Poetry & Words, Theology

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.

Poetry & Words, Theology, Travel/Moving

When Home Can’t Be Pinned Down

When Home Can't Be Pinned Down - Gina Munsey on OaxacabornWhen I was little, I knew my grandparents through letters and home-recorded cassette tapes. I used to dream of hugging them, of spending long days beside them, of just looking at them and listening to the sound of their voice.

And one day, a long time ago, we showed up from another continent, from across the ocean, and “by the time we were at the bottom of the hill and had parked beside the house, my grandmother, my grandfather, and Aunt Margaret were all outside, looking exactly the way they had in the calendar picture. I ran right into my grandmother’s arms as if I’d been doing this every day.

‘Welcome home! Oh, welcome home!’ my grandmother cried.

I hadn’t known it, but this was exactly what I’d wanted her to say. I needed to hear it said out loud. I was home.” -Jean Fritz, Homesick pg. 138

All those memories came flooding back to me, this month, when I set Aveline down on the airport floor and watched her run at top speed into my dad’s arms. She latched onto him, she threw her arms around his neck, she pressed her cheek to his shoulder, and I felt it again. I felt I was a girl with one foot here, one foot there. A girl to whom home was a many-splendored thing, altogether here and there.

And in between the here-ness and there-ness is a place that can’t be pinned, a place that can’t be caught or ordered around, a place that can’t be pushed into a map’s tight little squiggly lines. It’s a place I can’t visit whenever I want to, but only when the road we’re on lets us go there, and maybe that’s the beauty of it.

Grandma never stopped smiling and Grandpa buckled her into her very own seat in his truck, and we all piled in. Looking at this scene, I didn’t know if it was 1991 or 2013. I didn’t know if she was being buckled into the seat or if it was me. Here and there passed each other so closely they became one, the one thing that can’t be held down.


“I paid no attention to the road. I just kept looking out the window until all at once there on my right was a white picket fence and a meadow, fresh and green as if it had just this minute been created…the whole scene. The perfect greenness. The washed-clean look. The peacefulness. Oh, now! I thought. Now I was in America. Every last inch of me.” -Jean Fritz, Homesick pg. 133

Every last inch.

Thoughts on Grandparents, or, When Home Can't Be Pinned Down - Gina Munsey on Oaxacaborn

Poetry & Words

WRITING & WORDS :: Go, Dog, Go!

Josiah and Aveline - Sunday morning breakfast and reading

When I was a little girl, my grandma recorded herself reading Go, Dog, Go!, and mailed me the cassette tape and the book. I listened to it
and over
and over again.
Despite the many, many miles between America and Europe, I believed she was right next to me, inside that tape player.

This morning, as Josiah was trying to eat breakfast, Aveline sat down next to him.
“Bo’? bo’?” she asked him eagerly, holding out her very own copy.

So right now, I’m listening to him read it
and over
and over again to her.

A different country. A different voice. The same story. The same memories.

Go around again!

Poetry & Words

Look at the stars, look how they shine for you

Three years ago today, I walked down a grassy aisle in Grandma C’s backyard to Norah Jones’ Come Away with Me.

walking down the aisle with daddy - outdoor Norcal wedding

I want to walk with you
On a cloudy day
In fields where the yellow grass grows knee-high
So won’t you try to come

Come away with me and we’ll kiss
On a mountaintop
Come away with me
And I’ll never stop loving you

And I want to wake up with the rain
Falling on a tin roof
While I’m safe there in your arms
So all I ask is for you
To come away with me

And so we were married in the mountains of NorCal, with the grass beneath our feet, the towering California trees overhead, and our family and friends all around us.

NorCal wedding outdoors

We had these verses from Isaiah 41 read during the ceremony. Non-traditional, yes, but oh, so beautiful.

I the Lord will answer them;
I the God of Israel will not forsake them.
I will open rivers on the bare heights,
and fountains in the midst of the valleys.
I will make the wilderness a pool of water,
and the dry land springs of water.
I will put in the wilderness the cedar,
the acacia, the myrtle, and the olive.
I will set in the desert the cypress,
the plane and the pine together,
that they may see and know,
may consider and understand together,
that the hand of the LORD has done this,
the Holy One of Israel has created it.

NorCal outdoor wedding

A dear family friend and missionary to Japan officiated the ceremony.

NorCal outdoor wedding - classic urn and column with ivy and white flowers, lisianthus bridal bouquet

We walked back down the aisle to Coldplay’s Yellow.

Recessional  - Dried red milo berries on grass

Look at the stars,
Look how they shine for you,
And everything you do,
Yeah they were all yellow,

I came along
I wrote a song for you
And all the things you do
And it was called yellow

So then I took my turn
Oh all the things I’ve done …
D’you know you know I love you so
You know I love you so.

wedding party - bridesmaids and groomsmen in black

Josiah and Gina - Wedding Portrait with Lisianthus Bouquet

It was all kinds of perfect.

All images courtesy of B. Sarah Klein, who, along with her sister, is preparing to launch A Sea Apart: Two Sisters, Two Countries, Two Photos a Day.

Poetry & Words

I love you, Daddy.

Dad Portrait in Plaid - Happy Fathers Day

Daddy, thank you for putting up with my door slamming and back-talking.

Thank you for marching me through those terrifying bottom-less puddles when I was little.

Thank you for putting up with my stubbornness, my just plain bullheadedness, and all my space-cadet moments.

Thank you for putting worms on my fishing hook for me so I didn’t have to.

Thank you for not getting mad when I ran over (lots of) your tree(s) with the riding lawn mower.

Thank you for talking to me when I didn’t always want to listen.

Thank you for loving me unconditionally.

And most of all? Thank you for showing me who Jesus is.

I love you, Pops.

Life in Photos, Travel/Moving

happy mother’s day

this year, with a little tiny daughter of my own, i truly say the words happy mother’s day with more conviction, awe and admiration than ever before. so, happy mother’s day, mom. you’re the best mum a girl could ever dream of.

1980s in Oaxaca, Mexico  mom & i, great grandma/pa, grandpa in oaxaca, mexico

1980s in Europe mom, dad, andy & me in europe. greece, maybe? i’m not quite sure.

Poetry & Words

happy birthday, john. remember when?

happy 19th birthday to my little brother, john! (well, he USED to be littler than me)

J-Bird and Gino

i love you john. and because i’m your big sister, i need to embarrass you a tad.

remember when you were still in a high chair and would stop eating dinner when someone mentioned the word cookies? we started calling them galletas, but you learned that in like three days.

remember how i would (rather wildly) bounce you on my knees when you were smallish? (papa had a horse, his name was jack, put ‘im in stable and he fell through the CRACK!)

remember jeremy the ant-sized boy? he and his adventures would only be told when we had to sleep on the pull-out couch in the basement because there was company in our rooms.

remember singing david cassidy’s i think i love you at the top of your lungs into a fake microphone? (i told you this was going to be embarrassing. but you were like 4, so it’s ok)

remember requesting a caterpillar birthday cake…for three years in a row?

remember when i curled all your hair and dad got mad? ha ha ha.

remember singing big bump the bubble tree riding around wisconsin in the back of the old van?

remember when you started skiing and people called you “the baby on skis”? (note to my blog readers: don’t miss john’s incredible you tube skiing channel!)

remember reading aloud ALL the street signs, bumper stickers, and billboards on the way back from chicago? you were driving everybody batty so i just joined in too.

remember when i snuck up behind you in the pool at our house in california and whispered helloooo, little boy? you nearly punched my lights out.

remember taking my camera and taking picture of your head, then quickly putting the camera back? (as if i wouldn’t find the pictures.)

remember memorizing verses together so we could do fun things off our summer list, like bike to the store and eat donuts?

remember when i told mom i wouldn’t take you for bike rides because you would just charge through intersections like a maniac? (blog readers: it paid off. he’s got crazy awesome bmx bike videos.

remember the last time i beat you arm wrestling and then i retired from the sibling arm wrestling competition so you would forever be stuck in third place? muah ha ha ha.

so, happy birthday, john. you’re an amazing, talented, artistic, wonderful brother and i’m superbly proud of you.

(ps. andy, don’t breathe a sigh of relief yet. you will get your turn…)