"God showed me something small, no bigger than a hazelnut, lying in the palm of my hand… and it was round as a ball. I looked at it with the eye of my understanding and thought: 'What can this be?' And it was generally answered thus: 'It is all that was made.' It was so small I thought it might disappear, but I was answered... everything has being through the love of God." --Julian of Norwich

Friday, May 8, 2015

Five sense Friday in Florida

Hello from Gulf Islands National Seashore, outside Pensacola, Florida.  We have spent the past week in the sunshine here splashing in the Gulf of Mexico, soaking up the sun under unseasonably clear blue skies, hunting seashells and hermit crabs, petting animals at the zoo, and generally enjoying a much, much needed long-overdue vacation.

Today, our last full day here, I'm...

Seeing: turquoise blue surf, white foam waves under a cloudless sky, baby eyelashes miles long on flushed cheeks, brightly colored beach towels and sunbrellas leaning into the wind,  my Lucy-girl splashing in the waves, light everywhere, absolutely everywhere.

Hearing: the pound of surf, the whir of sea breeze in a straw hat, voices caught on that wind and dulled by those waves, the happy laughter of a little girl in love with the beach.

Smelling: Salt air, baby sweat, the plastic air in a snorkel mask

Tasting: the morning's pancake, egg and bacon breakfast, carrots and celery on the beach seasoned by salty-ocean fingers,  the grit of sand in teeth, the life of fresh water on my tongue

Touching: the crunch of broken shells under my bare feet and sweat tickling my neck as we attempt a family picture, my bare, tender-tanned and heat-rashy skin still moonpale next to the rest of my little family, my youngest napping on my chest under a bright towel tent made cool by air and water, her breaths rising and falling, her body holding me tight even in her sleep.

It feels like a little glimpse into the beauty and brightness of heaven. I'm beginning to understand what sabbaticals are for. There are times when extravagant rest--a time to just eat and drink and play and sleep deep--is just what the soul needs.

I am deeply grateful that my parents and their friends with a home in Florida made this trip possible for us. So. Grateful.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Miscellaneous thoughts on Oklahoma

Sunrise on the northern horizon (from my parent's kitchen table)
  • After six and a half years in Canada, I am now a resident of the United States again. Even though I haven't been an Oklahoma resident for 20 years, it still feels familiar and comfortable. As though I have been walking uphill or swimming upstream for a very long time and have finally turned around.  I feel stronger for the effort of living outside my home country and culture of origin, but I also feel tired. It is a relief to my weary muscles to be back home.
  • It is so lovely and warm here when the sun shows her face. 70 degrees Fahrenheit in March? I'll take it.  I'm painfully aware that there is still snow in Calgary. Don't miss it one bit.
  • That being said, I appear to be allergic to whatever the wind blows swiftly down the plains. Can't. Stop. Sneezing. Eating copious amounts of local honey seems to be helping.
  • I can't express how blessed I feel to know I am still welcome here in my parents home, so late in the game of life, with the chaos and mess of a young family of four.
  • After a month on moving-hiatus, I sat down to write again a few weeks ago. Spent some time reading a bit of the newest draft to my mom, who loved it and said "just finish the thing! I want to hear the rest!" Glad for cheerleaders.
  • A friend recently hooked us up with some raw cow's milk. Because of my corn allergy, I  haven't had milk since before Julianne was born... almost a year ago. I had almost forgotten how it tasted. And this milk was so worth the wait anyway. Mmmm.
  • The organic whole wheat bread my mom buys from a food coop... tastes like cake. What is up with that?! I miss my honey whole wheat Prairie Mill bread from Calgary. :(
  • Quartz Mountain (about 30 mins from my parent's home)
  • We just found a spot for Lucy in the local Christian pre-school for a few months! The sweet girl is so excited she talks about it all the time. Can't believe she'll be four in July! And Julianne will be one THIS WEEK.  Impossible.

Currently reading: 

  • The Skin Map, by Steven Lawhead.  Loving this book for its imagination and fun fast moving plot.

Recently Read:

  • The Fields of Bannockburn by Donna Fletcher Crow. A fun historical novel that spans the history of the Kings of Scotland.  However, it was SO LONG and I have so little reading time these days, it took me five months to read (and I still didn't quite finish).  
  • I had better luck with knocking out the memoir Found by Micha Boyett. I read it on our Kindle in a couple of nights when Julianne was sick and needed to be held long hours.  Loved this book so much! So similar to my own story of struggle to find a new rhythm of prayer amidst the chaos of motherhood. Poetic, funny and a very wise book, its one of my very favorites in the Christian memoir category.
  • Also: with my friend Mike Yankoski's book The Sacred Year, which I have been reading very, very slowly because it is a) so good and b) so personally challenging you can't read a chapter without feeling inspired to let your life catch up before you read another.  I cannot wait until I can order a whole stack and lead a book group/discipleship group through it.  And I'm not even finished yet.  I'll write more when I finish it, because it is epic!

Recently watched:

  • It's been about a month now since Grantchester and Downton Abbey finished their runs, but I had so much fun watching them.  I'm putting the Sidney Chambers books (that Grantchester is based on) on my summer reading list because I just can't get enough.
  • More recently I've binged on Hallmark channel movies that my dad picked out to watch with me.  The Ron Clark Story we saw tonight was the first to make me bawl... it's an inner-city teaching story.  Reminded me of my own students so many years ago in NYC and their broken and beautiful lives.
  • Oh! And I saw and adored Cinderella. It really captured the beauty, wit and wisdom of the story well.  I could write a book on that one too re: feminism and fairy tales. But since I have another book to finish up... I'll save it for another day.

Picnic and playground sunny day
Have a blessed Holy Week! We've been low-churching it lately, so much so that I teared up when we said the Apostle's creed on Sunday visiting my brother's church in Oklahoma City. Like couldn't even finish.  Who does that?  I always remind myself in moments like that that the Medieval church considered tears a gift.  Those Medievals were smarter than we often think.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

What life (and love) look like for us right now

"Dawn, Calgary". Photo Credit, Clinton Werezak.

Last night, for at least the third night in a row, the baby woke up screaming and restless at about 12:30 am and refused to settle back into bed until about 3am.  Teething.  Ugh.  She would doze in our arms, but as soon as she hit the crib sheet, she protested her unfair abandonment.

She has recently discovered her lungs and makes each scream as ear-splitting, and attention-getting as possible.  I remember our firstborn doing this, but I also see how the stakes are higher for this sweet second-born.  My attention is just that much harder to compete for.  And a fierce competitor she is!

Exhausted and disoriented by sleep-loss, we were not amused.

Neither Clint, nor I are exceptionally good at being gentle and kind when our sleep is interrupted. We have our moments, but awoken at 3am, three nights in a row we are not our best selves.

As the baby screamed, we took turns last night.  Holding her, rocking her with the creak of the wooden chair, swaying on our feet, her small body curled like a comma in our arms, bending over her crib, cursing the soother that she throws out of the crib (usually not with actual bad words).  The other of us would lie down just feet from the crib still in our room, attempting to rest and pray, generally unable to sleep.

We are dreaming for our futures again.  Tickets in hand to head to Oklahoma March 9th, to spend some much needed time with my parents and siblings, to wrestle with God in more prayer and hold out hope for the future.

Do you know what an utter failure I feel like as a person in my thirties with two kids, living with our parents?  We're not saving up for a down payment.  We're not yet actively raising support for full-time Christian work.  We're just completely and totally burnt out.  Sensitive people worn down by physical pain and mental and spiritual battles in the past few years.  We'd forgotten how to imagine.  We'd forgotten how to dream for our futures.  We'd lost confidence in ourselves, and in our weakest moments, in each other.  There were no jobs in the places we thought they'd be.  We felt frozen in place.

But God has his vice-grip on us.

There is no better place to be, than held by God.

That doesn't make it any easier.

Mercy was new this morning.  Tylenol soothed the baby into a long(er) sleep.  A cheerful preschooler knocked quietly on the door, rubbing sleepies out of her eyes at 7:23am and found me back in the rocker nursing.  The baby turned her head toward the light of the door and smiled.  We went upstairs, quietly to leave Daddy breathing quietly in his much-needed sleep.  She wanted her toast, baby wanted her Cheerios.  After the incense of my cinnamon bread toasting rose up, I cut myself a big slice of Guinness Chocolate birthday cake and watched the sun rise out the kitchen window in grey and purple, blue and green, pink and orange.

Knowing that I am fragile, prone to failure, and in need of grace is the best kind of lesson.  Hard but good.  Because most of the really good things are veins of ore mined out of the hardness of life.  Precious because they were hard-won.  What I've learned, more than anything, is that I am not alone.  It's okay to need help.  It is good, even, to be weak, to give up self-sufficiency, independence, and pride and choose love.

Thirty-two is going to be a good year.  Because grip or no, I'm in God's hands.  Hands I know, love, and trust from years of hard-won experience.  I'd much rather be gripped tightly than left to slip away.