Monday, August 17, 2015

Books books books

Writing and reading and learning are as natural as breathing to me so books have always been a natural part of life. Everywhere, everywhere, books. Other things I might accumulate because in a previous life I tended to put things in storage bins rather than GET RID OF THEM (this is coming back to haunt me now), but books, books are my friends. My theory has been you can never have too many.

Until you do and you find a dozen copies of Charlotte's Web from your teaching days but even the used book store won't take them because that's a banned book? Maybe I should already know that.

I gave one of my best friends all those banned books, along with several other boxes of books for her kiddos. Seventy percent of my books are kids books (making up this percentage but it sounds right). The other thirty percent of randomness includes spiritual life/Christian books I have double copies of somehow and textbooks I'll never need again. These were also not a hit with the bookstore. "People have wandered from religion" was the store owner's reason for turning down the good reads I tried to give her. Sad times.

Still, I couldn't just dump them. Some things seem like trash, but not books.

My friend's husband gets a medal for taking the boxes I didn't keep. Possibly, they will start a children's banned book club of Charlotte's Web.

Linking for five minute Friday on LEARN

Thursday, July 23, 2015

On countdowns and such

Perhaps in five minutes, I can write a little ode to countdowns.

Countdowns, you are so funny.

I talk to my kiddos about you and they think they are clever when we practice counting backwards to calm down and they do it real fast. 

10,9,8,7,6,5,4,3,2,1, done! Sneaky, sneaky.

What about in life?

We do the same thing, maybe?

10,9,8,7,6,5,4,3,2,1 why is everything taking so long?

Countdowns, you are so funny.

You do better with patience even though that takes diligence.

These days, I practice patience. Imperfectly, but still I practice it.

I'm moving soon so there's lots of countdowns happening. 

I AM MOVING TO ARIZONA. When I tell people this they sometimes look at me funny because I'm told Arizona is not right around the corner. I've been there and I know this but the idea of moving there somehow seems normal to me and it's all really okay and good so it's just sort of happening. 

There's a lot to do but it's also exciting. I'm excited for cacti (I like that word) and new adventures and new opportunities for jobs and exploring an unknown area of the country and most of all to get to see my favorite coffee!

I am not really a write everything minute by minute person. I like to think I'm open, but there are times that's still hard for me when it comes to what is happening right here right now and putting that out there for the world (by world, I mean hi faithful reader friends plus maybe some new ones?). But I think the journey is fun and cool and if you know anything about me and why I write, I believe stories are better when shared and people are better when they get to connect.

Here's to a patient countdown that goes by quick (life is complex, people).

linking for five minute Friday for the prompt ten

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Finally, a post about mercy (sort of)

Once upon a time, I created a blog called Mercy Notes, which had a catchy name to it. But most of the time I blogged about other things and didn't talk specifically about mercy, per se. And then, I didn't talk about anything because I stopped making time to write about life and faith and adventures I was having because I got started on a project called 87 coffees, and I kept thinking that I would FINISH that project quickly, but who am I kidding?
So, here we are. I used to blog regularly, just for the fact that I love to write and record and remember. To see that God's mercies ARE new everyday. To count the blessings, even if no one reads about them or if it's all been said a thousand different ways by a thousand different people.
I need to keep count.

I kind of veered away from recounting all the joys on here. And there are so many!

I love my side project. I do. But let me take a minute and remember some things here. It's only fitting that I have two blogs because I like to juggle things and sometimes they even get mixed together. Don't be surprised if I go back and forth between the two and then if you're a reader friend on here I ask you to become a coffee friend for 87 Coffees. I like to think everything's connected somehow.

I went on a retreat this weekend. It was on mercy, and I thought maybe I needed to pay this place a visit.
I want you to know I'm sharing some photos that I didn't even take because I turned my phone off. I'm still laughing about that, more excited that I actually pulled it off, because I am sure that I belong in some decade without all these gadgets. It makes life better for keeping up with the ones I care about far away, but otherwise, I often wonder what life would be like unplugged.
This weekend, one of my take a ways that I'm beginning to digest was to expect messy things in life. Messy relationships. To meet messy people. The speaker put it this way. She said that every morning she wakes up and has two cats and she sees that her cats made a mess everywhere but it's that's what happens with cats. They make cat droppings and you have to clean it up and it happens again and again. And it feels like there's always some kind of mess. You can't get too mad at those cats because that's part of being a cat.
The mess isn't as fun to write about.
Most of the time, it's easy to hide behind the mess (not if you're a cat maybe). We humans are good for that. Writers are better.
We choose our words wisely. We can read and reread, edit, delete.

All the things.
If any of you are writers, what do you hide behind with your writing? Do you leave any parts of yourself out?
This post is (mostly) about the fun times this weekend but I think it's good to acknowledge both. That there's going to be mess in life and then there's also going to be times when you get to make up definitions for hiking and everything's alright with the world. I think we need a little of both.
It's late and this post feels a little incomplete. But that's okay for now. 
Here are some little joys from the weekend:

That's a beautiful mountain outside the car...because of course, the way we roll, we see mountains (and even hike) from the car window.

That's called stretching from the long car ride and I don't know why it's picture worthy. My friend said I looked like I was twerking, which I denied, but nevertheless..

That's another car shot and once again no one knows their picture is being taken.

 Oh, it's a normal picture for once, and a reminder that ever-loving friends are some of the best gifts that we don't deserve.

Yes, we did in fact go shopping while in the mountains.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Wind song

Sun peeked his nose out today

but it's still winter in the woods.

 empty earth

broken trees. what's your story?

favorite shack.

still searching for life.
the only thing that moves through this place
except for the quiet wind.
sings a (hope full) song for spring

Saturday, January 31, 2015

In January

Hi friends! I'm still around, it's just been a hiatus from this blog. I'll introduce my new project for real a little later, but go ahead and check it out if you'd like.

I'm blogging in another space so I can keep a deadline for a hopeful book and because it's more fun to document stories in real time, but I do miss connecting with you here. I wanted to join in on what I've been learning and what I've been thinking about this month. This can fill more than one blog post, but for now, here's a few January randoms for Emily's What We Learned.

I need music more than music needs me.

Obviously, music doesn't need me at all, I just liked that. Because it's true. On the list of things I need to function, music is high.

For you, friends, because things often come out better in song, Happy New Year, in all the words of JJ Heller and her new tune.

To better prove my point, I have a habit of playing songs on repeat when I love them so. Tonight I listened to this song over and over and over. I am a sucker for sibling duos. Like these two.

And Lennon and Maisy Stella.

Somehow I'm involved in about three different local human trafficking groups.

I know they are all CONNECTED and working together, it's just random. But good.

Last year, I made my friends stop at halftime of the Super Bowl and talk about Human Trafficking. I'm pretty sure they looked at me in bewilderment because the halftime show is the best part. But, human trafficking is a problem, guys. I'll just take a minute of your time now so I don't disturb the big game.
We all have hundreds of numbers in our phone, right? I found some numbers in my phone from over 10, maybe 15 years ago the other day. I might need to clean that out.
In the meantime, it can't hurt to put this hotline in there, because it could save a life.

Are you a parent? Do you feel helpless when it comes to an issue like this, OR do you think it could never happen to them?
Here's an article on 6 things you can do as a parent to help prevent your child from being a victim of trafficking. I know it's not a pleasant conversation but the reality is that an estimated 300, 000 children are at risk of being trafficked in the US alone. We need to do what we can to be aware and be involved in the lives of young people for good.
Are you a teen? Join other teens who are tackling hard things and impacting the world. You guys inspire me. 
Within 48 hours of running away or being on the streets, a teen has a 1/3 chance of being picked up for trafficking.
Surprisingly, it's hard for me to write about matters of trafficking. It sounds so impersonal. It's not about statistics for me though. I love young people, especially teens, and I hate that this happens. I don't want to be afraid of talking about it and I want teens to know they matter, that their bodies and their lives are valuable. If we do one thing, let's let them know that. But let's also have honest conversation with teens because we can't comprehend everything in their lives, and they need to know what to do to stay safe when life feels out of control or chaotic. 
I know this is a complex problem. I've spent years working on prevention strategies for the youth I work with. I don't 'do' human trafficking for my day job but in counseling and crisis management, it gets discouraging at times. I can imagine human trafficking is that way, too. All day long, a call to change something that is so big and powerfully negative, so many forces working against them.
I have learned, or rather am still learning, that God is in big things that seem too big to change. In the world and in our lives. He's in those weighty things.

I'm encouraged that this weekend so many people are sharing about trafficking awareness. I'm thankful people came to my party last year. I'm thankful for the groups I'm involved in that keep emailing me to come and be part of local happenings. I'm beyond grateful for those who don't tire of doing good, even in the face of evil.
I'm learning to be content with the forward, backward, forward again steps that lead to change, around me and inside me.

What does that look like for you?

Happy new year! May you and I be happy with small steps that lead you to change, even if you're looking for a leap.

linking with emily

*check out Polaris Project for more info

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The butterfly life

In January, my friend came by with a jar and an idea to store all the good things during the year. You know how it's easy to store all the bad stuff? To recall all that went wrong and brush over what went right?
Maybe there's something symbolic of the ball dropping on Near Year's to show all the ways we don't get it right year after year.
I kept a jar this year, because I had to remember graces. Maybe God knew I'd have a year where that was going to help me see truth and beauty again.

Don't worry if you didn't keep a jar.
Maybe you work differently. Maybe you want to keep a jar next year. Maybe you will laugh at the fact that I crammed tons of paper and now have to make sense of my scribbles and if anyone's good at interpreting jibberish, I have a job for you.

It's going take me awhile to figure out what all I've learned this year. This year I know I have learned a lot but I've been slow at processing that. The good news is I'm getting better at seeing His love. And I'm not always good at that.

Let's start at the beginning. The beginning is usually with the small stuff. Which in the end becomes the big stuff.

God is good and another year has gone by. I hope there has been much grace in your life, too, even through the trials.

Here are 8 random findings when I grabbed at some notecards a day early (the goal of the project -- there's always a goal -- is to wait until New Year's and then read them, but if you can't wait that long you are an utter failure. Just kidding).

1. Starting back at consistent women's Bible study. Faithful friends.

new friend this year. no, we aren't having a fist fight.

2. God who heals..redeems..comforts..loves us always.

3. A lottery ticket.

I won it in a gift exchange and it landed in the jar. Good place for it. I wonder if I won. I know we're all at the edge of our seat.

4. Hummingbirds.

Good job if you can read this description of hummingbirds below. A friend sent me a card about them, and you win (not lottery win, just win) if you agree hummingbirds are the best. 

5. Dad got to come visit NC -- fun times -- basketball

6. A Group of 4 People.
Neighbors / friends / nc family who adopts me in and lets me stay in their home for days on end in snow storms.

7. Cleaning my closet.

 "This is a praise because I need to get it done"
(literally this is what the card said...)

8. Two friends who had losses earlier in the year getting pregnant at the same time. Thanks God!

Grace helps me remember who I am. If only I could live in this mentality all the time.
It's easy to forget. It's easy to feel like we're not enough. Instead of thankfulness. For things like cleaning closets (I don't even know...).

At the conference I went to this year (which all of my actual bookish learnings could come from that), Glennon Melton said that "we are like caterpillars who constantly quit right before we become butterflies."

This is probably true.

Not just when the calendar turns this year, but everyday, I want to live out of my butterfly life. The one I know I already have.

I live a caterpillar a lot of days. But I know I am a butterfly. Randomly, my fun coworker even nicknamed me Butterfly this year when I started my new job. So that's further proof.

If you need me to, I can come give you a butterfly tattoo. We may have days and weeks where we inch along back like the caterpillar, or where our butterfly lives are not all they are cracked up to be. We forget we have the potential to see the world before us and bring beauty to it. But we do! Come on, butterfly, come see the world with me and  let's shed off the old skin.
linking with emily

Saturday, December 13, 2014

The tinest light

I often think of families I've worked with, past and present, around the holidays, because I know as much as it's a time of joy and celebration, it's also a time of longing and struggle and heartache for many. Preparing, hoping, yearning. Sometimes I hear that and all I hear is "I'm just hanging on."

I believe this hope that we have is real. Christmas and Christ come is such good news. And yet, all that the season entails does not equal merry moments for everyone.

Which brings me to Advent.

People seem to like Advent. You know, preparation, hoping, yearning.

I'm not always so good at these things. My friend asked us at Bible Study if we were taking part in Advent this year. I told her I was 'engaging with Advent,' which kind of sounded like Advent and I were acquaintances but not really friends. I don't like the word acquaintances, so much so that I just had to look up the spelling of the word acquaintances.  

I like friends.
I've made friends with Christmas. My family makes me laugh and I love to see them. I remember God's goodness a little more around this time of year, even though it's evident all year round. Not because of gifts of course. I told someone today you could get me no gifts whatsoever and I'd be fine. I am the girl who wants to go ice skating or make Christmas cookies. I made the dough for buckeyes tonight with my neighbor, who is also from Ohio, so I'm a step closer to my goal of eating Christmas cookies.

And, call me Elf but I like seasons in life dedicated to merriment and celebrating because I like celebrating, celebrating's my favorite. And of course this celebration is for the birth of our Savior, so that's even better. People who aren't normally kind or generous or warm seem to break out of their shells a bit more at Christmas, which is also nice.

Except when it's hard for people at Christmas.

Which is often.

And I get that. I like Christmas. I understand Advent.

Everyday, behind the scenes of the joy which take center stage, there exists the not so popular longing, the ever unwelcome grief and the not talked about conflict. I see it everyday as a counselor.

Most of us would rather skip over this. Some of you stopped reading this already.

Good news, I'm not saying we have to choose one or the other.

I'm just guessing that if you're part of humanity, you've experienced this, even if you pretend to jingle all the way, all the way.

I can't pretend to pretend, mostly because my job isn't about that and mostly because it makes me want to be sick. There are times I am like an elf-creature and there are times I'm not. I know longing, too. I identify with both.

I've said it before on here, but every Christmas I think of a family I worked with long ago, and the fact that they had barely anything that winter. They were in between housing situations and would likely be going into a shelter soon.

It was a cold day at the park. They brought their baby.

Don't worry, that baby was loved and cared for. There was a Christmas happy you could see, but it was evident the parents were longing, with a longing that made sense and only hoped things would change.

I know grace stretches beyond things we can't see in the moment, but it feels like a lot sometimes.

Who hasn't held tight to December prayers in the dark, looking for the light?

But the magic of Christmas isn't found in the most showy moments or the lights that twinkle the most bright. Sometimes, it's found in that one candle in the window, catching you by surprise, in the midst of an otherwise dark night.

linking with five minute Friday for the prompt prepare