictures of reality, because that’s just not artistic. Write more about the good, because you should be uplifting. Don’t write too much about the good, because that’s not reality.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned after thirteen years of blogging, is that I can’t please everyone. Actually, I can’t please very many people at all. And if I wrote these words in this little space to please people, what a sorry endeavor it would be.

Sometimes I write about beauty, and sometimes I write about brokenness.

Sometimes I write about hope, and sometimes I write about death.

Sometimes, I write about joy.

And sometimes, I write about all of those things — all together, all twisted up and tangled together — because really, isn’t that what life is? A bittersweet mixture of all that is good and all that is evil and all that is Hope and all that is Him and all that has been buried and planted and is yet to blossom, “pressed down, shaken together and running over” [1], awaiting redemption?

I write because I await redemption.

I write because God gave us beauty. Sometimes that beauty is so searingly bright, we can’t even humanly handle the sheer weight of glory. Sometimes that beauty is a promise, seen only through a glass dimly [2], through clouded tears. But always, there is beauty, because always, God is in our midst.

And that is enough to raise your thoughts to what may happen when the redeemed soul, beyond all hope and nearly beyond belief, learns at last that she has pleased Him whom she was created to please. There will be no room for vanity then. She will be free from the miserable illusion that it is her doing. With no taint of what we should now call self-approval she will most innocently rejoice in the thing that God has made her to be, and the moment which heals her old inferiority complex forever will also drown her pride… Perfect humility dispenses with modesty.” -C.S. Lewis

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Poetry & Words

Dear Internetz, I’m Done with the Negativity

Dear Mommy Blogs, I'm done with the negativity. I choose joy.

Dear Internetz Dwellers of the Mothering SubGenre,

I know, I know. I’ve read your weblogs. Mothering is hard. Our small people spill the milk, squeeze the juice boxes until they resemble Old Faithful, chew the corners of favorite books, and keep hours that make us wonder if they have second jobs as miniature convenience store clerks. There are too many choices when we shop, our kids won’t eat their leftovers and we went out with a melted Cheerio stuck to our heads again.

In the last decade, dear Internetz, I’ve watched your weblogs shift from GeoCities to LiveJournal to Xanga, and now to insta-infinity and beyond. And I’ve noticed something. I’ve noticed the chronicles slide down the negative path. Now, from where I stand in 2014, it seems the Mothering SubGenre is firmly entrenched in despair, doom, and dirty diapers — with a side of crude talk and bodily functions.

Haven’t you noticed, Internetz dwellers? The written pieces with the most clicks and comments — the ones your Facebook friends are sharing and your wifi-enabled friends are scrolling through while they’re sitting next to you — are the very blog posts raking the coals in the smoldering Mommy Wars. I watch as mothers sort themselves into teams; home vs. hospital vs. pool. vs cesarean section vs. octagonal hand-tanned artisanal reindeer leather yurts, then draw lines in the strewn toys and lob posts back and forth, back and forth, back and forth, until the child in the woven sling vs. structured carrier vs. five point harness vs. car? flex fuel? peddle bike? organic donkey of burden-seat screams in frustration. (And editors of mothering publications? I’ve seen the guidelines and the pitch suggestions for the kinds of articles you want us to write. You’re fanning the flames.)

I’ve been listening, dear Internetz Dwellers of the Mothering SubGenre. I’ve been listening, and I’ve been reading, and I’m done.

I’m done clicking into the negativity.

I want no part of the lie that mothering is nothing but a sticky-fingered, foul-mouthed, angering pile of negativity.

I’m done, and I raise you an armful of joy.

No, not the kind of joy you mock when you blog about that woman in your playgroup who smiles a lot. Real, honest-to-goodness joy that spills down from the heavens and over all of us and over our homes and over our child(ren). Real joy, joy with roots, roots that run deeper than the storms and deeper than the pain and deeper than these momentary tribulations which are preparing for us an absolutely incomparable eternal weight of glory [1].

There is enough real horror in the world without manufacturing negativity. There’s enough actual tragedy in the world without perpetuating artificial debates. I don’t know about you, Internetz of the Mothering SubGenre, but when I read that Meriam Ibrahim’s tiny newborn daughter is permanently injured because Meriam gave birth in chainsin chains! — there wasn’t a single ounce of my strength that had any will to raise up a stink about plastic vs. wooden toys. There wasn’t any strength left in me to do anything but cry out, “Oh Lord! Have mercy on this bruised and battered and fallen world!” Hearing how this woman — our sister — brought life into this broken world while shackled, should scream louder into our collective consciousness than BPA-free plastic, the Golden Arches, and the woe-is-me laments of our gilded excess.

Friends, the world is broken. The world is full of pain, and there is more abject suffering outside our circles than most of us, thank God, will ever know. There’s more than enough lifetimes of tragedies to break our hearts thousands and thousands of times over.

But despite this all, because of this all, as for me and my house, I choose joy. As for me and my house, I choose to rejoice — choose to search out the hidden joys, lift them up, and shout — without shame, condemnation, guilt.

This doesn’t mean my heart doesn’t cry out for the hurting and the broken. This just means I know the brokenness can’t win. The Healer has already triumphed. This doesn’t mean I deny the suffering around me. This just means I know that the darkness can’t win. The light has already triumphed.

And so I choose joy.

What about you? “Will you come with me to the mountains? It will hurt at first, until your feet are hardened. Reality is harsh to the feet of shadows. But will you come?” -C.S. Lewis

Inspiration

INSPIRATION :: Free C.S. Lewis Quote Printables

To celebrate the life of C.S. Lewis — he died on this day in 1963 — here are some free printables for you to enjoy. And take some time today to pull an old Lewis book of the shelf and read a chapter or two, won’t you? I promise it will be good for your soul.

The sweetest thing in all my life // 3 Free C.S. Lewis Quote Printables from Oaxacaborn
“The sweetest thing in all my life has been the longing — to reach the Mountain, to find the place where all the beauty came from — my country, the place where I ought to have been born. Do you think it all meant nothing, all the longing? The longing for home? For indeed it now feels not like going, but like going back.” -Till We Have Faces
C.S. Lewis “The sweetest thing” free printable – Click here to download.

The scent of a flower - C.S. Lewis // 3 Free C.S. Lewis Quote Printables from Oaxacaborn
“In speaking of this desire for our own faroff country, which we find in ourselves even now, I feel a certain shyness. I am almost committing an indecency. I am trying to rip open the inconsolable secret in each one of you—the secret which hurts so much that you take your revenge on it by calling it names like Nostalgia and Romanticism and Adolescence; the secret also which pierces with such sweetness that when, in very intimate conversation, the mention of it becomes imminent, we grow awkward and affect to laugh at ourselves; the secret we cannot hide and cannot tell, though we desire to do both. We cannot tell it because it is a desire for something that has never actually appeared in our experience. We cannot hide it because our experience is constantly suggesting it, and we betray ourselves like lovers at the mention of a name. Our commonest expedient is to call it beauty and behave as if that had settled the matter…The books or the music in which we thought the beauty was located will betray us if we trust to them; it was not in them, it only came through them, and what came through them was longing. These things—the beauty, the memory of our own past—are good images of what we really desire; but if they are mistaken for the thing itself they turn into dumb idols, breaking the hearts of their worshippers. For they are not the thing itself; they are only the scent of a flower we have not found, the echo of a tune we have not heard, news from a country we have never yet visited.” -The Weight of Glory
C.S. Lewis “The scent of a flower” free printable – Click here to download.

Beginning chapter one of the great story  // 3 Free C.S. Lewis Quote Printables from Oaxacaborn
“And as He spoke, He no longer looked to them like a lion; but the things that began to happen after that were so great and beautiful that I cannot write them. And for us this the end of all the stories, and we can most truly say that they all lived happily ever after. But for them it was only the beginning of the real story. All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on for ever: in which every chapter is better than the one before.” –The Last Battle
C.S. Lewis “Chapter one” free printable – Click here to download.

Life in Photos

LIFE IN PHOTOS :: A Deeper Country

3d cardboard letters spelling out HOPE, roses in glass bottles, and t-rex print from Yellow Heart Art
September 2013 - Florida rainstorm

“It is as hard to explain how this sunlit land was different from the old Narnia as it would be to tell you how the fruits of that country taste. Perhaps you will get some idea of it if you think like this. You may have been in a room in which there was a window that looked out on a lovely bay of the sea or a green valley that wound away among mountains. And in the wall of that room opposite to the window there may have been a looking-glass. And as you turned away from the window you suddenly caught sight of that sea or that valley, all over again, in the looking glass. And the sea in the mirror, or the valley in the mirror, were in one sense just the same as the real ones: yet at the same time they were somehow different – deeper, more wonderful, more like places in a story: in a story you have never heard but very much want to know. The difference between the old Narnia and the new Narnia was like that. The new one was a deeper country: every rock and flower and blade of grass looked as if it meant more.” -C.S. Lewis

Life in Photos, Poetry & Words

POETRY & WORDS :: Combating the Tyranny of the Urgent

Ethereal portrait at window via Oaxacaborn
Folded hands on windowsill via Oaxacaborn
Ethereal portrait at window via Oaxacaborn
Portrait at sunny window via Oaxacaborn
Aveline holding curtain near window via Oaxacaborn

It’s important to combat the tyranny of the urgent. We must not let it consume us.

It’s important to live slowly enough to see tiny moments; those transcendent moments which stand outside of time and give you a glimpse into something beyond what this world can offer.

This morning, as the curtains filtered the sun, and the light wrapped around my little girl, I couldn’t help but realize I was seeing through a glass, dimly. I couldn’t help but think we are souls, primarily; we are bodies only temporarily. (Side note: contrary to popular belief; that’s not actually a C.S. Lewis quote.)

And so in this moment of shadows and light, of heaven and earth, of beauty both tangible and intangible, there was worship.

“The purpose of theology – the purpose of any thinking about God – is to make the silences clearer and starker to us, to make the unmeaning – by which I mean those aspects of the divine that will not be reduced to human meanings – more irreducible and more terrible, and thus ultimately more wonderful. This is why art is so often better at theology than theology is.” –Christian Wiman, My Bright Abyss, 130.