Sunset comes in like a whisper, hushing the robin’s monologue, stretching and bending the shadows until, at last, nothing speaks save the skies. They breathe deep navy words — slowly, confidently, and silence settles down. The lamp glows warmly, inside, and I pull my legs up over the pine bench and settle down into the posture of writing as the last remnants of Jasmine rice and watermelon dissipate into the air.
When Home Can’t Be Pinned Down
When 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.
“For You, O Lord, have made me glad by what You have done, I will sing for joy at the works of Your hands.”
It hasn’t quite been the weekend for sleep. But it’s been a good weekend for productivity. At 1 o’clock on Friday night? We finished filing taxes.
And tonight? We spontaneously rearranged all the furniture in our great room — at 10 pm.
Maybe we’re crazy.
Maybe we’re just celebrating being in the same house for nearly an entire year.
Maybe it’s a little bit of both.
A year ago, I was pale, dizzy, anemic, and could barely walk fifteen steps without holding on to the wall. Aveline wasn’t even two weeks old yet, and we* were packing to move to Florida. *my parents and my husband, i.e., angels
And here we are now, in a beautiful sunshine-y apartment, with a laughing, healthy toddler, and a full-time job for Josiah. Do we miss our families and our friends? Yes. (Does Florida seem like a soggy swamp sometimes? Yes. ;-) But, “the Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy.” -Psalm 126:3
So, so much joy!
WRITING & WORDS :: Guest Post on The Organic Bird Blog – On Contentment, and Living in the Moment
Do you all read The Organic Bird? Andrea Levendusky’s treasure trove of poignant, honest writing has quickly become one of my favorite places on the web. It’s truly worth adding to your reading list.
I’ve been so blessed getting to know Andrea through Facebook and Twitter over the last few months, and was thrilled when she asked me to pen a guest post. So, you can find me on The Organic Bird today, talking a little about the ways God is using my daughter to teach me about being content.
Thank you, Andrea!
“I’m staring. It’s that time of the afternoon where all I want is another cup of coffee, but Aveline’s bedroom is right off the kitchen. She’s the world’s lightest sleeper; if I even think about that cup of coffee too loudly, I know she’ll hear me & wake up.
There is a pot of white beans simmering on the stove. I’ll add some sage and garlic in a bit. I’m not sure why I bought white beans. I nearly always cook black beans — black beans with onion, garlic, lime, jalapeño, and cilantro. Once upon a time, when I lived in my beautiful California, I added epazote, too. It grew wild around my front step.
But here, here in the land of my sojourn….” [continue reading my guest post on The Organic Bird blog]
//Comments are disabled here, so you can leave them on Andrea’s blog. :-)//
Guest Post on Voye’m: On Thriving While Living/Traveling Elsewhere
This morning, my dear friend Shanley is en route to Uganda. Actually, she’s been en route since Sunday night. The last update I got from her — in the wee smalls of Tuesday morning — she was breakfasting in a Belgian airport.
While she was working her way around the globe, I was busy writing up a guest post for her. You can hop on over to Voye’m to read my piece On Thriving While Living/Traveling Elsewhere .
[First image mine, taken in Nimes, France. Second image taken by my husband in Paris.]
It’s a brand-new week; a new dawn, with new mercies. I need that reminder this morning. I need to remember that right here, in Florida, is exactly where we are supposed to be.
I need to remember — “You saw how the Lord your God carried you, just as a man carries his son, in all the way which you have walked until you came to this place.” (Deut 1:31)
And I need to remember that He never stops leading us. This is not the end of the story (it never is!) He leads us to the green pastures, by the still waters, through shadowy valleys…
Florida feels surreal, sometimes. It feels like another dimension, like there’s no point of reference for me to really grasp the passage of time. I think I feel this especially acutely this time of year, when I the seasons begin to turn every place except here.
I know Fall is descending gently upon the California coast, like it does every September. I know the nights are slowly getting cooler, and I know a leaf or two is now tinged crimson around the edges. I know what it’s like to watch the first raindrops dance down across the dusty Sacramento valley.
I know this, but here, the southern sky has not changed in months. September’s sky sweeps across the canvas above the same now as it did in April, and every day in between the air has been swollen with moisture, spilled over from rain-soaked clouds. Always it’s hot, always it’s humid, and always the temperature of dusk and dawn are indistinguishable from day.
Last night, as a wave of homesickness washed over me and I just wanted to be home, I asked God for peace. God reminded me of Abraham’s sojourning life. God reminded me that no matter what — Egypt, the Red Sea, the wilderness, the promised land, no matter what — He’s always there, in that pillar of fire.
And so here, now, in this new (humid, hot) morning, I know. He’s here. And I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be.
Photos: Aveline learning about a very important Fall tradition. She wore the hat & jersey just so I could snap a photo of her wearing it…then she started to sweat, so I took it off ;-)
I am overwhelmed. I feel like it’s impossible to meet some of the deadlines looming this week. My mind keeps racing up and down my to-do list.
I panic over the fear of not doing something I should. I beat myself up over what there is left to do. I get discouraged by my weaknesses. I should have already done this, I should have been stronger, I should have done more, I should have… I focus on the undone, the unfinished, the incomplete.
I am a perfectionist.
This is a terrible way to live; this is not freedom.
I want, instead, to live life with open arms, accepting the endless grace God has for me. I want to receive the peace He is offering me. I want to trade in my turmoil for rest. I want to lay my stubbornness down at His feet and admit that no, I can’t do it all. No, I can’t do it perfectly.
But His grace is sufficient. His power is perfected in my weakness.
And if I feel like I’ve failed today, it’s okay. His mercies are new every single morning.
Beautiful and Useful: Conquering Clutter
We had to move around some furniture this morning. Aveline’s crib had been near the wall of windows in our bedroom, but yesterday she discovered she could reach through the side of the crib and mangle the mini-blind slats (don’t worry, the cords have been safely tied up for a long time now.)
Swapping the position of two pieces of furniture seems simple enough, but now everything is all discombobulated. Cluttered. I’ve been on a mission to get rid of excess stuff, but honestly, I struggle with it. Not with the idea of getting rid of things, but with the actual sorting. If I’m totally honest, I would admit that when it comes to sorting, I am pretty lazy.
I love the idea of minimalism. In theory, I hate clutter. In practice, I live with little piles of clutter. But I get so STUCK when it comes to sorting piles of small things — especially when they are interesting. For me, it’s the ziploc bags of ticket stubs and maps and letters and greeting cards that stop me in my tracks. I just really have a problem getting through the stashes of paper ephemera. I get bogged down, finding myself distractedly reading that one card my uncle wrote me for my high school graduation or reminiscing over the train ride from Barcelona to Paris. Gah!
And the stickers left over from addressing wedding invitations? The six pathetic pieces of cardstock left over from my last scrapbooking project four years ago? Get a grip, Gina! I don’t need these things to remind me of those memories. I’d rather have the space in that basket on the shelf for something actually beautiful or useful.
I am going to tackle the bedroom this weekend, with this William Morris quote in the forefront of my mind: “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.”
Because really, laziness is the only thing keeping me from a clutter-free house.