Monday, July 26, 2021

Playing peek-a-boo

With relief, I dropped my bags onto the floor and collapsed into the black padded chair. Pulling my baby out of the car seat, I lifted her onto my lap and bounced her gently, glancing at the screen that noted our flight departure time. Imagining that, perhaps, I could put the baby on the ground to play so I could read a book, I was shaken out of my thoughts when I heard a voice: 

"Peek-a-boo!"

I glanced over my shoulder to see that, several seats away in the row behind us, a young man was sliding his hand away from his face as he looked at my baby. The edges of his eyes crinkled as he repeated the action: "Peek-a-boo!" My baby's head turned, her eyes riveted. 

From the stocking cap to the baggy sweatshirt and sweatpants, everything about this man appeared drab and unimpressive initially. Gray mask, gray hat, gray clothes, plain white shoes. Yet, from beneath that dreary exterior, his dark eyes sparkled. 

Peek-a-boo! 

His eyes moving to meet mine, he asked: "Are you going to Chicago?"

"No, I'm going to Phoenix," I replied. "I thought this was the gate, but maybe I'm wrong." 

Peek-a-boo! 

"I got out of jail today; I can't wait to see my kids." His eyes crinkled again.

Peek-a-boo!

Friday, July 9, 2021

To lie fallow in a frenetic culture

The moment hangs fresh with hope as I breathe in the scent of my piping hot cup of chai. The thrum, thrum, thrum of the washer beats steadily from the laundry room, the sole noise in the house where my children sleep in a miraculous, simultaneous nap. My fingers hover above the keyboard, I sip my tea, and I wait. Come, Holy Spirit, I pray, eager to see how the events of my life wind and twist together on the page. 

Nothing comes. 

Why is it that when I have a moment where I could potentially hammer out a thousand or so words on a manuscript, I sit and stare blankly? I punch on the keyboard, hesitantly typing out words, but they don't seem to fit. 

I long to grasp my thoughts on recent events, random musings, and experiences and type them up neatly, wrapped in a bow of clarity. Yet, as I ponder the wild wanderings of life, I find myself unable to do so as instantaneously as I would hope. I sit, frustrated, feeling like I've  wasted those precious, infrequent moments when "I could be productive." 

And then I read words of wisdom from educator Charlotte Mason, and though over a century has passed since she penned them, I feel as if she wrote specifically to me: 

"In this time of extraordinary pressure, educational and social, perhaps a mother's first duty to her children is to secure for them a quiet growing time, a full six years of passive receptive life, the waking part of it spent for the most part out in the fresh air." -Charlotte Mason, Home Education

Wednesday, July 7, 2021

An Open Book: June 2021 Reads

Another month has begun, so it's time to join in Carolyn Astfalk's linkup to talk about the books that have crossed my path lately! I fell into old habits of reading a lot of nonfiction, but I managed to read a couple fiction works, too. I also have a couple of longer books that I've been slowly working through, so maybe by the next book linkup those will be done! (but no guarantees haha!)


Thursday, June 17, 2021

The Light Shines Forth

Recently, after some very wonderful and very intense conversations with loved ones about the state of our culture, I grew fired up about countless problems and injustices in our country. Soon after that, I spotted Nomadland at the library and less than 48 hours later had finished it. I thought about the stories of the people in that book, and I thought about the recent lively conversations I had participated in. And I felt it all weighing down on me. And from under that heaviness, I heard the words proclaimed: 

 "The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; Upon those who lived in a land of gloom a light has shone. You have brought them abundant joy and great rejoicing..."  (Is 9:1-2a)

This prophecy of Christ, our Light, always seems to come along when I need it. Isn't it funny how God works? 

Listening to these words ring through the classroom where I sat, I was struck by the darkness in our country. We do not have to look far to see inequality and brokenness tear people down and rip them apart. It can tug at us, nudging us to anxiety and despair. We see the problems around us, and we can grow overwhelmed at the seemingly little that we can do. 

Wednesday, June 2, 2021

An Open Book: May 2021 Reads

A new month is here, so it's time to link up with Carolyn Astfalk to talk about the books that have occupied my time lately. As usual, it's a mix of fiction and nonfiction, spiritual and secular. Let's dive in! 


Monday, May 24, 2021

To be Ralph in a despairing world: Hope in Lord of the Flies

This book really speaks to me of hope. I closed the novel, my mind churning at a thousand miles a minute. When I've shared this sentiment with different friends, it's been met with chuckles and raised eyebrows. I can understand these reactions, because hope is not something people generally associate with Lord of the Flies, by William Golding. Even people who haven't read the book often (rightly) associate this book with savagery. Yet, while Lord of the Flies depicts young British schoolboys caught up in a "survival of the fittest" scenario in all of its brutality, hope glimmers through. 

When the boys in Lord of the Flies discover that they are stranded an an island, with no adults in sight, they realize that they need certain things to survive. As in any group of imperfect, desperate humans, they argue and divide themselves as they try to create a method for survival. Ultimately, the boys rally behind two leaders, Ralph and Jack. Ralph's priority is to keep a fire burning, so that a passing ship may see them and come to their aid. Jack Merridew, on the other hand, recognizes his immediate hunger, and his priority is hunting pigs. 

Realizing their own hunger and desire for food, more and more boys walk away from Ralph, and slip into Jack's group of hunters. Ralph sees these young boys fall into anonymity and bloodlust as they paint their faces and gather around their prey. He hears the frenzied chant rising from their lips: "Kill the beast! Cut his throat! Spill his blood!"

Wednesday, May 19, 2021

Can I let God surprise me?

"Mom, can I have a little bit of kombucha with my applesauce?" My four-year-old grinned widely as he clung to the fridge door. 

I could not believe what was happening. 

When grocery shopping, it's not unusual for my kids to dance in front of the refrigerated case that holds kombucha, asking if we can buy some. And, it's quite common for my kids to run across the house, hollering "CAN I PLEASE HAVE SOME KOMBUCHA?!" the second they hear me open a bottle. 

I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice--I mean, kombucha.

The two-year-old generally will only drink a couple of sips, but my four-year-old will sit there and happily drink kombucha until his cup is empty. I am guessing that he only likes it because I've told him how much sugar is used to make it, but who knows? Maybe he's just really, really into drinking a fermented, probiotic rich beverage that contains multitudes of organisms in every sip. I don't know. 

I just loved the color and mix of textures in this big bush at the park. 

I currently find myself with kids who don't understand what soda is, but they will come running for kombucha. I dream of someday owning backyard chickens and diving into sourdough bread. I drank homemade beet kvass with breakfast the other day. We have recently begun driving to a small urban farm each week to pick up fresh vegetables and look longingly at the dozens of chickens that live there.  

Even just five years ago, I never imagined that any of this would be in my reality or my dreams. 

Life has, in many ways, surprised me. 

Old family photos remind me that people change, but they aren't the only ones who change.  Circumstances shift, family cultures develop, and our very homes may look different as the months and years go by. We grow, we change, and new opportunities come. Old opportunities slip away. 

Thursday, May 13, 2021

Life in the World

The floor-length sheer curtains swish as servers walk across the dining room. Quartz loops around the dim lights, casting a warm, intimate glow. I look around in awe, listening as other people discuss tastes and wine preferences with the waiter, and feel as if I'm peeking into a different world. I carefully swirl duck across my plate, trying to sop up every last bit of raspberry bourbon sauce, and I smile. I am happy to be here with my husband and enjoy this unprecedented weekend without our two oldest  children. 

Afterwards, we grab drinks at a tea lounge and drive home. My dirty vanilla chai propped on my knee, big chunks of boba shoot into my mouth as I sip and tilt my head to the ethereal strains of Purity Ring that blast through the minivan. And I think about the oddness of sitting in a fancy restaurant with applesauce smears on the polyester threads of my thrifted dress, looking into a world that is fun to experience, but knowing that it is not home. We've thoroughly enjoyed ourselves, but this is not our normal sphere of existence. I feel like a newlywed college kid again, stepping into a new life fresh-faced and na├»ve. 

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

An Open Book: April 2021 Reads

It's May! That means it's time to link-up with Carolyn Astfalk at An Open Book so we can chat about what crossed my bookshelf in the past month. It was a pretty fun mix of fiction and non-fiction, classic and contemporary. Let's dive in! 

Sunday, May 2, 2021

Old MacDonald had a farm: a month in review

"I like our neighborhood," my four-year-old declared. "I like the way it sounds." 

He and my baby sat in my lap as we cuddled under a blanket on our porch. Hearing the chirps of birds, the occasional roar of airplanes, and the buzz of car motors, I asked him what in particular he liked. He shushed me, asking if we could simply sit and listen. Feeling chastened, I held my kids close as we sat and looked at our surroundings and listened to this beautiful world. 

I don't think I will ever stop getting excited over daffodils, especially
when we head downtown and are surrounded by big buildings and businesses. They always
find a way to grow and spread joy and brightness ;) 

I cannot believe it is already May, but the ingredients of Rootleaf stew are sitting in my fridge (in preparation for Star Wars Day on May 4) the Easter chocolate is dwindling, and a recent 80-degree-day reminded us that summer is quickly approaching. These past weeks of Easter have been packed with goodness, joy, and fun, but I am also hoping to grasp a slowness this month, now that much of the joyous holiday frenzy has subsided. 

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Weaving is slow work--and that's a good thing

 "seven...seven...seven...seven..." I counted silently, focused as I wound string around the warping board on the wall. I counted and re-counted the strands: 33 burgundy, 49 black, 33 yellow. 

Surrounded by large wooden looms and hearing the gentle chatter from the handful of women who worked in the weaving studio, I was overcome with a sense of calm. I could stand here and methodically count threads all by myself! Without a small child asking me questions continually! I smiled and continued my work. Already, I loved weaving class. 

* * * 

Later that evening, I set down the threads of yarn and began to gather my things so I could leave. 

There's a lot of preparatory work in weaving, but when you get going, you just weave! And there's not much work to finish up at the end. It's all in the beginning, the instructor encouraged me. Two hours into my first class, and I hadn't even threaded the loom yet. But, that would come. I just needed to be patient.