Thursday, December 24, 2015

The persistence of yellow -- Christmas -- the light has come

It is so few and far between that I sit down to write on this blog these days. Today of all days, Christmas Eve, is typically the busiest day ever. Shopping, cleaning, wrapping, baking, family, and everything in between.

And yet, I have a few moments of quiet, which I love, in the midst of the bustle everywhere else. Is the rest of the world quiet, too? This is how it should be. The world is waiting.

I've read so many words in the past few weeks about how to be joyous during this time and how to also grieve if you're grieving, and how to maybe be able to do both if this is one of those years where it feels hard to be joyful. When it's easy to be joyful, it seems like it doesn't even make sense why we spend so much time talking about the hard stuff. And when there's hard stuff, all the candy canes and fluff and Christmas music seems stale. How come? Why?

There's a way to be in the middle of both, I think. Even if you're not grieving but if you're just living life. Life is a mixture of so many things and Christmas reminds me of that. I love Christmas for forcing us to stop from our lives that are all about us and reminds us that there is more in this world. Even people who don't 'believe' seem to stop and evaluate that there is more to life, and perhaps it causes them to ponder.

This season, though every year we run around until the last minute and Christmas cards don't always get done, teaches us that waiting is good and we aren't in charge. That there's something beautiful going on and that Someone came so we don't have to make life work.

The real reason I sat down to write this post was because I knew a little girl who went to go be with Jesus last year at Christmas. I know her mom well and I have been praying for them this year. It is true when people say there's joy that comes amidst hearts that are hurting and I am always reminded when I talk to my friend of the joy and happiness that exists surrounding the life of this little girl. I will always remember her and her smile and her love of the color yellow. Yellow is my favorite, too.

I had a book sitting on top of my bookshelf for the longest time called "The Persistence of Yellow" and it made me think of her every time. I love the juxtaposition of persistence and yellow. There is not always light, at every moment, but it is persistent. It always comes.

After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” Mathew 2: 1-2

We know that Jesus is the true light who gives us hope, even when there are things in this life we don't think we can carry alone.

This Christmas I am thankful for the persistence of this light! For Jesus! For coming and doing what we couldn't do ourselves. For God who LOVED us enough to send Jesus into this broken and hurting and torn up world so that we could fully live.

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

How will He not also?

"Thanks is what builds trust.

Can God be counted on? Count blessings and find out how many of his bridges have already held. Had I not trusted because I had not counted?

I glance back in the mirror to the concrete bridge, the one I've boldly driven straight across without second thought and I see truth reflecting back at me: Every time that fear freezes and worry writhes, every time I surrender to stress, aren't I advertising the unreliability of God? But if I'm grateful to the Bridge Builder for the crossing of a million strong bridges, thankful for a million faithful moments, my life speaks my beliefs and I trust Him again." -Ann Voskamp

It's almost Thanksgiving! And I have barely written any blogs since I moved across country! How could that be?! How many exclamation points can I use?! I can't catch you up completely now. I don't know what I need to say or not say. I am still trying to catch myself up, too.

I'm realizing life is still as wacky and wild and beautiful and challenging here as it always has been; that it is still the same life and I am still me wherever I am, but I like the way it looks from this angle. It seemed scary at first, so many things that are hard to describe here. That's why writing about change is hard, it's confusing and too vague. You might as well insert your own version of it, whether you've had to move one zip code or ten, it's still change. No one is exempt from it.

In the midst of change, there are tons of new adventures, and if you're me, also lots of tears when you're adjusting and missing friends, too. There's the both/and of growing to love a place and wondering how it will ever become home. Ironically, I think these two things maybe happen side by side and finally, finally, I've started to not get lost everywhere I go and am forging my own path.

In some ways, this move has been the easiest, smoothest move I could ever imagine. In some ways, I have felt like an outsider trying to find my way in, but that is getting better. I think I should immediately fall in love with a place, but things like this usually become sweet from an acquired taste, which is typically better anyway.

A lot of people know Ann's book about counting blessings, joys, and her lyrical way of finding gratitude and giving thanks to God for EVERYTHING.

Tonight, I turned back to 1000 Gifts and straight into the chapter that always haunts me, because I know it's the part I need to hear again and again.

how will he not also?

Basically, it says, He gave us Jesus! The best gift of all. All we need. For life.

So then. If this is all we know, is our life not full? Is He not enough? That truth always convicts me. Because really, really, even when we are going through change, or just in any moment, every moment, we are safe in Christ.

And yet. He wants to give us many good gifts.
He is working all things for good!
He loves us!

All the things. All the things that shock me when I finally trust because I am reminded that life IS good, even amidst difficulties and realities. God is good and there is so much to give thanks for.

how will he not also?

He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? (Romans 8:32)

Let us trust together, friends. Love to you on your way...

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