I mailed this letter to my brother today. I wonder if the mailman will notice the verses. Or the prison official who will read the letter, checking for violations. Or my brother’s cellmates. I hope they all will.
I used colored pens because I don’t know how many vivid colors he gets to see in a day. I wrote in colors because God’s word should be written in a rainbow, because it’s full of promise and hope. I wrote in colors because black ink is too institutional, and he has enough of that for now.
I had hoped, after last time, that the only things I would mail him again would be Christmas cards and birthday packages, but this is where we are. There is a number after his name again. Letters are now the lifeline to the outside world. They replace hugs and Fourth of July picnics, and beach trips. They remind him that we haven’t forgotten him, but they also remind him that life can’t wait for him and it just keeps going. I imagine he reads letters from home with a mixture of dread and longing, with gratitude and resentment, with hope and regret.
Maybe not yet, though. He hasn’t been there long. It can take a while to open your eyes, to heal from these self inflicted wounds, to shake off the haze of disasters you’ve created. To feel things again… that’s a big part of the battle.
But, when that day comes, maybe these bright words of peace and forgiveness will shine. Maybe they’ll get him through the day. Maybe they’ll grow in him and fill up the empty places he’s tried to satisfy with the poor substitutions of this world. Because His Word can do anything. It made stars and heavens and life and time. It parted seas, raised the dead, closed the lion’s jaws. His Word creates all, conquers all, restores all, saves all, sustains all. There’s nothing it can’t do.
I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits,
and IN HIS WORD I put my hope.
Goodness gracious. Time does get away from me! I’m going to make a grab for it and put it in a neck hold for just a minute so we can catch up. Ready? And GO
Chickens? Good. Finally starting to pick up with egg laying again, after seriously calling it in this winter. Major slackers in the coop. Some of my girls are getting on up in the years, so their production is dropping off. And cold, wet weather with short days do not make a plethora of eggs. However, I do have about 10 or 12 young hens who are not far from joining the rotation. They’re all wild as can be, too, because I haven’t spent much time with them. Like, they have returned to the feral ways of their Jungle Fowl ancestors. It’s tribal in there. CRAY-CRAY. But, as long as they lay, they stay. Actually, that sounds like a motivational sign I need to paint for the coop. You Lay, You Stay. Ha.
After losing my sweet Annabel to a possum (don’t even, I still can’t), we decided to get a Livestock Guardian Dog (LGD). Actually, he’s half Great Pyrenees, so we got half of an LGD. :) But so far, so good. His name is Pete and he is a giant goofy baby and we love him. I’ll have to put some pictures up. He barks at everything that has ever existed or will exist, so we haven’t seen any possums in months. RIP, Annabel.
King Pen has taken over many of the chicken duties for me like a CHAMP. I’ve been pretty wrapped up in some other projects, which is why you aren’t seeing pictures of chickens flooding your FB and Instagram feeds from me. I’ll be glad when things settle down and I can hang out in the coop more. There’s drama going on that I just KNOW I am missing. And there ain’t no drama like chicken drama, I kid you not.
As for other projects, the kids are involved in a production of Mary Poppins and that means my world is revolving around rehearsals and I CAN’T STOP SINGING SPOONFUL OF SUGAR. For months, guys. And we speak in proper upper class British accents now, all the time, because once ‘you staht, you con’t stop, deah.’ But it’s fun. Kids are working hard and I’m burning up the roads and it’ll all be awesome and fun and wonderful and you just keep saying that over and over and over for three months. Ha.
We’re also doing another, smaller show, and this one I’m actually in. (I know, I’m ridiculous). But it’s singing!! And speaking!! And dancing!! And with my daughter!! So, add another night (or two) of rehearsals to the week.
And now I’m embarrassed, because there’s a teeny tiny bit more that I’m doing. One night a week, I’m taking a beginner’s American sign language class. I’ve been learning on my own for a while, but really needed an instructor and classroom setting. It’s about the coolest thing I’VE EVER DONE. I show up every Tuesday on the front row with my pencil super sharp and my book highlighted and I do a few stretches before class to warm up. (I wish I was kidding. But I’m not. I am that much the nerd.)
So, that’s what’s up with me. My dance ticket is full, full, full, but it’s all good. Sorry I’ve been so absent! I’ll try to sneak away periodically and update my blog, so don’t delete the bookmark just yet.
Happy Friday, y’all!
Oh no, an hour slipped by me. We inch closer to midnight, and the gears are just beginning to move. I spent too much time in front of the white page, trying to make the cursor stop blinking.
What to write? Oh, write what you know, they say so casually, as if it’s just that simple and obvious. What do I know? How huge is this question? Isn’t that what we are always trying to figure out? What do I know of this life? What have I gained here, what’s the reason for it all? Just write that.
Ha! Write the Great Big Point of Everything. The thing you have learned on this journey of domestic ordinariness that will stop the cursor from it’s winking state of readiness– and GO.
Okay. Maybe they don’t mean, write all you know. Maybe I’ll just write what I know today.
Today, I know that a picture of my brother smiling almost made me cry. If I could make a moment stay by sheer force of will, this one wouldn’t move an inch. How hard we’re holding on, now that we’ve got him.
What else do I know today?
I know that I should wear my hair down more often. I know that my five year old thinks I’m beautiful with my hair down, even if I’m in yoga pants and a boring shirt and don’t have makeup on. I know that the prettiest kind of pretty you can be is when you are doing it for the enjoyment of those who love you. That the prettiest pretty isn’t about being admired or lusted after or meeting the approval of the hungry, insatiable world. Maybe that’s the kind of pretty you don’t begin to understand until there are laugh lines to underscore the word. Until there are gray streaks to catch the light, or fuller curves to hug into. Maybe it’s the only kind of pretty that sticks.
I know that I need to sit and talk more often with a true friend for a few hours in a bookstore, in REAL LIFE. I need to recharge, to be genuine, to laugh and bare something of my soul to another human being. I know this because when I spent my evening doing this very thing with a dear friend, my spirit was buoyant as it hasn’t been in a long time. I’m working so hard on growing friendships in my life, and to be honest, sometimes I’m impatient. I want the doors to be opened already, and the walls to come down. But that takes time. So, to enjoy the company of a seasoned friend– well that is a rest for the weary soul! I will not wait so long again.
I know that I need to turn the radio off more often. I need to stop placing barricades to keep my mind from wandering. Maybe it’s society, the modern world, our growing unease of quiet and stillness. Whatever it is, when I forgot to turn on the radio in the car today, my mind meandered all over the place, suddenly free from mind numbing restraints. Ideas raced about like newborn colts in my head. I thought thoughts, all kinds of ’em. Dusty corners of my brain were shocked into activity. And this truly scared me. Because I didn’t know I’d been downsizing up there. And if I’m doing it, I’m betting you are, too. Life is too loud, and we can’t hear ourselves think anymore. So, that’s a thing I know today. I need to let it be quiet sometimes, so my thoughts have a chance to be heard.
The last thing I know today is that it’s my bedtime. Well past it. And I’ve learned all the things I can fit in for this day. Tomorrow, maybe I’ll know more, and it’ll be worth writing about.
Hi blog. You’re still up. I knew you would be.
I was just thinking tonight, what if I said all the words again? All. the. words. What if I pretended it was the good old days, when I painted my life across these pages with the biggest brush I had? Wide, bold strokes and reckless abandon. Carefree, if a bit careless at times. What would happen if I let the writer out a bit?
It’s after midnight. It’s certainly hard to contain her when all the darlings are asleep, except the cat who meows in the windowsill for a late night snack.
Worth a try, he says.
Catch a mouse, I say. (He is not as much a darling as some)
Here’s the thing. Life is fully more complicated than I ever imagined it to be. Each word I say has a string tied to it and on the other end is a person. I can’t just go around tugging strings and tangling up my people. But, if I am careful, perhaps a little wiggle won’t hurt.
I went on a bicycle ride this afternoon. With the oldest in charge, I left my phone on the counter. Mostly, I couldn’t figure out how to carry it. But a little inside part of me needed to be off the grid, needed to be the Person Who Wasn’t Answering Questions.
It was nice. And scary, to be honest. Who is answering the Questions if not me? What if there is an urgent Question that needs answering and I am off gaily pedaling these country roads? Might the world explode if I become a Person Who Isn’t Answering Questions?! Will this mad experiment of a solo bike ride off the grid be the downfall of civilization as we know it?
It was not.
And so, I conclude that it must be okay to be that Person sometimes, who does not Answer Questions. I suspect, it might be necessary to my sanity to occasionally be that Person. I could let someone else have a turn Answering the Questions. A short turn, anyway.
I am learning ASL. Each day I practice, I am more excited. And then I hang around my deaf friends, and I am dismayed at how very little I know. This keeps happening, and I am learning to laugh at myself. I’ll probably never know enough to be much of a friend, but I will keep on baking muffins and inviting them over and signing ridiculously slow. I keep signing wrong things that amuse them (and me), which makes me smile. This is a happy string.
My brother is home and he is doing well. We make jokes sometimes now. Every little positive communication is a very big deal. To him, to me- to anyone who is coming out the other side of active addiction. A little pat on the back, a shared laugh, a nice hug– they are like moments dipped in gold. They are bright and so very valuable. So we continue to pan for them, shaking the rocks and the soil out of the way, looking for that glint of something special. The pile grows. Perhaps we may be rich yet.
My daughter is hoping for some pink highlights in her hair. I was not told this question would be on the test. (!) It’s nowhere on the syllabus, I’m quite sure of it. I’ve looked front and back and I guess I’ll just have to wing it. I’ll make an educated guess (Option C is always a good choice, they say), and hope for bonus questions in case I get this one wrong. Pink. Hm.
Next. (Maybe last- I’m finally getting sleepy and the cat quit asking for a midnight snack.)
I was reading the last chapter of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire aloud to the kids today. It was so hard not to cry, but I couldn’t, because if I cried, they wouldn’t experience the story itself, but rather, MY feelings. So I resolved myself. I would feel all the feels (see how current and trendy I am) on the inside, but I would not compromise the integrity of my story telling by showing it on the outside. I swallowed back the lump in my throat, and blinked away the tears. I would not forget my sacred duty as a deliverer of words, especially those to be heard for the first time. I dove in and read with all the fullness I possessed. I feel so many things, but I will not lose the story. Because, at the heart of it, that’s what I want to do. Give them the story, and let them feel and experience what they will, on their own. It’s the best way. It’s authentic.
I think this could be important in more ways than my scarecrow brain can put together right now. So that’s how I know, it’s time to sleep. It is one a.m. and the cat has abandoned his perch. The writer is pacified and drowsy and slightly alarmed at the clock. (see what I did there)
G’nite all. Happy dreams from a blog not quite abandoned. Not yet.
To the Woman with a Humble Home:
This letter is for you if you do not have granite countertops. If you have not shopped at Pottery Barn (and do not really look closely at the catalogues, because come on.) If you have light switches that don’t work (and probably never will, honestly!) If you don’t have a dishwasher, if you have window air units, if you have paint that chips, screens that are taped, forks that don’t match, and you have strategically placed rugs to cover stains and scratches.
If you’re like me, and your home is humble, and sometimes you feel bad about it.
Like, you’ve failed somehow.
Like, people will see the frayed edges, and think you haven’t tried enough.
Like, even though God’s blessed you and you are SO GRATEFUL, sometimes you wonder why He isn’t blessing you out of the 2015 Pottery Barn fall collection.
This is for you.
What if, what if… your home is absolutely perfect, right now, as it is?
What if, when someone walks into your home, they think of the house they grew up in? They remember their mother, and the simple years of their childhood, and it brings them joy. Joy, when they maybe needed it more than you knew? Maybe when they had forgotten that joy isn’t found in the the pursuit of the American dream?
What if, when someone walks into your home, they see the flowers in the mason jar, and they think of how beautiful nature is, how happiness and enjoyment doesn’t have to be purchased or polished. It can just be.
What if, when someone walks into your home, they see their place set at the table, and they feel a little less alone. They feel connected, wanted, important?
What if, when someone walks into your home, they see the effort, the care you took in being hospitable, and they who are blessed with even more resources, are encouraged to do that same?
What if, when someone walks into your home, they see the imperfections, the flaws, all the things you have fretted over and tried to hide. But then, they see you smiling, saying, welcome. Dear Lord, what could that mean for them? That THEY don’t have to be perfect? That flaws are not what define us? That we are all broken, but we are all welcomed by Jesus?
What if things are happening in His Kingdom and for it, that you have NO IDEA about, because your home is EXACTLY what it is? How many times have we missed the opportunity for that because we wouldn’t offer to host a meeting or have someone to dinner, because we didn’t want anyone to see that we’re not living the same as others?
Oh dear hearts, I’ve been there. I’m sorry to say it- it’s shameful. I almost didn’t want to write this post. But I’m hoping that sharing this with you might encourage you to see your own home in a different light.
This secondhand furniture is exactly what God chose for you, because He had a purpose for it. It’s not an accident. If there’s one thing we should know about Him by now, it’s that NOTHING is ever an accident with Him. Your home has been carefully crafted by the Lord, each rickety table and mismatched pillow, all to draw others to Him. He poured over the furnishings, choosing this and that, and saying, yes, this one is just right. This couch with its worn spot, and that chair with its scratched wood, and those curtains that are just a little too long. This place is just right. This place is glorified and will bring light into the world.
What if your home is beautiful in His eyes?
Because, friend, it is.
It is lovely, and good, and useful, and has been constructed to fit your heart and hand so that you can use it for Him. Look around and delight in it. Rest in it. Look with kind eyes on these walls, whose tasks go beyond what we can see in this world. Open your door wide, don’t be ashamed. Stop apologizing. That’s what our enemy would have, that we would close off our corner of the world. That we would believe it is not enough, that we are not enough, that HE is not enough. Lies. Because what our enemy knows is that, there is nothing more powerful than a home that loves the Lord, and whose door is open.
Stand at your threshold and rejoice, woman of the humble home.
For you are a daughter of the King, and your home is His dwelling place.
I’ve seen my brother once in the last two years, at my sister’s wedding. As we stood for photographs in the sunshine and the flowers and the heartbreak, I wondered if that would be the last one of us all together.
He wrote me a letter from a rehab a few days ago, and before I had a chance to even write him back, he had left.
I lay in bed some nights, imagining what it is that will kill him, and what it will do to us.
I pity him.
I’m angry at him.
I’m scared for him.
I miss him.
repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat
He’ll die in a hospital bed, after a lifetime of regrets, like my uncle David.
The image of my parents with silver hair, and gently bent backs, and wrinkled faces, and not a worldly possession left to care for themselves.
That we haven’t seen the darkest days yet.
That saying it aloud hurts him and hurts my family.
That saying it aloud doesn’t make any difference at all.
God help him. Help us.
“There are three things which are too wonderful for me, Four which I do not understand: The way of an eagle in the sky, The way of a serpent on a rock, The way of a ship in the middle of the sea, And the way of a man with a maid.” Proverbs 30:19
Eighteen years I have learned the wonders of the ways between a man and a maid. I have seen love stretched and tested and enduring. I have seen it soaring and flying, I’ve seen it hanging on and surviving. I’ve seen it come easily and quickly, and other times fought for, bought with heart aches and forgiveness and reconciliation. I’ve seen it shine like a brand new penny, I’ve seen it flickering bravely in dark places. I’ve seen it change, over and over. The endless seasons of love coming and going and transforming us, year after year after year. It becomes fuller and more bodied as it ages. It becomes something so difficult to describe that we stop trying. It becomes so intimate and personal, that you don’t often see movies or novels written about the 18th year of being in love. But this is a loss to us, as we love past our honeymoons and newlywed days. Let the world hear, love is rich and amazing and reborn in us a thousand times over our lives. Let this little verse rival the lines of Romeo and Juliet. Let me challenge Paris and Helen. What can be known of love can’t be gathered in such brief moments as theirs. Though truly, even a life time wouldn’t be long enough to know all the wonders of love.
Summer in my heart
Though winter rages ’round
Sunshine on my skin
Though rain keeps falling down.
Music in my ears
When fades away the tune,
Stars in my sky,
When hidden is the moon.
Sweetness on my lips
Though bitterness may be fed,
Warmth in my bones
Though long the fire dead.
Fullness in all my wanting
Safety in all my fears
Joy in every sorrow,
With you in all my years.