{ Escaping Creative Ruts (DAY 478) }

photo 1(6)I was wondering what I should write about today because really I’d rather just sit down and have a chat with you instead. I’d tell you how it poured buckets and I got drenched running from the car to the house a mere 6 steps.  Or how sometimes the beauty around me makes me literally feel like I will fly to pieces.  Truth be told I wondered what I should write at all.  And then the clouds parted and the sun came waltzing into my room all radiant and lit on fire an idea in my mind.  Racing into the next room I snatched my paints and brushes, ripped paper, and thanked the Lord that all of my art supplies were no longer packed away.  With only 10 minutes to catch the laughing sun as she danced to bed I had to go be decisive.  Strokes came sure and fast and I didn’t have time to rethink anything.  It didn’t have to be perfect but I needed something for a post.  Feathers formed under the whispy brush hairs and when I was done I grabbed the last rays winking through the trees to illuminate it.  And I liked it.  I know exactly what I’m going to write on it and what pages it will get tucked between.

So what did this little endeavor teach me?  Well if you’re stuck in a creative rut find something else creative to do.  If you love to write but can’t craft words at the moment go swish paint on a canvas.  If you are building a table and it’s not what you envisioned go take a picture.  No matter what your creative “thing” is if it feels dead go find something else to enliven it.  The brilliant thing about creativity is that there isn’t a set of rules.  Feel free to paint outside the lines.  Whatever you do please don’t stop creating.  Find a new outlet for a while if you need to.  In the end the sun always comes back out.

Posted on July 24, 2014 by | Comments { 0 }

{ Life lately (DAY 477) }

“What other new crazy stuff you got in there?”
“I’m alive.”
“Heck, that’s old!”
IMG_9902 IMG_9903 IMG_0033
Thinking about it, noticing it, is new.  You do things and don’t watch.  Then all of a sudden you look and see what you’re doing and it’s the first time, really.  I’m going to divide the summer up in two parts.  First part of this tablet is titled: RITES AND CEREMONIES.  The first root beer pop of the year.  The first time running barefoot in the grass of the year.  First time almost drowning in the lake of the year.  First water-melon.  First mosquito.  First harvest of dandelions.  Those are the things we do over and over and over and never think.  Now here in back, like I said, is DISCOVERIES AND REVELATIONS or maybe ILLUMINATIONS, that’s a swell word, or INTUITIONS, okay?  In other words you do an old familiar thing, like bottling dandelion wine, and you put that under RITES AND CEREMONIES.  And then you think about it, and what you think, crazy or not, you put under DISCOVERIES AND REVELATIONS.  Here’s what I got on the wine: Every time you bottle it, you got a whole chunk of 1928 put away, safe.  How do you like that, Tom?”

“I got lost a mile back somewhere.” ~Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury

IMG_0189 IMG_0137 IMG_0097As you may or may not have noticed I was MIA last week.  It was a very full yet wonderful two weeks for me and I just needed to live in the moment.  But don’t worry, I took a ridiculous amount of pictures so I have a few to share.  Since so much happened I’ll just list a few of the things that come to mind.

Got to go on a date with Andrew Garfield.  No, not the famous one….my amazing brother one! ;)  It was so fun having him and my sister in law in town.

I ate my first waffle ice cream cone. EVER.  You better believe I enjoyed every minute of it.  Also ice cream cones can be messy.  I think it adds to the fun.

We went thrifting.  I don’t mean a few stores.  When I say thrifting I mean that my brother had a list (a list! he’s so organized) of all the thrift stores they wanted to see.  We had a grand time and found some treasures.  No adventure is complete without treasure ya know. ;)

My niece and nephew had a darling lemonade stand complete with organic lemonade and polka dot straws…and homemade cookies.

We ate.  And ate.  AND ATE.  I don’t know why that’s a vacation thing but it is.

One day we went on a scenic drive and discovered a lavender field…and some alpacas not too far from that.  Alpacas are funny looking creatures and when they are sheared they are truly hilarious to see.  God totally has a sense of humor.

Most nights we stayed up wayyyyy too late watching The Lord of the Rings series…the extended version.  Those are some of my favorite movies and I hadn’t watched them in a while so it was fun to get into that story again.

There was a wonderful sale on ice cream.  We bought a lot.  Did I mention we ate heaps these past few weeks?!  Hopefully that round of miniature golf helped keep us trim. ;)

All in all though the best part was just having my whole family in one place for so many days.  It wasn’t long enough but we made the most of it and I can’t wait for next time.

What parts of summer are you enjoying most? :)  I’d love to hear about it in the comments!

Posted on July 22, 2014 by | Comments { 0 }

{ Hands & Tales (DAY 476) }

IMG_9726A little background about this one…  I met this beautiful young woman a few weeks ago through some friends of mine.  She was staying at their house during her epic trip from Australia (where she lives) throughout Canada and America.  Due to schedules I only got to see her a few times but we clicked really easily.  While walking around the track on the last evening I saw her I knew I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to do a Hands & Tales post with her.  All I had was my iphone but we made it work. ;)  Hope you enjoy her answers as much as I did and if you’re not familiar with why I do these posts you can read about it here.

Who has touched your life and why?  Beyond my parents, who are some of the most gracious people in the world, a significant influence has been a close friend from my church community. She has touched my life by loving me & investing in me, even when her life has been busy & she’s been anxious. She’s met with me, cared for me & helped me work out what life is as my 20-something brain battles through the understanding of my selfishness & the world’s ‘bigness’, which often seem contradictory.

What was one of the happiest days of your life?  One of the happiest days of my life was just recently – I have been traveling & I met up with a group of my good friends from home. It was so great to spend the day experiencing new things together. A day for history :)

What’s your greatest struggle right now?  My greatest struggle is knowing how to look to the future. I know I have an infinitely small impact on the world, although YOU [elaini] have shown me that one person can impact others greatly, but how do we just continue to move forward into unknowness? It scares & excites me, but beyond those feelings I know there is a God who loves this world & it’s people, and He knows the answers to this question. Trusting Him with that has been one of the hardest, yet most freeing parts of my Christian faith.
Posted on July 10, 2014 by | Comments { 0 }

{ A little sister (DAY 475) }

IMG_9356Sometimes you don’t know you have a hole in your heart until it is filled.  There’s that moment when you simultaneously realize you were broken and now it’s fixed.  Or that something, more importantly someone, is missing from your life and then you “get” them back in a way that defies convention.  I love that God is a healer.  All the little bits of me and tears and hurts and gashes he wants to make new.  One more thing healed in me yesterday.  A healing I didn’t even know needed to happen.

Yesterday on July 1st this happened quite unexpectedly.  I read a blog post by Kristen Morris over at The Family Morris and something inside me shook.  She wrote about her miscarrying her second son Ryan Day Morris.  Towards the end the shaking did its work and the dam in my heart broke open.  Tears, yes.

Just days before while getting my wisdom teeth out the assistant had turned to my mother (who kindly came in when I was done) and asked how many children she had.  “Four” my mother replied.  Her words surprised me.  I always think of being one of three.  There has always been my older sister and brother and me.  Three.

I know my mother still birthed at almost 6 months.  I’ve known that all my life but we rarely talk about it.

You see I’ve always wanted a little sibling.  I’ve especially wanted a little sister.  The times I’ve longed for that are countless.  Yesterday I received the most precious gift while reading that blog post.  I got my little sister back.  Lydia exists.  Lydia exists and she’s my little sister.  Again there are tears as I write.  I didn’t realize just how much I need Lydia to be.  At age 26 I’m finally realizing just a tiny bit.  We would have been close, not just in age, but in heart.  She is two years younger than I am.  I’m a big sister! Words don’t do justice to how that makes me feel.

Lydia means worshiper of God.  I know that’s exactly what she’s doing right now and it’s beautiful.  I’ve always been the only one in my immediate family that is musical but now I know that Lydia is the best of us all at this moment.  True I wish I was playing the piano and singing with her instead of writing this but since I can’t I know our hearts sing to the Lord whom we both love.  Mine is the less complicated melody and hers the harmony I can’t quite yet understand.  We sing to the One who gave us both life.  Her life is even more real and abundant than mine is on this earth because she is with Life himself all the time without the veil to see him through as I do. 

I wonder what you would be like Lydia.  Would you look like dad or mom or be a funny combination of both like me.  Would you have been adventurous?  What does your laugh sound like?  What would you teach me?  What crazy things would we have done?  What foods would you like?  I want to ask you a million + questions….

Dear little sister I know we would have fought like all siblings do but I also know there would be a love between us that couldn’t be broken.  I know that because I love you fiercely.  I can’t wait to sing and dance with you little sis.  I miss you but I’m thankful that another piece of my heart is in heaven with you.  I’m so thankful that Jesus already had answered my prayers for a little sister before I even prayed them.

Posted on July 8, 2014 by | Comments { 9 }

{ Diamonds In The Window (DAY 474) }

IMG_9303 IMG_9297 IMG_9322“Mom, I can’t explain what’s happened to me but it’s incredible.  It’s like I have one foot in heaven and one here on earth.” “You don’t think you’re going to die soon do you?!” “No, mom but it’s just like I’m touching the divine and sacred alllllll the time right now. Even the challenging stuff.”

The other night as I was cooking up mashed potatoes (because I got all four wisdom teeth out without sedation ya’ll) I realized the kitchen was brightening up with the setting sun.  As I drifted through the house I saw it positively flooding through the back windows.  The one in the bathroom took my breath away since it looked like a million diamonds set on fire.  How can a screen and a window sparkle like THAT I wondered?  Especially a bathroom window…. I grabbed my camera and shot these pics.  There is so much beauty all around us if we have the eyes to see it.  You can reach out and touch it.  You can inhale it like a much needed breath of air.  You can hear it if you listen.  I promise you it’s there.

Maybe you feel like you’re in the dark right now.  Maybe you think that just inhaling oxygen is about all you can muster up let alone beauty.  Maybe you don’t feel like you’re hearing anything let alone God.  Reach out your hands, palms up.  Rest your amazing soul.  Open hands show a sign of being able to let go of things you don’t need to carry as well as show you are willing to receive.  I hope it will make your soul radiate.  Take the time to sit in the moment and just be.

Posted on July 1, 2014 by | Comments { 4 }

{ Missing people I’ve never met (DAY 473) }

10005983_737819506240483_4280997920399041616_oAs if India wasn’t already on my mind a lot it’s on my mind even more these days.  My dear friends are in India with my other dear friends Paige and Sean!  It’s very odd to have my friends be in a place that is so dear to my heart that I’ve yet to experience but it is also quite exciting!  There are so many things I would like to do in India…hold the hands of the kiddos in the homes we’ve raised money for.  Explore the city and surrounding area.  Try not to breath too deeply. ;)  Eat new foods.  Have eyes wide open. Hug the kiddos some more.  Read books with the kiddos.  Play with the kiddos…you get the idea.  For now though I pray for them and love them from here.  Do you ever miss someone you’ve never met?  I do all the time and it is bittersweet.

ALSO UPDATE! $88,968.00 :D  We are sooooo close to making that $89K! Anyone want to push it there? Even $5 dollars makes a difference.

Posted on June 26, 2014 by | Comments { 2 }

{What Anne with an E taught me (DAY 472) }

photo(60)Over the weekend I spontaneously rented and watched Anne of Green Gables and Anne of Avonlea.  It was wonderful and as always it made me want to laugh and cry or in this case cry from laughing.  If you haven’t seen the movie please go do so now before you read this post.  While I have always seen the movie (and read the books) as a glorious romantic love story this time other things stood out to me.  Here is some of what captured my attention….

1.  True unconditional love can give a spirit wings to fly on.  Anne is determined to be happy and cheerful no matter what but she blossoms with Mathew’s gentle and quite faithfulness to just be there for her.  Puff sleeved dresses can win a heart too.  And those that we know have loved us never really leave us because love changes us.

2.  Prickly hearts can be won over with determination, a feisty spirit, and a whole lot of care.  Yet, be cautious never to let the negative people around you dampen your dreams.  “Katherine Brooke whether you know it or not what you need is a darn good spanking!” (Anne to the principle she works with…)  In the end people have to want to be helped…we just need to be there when they are ready. “Now you can go through the motions of telling me how delighted you are and how I’ll have a wonderful time.” “I AM delighted… but as to a wonderful time… that will depend entirely on YOU, Katherine.”

3.  Kindred spirits and bosom friends might not be as hard to find if you are willing to look for them.  You never know who might make a wonderful friend so make sure to extend warmth to those you come in contact with.  “Kindred spirits are not so scarce as I used to think. It’s splendid to find out there are so many of them in the world.”  When you find the Dianna to your Anne nurture it and don’t take it for granted.

4.  A love of learning and imagination and can take you far and teachers that encourage it are priceless.  The ones that allow you to make mistakes but cheer you on to grow are wise indeed.  “Isn’t it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet?”
“Isn’t it splendid to think of all the things there are to find out about? It just makes me feel glad to be alive–it’s such an interesting world. It wouldn’t be half so interesting if we know all about everything, would it? There’d be no scope for imagination then, would there?”

And some extra quotes because this movie and the books are just filled to the brim with perfect ones!  Feel free to comment below what parts of this movie/book thrilled you!

“Look at that sea, girls–all silver and shadow and vision of things not seen. We couldn’t enjoy its loveliness any more if we had millions of dollars and ropes of diamonds.”

“After all,” Anne had said to Marilla once, “I believe the nicest and sweetest days are not those on which anything very splendid or wonderful or exciting happens but just those that bring simple little pleasures, following one another softly, like pearls slipping off a string.”

“He said it would turn my hair a beautiful raven black!”

“You’re not eating anything,” said Marilla sharply, eying her as if it were a serious shortcoming. Anne sighed.  “I can’t. I’m in the depths of despair. Can you eat when you are in the depths of despair?”

“Drrrrrrrenched.  I said drrrrrrenched!” 

Posted on June 24, 2014 by | Comments { 8 }

{ Right In My Backyard (DAY 471) }

photo 1(5) photo 2(4)I have a wanderlust heart.  One that entices me entirely too often to jet off to other countries and lands.  Sometimes that feeling makes me discontent because my bank account says “No” to those dreams right now.

Last week though on our mini road trip to a wedding in Idaho I had a revelation.  Six hours away can feel completely new.  Even more than that new eyes can transport you to other realms entirely.  Truly seeing in the present can oddly enough make you feel like you’ve landed in the divine. 

Maybe this is the secret to having more time…just living in the present.  In the past month I’ve felt like I’ve lived years in the best of ways.  Overwhelming? Yes, but not in a negative way.  Right in the middle of the Palouse in Idaho as we were driving around my hands find themselves clapping at the stunning view all around me.  I can’t contain it.  Saturated by beauty I was struck by something deeper.  All these glorious visions that greet my new eyes point me back to the One who created it all.  That right there is the most incredible thing of all.  My wanderlust heart finds home and peace in the Lord and I’m satisfied.  Maybe my backyard is a wonderland after all…

Posted on June 19, 2014 by | Comments { 0 }

{ The Boys in the Boat (DAY 470) }

IMG_9281“Are you okay?”  That’s what I heard from the front seat of the van as I took a very long pause from reading out loud.

For the past few days we have been on a road trip and although I was in the middle of a book when we started the trip I just decided that if mom and dad wanted to listen then I was up for reading.  The first day I totally hurt my voice and sounded all gravely when I talked.  The book was just too good and I didn’t want to put it down.  As we drove the next day I read some more and started practicing better reading skills.  By the time we drove home today I was anxious to finish the compelling story.  We were reading Boys in the Boat and I got so into the story that I was reading at a furious rate all while mimicking a sports radio show host in the middle of a gripping game.

The story follows Joe Rantz and his eight other teammates on their quest for gold at the 1936 Olympic games as an eight oared rowing team.  Since these games were held in Berlin shortly before WWII the history of that time is laced throughout as it played a crucial role in the narrative.  It is poignant and shocking.

I expected the book to be good.  What I didn’t expect was to get to the end and stop dead in the middle of a sentence not due to a dry throat but because I literally couldn’t contain the tears that suddenly streamed down my face nor control the shake of my voice.  “Are you okay?” my dad asked.  The last time I remember crying because a book touched me like that was when I was thirteen so this was pretty significant.  These men and their lives stirred something in me that you can only understand if you read the book (I’m still trying to process).  It was gratefulness for what they did and an awe of who they were.  Men just don’t come like that these days.  Men like my grandfather.  I’m not saying that there aren’t great men out there (I know lots of them!) what I am saying is that these men were cut from a different cloth, almost a different breed.  They weren’t perfect but they did overcome massive hurdles.

So I sat there and honored their memory and what they did in that boat by crying tears of overwhelmed wonder and thanks.  Thankful that hardships make strong people.  Thankful for freedom.  Thankful for my grandparents that lived in hard times and overcame.  Thankful for the sheer joy of seeing underdogs conquer.  Thankfulness for what trust can do.

Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown is a gripping true story of some lives that have gone before us.  The writing is impeccable and will draw you in.  I hope you will take the time to read it and “meet” Joe and the boys in the boat.  Their chant alone inspired me.  M.I.B.  Mind in the boat.  If you want to be inspired then I highly recommend this as part of your summer reading list!

Posted on June 17, 2014 by | Comments { 0 }

{ He’s the best (DAY 469) }

IMG_8419 IMG_8421 IMG_8431 IMG_8441There are some people in life who come in and out.  Some profoundly change your life.  There are those that stay but they are rare.  A very few have been there all along.  My father has been there all along and for that I am deeply grateful.  I wish you could have the privilege of meeting him.  I feel sorry for everyone who can’t.  Because he’s amazing.  He’s gentle and oh so strong.  He’s been such a rock for our family.  He’s steady and as an adult I appreciate that calm he always shows even when life is crazy and hard.  My father is the one who has served his family and those around him before he even takes a moment to think of himself.  He’s faithful.  I look at his large rough stained hands and marvel at how precise with small details they can be, even more at times than my delicate ones.  Children gravitate towards him because he actually sees them and cares to ask them about their lives.  He’s a craftsmen and knows when he sees a good cut but he knows people just as well and sees the potential they have often before they see it themselves.

Just like the wood he works with all the faithful years of his life are steadily building into a monument of God’s work in his life like growth rings on a magnificent tree.  He loves Jesus and it shows.  It shows in his generosity.  It shows in his commitment to his family and community.  It shows in his gracious demeanor.  It show in his joy as he creates from anything and everything.  I can’t believe I get to have this man not only as my best friend but also as my father.

Daddy there is no way I can ever say how much I love you or what type of impact you’ve had on my life.  All I know is that where I usually struggle to find words for a blog post this one I could write on and on with ease.  Thank you for loving me so well, challenging me to be all I can be, comforting me when I’m sad, listening to me chatter on, and being an incredible example.  You’re the best!  And I do love you with all my heart more than words could adequately express.  Happy Father’s Day!

Here’s the back story behind these pictures I took… :) 

Posted on June 12, 2014 by | Comments { 2 }