Friday, February 28, 2014

What the little bitties need

Four-year-old baby girl with her wide smile and big eyes asked me if I knew how to dance. Apparently not like that, because she had some kind of moves. 
This wasn't the first time I'd been to a counseling session in a family's home where MTV was blaring in the background, little bitties getting their share of BeyoncĂ© and Jay Z and learning how to shake it like other people I probably should know, right alongside trying to learn their ABC's.
I read a blog today, and I think it's good stuff (most of it). I don't like to combat other people's writing, this isn't a space for that. I also believe it's important to speak truth into places in society that need change and I'm glad for this blogger rising up for that.
But, after reading and thinking about my work, I think there's something we need to wake up to in a larger sense, that maybe we're forgetting about, that is harder to face when we have to stare at it with our own eyes.
The people who need to hear the message about the trashy lyrics in the songs on the radio are the ones that likely won't.
Because they can't.
They are little bitties who don't read yet.
Yes, there are intelligent adults who are capable and well meaning and "oh, yeah, I shouldn't be filling my ears with that," and maybe there's a few teenagers out there who read or hear about the denigration of their generation. But doubtful.
Surely, this message is for parents. I get that.
But, the ones who NEED to hear it are the babies. Not true babies, but in the eyes of the world, and in my eyes, they are babies. They are still getting their first scrapes. They are still learning to ride the bus.
Yet they are hearing and seeing things that define them way too early and it's because of a million little things, songs, but not just songs. I hate it. 
I write about this with passion because I know they were made for more. 

I'm super tired of this being their reality. I want THEM to get the chance not just read about what's destroying them, but to get to hear something different, to see something different.

(a little more than five minutes for five minute Friday on choose)

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Boggle and running from strangers, only kidding

I liked to play Boggle when I was little. Okay, still do.
Here goes:
Shake, shake, shake.
{Stop peeking}. Shake.
Wanna see some words I found?

: : :

I'm starting to learn God asks of me what I have.


I have words.

I don't always say it well. It doesn't come out right.

To the girl at the deli counter when I didn't have a valentine to share (yes, I was giving them out to strangers).

Sometimes we think we don't have anything to give people and our empty hands are the very thing that causes us to get creative.

No one spoke of the silly knock-knock jokes I told her last week when I went into the deli today. I'm sure she liked it -- it was like a singing telegram only better because I'm not great at singing.

She was having a bad day and it felt risky. She smiled and told me she loves jokes about pickles (it was a deli after all) and she would use that one again.

Risky like I felt when I gave complete strangers valentines later in the day when I decided to carry more around with me, in case another opportunity arose and I had to go off the cuff again. Complete strangers, in case you're wondering, means I've never even said a word to you, opposed to I've talked to you for a few minutes.

As much as I like people, I literally walked away and turned back around during one encounter, forcing myself to do what was uncomfortable for me in order to give out something that was only semi-uncomfortable coming from a stranger -- encouraging words.

Don't we like to give people things -- and this is good, too, but what of learning people's names and what of it being a normal occurrence that they know they are loved?

PS: I didn't stick around long enough to learn most of the people's names for these events. Possibly because they were awkward situations and as much as I seem to bend into awkward, even that was enough for me.

: : :
Have an awkward situation with strangers?

linking with lisa-jo for five minute friday on small, sharita for everyday Jesus, holley for coffee with your heart

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Catching the Light and As Sure as the Sun

I can't stop staring at the sun. Unlike my family back home in Ohio who have been buried in snow all winter, the sun has popped out here and there but winter has felt long and cold.

It probably aint over, but can't a girl dream?

I'm outside on my porch and I'm seeing glimpses of last summer: rafts and lounge chairs and the plate that my aloe plant used to sit on. Don't judge, I'm like the girl who left her stuff out at the beach and the storm came and weathered it all a bit, but it's not too worse for the wear.

The sun is out, y'all. I'm writing with bare feet and I might be getting ahead of myself, but I think spring is coming.

A perfect day to tell you about one of my most favorite artists and her new album which released TODAY. Ellie Holcomb and As Sure as the Sun.

I'm sorry. I can't tell you about the whole album yet. But it's good, people. It's one of those you-know-it's-good, and I'm trying to soak it up slow, like a new book on a warm breezy day. 

I purchased As Sure as the Sun on iTunes today. That's kind of a big deal for me. I don't buy things I don't 'need' right now. As much as I love music, I've never bought an album on its release day and with money so tight, it seems buying much of anything for entertainment just won't cut it.

But get this. Ellie's music, is something else entirely -- it's a song on repeat and a way to see out of the dark moments of migraines, it's an encouragement to me to chase the light, it's a SERVICE that spurs me on to serve others and love others freely.

There are places in my soul where it feels like there are cracks. Isn't that true of all of us? But then -- the promises of God's truth in the music remind me of His faithfulness.

I listened to "Marvelous Light" again just now. It was the backdrop of her Kickstarter video, which documented this album's journey. I get excited every time I hear this song.

I listen close as the rest of her songs start in.

I watch the sun, still, but it's trying to fall behind the trees now. 

I catch the light one more time.

: : :

Friends, I write a lot about light and dark. I'm thankful to be living in the light now. Join me as we proclaim the light together -- hop on over to Ellie's page and see what she's been working on...

linking with concrete words and soli deo gloria

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Snow garden and homemade valetines

Big flakes. Ohio-home flakes.




into the south's long awaited snow garden.

Snow makes me think of Ohio-home and family I love, but these past few days I've been hibernating with NC friends watching the south battle the treacherous snowpocalypse, creating videos and talking some good talk about making our own Olympics or doing something constructive.

Instead, we threw a few snowballs and called it a day, watched the snow some more and movies and athletes battle the slopes.

It's a tough life.


But someone's got to live it.

I heard tomorrow's some kind of love holiday? Just in case this holiday gives you the bad vibes: here are a few jokes for you...think third grade style knock-knock joke.

:: What do you call a very small valentine?
A valentiny! ::

:: What is the most loving vegetable?
Lettuce, it has the most heart::

::Knock knock?
Who's there?

Frank who?
Frank you for being my FRIEND. ::

And some homemade ones, attached for your viewing pleasure:

I love you in many languages, friends.

Jet a'dore (I love you in French) sounds like 'shut the door' if you aren't careful. Try it a few times.

I do love you, friends, I'm not asking you to shut the door. Except if it's drafty, then maybe I am.

I'm okay if we don't go all out for this holiday and perhaps if we stop using red (notice the red background on my valentine -- I can't make up my mind!). Nevertheless, it's fun to show people some love and valentine's day gives me an excuse to put my (stellar) artistic talents to good use.

Happy vday, friends, you are loved.

linking with lisa-jo for five minute friday

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

On losing power and eating popcorn on front porches

I had a dream last night about some neighbor-friends I lived next to growing up. It's been about decade ago since I last saw them. 10 years and they ended up in my dream. Maybe you dream about the milk man but I just don't. My dreams seem to be a semblance of what's been important in my life. They are like scenes from a book, and the stories come out as vivid as if they happened yesterday (writer-brain?).

I dreamt that the power went out between my house and theirs, our Lebanese-neighbor friends who were always having fun parties outside (that we liked to crash) and who didn't create any division between our yard and theirs.

Our basement flooded when I was a teenager and I sat on the front porch with the girls next door. We ate popcorn and watched the street fill up with water, wondering if we should get a raft while our dads tried to work the generator.

I sent a message to the girls today, younger than me by years but somehow married already (which I won't comment on), to tell them of the dream.

It's been awhile since we've talked, but I didn't bat an eye to send them a silly text. Somehow we'll always be neighbor friends.

These stories and dreams remind me that love and intimacy aren't as far away as we think but we -- I -- like to make them so.

It's easy to shut our doors. It's hard to do front porch living with people that matter, to let them know us enough that years later you can still send them a text about a dream you had about your dads rushing around to save your house from a flood.

My challenge to you: let intimacy look different today.

P.S. I'm loving this song right now.

I choose to go the route of friendships on these here link-ups (big surprise).
But this is the month of all kinds of love and in commercialized America, they like to throw it in your face. Do you have love, they seem to ask?

Hear the refrain ringing in your ears as you go about the day, the week, the month, the year....

youareloved youareloved youareloved youareloved youareloved

linking with

SheLoves Magazine: a global community of women who love and Jen for Soli Deo Gloria

Monday, February 10, 2014

From the shadows

"I'm tired of aching. I'm tired of being met in brokenness and need. I'd like a little resurrection, thanks. But it's not Easter yet.

"The only way to resurrection is the way of death." -Kimberlee Conway Ireton

I told her that her book (Cracking Up) was speaking words of hope to me. Right then. Not even through with it yet. In the midst of pain and more unnerving headaches, I was remembering this book that was sent to me in the mail because I won some drawing -- nothing I expected to win. 

Some words about a crisis of faith and pain and sorrow in one woman's life reminded me of what it was to bleed humanity but also live chasing hope and Truth -- and I'm still in the middle of it -- of her book and my own story of chasing hope. Of trusting He knows the way.

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness cannot overcome it!
Kimberlee wrote this to me on the inside cover when she signed it.
And Romans 8:28.

How did she know that I chase the light, too?
That the darkness tries to overthrow me, my joy, at times?

That pain gets too much -- that all the right answers are not the answers I want and I want God to deliver me,

from the spots where there are only shadows.

Oh how did she know I pray and I trust and Truth tells me God will make good anyway?

Where are you today, friend?

I pray that you get a sense of mercy and grace beyond textbook answers and pat responses to the complexities going on in your life and that God brings you someone to enter in it with you. May the promise that God is always with you fill you with real, true hope.

Friday, February 7, 2014

In which you were a stranger and now you're my friend and confessions

So my life is feeling a bit more honest than usual lately so I thought I'd share a few confessions. Here's a sneak peek into my world. Maybe just maybe, stranger-friend, you'll stick around.

Confession: Sometimes I struggle with feeling like I have strong community even though I don't struggle with making friends.

I've been thinking about community more lately. As followers of Christ, this is important anyway, but it's something that I value a ton, so it comes up a lot for me. I'm built extremely relationally so lots of my stories relate to community in some form. But I've noticed that when community seems 'off' in some way in my life, instead of showing up, I want to back away.

Sometimes you have to do the opposite of what you want to do.

Tonight. Was the night I attended a new gathering at my church that I wasn't super thrilled about, even during part of the time I was there. Everything sounded oversimplified and I thought I'd just listen.

Listening is good. And needed. But people also need our words, our voices matter, and at times it takes more courage to speak when you'd rather be silent than to be silent when you want to speak.

Confession: When I meet people, I can get a little excited and forget that we are still basically strangers.

Like tonight. Found out some new (now) friends just came from living in the Congo. They don't know a lot of people here yet. They were surprised to know I knew so much about those countries until I told them I once went out with someone from the Congo. Of course.

I am pretty sure I told a couple stories at the table and there were a few blank stares. I need to remember if I don't know you, you are a stranger. You might not get my stories. Repeat.

Confession: After this happened and I told some random stories to strangers, I called a friend I've known for no more than two weeks and met the exact same way to tell her what happened. Her voicemail came on. I left a message.

I didn't describe in detail what happened. But we became friends after we had an unusual meeting. So I'm hopeful about these new friends. Sometimes you just need to shake it up a little.

Confession: I miss my faraway friends, I just do.

I'm so thankful for my friends here, my close friends who I have in my everyday life now. They have been a blessing and God's gift. But I also realize that friendships make up a great deal of my community, and it's hard when people move away, even if normal. I know that the people I'm closest to have represented God to me and walked with me. Been a friend at all times.

Because the Cayman Islands are too far I'm starting a save the fish fundraiser.

I must admit it's just a cover for me to get over there to visit my friend, but I will do my best to help the fish if you help me, or at least to conserve them.

Confession: Sometimes blogging feels like talking to strangers at a round table who are starring at me blankly. Only I can't see your faces. I'm not sure if that's better or worse.

Technically, I can see your faces, when you comment. I'm getting better at creating real community in blog world and I get excited every time I make a connection that becomes real and you know me and I know you, and I like to suppose the faces cease from their blankness,  a little bit at least.

What is the hardest thing for you about community, about friendships, about online world?

linking with Lisa-Jo for five minute friday and emily for imperfect prose